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Appendice 7: Grav-lines and Grav-Shunting


The miracle of grav-shunting is often taken for granted in our age of far flung empires and galaxy- wide travel, but without this ingenious exploitation of n-dimensional phenomena mankind would be severely limited in its ability to spread beyond the borders of the Viridia-Solaris / Leviathan System. While true faster than light travel still remains a fiction, the ability to instantaneously shunt from well to well, and hence system to system, ensures that humanity can pursue its galactic ambitions on a practical timescale.

Underlying the complicated reality of extra- dimensional physics is the principle of n-space, classically referred to as 'the sub-ether,' but also commonly (but erroneously) described as the 'fifth' dimension. N-space is perhaps best thought of as a realm beneath our own (real space) in which many of the laws of physics operate differently. Though a fruitful area of theoretical study since the twenty- second century, it was not until the mid-twenty-fifth century that xaser technology was sufficient to begin exploiting this hidden realm in earnest. By variously focusing beams of inverted light xasers were able to probe and manipulate corollary forces operating in n- space. Soon these new devices proved their worth in exploration and communication, and were instrumental in the discovery of Prime, for example.

But it was not until grav-wells and grav- lines were discovered and understood that xasers became the revolutionary tool they are today. Mankind is blessed in having such a powerful and stable grav-well in the form of the dead star Leviathan so close to home - had humanity been limited to what it could observe from Solaris it may have been centuries longer in discovering the breakthrough of grav-shunting. It was the unusual behaviour of xaser-manipulated n-space in the vicinity of Leviathan that first attracted the attention of VASA, who had the foresight to assign their best minds under the guidance of Dr. Donat Serjkov to the task of discovering what had long been a dream of mankind's - a gateway to the stars.

The architecture of n-space is radically effected by gravity, and it seems to exist as a strangely distorted reverse image of our own universe with gravity acting as a kind of mirror. Bodies in the real universe exert a consistent gravitic distortion within n-space and, as it turns out, gravity seems to be not only the most potent of n-spatial forces (in contrast to our own universe, where it is comparatively weak) but also the only rationally consistent and predictable force common to both spheres of existence, real and sub-ether space. What this means is that a known magnitude of gravity in the real universe will exert a predictable force in the extra-dimensional universe, and that the manipulation or magnification of this force will have consistent results within n-space.

Thus, not only was it discovered that the architecture of n-space could be predictably manipulated in the vicinity of a body of sufficient gravitic magnitude (a grav-well) but that this alteration could be extended in a controlled way to a point of known magnitude - and be done in such a way that objects from real space could pass from one magnitude point to another. This is grav- shunting, the manipulation of n-spatial gravitic architecture by means of xasers from a grav-well locus in real space so that it extends to another such locus, almost always another star, in order that these two points are temporarily connected. An object passing through this n-space opening exists completely out of time, and the movement between distant solar systems is accomplished with less sensation than that of a person walking from one room to the next.

But just as the characteristics of planetary and solar bodies vary tremendously, so to do the routes between systems. Galactic maps depict systems connected by grav-lines, or jump-lines as they are often called by old spacers, and these lines represent the common, most efficient, or traditional pathways between systems. Theoretically a grav-line could be extended from any grav-well of magnitude 4 or greater to reach any other well in the entire galaxy - but realistically we know this to be an impossibility. What the standard series of gravitic pathways on the map show are the possible routes between stars given the infrastructure and grav-well magnitude of the systems in question, and such pathways become easier to create and more stable the longer they are exploited. Infrastructure is an important and often overlooked component in grav-line capability, and the enormous xaser stations of the Gateworld systems and other galactic hubs are what make many of the longer shunts feasible. Indeed, the longest of such lines (such as the Helios-Deneb line) are only made possible by tandem xasering, the precise working of both ends of a grav-line simultaneously. This vulnerability has been dramatically demonstrated recently with the Koralon Incursion, for as the Gateworld systems fell to the aliens they in effect became more remote - wells that could previously be shunted into from dozens of neighbouring systems were suddenly accessible from only a few of the closest stars, stars from which one-way shunting was possible.

It is difficult to believe that there are still systems completely inaccessible to humanity, many of which are within the so-called 'borders' of mankind's galactic empire. These remote places are no further away than the farthest of human colonies, but they may as well be in another galaxy for all practical purposes. Such systems lack grav- wells of sufficient magnitude for 'cold-shunting,' the process by which a ship shunts without any aid or precise data from its target location, and are only accessible by centuries-long voyages through interstellar space. Generally such systems are the subject of remote probes, a few have been the destination of slow ship colonizers of various kinds, but for the most part they, and the billions of uncharted parsecs of blackness between systems, remain a mystery.