“As contraries are known by contraries, so is the delights of presence best known by the torments of absence.” ― Alcibiades

Sometimes I have to remind myself that not everyone has been to another world, another orb of space in the great full yonder. It’s easier today than it ever has been, and yet some poor sods still live, breathe, and die in the same sphere. It’s sad really.

Sorry, I’m sorry. I know, that’s not why you’re new to all this. You’re one of those one-worlders, right? Sorry, right, your parents were one-worlders. OK, that makes sense. Can you just do up, yeah, just buckle that right in – OK you got it.

Look, I don’t get tunnel virgins much, mind if I do the whole bit from the beginning? Cheers. Y’know, I used to sit exactly where you are now and my ma would do the whole speech every time. Drove the regulars crazy, but I could never get enough.

A long time ago, we were born in Htrae. That great orb, our home. It’s almost two light years from here, I guess you’ll have only seen pictures. People lived and died in that expanse in the endless rock, working hard under the continental sky. Or, y’know, whatever countries littered the sky in your land. Some great minds were certain there were other worlds out there, other pockets of precious air in the endless ground; but they were belittled as fools! Hard to believe now, huh?

Well, one day a great scientist used seismography to prove there were other worlds out there. Back then we couldn’t know if any were habitable, just that they existed, but that didn’t stop our early dreaming. Took a few centuries more than planned, but we got there in the end. Right, hold on tight, we’re up next on the railrun.

Our first drills were crushed by pressure, but eventually we made it to another orb within our system. Back then we used a heavy headed drill followed by rocket propelled iron masses to keep the tunnel open; a little dated next to the near-lightspeed waterjets we have today, but you’ve got to understand this is almost six hundred years ago! That they were able to open tunnels to other worlds is truly astounding on its own!

Of course, as everybody knows, none of the orbs within our local ground system were habitable. One of the nearest, Sram, was a burned out void of ash. Took a long time to clean that one up. Sunev was even worse, of course; the moment we broke through storms of boiling acid rushed through our tunnel and laid waste to ASAN’s launchpad, and the surrounding five-mile radius, before we were able to cap it.

It was theorised we’d never touch another system. That the massive swathes of heavy soil and stone between us and our closest neighbours was entirely impassable. Well, it took us some work, and more than a few crushed missions, but we made it. From there, well, the tunnel system now spreads wide across the great, full universe. That’s why those one-worlder groups disturb me, how could you ever live on just one world all your life, never seeing anything else?

It must be stifling. It just seems natural to follow that urge. That urge, for free air, for a little space in this massive, full universe.

Thanks for letting me do the whole thing, friend. Go ahead, why don’t you open that hatch right behind you? Welcome to somewhere new.

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