Warp Travel Enabler Engine (or Drive) (WTEE or WTED)Edit

The most important aspect of Shades of Grey is the Warp Drive.

Imagine a large bowl. Now imagine, stretched over that bowl, a net with small holes, big enough for a piece of puffed rice to move through. Put two golf balls in that bowl, on top of the net. You'll notice the net sags a bit. This is the gravitational effect on space-time caused by suns. Now gain a grain of puffed rice. Or normal rice, it doesn't matter. The piece of rice is a ship with a Warp Drive. Normally, to pass between stars, the ship would have to travel through normal space, taking several years even at the speed of light to get to close stars. Through warped space, the time it takes is a few seconds, more for larger ships. However, the range is fairly limited to most civilizations. To reach their destinations, ships may have to stop at systems along the way for a few moments to recharge the drive. More advanced civilizations may have drives that can travel further through warped space without stopping. Some can cross the gulf between galaxies, but these are rare in the Milky Way.

This has led to the space between stars to be for those who don't want to be found. Criminals, fugitives, or for those that have no problem with the long path.

Use of the prefix 'Nano'Edit

The catchall term for the following is nanomachines. However, the prefix 'nano' can be a misnomer in some cases.

  • Nanobots: Some civilizations employ nanobots clouds to surround ships. This can mess up any sensor equipment that a hypothetical watcher might use to determine the shape of the ship, which usually give clues to the civilization. It's probably the closest thing to stealth out in space. Their other use is disabling inbound missiles that threaten the ship.
  • Nanites: Building material used in disaster-prone areas. Even if they are forced apart, they are programmed to be in a set shape to revert to. Advanced civilizations have nanites that can replicate (with a set limit), using them to clear wreckage.
  • Nanorgs: Synthetic life forms that behave like organisms. May or may not be nano-sized, but rather made up of nanorgs, each one acting as a cell. Used only for research purposes.
  • Nannies: Tabloids call this magic medicine. Early use is to attack tumors. After the tumor is killed, the nannies 'die' and are passed through the body. The hospital sifts through the waste to collect the tiny objects (not the nicest job), and recharge them for another patient. Another use of them is as a personal system of making one almost super-human, so long as you are fine with carrying a moderate weight that consists of the power supply and computerized controller on the back of your head.

A New DawnEdit

It certainly wasn't there last time they looked. Then again when was the last time they looked? Nearly a hundred years ago now. Whatever it was had one hundred years to just appear.

The five most powerful human beings on Earth sat in the dome-roofed room: President Marcus L. Fox of the United American States; Prime Minister Martin D. Davis of HM Commonwealth; Chairman Li Su Zan of the South East Asian Coalition; Premier Cornelia Bellona of the EU; and Ayatolla Papak Khorshid Bahram of the Islamic Nation. Together they effectively controlled the entire world and it's moon. There was a sence of tension between them. And there should be. They had all just signed a pease treaty only a few months ago to stop the blood shed. None of them wanted to say a thing.

The uneasy silence was broken by the arrival of Professor Fungai Thabo. He was the South African head of the Lunar observitory that had spotted the anomaly a few weeks before. He, and the world leaders, had now gathered in the Sea of Tranquility Research Base, in one of the conferance rooms. He was carrying a memory core, which he put down on the computer table. He flicked a switch under the table, causing the thick plastic panels that made up the roof to darken. The image on the computer table was now projected on to the dark panals.

'Ladies and Gentlemen', he began, taking care to speak slowly and clearly for the leader's translators, at least for the ones who didn't speak english, 'the last surface scan of Mars before the war was in 2109, only weeks before the tragic attacks in the cities.' He activated the memory core, bringing up a static, rotating picture of the Red Planet. 'The scan showed nothing out of the ordinary. A few dust storms, that's all. As we all know most space endeavors beyond Earth's orbit were stopped during the war. When the observitory and deep space probes were reactivated earlier this year, we looked at Mars again. And this time we found this...'

He twisted the memory core. A window popped up with another picture of Mars. It didn't look any different. The scientist zoomed in on a specific part of the picture. Just south of Olympus Mons. The colour was a contrast to the rusty red of the surrounding rocks. It was a patch of light green. The leaders started murmuring to their translators, or amongst themselves. It was the Ayatolla's translator who raised the question they all wanted to know. 'What is it? Is it plant life?'

'We don't know', replied the scientist, 'we have an expert looking at the picture, but she isn't sure. We haven't had the chance to send something which to could check the atmosphere of the planet, as NASA are unwilling to give us the plans...' He looked at the American President, who looked at the others.

'Oh alright. We'll share the plans.'

Humans had been to Mars before the war. The first too walk on Mars' surface was one Sam Vergil, who traveled for over three months along with the rest of the crew before spending a few hours on the Martian soil, then returning to Earth.

It was seven years after the discovery of the 'Martian Moss', as the media began to call it, before the spacecraft launched. It took so long to get an expedition going due to a lot of things needing rebuilding, and sending a Base Builder to Mars to set up a small, permanent facility to make way for the humans. Robots would construct a fully functioning base months or even years before the first inhabitants. It worked for Luna, which was now home to nearly 15 million inhabitants, the bases covering much of the bright side of Luna. Some say it ruined the beauty of it. Others told them to shut up.

The lander had finally completed its considerably shorter journey, as it wasn't loaded down with fuel to get back into space after it had landed. With any luck, the crew would survive until a fuel-efficient way of travelling between Earth and Mars would be created.

The crew of ten, two representatives from the major factions, did what all space missions are for: experimentation. They'd occasionally send remote controlled probes to the 'Moss'. Early atmospheric tests had found that it certainly wasn't plant life, and scientists began to doubt if it was even organic. Not that that stopped the media calling it that.

No, the 'Moss' was in fact some sort of crystalline substance. And it was growing in size. The problem scientists didn't know why. The substance wasn't giving out any sort of detectable energy, but any attempt to enter the area by a remote probe was met by static visually. Even the probes from the base met with no visuals. So they waited for Command to send them a vehicle to get them there.

Soon after the buggy arrived, Capt. Robert Janson of the UASA, and Lt. Aaren Lavina of the CSA were on their way to the 'Moss'. There were both in atmospheric suits that didn't hug the body per se, but they weren't clunky like the space suits of the early 21st century.

It was nearly an hour's drive from the base to the 'Moss'. When they arrived they were awestruck. The collective idea was that it was similar to the more fantastic rock formations on Earth. They were nearly right. It was true there were some quite exquisite sculptures, but smaller crystals covered most of the area. It looked like a landfill.

"I'm not getting anything from the scanners. At least, not anything significantly different from what we just drove over." She had a slight South African accent. The American was by a large formation, studying it. He bent down to pick up a smaller crystal. He turned it over in his gloved hands. It felt weird. Almost as if it was pulsing underneath his fingers. It was moment before he realized that his oxygen had been cut off. He blacked out. Aaren, by a stroke of luck, looked around to see Robert fall over, his legs buckling under the weight of the suit. She hurried over to him and checked his suit. There didn't seem to be a tear in the material. She skipped over his motionless body to try and get a better loom at his face by getting rid of the anti-glare visor. Inadvertently she kicked the crystal from his hand. No sooner was it out of his clutches did the air return to his helmet...he began to breathe again. It was several seconds looking at the dusty red sky before he got up.

"What the hell was that?"

"I don't know. But I don't think we should stay here to long..."

They turned to go back to the buggy, but when they looked they saw someone, no, something studying it. It appeared to turn. And it saw them.

To be completed...

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