The Hub

Sep 282012
 

Read me the story:

Colorful skyscape with vivid rose, purple, blue lights and stars against night sky.It was around the hub of the evening in glorious Tanhesh, the capital of fabled beauty Siriran, Empress of the Neopars’anii Worlds Federation. The tavis field lightly filtered the last rays of the Peacock Sun, sending random fountains of green-gold and turquoise light flaring through the graceful towers of the Forbidden Hive. Declan Rawl and Mohv Quiddik of the Kyth Agency, in a flowcar negotiating the tail end of mainshift rush hour, were oblivious to the stunning display. It was old stuff to them.

Siriran had originally been the product of a plutocrat’s fancy, purchased as the culmination of a couple of generations’ worth of wealth accumulation in the lucrative interstellar shipping sector. Farahay Nirajin had been the last controlling owner of a Galanian combine that dominated most of the far-flung nexus of daughter and granddaughter colonies. At the end of his life, he’d been consumed with the idea of creating a private colony based on his own artistic concepts.

Money can buy just about anything. In Nirajin’s case, it bought an Optimal-2 planet charter, a thousand-year premium terraforming package, a top-of-the-line habitat engineering support system, and three of the Hub’s more astonishing habitats, before changes in shipping routes, heedless expenditure, and mercantile mopery and dopery bankrupted the project. And Nirajin.

The planet was a bit of a white elephant—one reason a private buyer had been able to afford it was its lack of any discernible economic assets, another was its (then) inconvenient location in an offshoot node of the Bharagat Circuit, well outside of normal Galanian nexus trade routes. But the relocation of Arvash Galan and expansion of the IPC beacon net routes in the Circuit placed it very favorably indeed when the original Pars’anii terraforming was winding down and the much-expanded colony needed a new home. Parsi culture being given to the extravagant gesture to begin with, it seemed to be, in the native argot, “kazhmé” (fate).

Siriran became the capital world for the growing Federation. Pars’anii being a polyglot bunch to begin with, their open-door policy for long-term visitors, immigrant groups, and habitat sub-lessees produced one of the Hub’s more colorful worlds.

Quiddik eased the flowcar onto the stratline that linked the west end of Tanhesh Center to the meandering series of smaller habitats that fringed the vast Kirancj Park system, built against the foothills of an old, rounded-off mountain range. He selected a departure station two stops up from the stop that served the m’Anhadon compound, and released it to auto. It would ping him when they were approaching the stop. He turned to Rawl, who had activated a scanfield and connected to the Kyth datahub.

“What have we got?”

Rawl’s fingers twitched delicately, manipulating the data returned, adding more levels, re-arranging the relationships. “Something interesting.”

“Interesting how?” Quiddik had enough data handling skills to make him formidable in any average commercial or academic context, but he wasn’t in the lofty data-wrangling class of Kyth’s elite. Kyth had acquired his strategic skills and experience, as well as his general utility in any kind of mayhem, when it had become too dangerous for Quiddik to continue his employment with Tranest Corporation’s Security Division.

A faint line had appeared between Rawl’s thick, straight brows. “Just a minute… Nope.” He angled the display so that Quiddik could view it. It took Mohv a bit longer than it had taken his colleague, but the net result was the same: A very effective, polite lockout on private data of any kind related to Anisala m’Anhadan—including a very effective security screen on the compound itself. “Can we bust that?”

Rawls shrugged. “Well, sure. Anything can be busted. But untraceably? Not from here, and not before we get there. And I’m pretty sure they’d regard the attempt as an unfriendly gesture, which is not the impression we want to make.”

“Huh.” Mohv frowned. “So, what did the public profile generate?”

Rawls called it up. Kyth’s profiling was as thorough a CRAP utility—collection, review, analysis, and presentation—of publicly-available data on anything, as you could get outside of a U-League research lab. And there was a surprising lot of publicly-available data on Anisala m’Anhadan, for such a low-profile individual. Very little of it was directly related to m’Anhadan herself. But the second- and third- order connections were copious, and the patterns were revealing, of… something.

Both men were frowning as the profile marched down the display field. “OK, that’s…” Rawls muttered. “…weird.” Quiddik finished it for him.

“So… is she an academic? Or an entrepreneur?”

“Or an artist?”

“Or an entertainment packager?”

“Researcher.”

“Yeah, but that’s a damn’ peculiar mix of fields.”

Quiddik shook his head. “And a damn’ peculiar mix of first- and second-order associates.”

Declan frowned. “It doesn’t add up. Why would she be going to a Colonial School Small-Cluster Conference?”

Quiddik shrugged. “And why would anyone care? Why would someone want to keep her from going to the Conference?”

Now Declan was shaking his head. “Ours is not to reason why,” he pointed out.

“Yeah. But this is shaping up to be an interesting assignment,” Mohv Quiddik grinned.

Sep 212012
 

Colored chalk sketch in brilliant reds and greens of a highly stylized figure with wings.Excerpts from “Faith and Philosophy: Directions for Hub Culture” by Wenada Thinmark; Kriviti e Filles, pub., Cirpris Minor

All of the dominant religious traditions currently extant in the Hub trace their origins back to the original colonial axes of Altair and Procyon, and fall into three major groupings, with a few outliers. This is not to say that all of them are direct linear progressions of established pre-Hub faith traditions, but most bear some connection to the faiths practiced on the Mothers of Colonies, and claimed to originate directly from Old Terra.

Pan-Scriptic Faiths

These faiths base their doctrine on scriptures claimed to originate on Terra Prime. Some convergence among the current scriptures of each of the four major panscriptic faith groups might be considered to support the claim, but interpretations and millennia of divergent exegesis have all but eliminated any traceable continuity. The major panscriptic faiths include:

Duo-Latteran Extemporalism

A cluster of Theist faiths based around a non-messianic mythos that places existent creation in time through the agency of human will as a divergence from divine intent. A desirable post-existent state of conscious identity outside of time (extemporal) is the result of Duo-Latteran adherence/practice.

Most of the Duo-Latteran traditions trace back to the Procyon Colonial axes, and the Hamartic sects claim to trace their textual origins clear back to Terra Prime, although no evidence of such a succession has ever been verified.

There are three main Duo-Latteran subsects:

Epistemic Duo-Latteran variants comprise by far the largest population of adherents, having traveled widely in the wake of the Procyonic expansion. Epistemic sects promote the integration of theology and phenomenological observation, freely acknowledging large lacunae in theological consistency and accreting texts based on all kinds of traditions, claims of enlightenment, and evolving hermeneutics. Practice tends to the moderate and individual, although some sects have a strong community practice tradition. Epistemic sects rarely proselytize and are strictly non-poligious.

Soteric Duo-Latteran variants exist in the Procyon axis but are found mostly in the Ras Ophiuchi cluster and the Finahaari cultures along the main upwest nexus in the Hub, although a small cluster of rimworlds seems to have adopted variant subcults based on Soteric/Hamartic syncretism. Soteric sects are among the oldest Duo-Latteran traditions and may represent the original pre-dispersion form of the faith. Most Soteric sects proselytize, embrace nonviolence, but require quite strict observance of both community and individual practice. Some sectarian conflict erupts from time to time, as the Soteric variants tend toward poligious practice.

Hamartic Duo-Latteran sects are widely scattered, although the total number of adherents is comparatively small in Hub terms. They tend to sectarian violence, embrace freebirth and manifest destiny, proselytize vigorously, demand strict observance of practice and rigid poligious integration, and reject other Duo-Latteran variants as heretical. Most variants are strongly libristic, with prophetic traditions and beliefs.

Gayesh Voluti

At one time, the predominant faith of the Galanian and Neo-Prime colonial axes. The rigid ethnocultural strictures of early Gayesh contributed largely to Phase One of the Hub Wars and provoked several waves of genocide. After the Gaya-Mirdan Council, Voluti believership contracted to a small minority as most Gayesh embraced the Reform, but a number of Voluti sects survived in tertiary Galanian client colonies. The early Voluti rigidity has been subject to moderating hermeneutical influences, and current observance is non-poligious, although it maintains a high level of ritual and strict observances. Freebirth practices have contributed to a slow re-expansion of Gayesh Voluti in the upnorth nodes and Vieri Rim cluster.

Reformed Gayesh

The second-largest cluster of Pan-Scriptic faiths, Reformed Gayesh sects propagated freely in the wake of the Council and predominates among U-League nexi. Although Reformed Gayesh traces scriptural origins to the same group of texts the Voluti sects claim, an epistemological hermeneutic tradition and a long accretion of exegetical sub-texts to scriptural status has resulted in semi-theist ethosophical character and liberal practice among the various Reformed Gayesh sects.

Diasporic Yesran

Aspecific theist beliefs based in a highly ethnocultural interpretation of its scripture, combined with strict non-proselytization have kept the population of Diasporic Yesrans both comparatively small and genetically distinct. The three main variants, Yesra Jasit, Yesra Savic, and Yesra Zamari, intermingle to some extent, but most Yesran communities are endogamous. Freebirth practices contribute to population maintenance. Yesrans are scattered throughout the Hub, clustering wherever cultural tolerance and freebirth allowance permit them to maintain their idiosyncratic practices. There are no predominantly Yesran colonies known in the Hub.

Ethosophical Faiths

Most ethosophical faiths are aspecific theist or semi-theist in nature, although several have non-theist variants. Some claim scriptural origins and traditions, but rather than basing practice solely on scriptural or theological underpinnings, they relate practice to cultural, ethological, philosophical and/or ideological considerations.

Calichaeism

A widely practiced aspecific Theist faith with many variants and sub-variants, Calichaeism is underpinned by a long tradition of philosopher-sages and their writings. Although not considered explicitly doctrinal in nature, the oldest grouping of these, the ‘Ahpazhadi’, said to date back to the pre-Hub Altair colonies, is accepted by almost all Calichaen variants as foundational.

Calichaen sects are by and large non-eschatological and most presume individual human consciousness to be a finite manifestation of an infinite divinity, working through time and matter to extend the divine in both immanent and transcendent spheres.

Most of the Calichaen variants fall into one of two major strands, each further divided into hundreds of variant sects:

Coherentist Calichaen sects maintain a loosely theological structure based on the assumption that all deities are subsumed in a processionist revelation based on, and reflective of, evolving human understanding of the divine. The central task of the devout, therefore, is the exploration and exposition of the nature of divinity. Different sects regard this from a transcendent or immanent viewpoint, and there are many schools of practice based on or in metaphysical discipline and ritual, all more or less related to the foundational Ahpazhadi writings.

Doxastic Calichaen sects maintain an eccentric theological structure based on the “reverberant” nature of the divine, eschewing any linear or progressive assumptions in favor of an iterative model. The central task of the devout is to achieve a level of personal understanding and practice that will enable the believer to “express the divine” in the immanent state. Most doxastic sects are mildly and unaggressively proselytic. Almost all revere the teachings of the Nineteen Sages, a group of Aurigan philosophers from the mid-second millennium of Hub dispersion.

Zen Lin’rasf

A non-theist philosophical matrix largely restricted to the Ophiuchi Circuit and the Ras Miraman colonial nexi, although spreading slowly among the Central Nexus worlds. Lin’rasf has always had a strong appeal among the higher levels of University League leadership. Lin’rasf emphasizes the achievement of “perfect balance” (zen) between a set of dicta called the “desiderata extant” (lin’annara nexraf in the older versions of Hub Translingue.) Practices of physical and mental discipline allow the believer to ‘balance’ and ‘rebalance’ based on relative ethical and moral imperatives.

Lin’rasi claim that as the practice of Lin’rasf is non-theist, it may be adopted as a form of personal spiritual discipline and enhancement by believers of any religion or sect, and some Reformed Gayesh sects have adopted many Lin’rasi practices.

Libraic Yesran

Although Libraic Yesran theology is more explicitly theist than most ethosophical faith variants, its doctrine is based not on the theology it shares with the Diasporic Yesran sects but on the “writings” dating to the pre-Hub Leksandri Project and representing a series of debates, exegetics, and ethical dicta developed by Yesran Nahin (clerics) in the Leksandri Habitat.

Libraic Yesrans are non-proselytic and largely endogamous, devolving “membership” by birth, but they accept and educate converts. The status of the “Called” (converts) obtains some special obligations as to practice and education. Education is regarded as a prime spiritual duty. Libraic Yesrans do not condone freebirth, placing a high value on practice that maintains the economic viability and cultural coherence of their communities.

Neoprophetics

“Neoprophetics” is essentially a portmanteau term encompassing dozens of faiths that have emerged in the wake of the Hub colonial expansion, originating in the teachings or revelations of specific leaders claiming divine status or inspiration. While new neoprophetic faiths continue to emerge, occasionally branching from established faiths as well as springing from more esoteric roots, three have become fairly well established, with substantial believer communities and influence.

Ummasa Monotheism

Based on the Revelations (Harantha) of Umadhi-Aksad, which he claimed to receive as the “rekindling” of an ancient text supposed to date from pre-colonial Terra. The “six stars” of Ummasa are the profession of Ummasa as the only valid faith, performance of daily religious observance, study of the Harantha, the obligation of charity, the performance of an elaborate ritual called the “Kandach” at least once during the believer’s adult life, and the “Vow of Purity” to procreate only with others of the Faith.

Ummasa was strongly proselytic during the early Hub Wars and in fact drew many of the upeast and downnorth colonies of the Miranthi Union and the (then) proto-Finhaar worlds into the Second Hub War. At one time it was the dominant faith in most of the upeast node as well as the Alamari Rim cluster, and although colonial infill has diminished its influence somewhat it remains one of the larger faith groups in those areas.

Oves

Oves (“Way,” in Shinanese) is the work of the charismatic “prophet” Nishi Uela. It began as an offshoot of a fairly obscure Duo-Latteran sect on Procyon D in the wake of the Third Conference. It swept quickly through the latter Procyon-axis colonies and the Tirvath cluster. In its first hundred years it was the subject of repeated scandal, with accusations that Nishi Uela was in fact a Tranest Corporation agent, pursuing a religio-political agenda with the aim of discrediting the Kim Sons Combine and bolstering Mesram Xina control of several key economic axes in the Ophiuchi Circuit. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to get the Hub Mercantile Council to raise an Adjudicatory Enquiry on the issue of Oves financial practices.

Since Uela’s death a series of “Prophet Heirs” have kept the sect expanding slowly along the Tirvath/Cirpris trade routes.

Descentant Upani

Originally a Calichaen offshoot sect, the Descentant Upani were the result of a schism fomented by Udu Suari me-Varanath, who claimed that a re-examination of the oldest iterations of the Ahpazhadi revealed gross transcription and translation errors, and that the actual source for the writings were ancient Terran texts available in fragmentary form on Tantriga’s University Station. She announced that a combination of scholarship and revelation had enabled her to “restore” the original version.

In addition to taking strong hold in the colonial arms descended from the Nazred-Dinaj system colonies, several Independent Fleet clans recognized the Descentant Upani texts and it is believed to be the second most widely practiced Faith among the Fleets.

Sep 192012
 

Read me the story:
A drawing of a large campus set on a hillside, with solar collectors for power, raised walkways, etc.A little holocon popped up on the corner of Lennath Makforsith’s desk. She caught its eye and nodded. “Ren Dylart of the Kyth Agency,” it announced. Len touched a desk control that would enable Dylart’s visitor tag to guide him through the complicated warren of staff offices, study carrels, work areas, labs, and meeting rooms that formed the History Department. She suspected he didn’t need it. It was a good .15 hour walk, though, so she returned to running simulations based on the latest trend modeling tags.

A polite tap on the side of the doorframe and a simultaneous “ping!” from the tag announced the Kyth operative’s arrival. With a gesture, she retracted the datatap that connected her to the Colonial School’s main History Archive, and re-focused her eyes.

Dylart had the kind of alert, unobtrusive competence she expected, and something about the set of his eyes and the small lines around them argued for a sense of humor, too. She gestured to a chair. “You can move the boxfile. Just set it on top of those others.”

He glanced at the apparent chaos, but complied without comment, and sat. Offering hands wasn’t a custom in the Central Hub nexus, but he nodded politely.

“Professor Makforsith, I’m honored to meet you. I found your comparative analysis of the post-Conference Charter Conventions in the Ophiuchi Circuit most insightful.”

“Indeed. You have an interest in Conflict History?”

He smiled. “An occupational interest. Kyth takes on a good many Private War contracts in downeast, as I’m sure you’re aware.”

She smiled back. “Quite so. I’d be interested, sometime, to hear any commentaries your organization could provide on its involvement in the Wylenth/Kim Sons disputes.”

He didn’t appear surprised. “If such commentaries existed, which of course I cannot confirm or deny, they are naturally restricted to internal distribution.” She was right, there was a sense of humor there.

There was a brief silence. She glanced at the window, where late-afternoon sunlight caught just the right angle to sparkle on the nanofilter screen embedded in the polysilicate. Her office was on the fourteenth level, well below the traffic lanes for stratcars, and far above the pedestrian traffic on the walkways that connected this cluster of Colonial School buildings. The angle of the sun was now such that not even a very good snoopscope filter could enable someone to see into the office from the Culturology building, a hundred and ten meters away.

“Colonial School has a Small-Cluster conference coming up, on Farn-Amli,” she began. “In conjunction with that conference, we’ll be having a series of meetings, sponsored by various commercial entities, to discuss the progress of the Devlin Survey.”

His gaze sharpened. “There is progress?”

“There will be, by then.”

The Devlin Survey was a U-League project, underwritten by a consortium of commercial and political interests, to review the sub-Optimal status of a number of systems in two adjacent star clusters in the downnorth node. If the status was upgraded, the planets in those systems might be released for terraforming and subsequent colonization. Given the comparative scarcity of desirable planetary real estate in that node, there would inevitably be considerable maneuvering to obtain and use the information to the advantage of interested parties.

Potentially bloody, savage maneuvering. It would undoubtedly be one focus of the Conference to minimize the radius and intensity of the anticipated damage.

Dylart’s head angled. “ULeague Security normally handles your conferences, doesn’t it?”

“They do, and they will.”

He waited.

She waited.

His eyes narrowed and the corners of his mouth twitched. “Would it help if I observed that you have a quite astonishing suite of anti-surveillance tools active in this office?” The smile deepened. “Astonishing for a quiet academic, with nothing to hide, that is. Even if I wanted to record this conversation, I’d be unable to do so.”

“I am a quiet academic,” she pointed out blandly. “But who doesn’t have something to hide?”

He nodded. “I imagine that a Colonial School Regent might have one or two items that don’t come under the Information Availability charter clause.”

Lennath didn’t advertise her status as a Regent. It was publicly-available information, of course, but you’d have to know where to look. She nodded, rather abruptly.

“All right. You do your background. If you know that I’m one of Colonial School’s Regents, you probably also know that I have other administrative concerns. One of which is, very specifically, exactly the charter clause you mentioned.”

“Information availability.”

“That, yes.” She sat back, and let her gaze drop to her desktop for an unhurried breath. “It’s always been a key difference between our responsibilities and those of the Mercantile Council. And a certain amount of…” she paused to select a word.

After a beat or so, Dylart offered one: “Skullduggery?”

“Just so. We expect a few skulls to be dugged, now and then. It runs both ways. We get by on what is essentially a tacit agreement that if anyone can successfully break the rules– and the definition of success is somewhat fluid– it might be added to an account here or there, but it won’t provoke the kind of retaliation that could lead to extended and undesirable levels of conflict.”

“I imagine that both parties put a certain amount of emphasis on preventing those rules from being broken, then.” His brows drew together slightly. “The University League doesn’t necessarily seem to be… er… playing in the same class, when it comes to such objectives.”

“You cannot have thought it through.”

He eyed her speculatively, and did so. The dawning comprehension on his face brought a smile to hers. “Exactly. Where do you think innovative technology comes from? Certainly not from corporate R&D budgets. And also… we have students.”

“Interesting. I must suggest to my analysis division that we restructure some of our models.”

“I expect so. Consider it lagniappe.”

She glanced at the window again; turned back to Dylart. “We have two problems that Kyth can assist us with. One is a perfectly ordinary personal security assignment. There is a guest scheduled to attend the upcoming conference. As she is not associated with the University League, and there is no official endorsement of her views, it would not be appropriate for her to be covered by our security. On the other hand, we have reason to believe that there are those who would prefer she not be present.”

Dylart nodded. “That sounds fairly straightforward.”

“It is. We may not all agree with Anisala m’Anhadan, but it is perfectly consistent that we would enable her to bring the information she and others have compiled to the table for this discussion. No one will be surprised, though there may be –dismay– in some quarters, that we arrange Kyth protection.”

The name conveyed nothing to Dylart. “We’ll need a full threat assessment briefing. When would you like protection to start?”

“Now, if possible. You were certainly seen arriving. By the time you reach the main gate, the reason for your visit will be known.” She held out a mylar wisp. “This is everything we’ve put together on the threat assessment so far, and I or one of my staff will be available if you need additional information.” She touched a sensor faired into her chair arm. “You should be able to call out, now, on a shielded band.”

Dylart reached into the breast pocket of his very conservative business jacket, and extracted a very ordinary-looking viewer. He slid the wisp onto the top sensor, and then tapped in a few codes. “According to your information, m’Anhadan is currently on Siriran, at Tanhesh. We’ll have a team on her in,” he glanced at the readout, “about an hour, allowing for beacon lag at the Auriga nexus relay.”

“Good.” Lennath imagined that the invoice eventually submitted from Kyth would make for some serious heartburn in the Bursary. She restrained a smile, leaned back, and again touched the sensor on her chair arm.

“The other matter is… unofficial.”

“Yes?” Dylart waited politely.

“You’ll receive a request. In the next 48 hours, I should imagine. I’m not at all sure what name will be attached to it, but it will involve a routine background check for a potential senior executive hire, for a new company providing adventure entertainment. The person you assign this to should be someone who is capable of dealing with matters more complex than a routine background check.”

He watched her closely. “But not, for instance, myself. Or any other known senior Kyth operative.”

She nodded, pleased by his comprehension. “Just so.”

It was completely unnecessary to caution him that this conversation had never taken place.

Sep 092012
 

Vividly colored stars clustered together in space.Excerpt from Duenias na-Havk’tan’sOrigins of the Hub,” Vendri & Filles, Tansa Minor

The year the Hajra colonists set foot on Altair III, five years after their arrival in the system, has been designated by Hub historians as RT-1.

Sixty RT years later another of the primitive Terra Prime colony ships reached another star with habitable planets and founded the second viable human colony. Procyon was a fortuitous accident, one of those strokes of serendipity that reinforces belief in a humanocentric Deity. The colony ship Destiny set forth for the star system identified by Terra Prime astronomers as “Procyon.” It was believed, based on microwave spectroscopy and a flawed understanding of planetary morphology, that one satellite of Procyon A might be habitable with the primitive terraforming technology of the era. Destiny’s navigational computer was set accordingly.

The fragmentary log remaining from the voyage showed a relative time (RT) lapse of three years in sublight drive and nineteen years for the subspace transit. What it did not show, because at that time there was no technology capable of tracking it, was the subspace distortion—likely some variety of parabolic current—that redirected the Destiny’s trajectory and flung it far from its original course.

When the ship surfaced, there was indeed a double star “landmark” in the approximate range expected. There were variations in spectral type and rotation, and the local neighborhood was configured differently, but the colonists had no way of knowing the actual relative elapsed time (RET) of their transit, and they ignored the variations. There was a yellow-spectrum star near enough and they were concentrating on finding a viable planet and terraforming it.

We now know that the star they arrived at was nowhere near the actual “Procyon” as designated by Terra Prime astronomers. Which was extraordinarily fortunate for the Destiny, as that star has no planets habitable even with advanced Tavis generators and Ermag conditioners. But the system they arrived at, designated only by a string of numbers and arcane characters on Terra Prime, had four habitables in its primary system, including two Optimal-1 planets, the third and fourth, and two large moons of a gas giant, adjacent to an asteroid belt rich in stable transuranics.

For nearly three hundred years after the founding of Procyon Deliades, as that colony is known, humanity concentrated on conquering its new habitats. It was not until RT 384 that the Procyon engineers, seeking ever more efficient power sources, discovered the properties of transuranic minerals. Thus followed the first great wave of Colonial technology, enabling the development of the first truly efficient subspace drive systems and the discovery of the generators which could exploit the principles of soft-transit waves.

Concurrently, the scientists of Altair were working on mapping what they could grasp of subspace, and testing the hypotheses that would result in the Temporal Prediction Equations. They had no way to harness the knowledge, for although they had developed incremental improvements on their own primitive subspace drive technology, they lacked a power source that would enable them to apply what they had learned.

Both colonies were also, not unnaturally, concerned with re-establishing some form of relation to Terra Prime, if only to communicate the bare facts of their existence. Procyon sent the first expedition, in RT 427 or 429 (the record is unclear.) The expedition was lost. Two more expeditions were lost, presumably due to temporal displacement, before a fourth ship, the Homefall-4 (dispatched in RT 437) managed to fetch up in the rough neighborhood of Terra Prime some six hundred-odd years (local time) after the departure of the Destiny.

The Homefall crew assumed their journey, too, was one-way. None of the eleven expected to see homes and families on Procyon Deliades again, nor did they expect to be able to communicate with home. Few records were kept, and no records regarding the nature of the geocultural profile of Terra Prime of that era survived at all.

What we do know is that some decades after their arrival at their destination, an Altairan ship, the Xing Hikobo, showed up, bent on the same mission—communication with the mother planet. Although they had been in transit for ten years (RET) longer from a star that was considerably closer to Terra Prime, they had arrived within three years (RT) of their temporal destination, the precision made possible by a seat-of-the-pants application of TPE navigation and a good deal of luck.

From the Xing Hikobo records we know that the population of Terra Prime was a small fraction of what it had been at the dawn of the Interstellar Migration, when the two colony ships set out. No other colony ships had reported back. Terrans, absent population pressure (Xing Hikobo records are silent on the reason for the population decline,) had lost interest in the colonization program.

It was the now-aging crew of the Homefall who were most excited to greet the Altair colonists. And the Altairi, in turn, were stunned by the power technology of the Homefall. If such power could be fused with the ability of a TPE-enabled navigation system, purposeful interstellar travel might become possible (if, by the standards of the era, prohibitively expensive.) Even more exciting, one of the Xing Hikobo travelers was Liadatra Kentobo, a researcher from the team that had investigated the anomalies of soft-transit waveforms. Kentobo saw the possibilities of linking the tremendous power generated by transuranic fusion to soft-transit waveform generators. True supralight communications were possible at last.

Five of the Altairians traveled back to Procyon in the refitted Homefall, replacing crew who had died in the decades since their arrival on earth. Using a jury-rigged version of the first true TPE nav computer and the massive transuranic-powered drives of the Procyon ship, they set out for Procyon Deliades.

And arrived, disappointingly, at a point prior to human occupation of the system. The Procyon members of the expedition assumed all was lost. The Altairans convinced them to use the last of their transuranic fuel in another attempt, making their way on insystem drives to a point outside of the system’s gravity distortion, and entering subspace again.

This time they landed within two years of their target, but with their power exhausted. Hanging just outside the system’s gravity distortion, they called for help with virtually the last of their resources. Liadatra Kentobo’s final log, trailing off into incoherence as cold and oxygen deprivation finally killed the scientist, remains as the most precious relic of that doomed attempt.

The Procyon rescue ship arrived almost a year later. With the Homefall’s power exhausted, the ship had drifted from the coordinates they expected and the search took some months.

Nearly four decades later, in RT-518, the Procyon ship Emissary appeared in the Altair system.

Timeline: The Origins of the Hub

Aug 262012
 

Experimental induction capsule in subspace modeling chamber looks like a toy silver "rocket" in a reflective tunnel.  Distortion around the tranmission rod appears as a "plume."Early History of Space Travel

It must be remembered that at the dawn of its Interstellar Migration period, Terra Prima had mastered only the most primitive form of transit, a proto-subspace drive that enabled supralight travel and allowed only the most elementary three-dimensional navigation. In addition, practically nothing was known about the shape and fabric of space itself. Our Terran ancestors hypothesized the temporal distortion of interstellar distances on a linear model. But they knew that it would be a one-way trip for the initial colony ships. Over a dozen were sent out, that we know of—possibly many more. Records from the era are fragmentary at best, even on Terra Prima itself.

The log of the second human colony ship Destiny, the oldest remaining extant document of early space travel, demonstrated one of the principal problems related to the proto-supralight drives and primitive navigation of the era:   The fragmentary log remaining from the voyage showed a relative time (RT) lapse of three years in sublight drive and nineteen years for the subspace transit. What it did not show, because at that time there was no technology capable of tracking it, was the subspace distortion—likely some variety of parabolic current—that redirected the Destiny’s trajectory and flung it far from its original course.

When the ship surfaced, there was indeed a “landmark” double star in the approximate range expected. There were variations in spectral type and rotation, and the secondary was further than expected from the primary, but the colonists had no way of knowing the actual relative elapsed time (RET) of their transit, and they ignored the variations. They were concentrating on finding the nearby yellow-spectrum star they expected to have planets, and terraforming the world they sought.

It was not until RT 384 that the Procyon engineers, seeking ever more efficient power sources, discovered the properties of stable transuranic minerals. Thus followed the first great wave of Colonial technology, enabling the development of the first truly efficient subspace drive systems and the discovery of the generators which could exploit the principles of soft-transit waves.

Concurrently, the scientists of Altair were working on mapping what they could grasp of subspace, and testing the hypotheses that would result in the Temporal Prediction Equations. They had no way to harness the knowledge, for although they had developed incremental improvements on their own primitive subspace drive technology, they lacked a power source that would enable them to apply what they had learned.

Not until the return voyage of the Homefall 4 to Procyon from Terra Prime with the surviving crew members of Altair’s Xing Hikobo did the two technologies unite to make possible viable “space travel.”

Current Space Travel Technology

Current space travel relies on several technologies:

  • Insystem sublight drives that can carry ships beyond the gravitic distortions of star systems and other navigational hazards;
  • Modified Tavis field generators that encapsulate matter (ships) and link it to the induction field that actually accomplishes the task of “translating” the ship into subspace dimensions;
  • TPE beacon navigators that enable the ship to direct its path through subspace using “wave ping” feedback loops and TPE beacon “ticks”; and
  • Induction-field drives:  The induction field is generated by a cryston lattice charged in a transuranic reaction-fuel chamber.  The field transmission rods “unpack” dimensional space to translate the encapsulated ship into subspace, then bleed off the reaction power as the subspace equivalent of Delta-v

The true limiting factor inherent in space travel as the Hub knows it, is the challenging nature of investigating subspace.  Normal-space instrumentation does not function in subspace conditions, and even the “wave ping” effect that enables navigation, though an observable phenomenon, is neither recordable by any current instrumentation technology, nor replicable by any current theoretical model.

We know that the “shape” of subspace is in a constant state of change, affecting the nature of navigation and the speed of subspace transit, which is why all interstellar transit times are given in approximate terms.  We also know that normal-space distance has a rough analog to the shape of subspace, but that there are curious anomalies–  For example, the transit between the Nira-Hoy cluster in the downeast node, and Salvados in the Ophiuchi Circuit generally runs between 300-400 hours RET, although the actual normal-space distance is nearly twice that between Salvados and the Procyon C cluster, stable at 430 hours +/- 12 RET.  These anomalies have been dubbed “wormholes” in popular conception, but bear no actual relation to the still-theoretical wormholes of normal-space physics.

Recent developments in induction-field physics have also offered clues to the nature of subspace:  The kerstan sublim field generators have opened up new lines of investigation.  Documented efficiencies in Delta-v production based on field resonance frequencies have produced an array of new hypothetical models being investigated throughout the University League.

Aug 232012
 

Six atoms flouresced purple with a blue beam connected to one, on a black background.Relative Time was established by the University League when it was first founded, and League historians and temporal engineers collaborated to create a timeline of human history that would make sense of the far-flung human adventure.

Terrestrial history was all but irrelevant. The Hub Civilization that emerged in the wake of the Colonial Wars is certainly a descendent of the human cultures that originated on Terra Prima, but the long detour via the Altair and Procyon colonies broke the continuity of human relationships with Terran cultures. The relationships between the various human ethnocultural groups that formed the matrix of the Hub, and their Terran forbears, are of interest only to dim historical and anthropological scholars toiling on Markadam and Allskander.

Relative Time is naturally complicated by the vagaries of planetary experience. Even in the (comparatively) closely-clustered worlds that make up the Hub, interstellar distances and the imperfect technologies that bridge them inject great ambiguity to temporal concepts. The highly-tuned mathematical models and navigation calculators that enable interstellar ships to use beacon technology to arrive more or less when they should at a given destination aren’t well-suited to describing the march of history.

Still, the historians had to have a reference point. They chose the founding of the first known viable human colony: Altair III.

It must be remembered that at the dawn of its Interstellar Migration period, Terra Prima had mastered only the most primitive form of transit, a proto-subspace drive that enabled supralight travel and allowed only the most elementary three-dimensional navigation. In addition, practically nothing was known about the shape and fabric of space itself. Our Terran ancestors hypothesized the temporal distortion of interstellar distances on a linear model. But they knew that it would be a one-way trip for the initial colony ships. Over a dozen were sent out, that we know of—possibly many more. Records from the era are fragmentary at best, even on Terra Prima itself.

Relative Time is used mainly for scholarly and historical recording purposes.  For common reckoning, a number of systems predominate in the Hub, with the most widely-used being the SD (Standard Dating) system.   As temporal distortion makes date reconciliation among member worlds challenging (to say the least,) most dates are appended with an additional prefix to identify major colony nodes that share a generally accepted dating structure.

For navigational purposes, where greater precision is required both relative to a reference point and to elapsed time, the standard hour is universally used.  This usage has spread to many common applications, particularly in the transport sector, where all transit times are estimated in hours.

Most colonies also have a local referent system of dating, usually pegged to their Charter date.

Establishment of the Hub: Timeline

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