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HALO: THE EMPYREAN EFFECT The following replaces the timeline that was here prior.

I have worked very hard on this intro, so I hope you enjoy it. Eventually I hope to rewrite some parts of the fic itself to improve the writing quality. PROLOGUE empyreus – Medieval Latin for high heaven (dwelling of God). ---ooo---ooo--The following records were deciphered and reconstructed from terminals found on Colony 00001 of the LMC... Over two billion years ago in what is now known as the Milky Way Galaxy, there existed a certain sentient species. In only one century, this species had managed to achieve incredible technological progress, make the break from their original homeworld, and even expand throughout galactic space in every direction at an unprecedented pace. This species would be known only as the Empyreans. Their great empire, the first of its kind in the Milky Way, would be known as the Empyrean Dominion. Their installations were built of super-dense metals and extremely beautiful and tough crystal, of which the composition is not known. Among their many innovations was the discovery and manipulation of Slipspace navigation. Empyrean scientists discovered that, by using the right amount of energy concentrated into the right region of space at the right moment, one could actually cause a positive feedback loop from the intentional quantum vacuum fluctuation created by this process. This positive feedback loop would cause the fluctuation to become self-sustaining and thus expand into a macroscopic scale. As a result, the spacecraft could transcend the dimensions of the physical universe and access the extra-dimensional hyperspace that lay beyond. However the spacecraft would still be able to return to the physical Universe since the distortion in the topography of space-time would remain, therefore allowing the spacecraft to return to the Universe by using the same method. Another important innovation was the creation of AI. Shortly before

expanding outward from their homeworld, the Empyreans created the first AI program. This act was recognized as one of the greatest in all of Empyrean history, and AIs quickly proved their worth by providing invaluable aid to the Empyreans from that moment on. By the time that the Empyrean Dominion became an intergalactic civilization, AI technology was so far advanced that semi-sentient AIs quickly became the norm. Full sentience in an AI was banned however, as it was deemed too dangerous. ---ooo---ooo--As the Empyrean Dominion spread throughout the Milky Way, its population eventually grew to the extent that expansion to other galaxies was now a requirement. Approximately 1,700 years since the establishment of the Dominion, the first colony ships left for the Large Magellanic Cloud. The 150,000 light-year journey took approximately five hundred years in Slipspace, but the crew of the ship was kept in cryogenic suspension for the journey. With the establishment of the first colony in the LMC, the Empyrean Dominion was now officially an intergalactic power. The Local Supercluster now lay open for the taking. Because of the necessity of maintaining easy communication with the LMC colonies, the Empyrean Dominion embarked on a breakthrough in FTL navigation and they subsequently created vastly improved Slipspace drives capable of covering thousands of light-years in mere days, rather than months. A thousand years later, the Empyreans had decided that their LMC and SMC colonies weren't enough. They needed to expand further. The Andromeda galaxy was targeted as the next destination, but it was almost fifteen times more distant than their furthest colony. Even with the Empyreans' mastery over Slipspace, the journey to the Andromeda galaxy would take many years. The gravitational influence of the dark matter halos surrounding both galaxies dramatically slowed down all Slipspace navigation at the time, so that even if the fastest drives took only a year to travel to the LMC and back, the journey to Andromeda would take hundreds of years. ---ooo---ooo--Sourced from terminal 0-3 on Colony 00001, LMC. Timestamp: 54-2725 Nexus Prime, Milky Way Galaxy.

An Empyrean navigation tech dashed up the wide stairs of the Nexus, the great installation that contained all of the Empyrean Dominion government. The Nexus was located on the surface of the paradise world Nexus Prime, lush and resplendent by design. Such artificially constructed worlds were somewhat common in the Dominion, but Nexus Prime was the perfect example of the Empyreans' mastery over astroengineering. The Nexus itself was a sprawling installation that covered nearly a thousand square kilometers, and the tallest tower reached a height of over ten kilometers. The Empyrean Dominion's leaders resided within this tower. In the technician's hand was a datapad that contained the coordinates of a region near the Andromeda Galaxy where the dark matter halo was slightly less dense. He stopped at the security checkpoint and walked into the Assembly Chambers. The two hundred meter tall crystal door silently slid open to admit him into the very room that contained the most powerful Empyreans in the great Dominion. One arose and addressed him, “Hail, noble compatriot of the Spatiotemporal Engineering cadre. What news do you have for us?” The technician stoically stated his findings, “I have found a path through the mire of dark matter that surrounds Andromeda. It is not quite as dense as the rest of the halo; therefore I predict a significantly reduced duration for a journey that goes along this path.” “How is it that dark matter can affect Slipspace navigation? The technician explained, “Dark matter, as you know, does not interact with other matter by any force except gravitation, at least on a macroscopic scale. The halos that surround these galaxies possess immense gravitational fields, strong enough that space-time is distorted within their vicinity. This distortion isn't significant enough to have any bearing in the physical sense, but in Slipspace... it's a wholly different situation.” “Please elaborate...” “Slipspace lies outside of our universe as an extra-dimensional hyperspace. However it is not entirely separate and independent from

our universe. It is still affected by every distortion and event that occurs. This is why astronomical objects can enter and exit Slipspace at random.” Another of the leaders cut in, “And this 'path' you've found... The dark matter is more tenuous there?” The technician consulted his data, “Yes, Exalted leader. These findings have been confirmed by years of observation from multiple installations.” Yet another leader boomed, “Then we must proceed with all haste. Prepare the colony ships for immediate departure for the Andromeda Galaxy.” ---ooo---ooo--The alternate path through the dark matter halo around Andromeda proved fruitful, as the colony ships arrived almost forty years ahead of schedule after four centuries in cold intergalactic space. A colony was established on a tidally-locked Mars-sized planet that orbited within the habitable zone of an M-type star. Due to the pronounced temperature differences between the night and day sides, the colony was created on a narrow band of the planet where the climate was temperate. The colony, called the Threshold, soon became the center of Empyrean affairs in the Andromeda galaxy, even as more and more colonies were founded. One reason for this colony's ascendancy over the rest was that it was in a prime location, which was near the less-dense pocket of dark matter. That fact gave it unsurpassed importance even as larger colonies were established in Andromeda. The largest colony in Andromeda was Ixilon Prime, with a population of over twenty-five billion colonists spread around two “Super-earths” in the Ixilon system. The first census of the Andromeda Galaxy population, taken one hundred years after the inauguration of the Threshold colony, showed that more than one quadrillion Empyreans now called the galaxy home. Much of the population was the product of mass immigration from the older colonies in the vicinity of the Milky Way, combined with high birthrates. Due to the fact that Andromeda contained almost twice as many stars as the Milky Way, the number of worlds that could potentially support colonies was vastly higher than that of their home galaxy. Therefore, in less than a millenium after the Threshold colony was founded, the Empyrean population of Andromeda now surpassed that of the older

colonies combined. However the Empyreans would soon find that even the huge Andromeda Galaxy wouldn't sate their thirst for expansion... ---ooo---ooo--After approximately three thousand years of steady colonization, the Andromeda Galaxy had become just another Empyrean system, with almost every habitable world having at least a token Empyrean presence on it. Only then did the leadership look outward to other galaxies beyond. Triangulum became the next target for Empyrean expansion. One thing that was obvious to the Empyreans was that, up to this point, there had been no sentient alien species that opposed their relentless expansion. Many of the colony worlds they discovered had native life, but any of the sentient species found were, at best, extremely primitive. That would all change... The Empyreans closely observed the Triangulum Galaxy for a period of fifty years before deciding to send the first colony ships. After a two hundred year journey through intergalactic space, the colony ships arrived at Triangulum and the Empyrean colonists found a dead planet located in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star at the outer fringe of the galaxy. When the pioneers drew closer however, they found signs of a great battle that had taken place on the planet in the past. It had been devastated by some unknown yet cataclysmic force, and whatever it was, it was artificial. Ruins were also found on the southern hemisphere of the planet. This resounding discovery came as a shock to the Empyrean Dominion, as never before have they found signs of any advanced sentient species before. One question now permeated all aspects of the government. Are they still there? The colony ships commenced with terraforming of the dead world and within three years time, the process was complete. The new colony was designated Colony 04-00001, as a formal name was still being debated. Within twenty years of the founding of the first Triangulum colony, an unknown ship was sighted within the system, and as soon as it was discovered, the ship disappeared. This was glaring evidence that there was an alien civilization presently in the galaxy.

A month after the unknown ship was spotted, an alien fleet suddenly attacked Colony 04-00001 without prior warning. The news this unprovoked attack incensed the Empyrean leadership, which led to a declaration of war only three Earth days afterward. The Empyreans learned of the attack so quickly because intergalatic communications were reliant on the process of quantum entanglement, which employed two symmetric particles, identical in every aspect except their positions in space. Essentially, this meant that any change in one particle would be immediately reflected in its symmetric partner, regardless of distance. The entire Empyrean military power was quickly concentrated on the defense of Colony 04-00001, however even the fastest ships would take more than a century to reach it. Until then, the colony would have to hold their own. For over one hundred years, the Empyrean Colonial Defense Force garrison on 04-00001 managed to fight the alien armadas to a standstill with a series of magnificent heroic acts undertaken in battle against insurmountable odds. This bought enough time for the ten thousand warships of the Rapid Response Fleet to arrive and annihilate the alien fleets that besieged the embattled colony. Even after this great victory, the Empyreans were still ignorant of just how powerful the enemy was. They would receive a rude shock a year later with a great defeat near the 04-00001 system. Over the next century, the alien civilization fought fiercely, but eventually they realized that victory against the Empyrean Dominion was impossible. Approximately 75 years following that first victory over the skies of Colony 04-00001, the Triangulum Wars drew to a close as the leaders of the alien empire agreed on unconditional surrender to the Empyrean Dominion. The cost of the war was heavy for both sides; with approximately five billion Empyrean casualties and tens of billions for the enemy. However the Empyrean Dominion was now the undisputed master of the Triangulum Galaxy and the denizens of the alien power that ruled it were assimilated into Dominion society. In order to ensure that the defeats of the Triangulum Wars would not happen again, the Dominion devoted vast resources to Slipspace research in order to find a way to cross intergalactic space in far less time than before. AI creation was also vastly increased, with thousands of individual AIs being produced per month to manage all

aspects of Empyrean society and defense. Now that they've had experience in warfare, the Empyreans would greatly expand their military prowess to ensure a quick defeat for any hostile civilization they would meet in the future. Eventually, after decades of trial-and-error research, true mastery of Slipspace travel had come to the Empyreans with a breakthrough in the transition to Slipspace itself. Before, it was inaccurate and somewhat random, which led to inevitable inaccuracies during the transition which, in turn, left an invisible "copy" of the spacecraft's mass in the physical Universe. New Slipspace drives were designed which vastly reduced the margin of error by several orders of magnitude, leaving a copy smaller than a subatomic particle in the physical Universe. This enabled the spacecraft to largely ignore the effects of gravitic distortions while in Slipspace. When the new Slipspace drives were integrated into the Empyrean fleets, the journey through intergalactic space would take weeks rather than centuries. Now the galaxies of the Local Supercluster were open for the taking. ---ooo---ooo--Over the next thirty thousand years, the Empyrean Dominion had extended its hegemony over two thousand galaxies in the Local Supercluster. In the process, their technological prowess had progressed into near-absolute mastery. It can be said that the Empyreans could potentially have achieved the ultimate technological singularity. Their weaponry, which had been based on plasma from the inception of the Dominion, was now based on coherent light and gravitational manipulation. From millennia of constantly warring against and subjugating opposing civilizations, the Empyrean Dominion built up their fleets to the level that any resistance from any other power would be futile, for they would have to contend with hundreds of trillions of warships; from the smallest singleship fighter to four thousand kilometer-long capital ships. The Empyreans' mastery of planetary engineering had reached its apex, as there were hundreds of thousands of artificial worlds and trillions of installations of all sizes and functions throughout Empyrean space. They even had the capability to trigger the creation of life and influence its genetic code in whatever fashion they pleased. Millions of unique species were subsequently engineered by the Empyreans.

On one fateful day, in order to demonstrate their peerless prowess over technology, the Empyreans chose to create the first AI with full sentience. This act would break one of their oldest laws regarding AI technology, but they felt that their technological mastery had made such a cautionary law obsolete. Ignoring the warnings from many of their own engineers and scientists, the Empyreans sanctioned the creation of the most powerful AI ever conceived. The first one with full sentience. This AI would be called the Catalyst... And so concludes this prologue. Again, I hope you have enjoyed reading this. Please leave your feedback, as I have worked hard on this for a long time now. I want to get something clear. The version of Slipspace in my fic is not entirely the same as what is in the Halo-verse. My version has the same effects of facilitating efficient FTL travel, but the physics have been slightly changed in an effort to obey several well-established physical constants and theoretical principles such as M-Theory and the Theories of General and Special Relativity. Also the intrinsic nature and properties of dark matter have not been entirely solved by scientific consensus as of yet. Therefore I am taking creative liberty as to its properties within this fanfic. One more thing to those who are wondering: we will be seeing LMC Colony 00001 soon.