Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Book III: The Derelicts

Once repaired, it was an easy jump forward 780 years, to the crew's "present day", and from there a walk in the park to get back to Earth. But not just any Earth - their Earth! Somehow, in the jump from the other galaxy, they managed to bump back into their own universe as well.

The ship was immediately placed in drydock, and the numerous repairs it needed were finally put in place. The blue apes returned to their world, which had been saved in this timeline; the Russian crew caught up with their counterparts here, who had been rescued 20 years sooner. The O.G. crew, meanwhile, were approached by Eliza - and not the hologram Eliza, but Empress Eliza Tarvis, wife of Emperor Julian Tarvis! She came with a new mission; the crew showed itself reliable, and able to deal with what she called "Strange Space".

Years before, leading up to the Battle for Earth, the Entity had been testing its long-range teleporter technology on the people of Earth - only half the planet survived. Most of the rest were found on a dead planet near Bardron, where they had been teleported to suffocate. However, after long, careful investigation, it was found that there existed a third group that had been transported to a location far outside the galaxy. Any galaxy, actually. The crew were being recruited to rescue those missing, if indeed there were any survivors.

After a very long time spent carefully purchasing equipment, power armor, and other supplies, they were taken to the launch site, a dark, quiet corner of the galaxy, with the straightest shot via jumpspace to the otherwise unknown location. Their ship was little more than a storage compartment and a collection of cryopods bolted onto a jump drive; no weapons, no armor, and no backups. The more mass the ship took with it, the less likely it would survive the trip...

The destination was very, very far away. As Eliza explained it, it existed in a place known as Strange Space; while jumpspace and realspace have a stable, long-term connection, Strange Space exists as a buffer between parallel universes, a battery of sorts that pulls energy from one universe and pushes it into another, like a coil of wire energizing itself as a magnet to push away another magnet. Strange Space is a kind of limbo, a world between worlds, where the immense power of an entire universe is sapped away to feed the demands of the rest of the omniverse.

Parallel worlds aren't merely copies stretching into the distance, each slightly different than the other; rather, they are a little more like stations on a radio dial. A strong station will overwhelm a weaker station, and each station has bands, like echoes, copies fading out beside it. If you tune in to one of these bands instead of the main station, you'll hear a weak duplicate of the original, faint but present. Every tiny modification to the radio dial will make the sound sharper or weaker. In the same way, while living life in our universe, everything comes in clear - the laws of physics apply, and the static of the Void is blithely overpowered. But if you dial into a "parallel world", you'll get a copy, or nothing but the Void, or maybe - if you go far enough - into another universe entirely.

Strange Space is a universe a little too close to the Void for comfort, where wisps of reality keep everyone just sane enough to know that there has to be something more than this, somewhere out there...

Unfortunately, no one knows more than theory. While special jump-pods have been sent, and fundamental jumpspace laws mean their arrival can be detected, no one can figure out where they go after that. They never come back.

It may be a one-way mission, but the end goal is to bring back the lost people of Earth.

The trip was quick, at least in the eyes of the crew; it took months, but the time passed in an instant due to cryo. They finally arrived in a dead space - no stars, no lights, except a dim glimmer far in the distance. When they piloted up to the lights, they found a hacked-together space station, built out of junk and multiple ships stitched together. A sign by the airlock read, "Forgotten Colony Station"...

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