Interstellar Matters

Copyright © 2000,2003 Elyse M. Grasso

The Crease

Faster than light travel involves twist space, a sort of hyperspace that has its own "geography". The Crease is a feature of that geography: ships that travel along the Crease (in either direction) make two or three times as much progress in a given amount of subjective time compared to travel in other places or directions. It's like a river with a strong curent, but the current goes in both directions.

Cherani is located near one end of the Crease, which makes it valuable as a port, especially since it is also near a couple of smaller wrinkles going in various directions. Kind of like being a river port as well as a sea port.

Earth is in a twist-space slow spot, but not too far from the Crease.

Shayana is in the middle of a gap between the Imperial twist-space routes and one of the tributaries of the Crease. The Imperials never made much use of the Crease themselves, but once they had been on Shayana for a while, other traders from the Crease worlds began using Shayana as a depot for Imperial trade. That has been disrupted somewhat since the Return of the Light, but Shayanans are a more active trading partner than the Empire ever was, even if not as rich (yet). And in any case the Plague played hell with trade inside the Empire.

There are two different ways to display stellar regions: straight space displays show where things are located according the the route light takes between them. Twist-space maps are travel route maps. It is the case that if 3 points a b and c are in a straight line in straight space and b is closer to a than it is to c, in twist space they are in a triangle, and nothing can be predicted about relative distances: b may be closer to c, or a and c may both be closer to each other than they are to b.

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The Empire

'Empire' is a rough translation: the accurate form would be something like "the place that is ruled by the one who rules". At its peak, the Place that Is Ruled included 312 planets and a lot of smaller outposts.

Or so it was claimed by the Imperials, 'those who are ruled by the one who rules'. They included Shayana on the list even though most of the land area and all of the oceans fell into the category of places where no Imperial representative had ever set foot and lived. (And even that is ignoring the places where the Imperial military patrolled in full platoons and didn't dare step out of each other's sight to relieve themselves.) Of course, the Imperials also officially claimed that there were no sentient natives on Shayana, while they were trying to use some of them for slave labor, both on Shayana and elsewhere.

It took the Imperials almost 8,000 of their years to aquire all of those planets and outposts. They didn't acquire them at a steady pace: every once in a while, usually just after a dynasty shift has shaken up the status quo, they go through a brief period of grabbing things. Shayana was the last thing they grabbed during their last spurt of acquisitions.

Imperial civil authorities don't use standard twist-space maps: they measure everything from the homeworld, and ignore possible crosslinks among the outer worlds. Shayanan strategists have their own set of maps.

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Ahhrasak is the large moon of a close superjovian (a planet larger than Jupiter but much closer to its sun than Jupiter is). It has some moons of it's own -- or possibly co-moons -- located at the leading and trailing Trojan points along its orbit. Ahhrasak itself is larger than Ganymede or Callisto, but a bit smaller than Mars. Ahhrasak is denser than Mars (density is more like that of Earth), so the net surface gravity is higher than Mars'. The radiation environment is complicated by the magnetic fields of the parent world.

The native people of Ahhrasak never leave the planet, but they are very smart and good at materials science. They had nukes and rockets by the time explorers traveling up the crease found them. Those first explorers were the SSamessi, who couldn't survive in the Ahhrasak environment anyway. The Ahhrasak people hired a bunch of the Ssamessi to be a sort of Coast Guard in their system, with stations at the Trojan moons.

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