I awoke to a buzzing, not an alarm, but a tone inside my head. The 
Protectorate had completed several upgrades to the ship, and as we 
studied their history and science and they were studying ours. I 
guess centuries of advancement hadn't sped their analytical powers 
as much as I expected. Perhaps there's a hard wall as to how fast 
the universe can experience itself. I hadn't had any major side 
effects to the tests we've been running on one another, except for 
this tinnitus.

Biological integrity, hormone generation and modifications, 
pheromonic communication, a list of discoveries had soon filled our 
datastores - which had also been adapted by the Protectorate - the 
efficiency of all our technologies had increased to magical 
proportions. Even Super Hex didn't comprehend exactly how these 
changes worked, but none of our interfaces had changed so we kept 
doing that we've always done.

Their DNA was 92% similar to ours, after accounting for the fact 
that they had Silicon in the positions where Phosphorus usually 
resides. Mr Swarms' lab now contained several homunculus-like 
chimeras, created with the help of the Protectorate and Commander 
Cranium, each floating in their own little jars like horribly 
deformed tadpoles. I have no idea how they were created, but I 
can't imagine it was anything I wanted to know.

The Refeshlicator still worked as expected, producing my usual 
tepid coffee infused with the taste of sugar and cream and an 
elephant ear pastry. There was no natural dairy in either of them, 
but they tasted as fresh and organic as the finest artisanal 
bakeries back home.

It's been 2 years since I had last set foot on Earth, and now I had 
started to lose hope of seeing it again; or what's left of it by 
now. Last I heard The Revengerists had prevented the total 
annihilation of Freedonia at the hands of Dr Evilus, but at great 
cost to New Luxembourg. Not that the rest of the planet wasn't a 
total catastrophe, but at least the Artic colonies had stopped 
battling over the borders of their farmlands.

The Nalmykians had taken us deeper into formerly uncharted space, 
by our calculations we were nearly 40 lightyears away from home; 
and no closer to finding our way back. At least our ship had a new 
opalescent paint job, even if the Protectorate didn't like to be 
referred to as paint. The golden filigree was a nice touch, like a 
more organic rococo, complete with black orbs, I couldn't help but 
feel like they were hundreds of horses eyes were watching me 
through these peepholes throughout the Revenant.