Lore of Yore
Histories of the known universe... and beyond
The Bermuda Triangle. The Vile Vortex of Quuel. Hesper's Hollow. Venturing into such mystifying regions might cause a nautical captain or stellar sailor to lose their crew, their ship, or their life in short term. However, in the case of the Depthless Fathom of Vonsk, many an inquiring cosmic crusader tends to exhibit far stranger side-effects.
Officially, the Depthless Fathom refers to the localised space surrounding the stellar nursery known colloquially as the Elephant's Trunk, or Colossi-H7. Discovered by Lady Jacotte Hoveton, one of Queen Elizabeth's Watchers who was employed upon a pursuit of the Chartreuse Assassin when she stumbled upon the region, the Fathom rendered Hove's damaged vessel becalmed until rescue arrived from Albion. When her saviours entered her ship, the intrepid Britons discovered Hove dancing a merry jig around a makeshift camp fire, which subsequently burned a hole straight through her ship's hull, dooming the entire group to the vast stellar coalescence.
Other stories end in similar predicaments: Proditor Rhames escaped justice for the Six-Dagger Murders on Kelnus, only to disappear into the roiling molecular clouds without further trace for another ninety-six years. When a bright-eyed young man arrived on Terra Arthus bearing dental records matching those of the presumably-late proditor, staff of the Centre for Advanced Genetic Tomfoolery were at a loss to explain Rhames' extended lifespan and apparent de-ageing. More puzzling, however, was Rhames' insistence that he was a small raspberry blancmange named Trevor the Whistling Egg, and the matter was quietly ignored.
In later years, the sensational endeavours of Doctor Prespicarius Nit attracted the attention of peons and newspapers across England. Nit, a self-styled Professor of Adventure, took it upon herself to fly her rickety rocket ship, the Teaspoon, directly through the Elephant's Trunk in order to prove its utter lack of danger. Boundary buoys situated on the opposite side of the nursery—suitably removed from its startling effects—documented the Teaspoon's emergence from the cloud at top speed, and tracked its wobbling trajectory straight to the Delightful World of Odd's Bodkin. There, Nit crash-landed atop the Zesty Needle and burst into the first alehouse she laid eyes on. The doctor emerged a week later, having drunk the place dry and divested innumerable pontoon-playing patrons of their winnings and several articles of fetching clothing. Nit's alehouse crawl proceeded down the entire hundred-fathom length of the Needle, drinking thousands of beings under the table and shutting down nineteen reputable public houses, and upon reaching the bottom she promptly fell into a deep slumber that lasts to this day.
Several theories have been put forth as to the cause behind the nursery's bewildering effects, although the Royal Infomarium has yet to recognise any of them—especially those that witter on about time dilation and relativistic quantum mechanics. A more down-to-Earth hypothesis was suggested by a Glamby Ronter of Devon, latterly part of the Treven Mons project on Mars. Ronter, a keen frequenter of the Wallop & Tickle public house, explains thusly:
"It's obvious really, innit? You've got folk dancing about like lunatics, some of 'em thinking they're still in the first bloom of youth, others crawling from one pub to the next. Obvious. They're all smashed off their trolleys."
Indeed, the latest survey team sent out by the Admiralty has confirmed the presence of naturally-occurring ethyl alcohol within the interstellar masers of Colossi-H7. Heated by the nursery's protostars, these masers appear to have formed a large cloud of intoxicating chemicals in orbit around the region—meaning that any star sailor who hasn't properly welded their portholes shut might find themselves feeling a little more jolly than usual. If Mr. Ronter's theory is borne out by the Admiralty's data, it may well transpire that the Elephant's Trunk becomes the go-to galactic hot-spot for those looking to get absolutely cosmically sloshed.
The bountiful Diamond Mines of Saturn are one of the Wonders of the Cosmos, ringing the sixth planet in a marvel of architecture and engineering. During the Industrial Revolution, cosmonautical miners undertook the incredible task of connecting each of Saturn's ring particles into a single network of habitable tunnels; as of the present day, the Saturn Mining Company maintains a colossal operation that spans the entire planetary ring.
Although expansive, the enterprise only gained traction in the wider Space Empire after a mining team led by Peter Gaskett discovered volanium in the Colombo Gap. Six months later, during an excavation on the planet's surface, diamond shards were discovered embedded into the rock; the Laplace Institute confirmed these shards had rained down from the rings above, and soon enough further mining operations unearthed diamond deposits in orbit.
This led to a surge in tourism, and the so-called Diamond Mines of Saturn became a popular destination for holiday-makers and honeymooners. Currently the Overseer, Puccint Spick, has vetoed all civilian travel to the central mining facility after an incident in the Bessel Gap which saw the loss of his Cassini Division. Other dangers included cases of diamond blight contracted by miners, and reports of crystalline spiders living within the glittering deposits, ready to burst out from their ore cocoons upon unsuspecting diggers.
There have even been reports of something far larger, and even more hellish, rampaging through the tunnels—but on these outlandish rumours the Overseer has remained firmly silent....
The Royal Space Docks sprawl across the muddy face of London, a meshwork of girders and supports for the grand spacecraft of the Navy. From here, ships of the Royal Fleet launch into the vast cosmic empire beyond the blue.
Expansion is Britain's byword, and these days all berths are occupied—especially the bay at the end of the dock. That one is occupied more than most.
Nobody goes near it. It's a death trap. Haunted. Just plain filthy. The vessel itself must have started life sleek and speedy, a sports yacht of the skies, but time and sheltering vagrants have left it dilapidated and infested. A small hamlet of vagabonds resides on one wing.
They say some mad professor built it in a drunken fit. That the craft is as likely to implode as take to the sky. That the good ship will never fly again. There's an allotment in the dorsal turbine.
You'd have to be mad, desperate, or deluded beyond measure to approach the ship at the end of the dock. Let alone board it.
Histories of the known universe... and beyond