Methods of Travel
As mentioned in the Introduction, the primary method of system-to-system interstellar travel throughout the UTC is via the streams created by the Ikenes over the last three hundred centuries. The streams, much like roads, provide two lanes of travel, one going to, and the other from. This will be further explained in a moment.
Much like any invention, the technologies required to construct interstellar streams were discovered by many different people throughout history. The grandmother of interstellar streams was a woman named Sylia Barnshaffer, who successfully excited vions to transfer their stored data unidirectionally. (Hence, a single stream cannot accommodate two-way messaging.) However, Barnshaffer’s work couldn’t have occurred if it weren’t for Carl Vionstibe’s discovery of the memory particle (which he named, appropriately, the vion). He was able to transfer atomic data to and from vions but only by triggering the process himself. It wasn’t until seventy-three years later that Barnshaffer discovered the Oden principle, that vion particles under the influence of oden waves (the creation of which is too in depth to detail in this document) transfer their stored data from one particle to the next, in domino fashion. The phenomenon is nearly instantaneous even at 700 light year distances.
But what good is the transfer of atomic data across light years? And how does this relate to interstellar travel? This is where Raiden Hoinespor’s discovery of stem atoms comes in. Because of Hoinespor, we know that immeasurable matter, which accounts for eighty per cent of matter in the universe, is immeasurable because it is merely a blank template of what could be, with the necessary components locked away behind kron fields (which are measurable, as Hoinespor ultimately proved) until they are encoded to become the fundamental elements. Hoinespor went so far as to call them god particles but the name did not stick due to the anti-religious sentiments of his generation.
How stem atoms are encoded is not a subject for laymen, and therefore is beyond the scope of this document; however, even laymen can connect the dots: memory particles which store atomic blueprints plus god particles equals the ability, not to create life from nothing, but to recreate it from something. Thus, interstellar system-to-system travel is not travel at all, but a death of sorts and a rebirth. When looked at it this way, it is understandable why the faint of heart and some religiously inclined people decline stream travel altogether.
Yet, there is still a missing piece. A person, it turns out, is more than the sum of their organic parts. A brain can be recreated from basic elements, from synapse to synapse, built one cell at a time, as though printed with flesh and blood ink, but it does not make them who they are. The heart can pump, the blood can traverse the network of veins, but the person is not there–neither at point A or point B. Clearly, this was a giant hurdle to overcome, because who would agree to travel if their body reached the destination, but their personality did not?
A solution to this problem was discovered in a most unexpected place: a Zidannu temple. Scientist and deist, Marrisa Kymi, believed the key to preserving personhood despite receiving a new body prior to every disembarkment, lie in the practices of Zidannu monks who claimed to have the ability to ascend to higher dimensions of being. Fifty-five dimensions, in fact, but the number did not matter to Kymi. She was interested only in their description of the sixth dimension, which allowed them, based on their personal accounts, to leave behind their “heavy body” (as they called it), in favor of their “light body” (which was solid yet could walk through third-dimensional objects), and which could traverse distances merely by thinking of the destination. The Zidannu monks achieved this state through months, years of silent meditation, but Kymi believed she could induce it with the right medicinal compound. And she did.
Thus awakened a fevered debate over the nature of what it means to be a person. Was there a god or were the Zidannu monks and Marrisa Kymi tapping into undiscovered scientific frontiers? As expected, physicists claimed this new dimension as their own, atheists sided with the physicists, and the religiously inclined cited it as evidence for the afterlife–except for those who claimed it was the devils domain–and engineers set about designing cross-dimensional machines to extract consciences from bodies and transfer them back again.
Now, if only it were that simple. But it is not. There was a backlash. The thought of any pervert ingesting drugs to wander around in a dimension in which they were not only unseen to the third dimension, but also able to walk through walls. Well, you understand. People didn’t like it and they demanded regulation. Hence, the dimension crossing drugs are only allowed to be administered by licensed physicians prior to embarking a disembarking. Additionally, a police force patrols the sixth dimension in search of junkies, snoops, and spies. It is not a perfect system, yet it gives the public assurance and comfort.
INTERPLANETARY WAVE TRAVEL
Ikenes typically stop stream construction at the outer edges of solar systems to allow for more flexible travel around planetary obstacles. Once inside a solar system, ships must rely on wave travel, which, once again, Ikenes were the first to perfect.
Due to the difficulties (and impossibilities) associated with light speed travel via propulsion, a man by the name of Laur Buctis devised a theory of travel which he called time-bending, later to become known as spacetime compression, or, wave travel. In short, it was the notion that the fourth dimension (spacetime) can be compressed, and that this bubble of compression then creates a reactionary wave that slingshots the bubble (and whatever is in it) through the galaxy at speeds much faster than the speed of light. (This isn’t exactly what happens, but everyone understands a slingshot.) As a bonus, whatever is in the bubble experiences no G-forces.
Over five-hundred centuries ago, Makalaya Toplod and her team of scientists at Gnos University created the first prototype craft based on Buctis’ theories. By the year 3418 (thirty-six years later) the Ikene Government Cooperative (IGC) had perfected her model using fuddite, an element mined from the neighboring colonized planet Camarine.
At the risk of boring readers, a cursory description of wave ship technology is as follows: first the ship must have two fuel sources, one to fuel the stimulatory lasers, and another to convert to the superfluid which shall be stimulated. In a wave ship, the lasers are fueled by the element vallere, and the superfluid is produced from fuddite. Since the compression must happen just beyond the front of the ship, the mechanics necessary for it to occur are located in the bow. Fuddite gas is pumped into a chamber in which it is placed in ultra-freeze and thus converted into a superfluid. This superfluid is then pumped into a holding sphere several meters from the bow. To propel the ship forward, the V-lasers, which are pointed at the sphere, must be engaged to set the fuddite atoms into a negative spin.
In case you were wondering, it is not true that any person with enough money to purchase a wave ship can galivant across the UTC as they wish. There are rules. Can you imagine what might happen if a compressed bubble of spacetime were to crash into an occupied planet due to some drunk pilot’s miscalculations? It has happened, specifically to the Klogworp planet known as Vimbou. The planet’s axis shifted by fifteen degrees, the international clock reset, and half the planet lost two hours of sleep. In fact, the incident was one of the catalysts for the Hundred Equitable Year War.
Because of the tragedy, laws were created to forbid wave travel within a given proximity of any planet, and wave travel itself was taken out of the hands of fallible people and given to AIs which now program it only along accepted corridors. As always, one stupid drunk guy ruins it for everyone else.
OTHER MODES OF INTERPLANETARY AND PLANETARY TRAVEL
All wave ships must be fitted with standard propulsion engines for short-flight. Many crafts lack wave mechanics and are propulsion only but include a hibernation chamber for longer flights. Such crafts can be employed for planetary travel, but this introduces the risk of unnecessary wear and tear that may cause operational failure at an inopportune time within the vacuum; therefore, planetary-only craft are usually preferred for on-planet travel.
On-planet aircraft and landcraft vary from colony to colony, planet to planet, so an exhaustive list would be too unwieldy for this document. To put it another way, there is a toy for every boy. Or girl. Unless they can’t afford one. But economics will be discussed later.