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Rrorssh (Egg Guardian to Rahl of the Selekhan Science Academy)

The thirty five thousand year (Earth standard) history of the Settled Quarter is one of incremental and heavily managed growth. Quite a boring tale really! Before the start of the current epoch, however, things were much more interesting; and violent. All on a grand scale.

While the current situation could be rationalized as an organic outcome derived from the clash of empires, the reality is the Settled Quarter would not exist if not for the concerted efforts of the Selekhan Federation.

This farsighted conglomeration of saurian species conspired to trick everyone else into peaceful cooperation. They had their own violent history to call on as inspiration, having come close to wiping themselves out on three distinct occasions. The Mir, the upper academic class within the Selekhan home group, finally asserted control and the Great Peace was instituted.

The fact that Slipway technology originated within this group also provided leverage. By negotiating a trade pact with several technically adept avian cartels, the Slipways and their safety were radically improved and the growth which created the Settled Quarter began in earnest.

Out of this early success the Trade Directorate was born. And such an enduring bureaucracy no species had ever seen. The Selekhan founders reasoned that only a certain point-of-view could be trusted to manage such a universal organization. These were the outsiders who could be found in any society. While products of their societies, they inherently felt isolated and detached from them. And tended to look for satisfaction elsewhere. The Trade Directorate became that ‘elsewhere’.  The system worked exceptionally well. The empires and cartels came to realize a negative decision by the Directorate was only a short-term thing. An investment in the suppression of pride invariably brought long-term profit. Rulers who failed to learn this lesson tended not to rule for very long.

A digression here is in order to explain the glue that holds the union together – the Slipways.

The classical Greeks of Earth have a saying, “As above, so below.” Most cultures eventually make this connection, but the Greek version has certain eloquence, hence its use here. In essence, the galaxy is an ocean of gravity and behaves in a fashion similar to the vast liquid treasures of the water planets. Most notably, when two regions of interstellar gravity meet in conducive circumstances they create a current; a slipstream of gravitational resonance, which if accessed can do amazing things.

Here again, the Greeks have a particularly poetic insight, “All is number, number is all.” They were, of course, speaking about vibration. If you can get the vibration right, you can access the slipstream and achieve faster-than-light travel. Getting in is relatively easy; getting out is deadly.

To do either you need a gravitational-pulse drive system (G.P.D.). Technology of any sophistication eventually leads to this type of propulsion. With it, velocities up to ten percent of the speed of light (SOL) are possible. Effectively an interstellar empire, federation or oligarchy can encompass its own solar system and others up to several light years away. Clusters of stars in this configuration are plentiful towards the center of the Fan (Milky Way) Galaxy. They form the outer nucleus and shoulders of the various arms of our home.

And that’s where civilization stayed until the development of the Slipway. Over ten thousand years of early development, the various species that had achieved the necessary technology spread out partway along three of the galactic arms and with the pacifist control of the Trade Directorate, the Settled Quarter became a reality. The word ‘quarter’ is both an atmospheric term, denoting community and an ambitious numerical target, aiming to settle close to a quarter of the galaxy. Selekhan projections suggest this is possible across the next twenty thousand years.

So, what is a Slipway? Essentially, near the ends of a stable slipstream two rings are placed well away from the gravity wells that generate the stream. The diameter of each approximates one sixth of Earth’s moon, and they are one light minute apart. These gravitational resonance devices align with the stream and allow a controlled insertion and extraction. They also provide navigational guidance for use during transit. Regular transit of small drones allows, if not instantaneous communication, then controllable delayed messaging. Recent developments suggest harmonic pulsing may be able to improve this further.

Around each ring are all the technical, residential and management functions necessary for large-scale interstellar trade and travel. Depending on the direction of transit for any given flight, one ring acts as a mass buffer, while the other functions as an accelerator. The roles are interchangeable. Occasionally, a third ring will be added to create a throughway; a means to control continuous travel over particularly long distances.

Earth’s Slipway is ten light minutes outside the orbit of Pluto. It takes two Earth days to travel from the Slipway to the planet, given the usual navigational obstacles of a solar system.

This Slipway is also unusual in that it links one arm of the Settled Quarter, the third, with another. Earth is in the fourth galactic arm. The original survey team was charged with making this long jump when a slipstream of unusual strength was discovered. Inter-arm slipstreams are not common this far out in the galaxy. The Surveyors make these hazardous journeys knowing full well the destination may kill them. They are the ultimate outsiders. Stabilizing the third-to-fourth link required two attempts; seventeen surveyors died. The indentured nature of their contract with the Mekli is seen as a necessary evil; a convenient conceit, which we may all regret at some time in the future.

Exploration of the fourth arm is ongoing and a long-term venture. Five worlds have been opened for tourism, which covers much of the cost of the enterprise. As yet, no economically viable resources have been located, although the exploration zone is rich in stellar terms. This region of the fourth arm has been named the Fringe.

The development of the Managed Infiltration Tour (M.I.T.) on the Fringe world of Earth has radically increased the revenue of the Travel Agency and assured its ascendancy within the Trade Directorate; something director Slorssh has been working toward for a considerable amount of time. It has resulted recently in the Agency acquiring an outer seat on the Council. When reference is made to the Council, it is the Coordinating Policy Council of the Trade Directorate, sometimes referred to as the High Council.

Returning to Slipways: unregulated ones are known but infrequent. Apart from the costs involved, smaller units are unreliable and do not last long. The resulting inter-dimensional implosions not only destroy the facilities, but also light up the slipstream for years after creating a navigational maelstrom. Penalties are planetary in scale.

Like any bureaucracy, the Trade Directorate is subject to the usual corruptions and entropy of its ilk. The charter devised by the Selekhan long ago has kept the process to a minimum. But of late there has been a subtle infiltration, which Rahl and others have realized is deliberate.

Centuries ago, when he inadvertently rescued Peter Ryan from genetically engineered slavery, Rahl has been certain of this conspiracy’s existence. When he first met DArR’ NSHA – NLii, he felt the wheels of Fate shift, and knew he had the weapons needed in the next stage of the conflict.

With the coming of Teegan McNamara, the Earthling known as Mac, he grew concerned. The legend of the Harbingers is widespread, but rarely comes into reality. When it does, chaos follows. In DArR’ and Mac, he has found two of them. Not just change is coming, something spectacular is about to blossom and he may not be able to control it.


Published by iandavidmartin

Australian; Architect; Writer

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