Prologue

“My goal for teaching this class,” Xannissa told her anxious, wide-eyed sea of first-year cadets, “is that when you leave here in fifteen weeks, you will think less of omnium as a mineral to be mined and used as fuel or building material.” She spoke with a confidence acquired through decades of experience, yet she looked like a young adult. “Rather, you will understand that omnium is a tool that allows us to take full advantage of our universe.

“If it were a simple mineral, our supply of it would have exhausted thousands of years ago. Any hope our species had of populating the stars with ease would have died. I emphasize the word ‘ease’ here because we may have still made it to where we are today, but it would have required much greater effort. My guess is that without omnium we would still be working our way toward the glory of the ancient Miridan Empire, but who knows for sure?”

     Many of the cadets smiled in amusement at her statement. Some even laughed quietly to themselves, finding humor in the idea of being set back thousands of years for failing to utilize something as commonplace as omnium.

     “I’m sure that our pre-stellar ancestors were also amused at the thought of failing to utilize ordinary combustion,” Xannissa said, responding to her cadets. She stood on a podium at the bottom of the large, dark lecture hall which was shaped like an inverted, stepped hexagonal pyramid. Each side of this pyramid seated one-hundred cadets, and each cadet sat behind a desk capable of generating lumigraphic projections, such as windows acting as monitors, lumionic keyboards with depressable buttons, and sets of transparent, weightless earphones composed entirely of lumions.

     Lumions can be viewed as exotic particles of hardened light that can be easily created and manipulated to produce anything from simple, intangible lumionic holography (lumigraphy) to tangible and resilient shields and barriers. The class of technology that utilizes lumions is known as lumionics. The lifespan of any one lumion is very short—a fraction of a second. Lumions decay into normal photons within the visible electromagnetic spectrum, and new lumions must be generated continuously in order to sustain the lumionic construct, whatever it might be. Entire cities could be built with lumions in theory, but the practicality of such a thing is questionable as lumionics are prone to failure, not to mention the fleeting lifetime of individual lumions makes them disadvantageous as a solid construction material.

     Every one of the six-hundred cadets seated within the dim lecture hall was female. Xannissa, their professor, was the brightest person among them—the room’s lumionic lighting above illuminating her cool gray skin and dark blue hair clamped in a ponytail. Bangs concealed her forehead, and strands of hair ran down either side of her face. Most of the cadets’ faces were lit from beneath by the light emanating from their desk’s one-way lumigrahic windows. Xannissa and the cadets all wore the Greater Orionan Federation Navy’s white uniforms decorated with orange stripes and dark gray patches. The cadet’s uniforms were merely clothes—a downgrade for many of them, and a sacrifice they were willing to make as they watched Xannissa give her lecture while wearing her bodysuit and short jacket generated from her remote material synthesis (REMASS)-capable Accellus 4—the all-in-one uniform and power armor given to all Federation officers, starmen, and soldiers. ADI’s Accellus 4 utilized the very same omnium that was the topic of discussion in this course: Introductory Omnimics.

     “What is omnium?” Xannissa asked her student audience. She paused while a three-dimensional lumigraph rotated above her showing a colorless, transparent, spherical crystal with the universal symbol for omnium floating above and to the side of it. The crystal acted like a prism by splitting the light running through it, and it also gave off its own captivating internal glow. “Of course, you all know. Civilized Space runs on omnium, after all. The most common type,” she explained, pointing up at the graphic, “the kind that civilians consume every day—is called ‘orivar.’ Does anyone know what this name means?” The fresh cadets were hesitant to respond, but a single young woman with a lavender face and a violet bob haircut on the front row raised her hand and stood.

     “Original variety,” the cadet said in a modest voice before sitting back down.

     “Very good,” Xannissa said. “Every other variety of omnium besides orivar is termed a ‘synthevar.’ What does the word synthevar suggest to us?” The cadet stood from her seat once more.

     “Varieties of omnium are not cultivated in the conventional sense,” the cadet responded with a robot-like recall of facts. “They are produced; synthesized.”

     “Outstanding,” Xannissa said. “I’m surprised. Usually my classes are more energetic. I’m not that scary, am I?” None of her students made a sound. Xannissa brushed it off and continued. “Anyway, orivar is the only omnium variety authorized for civilian use. All of the synthevars in existence are used by militaries, including the Federation’s Military Synthevar Ninety-One.” The crystal sphere above her head became orange. “This is the type used by all Federation Military hardware, including my Accellus Four. The difference between MS-Ninety-One and orivar—besides its orange color—is that the counter-chromodynamic omnionic field that stabilizes its achromon lattice has been attenuated, making it more unstable while granting it a higher conversion rate and allowing it to undergo liquefaction. This makes MS-Ninety-One more capable of handling the Military’s material and energy demands while also making it easier to manipulate.” The image of the omnium crystal above Xannissa’s head disappeared.

     “Today’s topics,” Xannissa continued, “include omnium’s discovery, its impact on ancient civilization, and an introduction to the theory of omnium-matter exchange.” The image above Xannissa’s head now showed a cycle of six different historical figures that changed every ten seconds.

     “These are artistic depictions of the six scientists credited for the independent discoveries of omnium on their respective Sister Worlds,” Xannissa said after pausing to let her students take in the images. By Sister Worlds, she referred to the homeworlds of the six human races that inhabited Civilized Space today. “Historians agree that in all cases, omnium was discovered on each of these worlds before the advent of superluminal travel. Of course, one of the conundrums of omnium’s discovery is with its timing. In all cases, omnium was found only a few decades after the discovery of nuclear energy. How would something like omnium go unnoticed for so long unless it was put there?”

     This revelation had been explained countless times to Xannissa’s students before they ever stepped foot in the Academy. Still, there were those that believed omnium had been present on the Sister Worlds all along and rejected any notion that outside interference played any kind of role in its unearthing.

“In the pre-stellar age, there was in fact, a seventh human race that was technologically about half a millennium ahead of the rest. Kax Providence Theory suggests that this human race provided omnium to the other six.”

     “Professor Cetalo?” asked the cadet with the violet bob. She had her hand raised in the air. When Xannissa nodded to her, she stood from her seat and asked “What became of that other race?”

     “Wiped out,” Xannissa said bluntly. “We only know them as the Kax. Supposedly, they pushed omnium technology far beyond its limits too early, and this led to their destruction at the hands of the other six, but this all happened about five-thousand years ago, putting it well before the rise and fall of the Miridan Empire.

     “Personally, I happen to believe in the alternative theory which has been more favored in recent centuries. It is widely believed that for Homo sapiens to be present on seven distinct yet similar planets spread lightyears apart from each other, interference from a progenitor was required. Progenitor Providence Theory suggests that whatever or whoever made human convergent evolution possible also made our discovery of omnium possible. That is, the force that brought modern humans into existence is the same force that ultimately provided them with omnium tens of thousands of years later.”     Human origin was not a particularly popular subject especially in a non-history class. Xannissa did not like talking about it, and many of her students let out sighs, crossed their arms, or leaned back in their chairs. Everyone had their own opinions on the subject, but Xannissa pressed on.

     “Now, you would expect omnium to have made significant waves very early on, but in actuality, society carried on like usual. Without the technology to utilize it, omnium is just another pretty gem. It took decades, even centuries before they realized it could adsorb ordinary matter into its lattice, or that the lattice could be decomposed into ordinary matter. This is when you began to see the real significant changes to society. Energy and precious metals were devalued. Immaterial resources increased in value, such as ideas, time, and manpower. At long last, civilization had not only a stable energy source with a low activation energy but a way to obtain the rarest of elements and compounds for use in construction and provision of common human necessities like food and water from dirt, rock, and refuse. This led to the start of system colonization and deep space exploration in earnest.”

     Xannissa sighed. She was a scientist and an engineer. She did not enjoy history as much as some of her peers, and as she lacked a background in it, teaching it made her uncomfortable—a fact she did her best to hide from her students. “That’s enough history for this class. I suggest you review chapter one in detail in your own time. I really want to begin lecturing on omnium-matter exchange. I’ll begin by giving you the main points, then I will break down each point for you so that you understand the important details. As always, you will have access to this lecture and all of the materials through the Academy’s network.”

     Xannissa took a deep breath and said, “Omnium is an achromon lattice. Achromons can be thought of as quarks lacking color charge, and are held together by the force-carrying particle known as omnions. The density of this lattice can vary greatly, but its density has no impact on its interaction with gravity. Omnium’s weight is determined by its volume, contrary to normal material. That is, as omnium’s volume decreases, its weight decreases. Omnium’s ability to adsorb matter and to decompose back into matter relies on the modulation of the distance of the force interaction of omnions which is easy to accomplish using electromagnetic radiation-induced achromon lattice resonance, EM-ALR, or just ALR. The electromagnetic frequencies that omnium responds to is dependent on the spins of the achromons within a particular synthevar.

     “Put into simpler terms, omnium can, upon electromagnetic excitation via very specific wavelengths known as keywaves, incorporate mass from surrounding matter, or shed mass to synthesize new matter or energy. In a sense, you can think of omnium as a type of convenient mass storage. The main goal of omnium technology is putting this unique characteristic to good use. One such important technology in the current age is remote material synthesis, or REMASS. REMASS relies on omnium, lumionic confinement, and nanoscale wormhole generation to enable the rapid fabrication of objects and materials from great distances; that is, anywhere from a few centimeters to a few kilometers away from the point of matter synthesis.

     “The rest of today’s lecture will focus on the achromon: the fundamental unit of omnium. Now, achromons possess important characteristics themselves, one of them being spin. Achromon spin determines….”

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