Pathriders Vehicle in The Canticles | World Anvil


"I do all kin' of goods. Just make sure to pack food'n stuff tightly, wouldn't want organics to be exposed to space, would ya?"

The Song of Path is mainly used for navigation, but has another use, less known but as important. If two devices are set up to play a compatible melody, it will create a path through space between them. It can happen - and happens frequently - by accident, the bridges created are ephemeral and fade out as they appear. However, when done on purpose, the connection remains stable for as long as the melody is played, no matter how far they are.


Setting up the Path


Straight paths are ideal cases, but even in the mostly empty void straight lines are impossible to draw over long distances without encountering an obstacle. Of course, the Song of Path does not discriminate between matter and void, but cargo does. The creation of a new commercial Path is thus a long and tedious process. Many alterations have to be made over the base melody in order to incorporate the necessary curves and loops and ensure it does not cross another existing Path or a regular ship trajectory.


It is then tweaked further to exploit the presence of gravity wells able to accelerate transportation. Once a first Path is stabilized and flow uninterrupted for several days, it is deemed satisfactory and another one is created in a perfect parallel, at a distance of about a hundred meters. If the Path itself has no direction, a collision in outer space would be disastrous on many scales and thus two Paths are always created and assigned an arbitrary direction.


Riding the Path


It is possible to ride along a path between two relays at a speed approaching the speed of light. To do so, specific vehicles, commonly named pathriders, are used. They are a sort of cargo ship with no means of propulsion or crew capacity, more like advanced containers. With only cargo space, no window and a thick hull, they have a standardized hold volume of 500m3 that they cannot exceed this volume for safety reasons.


Sym Industries possesses the greatest fleet of Pathriders, and for a good reason, they are also the biggest manufacturers of this line of ships. As such, it controls the Pathmakers, the devices that set up and stabilize every Path. Though it is not forbidden for a company to develop its own system, the Pathmakers' design is a well-kept secret and follow a list of regulation long enough to discourage anyone to invest in R&D. Thus, other delivery companies pay a hefty tax to Sym Industries for using their Path, while buying from the same enterprise the pathriders required to perform their activities.

You know, sometimes I miss the old anti-hegemony laws.
— A delivery company CEO

Faster than light?


Over very long distances, many gravitational anomalies affect the course of transported goods, and the times of departure and arrival don't correspond. The longer the distance, the stronger the phenomenon, with recorded events of items traveling at a speed of two to four times the speed of light. However, due to the many unknowns in the equation, it is not proven that the objects actually breached this physical barrier or if it was merely a trick of time.


A question of size


The maximum size of a Pathrider class has been standardized by Sym Industries a long time ago, due to the limitation of a Path. The optimal size for a Path is quite small, shipwise, but it is illegal to design devices bypassing this limitation. Several people, generally on the receiving hand of huge shipments, have voiced interrogation about it, as it forces them to order two to twenty times more vehicles than a same-system delivery with regular cargo ships would.


Such concerns are kindly shut down as this limit was set by none other than Armand Sym himself, a Cantor working directly for the Canticles, thus for the good of all people. Even thinking about someone of his rank doing something for his egoistic self would be blasphemous and grant a visit from the Inquisition.

Cover image: Pathrider in space


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