229: megan (norvair, the weaver)

i keep to myself, for obvious reasons. inside my pocket dimension are so many souls, i’ve lost count. but there are enough to give rise to a city, a beautiful walled fortress called ebonarch. this city is shaped by my thoughts, which are informed by the people inside. i remember the first, a girl, emilia … she … she never left. some people get pulled out. i don’t know why. the only thing that is constant is that whenever i’m in danger, people will be pulled out to help. emilia was my childhood friend, the first victim. she and i were playing in the orphanage and i touched her arm and she disappeared. for weeks i didn’t know where she went, none of us did, until one day, i heard her voice in my thoughts. she was alone in this void of a dimension i had created simply by being born of the weave. she spoke to me, telling me that she was alone, scared, drifting in inky blackness for what seemed like eons. all she wanted was to see the sun again. and so i gave that to her, i gave her the sun, and grass, and trees and water. and as i got older i began stealing others into my little world, and they asked for things to help them feel at home, and i gave them walls and houses and ore to mine and the freshest air to breathe. i tried to give them paradise. the time in my world is different, it moves faster than in norvair. people aged, emilia grew older, married a man, had children. died. that was nine years ago. i had to stop it, i had to slow it. i almost died, spending all of a darkwinter meditating, trying to slow ebonarch down. i think i’ve succeeded. but it is a city now, with its own populace, it’s own people. and now you see i wear gloves and stay away from people, because i’ve taken enough people into this land. i don’t need to take any more. that is why i’m alone, sir, and why i plan to stay alone.

201: prestyr, villager of doren

ollie and i got a keg of beer from a wandering merchant yesterday. you saw him, didn’t you? halfling … when’s the last time you saw a halfling? gods, it must’ve been years for me. anyway we traded two quarters of tozha beaks for the keg, and we’re thinking of drinking it tonight. you want in? you don’t have to pay us for your fill, this is just a celebration of the end of darkwinter. ollie says it’s ending soon, says he saw the corona, but i think he’s full of shit. everyone sees the corona when it happens, right? old grovens would have seen it at least.

oh, you know what else? the halfling enchanted the keg, or it came enchanted, something like that. the beer isn’t frozen. i could keep it on the top of korelle and it wouldn’t freeze! can you believe that? listen, i’ll take it outside and roll it around, you’ll hear it sloshing inside.

look, i know it’s been a rough darkwinter for you, fross, losing your parents and all that. ollie and i, we just want to cheer you up. hell, i’ve even got ollie asking folgeir if he’ll come! i think he’ll do it too, if he knows you’ll be there. folgeir likes you. he likes all of us, really, but i know he sees potential in you.

well … think about it, will you? tomorrow at last light, we’ll be at throdwen’s farm. we’re going to have a grand old time! we won’t be upset if you don’t come but … we’d love if if you did. okay? okay. have a good sleep fross. we’ll see you tomorrow, hopefully.

192: folgeir, paladin of doren, explains how he got his facial scar

it was the middle of darkwinter and the migration was underway. the air was so cold it frosted our warm breaths and they collapsed to the ground like little light puff balls. a man couldn’t spit for fear it would stick to their face. if you had to pee–wait until we reached shelter, or suffer the loss of your dick. this is darkwinter across the frozen sea, men and women trudging in thick hobnailed boots and layers upon layers of furs, trudging over ice and packed snow with lit torches or legal light nested on walking sticks or on body parts. pinpoints of light dotting the otherwise black landscape. it’s a very surreal experience if you haven’t been, as the tozha are unafraid of humans–unafraid of anything, really–and they just lope along so effortlessly along the ice, and you’ll see a few of them with their giant beaks slamming into the ocean ice, chipping at it until they get into the ocean. the tozha are such smart creatures, they’ll have one of the females break open a hole with its beak and then open the hole up until it’s wide enough for the male’s more slender beak. then they all huddle around the hole and keep the spot warm so the hole doesn’t refreeze, while the male takes a bit of food, or chum, or whatever they have–sometimes they strip meat from each other, in fact–and clutch it in their beaks which they dip into the water, waiting for fish to come and bite. when they do, SNAP, they grab the fish and throw it onto the ice, where it’s devoured quickly. the female who broke the ice gets the first fish, then all the others, and the male gets the last fish.

padrage and i were tasked with finding these fishing holes and driving the tozha away from them so we could fish ourselves. see, cracking the ocean ice is not easy, even for the tozha, who can spend upwards of eight hours breaking through to the water, depending on the ice thickness. i feel like a bastard for doing it but a lot of times we just shout and wave our light at the tozha and they run off scared. i try to make sure they fill their bellies but it’s colder than cold on the frozen seas and spending a lot of time there is just deadly. now, you’ve seen tozha, yes? at least in your history tomes. giant birds, basically, so big that their wings can’t keep ’em aloft at all. they run on these enormous bird legs, thicker than the width of your body, and at the end of these legs is talons, talons as long as your arm and sharp as a freshly honed seax. the tsosodoi people, they train tozha so as to ride ’em into battle and such, and a domesticated war tozha is a terrifying thing to see in battle.

fortunately for padrage and myself, most tozha are easily frightened, especially by bright lights. i had a torch because i don’t trust magic, but padrage had some legal light and we set about scaring off a group of tozha who had burrowed a nice broad hole into the ocean. we had a group of six men, the other four carrying the various parts of the fishing contraption they use to bring up the real big deep sea stuff. and one of them had fire to keep the hole from refreezing. big operation, been done for hundreds of years. biggest problem is slipping on the ice and falling into the hole. you do that and you’re dead, cause either you freeze, or you get eaten by whatever is still swimming around under all that ice.

well, i don’t know what it was about tonight, but all those tozha ran off into the darkness, except for one. a mama bird, a big one, had to be ten, twelve feet tall. she had a wingspan unlike anything i’d ever seen on tozha before, and when pad raised his light up, her feathers were black and her beak was a dullish bronze and she reared up and spread her wings and they had to be twenty feet long, just full of these beautiful shimmering purple-black feathers. we were in awe, amazed, astounded. i had never seen a tozha like her and i don’t think i ever will again. she cawed at us, a loud, thunderous sound reverberating from her breastbone, and then she cocked her head to the side, sizing us up with one of her enormous black eyeballs.

on the frozen sea the wind whips incessantly, bringing about a deathly cold to anyone save the hardiest people like myself and padrage. it’s loud, like a thousand banshees screaming at you and tossing you about from all angles. the snow falling like a blizzard all around you, the heavy fog, it was all disorienting, all of it, and we were both enraptured by this mama bird’s awesomeness … so we staggered a bit when she charged us. pad was shouting, and i couldn’t hear him until he turned around. he was shouting “run,” and i took a step back, instinctively felt my hobnails grip into the slippery ice, twisted my feetaway from the tozha. but i was still looking at her, and at pad, and i watched as her giant talons gripped into the ice, watched pad as he tried to push off from the ice but he slipped and she slammed her foot into his back. heard the air escape from pad’s lungs with such a whoosh that i swear to this day i could see his spirit get forced out of his body, a will-o-the-wisp finding itself forever trapped in the cold winds of darkwinter.

naturally i was upset, and in my rage i made the mistake of attacking this beast, unsheathing my seax and praying to enfyenda to grant my boots the grip they desperately needed. i ran and leaped at the tozha, striking it hard against the beak, which only caused my whole body to shudder, my hammer to ricochet off. a glancing blow to a beast like that. the tozha, annoyed, flicked its beak at me as i fell, striking me hard against the breast and knocking me to the ground. with a swift motion its other foot was on my chest, pressing hard the air out of me. one of its talons was inches from my forehead and as in instinctively struggled out of its grip, it just tightened it more, and the talon slowly sliced down my face. that’s how i got this scar. i’m surprised i still have my eye.

for a while it felt like an eternity, but in truth is was mere moments, me trapped under her foot, her beak so close to my face, the occasional darting glance from her eyes perched on the sides of her head. i tell you, i’ve been an adventurer all my life and it never gets easy, it never stops being terrifying. ever. and this was no exception to that rule. anyway. i don’t know what caused the tozha to let go, but she decided to lift her foot from my body and take padrage’s body in her massive beak. then she turned and was off, running in the darkness toward her flock. i laid there for a moment, collecting myself. the hole cut into the water had already frozen over. i was alone. i picked myself up and grabbed the light padrage had been holding, and trudged slowly back to camp, feeling the bruising on my ribs, the frozen blood on my face, fearing frostbite on my nose.

when i got to camp the warren was full of men like me, men who were battered, bruised, cut, sliced, frostbitten. and some were dead. preyster gahrain chided me for allowing the tozha to take padrage’s body. “now they’ll have a taste for human!” he cried. i just crawled into my hole and wept.

189: tryvell antaleus, padoran exhaler

the wisdom of padora is one that can never be overstated. her grace and mercy are the ultimate power in our world. she who is cosmic flesh sought to breathe in the breath of life so that we may live and take part in the grand revelry that is life. for this we are eternally grateful. you, child, are a skeptic, an asker of important questions, one who sees cracks in the logic of the universe and seeks to pry those cracks open until the foundations are split in two. this is good, this is a part of padora’s wisdom, bestowed upon you: you are given the task of proving the truth of the world to the nonbelievers and believers alike. do not tread these boards lightly. many before you and many after will spend their waking hours studying the scrolls given to us by padora’s trusted angels, trying to find a slip in her words, an error in translation, or any other issue that can be used against her. this is not the true skeptic’s path. the skeptic uses questions to help define the presence of padora, not her absence. those that pursue the absence of the goddess are doomed to destitute failure, cast out of padora’s light and exiled to the barbarian lands to the north. please understand, initiate, that there are skeptics outside of padoran skepticism, those whose fundamental premise is that padora herself does not exist. those skeptics die alone, and hungry, in caves and on plains, or are murdered by the ravenous hordes in the north. they are your enemies and are not to be trusted. do not ally with the dark skeptics. they will be your downfall.

182: folgeir, paladin of doren (pt 2)

i have traveled the world and back and still will never find a stew made as delicious as that samantha terwin. she must put some kind of faerie magic in there, no matter where i am i crave it. ah, so very delicious…

so, where was i? oh yes! betrayal. the worst kind of betrayal, the kind that comes from your best friend. the wizard had become the sorceress, the descendant of a long line of sorcerers bound by the ancient green dragon’s blood pact. the sorceress explained how she had been in search of the dragon for centuries (she was an elf, i suppose i should mention that), and that when the tremor split the land in kostor in twain, she was certain that the dragon that crawled out from the fracture was indeed her ancestor. she had been using us all this time as vessels to help her in this search! every night she pretended to study her spellbook, she had all this knowledge of the different schools of wizardry, she was nearly pedantic in her knowledge. but she looked and played the part perfectly. her spellbook, we later found out, was filled with random notes, drawings, and scribbles.

the dragon ordered us killed right then and there. she was not one for gabbing about her plans for world domination. as the sorceress raised her arms to deliver a killing blow of magic, her eyes caught mine, and even though she was a dragonborn now and no longer an elf, i could see in her eyes a pang of regret, small as it may be. we had traveled together for nearly ten years, and we all but friends. i had told her my darkest secrets and she told me hers, or at least all but one. i would even go so far as to say, at one point in our travels, i loved her … for a brief moment, maybe a year at most. adventuring is a lonely business, little ones, so it’s nice to have some companionship. she didn’t feel the same way. about us, i mean. anyway.

the moment our eyes met felt like an eternity. her spell kept me and my associates from moving. i could feel the air sizzle as her magic began to manipulate the air around us. i prayed to enfyenda for guidance, for help, for anything that could get us out of this mess. and then, out of seemingly thin air, came out help–tully, the little rogue halfling, leapt onto the sorceress’ back and put a dagger blade against her throat. he must have been hiding the entire time! he whispered something to her, something i’ll never know, before he cut her throat. the dragon was furious and spit hot acid at tully, which hit him and the sorceress. i watched them both dissolve away as the bonds of her spell disappeared and allowed me movement. the next few moments were a blur: gojen sprinted at the dragon while i unleashed a spell to keep him protected. then i attacked as well. leyva kept us inspired while she weaved her special bardic magic, and the three of us fought that dragon with all of our might, so much so that i was afraid we would cause another earthquake. in the end, i was the only one to make it out alive, barely. my friends, that i had been traveling with for so long, all dead. the dragon was dead too, and i helped the people of kostor haul its body and its treasure hoard. took us nearly six months to excavate it all and get it out from the depths.

after that, i knew my adventuring days were over. i was getting older and wanted to rest and enjoy my life, and never see another friend dissolved by acid from a giant dragon. once we finished cutting up the dragon and selling the scales to smiths for armor, i was given a generous portion to take with me. but i gave most of it away to the poor on my journey back here, to doren, my home. i was born and raised here, did you know that? and one day i met a young paladin preaching the gospel of enfyenda, which is when i knew what i would be one day.

so that’s it, that’s my story. the last adventure i ever went on. the adventure that killed all my friends. i … guess i didn’t realize how morbid it would be, really.

[sighs softly] i’m tired. come help me up, sam’s stew is making me drowsy. i think it’s time for this old dwarf to head to bed. come on, let’s go kids. i’ll tell you a more upbeat story next time, i promise…

181: folgeir, paladin of doren (pt 1)

you never give it up. ever. your body becomes old, frail, you find aches and pains where once there were none, your eyes dim, your hearing is replaced by little annoying hairs, but despite all that, you never give it up. from the moment i was given the holy symbol of our goddess of the north, the beautiful enfyenda, until i exhale my last dying breath, i am a sworn paladin in the service of the gods. yes, now, i reside here in doren, retired, in a way. hobbling on this old cane, teaching youngsters like you the ways of adventuring. but if word were to come from on high requesting me to fight or defend, may the goddess have mercy on those who wronged her. for i am a paladin, and i am the defender of those without agency.

so yes, young ones, despite my frailty i am still imbued with divine ichor, which flows through my blood and gives me power when i seek it. but i do not seek it any longer, not actively. no, my days traveling the world are long gone. shall i tell you of my last valiant battle? of course, of course. this is a tale better spoken by my dear friend leyva the bard, who played so gracefully upon her harp as she sung this story into being, welling the eyes of everyone with tears as she performed. alas, she is gone, given the gift of human mortality by her god yalga the bowyer. i had lived twice as long as her before we had ever met. she … was a good human.

but i digress. the tale of the dragon! my colleagues and i had adventured for nearly a decade together, braving forests, mountains, oceans, rivers, jungles, and even a brief trip into another dimension. yes! i will tell that story another time. doren is very secluded from civilization; i’m sure many of you are chomping at the bit to leave this dusty old village and travel to a city like altavir, the crystal shield. i have been to altavir, and kostor, and hen, and the wailing spires. i have seen sirens bathing in the streams. i have defeated devil and demon alike. i have done all of this because adventuring is a dead man’s game, and thus my friends and i were a prized commodity, especially in our later years. and so it was on this particular hot summer day, during a period of downtime–unusual for us–that we were summoned to the briar queen’s chamber in kostor to alleviate a particularly nasty dragon problem the citizens there had been facing.

like i said, adventurers are few and far between, and those who choose the lifestyle are often dead before they even know it. for a span there i was convinced we were the only adventurers in the entire world! regardless, the briar queen required our services, and quickly–she had a wizard conjure up a gateway between where we were and her royal chambers in kostor. there, she and her council explained the situation, which i will condense for your young minds: there was a dragon. a big one, an ancient green dragon which had been awakened after decades of slumber by a severe tremor which caused much of the earth to rend asunder, destroying several buildings in kostor and even collapsing part of their legendary wall surrounding the city. the dragon was roused and began causing more havoc against the people of kostor, destroying their farmland and spitting vile acid which ate away at everything it touched.

we were tasked with bringing the dragon down. the briar queen told us that the dragon had finally returned to its underground nest to rest for bit, but that it would return shortly. so we gathered up our weapons and armor, and our wizard ruminated on her best spells. leyva tuned her harp, the monk gojen meditated, i honed my sword and prayed to enfyenda for guidance, and tully the rogue practiced his sleight of hand. by nightfall we were off, spelunking down this enormous cavern that had opened up because of the tremor. inside were all sorts of monsters–enormous bugs, beetles, and vile creatures from the underdark like drow, ghouls, goblins, and more. but at this point they were like child’s play to us, and we toyed with them like you might toy with a field mouse nibbling on your grain before you feed it to the cat.

finally we reached the dragon’s lair. she was enormous, and her scales were embedded with so many jewels and gems that the wizard’s light made her entire body glint and glimmer. she was not asleep. rather, she was waiting for us. as i withdrew my sword to attack, she spoke. “i am lisandera,” she said, her voice low and gravelly. “i am the keeper of this land upon which you have built a great empire. that empire is mine, and i will rule it.” she hissed at us but did not move. despite our years of adventuring, we all knew not to head straight into battle. something was off about this. i tried to move closer to begin parleying but found that my body was rigid. “i can’t move!” i shouted, and the others announced the same. it was at this point that the wizard, whose vile name i dare not repeat ever again with this holy tongue, stepped in front of us. she walked to the dragon and turned to us. we had been betrayed! the wizard was a sorcerer, but had disguised herself as a wizard since the moment we met. now, she removed her guise, and we discovered that the ancient green dragon was in fact the progenitor of her ancestry! the sorceress laughed maniacally and we were certain of our doom.

[a loud clangy triangle sounds in the distance]

ah, is it supper time already? goodness. we shall have to pick up this story after i have eaten! [the children groan] oh, don’t worry, i shan’t forget you. now, somebody bring me my walking stick. and you, beatrice, help me up! i refuse to ever miss a good meal,not after being trapped in the ice caverns of north berteroy for nearly six months…

157: queen goswin (padora)

darling, come sit at the table, stop staring out the windows. i’m sure tyverion has shown you all you need to see. that land out there is yours, by divine right, but there are those who oppose divine right, and those who do not believe in padora’s grace. this is true of all civilizations–there are those who believe, and those who don’t. padora was wise to grant us the ability to question her existence, to give us the skeptic’s path toward enlightenment. for what good is a goddess if she cannot be held accountable for the things she does, or does not do? the exhalers would lead you to believe that padora does not even know of the world she has created, much like we sometimes forget that we are breathing, even while we do it. not knowing implies not caring, or rather, that she is not aware of our problems, nor does she try to fix them. this is justification for the wars with the outer lands; that because the unbelievers cannot be shaped by padora’s grace, we must shape it for them. but because padora strictly forbades violence, we direct the peacekeepers to fight in our stead. many of them do not return, and it is becoming difficult to replenish our forces of able-bodied men who willingly defy padora to protect tersus. it is difficult to defend your divine right, logos. but i will do whatever i can, whatever is within my power, to keep you safe until you are of age to reign. until then, please heed my words: tyverion is a good man, but easily swayed. he fought in the war of the ancients and has seen much death and destruction, and it hurts him, as he believes he is no longer connected to the breath. he is swayed in favor of the outliers and will protect them when the time comes, and he will use you to help him. you must not let that happen, for if you do, your lineage will come to an end. believe me, my love. i would never do anything to harm you. i love you and will protect you to my dying day.

155: tyverion, right-minder to the prince royale (padora)

glorious, isn’t it? take a look at it all, let it all sink into the depths of your eyes. this is your land, all of it, from the earth beneath your feet to the tops of those mountains in the distance, and beyond. smell the flowers blooming in the valley below, feel the wind against your cheek. this is yours. a river, about 70 miles past the mountains ahead of us, is the end of your reign, majesty. imagine, anywhere from here to there is yours to roam, to do whatever you wish in. and for this you only have two people to thank: your mother, and padora, the goddess herself, who has infused your body with her breath. the land of tersus is yours by right of divinity, yes, all of it, even beyond the river, but currently your mother the queen has suggested to the peacekeepers to wage war on the sinners of the other lands, who use the goddess’s breath to craft nefarious magics, which they use against us. she does this for you, young one, so that when you take over the throne you will have little to worry about. all she asks for is your patience and your unwavering loyalty to padora, your goddess-mother, whose breath was instilled inside of you and will be passed along to your offspring for a thousand generations, until mankind dissipates into the cosmos with the great exhalation.

it is important to remember, dear prince, that your ascendancy into royalty came from nothing, from the sheer will off the goddess, and only in the goddess will it continue. your mother, she … is a fine queen, a glorious queen, praise be her name, but her council … is worried. we are worried about her grand designs for tersus and the surrounding land. not about conquest, per se, but … her alignment with the peacekeepers. by law she should not be allowed to even speak to them, as they are the embodiment of war, chaos, destruction, the evils the goddess forbade. but we turn a blind eye, because she is afraid of what those in the other lands have devised to use against us. she is in a precarious place, and one wrong move could strip her of her divinity. we do not wish that for you, dear prince. i need you to promise to me that, no matter what happens with your mother, you will never speak with the peacekeepers, nor be a part of any of their dirty work. there are intermediaries–myself, for example–who are equipped to deal with them and their secular nature. there is dogma attached to all of this, tenants brought down from the angels. when you are older, you will understand. but for now, i need your promise. please promise me?

101: dr carla broker (hyperspace lessons pt 3)

the frame-of-reference drive system, which you likely know as the “fardrive,” works by utilizing the third aspect of hyperspace to create a “touchpoint” between two objects with significant mass–basically planets or planetoid objects. the fardrive does this by taking the two objects in realspace and “compresses” them into two-dimensional mathematical equations. this is basically what i and many of my colleagues back at MIT worked on for roughly five years, with the help of the bethzoans, who we were actually helping by utilizing math in a way they hadn’t thought of before.

the fardrive effectively “thinks” in hyperspace terms. the bethzoans had done numerous studies on hyperspace physics over the three centuries since they discovered it, leading to some strange equations they used to create technology to harness hyperspace “hubs,” controlled by gates. rudimentary fardrive technology has been unearthed and discovered by countless beings in the galaxy, but so far nothing that could fit on, say, a ship the size of a starfighter.

in order for you to understand how the fardrive works, let’s imagine a routine trip from tersus to second earth, in the sixth arm. these two planets are about 26 thousand light years away from each other, and obviously there are countless things in the way: planets, stars, nebula, et cetera. in realspace, these things are spaced far enough apart that we would likely be able to navigate a straight line from planet A to planet B without running into anything that would cause us trouble. problem is, it would take us thousands of years to get there, even if we managed to hit the speed of light. which we wouldn’t, thanks to albert einstein.

now, in hyperspace, it was the opposite problem: objects were incredibly close, but were all in the way of each other, making a straight line impossible. it’s like trying to get to neptune from earth but having mars, jupiter, and uranus in the way. many races circumvented this by plotting curved paths, basically flying from planet to planet, but this could only be done safely for a few planets before hyperspace physics began eating through neutral shields and breaking down the ship itself. this made colonization of planets slightly easier, but kept colonies confined to a few core systems.

so my colleagues and i, way back when i was a grad student at MIT, we came up with a solution. going back to earth to neptune–the problem there is that, from our perspective, three other planets are directly in the way. but … and i remember my dear friend jitendra coming up with this in the wee hours of the morning–we were talking about this very thing, going from earth to neptune and having planets in the way–and he said, “what if we could find a point in space where it would appear like earth and neptune were touching?” and it worked. it worked! so brilliant! the solution was to shift our viewpoint–the frame of reference, in other worse–until nothing was in the way, creating an artificial touchpoint between two planets. then, using hyperspace’s third aspect, we could “flatten” the third dimension into a two-dimensional picture, creating a “touchpoint” between two faraway objects in realspace. this touchpoint 95% of the time exists as a reality in hyperspace. voila, now we could jump from point A to point B with ease!

i … can see you’re not as thrilled about this breakthrough as we were. it’s okay. it wasn’t foolproof anyway: the amount of energy needed to both  find an artificial point in space and then flatten it in a photo-realistic model on a quantum supercomputer is a lot more than we realized at the time. you basically need a detailed map of the universe, which is why you see a lot of sensor trucks scanning basically everything everywhere. fortunately, the bethzoans are masters at creating and harnessing tremendous amounts of energy.

so anyway, once we had this info the bethzoans and we began R&D, we had ships built within two years that had traversed parts of the galaxy no one had ever seen before, and we were getting money left and right to help hone our research. that was 27 years ago, and today, the terran galactic alliance has colonized ten worlds, alleviating centuries of overcrowding and pollution on earth. and you, congratulations, you’re among the first generation offworlders! you’re the future our ancestors thought we’d never have. you owe the courage infused in your bones to help push your generation farther out into the galaxy. there’s a lot even the bethzoans haven’t discovered yet. it’s a brand new world out there to explore.

and if that bores you, then maybe you deserve to be flipping burgers. i’m kidding. thank you for listening to me babble on. does anyone have any questions?

[the kids all raise their hands.]

oh, good!

100: dr carla broker (hyperspace lessons pt 2)

i’m getting ahead of myself slightly. the third aspect of hyperspace was incredibly difficult for scientists to understand for many years. it actually took us over six years just to replicate the experiment! but once we could replicate it safely, we began to amass a tremendous amount of data regarding these hyperspace particles. a lot of that data is very technical and deals with very advanced levels of physics, so i’ll just cut to the chase: we found that by utilizing certain subatomic particles through a process of fusion, we were able to open small tears into hyperspace for longer and longer periods of time. this was an incredibly important moment for humanity, but also game with a grave cost. again, hyperspace physics do not follow conventional laws of physics and mathematics, and when an object in realspace directly interacts with hyperspace, and vice versa, bad things can happen.

you all may have heard of “hyperspace sickness,” also known as “the madness” or “swiss cheese disease.” in hyperphysics circles we call it “the sight,” as in, once you see hyperspace, you’re dead. this is why all starships have blinders during hyperspace jumps. the problem is that our brains cannot comprehend direct visual contact with hyperspace–it’s like an overload of the senses, to the point that it causes mental and physical symptoms leading up to insanity and death. scientists during the early experimentation years would catch these brief glimpses of another world and would suffer from bouts of madness and dementia. subsequent viewings of larger portions of hyperspace can even create holes in a person’s brain. this is serious stuff! hyperspace is effectively very radioactive, full of what we call “radioactive physics,” which causes decay in all matter in realspace due to being incompatible with our physics.

now, of course, a few decades later and we’re traversing the galaxy and colonizing new worlds. how did we do it so quickly? well, of course we had help from the bethezoans, who gave us the technology to develop quantum shielding, but they did not help us with our frame-of-reference drive system. in fact, prior to the development of the fardrive, hyperspace travel was very rare within the galaxy, usually confined to “hubs” where successful hyperspace jumps had occurred again and again. the co-chin race, in the twelfth arm, built these massive hyperspace “gates” which would open enormous holes into hyperspace, and, over the centuries, cause massive decay of the surrounding realspace. one gate was destroyed due to the nearby solar star collapsing into a supernova due to hyperspace radiation. as intelligent as these other races were, and still are, they hadn’t come up with a feasible way to plot hyperspace jumps until the terrans arrived. the reason was this: we had math derived from visual observation of hyperspace that they didn’t, along with a conjecture the legendary physicist dr nera van boolen came up with twenty-five years ago, that if hyperspace is realspace condensed, and that hyperspace acts as both a three-dimensional and two-dimensional space, then perhaps coordinates can be created in realspace that would make a single “touch point” between two celestial objects in hyperspace.

am i boring you yet? listen, not everyone will grow up to become a hyperphysicist. some of you may be bankers, or teach, or hell, even flip burgers for a living. just do what you’re good at. i don’t mind if you use this time to sleep. for the rest of you, i will break down the frame of reference drive and explain how it got us out of the solar system, and fast.