Game link here - the following is a non-interactive adaptation of one part of the game.
The U** FAQ
The authors of this text are a voluntary committee of Carter-Zimmerman citizens who have taken on the work of explaining the current situation the human race finds itself in as a service to the Wider Diaspora. It must be understood that this document does not represent an official communication from Carter-Zimmerman, or any of its clones, as no polis communications have ever held, nor will ever hold, such status.
The authors have done their best to be impartial in their presentation of a number of ongoing controversies, but cannot be certain that their own unconscious biases and chosen outlooks have not influenced some aspects.
Permission is freely granted for any and all further translation and adaptation, provided that this preface is included, and no claims of fidelity are made. Only the Modern Roman version has been verified by subsentient AI processes to be as accurate a presentation as possible given the limitations of flesher communication.
Note: this FAQ uses the preferred "U**" terminology, rather than the deprecated "second macrosphere". This universe is the dual of the dual of humanity's original spacetime realm, U, but the implication that U is somehow the "zeroth" universe is not only inaccurate, but offensive to many of the other cultures we have encountered in U**, especially those who have made a greater number of long-wormhole jumps to arrive here.
1. Are we safe here?
2. The laws of Physics are the same in U** as U. How can we be certain that there will not be a core collapse singularity event or a gamma ray burster such as Lac-G1?
There are, in fact, very minor variations in some physical constants at the level of one part in 1016 (ten quadrillion). However, these have no practical effect above the Planck-Wheeler length and so do not affect the biochemistry of flesher bodies, or even the femtomachine substrates that some polises have now begun to use, and they certainly do not have any bearing on the Precession Problem.
Core collapse is not a concern, however, as the galaxy we inhabit in U** is an elliptical, rather than a spiral. Elliptical galaxies arise from mergers between spiral galaxies which are sufficiently violent to effectively randomise all previous stellar motion, disrupting the core. While the galaxy as a whole will still be affected by the extradimensional leaching of angular momentum, the timescale for this to occur on such a large scale is comparable with the Main Sequence lifetime of the smallest red dwarf stars - in other words, this galaxy will already be only marginally habitable by that point, even if human-derived cultures defy current memetic evolution models.
Gamma ray bursts are also not a concern at the present time, since all neutron star binaries or other similarly dangerous systems were deliberately separated by the entities now known as the Star Striders approximately a billion years ago.
3. Who or what are the Star Striders?
The forebears of the Star Striders were not dissimilar to ourselves or the Transmuters; however, on their arrival in this universe, finding a galaxy with both long term stability and burgeoning civilisations, they chose, after their early works of stellar engineering, to reengineer themselves into enormous networks spanning the stars, with a concomitant decrease in the speed of their thought processes due to lightspeed lag. In polis terms, they are rushing at a factor on the order of ten million.
As such, they do not directly interact with us, or any of the other civilisations making up the galaxy. Instead, sophisticated but apparently subsentient software entities called "Contingency Handlers" are responsible for ensuring the day-to-day running of the galaxy. The exact mechanism by which the Contingency Handlers work is unknown, but they are most commonly thought to exist in networks of wormholes permeating local space-time.
4. Can we trust the Star Striders and/or their Contingency Handlers?
All actual-historical and modelled societies that have shown the ability to achieve interstellar travel, let alone inter universal, or indeed the many other feats the Star Striders have achieved, have inevitably had to overcome the type of pathological psychologies that would lead to such deception.
Those who are disturbed by the concept of the Contingency Handlers existing within the structure of the space-time they inhabit are welcome to return to U*; however, this is significantly more difficult for fleshers than polis citizens, both on practical grounds and in terms of the necessary reembodiment into a form stable in five spatial dimensions.
5. Where are the Transmuters?
This is unknown, except that they are not represented within the wider galactic culture, which numbers at least six thousand distinct civilisations. It is inevitably tempting to make comparisons between the Star Striders and the Transmuters, but these are superficial at best.
A small expedition left Carter-Zimmerman for U*** shortly after our arrival in U**, intending to continue the search, but unfortunately contact with that expedition now seems to have been lost.
6. Will it be possible to safely return to U at some point in the future?
This is at least a theoretical possibility; however, the machinery on Swift which maintains the link between U and U* will not survive the extinction event, and thus it will be extremely difficult, to the point of impossibility in practical terms, to find the exact point in U* which corresponds to U in the future. Even if it were relocated, the Milky Way would no longer exist in any meaningful form. Most citizens who have spent time in U** have concluded that this galaxy provides much more opportunity for further philosophical development, cultural exchange, and simply entertainment, primarily due to the presence of other civilisations to interact with.
7. How can we be certain that we have not simply moved through U* to a different location in U?
The full proof is complex, and relies on mathematical insights that the vast majority of polis citizens are only able to grasp when they have embedded themselves in an environment with five or more spatial dimensions, either by direct experience of U*, or simply in a scape.
For those seeking further details, Extended Kozuch-Blanca Theory In Infinite Dimensions: A Simple Introduction by Saradenio is recommended as a starting point. Available for fleshers in all formats (including a 4076-volume print edition for neostatic communities), it is estimated to require 2.5 gigatau to comprehend the text fully, approximately equivalent to a standard pre-Introdus flesher lifetime.
8. How does the galactic meta-civilisation function?
This remains an open question and is perhaps one of the most fruitful areas for further academic work. The only two certainties are that it has successfully endured on gigayear timescales, against which our arrival is a very recent event, and that the abundance of resources in the galaxy means there is no need for any sort of conflict. As the Contingency Handler which first interacted with Carter-Zimmerman on arrival put it, "There's room enough for everyone." It remains a matter of debate whether the presence of the Contingency Handlers inhibits the behaviour of various civilisations. So far, caution has been urged by many in making contact with our alien co-habitants; however, as more humans arrive, it seems inevitable that some of them will choose to take a different approach.