- 1 Major Tachyographic Features
- 2 Human Sociocultural Regions
- 3 Skrellian Sociocultural Regions
Major Tachyographic Features
The Galactic Core
The Galactic Core is the primary generator of galactic tachyons and the main shaper of intergalactic expansion. It is what drove humanity towards the Skrell and not the Tajaran, despite the fact that Qerrbalak and Rarkajar are about equally distant from Sol. The fast transit enabled by the Galactic Core is the reason for the technological marvels described by visitors from the Skrellian Far Kingdoms.
The Almach Stream
The Almach Stream runs from Almach to a deep-space anomaly called the Almach Terminus, passing through Sol in the process. Aside from early colonization efforts, much of humanity's development in the Pre-Contact Era was focused along the Stream. After the Skrell emerged, trade and diplomacy lead to the development of the Sagittarius Heights, with the Stream comparatively neglected. The Almach Rim is considered to start at the point where the Stream is weaker than the Core flux at an equal distance from Sol, around 54 lightyears away.
The Stream is considered to be highly anomalous even as far as Tachyography goes. Research on the Terminus has yet to yield any significant results. Shelf has been traveling on the Stream continuously since 2401, with a mission statement of "figuring out what's there, or whatever."
The Rarkajar Rift
The Rarkajar Rift, called the Cetus Rift before Tajaran diplomats successfully lobbied for its renaming, has the lowest known tachyon density in the galactic pane and by far the greatest small-scale variance. This, more than anything, is the reason for the continued independence of the Tajaran. It was considered largely impassible and ignored in favor of the Stream for centuries, until SolGov surveyors hoping to find a way around Unathi space during the First Contact War successfully charted out several regions of relatively high flux, one of which contains Rarkajar and Arrathirr.
The Nyxian Corridor
A very thin, winding region of moderate tachyon flux in the otherwise tachyon-poor rimward region of space. It is one of the best-understood flux corridors, believed to be connected to Erebus, Nyx's coorbitting "phoron giant". Access to the Corridor remains tightly controlled by SolGov, unwilling to allow private explorers interfere with their attempts to find a second front against the Hegemony.
The Curtain is a region of low tachyon density between Sol and Moghes that effectively forms their "natural" border. Smaller, more even, and less pronounced than the similar Rarkajar Rift, the Curtain nonetheless poses a significant barrier to travel in the region and is often cited as a factor behind Sol's success in the Contact War. Depending on the criteria used, Abel's Rest sits either inside or on the very edge of the Curtain.
The largest by far of the so called "Loops", oblong regions of space full of endlessly circling tachyons, Loop Two is only notable for its size and for the fact that it intersects Epsilon Ursae Majoris, the home system of the Dionaea. Part of Loop Two also unofficially marks the boundary between the so called "Inner Kingdoms" and the "Far Kingdoms" of Skrellian space.
Moghes Tachyographic Features
Humanity has only a vague understanding of the tachyon flux in Hegemony space, with that information being tightly controlled by spacer guilds loyal to the state. Surveyors who were active in the region failed to penetrate more than 20 light years into Hegemony space and uncovered little of note beyond the Curtain, whose existence was known well before First Contact. Anecdotal accounts of a two-lobed loop-like formation around Uueoa-Esa are usually believed to be deliberate disinformation, though the Unathi can, as always, neither confirm nor deny that.
Human scientists have been hypothesizing Intergalactic Upwellings since early conflicts with the Vox. Because the Vox seem to vanish from the galaxy after raiding parties, many believe that they travel by means of narrow corridors out of the galactic plane. Detractors argue instead that the Vox merely maintain mobile bases in deep space, and others believe that the Vox are capable of bridging the vast gulf using technology similar to the Skrell of the Far Kingdoms. No Upwellings, Vox bases, or intergalactic gateway signatures have ever been observed, so the debate remains purely academic.
Human Sociocultural Regions
The Core Worlds
The handful of stars found within a dozen light years of Sol were colonized long before the large-scale tachyography of the galaxy was charted, and travel in the area predates the Phoron Boom or the proliferation of the Bluespace Drive. The Core Worlds share a common culture which in many way reflects humanity's culture as a whole-- distrustful of outsiders, fearful of technology, fond of creature comforts, proud, and somewhat self-absorbed. Those who wish to cast the Core Worlds as populated entirely by bourgeois layabouts do a disservice, ignoring the disgruntled laborers of Heaven, Titan, and other such worlds.
Sol Common is the most widely spoken human language, but in the Core Worlds it is taught universally. Many in the Core Worlds still speak modern dialects of pre-FTL languages, such as English, Chinese, or Tamili.
The Sagittarius Heights
Soon after first contact with the Skrell in 2326, the Heights became the richest region of human space aside from the Core Worlds. The quick transit speed of the Heights and the economic boost offered by Vey-Medical and other Skrellian enterprises encouraged growth of colonies along the human-Skrellian border and quickly created a reputation for the Heights as a region filled with nouveau riche mining brokers, diplomats, researchers, and other upper-middle class workers. In truth, the Heights are built on the back of extensive mining operations, providing for the Skrells' powerful need for raw materials and Phoron for megaprojects in the Far Kingdoms.
Most people from the Heights speak Tradeband, the original trade conlang designed to foster cooperation between humans and Skrell. Nouveau riche from other regions often learn (and teach their children) 'band in imitation of those from the Heights, but for Heights natives it is simply a matter of survival.
In between Sol and the Rarkajar Rift lies the Bowl, a region of space easily navigated by Bluespace Drive but neglected by government and corporate colonization initiatives alike because it leads to nowhere in a hurry. Those who did move to the Bowl were often individual prospectors hoping for a Phoron boom that never came, ideologues seeking disused land to build their "ideal society", and overtly criminal elements who saw the Bowl as a great place to lay low and stash their wares. The resulting culture is fiercely individualistic and often openly disdainful of xenos, who they view as responsible for SolGov's negligence. It is also more intimate with various criminal elements than many would like to admit.
Gutter, originating as a Martian Thieves' Cant popularized during the Second Cold War, became lingua franca in the Bowl after the influx of so many criminal enterprises. When even homesteading miners are forced to trade with cartels for the things they need to live, knowing Gutter becomes less a mark of criminality and more a regional language.
The Golden Crescent
The region where Vir is located. This is the area of the Almach Stream that was developed before first contact with the Skrell, and includes the formerly-secessionist Golden Hour nations who give the region its name. While far from radical, the same techno-progressivism that characterizes their neighbors downstream seeps into the Crescent. The Crescent prides itself on its cosmopolitan makeup and outlook, hosting an extremely high number of xenos and free positronics. Sometimes, this facade cracks; the Crescent saw by far the worst of the Lizard Riots.
Galactic Common is far from common in most of SolGov space-- it's an unwieldy pidgin designed to bridge the gaps between all known sapient species, with room to adapt to the needs of newly-discovered interstellar acquaintances. Despite the language's nature, it is widely spoken in the Crescent, where the benefits of clear interspecies communication far exceed the downsides.
The Almach Rim
The Almach Rim, despite its proximity to the Almach Stream, has been neglected for most of its history by the corporate and government interests that control colonization. Unlike the Bowl, however, Almach found itself home to a strong Mercurial movement, owing to the lingering presence of Shelf. This encouraged a thriving counterculture of body-modders, radical intellectuals, transhumanists, technological utopianists, and all variety of others who chafed under the Five Points. This lead to the Gray Hour and the creation of the Almach Association.
EAL is a conlang derived from Lojban and other brutally functional languages. Encoded into a standard series of tones, EAL provides unparalleled speed and clarity of communication leading many in the Rim to proclaim it the "superior language". The fact that it can only be spoken and understood by cyborgs and robots is not much of a concern for the people of the Rim.
The Precursors' Crypt
The Precursors' Crypt is so named after its high concentration of xenological artifacts. It is believed to have been a major population center of the Singularitarians, perhaps because of its unusually stable tachyonic flux. The region lacks any even marginally habitable worlds, and although it is where Phoron was first discovered, it lacks the sizable deposits of the Rim and the Crescent.
A small population has managed to grow in the Crypt, originally crowding around the teams of researchers of the area. At first this consisted mostly of xenoarchaeologists and their support teams, but has expanded over the years to include social scientists, historians, and other groups interested in the Crypt's cultural isolation and relative peace. This isolation and willingness to tinker with society spawned the unusual cultures of Casini's Reach and New Kyoto. Their isolation made them unprepared during the First Contact War, where they found themselves on the front line, invaded and sometimes occupied by the Unathi. This has lead to the growth of a high level of mostly-implicit xenophobia in the region, particularly against the Unathi. Several SolGov military bases have been established in the region to considerable popular approval.
Cultural experimentation on Terminus Station lead to the birth of the Terminus language. Its vocabulary is inspired by surviving xenoarcheological recordings, and for that reason took off among researchers in the region, eventually spreading to their families and neighbors. It is also considered very difficult for non-humans to speak, which some suspect is part of the point. The other common human languages still find use among the working class, but Terminus is decidedly the tongue of the elite.
Some systems are a cultural region all their own. Notable examples include Nyx, influenced by the Bowl but not truly part of it, and Abel's Rest, split off from the Crypt by war.
Skrellian Sociocultural Regions
The Inner Kingdoms
These are the Skrellian territories humanity is most familiar with. Containing Qerrbalak and other early worlds, the Inner Kingdoms (sometimes the Near Kingdoms) are considered the "typical" Skrellian territories. Old and developed, they nonetheless struggle with the cultural influence of humanity and the rest of the sapient milieu.
Common Skrellian is the legally-established language throughout most of the Near Kingdoms, but border systems tend to favor Tradeband.
The Far Kingdoms
Little is known about the Far Kingdoms mythologized throughout Skrell space. Those few who have traveled there and back talk about technological marvels; gateways that bridge the gulf between stars and a Dyson Swarm of solar satellites powering a shining, energy-hungry civilization. According to Qerr-Katish authorities, it is also a place of peace and harmony, where every Skrell lives content with their place in the grand design, and where the mysterious neighbors of the Far Kingdoms pose no threat to their ancient and enduring culture.
How much of any of this is actually true and how much is propaganda remains uncertain. What can be confirmed, however, is the use of High Skrellian, a language separated from Common Skrellian by almost a millennium of drift. High Skrellian is somehow more complex than its Common cousin, and most human-made machine translators fail spectacularly when encountering it.
The Dark Triangle
Commonly drawn as a triangle on two-dimensional maps of space, the Triangle is a badly-defined region in between SolGov, Skrellian, and Unathi space where no species manages to exert political power. The secession of Natuna ended any hope SolGov had of extending their control into the region, which had long been for a stronghold for Skrellian pirates. The Dark Triangle is principally controlled by the Ue-Katish flotillas, with some humans (including those of Natuna) and the occasional Unathi Stronghold attempting to eke out an existence in the lawless territory.
The people of the Triangle speak a variety of languages, with various degenerate dialects of Common Skrellian and Tradeband being the most common.