Hyper-lanes

Written by Sierra Brown

 

The 'Jet streams' of the Galaxy, hyper-lanes are a complex network of natural space-time ripples utilized by various space-faring cultures for FTL interstellar travel.

 
 
NOTE

There are some additional details being worked out regarding hyper-lanes, and certain aspects of this article may change depending on what's decided.

 

Manifestation

Invisible to the naked eye, hyper-lanes are 'ripples' of space-time that travel throughout the Milky Way galaxy. It is theorized these naturally occurring ripples were first formed in the Big Bang that formed the galaxy, and have been warped and curved toward various system's by the gravity of those system's stars and the rotation and movement of the galaxy itself. These ripples form a complex network connecting a vast majority of the galaxy's systems, far more dense along each 'arm' of the galaxy, but with sporadic 'connections' where some arms come relatively near each other.

Some hyper lanes have become merged over the centuries, creating forks that split off into multiple directions. These forks can be dangerous for vessels traveling along a lane, as most cultures don't have the technology required to safely pass through them - Instead, the currents of a hyper-lane are divided between the branches, tearing the vessel in the process if it doesn't abort the jump in time.

Compared to the jet streams of most atmospheric planets, hyper-lanes are used by all known space-faring cultures capable of interstellar travel as a conduit for a far more efficient faster than light travel. This allows spacecraft to travel much farther distances than would be possible using non-hyper-lane based travel, the fastest of which would take months or even years to traverse the distance between two neighboring star systems.

 

Artificial Lanes

While most hyper-lanes are naturally formed, winding from one system to the next, there are a handful of artificially constructed hyper-lanes. Most notable is the Hy'Dovo - An artificially formed and maintained ripple connecting the Dovolish Sect with the Hydari Corporate's core worlds. Currently, the Dovolish are the only known race with the knowledge and technology required to create such a lane, though other factions are experimenting with various methods of producing artificial lanes. Rumors abound that the Dovolish have the ability to collapse a naturally formed hyper-lane as well.

 

Detecting Lanes

While various cultures first discovered hyper-lanes by varying means, the most efficient method of detecting and measuring a lane is by observing its effects on light and other space matter traveling through and across them. The space-time ripples cause minute distortions in trajectory and speed as matter and energy passes through them. With the right technology and the knowledge of what to look for, spotting these currents is as simple as noticing a breeze blowing a blade of grass.

 

Using Lanes

Despite the Dovolish' technological advantages in hyper-lane travel, other cultures are capable of traveling along these networks including the Sol Empire, Democratic Republic of Terra, United Arshan Federation, Republic of Sion, and very recently, the Drakari Union. While the theoretical speeds a hyper-lane can reach are extremely high, most vessels are incapable of safely reaching these speeds - The strains imposed on the crew and hull by the acceleration required would likely cause death and severe damage, and most current drive systems require some form of fuel or energy that would be drained rapidly trying to reach these speeds.

The exact method of traveling along these lanes can vary, but generally involves a specialized piece of equipment. One method used by the Arshans is a Hyperdrive that excites particles and release them into the ripple. These particles create a strong 'current' that propels the ship in the intended direction through the ripple. The more excited particles are ejected, the stronger the current.

Some factions have even developed ways of manipulating hyper-lane connections, such as the Solus 'Jump Router' that allows a ship to be 'shunted' from one ripple to another nearby lane without having to stop and re-initiate a new hyper-lane jump. This jump router also allows ships to safely travel through merged and forked ripples without being torn in both directions, though it requires precise timing and calibration to react successfully.

Type
Natural
Related Technologies Arshan Hyperdrive
Hyper-Train
Jump Router


Cover image: by WorldAnvil

Comments

Author's Notes

This is my attempt at providing faster than light travel to a science fiction universe, while providing restrictions on that method of travel where ambushes, blockades, and pre-determined routes would make sense. This was partially inspired by how hyper-lane networks as they exist in various earlier science fiction works, specifically 4X strategy games such as Stellaris.


Please Login in order to comment!
7 Dec, 2018 01:53

So I was worried at first. Ftl can be a tough one and you did pretty good. I'm curious so my question is what exactly do ships to travel along the lanes. Does the lane naturally pull and push like it kinda seems like or do they need tech like a ship part to accomplish it? I may have missed it but all the same. I like the article.

7 Dec, 2018 02:07

I'm still considering the finer details of that (Hence the article being somewhat incomplete), but my thoughts are a sort of 'alternating current' back and forth along the lanes. With the right equipment and know-how, a ship can manipulate this current to ride along the hyper-lane at FTL speeds (Limited only by what the lane is capable of, and what the ship can withstand without breaking apart - The latter is the limiting factor in most cases). The exact implementation of this equipment would vary between the different cultures, whom each discovered and developed their respective drives with little to no outside influence.

7 Dec, 2018 02:45

Ohhhh ok, so it's like space surfing almost. Or similar to a natural warp drive. That's pretty clever. So if a ship follows the ebb and flow of space-time they will technically be going faster than light due to the ripples, avoiding low points of expanding spacetime and trying to ride the peaks? Is that how it works in a sense? I know you mentioned jet streams but the analogy still kind of stands. This would require some sort of way to measure the pull of gravity id think, you would need that any way to determine if you're even on a hyper lane but it would make navigating those ripples a lot easier, and you would need some powerful engines to maintain the speed and to slow down. If the ships are actually traveling faster than light rather than space surfing, with the engines and the extra push like a jet stream maybe some kind of metering device to ensure the right amount of fuel is used and to save it as well, gravity metrics, uhh probably a pulse engine or some way of burning alot of fuel in a very small amount of time to get close to ftl and then let the wave take over. This will give that alternating current effect alternating thrust and speed from inertia to save fuel based on where in the ripple you are. No clear up any misconceptions I have cause I can't see what you see and may just be spinning gears on my interpretation without helping lol. Hope I didn't go too crazy thrre, sorry

11 Dec, 2018 21:49

Of a sort, yes. The general idea was these 'lanes' created by the ripples could be traveled along, in either direction, with the right type of energy manipulation (Essentially, handled by a Handwavium™ Hyper Drive), the exact scientific details of which I'm hesitant to start researching and getting into because of how much of a time sink that would be, and how relatively unnecessary those specifics are. These lanes are detectable with the right equipment and knowing what to look for - I was thinking it being something as simple as just detecting patterns in the way light and other matter shifts while traveling through space - Minute adjustments like if you were observing the effects of a cross-breeze on a falling object.

11 Dec, 2018 22:24

Ur not wrong. And i was just spinning gears. What you have is perfect. Just asking questions i have based on what I know trying to figure how ur world works. I understand better now but I'm not sure what the lanes really are. Is it a energy of some kind that applies a push like a superfast version of a solar sail or is it gravitational If these ripples have fluctuations to shorten the distance to that degree light would actually be enough regardless of what causes the lane and a navigator could easily determine exactly where the most efficient point would be so there yea go. The only real problem you run into would be gravity without a source of mass or energy without any specifics on it. Those are what is focus on in research simply because i don't think anyone will really care about what kind of drive is used.

11 Dec, 2018 22:27

Scratch that its caused by space-time which implies gravity so if not gravity why and if gravity, from where lol sorry i forgot

12 Dec, 2018 20:04

I've updated the article to provide some more specifics on how hyper-lane travel might be achieved and detected :D

13 Dec, 2018 19:41

Oooooo very nice. I like it. It all works abd makes sense. Sorry if i rambled too much lol

13 Dec, 2018 19:47

It's fine. Your rambling helped with getting that new stuff written :P

13 Dec, 2018 20:15

Well I'm happy to help. Everything I've read on the world so far is pretty cool. Good job and keep it up!

13 Dec, 2018 20:15

Well I'm happy to help. Everything I've read on the world so far is pretty cool. Good job and keep it up!

7 Dec, 2018 06:44

So how were these ripples discovered? Since it seems like everyone uses them, I assume they're easy to detect.   How hard was it for the Dovolish to build their own? I've never gotten into the nuts and bolts of FTL but it always sounds dangerous. This is a solid description of your own version. Though it's a little hard for me to envision in a box.   Is it more like Solar Winds?

11 Dec, 2018 21:53

With my current idea of how they can be found, I'd say they were probably discovered by some scientists noticing minute strange shifts in light and matter moving through certain areas of space that couldn't be accounted for with what was at the time known physics. That research eventually led into the discovery of hyper lanes and the technology to detect them.

 

It was a very time consuming and difficult process to construct a hyper-lane for the Dovolish, and it's very resource intensive to keep it maintained and operational - Because of that, there's only the one artificial lane, and there's no plans of even attempting to build another one any time soon.

 

Solar winds I don't think is a good analogy - To my understanding, they don't behave in the same manner. A solar wave would be more like a large gust of wind carrying you along with it until it dissipates. Hyper-lanes (And this is going to be a very generalized, un-sciency description) are more like 'tunnels' that you can enter and exit from any point to travel along them at much higher speeds than is otherwise possible with current technology.

12 Dec, 2018 20:13

I've updated the article to describe ways of detecting the lanes and how they're used :D

7 Dec, 2018 09:33

Ascendency was one of the early games that I played the heck out of. I go way back with hyper-lanes and always love to see a good, cool version of them: like this one <3   "ways of manipulating hyoer-lane " - That o shold be a p. ;D     Are the lanes from point A to point B? Or can they be like a branch on a tree, with ends across the entire length of it?   Are there lane.. Variants or complications? Like Lanes that are only one-way, or lanes that are slower or faster. Or are they all uniform?   Is there anything that would stop me from launching a big as heck nuke through a lane and just have it come out the otherside going "boom!"? Is there any way of seeing what's coming through a lane, or that it is being used? :)   Are there any natural currents to the lanes? Do they fluctuate, diminish and sometimes go dormant, or are they pretty reliably on all the time?   Are there any weird ethereal cosmic horors that live in them? :D

7 Dec, 2018 09:33

Also, your theme *really* squishes together comments left :( Sorry and that could be worth looking into

11 Dec, 2018 22:03

Comments are fixed! So's the typo :P

 

Most lanes are two-way between a point A and B, but can be entered and exited from any point along its length. I can imagine there could be some forks, probably where ripples have 'merged together' over time, but I also imagine those points could be unstable and unpredictable - Perhaps even a case of 'We have no control over which branch we get sent down' or even 'We'll get pulled into both branches and torn apart'. Of course, the recent Solus tech that lets them jump between nearby lanes could very easily mitigate this and make travel through forked lanes possible for them - And not the Arshans, who don't have that ability yet.

 

Lane variances could be a thing as well, though current tech levels would be the main limiting factor - Nobody can currently reach the highest theoretical speed a hyper-lane is thought to be able to support without it tearing apart the ship or killing the crew. That said, I'm not sure about one-way lanes. It doesn't feel like that would make sense - Two-way lanes feels more feasible to my ideas.

 

There isn't anything stopping someone from launching a weapon down a lane (In fact, I imagine the Sol Empire's probably done this in an attempt to push the Arshan defensive line). But, anything coming down a hyper-lane is just as detectable as anything approaching you traditionally - It's just moving a lot faster. There's no element of 'cloaking' or 'Entering a pocket that you need special tech to see'. You're just riding an invisible current, to make an analogy to what it would look like from the outside. Until something comes into range of whatever detection/sensor system you're using, you're just as unlikely to see it as you are if it was just drifting through space without a hyper-lane.

 

Hyper-lanes are not likely to dissipate anytime soon (See: How long until the heat death of the universe? for an idea of how long they'll last). Lanes can and do fluctuate, but it's a slow process over a long period of time, as the primary factor is gravitational pulls. This is what causes these lanes to warp and curve around and toward star systems, which in turn is what makes them so useful for travel between those systems. There are some instances of hyper-lanes that have drifted so close to a celestial object it's not safe for a ship to follow the lane all the way through - Typically requiring that ship to exit the lane, navigate around the body, then re-enter the lane.

 

Ethereal cosmic horrors aren't a thing ;P

11 Dec, 2018 22:08

YAY! Unsquished comments! <3   Boo lack of ethereal cosmic horrors :P   Are there space animals at all?

11 Dec, 2018 22:32

I've put some thought into it, but not much. I can't come up with a way to justify creatures that live and survive in the vacuum of space as opposed to just being planet-bound or even star-bound.

12 Dec, 2018 20:13

I've updated the article and hopefully answered the questions about detecting and using the lanes :D