The Nature of Hyperspace

David Stark / Zarkonnen
14 Jul 2019, 7:01 p.m.

Alarms blared as the Battle-Citadel WRATH OF KORGATH prepared to enter the Void Gate to the Krauthammer system. In the citadel’s barracks, thousands of mankind's finest warriors stood ready, photon lances charged, to bring the fury of mankind to the monstrous, tentacular Z’zgh’ghlkt. The words of the High Legate in the citadel’s Command Apex echoed through the War Halls of the mighty craft, imploring each warrior to hold the line against the alien horror that threatened to engulf them all.

As the citadel made its final approach to the Void Gate, the War Priests raised their lances and struck down fifty-seven great bulls. Reading their entrails, they pronounced harsh omens for the upcoming campaign: the weeping eye of the Devourer, oldest of their gods, would be their banner, to be held aloft until total victory or utter defeat.

With a great shrieking, the Void Engines spun up, black fire arcing between them, the citadel’s great fusion furnaces struggling under the load, blasting scalding steam out of ruptured pipes, killing several unfortunate engineers. But they would hold, long enough to make the jump, to bring the wrath of mankind to the alien menace.

Then, the passage into hyperspace.

The stars vanished. The clamour of the engines, the screaming of the scalded, and the chanting of the priests died away. Each soldier, priest, engineer, even the High Legate himself, found themselves floating in a space of warmth and softness. Warmth, like a hearth. Softness, like a cozy blanket.

Then the Ones That Dwell Between The Stars arrived, little wings fluttering. They brought tea and biscuits. A table and some armchairs materialized. The Dwellers poured tea, unhurried. Milk? One lump of sugar or even two? The High Legate, engineers, soldiers, priests, all specified their preferences, suspended in individual tea time, and leaned back into the inviting softness of their chairs.

The Dwellers enquired about their families. How is your aunt? How are her flowers? They asked: have you read any good books lately? They offered more biscuits and a refill of tea. They listened to stories of aches and pains, and made sympathetic noises about missing limbs, faces partially boiled away by alien acids, whole cohorts of warriors obliterated by monstrous bioweapons.

Eventually, tea time came to a close. The Dwellers said goodbye, offered hugs. Looked forward to seeing the humans again soon. Let them take a last biscuit to nibble, quickly, before it dissolved in the transition back into real space.

The WRATH OF KORGATH came out of the Void Gate, ion lances blazing as they spotted the Z’zgh’ghlkt swarm sent to intercept them. The swarm was just coming out of a nearby Void Gate, teeming with tens of thousands of Z’zgh’ghlkt ripper-drones, the taste of biscuits still lingering in their many-toothed maws.