>* Kei & The It's Too Far Away! Problem: honestly, I think you're gonna
>have to come up with some way of explaining this.
... besides the place where I already did? Er, OK...
>Look at it this way: the modern era has fold drive,
>hyperdrive, warpdrive, metaspace, Asgardian teleportation (cf. Urd,
>Skuld, Corwin, etc), magic (cf. Raven, Asgardians again), and Odin
>only knows what other forms of transportation lying around.
Well, let's break it down, shall we:
Hyperdrive (technically, hyperspace motivator drive): The slowest of the known FTL methods, and that's with very carefully prepared charts. Charting unknown space with hyperdrive is very dangerous and takes a very long time, because you have to go in extremely short hops and catalog everything as you go. Utterly unsuitable for an expedition of that kind. Even if you had impeccable charts of the intergalactic void and the destination galaxy, it would take a very, very long time to arrive at even the closest neighboring galaxy, the Lesser Magellanic Cloud.
Warp drive (aka Cochrane subspace distortion drive): Faster than hyperdrive and less prone to navigational anomalies and, er, running into things and blowing up, given that travel takes place in warped real space rather than an alternate plane. However, it's still not very fast when viewed on an intergalactic scale, and warp-driven ships aren't terribly fuel-efficient. Do you know of a reliable source of antideuterium in the intergalactic void?
Metaspace: Though faster than hyperdrive or warp drive and less finicky about the possibility of running into stuff than hyperdrive as well, metaspace has some very weird properties that make navigation difficult and exploration all but impossible. Since metaspace does not map to realspace one-to-one, you can't navigate on time and distance like you can - if you're suicidally optimistic - in hyperspace. Without a beacon system to follow, trying to get to an uncharted galaxy in metaspace would be a fool's errand. Not only would you probably never get where you were trying to go, once you left the range of the existing beacon network back home, you'd probably never get back either.
Fold drive (aka tesseract transition drive): The most tempting propulsion system of all, since it's instantaneous and can transport entire battle fleets at once, but ultimately the biggest dead end. Spacefold demands detailed navigational data; you can't even fake it like you can with hyperdrive if you're bold and/or foolish. If you don't know exactly where you're going, you can't leave in the first place - unless you just charge the drive, randomize the navicomputer and hope for the best! Since 99 point an enormous number of 9s percent of the universe is empty space, you'll probably arrive somewhere. If not, there is the Pauli exclusion principle.
Stargate: Completely worthless as an exploratory system. There has to be a gate at both ends. Trying to reach an unknown galaxy with a stargate would be like trying to make a telephone call to a potted plant.
Sorcerous teleportation: Another tempting blind alley. Not only do you have the navigational problem again - and we'll get into this further below, once we get out of the breakdown of methods - the amount of magical energy required to teleport a sorcerer across interstellar distances would in all likelihood fry most mortal spellcasters, never mind intergalactic distances. As for the divine version, well, might work, might not. Divine teleportation does not appear to have an upper range limit, but it does suffer from something like the stargate problem. Are there windows, mirrors, pools of water, television sets, etc. at the other end? How do you know if you haven't seen it?
TARDIS: Powered by the extradimensional Eye of Harmony, a TARDIS can go damn near anywhere in the universe at any time. It would seem to be the perfect choice, and hell, the International Police have one in stock, as it were. But! As with everything else when you're talking intergalactic travel, it's not that simple. Sure, a TARDIS can take you anywhere - but first you've got to know where you're trying to go. We'll get to this a little further down as well.
So. Using conventional technologies, it appears that there's basically one strategy that hold the best chance for something like a timely success if you wanted to, say, mount a large-scale assault on another galaxy:
Construct a colossal warp-driven scout vessel that's mostly fuel tankage. Wait for, if not an inordinate, at least an inconvenient length of time for it to reach the other end and conduct extensive navigational surveys, then transmit that information back. Send a battle fleet with a fold-capable flagship to join it; have at.
But here's the thing: Where do you send the scoutship? And there's the rub when it comes to rescuing Kei:
- We don't know where "there" is; and
- Wherever it is, it's really far away.
'Cause here's the thing: the universe? Is really, really big. So we know Kei's not in Mutter's Spiral Galaxy (as it's known to the Time Lords). At the moment that's all we can reliably say we know. With such limited information at our disposal, even with the best technology we've currently got, let's have a look at our best-case scenario. In fact, let's exaggerate that best-case scenario beyond what's actually possible just to make the point:
We know Kei's not in this galaxy. Assuming she's in another one and not somewhere in the colossal void in between the galaxies, that leaves us with only (at best modern scientific estimate) about 124,999,999,999 more to check, each containing somewhere around 500 billion solar systems. Even with a TARDIS - even if it somehow only took one second to check each entire galaxy and move on to the next one - that search would take just under 4,000 years. And no, the TARDIS's pilot can't cheat by arranging his course so that he's really checking each separate galaxy in the same single second; that's contrary to the Blinovich limitation (loosely, "you can't be in more than one place at the same time without breaking stuff").
So when I say they can't make a move without something more to go on? They really can't make a move without some more to go on. It's nice to know that she's alive, and it means once we have more intel we may be able to get something going on? But it's not just a matter of grabbing our half a pack of cigarettes and jumping in the Bluesmobile.
Trust me. I do give these things at least a cursory thinking-through before I do them, most of the time. :)
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Admin
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/