The Variance Space Station Settlement in The Delta Space | World Anvil

The Variance Space Station

Founding and Early Settlement

The Variance is a space station of enormous proportion, even from the outside it covers an area unheard of for a space station, tripling even the largest stations built by the Hivemind Sentius Network. The diamond-shaped station is a complete mystery though, and was merely stumbled upon by a collection of explorers one day several thousand years ago.   Upon their approach, the station merely opened up a docking bay and allowed them to land. Curious the explorers did as much and found a vast and open hangar with not a single ship parked in its hold. Beyond was a large room which resembled an empty warehouse. This warehouse-sized room had three floors, a large open main floor with corrugated steel flooring, and two additional upper floors made of steel plank grating. Each floor was connected by plain steel stairways on either side of the room.   At first inspection, no other doors could be found despite how much the explorers looked; tired from a long day's travel and their initial exploration of the hangar and warehouse the crew decided to settle for a few days to rest and conduct some repairs on their ships before potentially taking off and leaving the peculiar station behind. However, after a week, one of the crew members taking one last look at the warehouse noticed something odd. Within the warehouse was a new structure, from the outside it looked like a simple steel box of about 2'500 square feet, filling a small space of the large warehouse floor that was once empty the day before.   Shocked they gathered their crew to explore further. They approached the new structure cautiously but finding no danger they entered it. Inside was what seemed to be full accommodations, several rooms with beds, washrooms, a kitchen, and even a shared common room. The strangest part was that there were exactly enough beds to accommodate all of them.   From then on, each week a new room or accommodation would appear alongside new settlers, filling out the first level of what would become known as the First Floor. The most stable part of the station. Each of these rooms offered a new convenience or oddity, like the Express Communications Closets the first of which was discovered by these early settlement explorers.   Eventually, a strange hallway opened up adjacent to the First Floor. It stretched on for what felt like kilometres of flat steel corridor, curious a few of the original explorers delved in to discover what lay down it. They would be the first to become lost within the Variance, never to be seen again.   More of these hallways would appear as time went on, and they would eventually be called the Halls. These Halls would become a popular adventure in early day Variance settlement, as new settlers and explorers arrived they felt the allure and excitement of the Halls pulling them in. Urging them to explore deeper to try and unravel the mysteries of the stations.   Through these explorations strange and bizarre rooms were discovered; some were mundane but useful like the Express Comms Closets, while others made little to no sense and led to rooms that seemingly contained entire ecosystems like dense jungles and vast fields. Many of these early-day explorers were too eager and would delve too deep, getting lost in the shifting halls and doors of the Halls. Many would become lost forever. Exploration of the Halls has become a less frequent pass time in modern-day Variance due to these dangers.   But, despite these dangers, the upsides of the Variance station were too enticing to ignore. For each new person who landed and spent a week within the station, a new room with simple accommodations would spring forth ready for their use. Soon word spread, that a home would be at the ready at just the cost of a one-week stay. And for each settler that approached, a docking bay would open and a spot would always be free for them to park, and the home that sprung forth was always fitted with whatever their species required for the comfort of life.   And as the station's population grew, so too did the First Floor, which grew to near the size of a small city itself. Businesses would spring forth, and even a transportation system was established. Making the Variance a true settlement, it would eventually gain its independence as its own Territorial Governance. Making it the smallest territory in the Delta Space, though arguably one of the most important.   During the confirmation of its location in respect to the other Territorial Governances it was discovered that the station occupies the exact center of the Delta Space. Adding another notch to its already strange existence.
Dozens of rooms created by the Variance in order to house all its new residents.

Interior - The First Floor

The central docking bay and surrounding area are known as the First Floor; this area has been stable for nearly three thousand years and a vast multi-layered city has emerged with all the hallmarks of a proper civilization. However, some slight shifting does still occur to accommodate new rooms here and there upon new settlers arriving. By stable, what is meant is that the area doesn't shift around nearly as much as the Halls and deeper into the station does and that no rooms have suddenly disappeared with all their inhabitants inside along with it. This has happened to those exploring the rooms linked to the doors in the endless network that is the Halls.   This area is massive and has seemingly grown as the population of the station has risen. Each time a new arrival steps on board and spends a week, a home for them appears (though they don't always find and claim it). As this happens shops and homes shuffle about as the new building, room, or structure apparates out of thin air somewhere amongst the ongoing rabble of the city. There is never any rhyme or reason for this expansion, sometimes the First Floor grows outwards, sometimes upwards, and of course, it has also grown downwards. Changing a room that once resembled an empty warehouse into a cacophony of overlapping levels and floors with countless bridges, pathways, balconies, stairways, ladders, and more.  
A large market created by the citizens of the Variance.
  The First Floor is where almost the entire population of the Variance lives and conducts business, though a few have decided to make the deeper reaches of the Variance home. But those people are usually never seen again after a time, as it is easy to become lost outside of the First Floor unless you are Variance Born and these sorts are a rare breed.   The First Floor is home to many people, the exact number is currently unknown as a census hasn't been taken in years due to the difficulty posed by the station's nature of moving shops and businesses around from district to district on occasion as if by a joke. But the casual estimate is that the First Floor houses roughly 3.9 million people all packed in densely with one another.

Interior - The Halls

Mundane but dangerous, The Halls are all the various pathways that lead away from the First Floor. They are any connecting hall, path, stairway, bulkhead, etc. that moves away from the First Floor.   These halls can run for kilometres towards a dead end, before turning around to a single door mere feet away, they can run for only a few dozen feet but have two dozen doors wedged in on either wall surface. And much like the rest of the Variance, the Halls come and go as they please apparating and disappearing at a whim.
It is advised to steer clear of them unless you wish to become lost forever. They are the connection between the relative normalcy of the First Floors, which do expand but stay stable, and the chaotic deep interior of the Variance which is vast and unexplored.   The Halls always lead somewhere, even if you find yourself at a dead end, you will turn around and find a door at some point.   This will eventually lead you to some bizarre and new area of the Variance that none have likely seen before, or haven't seen in decades or more. Only a few are lucky enough, or gifted enough to find their way back to the safety of the First Floor from the Halls.   The only ones that can somewhat safely traverse these Halls and return are that of the Variance Born.   Few are born on the Variance, as it is oddly difficult to conceive on the station.
  But those that are find themselves with an innate and intimate sense of the station. Able to wander its Halls with relative ease; being able to find themselves back to where they started most of the time. Giving them a distinct ability to guide those who wish to wander with them.   Though even their abilities are limited and the deeper they go the less chance they have of finding their way back, many still push these limits as they feel the Variance call out to them at all hours of the day. Driving them to wander deeper and deeper until they too are lost.

Exterior - The Hull

The exterior of the station doesn't get as much attention from explorers and researchers as the interior of the station receives, and while it doesn't have nearly as much intrigue vested into it by citizens and guests it still holds several mysteries. Nicknamed the Hull, the exterior of the Variance is primarily smooth and made of a dark grey-coloured steel-like material, though it has never been confirmed if it is actually steel, carbon fibre, or some other exotic material.   This exterior is interspersed with bright amber-coloured lights that blink at random intervals unless a ship is approaching, then they will blink in a specific pattern to indicate where the nearest docking portway is located. Strangely, despite many different docking portways existing all over the Variance they all still lead to the same gigantic hangar where all ships must park. The hangar is a dense cluster of ships and can be a daunting place to fly a ship nowadays. It is a frequent site to see ships bumping into each other as they jostle for space, as well as ships covered in dust as their owners can't be bothered to risk the chaos after finding their initial spot.   At the Hull's center is a large pulsing light, many believe this to be the exterior housings for the Variance's core but it has never been proven either way. No ship has been able to get close enough to this central light without its systems malfunctioning, a few times when pilots have gotten too eager the Variance has taken control of their systems forcibly and manually steered them into a nearby dock.

New Settlers and the Free Space Scalpers

Despite all of the dangers that the Variance holds, many things continue to pull all walks of life and all manner of species to the station annually. Because there is always a room available for all those who arrive at the station, many still flock here in the hopes of finding a new home specially designed for them. However, the station now poses a new difficulty for new settlers. The First Floor has become so incredibly dense that when a new settler arrives, they have no clue where to find their new housing.  
It could be tucked away somewhere in a back alley of a bustling market, squeezed in between businesses, or even hanging from the ceiling for all the new settler knows. Because of this, it could take months to find their new home, and even then, the home doesn't have their name on it. So, ever since the station became a densely populated place some thousand-plus years ago, whoever finds these new rooms claims them as their own, whether they need them or not.
The Car Park
It has become so difficult to find housing, that many new settlers have been forced to live out of their vehicles. There are now several large clusters of ships that have been converted into semi-permanent homes. This area has become known as the Car Park.
  Some individuals have turned this into a tidy enterprise for themselves, these "businessmen" are called Free Space Scalpers, and they hunt for new spaces and rooms so that they may claim them under station governance rules. They do this so that can then resell them for a profit, usually to a growing business or one of the Corpos that have moved into the station and are desperate for space, paying huge fees for the tiniest of closets.   And while this has led to some good admittedly, like the establishment of important infrastructure that requires larger spaces that the Variance often doesn't provide for automatically. Infrastructures like hospitals, schools, and even prisons. But sadly these days the practices of Free Space Scalpers are typically viewed as predatory, scooping up important housing from new settlers only to spin it around quickly to make a profit.   Which most citizens believe is against the original allure and promise that the Variance represented. Which was to be a place for all to come and have a home without question. But sadly the Variance while still whimsical in some ways, has become much like the rest of the Delta Space, dirty, corrupt, and often violent and predatory. It is unknown what the Variance thinks of this if it does have a mind of its own as many seem to think, but regardless of this, it continues to work in its mysterious ways, popping in new rooms and places to explore at any given time.


The Variance roughly a thousand years ago grew to such a size in its population that governance became a necessity to ensure its expanding number of citizens all got along. The government operates much like a city or town would, with a mayor voted in by the populace who then drives popular policy and a council that represents each of the First Floor's growing districts. This system votes on and enacts various policies and bylaws to ensure that the people and businesses of the station are all treated fairly, at least in theory.   Much like any modern city, the council and its policies are often under fire for not being representative or truly in the good favour of its populace. As they often steer towards the favour of the growing presence of the Corpos on the station. And for much of the last few dozen years, the quality of life on the station has dropped significantly, especially as the Corpos begin to dig their claws in deeper. Some believe that the Variance may at some point lash out if the Corpos take too much advantage of the station. Many fear what this could potentially bring.   The Council of the Variance does have a distinct hurdle to tackle as time passes, as the Variance receives new settlers, it grows and adds more and more rooms. This adds more and more space to the station, which constantly changes and expands upon the drawn districts of the station. These districts were established upon the creation of the council so that each councillor could have clear constituents and an area to serve.   But as time passes, these districts change, and one building that was once in one district could be pushed or shuffled to the next. Or if a larger group of settlers arrive over a few months or years, an entire district's worth of space might appear in the span of months. And in this circumstance what is the council to do? Split up the new space into existing districts? Create new districts and hence vote in fresh councillors? It is a debate still ongoing and currently the borders of the districts are a mess and no councillor actually knows where their responsibilities begin and end on their current maps.

What Powers the Variance?

The interior of the station is seemingly endless and is ever-expanding and no one has found any sort of end. Because of this shifting nature nobody in nearly three thousand years has been able to find its core or any of its operating or life support systems. The station just seems to exist and operates without any real tangible explanation. And despite various efforts, and several expeditions including the one described below, have been unsuccessful in finding any sort of clue to how the station operates and how it is able to expand so freely.   There are two prevailing theories; similar to one another, and both are related to similar conversations being discussed concurrently on the Source of Abnormality Energy. One theory states, that the core of the station, built by a long lost species long gone from the Delta Space is a powerful Perpetuality Engine. This engine is somehow capable through unknown means of creating unlimited power. Furthermore, is that this engine has been damaged and is leaking out an endless source of energy, spewing it out at random intervals causing spikes of Abnormality Energy which then causes the station to shift and expand.  
Many have speculated what the core may look like.
  Though this theory leaves an unknown, why is the First Floor so stable and why is it more predictable in its efforts to always have space for newcomers? Is it some sort of lingering automatic safety protocol built into the station's programming by its builders, allowing it to perform its duties despite its malfunctions in a quarantined zone? Or it is something else?   The other theory is that the core of the station is actually an energy siphon, one that is somehow collecting the energies of an unending and chaotic storm out in Unknown Space and using it to fuel its systems. The energy of the storm could be another source for the strange Abnormality Events that plague the Delta Space, and if this theory is true would go a long way in explaining the strangeness of the station.   The Variance and Abnormality Events and Abnormality Objects share a lot in common, chief amongst them that they both defy all logic and explanation acting upon their own whims and doing any sort of strange thing even if it ignores the laws of the universe. Some of these objects can draw holes into walls, while others can call anyone in the vastness of space no matter where they are. It would not be so strange a jump to guess that the Variance itself is just one big Abnormality Object.

Journey to the Central Core

A team of explorers left to search for the central core nearly a decade ago; they have not been seen since. But now and then reports and updates will be received via the Express Communications Closets claiming to be one of the researchers on the team.   The researcher only gives a short report about their current whereabouts and their findings, the reports are always short as they are stressed for time. But the reports are dutifully filled out by a receptionist at the Comms Closet and sent off to the research bureau that first sent the team off. The reports themselves describe wondrous, bizarre, and sometimes dangerous areas and circumstances the researchers have found within the Variance.  
Many halls and rooms are described as you would expect them to be in a space station.   Long hallways of corrugated steel and flickering lights, tiny rooms with minimal amenities just a bed, a desk, and possibly a lamp. But the Variance is filled with much more than this, and these reports state quite as much.   The researchers once stepped through a doorway and found themselves in a dense jungle atop a rocky plateau, they could see in the distance from their vantage point another steel door reminiscent of the one they had just stepped through.
An Express Communications Closet.
  It just sat in the middle of a field. And so, the researchers reported that they travelled through this dense jungle for almost two days. Encountering all sorts of wild flora and fauna, none that they could identify themselves.   Once they reached the doorway, they stepped through, back into a long hallway of corrugated steel, the door behind them gone the moment they stepped through.  
A strange door that leads back into the Halls of the Variance.
  These reports are always momentous occasions for the home team still located on the First Floor, though it is met with some skepticism as many of the researchers can't believe the away team is not only still alive and active but fairly non-stressed in their tone and still eager to continue.   One theory is that the researcher's team is experiencing the station at a different time rate due to their constant delving and that as they explore the more distorted or condensed time becomes for them. A prevailing theory is that for the researchers it has possibly only been a few months, possibly even just a few weeks, instead of the decade they have been gone for from the perspective of the home team on the First Floor.
Report from Professor Ys West
Within is my report of last week's findings within the Halls and our endeavour to find the core of the Variance. At present, we are unsure as to how long our mission has gone on, as our portable timepieces ran out of energy some time ago. We have slept about a week to ten days since we last discovered an Express Comms Closet and sent off our prior report.   Since our last report, in which we described finding ourselves in a dense jungle, we have once again found ourselves wandering a series of halls. We've passed by numerous doors, each one similar, made of steel of some sort. Both the doors and the floor have been painted or lacquered in red and dark grey. We had made the decision to pass by most of these doors and instead wait until a door presents itself as labelled with what lies beyond, like an engineering room, or life support systems, or perhaps we may even stumble upon the core itself. We are doing this to see if the labelling at all affects the interior of the rooms.   To date this has been the longest stretch of time we have wandered the Halls without entering a room, I have noted that the Halls seem to have an increasing effect on the psyche the longer one wanders it. I can only describe it as eerie, a small scratching in the back of your head warning you to run to turn round and flee, to take the next door out no matter where it leads. Thankfully the feeling is fairly easy to overcome and continue on, but the effects are noticeable amongst the crew and some have become more agitated than usual.   At this time we continued to search for a room of interest to enter and fully explore, however, we did find a labelled door in which to open. One labelled conveniently as 'Communications' opened up to an Express Comms Closet, which I am using now to send this message. So, that is one piece of important information found for this report, a labelled door can very well hold what it says. However, I am yet to be convinced this will be the case in every circumstance. Regardless our delving continues, and we will send another report at our next discovery of a Communications Closet.
— Regards, Professor Ys West.

Where Do the Doors Lead?

Many have tried to theorize what exactly is happening concerning the often bizarre interiors discovered beyond the doors found in the Halls of the Variance. As previously mentioned, anything imaginable can be and has been, seen beyond these doorways in the Variance.   Whole ecosystems have been stumbled upon, rainforest with its own predators and swarms of bugs and humid air, vast plains for as far as the eye can see with roaming cattle-like creatures, and even underwater biomes where the water is somehow kept at bay at the doors entranceway.   But how is this possible? Many have thought of this question but no answer has been realized, only theories and more questions. One of the prevailing theories, however, is likely the most reasonable of the bunch, despite still being a bit absurd.  
A dense jungle discovered by explorers of the Variances.
The theory builds upon another, the possibility that the Variance space station is just one massive Abnormality Object.   But due to its size, the degree and variety of the effects of its powers are greatly increased in comparison to other Abnormality Objects, like the The Autotranscriber Pencil or the Long-Range Rotary Telephone. Each of these are wonderous objects that defy the laws of the universe but would pail in comparison to the powers of the station.   The theory is that, in part, one of the station's abilities is not necessarily of whole-scale creation, but actually of gateway-bound teleportation.   With each door leading not to a facsimile created by the station, but to a real place somewhere far off in the Delta Space or even beyond the mapped-out areas of the current day.   Into the unknown where no one from the Delta Space has stepped foot.
  This theory isn't so far-fetched, as the Probability Suspension Drive and Improbable Distance Drives are highly rumoured to use Abnormality Objects and their potent energy to condense space and time and propel spaceships to far-off locations at an incredible speed.   It is quite possible then, that the Variance has a similar ability to condense space and time and allow for a sort of instant travel as one steps through one of its doorways.   However, this theory still doesn't explain why the station is constantly shifting, and how it can continue creating new and permanent spaces within the First Floor. Which differ from the doorways and spaces found within the Halls, in that they are permanent and do not hold any sort of ecosystem like jungles or oceans. Just rooms of accommodations, and space for new arrivals and the like.
The Variance is a colossal diamond-shaped space station that was discovered in the exact centre of The Delta Space several thousand years ago by a party of wandering ships. Its founding by these wanderers and eventual colonization does not represent its origins though, as its beginnings and who built it and for what purpose remains a complete mystery. Many researchers have tried and failed to unravel these questions.   The station welcomes all, opening up a docking bay for any that send a request to come aboard. It ensures that space is available and an appropriate atmosphere is made easily accessible for those species not accustomed to standard terran life support, or the consumption of air.   However, the most unique aspect of the Variance is its shifting and expansionist abilities; it is known to suddenly pop up a new room at any given time of day. Where once was nothing is now something, and that something could be anything. A new Express Communications Closets, a new room designed to support a Gasloid with their Life Sustainment Suit, or even an entire ecosystem with wildlife and everything. But the Variance is a fickle sort, and these rooms can disappear as fast as they appear, and spending too much time in one can run the risk of becoming lost forever. The only floor that stays stable is the First Floor, where the majority of its permanent residents live.   Despite all of its more dangerous aspects, the Variance is one of the most populated places in Delta Space. The central docking bay and surrounding area known as the First Floor have been stable for hundreds of years and a vast multi-layered city has emerged with all the hallmarks of a proper civilization.
Table of Contents

Variance Time
The events of the Variance's original settlement occurred nearly three thousand years ago; it is theorized that the exact number of years that have passed has been 2894. This number correlates with what is called Variance Time, a measurement of time common amongst those who live within the Variance space station.   This measurement of time automatically sinks any timepiece of a resident of the station to the same time. If you take a timepiece off of the station, it will continue to hold the same time. It is theorized that the station clocked the exact moment when the first explorers of the station decided to settle on the station permanently and began its own measurement of time.
The Variance is one of the strangest places one can find oneself, but it has a charm to it, a sort of allure that you can't help but dive headfirst into. But watch yourself because this place can swallow you whole if you aren't careful, quite literally in some cases. So, keep to the First Floor and try not to wander off.
Florian Del-Alloy, Resident of the Variance

Where Wildlife Shouldn't Roam
On occasion, a door in the Halls somehow becomes stuck open for an extended period. Which then allows for any sort of creature on the other side to wander on through. And if they are quick enough, and aren't whisked away when that particular Hall disappears then the wildlife could end up interacting with the citizens of the Variance or on even rarer occasions make their way to the First Floor and the actual city that lies within the Variance.   This can lead to several different possibilities, most are just curious encounters with a confused animal. Like when a herd of Pet Sphrobes came tumbling into the First Floor from an adjacent Hall. These confused spherical little creatures bounded about in a panic until an enterprising team of animal rescuers caught them and found them all appropriate and loving homes.   But there have been occasions when something a bit more dangerous has fallen through one of these doorways. One such event occurred when a huge rhinoceros-like creature with thick burgundy skin, six trunk-like legs, and a bramble of sharp horns atop the crown of its head crashed into a local bazaar on the First Floor and rampaged through the neighbourhood injuring nearly a hundred people and killing a dozen. The beast sadly had to be put down forcibly to end its likely shock-induced carnage.

Don't bother, just don't. Don't wander, don't go out for a jaunty walk down the Halls looking for a bite-sized adventure. You won't find it, and soon we won't be able to find you. So, don't...bother...with the Halls.
— PSA from a Variance District Councillor

Related Articles
Variance Born
Ethnicity | Jul 3, 2021
Custodians Local 72 - Variance Space Station Union
Organization | Jul 31, 2023
The Variance - Express Communications Closets
Building / Landmark | Dec 19, 2023
The Source of Abnormality Energy
Myth | Dec 21, 2023
Abnormality Events
Physical / Metaphysical Law | Jul 5, 2023


Please Login in order to comment!
Jan 5, 2024 03:12

Excellent article! Such a fascinating and terrifying place, I'd probably get lost in a heartbeat. I appreciated the summary at the top, it helped me get into the article more readily!