Zero-Space, also called Z-Space, is a dimension of condensed space, or rather what is considered space in the physical plane. It can be considered the dimensional equivalent of folding a piece of cloth to drive a needle through both ends more quickly. It can be accessed by spaceships given they have the necessary equipment to enter and exit.
When speaking in the context of Zero-Space, the "normal" dimension or plane is referred to as realspace. Zero-Space gets its name from the idea that it is space that does not truly exist, and is thought to be the opposite of realspace.
White, featureless nothing. There appears to be no floor, ceiling, walls, or physical features aside from rips in it that entities make when entering or exiting.
Function and Effects?
Zero-Space is used by multiple civilizations on multiple worlds as a method of interstellar travel in a fraction of the time it would take them to fly that distance in realspace. Entry and exit points are not exact- one can land in the general vicinity of their destination, but they are just as likely to come out of Zero-Space within a planet's atmosphere as they are two planets away from it.
Zero-Space is accessed and exited by the process of "piercing" a hole through the fabric of space into an adjacent dimensional plane with specialized equipment such as engines or other machinery. A single "area" of Zero-Space will grow more and more unstable as it is repeatedly pierced; reality does not immediately mend itself with Excess and it must be given time to do so. Ships tend to plan return trips very carefully so as not to destabilize the area they're traveling and thus become trapped in Zero-Space or get torn apart by the destabilization.
Zero-Space is natively, exclusively saturated with an Aether known as Ichor. Ichorreverses the elemental wheel, causing all elements to express as their opposites, with the exception of Nature and Void, which remain the same. Ichor itself acts as a lattice that [...]
All native "fauna" created when Mana seeps into Z-Space and interacts with the local Aether, Ichor. Default (unaligned Mana) results in Teratocytes. Elemental Mana results in other "species" of creatures.
Reverse Light Elementals. Appear to be made of “dark light” to creatures from our plane; that is to say, they glow brightly and cast light, but the beings themselves seem to be made from dark-colored light.
To those from realspace, they appear to be impossibly-built with shapes and anatomy that people can’t begin to comprehend. The best they can determine is that they seem to be made with at least a core "body" and multiple appendages, and can move fluidly through Z-Space.
When passing in the immediate vicinity of any non-living realspace object, the object seems to warp and twist around them, sometimes appearing to merge with itself in impossible ways (such as the interior of a ship’s bridge suddenly being warped so that it covers the external engines, inside-out). This results in any ship they run across usually being rendered useless and the people inside dying from lack of air in Z-Space.
A similar effect happens with living matter on prolonged contact, different parts of internal anatomy often suddenly being outside the body. This is most apparent after death resulting from an attack.
The creatures are actively hostile and appear to hunt down intruders to Z-Space.
Energy-based weapons seem to be the most effective tool when fighting them. Attempting to fight them physically seems to be akin to touching solid light- the creatures will pass through one’s body as if a laser was being used, and while this immediately cauterizes the wound it can still cause heavy damage.
They tend to gather around areas where Z-Space has become unstable, as if waiting for the trespassers to come through again. At the same time, their presence also appears to cause the instability to mend itself more quickly
- Monocyte-Class Teratocytes cluster around other Teratocytes, usually Lymphocytes and Basophils. They are the basic form of all Teratocytes, developing into other classes based upon necessity. As they develop, they retain “memories” of entities that Lymphocytes have eradicated to better defend Z-Space in the future. Nonsenient.
- Platelet-Class Teratocytes travel in clusters and crowd around and repair rips in Z-Space, such as the ones created by ships entering and exiting. These develop from Monocytes and can develop into Neutrophils and Basophils. Nonsenient.
- Neutrophil-Class Teratocytes emit an alarm or distress signal to other nearby Teratocytes when Z-Space is breached or they are attacked. This is done through the emission of chemicals into Z-Space that attract Basophils, Platelets, and Lymphocytes. Develop from Platelets. Sentient but nonsapient.
- Basophil-Class Teratocytes remain in the Platelet clusters, traveling with them to nearby rips in order to defend the Repair-Class Teratocytes from intruders. Develop from Platelets. Sentient but nonsapient.
- Lymphocyte-Class Teratocytes actively hunt down intruding ships and other foreign entities with the intent of destroying them. They are aggressive and highly receptive to Neutrophil emissions. Develop from Basophils. Sapient and intelligent.
- Natural Killers are a special variant of Lymphocyte that emit toxic chemicals that turn all nearby Teratocytes aggressive. They develop from badly damaged Lymphocytes responding to calls from Neutrophils. Sapient, intelligent, and extremely aggressive.
- Macrophage-Class Teratocytes are enormous monsters that “clean up” the warped wreckage and remains of intruding foreign entities. They are the source of Monocytes, producing them as a side effect of a mitosis-like process. Macrophages develop from the damaged remains of killed Teratocytes of other classes, essentially assimilating and then recycling the Teratocytes. Sentient but nonsapient, non-aggressive unless attacked.
Reverse-elemental, primordial, pseudo-deity superpredators almost incomprehensible in size. The one known to have entered realspace, the Heliophage, is thought to be the length of a small star system. Other Agriotheos are theorized to be comparable in size.
Agriotheos are hostile and aggressive, especially to creatures of their own element.
- Heliophage: Also known as the Star Eater, this is a reverse Darkness Elemental that managed to escape into realspace when a ship tried to enter Zero-Space. The Heliophage instinctively seeks out Light Mana and other energies shifted towards the element of Light to sustain itself. Due to its size, it often goes specifically after stars.
Civilizations With Access To Zero-Space
The following planets are known to be able to access, traverse, and make use of Zero Space, with varying degrees of efficiency.
- Ceskion (Sarkiri, Litarians)
- The Sarkiri like to hop in and out of Z-Space. Most Sarkiri ships aren’t going anywhere specific unless one of their own needs backup. Most of the time they’re just cruising, exploring, looking for new planets to investigate or non-Sarkiri ships to raid. Usually what they do is travel through Z-Space for a bit, quickly hop out to look around, and if they don’t see anything of interest they jump right back in. Like Daeova, the Sarkiri sometimes cross through an unstable section of Z-Space, but don’t go out of their way to risk themselves.
- The Litarians may have been able to use Z-Space with a higher degree of accuracy, though I’m not entirely sure yet. They may have also had a way to deal with the monsters.
- Daeridune (Daeova)
- Daeova likes being risky with Z-Space. Though they tend to explore as well, if they jump out of Z-Space too far from an interesting planet they often go right back in and try to get closer, disregarding the risks involved. Many Daeovan ships get lost this way, but the captains of these ships view it as a challenge to their technological ability to manage it without ill effects.
- How does a planet/civilization discover Z-Space?
- How do they *leave* it after discovering it?
- How advanced does their technology need to be and how does their technology even breach the fabric of space?
- How do exploring ships find their way back home? Is interdimensional GPS a thing?