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A Pale Path

[Reading: Pale Path entry in the Starmoth Initiative Yearly Newsletter]

The world is porous. Reality has holes and gaps running through it like tunnels in karst. We have been aware of this ever since the discovery of the geometry drive. It cuts passages through reality then sews them back in its wake.

It is not, however, the only example of dimensional engineering in the galaxy.

The Pale Path is ancient, probably more than the Sequence, though it is hard to assess the age of such a feat of dimensional engineering. The oldest references to its existence have been found on Kapteyn which, as far as we can tell, would mean the Pale Path is at least a billion years old. Of course, the perception and effects of time can be less than intuitive when dimensional works are involved.

Interestingly enough, we heard of the Pale Path way before encountering it in the flesh. In retrospect, it was obvious that the inscriptions on Kapteyn talking about a slithering trail through the void referred to the Pale Path, but at the time we did not have any point of comparison. More explicit were the Sequence writings identifying a webway pattern circling the galaxy as a potential target for a genocidal crusade, though they led us to believe the Pale Path was just some kind of derelict wormhole network similar to what the Sequence itself seemingly tried (and failed) to build aeons ago.

The discovery of the Finistelle Veil, the first entrance to the Pale Path ever found, showed how wrong we were. Granted, on a surface level, the Pale Path can be considered like a wormhole-adjacent FTL system, connecting a network of ancient gates together through the halo of stars and dead galaxies circling the Milky Way. If it was only an FTL network, it would already be an impressive feat of generation engineering, the only means of FTL travel other than the geometry drive, surpassing even the achievements of the Sequence. However, the Pale Path's nature as a wormhole network seems almost accidental, a by-product of the real nature of this dimensional architecture.

In theory, the inside of a wormhole should be empty. That is what wormholes are, tunnels through time and space, and the inside of a tunnel is only used for transit. This is not the case for the Pale Path. The inside of its wormholes grows and expands into localized subspace phenomena we baptized Metrics. A Metric is a vast, albeit strangely finite, pocket universe contained within the Pale Path, that often has its own set of physics. It is unknown how many Metrics reside in the Pale Path, as the vast network has been only partially explored and some of the intermediary Metrics are downright hostile not only to human life but to the very existence of regular matter. Worse even, the Pale Path is in a state of advanced disrepair, with only a fraction of its extent having been spared by time, architectural failures, design flaws and the wanton destruction carried out by the Sequence. Our preliminary studies revealed that only a fraction of the Pale Path might be still intact, with 5 to 6% of its original Metrics being accessible by humans.

In very simple terms, the Pale Path is a five hundred thousand lightyears long string of parallel worlds.

Illustration: Public Domain NASA/Caltech.

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