Open Lost Earth

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[Diary Entry, Elliot Mitchell, Age 19]

It’s like looking at a city. Well, not quite… something’s a little off, if you focus in. Every building the same height, each one even spaced, a perfect little grid laid out between them. That, and, well, where you’d find streets and sidewalks, instead there’s a jungle of pipes and catwalks and cables between them.

I don’t want to focus in, though. Easier to think of it as a city. Thinking we’ll just be moving from one city to the next, that’s normal. Comforting. But looking at each of those steely skyscrapers covered in tiny dots of light and realizing they’re each a little city of their own…

And we’re going to end up inside for God knows how long…

It’s terrifying, isn’t it?

Not only that, but it won’t even be here. Somewhere far up between the stars, with only a bit of metal between us and dying.

I think I’m going to keep seeing it like a city, instead.

[Tyche Enterprises Advertisement Copy 4]

[Description] An artist’s depiction of a large colony ship flying away from Earth’s orbit. It is a sleek, cylindrical vessel with rows of windows lining its outer shell, and two large rings encircling it at either end. The Tyche logo is present in the top left corner.

[Title] The Voyage of Tomorrow Starts Today!

[Text] Come aboard one of Tyche’s epic-class dominion ships in a landmark effort to spread mankind’s reaches to the heavens! Features all the amenities you can’t go without:

Spacious, comfortable rooms tailored to your family’s needs!*

On-board entertainment and a plethora of dining options!*

A swimming pool, recreational center, and sports facilities in each residential block!*

Walkable parks full of lush wildlife and convenient seating options!*

Complimentary K-12 education and childcare for the working family!*

You know things are looking grim, but there’s always hope to be found beyond the stars.

*Amenities listing based on those present to second-class passengers on the Odyssey, Argonautica, and Theogony. As construction progresses, available options may deviate from those displayed.

[Transcription: “Pretarelativity and Rugel-Danche for Assholes,” Drunk_Scholar]

There are lots of ways to describe subspace. Lots of fancy mathematical theories, cobbled-together models, big, smart justifications that use big, smart words. Nobody quite knows how it works, but the consensus is pretty clear -- it’s a hack for relativity. Y’know, Einstein’s whole spiel about the speed of light, universal speed limit, yadda yadda. Subspace doesn’t exactly break it as much as work around it. Take a piece of paper. Draw two dots. Now draw the shortest line between them. Easy, right? A straight line, cutting right through whatever’s between it. For the longest time, we thought we knew what a straight line was, but it turns out, space isn’t flat like paper. It’s got its curves and bends, waves and valleys.

Now, imagine we could just… go under all that. Ignore the curve of space-time, find that true straight line between those points. That’s what subspace seems to be. Easiest way to understand it, at least, to explain why traveling what looks like the same distance at what looks like the same speed takes a fraction of the time.

To get into subspace, you need a Rugel-Danche Accelerator. Good ones ain’t cheap, but neither’s waking up from cryo to realize you lost twenty years, so most people pony up the cash. The accelerator forms part of a special drive separate from the main thrusters, whose whole purpose is to generate a point of near-infinite mass. How’s that work? Ask someone smarter than me. Toruses and speeding up particles really fast. Dumb science bullshit. Results, though, I can explain. We call it dipping. Dropping anchor. You get a jolt, and as long as your little RDA keeps running, you stay below.

Once you’re there, you’ll realize things are a lot different from normal reality. First of all, there’s nothing. Literally nothing. You’d expect to at least see other ships whizzing around, but you only get that if two of them drop around the same time and place. Makes regulation pretty easy when your chance of collisions is almost zilch. Next thing you’ll notice is how cold it is. 0K, and despite the seeming voidy vacuum of it all, you will lose heat and you will lose it fast unless you’ve got a solar core or two to spare. Ships don’t like being down there for too long, ‘cept for federal cruisers and others of that sorta size. You’ve gotta plan your ride tight, or else you might be stuck with a dead engine, which is the last place you wanna be. See, while it’s pretty easy to drop anchor, going back up is a different story. You need thrust. Just turn off the RDA, you risk tearing your ship apart. Engines on full, loose the throttle on the RDA slow, and you’ll break the liminal safe each and every time.

Oh, one last thing to mention. Those noises you hear? They sound pretty scary, but just try to ignore them. The scientists blame it on electromagnetic fields, charges building up on your ship’s angles as you breach them. Coil whine on a bigger scale, basically. Course, it’s a bit convenient you gotta thermal shield your windows before dipping. Just gotta give the scientists the benefit of the doubt and try not to think too hard about it.

[Transcription: “Tyche Launch Segment,” ANX-12 Nightly News, Record from Odyssey]

We’re live at the scene, now, Mel, and as you can see, the ships are barely visible through the smoke. We’ve seen rocket launches before, but never like this. Today, all thirty of Tyche’s epic-class ships will begin their journey into space -

Truly a monumental day to be witnessing live on air, a tremendous - an incredible day for the good people of the United States of America and for all mankind. Now, there are thirty-thousand people on each of those ships from all around the globe, not just here, from all around. That might not seem like a lot, but to put it into perspective - that’s about the size of an entire town, all on a single ship, and there are thirty of them! Almost a million people making their way into the final frontier, the wild blue yonder, where only few have gone and fewer still have stayed for their entire lives.

Tyche’s made trips like this before, of course - they’ve sent ships to other galaxies! But this will be the first - yes, just confirmed - the first trip that does not have a set return on this magnitude or at this distance. We’re talking past the lunar complexes, past Mars, past even the stations at the far edges of our system near pluto. They’re going to colonize space itself. Absolutely monumental.

I think - yes, they’re beginning to throttle up the engines now. I can feel it from here, and I’m half a mile away! The ground is shaking, I -

[The feed momentarily freezes.]

- about it, that is a massive eruption. Bigger than any volcano I’ve ever seen. Looks almost like a bomb went off, doesn’t it? But - it looks like everything’s good, and - I can see the first of the ships cresting the smoke! Look at that, there’s another, another, and - they’re picking up speed - this is incredible, Mel, simply incredible! I’m told from our sky crew they have visuals on the launch sight, patching over now -

And you can see from that why we have to stand so far away! Good thing they built this in the middle of nowhere, huh, Mel? Look at the size of that crater! Look at the trees! And if you look up, you can see the ships - they’re those tiny dots, you can barely see them - there! Yes, focus the camera on that spot. And there -

[The recording cuts here.]

[Narrative Segment. No Record Viable.]

“Hey, you wanna watch the ships?” Bret called from the living room. Nancy peered over the counter, plate between her arm and torso.

“They taking off now?” she asked, pressing a sponge furiously into a particularly stubborn spot on its edge. “Thought it was yesterday, honestly. Fourth and all that.”

She laughed.

“Big fucking fireworks, those.”

“Nah. Got delayed or some shit. Here -” Bret gestured at the couch. Nancy sat down the plate on the edge of the sink, hurrying in to sit beside him. Glancing at her, he took her hand and squeezed. “Check that out, Nance. That’s - like - a mile away or something. Look how big they look from that far.”

“Skyscrapers,” she replied idly. She wasn’t particularly invested in the whole ordeal - people with more money than sense flung themselves into space all the time. She’d decided early on it wasn’t for her. Too many accidents she’d heard of. People coming back different, or broken, or - simply not coming back at all. Tyche said they’d ironed out the kinks by now, but -

Bad start was a bad start.

Brad, though, he was giddy as a child whenever a spaceship showed up on the TV. And these spaceships, Nancy had to admit, were much, much larger than anything she’d ever seen.

“See that - see the size of that cloud? Reckon that’s as big as a small city. That’d be from the propulsion grid.” Bret leaned forward on the couch, hands on his knees. “Ships that big, the fuel to lift ratio is crap. So instead, to get the things going, they’ve got these massive tubes of propellant underground. Like detonating a hundred nuclear bombs, I’ve heard, just - all focused up, to kick the ships into the sky.”

“Mhm,” Nancy replied. Not feigning interest - just not quite her thing. But he was happy, so she was happy too.

It was a very large cloud, though.

“Why can’t they use the - the special drive things to get off the ground?” she asked.

“RDAs’re only safe to use in space for something that big,” Bret replied. “They’d cause all sorts of problems. Gravity ripples. Earthquakes, probably. Dunno. It’d be bad, though.”

The apartment rumbled, glass tinkling all around. Cups, plates, maybe even the windows. Nancy jumped.

“That from the launch?” she asked cautiously. “They - they use the thing? The RDA?”

Bret shook his head.

“Nah. Look, all hot power. The onboard rocket columns are on, now, too.” Another rumble. The ships on screen were specks in the sky, now, streaks of exhaust behind them. Going up, up, up, up, up. “Even if they used it now, we’d be fine, probably. Ripples go out. Might be - some weird atmospheric shit, but, well. They’re practically in low Earth orbit by now. They call that an, uh - HAAD, I think. High-altitude anchor drop, yeah.”

Another rumble.

A painting fell -

[SOP Live Service Broadcast Manual, ANX-12 Nightly News, Chapter 4, Line 12]

It is standard practice to air all live broadcasts on thirty-second to minute delays, in order to account for any corrections or alterations that must be made on air.

[Narrative Segment. No Record Viable.]

- and shattered on the hardwood floor.

On the television, one by one, the tiny dots began to disappear. The clouds twisted and tore like froth on the top of a boiling pot, and the sunlight itself seemed to warp into flickering rainbows around the row of swiftly departing ships.

“I’ll get the broom,” Nancy grumbled, looking back at the painting. “I swear. Is it an earthquake, then? Hell of a coincidence.”

Nancy stood up, carefully stepping around the glittering shards. One of them still managed to find her toe - like they always do - and she let out a hiss, grabbing her heel and twisting her foot up to see the damage.


“I’m good, Bret. Just got some glass in my foot. Hey - we still got band -”


“I know, I know. Barefoot and glass. Big clutz. I’m bleeding, Bret.”


Nancy turned to look at the television. The picture had gone to static. No - near static. She could still make out visuals on the screen, etched between the noise. Circles of rainbow light etched across the sky. Not up. Down. Growing rings, like ripples from tossing a rock in a pond. But they weren’t only getting bigger.

They were getting closer.

“Th… on… shi… d…” the reporter said. Then the static gave way to a field of pure, bright blue.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES! WE’RE JUST WORKING OUT THE BUGS! began to flash on the screen in white text. A little animation of an ant on a treadmill appeared.

“Bret? What -” Nancy said - asked - her foot momentarily forgotten.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure. I - backwash, maybe. Interference,” he said, but he didn’t sound entirely sure.

[Narrative Segment. No Record Viable.]

“I’m scared.”

“You don’t have any reason to be scared, Sammie. You’ll be fine. Alright?”

Sam leaned against his mom, face half-buried in her chest, half-staring at the window with a look of pure dread. Something had covered it before they took off. He wished he could see outside.

“Gary at school said it hurt. He said it’s like - it’s like breaking every bone in your body at once,” he murmured into her shirt. She patted his head.

“Gary at school’s never even been to the moon. Sammie - listen.” She turned his head up to face hers. “Mommy’s dipped three times, right? Remember my business trips?”

Sam nodded.

“And if it hurt any of those times, I’d have told you, right?”

He nodded again.

“So -”

“I’m still scared, though. It’s loud, and my teeth hurt, and my ears hurt,” he replied softly. She smiled.

“That’s not even dipping, silly. That’s the big rocket. When we dip, the big rocket goes off, and everything gets really quiet. You can even take a nap!”

He smiled back. He could use a nap. He barely slept a wink last night, worrying about the trip.


The rumbling went on. And on. And then -

It stopped.

The intercom dinged. The lights dimmed.

”All colonists, please remain seated. The Aeneid will be descending into subspace soon. You may feel a slight jolt as the anchor drops, but beyond that, we’ve got a straight line planned that’ll take us at an angle from all celestial bodies for the next ten lightyears, so expect smooth sailing. Remember, trust Tyche for comfort.”

Sam tightened his grip on his mom. A second passed. Then - the ship lurched. And lurched again. And jumped hard enough to send him flying up, straining against his belt. A few people behind him weren’t wearing their belt - he heard them crash into the ceiling.

Someone screamed. A lot of someones.

If we didn’t have the big rings, they’d go tumbling all the way to the bottom, he thought idly, somewhat dazed. Then they’d be really hurt.

Another lurch, then -

A terrible SCREEEEEEEEEECH that rattled down the entire length of the wall. The metal bent in in a few places, rainbows sparkling where they used to be.

The intercom dinged again - but there was only static. A crack, and the lights went fully out. Sam closed his eyes. There was more screaming. Some started close, then went away, then stopped.

They did fall. All the way to the bottom.

A lurch.

A rumble.

A jump.

Then - color. The world was full of colors. Lights all around, like living in the middle of one of those Christmas trees with the little glowing hairs. They spun, and spun, and spun, and spun.

And it hurt, like breaking every bone in his body at once.

[Transcript: Bridge White Box, Odyssey]

[JT: Captain James Taylor, Captain-On-Duty]
[MG: Captain Mariah Gutierrez, Subspace Pilot]
[II: Lieutenant Captain Ivan Ionovich, Second-In-Command]
[RB: Lieutenant Richard Barnes, Communications Officer]

MG: Transfer, Odyssey-in-transit. Subspace anchor stable, route optimal.

JT: Transfer, verified.

II: Verified.

RB: Transmitting. Odyssey. In. Transit. Stable. Routed.

MG: Biggest dip of my life. Didn’t expect it to feel like that.

JT: I’ve been on one of those titan-class freighters before. Not comparable, but you feel it in your gut, yeah?

MG: (laughs) Yeah. Like butterflies.

RB: Confirmation, Argonautica-in-transit, stable, routed.

II: How long until shift change? I’ve had to pee since launch.

JT: Take a piss, Ionovich. You’ve earned it.

JT, MG, II: (all laugh)

RB: Confirmation, Euripides-in-transit, stable, routed.

MG: Always thought it was funny they ran out of epics halfway through and started just naming the ships after random stuff instead.

JT: Never had a head for that Classics crap. Don’t get why people are so enamored by it.

MG: Hey, it’s important to learn from history. Kids are gonna want to learn about you someday, yeah?

JT: Hope not.

RB: Aeneid, hold. What’s your spin? I can barely make you out.

MG: Looks like somebody forgot to tune their radio.

RB: Aeneid, are - copy?

MG: Rich? What’s wrong?

RB: Aeneid, are you clear, over?

MG: Must suck being the ansible guy on a flagship of a fleet this size. Wonder how long the line is of ships that -

RB: Mariah, please shut up. Aeneid, are you certain, over?

JT: What’s wrong?

RB: The - it. The ship went back.

JT: Back to Earth? Landed? I didn’t think these were built for that.

RB: No. Down. I - it crashed.

JT: Oh. Fuck. Booster failure? How are they comming, still? Are they in freefall? Fuck, that’s - these things weren’t supposed to crash. Too big to crash.

MG: Wait, as in, to the ground? They can evac, right?

JT: Not in time. Fuck, that’s - thousands of people. Tens of thousands. I can’t see how they’d survive that.

RB: No. It didn’t - it wasn’t a booster failure.

JT: Then what -

RB: When we dipped. We went up. It went down.

(A long moment of silence.)

RB: TAC, this is Odyssey. Do you copy, over?

(Another long pause.)

RB: I - understood. I understand. Thank you. I’m - I’m sorry.

MG: There’s no down in subspace, Rich. It’s in and out, but - even that’s just so we can wrap our heads around it. By down you mean -

RB: Through.

MG: To the other side? I can’t imagine the problems -

RB: No. They didn’t - they’re saying they’re partial. Not a full dip. They didn’t make it through.

(In the resulting silence, someone lets out a shuddering breath.)

MG: Partially in.

RB: Yes.

MG: Partially through.

RB: Yes.

MG: That’s - you’re joking. Please tell me you’re joking. Give me that -

(The sounds of a scuffle.)

MG: TAC, Odyssey. What the fuck is going on?

(A pause.)

MG: No. No. That’s not - the onboard load rating isn’t enough for that. It isn’t near enough. That can’t be right. Not even a partial dip. Not even a -

(The sound of someone holding back tears.)

RB: I told you. I told you.

JT: I -

II: Sorry, I’m back, I had to figure out the flush. They’re so weird on these models. I - what’s wrong? What’d I miss?

[Colony Marshall James Park, Report from Hecate Lunar Complex]

21:59 GWT

First received the mayday from Tyche on -1(0.5). Not from Aeneid. Think they were communicating through Tyche Air Command at that point. Went to the observation station. Could see the aura of the ships all the way from here. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, yet, except for all the lights. Buddy of mine told me it had something to do with ionization and gravity wells? Don’t know the details.

22:03 GWT

Signs of trouble started showing up. The clouds were moving. I’ve looked out from the observation station a million times and never noticed the clouds moving. There were these lights, too, moving across the surface, bright enough and big enough I could see them from here, like little bolts of lightning in slow motion.

22:05 GWT

Contact with the Aeneid went down, here. Tyche was still up, but spotty as hell. Never had interference on a quarkphone either, so that made my blood run cold. I could also almost see a shimmer here, too, like the lights I saw before had turned into rainbows. Millions of rainbows all over the ground and sea. Or maybe the sky. Hard to tell from here.

22:06 GWT

Biggest fucking flash I’d ever seen in my life, right down the center of the entire planet.

22:08 GWT

Something looked off about it at this point. Fuzzy. Felt the entire station shake, here, too, which, again - that doesn’t happen on the moon. Sometimes stuff settles, but - I’m from California, and it felt like the worst earthquake I’ve ever been in. Heard it even decoupled some power mains, and I’ve seen how big those fuckers are.

22:10 GWT

The Earth looked wrong. It was - just - I can’t place it. I can’t put it into words. Everything was - a little tilted. Not enough to notice. Like you know it’s off-center, but you can’t measure it to tell.

Look, off the record. I don’t - I really don’t like talking about this. Was it quick? Were they all - y’know. Done, by then? My sister was down there. Her kids, too. Twelve and sixteen. I - okay. Thank you.

22:12 GWT

Where the Earth was, it wasn’t. Can’t put it plainer than that. Just - rainbows and dust in the black and stars where a planet used to be.

Thirty years since everything changed.

People called what transpired that day a lot of things - some weren’t very creative. Armageddon. The apocalypse. The beginning of the end of days. In the textbooks and records, The Aeneid Incident. Sometimes, the Tyche Cataclysm, when they want to sound fancy. Ruin. Horror. Tragedy. Grief. Lost Earth is a fun one, always liked it. Doesn’t put a candle to what happened, but it’s poetic, in its own way.

For whatever you call it, it’s hard to live your full life on a satellite of the known universe and think of it as anything other than home. Up until then, this was all auxiliary. The colonies, the outposts, the waypoints, the stations. Ancillary, to the Earth. Just a part of the network with a bright blue sphere at the center.

Now, though?

It’s all that’s left, and those that remain can’t find a term strong enough to express the tragedy - so they don’t try. They spitball pale synonyms of a word that doesn’t exist, then they go on with their lives, because that’s the only thing they’re able to do.

Go on.

Tyche was always the strongest power, up here, and so even with all the blood on their hands, that’s what remained. A quarter of us live on a Tyche paycheck, and probably closer to three quarters live on Tyche air. Hard to not just sit down and shut up when they’re the ones keeping everything running. The dominion ships? The brave voyeurs of the new frontier? They were brought back to harbor. Indefinitely. A couple dissenters broke off from the fleet, but most of them stuck together. The Colony Flotilla, they call themselves, and they make up the largest condensed chunk of human existence, outside of maybe Mars or Luna -

And Luna’s getting further and further away from the rest of us every decade.

Hard to say it’s relevant at all, at this rate. Everyone cares about a bad long-term investment now. Long-term is all we can ever talk about. How long until this breaks. How long until that lasts. How long can we stretch a haul meant for ten thousand people to feed fifty. A hundred thousand. Five-hundred thousand.

Most of it is just barely scraping by. Any attempt to do anything more than scrape will have Tyche breathing down your neck, and if you dare to thrive - well - they’ll be quick to put a stop to that. Order must be kept, resources must be preserved, humanity must be saved, as is our destiny.

Ironic, name like Tyche. They really played with loaded dice.

But for that, the solar system’s all we got left. There were a few places outside - research outposts, mostly - but nothing sustainable. The people on them either came back to their world shattered, or never came back at all. So for those of us who want to live outside of the guidelines - there are very, very, very few options.

You can have any reason for it. Maybe you wanna get rich. Illegal rich. Have whatever Lost Earth luxury you can get your hands on, eat the best of the dwindling supplies of gourmet meats, fly around in ships Tyche enforcers can’t even hope to catch. Maybe you wanna live free. Not follow the strict, stiff rules, not wear a company’s collar around your neck and dance whenever they ask. Or maybe, just maybe, you might despise the people who let a mistake like that happen, and want to tear them apart piece by fucking piece.

Or all three. All three works.

Whatever the case - that’s how you get the Anglers. Bit of a layered pun, that. See, people tend to call traveling through subspace dipping, like slipping beneath the surface of the water. Most dips aren’t too deep. Deeper you go, the colder it gets, and most engines can’t handle that, save for the ones on the bigger Tyche ships.

Anglers, though? They’re like the Lost Earth fish. They go as deep as they safely can, then they go a bit deeper. Engine might stall? Turn the fucker off. They find the angle they need to go - See the double meaning? Clever, huh? - and fling themselves in it, then shut everything off, close everything up, and pray to whatever deity exists down there they’ll have enough speed to surface when they get there.

How’s that profitable, you ask? How’s that gonna make you filthy rich?

There’s a lot of debris down that deep. Remnants. Shipwrecks. Fragments. That’s the third part of the pun, there. All that debris? Tyche won’t touch it. So the Anglers? They just angle it up. That - that means fish. No, not the animal. It’s something they used to -

Ah, nevermind.

People will pay a lot for what you can find down there, is all I mean. A lot of it’s just cheap rubble, but there’s gold there, too, if you’re willing to risk your life to find it. Take it to one of the few places not under Tyche control, sell it to some black market fencer, and you can more than get by.
So, what do you say? Sound like it’s worth the risk?

Or does it sound like it’s the only choice you’ve got left in this Godforsaken world?
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Ship Role: (ex. Captain, Engineer, Subspace Pilot, Gunner, Medic, Logistics)


Relevant Skills:

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Alright, that's enough bites to get stuff rolling, imo!

@Bats, do you have a Discord, or are we keeping the RP talk here?
look down at the ground and you will find the earth you have lost

(tentatively in depending on time. this sounds very cool)