The ‘Nexus’ is an extra-dimensional region that looks like a wide, infinitely long tube about 100 km in diameter. The inhabitants of the Nexus (simply known also as ‘The Owners’) are descended from the original builders who disappeared several million years ago, and consist of semi-biological machine constructs. Both the start and the end of the Nexus are unknown; it is theorised that the Nexus has no start or end and might even be an infinitely long torus; go far enough in one direction and you will eventually return to where you started. The bare surface of the Nexus is a bronzed looking manifestation of space-time, impenetrable to any known methods.
At regular occurrences along the Nexus, about every 2 kilometres, there is an indent in the surface where, using the appropriate technology, gates can be opened to other universes. The Owners use these gates to trade and interact with a multitude of universes, species and cultures and uses its power to manage and control the Nexus, adhering to a strict policy of interactions between its clients. Where gates have been opened and trade and interactions takes place, the Owners have clad the Nexus’s surface in more adaptable materials and formed an appropriate atmosphere.
Indeed, large areas of the Nexus’ surface are dedicated to reserves for one ecosystem or another and entire cities cover some parts; either of a single race looking to set up a more permanent enclave in the Nexus or, in more cases, a metropolitan hive of thousands of species known as a Focus, coming together to trade and exchange information. The biggest gates are over a kilometre in width and thousands of people and vehicles pass through them hourly. At present, the Nexus has 15,708 active gates, with just over a thousand Clients.
Whatever or whoever the original builders of the Nexus was, no one now remembers. The current inhabitants who claim to be descended from them (and there’s no good evidence to suggest they’re not) are a semi-biological machine intelligence with no singular form; each member adopts a form suitable to the task assigned to it.
The vast majority of Owners are stored as active intelligences on the mainframe in the Nexus’ vast city, Hub – a cylindrical construct two hundred kilometres long and about 30 kilometres wide, sited in the centre of the Nexus, above its more lucrative and important gates. Within the Nexus itself, their power is almost absolute; being able to manipulate the Nexus’ gravitational fields and use the vast resources of Hub to project energy fields at any location within the Nexus. They very rarely use such power outside of Gate opening however.
Indeed, one of their biggest challenges is finding Gates that open into valid regions. Too many open into the vacuum of interstellar space and every now and again, one will lead to the interior of a star – such occurrences are a challenge but provides the Nexus with virtually unlimited energy. Until a gate is opened, its location in the target universe is unknown. The Owners currently manages approximately a million kilometres of the Nexus in either direction from Hub and has sent probes as far as 200 billion kilometres.
Inhabitants of a universe that a Gate opens into are called ‘Clients’ and from the moment of first contact are allowed access to the surface of the Nexus up to 20 km in altitude. The Owners do not, and will not, exchange any of its own technologies and will merely guide prospective Clients to areas were they may trade and exchange with other Clients.
Most new Client species are assigned a Mentor-Client from a list of volunteer Clients. A strict set of rules limits the interactions Clients may have with each other and they are ruthlessly enforced by the Owners. Repeat and recalcitrant offenders will find their universe cut off and/or other Clients being granted permission to engage in punitive actions.
If trade is arranged between Clients, then the Owners reserve the right to tax said trade, dependant on the nature of the trade and the wealth and status of the Clients involved. The Owners also allow conflict of a limited nature. Areas of the Nexus’ surface are assigned as active battlegrounds and the Owners will arrange with the party or parties involved to agree a set of rules of engagement. So long as all parties adhere to these rules, the conflict is allowed to progress.
Laws of the Nexus
- When a new Gate is opened, the first faction to whom first contact is made shall be designated the official Client
- Once first contact is made, the Owners shall give brief instruction as to the nature of the Nexus and assign an Advocate to the Client
- The Advocate is responsible for instructing the Client to the Law of the Nexus and directing the Client to the nearest Client Focus (see Rule 2.e.)
- The Advocate will remain with the Client for the duration of its Client status as a source of information and guidance with regards Nexus procedures and as a communication link with the Nexus
- The Advocate is not obligated to share information or technology that the Client does not already possess
- The Advocate is forbidden from interfering in the internal politics of a Client universe
- In the event of a change of faction control of the Gate from within the universe, the Advocate shall transfer duties to the new faction
- In the event of a properly sanctioned change of faction control of the Gate from outside the universe, the Advocate of the new faction shall take responsibility
- All Clients possessing technology levels below that of E-1 (see rule 4.d.) shall be assigned a Mentor-Client. Clients with a technology level below that of A-1 may be assigned a Mentor-Client at the discretion of the Nexus Mentoring Board
- Mentor-Clients are selected from a list of Clients wishing to volunteer for such duties and must meet certain requirements
- A technology level of at least A1
- No active conflicts
- Held Client status for a period of not less than 10 Nexus years
- Compatible language structures with potential Client
- Have no conflicts of interest with other Clients being Mentored or non-controlling factions within the Client universe
- Mentor-Clients are responsible for ensuring their Client is capable of operating within the Law of the Nexus
- Mentor-Clients are free to exchange technologies and cultural information as they see fit
- Mentor-Clients are forbidden from any action that would lead to the irreparable damage to their Clients universe or its inhabitants
- Mentor-Clients are forbidden from using their Mentor status for profit; e.g. Enslavement of Client, resource stripping of Client universe, information hording, etc.
- In all cases, the Advocate has final arbitration over the actions of the Mentor-Client
- Clients are entitled to free and open use of all public access areas of the surface of the Nexus and to an altitude of twenty kilometres
- Public access areas are clearly designated and it is forbidden for Clients to attempt to restrict movement of other Clients in such areas
- Forbidden zones are clearly marked using red fields and attempted entry will incur penalties
- A Client may request a portion of the Nexus around its Gate as a designated Enclave.
- An enclave may be no more than 5 kilometres in radius from the Gate
- An Enclave is the sovereign territory of the Client and can allow or restrict access to other Clients as it sees fit
- All laws and rules within the Enclave are the privilege of the Client
- A collective of Clients may designate a portion of the surface of the Nexus as a Focus
- A focus is a public access area at least 25 kilometres from a Gate
- A minimum of three Clients is needed to request a Focus, there is no upper limit
- A Focus shall be governed by representatives from the founding Clients. The exact structure is the responsibility of the founding Clients
- An Advocate will be assigned to the Focus government by the Owners
- A focus starts at a diameter of 10 kilometres. Further space may be requested by the Focus government with the following restrictions:
- No part of the Focus may be within 15 kilometres of an established Gate
- No part of the Focus may entirely encompass a designated Enclave
- The decision of the Advocate regarding Focus expansion is final
- It is the responsibility of the Focus government to set rules and laws within the boundaries of the Focus so long as said rules do not negate the Law of the Nexus
- Once a Focus is established, no Client may be refused permission by other Clients to enter the Focus, trade within its limits or purchase property within the Focus
- When two Focus areas meet, they can be merged at the decision of both Focus governments. The new government will comprise members from both Focus governments
- A Client may request that a portion of the surface of the Nexus be allocated to the preservation of an ecosystem from within the Clients own universe.
- The granting of such a preserve is decided by the Clients Advocate after consultation with the Owners
- Preserves are open-access areas
- Management of the Preserve is the responsibility of the Client who requested it
- Mismanagement or neglect of the Preserve shall result in the loss of said Preserve. The Owners reserve the right to continue its management or hand over management to a third party
- Preserves orphaned by the loss of the Client responsible shall be managed directly by the Nexus Preserve Board
- Trade is defined as the transfer of ownership of any defined item, tangible or not, between Clients who otherwise would not have been able to do so without the existence of the Nexus
- Trade between Clients is entirely the responsibility of the parties involved. The Owners shall only engage in arbitration where it can be shown the Law of the Nexus have been broken or third parties are affected
- Trade agreements must be lodged with the Nexus Trade Board. Failure to register a Trade will result in loss of Client privileges and/or a fine
- Once a trade agreement is lodged, the Owners reserve the right to impose a tax or levy on the trade. The tax will never be punitive nor remove the profitability of the trade.
- Disputes between Clients can only be resolved through conflict if the involved parties register their dispute with the Nexus Conflict Board
- Once a registered Conflict, the Clients involved must set forth their rules of engagement. These rules are defined by the Clients with the following restrictions
- The Rules of Engagement must establish the aims of the conflict. Once the aims are achieved, the conflict is concluded
- The conflict must be restricted to the defined Conflict Zone established by the Nexus Conflict Board. The size of this zone will reflect the size and scope of the relative Clients in involved.
- The Conflict Zone may be an area of the Nexus or part of a universe allocated to the Conflict
- The techniques used to resolve the conflict must relate the scale of the conflict and the Clients involved.
- Devices more than 5 technology levels more than the target are banned.
- The Nexus Conflict Board reserves the right to stop any conflict within the Nexus or restrict movement to conflicts outside of the Nexus.
- Third parties may only join a conflict upon application to the Nexus Conflict Board
- Technology levels are designated by the Advocate upon first contact.
- Clients are continually assessed on their technology level and may be reclassified without warning
- Clients may appeal their classification to the Nexus Technology Board
- The Technology levels and examples are:
Band Level Era Signature technologies P 1 Stone Age Counting; oral tradition 2 Bronze Age Arithmetic; writing 3 Iron Age Geometry; scrolls 4 Medieval Algebra; books I 1 Age of Sail Calculus; movable type 2 Industrial Revolution Mechanical calculators; telegraph 3 Mechanized Age Electrical calculators; telephone and radio E 1 Nuclear Age Mainframe computers; television; atomic power 2 Digital Age Personal computers; global networks 3 Global Age Autonomous robots; high speed networks 4 Genetic Age Gene modification; cloning A 1 Microtech Age Artificial intelligence; real-time virtuality 2 Robotic Age Nanotechnology; basic FTL capabilities 3 Exotic Age Creation of exotic materials; advanced FTL capabilities 4 Star Age Manipulation of space-time
- The Owners reserve the right to block certain technologies from entering the Nexus
- Time is measured in the Nexus is defined according to the Nexus Time Board and uses the following units
- One Nexus Year is a time period based on 360 days
- One Nexus month is 30 days
- One week is 6 days
- One day consists of 24 hours
- One hour is 60 minutes
- One minute is 60 seconds
- One second is defined as exactly 9,192,631,770 periods of a certain frequency of radiation from the caesium atom
The Nexus – A History
‘The Owners’ is a collective term for the billions of entities who call the Nexus their home. Their exact origins have been lost in the vast databases held on their Nexus-based city, Hub, but it is clear that they have no identifiable homeworld. The earliest records of the Owners date back eighteen thousand years, and even then they lived and worked in the Hub, using Gates to open to empty worlds for minerals, air and energy. Gates that opened into regions that had inhabitants were closed as soon as they opened, the Owners preferring to avoid contact with other intelligences. They became adept at using empty worlds to make large areas of the Nexus veritable paradises and a number of Gates had opened up into the centre of stars; this vast amount of energy provided everything the Owners ever needed.
This all changed about twelve thousand years ago, when the Owners opened a gate into what they at first detected as an empty world. Widening the gate from its initial microscopic test gate, the first scouts reported a dead world, devoid of atmosphere, moisture and even any accessible minerals. This initial report was soon shown to be in error, as the Gate was attacked by a swarm of nanites; self-replicating robots who sought only to make more of themselves. Whilst the Nexus was never under any threat, the attack took the Owners by surprise and it was only their utter mastery of fields and the gravity within the Nexus that enabled them to first push the nanites back, and then to cleanse the planet by focusing the energy of a gate that opened into a star.
The investigation afterwards provided the Owners with sobering facts; this world had once been home to a thriving civilisation, billions of intelligent entities spread across the entire star system. It was unsure whether the nanites were a development of this civilisation or an outside threat, but whatever it was, it had stripped the system of all life within a matter of years. The Owners realised that this was a threat that could afflict any civilisation and took the decision to open contact with as many species as it could, to enable a sharing of information and technologies, so that if such a thing happened again (an event it termed a ‘hegemonising swarm’) a coalition of species, linked with the Nexus, would be able to defeat it.
Whilst opening Gates was a routine matter for the Owners, Gates that opened into viable locations were rare, in the order of a tenth of a percent of all Gates. Of these Gates, not even seven percent held locations with intelligence. It took the Owners several centuries to find another intelligence capable of enacting an exchange with, but once one ‘Client’ (as they were termed) was found, more soon joined in. The Law of the Nexus was formed soon after the first interactions between Clients; the Owners simply didn’t have the resources or the inclination to micro-manage every aspect of its Client’s business. Now, aside from the input of Advocates and the various Boards that manage the Law, the Owners are content to open new Gates and watch for signs of more Hegemonising Swarms.
As of the present day, there are 15,708 active Gates, with a new opening roughly every year (although test gates are opened almost continuously). Of these gates, 1,068 have Clients and some of the more advanced Clients are allocated more than one Gate. In the history of the Nexus, there have been approximately four thousand Clients; the reason why a Client detaches from the Nexus is as varied as the Clients themselves. Most typically, clients evolve beyond the point at which they need the services of the Nexus, reaching a plateau of development and settle into senescence. Occasionally, internal disputes or strife can cause the blocking of a Gate on the Client’s side, or the Owners may sanction a Client if it proves to be intractable, or breaks the Law too frequently. More rarely, natural disasters can render a Client extinct (although the Owners do their best to prevent such occurrences) or the Client can request the closing of the Gate itself.
The Nexus – Inhabitants
Owner entities are a semi-biological machine intelligence with no singular form; each member adopts a form suitable to the task assigned to it. Micro-wormholes connect the entity’s biological components (reduced to little more than a brain and sensory inputs) held in Hub, to a remotely controlled form that is shaped according to the needs, environment and aesthetics of the situation. These forms are a collection of nano-particles, capable of shaping themselves into different textures, structures and forms as needed, from a biological looking humanoid (indistinguishable from the real thing down to the microscopic level), to fully machine like drones capable of withstanding the extreme conditions sometimes found through Gates. The exact number of Owners is unknown, but the many billions of corporeal Owners are supplemented by the trillions who exist now as independent intelligences housed in Hub’s vast information network. Of all the tasks undertaken by the Owners, the most important is that of Advocate.
Advocates are chosen from the most open-minded and flexible of Owners, and devote their lives to furthering the cause of the Client they’re assigned to and not the interests of the Nexus alone. A typical Advocate will adopt a form almost identical to that of the Client it serves, with just enough differences to make them appear distinct. Amongst the Owners, it is considered the height of bad ettiquette for an Advocate to be confused with a genuine Client member, but keeping a similar form is considered polite and a better way to empathise with the Client. Advocates are tasked with instruction regarding the Law of the Nexus and being a point of contact between a Client and the Nexus. All formal enquires and requests to the Owners must be lodged with a Client’s Advocate for them to be valid. In instances where a potential Client is hostile to the presence of a Gate or the Nexus, it is the task of an Advocate to mediate between Client and Nexus. It is forbidden for Advocates to attempt to interfere with the internal politics of a Client, even if such a thing would be beneficial to the interaction between Client and Nexus (eg, helping a power struggle between pro and anti-Nexus factions). An Advocate is to be as neutral as possible in all situations.
The Nexus – Hub
Whilst the Nexus is infinitely long, it is only about 100 km in diameter. The Owners currently directly control a stretch about two million kilometers in length. Outside of this claimed area, the Nexus is bare and empty; the only inhabitants are patrolling Nexus drones and the occasional scientific expedition. Using advanced field technology, the Owners can segregate the Nexus into various regions and keep atmospheres separate and distinct. The Owners allow Clients full access across most of the surface of the Nexus, up to an altitude of twenty kilometres.
Above that, the Owners keep the Nexus in a vacuum all the way until Hub. Hub is a vast cylindrical construct, two hundred kilometres in length and about 30 kilometers in diameter, centred in the Owners’ controlled length of the Nexus. Ships and drones continuously fly to and from Hub from the surface, carrying Owners, resources and the occasional lucky Client representatives. Power is supplied from a number of Gates that open into the heart of a star. The plasma from these gates is funnelled up in brightly glowing field tubes to the Nexus’ centre where it is fed into the centre of Hub for processing. It is the energy from these tubes that illuminates and heats the Nexus and is a testament to the power and technology of the Owners that these life-giving energies can be controlled and just as easily turned into weapons equalling the power of a supernova.
The Nexus Council
The Nexus Council is a forum where every Client has the right to be heard and issues that affect the Nexus as a whole can be debated. It is a requirement of the Law of the Nexus that each Client sends representatives to the Nexus Council but it is up to the Client what format this representation takes. A complex formula based on technology level, population, length of time as a Client and other such metrics are used to establish the exact number of representatives a Client is required to send, although the Owners do their best to ensure the Council is not dominated by large, advanced Clients.
The Nexus Council meets continuously in enormous, specially constructed chambers in Hub, where Clients of all different species can meet, regardless of their environmental needs. As well as their representatives, Clients are permitted to let a fixed number of non-representatives into the Council area as well. This is the only part of Hub that is not exclusively for the Owners and is often considered a great honour to be allowed in. Representatives are expected to reside in Hub permanently, as meetings take place continuously and there is a minimum number that a representative is required to attend. Occasionally, the Owners will call a Grand Council with compulsory attendance. These are very rare, however, and are usually the result of some disciplinary action against a Client that needs witnessed.
Any Client has the right to submit an issue for the Nexus Council to discuss by raising it with their Advocate. It is given over to the Nexus Council Board who will either accept the issue for debate or reject the issue, devolving it to the appropriate Nexus Board, the Client’s own leadership, or assigning it to the Advocate to be resolved. Issues that are successful for this choice tend to be regarding the attitude of Clients, the proportioning of Enclaves and Foci, requests for Gate openings or closings, requests for other Clients to help resolve internal issues and conflict resolutions.
When an issue is accepted for debate, it is proposed to the Nexus Council by the Council Speaker, an Owner who holds chair over the Nexus Council. The Council Speaker will seek parties from all sides of the issue to volunteer and assign appropriate leadership to each faction. The issue is then debated in open for not less than 5 daily sessions before a vote is taken on any proposed actions. If the proposal is affirmed, then it becomes a Nexus Council Resolution and all parties are required to abide by its wording.
Whilst the Owners encourage Clients to make use of the Nexus Council to resolve differences and solve issues, it makes it very clear that it is, at best, an advisory body and the Owners reserve the right to overrule or dismiss any resolutions it feels are too disruptive to the operation of the Nexus.
As of present, there are 1,069 Clients of the Nexus, made up of the following categories:
Although the Nexus is infinitely long, the Owners cannot possibibly hope to control of that length, even with its incredible resources. At the present moment, the Owners have set its limits of control at 1 million kilometers down the Nexus in either direction from Hub. With potential Gates to be found about every 2 kilometers, both along its length and around its circumference, this gives plenty of scope for the Owners to deal with. Most Gates are explored and tagged, those left unopened are typically covered with whatever the local groundstuff is to allow for habitation and use of the area.
With such a huge area, it is important that locations are properly assigned coordinates to allow Clients and Nexus agents to find Gates and Foci. The Nexus referencing system is relatively simple.
Hub represents the ‘centre’ of the Nexus and all points are marked from there.
From Hub, the Nexus is divided into thousand kilometer long ‘Sections’ running ‘North’ and ‘South’.
The 500 kilometers in either direction from Hub is Section 0.
Sections north of this are sequentially numbered from 1 to 1000, sections south are numbered -1 to -1000.
A line is taken along the surface of Nexus to represent 0 degrees. This is the ‘Top line’
Within a Section, a simple grid system is used using the number of whole degrees from the ‘Top line’ and the number of kilometers from the ‘north’ end of the Section
An example reference would be -453,68,832. This represents a location 453,000 km ‘south’ from Hub, 68° from the ‘Top line’ and 832 km from the north of the Section.
Transport within the Nexus
Within Client universes and Enclaves, the Owners usually leaves transport up to the individual Client, although exceptions are made for primitive Clients. It even allows for the Client to arrange its own transport, so long as said transport remains under the 20 km upper altitude limit for Clients. Whilst a lot of the Nexus has atmosphere, the Owners keep wide transport lanes open that are devoid of an atmosphere and, for the most part, carried over bare sections of the Nexus. This allows Clients to use craft similar to whatever intra-system vehicles they would use in their own universes to traverse up and down the Nexus. Some species are well known for moving their own large and impressive starships through the Nexus, using their slower-than-light engines to travel. The Owners have set various speed limits dependant on the area of the Nexus a vehicle is in:
Within atmosphere, below 10 km altitude and above habitated areas = 1000 km/h
Within atmosphere, above 10 km altitude or above non-habitated areas = 5000 km/h
Outside atmosphere, no dedicated transport lane = 50,000 km/h
Within dedicated transport lanes = 500,000 km/h
For extreme long distance travel, only the Owners are permitted to exceed the limits imposed. Nexus craft are typically only small, capable of carrying about twenty standard-sized humans, but once above the 20 km altitude limit, they can reach speeds approaching 5% of light within the Nexus. Nexus craft have technology capable of isolating the craft from inertia, making the transition from stopped to such speeds almost instantaneous, without discomfort to the occupants. Larger craft exist, and are often seen around the more important resource Gates, occasionally being used to shuttle large numbers of people or even whole craft within their large internal spaces.
Nexus transport is offered without qualification to Nexus Council representatives, with a Client having a Nexus Transport on call for their reps at all times.