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Through A Black Sea: An Introduction to The Void Between

"What's that?" I asked. "I was so lost in those brown eyes, I failed to hear."   After sharing a laugh, the little girl asked, "Earth. What was it like?"   "Oh," I mused, "it was beautiful. The oceans, the fields of green..."     "What happened to it," she asked. "Why can't we live there?"   I stopped, the memories forming without consent. The chaos, the horrid screams, all flooding to the front of my mind from a deep, dark well. I fought back tears, looking down at her before speaking, "You're a little young for such a sad story."

The Void Between takes place in our future. It's hazy when it comes to just how far ahead we're talking. Humanity isn't a beacon of prosperity like most hoped. It's been six generations since leaving earth, and some still remember what earth used to be. They don't talk about what happened, or why. They dodge the question, or make excuses. It's almost like they want earth to be forgotten.

Those who remember are deeply scarred by what happened to earth. They will do anything to change the subject, anything to avoid reliving those horrible memories, and anything to deny responsibility. These people in particular make excellent narrators, in my mind.

The Void Between is a worldbuilding project that not only features articles of worldbuilding, but tells a single, cohesive story within these articles. Most are narrated by The Archivist, a character within this world. He offers insight into what living in this world is like. He's not the only narrator either. Some have the fate of entire worlds on their shoulders, while others might as well be passers-by you meet on the street. One thing is universal: they are all (mostly) human. All is told from a human perspective.

Scratching The Surface

Before going any further, I want to be clear: I'm not here to get the science right. Mistakes will be made, and in some cases intentionally. I want to make certain elements as scientifically feasible as possible, particularly when it comes to humans. There will be a few bent laws, or maybe some that are completely broken.

The galaxy is big. I don't need to go on about just how unfathomably big the galaxy really is. The variable differences between planets, even ones claimed by the same species, are far too vast to pin down in a single article. Taking earth as a good example, a single planet can produce thousands of distinct cultures throughout its history.

This is one of several reasons why I have chosen to make articles written from one perspective. It's a narrow view of the whole, a whole that could never be written. More importantly, it's always the human perspective. This means it's not the most knowledgeable, moral, nor the most objective perspective. You will be lied to, you will be led astray, and you will find little is as it seems.

A Dark Time

Humanity isn't looking too good. Whatever cataclysm destroyed the earth forced those who survived to venture out among the stars. We were not welcome out there. It would take many more years for us to be noticed among the chatter. Human lifespan is longer, those who survived earth looking barely out of their thirties. Despite this, life expectancy is at an all time low. There are threats aplenty in the void.

There are so many others, so many species, no one ever bothers to count. Humans working on distant space stations went untold years without seeing another human being. They were surrounded by them. Officially speaking, humanity is an endangered species. No one is sure how many are left. Eventually, humanity did find a new home, Safeharbor. They colonized the abandoned ecumenopolis, or planet wide city, and hunkered down for a long, dark age.

Humanity wants to be noticed, to be elevated beyond the likes of a backwater species. After scavenging the husks of ships left behind after battles, they learned how to compete. They can build ships of their own now, and can finally fight for their right to exist.

He heard Lauri's voice on the speaker, waking him from a light sleep, "Cap, I'm picking up a beacon. It looks like an SOS."
"Looks like an SOS?" he asked. "Distress beacons are pretty standard, ensign."
"Not this one. Two signals, one ship. One is calling for help, and the other is calling for a wide berth."
Silence followed before his eyes widened. He stood and ran across the grated floor. He reached the CIC shortly after, "Let me see, Lauri." he studied the screen as she backed away. The ship looked functional. He sighed. What if he was wrong? What if all was well, and they only needed repairs, or worse? What if they were in real danger? "Sir?" Lauri said, breaking his concentration.
"No. It has to be a plague ship." he replied. "Don't answer it."

The call of the void

The universe is as wondrous as it is terrifying. Every expedition dedicated to exploration could be rewarding, but is equally risky. The galaxy has not been completely colonized. It hasn't even been completely explored. Civilizations have risen only to fall and be replaced by another over millions of years.

Cities are built only to be demolished and rebuilt again when a new civilization rises. The technology left behind can be valuable, or completely useless, as some were more advanced than others. There's a sense of dread that comes from this: picking the bones of the dead so you don't end up like them. Did it help them when the time came? When you find ruins built on top of ruins, it really puts things in perspective.

Life on a vessel can be dreadful in its own right. It's best not to think about it. The moment you realize your position, how little more than a layer of metal separates you from nothingness, the dread never goes away. The fact that you are always one tiny misstep away from an unfortunate end is enough to shatter the mind.

A Universe that hates you

First contact with another species did not go very well. If a species wasn't trying to kill us, they were spending much of their time ignoring our very existence. Calls for help were ignored, and with good reason.

A new species emerging can cause all kinds of trouble for the galactic community. A new species means a new facet in diplomacy. It can mean a potential friend, or a new rival. It means new ideologies, new cultures, but most of all: it means new germs. Species do not like to talk to one another if they lack history and research needed to determine if such engagements are safe.

When the galactic community first started forming, unintentional (and possibly intentional) genocide was committed by all parties involved. Plague ships drifted, lifeless in the void like ticking time bombs. Upon investigation, it's determined that the crew died of some unknown contagion, a new threat to those unfortunate enough to stumble on the ship in the first place.

Ups and Downs

Humanity was being carefully watched without its knowledge. Many species did take notice of our emergence. They stayed back. They studied us, our physiology, our technology, and even our customs. They evaluated our worth, and some found us a potential ally.

They seek to lift us from our dark age, offer us a place among the stars, so long as we alone are able take it. As bleak as the universe can be, there are many flickers of light in the darkness. It's a special feeling to be allowed on an alien world, to walk among species completely different from your own. The medical procedures needed may be a high price, but most say its worth it.

Safeharbor, our new home, was once a capital world of a long dead empire. The planet was unknown to the galaxy, a place with earth like atmosphere and gravity. Humanity wandered the ruins of the planet's alien cities, then built their own cities out of the bones. Humanity persevered, but it was the first small step of many to come. Humanity is learning. We know our friends. We know our enemies. Only time will tell if humanity will prosper, or continue toward a long, slow death as a footnote in the galactic record.


Technology has a long, and bloody history with the galactic community. Technology between species, systems, and sometimes between individual planets can vary so much it looks a bit like a game of rock-paper-scissors. Your vessel may be adequately equipped in your mind, but there's a chance of engaging a vessel with no recognizable characteristics. You may get lucky and the enemy ship will be outfitted with technology that has been obsolete for some time. Then again it could be a cutting edge military vessel with technology you cant even comprehend.

Technological progression, particularly with military technology, depends entirely on what you know, what you encounter, and how to counter what exploits your weaknesses. The moment a powerful new form of beam weaponry circulated through the void, scientific communities nearby were already seeking ways of denying the advantages this new weapon provided.

Reverse engineering, espionage, and sabotage are remarkably difficult to track and punish due to the sheer amount of distance between controlled systems. Scavengers are usually done and gone by the time a military fleet can arrive to reclaim the wreckage after a battle. For this reason technology is an endless, tedious foot race. Between black market auctions and covert operations, falling behind can lead to extinction.

Unity in Chaos

The galactic community maintains what they refer to as a "peaceful anarchy." There's no way to police the size of territory the galactic community inhabits.

Space has its own laws, agreed upon by everyone in the galactic community. Individual systems have their own laws that either tighten or loosen those laws on a grander scale. Individual planets are left to their own devices, able to handle the law as they see fit with little to no involvement from any other party.

These worlds are free, but are also responsible for their own defense, technological progression, and diplomacy. Some are lawless while others are practically Utopian. Some are militant technocracies while others are religious havens. Some are feudal star systems, Republics, and dictatorships. Wherever you go, it will be unlike anywhere else.

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Cover image: by Vectorium


Please Login in order to comment!
Jacob Billings
17 Oct, 2020 21:38

Love it. An interesting new setting, gorgeous CSS, and a great concept. Glad to see you back at it :)

R. Dylon Elder
17 Oct, 2020 22:47

Great to finally be back at it. Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy it!

Jacob Billings
17 Oct, 2020 23:48

CSS Suggestion: Increasing the left-side padding on your quotes so that it has equal padding from the page either side. Right now, the right side is large padding while the left is virtually no padding.

R. Dylon Elder
18 Oct, 2020 00:34

Oooooo great idea. Thanks so much. I'll fix that.

18 Oct, 2020 03:07

Your main page made my heart stop. Oh my goodness, what an incredible hook and introduction.   To make matters even better, your theme is top-notch. Is this custom CSS?

R. Dylon Elder
18 Oct, 2020 03:24

Thank you so much! I appreciate it. Yup, custom css. It took ages. I'm glad it's so we'll received. Again thank you very much!

Sage Timepool
Garrett Grace Lewis
18 Oct, 2020 05:40

I didn't know you'd started another world! I'm here for it!   Also, this is the best iteration I've seen of the Area 51 theme so far!

R. Dylon Elder
18 Oct, 2020 07:31

Indeeeeed, I'm still trying to adjust it, but some of the theme is just too good to change XD thanks so much! I love how it's turning out. Hope you enjoy it!

18 Oct, 2020 12:15

I really love the aesthetic of this article and some great content too!   There are some parts which are a little repetitive and I believe a word missing from one sentence under Technology: "Technology between species, systems, and sometimes between individual planets can so much it looks a bit like a game of rock-paper-scissors." Should there be a "vary" in there? But overall a great article that is split up nicely too!

R. Dylon Elder
18 Oct, 2020 13:02

Ooo thanks for that. I'll fix it. Yes the repetition is something I noticed as well. Could definitely use a little condensing. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much.

25 Oct, 2020 19:41

You've really driven home the concept that, in an infinite universe, nothing is controllable or predictable.   All of your worlds give off a sense that humans aren't special; they are, in fact, only one small part of the grand equation of the universe, and none of your worlds do that better than this one so far. This is a universe that has been burned one too many times, and so everyone is cautious about sticking their hands into the fire again.

R. Dylon Elder
26 Oct, 2020 05:22

Oooo very well put, my friend. That's exactly what this one is going for. It's also a little experimental. I plan on having character's benin charge of certain catagories, narrating their articles, some depicting events that are misunderstandings, or where the world building is sounds, but the events that occur in the article, the story, is a dream, like in Safeharbor. Idk if it'll be any good, but it's fun. I plan on doing some voiced articles as well. We shall seeee.

3 Dec, 2020 21:50

This is.... I love it. I love everything about this; it's like the complete opposite of my old sci-fi world and it's amazing. I can't wait to see where this heads off to.


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18 Dec, 2020 14:40

I literally gasped at your introduction and was pulled in. I didn't even realize I was a the end until I was. This is wonderful, incredible. I love the premise and I usually don't like reading sci-fi. Can't wait to read more.

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
R. Dylon Elder
18 Dec, 2020 16:26

Thank you so much! This little project is slowly becoming one of favorites. I'm glad your enjoying it and hope appreciate the kind words!

17 Feb, 2021 01:37

I'm intrigued as to what happened to Earth! I can't wait to learn more about this universe. It is filled with so much possibility and danger, i love it!

R. Dylon Elder
17 Feb, 2021 21:54

Oh yes! Danger and possibilities galore. I'm glad you're enjoying it and thanks so much for taking the time. I'll be taking a look through your worlds to spot you back soon!

18 Feb, 2021 01:50

If you do happen to look through any of my worlds, I'd be thrilled to answer any questions and open to all feedback on how to improve my worlds!

Grandmaster nnie
Annie Stein
14 Mar, 2022 13:12

Your writing is so full of empathy, and I'm really excited to get to dive in. I can tell I am in for a treat.   I loved a lot of this, but I'd like to highlight this part because when I really like something I just quote my favourite lines back at the author: "There's a sense of dread that comes from this: picking the bones of the dead so you don't end up like them. Did it help them when the time came? When you find ruins built on top of ruins, it really puts things in perspective."

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore! | Summercamp in Solaris
8 Apr, 2022 02:02

This sounds seriously interesting and complicated. I like the concept and the ideas. I'm actually having a hard time trying to explain how I feel, so congratulations, I'm now speechless. I'll definitely be reading more!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.
R. Dylon Elder
8 Apr, 2022 04:06

Why thank you! I appreciate it so much. This world is near and dear to me. I hope you enjoy it.

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