For a long time it was taken as fact that it would forever be impossible to travel faster than light. Sure, there were a million research projects looking into promising warp fields, transfer beams, pi-muon flux destabilizers, and what-not but none of it bore fruit. And so the first starship was not so much invention as discovery: a backwards flash of negative light recorded by astronomers, a chance collision with the magNet of a Jovian research facility, and humanity caught its first starship.
The problem was, what they caught in the net wasn’t a starship. It was an enormous generative cell — a sperm cell — of unknown origin. Something deep in the chaotic complexities of its biology facilitated travel faster than light. Much, much faster than light. And so two projects began in earnest.
The first and most obvious was to expand the magNet project to catch more sperm.
The second was an engineering effort to modify the captured sperm so that humans could ride in it, guide it, and live in it. And, as it turns out, be sustained by it.
And so, now we have the FTL spermship.
Artificial vacuoles provide control spaces, and airlock, sleeping quarters and so on as needed, all without killing the host cell. Indeed, it seems to thrive, especially if its organelles are wired into a galley, allowing the humans to milk them for their strange and sustaining fluids. Giant alien ribosomes for lunch, juice from the mitochondrion (more powerful than the blackest cup of coffee), and constantly regenerated strips of dried monstrous lymphocite are available for any occasion. And the use seems to spur the health and even growth of the ship.
Questions remain, of course. How long will the sperm ship live? Anything organic likely has a finite lifespan but now the oldest spermships are a dozen years old and show no signs of wearing down.
What exactly is the origin of these cells? The radiant is somewhere out in Sagittarius but that’s a big piece of galactic real estate. And who says it’s even in this galaxy? But what sort of mammalian monstrosity (and genetic analysis of these cells does indicate that they are, improbably, mammalian) ejaculates these faster-than-light cells into the void? And where and what exactly is the recipient?
But maybe most importantly, how does life aboard ship change a human crewmember, with the constant proximity, contact, and even ingestion of alien cellular material? What will we become now that we can travel the stars? And what will we find, whatever we are when we get there?
Certainly we know now that the universe is vastly stranger than we previously thought.