Just outside The Temple of The Shining Star lies a bench just under the shade of a tree. Sitting there is a tall lean figure wearing a cloak, reading a book. The man looks up from the pages and smiles slightly, taking in the warm air and slight breeze that waves his slightly long hair.
"Probably going to need to cut this soon," he says to himself. "Couldn't have asked for a nicer day."
A man wearing a nauru-collared parade uniform appears out of nowhere sitting next to Marros on the bench. He then picks up his timepiece from behind the bench, reads it and then pockets it while he stands.
Greetings, my name is Captain Tem∏ænaut Fugit.
Fugit salutes with his hand palm up and from his heart as if he's offering a piece of it.
I was scheduled to give a lecture here and now on Verscites life, but since noone seems to have come besides you, I will instead attempt to answer any questions you may have regarding my birth-planet.
Occasionally black and purple lines can be seen glinting on his tongue as he talks. Fugit quietly stairs back at Marros waiting for a reply.
While I let you gather your thoughts, let me instead start by telling you a little something about me. As my lifecarreer, I was raised to pilot ætherships and was assigned to an experimental vessel whose codename best translates as "Zeitgiest". I thought this would be my dream post in that I may one day meet others of my breed, as I am now.
Yet, fate can take unforeseen routes.
Fugit lifts the shoulder strap of his ivory-handled repeating crossbow up over his head and drops it. But instead of the weapon crashing to the cobble stones, it follows an arced trajectory an ends up resting against the tree.
On its maiden voyage, the Zeitgiest left Skydock only to be torn in two while attempting to enter FTL travel. Whether caused by sabotage or malfunction, I know not.
Fugit becomes introspective as if staring thru the ground.
All of its crew, save myself, systematically faded from existence. I crash-landed so hard on Golarion and was wounded so fierce that I wore an expression for days like... like...
Fugit looks back at open-jawed Morris, both of them slowly nodding in unison.
Yes, that's the one.
Praise the Many, a wagon train of healers found me and nursed back my memories. But my heart says that the flow of history has been redirected.
I have been irrevocably changed from my birthright caste: For I now and forever am to serve as a god-vessel for the Many.
Wide-eyed, Fugit purses his lips and shrugs. He then slides one heel twelve inches away from the other and clasps his hands behind his back.
Now, what questions shall I answer?
A half-elven woman of clear Varisian descent walks by, but stops when she hears Fugit's story.
"Verces, the Line; half burning, half frozen, narrow habitable band between; ... launches voidships," she mumbles, an excited gleam entering her eyes at the end.
Her expression momentarily becomes a confused one as she asks, "What is 'FTL'?"
If you are wondering about how I came to be next to you, then to that I would say that I tool would like to meet my patron.
But my pardon to you, good sir. I just assumed you were here to attend my lecture.
If you have no questions, I will direct my answers to the fair lady.
Fugit salutes towards Cathran.
Good day, madam. There is no need to listen from so far away. Please, come orbit closer. I believe you queried about FTL.
Fugit removes a hat which was tucked into the back of his pants, unfolds it and sets it on the ground, open-side up.
FTL is an abbreviation, which stand for faster-than-light travel... or at least, that is the closest translation that I can derive. Certain Verscites ships are driven by a fluid extracted from a pernicious alien plant. These plants are known about in the here-now as Mi-Go. Unfortunately, my training was as a captain and not an engineer. So, the science of it all is well beyond my caste. But in brief, it is the crucial component that lets, voidships, as you say, to travel between planets and stars within one generation's lifetime.
Fugit rumages in his pocket. Pulls out a couple of copper pieces and tosses them into the hat.
I must say madam, your attire is strikingly familiar. *in Varisian*Are you by any chance, Varisian in upbringing?*back in common*If so, then I, by default, hold you and yours in high regard, for it is Varisians who were responsible for my recuperation and for teaching me to speak in both your native tongue as well as Taldane
Figit bows deeply.
Returning his focus to Marros.
Maybe I should clarify how I came to be sitting beside you. You see, I have an ability to request from the Many that someone be temporarily erased from reality. And not until today did I start to question what nonexistence felt like. So I set up an experiment. I placed my timepiece on the ground and waited for the "rounds" hand to reach zero and then I requested my own nonexistence. When I re-exsisted, you were sitting next to me and my watch showed three rounds had elapsed. Clearly you weren't sitting there for very long.
Fugit furrows his brow.
I never did get either of your names.
After thinking for a moment, Cathran takes off her backpack and rifles around, eventually pulling out a set of starcharts. She spreads them on the ground and points to a marked spot located in the Bridge constellation.
Fugit's eyes widen.
Where did you obtain such a beautiful map! Its attention to detail is impeccable.
Fugit's expression becomes more introspective.
Though I can't quite imagine what benefit a two-dimensional map would have for four dimensional astrogation.
Then, as if the captain saw the bigger picture, he begins to plot the emotions that cross Cathran's face.
Wait, before you answer, let me constrain the realities of my predicament, so that you may better plot the limits of your aspirations of knowledge through me.
Although fate may have brought us together, I am stranded without craft. And though my crew knows where I am at all times, they are stuck in the not'herenow. In brief, I lack the resources to tell you exactly how long the trip would take. If I had to guess, the modified æthership should take about 4 months.
Glancing only briefly at Marros and then back to Cathran,
Please wait one minute.
Fugit pulls a quill and book from his backpack. He sets the book down. Its binding reads Pathfinder Chronicles. Vol 8 but the eight is displayed on its side.
He then places his quill over the map's "distance legend", and then counts quill lengths from the place where Cathran's fingernail left a dent in the map to the Burning Mother. He cracks the binding on his book which reveals that all of the pages are blank. On the last page he begins to write scribblings that go straight up the page, each line from right to left. When he's done, he circles the last entry.
Yep. 4.75 months, at least. That would be the best case scenario. I'd definitely plan for a two year trip if I was to go there and back.
But, the ships that they have here...
Your best bet is to marry, conceive a crew and to craft a generation ship.
Once again, Fugit observes his companions for telling body language.
So, in my lifetime, I hope to teach at least one person my trade. Let's see if either of you can benefit from what I know. Ms. Casrua, If you would, please set yourself upon on this bench.
Fugit, once again, rummages through his bag. This time he draws out two metal objects which he attaches together.
These tools are also inadequate for what we need. Nonetheless, they will help me prove a point.
Now the trip which I described to you had mostly truths and one lie. I told you this lie to help pinpoint the truth. I've also given you additional truths to help you out.
I am now going to cast a harmless spell to help the truth to be better illuminated. Please stay seated at all times. On occasion observers have been known to get dissoriented.
Suddenly, the sun shrinks to a pin prick and the sky turns pitch black, but Fugit, Merros and Cathran remain brightly lit. The waxing crescent moon, the planets and all of the stars in the sky can be seen in unparallelled clarity.
The average distance from the sun to Versces we call one Verscitic. It is the unit of measure I mostly use to calculate stellar distances, but I can just as easily calculate distances in Golars, if that is what you prefer. Versces can be seen here and the sun still here.
Fugit wildly gesticulates at the locations of each.
Don't stare at it too long. It can still affect your vision in spite of the figment's presence.
Fugit then kneels before Marros and Cathran. In his hand he has a sextant attached to a wayfinder. Both bear the crest of the Silver Crusade.
Now, my dear. If you would, please once again point out the location of interest on this map. And, might I ask, what is the name of this star that your clan seeks?
Cathran helpfully points out the location on the 3D map, though she seems to have some difficulty at first. Before long, though, her eyes seem to glaze over slightly and she very confidently indicates a specific point. After a quick shake of the head and a nervous glance at Marros, she begins to answer some of Fugit's questions.
She trails off with a frown. Within seconds, however, her face lights up with a look of realization/inspiration. She digs through her backpack again, this time bringing out what looks like a spellbook. She furiously flips through the pages before finding the one she wants.
p.s.: If you're interested in what she's not telling you, take a look at her profile page.
Fugit alternates between pointing his sextant at the star that Cathran has located and recording more numbers into his log; azimuth, elevation, compass position, time of day and year. He never drops any items, instead he hands them to and retreives them from the two who sit before him.
Good. This will help greatly in solving the more complex calculation which, once I have all the data, might take me days to solve.
On to the next step of my lesson and, consequently, another spell, similar to the last. But first I will need one other tool. Good sir, you have such impecibly well-kept and long hair.
Fugit grasps between his index finger and his thumb, one hair that has strayed from the rest of Marros' well combed locks.
Would you mind if...
Before Marros is allowed to answer, Fugit quickly plucks it from his skull - the hurt caused more from the shock of the action than from any actual pain.
...all in the name of learning.
Obscuring the night sky, a cottage appears around them. Its walls and ceiling are non-euclidian in angle. Only two light sources exist: a candle on the table and the light of Cathran's star, which twinkles in the distant illusionary night sky and can be seen through the curtains of the window.
Let's imagine that this strand of hair is how far light could travel in one month. And lets also imagine that that star that can be seen in the distance through the window is your star and that this candle is our Burning Mother, the sun.
Fugit holds the hair taut and plunges his fingertips and one end of the hair into the candle flame, but doesn't flinch. With his other hand, he stretches the hair out in the direction of the star framed in the window.
I could easily measure the distance to the star.
Fugit then performs an inchworm-like dance with the hair along the wall of the cottage, each time with it always pointing straight at the star. He counts out loud.
1...2...3...4...and 3/4ths distance.
He stops when he reaches the location where the light of the distant star would intersect the glass of the window.
So if a ship travelled the speed of light it would take 4 3/4 months.
Fugit turns slowly. With a smirk and his tongue in his cheek, he faces his impromptu students.
Now its your job to tell me what the problem is with my logic.
Fugit plops down on the cobblestones and patiently waits for a reply.
Fugit picks up the coins scattered that somehow seem to have escaped the inside of the hat. He meticulously sets each of them inside the hat.
Its simpler than that. Think back to our "hair" measuring example. What was wrong with my technique.
Outisde the window, the black night sky brightens back to day as it was before. And with it, Cathran's distant star fades back into obscurement.
...Intimidated, I see. Here's where my logic broke down.
Fugit stands and goes back to the candle.
I measured from the candle to the the star in the window.
Fugit then waves at the window and the bright sky outside.
But where is the star. Its not on the window. Its way way beyond here.
He goes to rap on the pane, but his hand slips through the illusion.
The estimate I gave you was based on if all stars existed on the same flat surface...
which they don't. So, here's my points in a brief:
Fugit kneels before Cathran.
One: My estimate is only of a best-case scenario. If anybody tells you less, they're taking you for a ride; one you won't want to be on. Your need to learn how to determine the motivations of others.
Two: I don't want to darken your optimism, but its possible that a trip at light speed could well be longer than your lifespan. This means your understanding of all things related to space travel is going to have to grow for you to have the remotest chance of... learning more about your star.
Fugit sighs, then he digs through several pockets. He draws out a broken hourglass and offers it to Cathran.
I promise to help any way I can. Here, take this. Use it to scry me should you need to find me.
So, what's next for you?
The illusion of the cabin fades away. Fugue turns to Marros.
Good sir, thank you for letting us share your bench with you. Since it appears that I have either the place or the time wrong for my lecture, I will leave you now to, once again, enjoy your solitude.
After packing up his goods, Fugit turns exclusively to Cathran.
If it all possible, could you walk with me for a bit?
After turning beyond a building, Fugit continues his tutelage in private.
Let me next try to explain what space-time is by way of analogy.
In the dead of night an archer on a galloping horse can fire a bow a great distance. And lets say that the arrows pierce the ground at our feet. Even though we can deduce the point of origin from which an arrow was released, it is also very likely that the rider is no longer there.
Do you understand? Anyone... anything sending a message from a distant galaxy, may be long long dead or worse by the time the message arrives. And before you arrive there, even more so.
Fugit turns in front of Cathran to halt their walk.
I saw your eyes go distant before you told me the name, Mahai. If I may be so bold to ask, do you have the ability to commune or to summon a planar allay? If so, then you should be able to ask this ally what the minimum distance from Golarain to Mahai... say, in light years.
"I cannot personally cast such spells, but I may be able to find one that can within my clan."
She gives a thoughtful look.
"I understand that any conventional message would take a long time to pass the distance, but what of unconventional ones? Say, as a random example of course, that a being reached out with its mind. Would such a message require the same time-delay as a physical one?"
With magic as rampant as it is, I doesn't seem outside the realm of the possible. Have you ever asked higher council if the voice is benevolent or malevolent in its intentions?
And what if a message could be sent real-time. It doesn't negate that fact that travel to the voice most likely isn't. Would you still make the journey if it was only your great-great grandchildren who could check what the source was?
"One of the early members of my clan once attempted to learn the intentions of the Star Whisper. The messenger Desna sent could only give an apology at being unable to learn anything specific. He then tried to expand his mind to better receive the message and hopeful understand it better, but that didn't work so well."
After a long sigh, she continues.
"Up until now, the plan has been to send a group of portal builders using starfaring robes. They haven't been sent yet, as we have yet to gather all the necessary resources."
It might be good to send along some golems for the transit.
My gut says it would also be good to have an atmospheric capsule, just in case all magic is suppressed. The safest way would have a series of jumps. And have each jump be preceded by a communing to insure that the next jump coordinate will include a safe transit.
But please promise me that you will get the big questions answered first. I don't want to see anybody sent to their deaths.
Fugit respectully stands at attention
How can I be of service?
"I am not the most learned or high-ranking of my clan. I do not know many of the details we have collected over the years, and I am not privy to all of our plans."
A thoughtful look, followed by a determined one, crosses her face.
"If you had access to our collected knowledge, would you be willing to work with our leaders to help craft our plans?"
Maybe the way I communicate is anachronistic. After all, I was raised on a planet where technology could predict our actions before we did.
So here's my plans made plain: I will assist your collective to obtain your interstellar goals. If I discover that this is a plan from a distant force to bring destruction upon your clan, our race, planet.. or our solar system, then I will work counter to your endeavors.
Sometimes it is those who can't hear things that can see things more clearly.
With his hand, Fugit motions to the path before them. They continue their walk.
As long as our objective is toward some greater good, then I will be here to help.
Once obscured by the alley walls, the light of the sun begins to shine down on Fugit and Cathran. Fugit closes his eyes and turns his face towards its light. For a brief moment, the image tattooed on his tongue of a broken hourglass can be clearly seen. Fugit opens his eyes, smiles and turns his attention back to Cathran.
Is this where we should part ways for now?
I have a timeshare in Uringen in the old clock tower, but I'm never sure when I'll be there. Are you a Society member? That's probably a better way to track my whereabouts. You can also Dream of me anytime.
Fugit's mouth shifts to the side of his face as he scratches the back of his head.
Temporally, its probably best if you just give me a time and I will endeavor to be there.