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New Worlds: the Crimson Expanse

This is the second in my week-long New Worlds series. For the rules, look at the first day. For how this all got started, look at the originating post

Now, for Macallan 103:

The Crimson Expanse

“Pirates, defectors from the Colonial Wars, rogue AI platforms, radiation-tainted mutants, actual fucking aliens — people say a lot of shit about what goes on in the Crimson Expanse. Some to scare children. Some to scare new spacers (though, that’s pretty much the same thing). Some to even scare themselves.

“I have been on the edges of the Expanse, and all I can tell you for certainty is that my wife has no memory of our life together. My daughter now suddenly speaks Croat and can play the cello like a prodigy — and she was never into music, mind you. As for me, well, you can see for yourself: cancer took my eyes. These third-rate implants get the colors all wrong. I miss color.”

— drunken conversation on Coala Prime with a hauler who survived a brush with the Expanse

The Crimson Expanse has entranced humanity since we jumped to this sector of the galaxy. It rotates like some sort of blood hurricane, and has inspired tales of wonder and terror before we even stepped in.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. We built up this place in our minds, so when we started sending ships there to explore and heard nothing back, those stories of fear took over. What few exploration ventures have returned detailed the various dangers contained within: ion storms, massive debris fields, micro-black holes, and stranger things that sound more like science fiction stories than something real.

People talk all the time about how the Expanse changes them, the horrors within, the strange derelicts that predate humanity’s arrival — but that’s all likely just talk. If what everything they say about the Crimson Expanse is true, physics and history isn’t exactly as we know it.

No one knows exactly what’s going on out there. The Near Expanse is a haven for those who would flee from authority, a destination for those who having nothing to lose and hope to make a fortune, and for those who foolishly buy a cheap ship in order to “go out and adventure.”

Questions

  1. Elise Chen went to the Expanse to do her doctoral work on cultural anthropology, notably the culture about Expansers (as they’re known). She came back changed, and the government demanded her thesis destroyed. What was it on? What was in it?
  2. Everyone has a friend who has a friend who went into the Expanse — the sort of stories you tell at a party. What’s story do you tell?

– Ryan

 

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2 Responses to New Worlds: the Crimson Expanse

  1. The research was an ethnographic study of the political and social reasons why Expansers choose not to return to the central planets. The Government, upon hearing about how much of the trouble they have stirred up behind closed doors was being published within the thesis’ pages – well, they couldn’t have that, could they?

    So she was branded insane. Too Changed to be allowed to tell the truth.

    Because that’s what happens when you accidentally find out how to bring down the government in a post-Earth society.

  2. Jonathan R says:

    There’s no anthology of stories from the Expanse; they defy logic and therefore are unlikely to be codified. Some examples:
    1. One scrapper found a wrecked ship with his corpse inside, aged a decade older.
    2. A group of Retros once shortcutted through the Expanse, only to leave changed, declaring God to be dead and that technology was the answer.
    3. Xenobiologists claim that complex biological life has sprung there, issuing from a time capsule of 21st century virii shipped off from Earth.
    4. Some say that the Expanse harbors an ancient alien outpost, who survived due to isolation from a tyrannical empire. There might be evidence of a tax revolt in those interdiction devices and hollow pillboxes.