The Fringe System
The entire Fringepath system is a collection of linked sets of platforms, which because their creation became automated, are uniform in appearance. They differ primarily in the necessary number of connections needed to link to the other platforms in each node or other nodes. Each portal node is a Prime to Alternate to System to Star-Hub to Star-System string of platforms.
A Prime Platform has a 50’ high portal at the 6 o’clock position that leads to the Alternate Platform and eight 25’ high portals that lead to different locations on that (Prime) world at positions 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11 o’clock.
An Alternate Platform has eight planetary portals (25’ high) and four pathway portals (50’ high). Each planetary portal links to an alternate of the Prime world or to a pocket world. The pathway portals link to the Prime Platform, the System Platform and laterally to two other nodes.
A System Platform has eight planetary portals plus two pathway portals. Each planetary portal links to some location in the Prime world’s star system. Normally this is on the surface of some astronomical body. The two pathway portals lead to the Alternate Platform and the Star-Hub Platform respectively.
A Star Hub Platform has eight Pathway portals (50’) plus a Pathway portal (50’) that links it to the System Platform. Each of these eight portals leads to a Star-System Platform around a different nearby star within 40 light years of the Prime.
A Star-System Platform differs from a System Platform in that it has only one Pathway portal connecting it to the Star-Hub Platform. This is the end of the tree as the Tehrmelern see it. The eight planetary portals each connect to some location in the local star’s system. As with System Platforms this is normally on the surface of some astronomical body.
The sole purpose of any platform appears to be support for the transit portals. All portals are named after the hour it would correspond to on a clock face – 3, 6, 9, 12 for Pathway Portals and 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 for Planetary Portals. This pattern is repeated millions of times. Each node is connected laterally, creating the appearance of an infinitely long string of nodes.
Each disk-shaped platform is 613 feet in diameter and 4.37 feet thick. It is anchored in a column of space. Atmosphere extends 97 feet from the edge of the platform where it shears to a vacuum. Another 47 feet of safety extends to a point where any object will disappear in a blaze of light as the matter re-enters ‘real’ space. It is hypothesized that this transfer is a complete matter to energy conversion. The blaze of light is what we expect to see at the event horizon of a black hole.
The upper and lower surface of the platform has 96% of Earth Prime normal gravity (0.96G). There is only micro-gravity along the side causing a gravity shear at the platform edge. All portals are on the upper side of the platform. Atmosphere is sucked into the lower surface and oozes from the upper surface of the platform, creating what is believed to be an air filtration system. The surface of the platform has microscopic irregularities that not only provide excellent traction, but also prevent the formation of a vacuum seal on the bottom surface unless some kind of sealant is added. A filled water glass placed lip down will soon fill with bubbles on the upper platform surface. However there is very little pressure and it is impossible to perceive the flow normally due to the downward draft on the platform. Since the platform is in a column of air, some of which is outside of the gravity of the platform, there is a constant breeze falling on the upper and under surfaces of the platform. This breeze blows down and then out, off the platform, where it rises vertically until it flows back into the gravity well. It is very easy to float an object vertically, but eventually that object will come crashing down on the edge of the platform as the air currents swirl inside the gravity well. If you manage to travel far enough up from the surface the atmosphere will thin to vacuum. Eventually you will find yourself falling to the other side of the platform. So the column of space is actually a ring. The length of this column has never been determined but is over 150 miles long. This fact has only been discovered by experimentation, never by observation.
The platform is illuminated to the equivalent of twilight. This light is the full human visible spectrum plus a little ultraviolet. There is no infrared or high-energy radiation or particles. You can see clearly but reading for humans is difficult without an additional light source. Some light is emitted by the platform itself. The rest comes from what appears to be a dense star field that surrounds the column of space that holds the platform. Movement in that space causes some stars to exhibit changes in color and position. Some theorize that Fringespace is compressed space where minor movements translate to huge distances relative to the positions of the stars in the star field, resulting in Doppler shifts in the star’s color. In reality these stars are stress points in the boundaries between universes. In any case, viewing this star movement induces vertigo in a significant number of Fringeworthy.
The Fringepath atmosphere is a constant 67 degrees Fahrenheit and 35% humidity. The air is easily breathable but has a strange taste due to its composition (oxygen 21%, nitrogen 78.1%, argon 0.9%). The surface of the platform is dull silver in color and from its hardness appears to be metallic. It is almost impervious. One team exploded 200 gallons of nitroglycerin on a platform and blew a hole through the upper surface. The inside was a vortex of light and energy that appeared to go down for miles (but not through the lower surface). The damage was repaired within a half hour. Microscopic examination of the attendant fractures showed microscopic, interlocking crystals connected by monofilaments. However, the portals themselves are impervious to harm. Energy does not transfer well to the platform. Play an acetylene torch over the surface as long as you like – it will not feel warm a moment later. So even though the atmosphere is 67 degrees, the surface feels body temperature when touched.
The surface feels like extra-fine grit sandpaper. It affords little rolling resistance, but footing is sure. The platform and pathway does not resound if struck and the interface between the atmosphere and vacuum doesn’t reflect sound, so the Fringepath is quiet. However, the atmosphere transmits sound as normal otherwise.
Any nuclear or radioactive material passing through a portal or warp decays immediately into a harmless non-radioactive isotope. Shielding cannot stop this process. Any electrical storage device is also drained as it passes through a warp or portal. On the Platforms or Fringepaths, all electricity is neutralized, with the exception of biologically generated electricity. Again, shielding cannot prevent this loss. The loss of energy does not harm the equipment. If power is restored outside the Fringepath system, the equipment will function properly. Magnetic properties cease to exist while in the Fringepath system. This will completely erase magnetic tapes and disks. Magnetic properties will return roughly 10 minutes but batteries must be recharged.
Touching the black of a portal or warp is a commitment toward transition by the Fringeworthy. A person or object will be pulled through at a rate of 1.1 inches per second (1/16th mph) with a pull of one megaton against resistance. After that the surface of the ramp becomes slipperier to ease resistance. If that still isn’t enough, it shears the object. This is the minimum speed. No maximum speed is known. Velocity is always conserved during transit. Only the Fringeworthy can make the transition to the platforms. Any material carried or thrown through a portal by a Fringeworthy will make the transition.
Materials thrown through by a non-Fringeworthy will fall to the floor on the other side of the Portal without making the transition. A non-Fringeworthy walking through a ring or warp will only step through to the other side of the ring. Other than occulting vision, a warp or portal has no effect on non-Fringeworthy until triggered by a Fringeworthy. There is no limit to the length an object can be once the Fringeworthy initiates transit. It will remain Fringeworthy throughout its transit not matter how long that takes.
Note: If any part of an object making transit is separated, by transit failure or intentional severing, it remains Fringeworthy for up to 10 minutes unless it is touched by a non-Fringeworthy creature; at which point it becomes normal.
Objects can rotate in any direction when transiting as long as an ever-increasing amount of mass is on the other side of the warp. An explorer can stick her head through a portal, lean back, and say a few words of warning as the rest of her body is pulled through. This has provided the opportunity for the creation of a number of complex devices for taking pictures and measurements of the other side of a portal without the danger of the explorer making the transit herself. However something has to be left behind on the other side, announcing the presence of the Fringeworthy.
Animals are a special case of objects. All non-sapient animals can be brought through a portal by a Fringeworthy person. However, very few are Fringeworthy on their own. Crows are an exception. They seem to be universally Fringeworthy regardless of their world of origin. Intelligent animal species are rarely Fringeworthy. Non-Fringeworthy intelligent members of any race cannot transit into Fringe space.
Reaction to Fringe travel varies by species. Cats hate Fringe space and should only be transported restrained and preferably sedated.
Portals, Pathways, Rings and Control Pylons are virtually idiot-proof and cannot be damaged by any known means. Weapons fire directed against a person or object in transit results in an energy blast being returned to the point of the weapons fire until that point is obliterated or the transit completes.
Portal transition tends to kill harmful bacteria and cleanse the travelers system of any odd organisms that they didn’t have at the last portal use. The largest organisms that will be removed are simple single-celled animals or flora. Larger parasites, such as fleas, will not be removed, and must be dealt with in a more normal manner. Mutations of the body are not removed. However, Fringe travel ‘boosts’ the immune system allowing the Fringeworthy to better fight off any diseases not identified by the system and any body imbalance like cancer, radiation damage, or poisoning. This boosting effect increases lifespan by a factor of 20 but only if transit travel is frequent.
For older explorers, this boost also causes a ‘rejuvenation’ effect. Arterial plaque is removed; late onset diabetes is reduced or cured. Hair loss reversal has been reported. They aren’t actually younger, but their biological systems are so energized that their bodies are able to resist stress, repair damage, flush fatigue, and environmental poisons, and restore to function marginal cells. In the end they look and feel like non-Fringeworthy humans who are years younger. However, it doesn’t keep them from getting a hangover.
Portals come in two versions: Planetary (25’ high) or Pathway (50’high).
World Side: These portals are, in appearance, a rotating silver ring filled with an opaque dull black energy. All portals of this design possess a ramp leading to and from the ring as well as a control pylon on the right side. The exact composition of the ring metal and the energy that powers its movement has not been determined because the ring metal is indestructible and unstoppable. No samples can be taken for analysis. The Planetary Portals are 25.37 feet in diameter and rotate between 113 to 229 seconds per revolution, floating slightly above their ‘supporting’ surface. Unlike platform material, rings are warm to the touch. They are entirely frictionless. They have ramps leading up to the warp (but not through) on both sides of the portal. Regardless of which side you enter a planetary portal from a world; you always exit inward on the platform.
Platform Side: These portals are, in appearance, exactly the same as the world side portals. However, entering opposing sides of a Planetary Portal from a platform results in exiting from different sides of the portal on the destination world.
Platform Side: The Pathway Portal ring follows the same design as a Planetary Portal but does not possess a control pylon. These rings are exclusive to the platforms and lead only to the Fringepaths that link to other Platforms. Pathway Portals are 53.37 feet in diameter. Like other rings, they are freely rotating at an average rate of 1 rotation per 171 sec. As with the world rings, the metal is frictionless, warm to the touch and indestructible by any known means. The height of the ramp where it intersects the warp is eight feet. Regardless of which side you enter a Pathway portal; you always exit on the upper surface of the roadway. It took a triplet of black holes and a dying star to create the energies that bridge the universes. Anything with that kind of energy density will disrupt the portal. Otherwise the transition will take place.
Pathway Side: On this side, the Pathway ring is suspended in space with the pathway seemingly emerging from the base of the event horizon approximately 8 feet above the base of the ring. These main transit rings measure 53.37 feet in diameter. Like other rings, they are freely rotating at an average rate of 1 rotation per 171 sec. As with all rings, the metal is frictionless, warm to the touch and indestructible by any known means.
Fringepaths exist between all platforms whether they are Prime, Alternate, System, Star Hub or Star-System. The significance of this is unknown but it has been speculated that, based upon the Tehrmelern adherence to simplicity, it was probably the form which required the least work with the most stable outcome. Pathways are uniformly 13.7 inches thick, 47 feet wide and 47 miles long. Pathways extend into the black surface of the Pathway Portals but not through.
Like Fringe Platforms they have 0.96 G gravity on the top and bottom and the same area of air and vacuum to either side of them. Since they are so narrow compared to a platform, there is little circulation of the air due to the gravity shear. However with the exception of dimension and lack of portals, they are constructed of the same materials and exhibit the same characteristics as platforms.
It is possible to drive on the ‘bottom’ of the pathway, but there is limited space to transit at the end. If a transit is attempted, the object will appear on the top of the ramp on the platform as if transit was initiated from above.
If a Pathway Portal transit is initiated from the opposite side of the ring from the Pathway, then the Fringe Platform is skipped and the object exits on the top of the pathway normally accessed by transiting to the Platform, traveling across to the opposite Pathway Portal, and transiting it as well. If there is no Pathway Portal available (such as the Pathway Portal to a Prime Platform), then the object transits to the Fringe Platform as if it had entered the normal pathway side of the ring.
Though the pathway is only 47 feet wide, it is geometrically straight. Like the Fringe Platform, the surface has a fine grit feel that offers almost no rolling resistance. At high speeds the pathway surface will change to a herringbone pattern under any point of contact for better traction. The pathway is an active environment, reacting to the traveler.
A warp is the second type of portal available to the Fringeworthy. It has no visible components (ring, ramp, control pylon) and may be the subspace extension of a buried or inaccessible ring. If an object blocks a ring, it creates a warp in the closest open space. Warps are rainbows of energy that are only visible to the Fringeworthy and function exactly like rings. They are the most common type of portal to populated worlds and alternate Earths. It has been theorized that the warp function was used for undercover work with cultures too fragile or primitive to have contact with alien beings.
At 50 feet away, the Rainbow Effect begins to fade from the direct line of sight of the Fringeworthy. At 100 feet, there is no visible sign that a warp exists. This rainbow effect can be seen in pitch blackness. From the platform side of the portal, the ‘Rainbow Effect’ can be turned ON or OFF with the use of the correct crystal key and the control pylon.
The only indication that a Planetary Portal exits to a ring station or a warp from the platform is whether control pylon light #4 is lit or can be lit. That indicates that the rainbow effect of a warp is turned on. This is good proof that only a warp exists world-side.
All normally operating warps require a ‘safe landing area’ of less than 41 inches of water and no encroaching trees or drop off within 37 inches. If this environment does not exist, the warp will “back off” until these conditions can be met. It is theorized that on a world that experienced planet-wide flooding the warp might be orbiting continuously just above the whitecaps.
Control Pylons are the only known access points for making minor adjustments to the portal’s operation. They are mounted on right side of a Planetary Portal, before the ring and to the right of the ramp – facing toward the center of the Fringe Platform or on only one side of the world side portal. Control Pylons are cylinders 30 inches high and 4 inches in diameter with a 45% bias on the faceplate. Inside the circular faceplate is an equilateral triangle 3.5 inches on a side composed of 9 smaller equilateral triangles. Each is 1 inch on a side. The top-most triangle is a depression where a crystal key will fit. The other triangles are either indicator lights or switches.