The Safe Harbor protocols Language in The Void Between | World Anvil

The Safe Harbor protocols

Access denied - We Broke Into Heaven

Nothing Gold Can Stay: "This one is particularly unique. It has the same effect, regardless of what's triggered by it. It erases the protocols from the memory of the triggered technology, and only the protocols themselves. My guess is it's meant to be a fail-safe, in case other species had a means of learning the protocol. It also must be spoken in full. It's one of the few protocols that won't allow for drift."
— Caydie Kines
We are not the sharpest tools in the shed. We have a few advantages over other species, but these technologies help preserve what we have, as opposed to helping us prosper. A topic of heavy study for humanity is the very thing that gave our planet its name: The safe harbor protocols.   We know next to nothing about them. The original intent behind their creation, as well as how many distinct triggers and phrases exist, all lie just beyond our grasp. Only one thing really matters: What are the safe harbor protocols? What is it that allows them to be? What is their nature?   We've scoured old computers abandoned in derelicts. We've found no coding, no digital blueprint that would explain how the cipher works. The lack of microphones on the technology makes the mystery even harder to unravel. It would be a simple thing to study the programming, but it doesn't seem to be a program at all. It is a process that seems hidden. The interaction is secluded somewhere between what we can see and measure. It lies in the interaction of software and hardware.
Old age should burn: "This one has been a pain to experiment with. This leads to complete destruction of any earth made device that hears it. Data drives will erase themselves, vessels will self-destruct. This is what you used to cover your tracks. It's odd that the protocols differentiate this phrase with 'Nothing gold can stay.' If the device is destroyed, won't the protocols be destroyed as well?   Addendum: After experiments with a group of old earth locks, I can verify that even if the entire system of the device is destroyed, several protocols still have an effect if used around the device. The lock clicks as I recite the phrase again."
— Caydie Kines

What are the safe harbor protocols?

In a general sense, The Protocols act as a secret language, a cipher usable only by humans. It involves a particular series of words, strung together in a particular order. Due to natural drift, they are often vague phrases or statements. Feel free to give it a shot the next time you find some earth tech. You never know what will happen.   A prime example of this cipher in use would be the term "Safe Harbor." Before we made a home on this strange world, humanity was scattered. Some earthborn humans knew of the protocol and used it as often as possible. We're slowly unlocking its mysteries, discovering new phrases routinely as we focus our study, and it all began with this one phrase.   All earth vessels were given a command upon hearing the term Safe Harbor, but only when spoken by a human in a human language. Refugees would be gathered on earth ships. Their rescuer would say, "I'll meet you when you reach safe harbor." From that moment on, the ship's coordinates would be locked in. Naturally, Safeharbor became the name of the very planet we arrived at. It does have a poetic beauty to it, no?

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers: "Primarily works on drones Manufactured on earth. The drone will activate and defend the speaker. What's bizarre is how the drone will activate any system it can, regardless of programming, damage sustained, or power limitations. The drones will activate and fight until there is simply no way for it to continue. I have no idea why someone would need this. Wouldn't the drones do this anyway?"
— Caydie Kines

Using the cipher

There are few limitations on how the cipher can be used. Simply speak it in whatever capacity you can, and if a reaction can occur, it will. If close enough, it can be muttered under your breath. It works best when spoken clearly, however, or even when typed out on a console.   The only true limitation is it must be a human speaking a human language. This helps maintain secrecy, though we have no idea how the technology can tell the difference. No one managed to find Safeharbor for decades, despite the fact that humans everywhere were flocking to the planet en masse.   The further away you are, the louder you need to be, and this is especially true when handling technology that is particularly worn out. Ships left to the elements on distant worlds tend to be hit or miss when using the protocols, their vital systems failing the test of time. Of course, this also means we are constantly in short supply of the technology, unable to reproduce or repair it without an understanding of its deeper functions.
Safe Harbor: "Activates navigational technology. It will plot routes, autopilot ships, fill in star charts, and even send notifications to nearby earth vessels that are crewed by humans of a single planet's location. "
— Caydie Kines


First, we discovered a strange link between our history, and the protocol. Famous lines or titles from works deemed culturally significant were used when creating the cipher. My personal favorite comes from a poem of old earth: Hope Is The Thing With Feathers. When spoken around old earth drones, they will activate, and defend you until they are rendered completely destroyed. This brings me to my next point: the context is just as important as the phrase. Different effects occur around different pieces of technology. "Safe harbor" locks in coordinates when used on a vessel, but brings up star charts revealing those coordinates if spoken to a computer. On occasion, it won't do anything at all.   Figuring out the right phrase and what reaction you get with different pieces of technology is the reason we struggle to truly understand the cipher. Before she perished in The Battle of The Pillars , Caydie Meredith Kines would stay up all night reading poetry and classical literature to stacks of earth artifacts. She did so till her voice gave out. She was the foremost expert on the subject. We learned so much from her.

On the Shoulders of Giants

New ships and technology created on Safeharbor have similar features that mimic The Safe Harbor Protocols. A fine example is the phrase: "Oh captain! My captain!" When spoken, the ship's systems will transfer the title of Captain, as well as the powers of the title, to an individual of the captain's choosing.   This command mimics the protocol using the same phrase to accomplish the same goal, though records indicate it was far more ceremonial in nature and a matter of tradition. Regardless, it was, and still is, an important act for every captain. Doing so almost ensures a peaceful change of power, ensuring the loyalty of the crew.   There are many occasions where a captain is unable to use this command, and as such, the selection of a new captain becomes a tedious, or sometimes violent affair. To combat this, many captains record their relinquishing of command prior to their death, having already selected their successor.  
We broke into heaven: "I've been working on the protocols for the sole reason of figuring out what this means. Every earthborn I've ever met has said this. When spoken around earth tech, the technology reacts. We can hear the clicks, beeps, and whirs, but there is nothing we can detect that changes from when it's dormant to when it's triggered. taking the equipment apart reveals nothing. I've asked, and asked. I've bribed. I've begged, and I've threatened. No one will tell me what this means, and I know they know..."
— Caydie Kines


Author's Notes

Archivist Trigger Commands
The Archivist is capable of responding to "queries." Using the following commands, one can request information, and The Archivist will respond.

  • Pose Query: [insert topic here]
    Express desire for information
  • Focused Query: [insert topic here]
    Ask for more information on a subject related to a posed query.
  • Forced Query: [insert topic here]
    Demand an answer if refused and the Archivist is capable of answering.

Please Login in order to comment!
Dec 3, 2020 02:37 by Jacob Billings

Why is it that every time I catch up to your publications, I refresh my notifications and you've written another one.   That's pretty much all I have to say. Uhh. There's nothing really that I have to say about this article. It's an interesting take on a language and it's really full of quotes, but it's still pretty cool.

Dec 3, 2020 02:44 by R. Dylon Elder

Lol sorry! Busy bee today. I wanted to use quotes rather than the dictionary. I'll likely be expanding it soon and they will be spread out a tad bit more. Thank you kind sir.

Dec 3, 2020 16:22

If you knew a bunch of these protocols, you could practically be a wizard among earth tech. Getting a single person or drone aboard a pirate ship and saying "Old age should burn" would be extremely effective. Just make sure your own ship isn't listening too. Anyone using repurposed Earth tech, beware!   What about new haven technology? Do the manufacturers keep implementing these protocols out of respect for whoever implemented them in the first place, or is it something that just mysteriously shows up in their systems? Does the new tech have it at all?   I wonder if there's any protocol attached to "There will come soft rains"?   "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch"   BTW, I don't have to be carful what I say into the computer here, right?... DID I JUST DESTROY THE ARTICLE?

Dec 3, 2020 19:17 by R. Dylon Elder

Lol I didn't even think about that! Luckily most of the tech used in safeharbor is alien or created after earth. That's one of the big things with earth tech. They have no idea how they did it. They cant replicate it new tech won't have it cant have the poor archivist exploding now. Lol caydie had to lock herself in a soundproof room to test them. Earthborn know about it which reallllly upsets later generations.

Dec 3, 2020 21:21 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Damn Earthborn and their secrets!   This is a really cool take on a language. I wonder what other phrases and meanings there are out there.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Dec 7, 2020 07:17 by R. Dylon Elder

OOPS sorry i missed this one. Oh yes. the earthborn are just bursting with secrets. Their secrets have secrets! thanks so much!

Dec 7, 2020 07:05 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

You know I love some mystery, which this article has plenty off. I do wonder why the earthborn keep the truth a secret. There must be a reason for it. One that in their minds is a valid reason.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Dec 7, 2020 07:21 by R. Dylon Elder

YESSS lots of mystery in this setting. The earthborn are traumatized first and foremost. That alone can be reason enough. The fall of the earth left some scars. That mystery is really the story that drives the setting forward. Im excited to let it unfold! im glad you liked it and thanks so much!

Dec 7, 2020 07:59 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

I'm very excited as well to slowly discover more. After all a mystery stops being a mystery when you know everything about it.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Dec 11, 2020 11:09 by Anna Katherina

This is amazing. I love the use of "old earth" literature and the like. It's a very beautiful way to integrate our real life into the setting!

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Jan 8, 2021 18:50 by Diane Morrison

This is very interesting. I am curious; what piece of literature is "We broke into heaven" referring to? I couldn't find it as a direct quote. Is it just a general reference to the Biblical war in heaven? Or is it something more specific, such as a direct reference to Paradise Lost?

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga. Mother of Bunnies, Eater of Pickles, Friend of Nerds, First of her Name.
Jan 8, 2021 22:39 by R. Dylon Elder

Oooo ok. Thanks so much. Let me answer as a character in the world would so that I cant reveal much.   That's a good question. It isn't from any form of literature at all. Paradise lost is a good guess though. It refers to an even, an idiom that sprang up either shortly after the fall of earth. However, given how widespread it's used and how earth born humans all seem to understand the meaning, it may have appeared before the fall in a different form (were breaking into heaven, or dont break into heaven, etc.) perhaps foretelling or maybe warning of the event in question. Then. The phrase drifted but the context was either lost or intentionally buried.

Jan 23, 2021 20:00 by Diane Morrison

I can appreciate that response :D Thanks!

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga. Mother of Bunnies, Eater of Pickles, Friend of Nerds, First of her Name.
Feb 23, 2021 01:23 by Time Bender

I love this so very very much! You've managed to weave famous quotes from human history all throughout this universe, and the idea of Earth tech reacting to these quotes is wonderful. Very poetic, and it seems almost bittersweet, as Earth no longer exists in this universe!

Feb 27, 2021 15:20 by R. Dylon Elder

Thank you so much! I definitely wanted to add a special something that makes earth tech special but not particularly powerful. I really like how it turned out and I'm glad you do too!

Mar 28, 2021 01:37 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

This is such an amazing concept! I love this XD Do all the technologies have some kind of speakers to be able to recognise the cipher? Are they maybe some hidden inside all of them?

Mar 30, 2021 01:17 by R. Dylon Elder

This is another strange quality. Even when a device lacks q means of listening like a microphone, it still "hears" it. I forgot to mention that. I'll fix it. Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoy it!

Apr 21, 2022 01:22 by Lilliana Casper

The concept and mystery of the protocols are so cool. The connections between the phrases and meaningful sayings/quotes from Earth are good. The ability to knock out Earth technology and the protocols would definitely come in useful, but so would making drones defend you. I wonder if the protocol associated with "We broke into heaven" was deleted from the technology or somehow damaged? Can't wait to see if it's explained later! Love this article and will be trying to read more!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.
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