The Sky Lattice is a megastructure built in a collaborative effort between the Petalcap Vale military forces, Customs Authority, and scientific community. In short, the Sky Lattice is the only known structure to span the entire length of an Inflection Layer, being a loose mesh of cables which traverses within the Caudal D/Distal B layer until it self-intersects.
Purpose / Function
In addition to serving as a display of technological prowess, the Sky Lattice serves numerous other purposes for Petalcap Vale. For scientists, the Lattice is an excellent test bed for theories about the geometries of the Manifold Sky, and provides a stable location for meteorological sensors, communications equipment, and (though still in early development) a cube-spanning geolocation system. Building the Lattice required advancements in material science and microgravity construction techniques which would otherwise have been left to the purview of Navigator's Guild projects. For the Petalcap Vale Customs Authority and the military, the Lattice provides a first layer of detection and defense from airborne threats originating from the Distal Tesseract. Surveillance posts can be used track all air traffic into and out of the adjacent layers, with large optical telescopes even allowing flights through the commissures to be tracked remotely. A few grid intersections have military facilities constructed around them, functioning as point defense and customs inspection stations in a similar manner to free-floating skystations. These facilities feature several flak emplacements and resident auto-armor squads to dissuade unauthorized intrusions into Vale airspace.
Proposed improvements include retractable screens which, while allowing light to pass, will inhibit the passage of any dangerous spores from the Distal side to the Caudal side. In combination with improved meteorological sensors, chemical sprayers, and sun shades, these screens would eventually become part of a unique weather control system, allowing the Caudal D territories of Petalcap Vale to enjoy prime growing seasons and comfortable living conditions year-round.
The Sky Lattice is a primarily a tensegrity structure. It is a square grid of corrosion-resistant, rubber-coated cables spun such that breaks in individual fibers will not cause a catastrophic failure. Individual cables are separated by a distance of one mile, permitting the construction of most skystations and the passage of most airships without difficulty. Skystations which would span longer than a mile must either be oriented diagonally with regards to the grid layout, be constructed around a grid segment or intersection, or, (most commonly) must instead loiter just above or below the grid at all times. As discovered during the construction of the Sky Lattice, space within an inflection layer is 'folded' such that lines percieved to be straight by observers in the layer intersect as though they were laid out across the surface of a cube. When viewed up-close, such distortions are not apparent, but they do become apparent when viewing from a distance. ue to the non-euclidean nature of the cubes, when viewed from one cube layer, the Sky Lattice appears to form a closed 'cage' around the opposite cube layer. When viewed from within the inflection layer, while regions of the Sky Lattice appear euclidean up close, distant regions of the grid appear to 'fan out' and distort such that, especially where the grid crosses the vertices of the cube layers below, not all angles within the 'square' grid are right angles Strain gauges set along the earliest wire segments laid show that the structure us under a near-constant tension, and the source of this tension is a subject of ongoing speculation. Cosmologists at Petalcap-Endselm University hope that these gauges will prove useful in proving long-standing theories about the expansion of space in the Manifold Sky. Despite the tendency of this tension to lift the Sky Lattice away from either cube layer, lifting gas envelopes (in the style of skystation) are attached at most cable intersections for emergency station-keeping.
The construction of the Sky Lattice took over 50 years, with 'ground' being broken early in the year 9948. Three generations of airship- and skystation-based construction crews worked to splice together shorter segments of cable, string them across the layer until they looped back on themselves, and splice the ends together. The 'equatorial' lines were installed first, using signal lamps from the commissure skystations below as points of refference, and constant adjustments had to be made to correct for lateral drift before the intersections could be fused. Remote intersections were opened for outpost construction before the full grid was finished to maintain public funding and support. The final cable was laid and secured on New Year's Day in the year 9999, with the event commemorated by a full-page feature in the New Year's special edition of The Guild Gazette.
The Lattice, The Trellis
Megastructure, Orbital scale