Myths of Fenspace

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Although as a civilization Fenspace is, on the normal scale of things, barely past the sperm-sighting-egg stage, it tends to move and develop a bit faster than its ground-bound counterparts. One good example of this would be the body of myth and folklore that seemingly exploded into existence starting almost as soon as the first few fencraft made it off Earth.

Whether any of the following are real is open to speculation. But the folklorists who have made it into fenspace or who have taken up the field of study after arriving here take pains to remind us that there is almost always a seed of truth at the center of every myth. And when something as borderline magical as handwavium is concerned, that seed of truth may well be the size of a coconut. As the Wizards and Technomages have so clearly demonstrated time and again, Clarke's Third Law may as well be a law of nature in Fenspace, and that makes it all but impossible to dismiss any of the tales below as anything more than "unlikely".

However, it does go without saying that no conclusive evidence of the existence of any of the following has hit the Interwave, and until it does, they will remain nothing more than fanciful stories.

Berserkers

Named for the monstrous robotic planet-killers from the works of Fred Saberhagen, their Fenspace equivalents are reputedly much smaller but no less coldblooded and destructive. The least reliable accounts tell of immense craft that could threaten a midsized asteroid or the Grover's Corners, but most who claim to have seen a berserker describe something substantially smaller, barely large enough to devour a 'waved 18-wheeler. There is also, predictably, some disagreement on their number, with quantities claimed ranging from one to hundreds.

Those who lend credence to reports of berserkers speculate that they are Boskonian doomsday weapon(s) and worry that they may be Von Neumann machines, out of their creators' control, or both.

Predictably, Trekkies who believe that berserkers exist call them "Doomsday Machines".

Carmen Miranda's Ghost

Most old-time Fen, and more than a few of the younger generation, know that Carmen Miranda's Ghost Is Haunting Space Station Three. Signs of this haunting include rumba music and random fresh fruit where there should be neither of these things. But there's great dissent on exactly which station is Space Station Three.

A few die-hard Fen go back to the beginning, numbering Skylab as Space Station One, Mir as Space Station Two, and the International Space Station as Space Station Three[1]. However, the ISS has never reported any fruit or unexplained music, and NASA's near-constant audio and video feeds from the ISS would make it difficult to cover up anything of the sort there.

Some Fen list only the oldest stations still in existence when trying to figure out which station Carmen Miranda's ghost is haunting. They list the ISS as Space Station One, Starbase 1 as Space Station Two, and New Yavin as Space Station Three. The Warsies categorically deny the presence of any supernatural forces (other than The Force) on their first habitat... but nobody has been allowed to go in and look.

Another popular view is that only handwaved stations should be on the list. The Fen who hold this view consider Starbase 1 to be Space Station One, New Yavin to be Space Station Two, and Stellvia to be Space Station Three. When asked, the Stellvians point to their contract with Babylon .5 to supply fresh fruit and their own Wonderland Farm, saying that's proof enough it doesn't magically appear on their station. True believers point out that Carmen Miranda's ghost wouldn't be able to supply all the fruit that Stellvia needs, and refuse to budge.

The Filkers have taken it upon themselves to establish their own "Space Station Three" at the Earth-Luna L5 point. It was the nineteenth station established at L5, so its only claim to Carmen Miranda's ghost is the station name... but the station does always have fresh fruit available.

Farmer Greentrees

According to those Rockhounds who swear by him, this mysterious figure is responsible for making sure the Garden is kept up (at least, so swear those who don't say it's Rei doing all the work); Chris Marsden has publicly said that this is the reason for the "Turtles Welcome" sign on the Greenwood Station hangar bay doors.

Ghost Ships

It seems that wherever ships of any stripe go, ghost ships will follow. The Flying Dutchman roaming the oceans of Earth is the classic example from the 'Danelaw, it and its cousins have appeared in Fenspace. When these stories are taken seriously, they are frequently held up as examples of research into phasing and cloaking technologies gone horribly wrong.

The USS Eldridge

The alleged subject of the mythical "Philadelphia Experiment" in 1943, the U.S. Navy destroyer Eldridge and its crew were reported to have been subject to all manner of unexplainable effects ranging from teleportation to time travel to madness. Although the story has been thoroughly debunked, there have been a number of reports from throughout Fenspace of a gray-painted destroyer-sized ship bearing the name "Eldridge" and the markings of the U.S. Navy, cloaked in a green fog-like haze and barreling across the system at a speed higher than any normal fencraft of the same size could achieve.

At least one such report is so well-documented that it threatens to push the Eldridge out of "myth" status and into "unexplained phenomena" territory: The Battle of 253 Mathilde, which is described in the 253 Mathilde article.

In the wake of the 253 Mathilde incident, inquiries made to the U.S. Navy resulted in polite denials of all knowledge of the craft. Several illicit forays into Navy computers have confirmed this -- as far as the Navy is concerned, its only vessel in Fenspace is the USS Stingray.

The Big Deal

A somewhat more traditional ghost ship, the Big Deal is the star of several accounts which have been circulating on the Interwave for almost as long as it's existed. In these stories, an unsuspecting fenship encounters a crippled craft, usually described as looking like a cargo container with a window on one end, damaged jets on the other, and "Big Deal" painted on its sides. A tow or transfer is offered and accepted, but just before the entire process is completed, the Big Deal vanishes.

The Lost Squadron

Not the infamous flight group lost over the Bermuda Triangle during World War II, but a group of twelve fighter craft from Operation Great Justice that simply vanished in late 2012 and were never heard from again. In the following months one or more of the fighters would be reported as appearing in engagements with Boskonians, usually at the moment an OGJ craft needed a miraculous escape, and then disappearing afterwards.

A growing superstition among pilots holds that the number of Lost Squadron fighters needed to save you is proportional to how badly screwed you were before they showed up. Furthermore, a pilot saved by the Lost Squadron is expected to go out of his way to save other pilots as "payment" for his rescue, one for each Lost Squadron fighter who showed up to save him; if he doesn't, his rescue will be rescinded and he will die in a milk run that goes tragically wrong.

The Lost Cosmonauts

A conspiracy theory or legend - depending on who tells it - predating the beginning of the Convention by many decades. Simply put, Yuri Gagarin was not the first person in space - he was merely the first lucky enough to return and be acknowledged as the first. As the story commonly goes, while travelling through Lithuania in 1960, Robert A. Henlein was told by some Red Army cadets about the succesful launch of the first manned spaceflight earlier that day - only for all news of thew launch to dissapear overnight after the retrorockets failed to fire, dooming the corageous Cosmonaut to orbit the earth for an eternity, radioing for help that could never come.

To this day, there're stories of ships receiving panicked, broken transmissions in what sounds like Russian, either begging for help, or cursing those who condemned them to their fate. Most of them are male. One is reportedly distinctly female.

Ships answering the distress call or investigating the origin point of the transmission, have subsequently found themselves either delayed or diverted just long enough to avoid disaster themselves, or to have been placed into just the right position to respond to a real emergency.

Not to be confused with The Lost Cosmonaut, a Numbers Station that appears to transmit from multiple locations which opens its transmissions with a recording from Gagarin's flight "Dawn, this is Cedar"

The Flying Dutchman

The original nautical Ghost Ship legend transposed into Fenspace. The story differs depending on who tells it, but all tell of an arrogant captain, a horrendous crime and a punishment to wander the stars. The most common version concerns a Captain Bernard Van der Decken of the titular spectral ship, a man so single-minded in his desire to make money that he'd push his ship and crew to ever more dangerous risks, diving well inside Mercury's orbit in order to shave a few minutes off a crossing. So consumed was he with his desire for speed and money that he regularly ignored distress calls, leaving many to their cold and empty fates for the sake of a few gallons of fuel and an hour's journey.

The sun itself grew to hate Van der Decken, and lashed out with all its fury, sending a blazing solar storm to incinerate him and his ship. But the 'wave would not allow him the mercy of death. Forever he was bonded to his ship, broadcasting his own last distress call, doomed to forever wander the empty skies in his blazing ship hoping for an answer that will never come. It is said that there is a place on the Dutchman's crew reserved for any Fen who ignores an SOS without very good reason.

It is considered an ill-omen among nautical-orientated Fen to sight the Dutchman, or to pick up an echo of its final distress call. Any attempt at a response will be met with silence.

The Great Bird of the Galaxy / The Great Maker

The notional deity of Fenspace, one step above the Overfan. Not so much worshipped as sworn by (or at), it probably doesn't actually count as a true myth so much as an extended cultural running gag.

The "Great Bird of the Galaxy" name comes from Trekkie fandom, and "The Great Maker" comes from the Fivers.

Hanoi Xan

Hanoi Xan and the World Crime League will be covered on their own pages... someday.

Haruhi Suzumiya

The leader of Great Justice has spawned more than a few myths and legends, some of them no doubt planted and/or fostered by her loyal minions in the SOS-Dan much in the style of the Missionaria from Dune. The most outlandish of these revolve around an obscure series of light novels from Japan which seem to have presciently depicted Haruhi and her clique and which furthermore suggest that she is, unknown to herself, God or a being with a similar level of power. A small fringe element among the more mystical factions have taken the novels to be literal truth (rather than, as is far more likely, the inspiration for a set of new identities and some remarkably successful biomods), and regard the brusque, energetic Japanese girl as a literal deity.

Oddly enough, the SOS-dan take great pains to keep knowledge of this fringe element and their beliefs from coming to Haruhi's attention. Most observers think this is simply to keep her already-inflated ego from swelling beyond the bursting point.

The Hitchhiker

A familiar urban legend for decades in the Danelaw, the ghostly hitchhiker has (perhaps inevitably) migrated to Fenspace. The general outline is similar to its earthly counterpart: a fencraft encounters a stranded spacer in near-Earth orbit, rescues them, and takes them to the closest settlement, only to find the seat empty and (sometimes) a token left behind.

The two most common Fenspace variations of this tale cast the late Christa McAuliffe (who leaves behind an apple or a schoolbook) and Laika (the First Dog In Space, who leaves behind a Russian flag). Since the fall of Crystal Osaka, though, hitchhiking Senshi ghosts have also been reported appearing near Venus.

Kaboomite

The unknown nature of the explosive known as "kaboomite" lends itself readily to outlandish speculations, some of which enter the range of urban legend. The most prominent, and possibly most ridiculous, of these is the oft-repeated claim that kaboomite is nothing more than handwaved Pop Rocks and cola.

When Noah Scott first heard this claim, he made a single public statement: "I want to categorically deny the rumor that Kaboomite is handwaved Pop Rocks and cola." After that, he simply said "no comment" whenever asked. The more conspiratorially-minded fen have of course leaped to point out that he only said he wanted to categorically deny the rumor, and emphasize the implied but unspoken follow-up "...but I can't because it's true."

The New Jersey Tripod

Not so much a myth of Fenspace as a myth about Fen, this is a persistent story circulating in the Danelaw and frequently included in the more inflammatory anti-Fen rhetoric and websites. According to this story, an irresponsible Fan in Grover's Mills, New Jersey (not to be confused with the Grover's Corners) created a Martian war machine (from the original War of the Worlds) with handwavium, which then got away from him. The rogue tripod laid waste to the New Jersey countryside until it was stopped by National Guard forces on the shores of Lake Carnegie in Princeton.

Although it is pathetically simple to confirm that no such destruction ever occurred and that the tripod never existed in the first place, even anti-Fen fanatics in New Jersey embrace the story as "proof" of the fundamental dangers of handwavium and the irresponsibility of Fen in general. On the other end of the spectrum, some Fen also believe the story, mainly because they find the idea that someone built a real Martian war machine too cool not to be true.

The Kentucky Cat incident that happened late 2013 has given this a boost in the eyes of both the ant-Fen fanatics and Fen that believe in the myth

The Oxygen Fairy

Mysterious benefactor of stranded and damaged fencraft, who extends their faltering life support long enough for them to be rescued. Originally a tongue-in-cheek supposition, but after several spectacular rescues, some S&R teams swear it exists.

The Phoenix

Since 2009 there have been persistent tales of a being called "The Phoenix" created when a fenship and its pilot accidentally merged during an uncontrolled plummet into Earth's atmosphere. It is usually encountered by solitary fencraft in some kind of danger, leading many to accuse it of being a harbinger of doom. Others point out that none of the endangered craft actually suffered the terrible fate that threatened them, and suggest that the Phoenix is responsible for their safety.

Disputes over the nature and motives of the Phoenix have been known to cause epic barfights. No less so disputes over its very existence: The Dandelions are always quick to point out the prior existence of Julia Ecklar's 1983 filksong The Phoenix, but it would be far from the first time a fictional creation became real in Fenspace. The existence of such documented human-to-machine transformations as Wave Convoy does add credence to the possibility that the Phoenix is real.

While descriptions of the Phoenix are not totally consistent, there are some common details that run through the vast majority of accounts: It is birdlike in shape, with a wingspan in excess of 30 meters and a body not much larger than a large human. It appears to be metallic in construction. Its skin is embossed or engraved with a pattern that hints at feathers without being explicitly representational, with a constantly changing mix of red, orange and yellow hues flowing over its surface. In about half of the reported encounters, it has been wreathed in an aura of either flame or plasma.

The only thing that everybody agrees on is that this myth has nothing to do with the Artemis Foundation's Shuttle Phoenix.

USS Stingray

Ever since the ship's launch in 2012, various fans of Things Military have been discussing, analyzing, re-analyzing, and announcing themselves hopelessly confused, by the capabilities displayed by, and the deeds ascribed to, the United States Navy Spacecraft Stingray. It is frequently asserted that the Seawolf-class submarine is simply too small for its role as a spacecraft. Moreover, several rather confused reports received during Operation Great Justice seemed to indicate that the sub was in more than one place at the same time... or that there were in fact multiple subs.

It is therefore "agreed" by various conspiracy theorists, as much as anything can be agreed on among such personalities, that in fact the identification of the submarine is a sham, and that the US Navy has a much larger program ongoing. Theorists tend to assert that there may be one or more Seawolf-class vessels operating in Fenspace, but that the primary vessel is in fact an Ohio-class SSBN. The much larger vessel would, especially with the missile bay removed, provide much more interior space for supplies, personnel, and science equipment needed for the missions the craft is supposedly undertaking.

The pundits in question then tend to go off on tangents, speculating and vehemently disagreeing on such things as how many support vessels are operating, whether or not the Navy has established a base somewhere in the solar system (Benjamin Franklin Station is a common candidate for this, as is Starbase 1 and the Village Hidden in the Asteroids...) and, of course, just how much of the supposed boomer's missile bay was removed....

Tulpas

In various Buddhist traditions, primarily those of Tibetan origin, a tulpa is a "thoughtform", an idea or image given a physical existence by the mental energy and effort invested into it by one or more persons. In effect, it is a kind of golem formed entirely by spiritual power, capable of independent thought and action in many cases.

The similarity of this concept to the most commonly accepted theories for the functioning of handwavium as been noted and commented on numerous times. It can be argued that most AIs might qualify as tulpas. However, some believe there are far more physical examples in Fenspace.

Rei

Among the Rockhounds there's Rei, whose lack of clear origin or history suggests that she may be what some have come to call "spontaneously generated fan life". Before and after her appearance, numerous mundane tasks involved in maintaining the sprawling space station Greenwood seemed to be taken care of overnight. Every so often, when a necessary (and in some way interesting) job needed to be done, a repair team would arrive to find Rei already at work on it. Eventually she started to become a more social creature, interacting with the station's crew and slipping into a default 'staff' position with the organization. She never seems to have any official duties, but always seems to know what needs to be done. Since Operation Great Justice began she has been a fixture in the company's contribution to the war effort, and even joined in the annual victory celebration at Port Phobos. The mundane tasks she is never seen working on are now attributed to Farmer Greentrees, as they seem to continue to be handled anyway, possibly by some semi-real spiritual manifestation of the station itself.

Zathras

Babylon .5 has something similar -- there have been repeated sightings of a being that looks like Zathras from the program Babylon 5. Some argue that it's just one or more fen playing a practical joke.

Lain

Rumors from the Koopa Kingdom hint that Lain Drakken is a tulpa, in that she was created from a batch of handwavium without any human or AI intervention.

Maetel

Rumoured to be one of the earliest (if not the first) of this group, Maetel is thought by many to be a tulpa manifested by the Galaxy Express 999 itself.

UFOs

Unidentified flying objects -- or little green men in flying saucers -- have been a staple of wacko lore for decades, centuries if you take into account the "Airship" sightings of the late 18th Century. The introduction of handwavium led to an increase in UFO sightings, though by 2009 most of those had been reclassified as Identified Flying Objects That Shouldn't Be Flying In The First Place. Some rumors still persist, though.

The Roswell Strain

The single most persistent legend in saucer lore is the Roswell crash. While the story has been debunked, the most recent iteration suggests that handwavium was one of the things recovered from the crashed UFO, kept in storage for an indefinite period until released into the wild by the Overfan. There's no real evidence that suggests this is correct, but the ambiguous history of handwavium leaves a certain amount of doubt.

Flying Saucers

Flying saucers sightings are quite common in Fenspace. In fact, there are a number of registered flying saucers operating within the solar system, most belonging to Discordians or the Sub-Genii Xist Invasion Fleet.

Sightings of saucers with no IFF transponders and moving in ways that no Fen saucer could have been reported, usually in trans-Jovian space or near the edge of the Kuiper Belt. No solid image or sensor recordings of these phantom saucers has yet been provided.

The Untrustworthy Vendor

Also known as Stan's Kwalitee Danegoods, late of Port Lowell, Port Phobos, Stellvia for a very hectic 45 minutes, Kandor City, Crystal Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong... Stan gets around, and doesn't much like the myth.

This is the persistent urban legend about a seedy stranger in a semi-disused corridor of a space station (always another space station, not the one where the story is told), selling bootleg pocky and off-brand sodas which always turn out to be spiked with guacamole.

Frequently cited as the cause of an unpleasant or unwanted biomod.

Notes

  1. Never mind that there were half a dozen Salyut stations in between Skylab and Mir, but that's getting pedantic