Humans Are Using FTL Wrong [Short Story]

“As many in the Galactic Federation have recently learned, humans have in fact been in possession of FTL technology for at least 180 years.”

The message radiated through a large spherical ampetheater filled with the representatives from over 1,100 sentient species; all members of the Milky Way Galaxy.

At the center of the theater, floating several feet above a suspended podium was The Voice of the Federation. The Voice was a large translucent being with innumerable tentacles that pulsated in a dazzling show of colors, colors which their podium translated into galactic common for all in attendance.

“Nonsense!” Objected a mantid like species, their station moving towards the center of the ampetheater, “If the humans had achieved FTL that long ago they would have expanded well beyond their local star cluster, and yet they haven’t even colonized a single star beyond their home system!”

“Perhaps they failed to realize the potential of FTL?” Suggested the representative of the Ahnkor’ashi, a bipedal species who at a distance one could mistake for a human, if not for their large eyes, moist skin.

“What other use could one have for FTL than to travel between the stars?” The mantid sneered “Leave it to a warm blood to misuse one of the crowning achievements of sentience.”

“On the contrary!” the Voice interjected, “Humans have been using FTL in a manner so novel, many of the Federation’s top scientists believed their human constituents were joking.

You see, for all the dangers humans’ cradle world may pose to members of our federation. From their perspective there were no viable candidate planets they felt could be easily colonized. So when humans discovered FTL they didn’t see it as a means to travel to distant stars.

Thus, instead of installing FTL on spaceships, they created vessels such as this.” An image of a large ovular shaped craft appeared on the screen and the Voice continued, “The humans call this vessel an Antigrav-Retro-Causality, or ARC for short. The earliest records we’ve found from their digital archives suggest the ARC’s original name was ‘tic-tac.’ But these records are also significantly older than their claim of 180 years.. by our estimations, these ships can be seen from their planet’s surface as far back as 800 human years.”

“THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!” the mantid roared, “with that much time humans could have colonized hundreds of systems! Clearly they’re using FTL wrong.”

“Please allow me to conclude the briefing, Supreme Admiral Xarix. I will then open the floor to any and all questions.” the Voice insisted.

After a brief pause to allow for the murmurings from around the ampetheater to die down the Voice continued. “As it turns out, it’s practically impossible for us, or even humans for that matter, to know how long they’ve had access to FTL. As the humans who has been members of our grand federation for nearly 2,000 years now, did not invent their form of FTL. The technology was gifted to them by… other humans. Humans not from their cradle world, but a cradle world from a different universe entirely. A parallel universe as humans call it. Thusly, humans do not recognize FTL as such. They call these crafts ‘time machines’ which is why it has only recently come to our attention that they are in possession of FTL.

Incidentally, this is why humans have never left their home system. They have instead chosen to colonize and uplift every iteration of their cradle world across every parallel universe. Which, if their reports are to be believed, are as numerous as the stars in the known universe.”

This time, the Voices pause was met not by an uproar, but a deafening silence. It was clear to all in that moment, to the voice, to all members of the Federation, humans were in fact, the only ones using FTL the right way.

Republished with permission from the author, Reddit user u/LeftJayed. Image created with the Nightcafe AI.