Jumping technology is, beyond a doubt, the driving force of the universe at the present time. It holds all the major empires except the Kesssoné together, it influences every aspect of life; trade, war, colonization, travel, communication, and, not least of all, economics. Without Jump technology, the governments currently in power would collapse, unable to communicate with governmental segments on other planets; warships would be next to useless; families would be divided beyond repair, separated by hundreds of light-years; trade and economy would collapse, and millions would die of various shortages on hundreds of planets. It is utterly essential to galactic civilization as it is.
Technically, the Jump is a warping, a folding, of space. It is, in a sense, bent, turned so that two distant points become opposite each other and only a brief, thin layer lies between them. The necessary engines and computers are not in themselves difficult to produce; they are mass-produced by the billions every day, and the required physics are simple enough that all the current Jumping races, including humans, discovered the technology on their own.
The difficulty is in the Jump; the brief interval when a being leaves one side of folded space, and just before they enter the next side; that handful of seconds spent in other, different, space and time. No one, of any race, has ever made that Jump unaided and survived. To try results in Jump-death, a terrible, painful neural scrambling that reduces the brain of any being to mush, killing them almost instantly, while the body is subject to strange gravitational effects and may explode or implode. It is easily recognizable by anyone; organs closely related to the brain, most notably the optic sensors, are always destroyed as well. No known living thing is exempt.
There is only one thing that keeps Jump-death from happening, and that is the Jump drug, Vetoni, produced by the Attheri. No one save the Attheri knows why. If exposed to any atmosphere or vacuum, any medium save that of a living being, it explodes; if injected into a living being who does not go into Jump within five seconds, it also explodes, with very messy results. If a being is tested directly out of Jump there is no trace of any drug in their system. But, even though no one knows why the drug works, everyone knows it does, and most people experience nothing but a brief flash of light and some slight disorientation going through Jump. The only alternative to Vetoni is cryogenisis, and this is only rarely used, since it is massively expensive, highly subject to accidents and malfunctions, and high on side effects ranging from nausea to neural disorders.
All communications are cut off during a jump.
Available is a sound-recording sample of the characteristic absorption of radio-wave energy which accompanies all jumps.
There are a few people, perhaps one in a million or less, in each race who do not respond properly to Vetoni. These people are known as Dreamers, because, in the few seconds between one side of a Jump and the other, they see not light, but images. There is a faction which holds that Dreamers are actually seeing past or future events, but most authorities believe the images to be simple hallucinations, nothing more. Dreamers themselves tend to stay out of the debate; they are usually mentally unstable in some way, although it is a matter of debate whether it is because of this instability they see visions or the visions cause their instability, and they tend to hide their abilities as Dreamers as much as they can.
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