Now that I’ve spent two weeks shooting out articles for writers, I thought it might be nice if I actually wrote an article for my own readers. I get questions about the setting of Dark Days and through I’d shine a light on just what lurks in this scary new world of post-rifts America. For this article we will look at some of the more well-known realms that the ExoReality Containment Agency (ERC) deals with in its quest for a safer community.
What are the Rifts?
Simply speaking, a rift is when a hole is opened between our world and another realm of existence. Some rifts are only open for mere seconds, other stay open long enough for things and being to wander between them, often accidentally. In rare occasions, rifts have stayed open for days, causing untold ecological and structural damage on both sides of the hole. Even after over a decade of research no one on Earth has been able to figure out just what is causing the rifts or how to predict where the next one will open or where it will open to. Just to make things worse, some otherworldly races seem to be able to create rifts on their own, lending the question if earth is seeing a metaphyscial phenomenon or the precursor to some kind of invasion.
What kind of Realms to the Rifts connect to?
There doesn’t seem to be any limit to the number of realms in the greater meta-universe and most have gone undocumented. The Exoreality Containment Agency simply does not know about most of the realms, but there are a few realms that seem to pop up routinely, either due to some kind of metaphyscial closeness to our realm or simply because of a combination of bad luck and good documentation. There are X realms that the ExoReality Containment Agency has managed to document more than briefly and the only common denominator is that they don’t seem to have any relation to each other. There are some tendencies in realms. Most rifts open up to a planet of some kind, and most of those have had some kind of Sun or Sun-like analogue. Of those, many are populated by at least animal life, although a few harbor sentient species. Why some realms follow these rules and others do not is still a big unknown in the study of ExoReality science.
It seems fair to start with the realm that was responsible for the creation of Marcus Black. Often called the Void or The Ephemeral Spheres, the void shares almost no common laws of science or physics with our own. The ‘Void’ that gives the place its name is not actually a vacuum like early reports suggested. Instead it is a semi-living, malleable substance that manages to be both seemingly black but also comprised of hundreds of small lights per foot. People who view the void-matter report that it seems to move, and more than a few people have been nearly hypnotized by the stuff before being driven insane as their mind tries to wrap around the discordant nature the void-matter. It seems to be both there and not there. Both full of lights and utterly black. Both in motion and utterly still.
The Void isn’t empty of life either. There are thousands of void-predators swimming in the void-matter, each seemingly unique in appearance and in its abilities. Impossibly, they seem to be made of the same void-matter as everything else, drawing deep concerning questions about how its even possible to differentiate between them and their environment, if there even is a real difference as we would understand it.
Void predators seem to exist with a fairly primitive set of rules. They seek and consume anything smaller than them and they subsist of the energy released by the passing of their victim’s souls as they devour them. Conversations with surviving void-touched seem to indicate that the predators don’t recognize concepts of neutral or indigestible creatures and only view things in the very narrow band of what they can eat and what can eat them. Void-touched who don’t survive their encounter are often driven mad by this viewpoint and often seek to hunt their fellow humans in a similar manner.
The Ephemeral Spheres are probably the biggest unknown of the Void. These massive planet-sized orbs are described by all survivors of The Void, but no one has been able to determine if they are planets, large void predators, or even actual gaps in the otherwise eternally present void-matter. Theories abound, but it anyone know the answer they have either died or been driven insane.
There have been almost 50 documented encounters with the Void. In a dozen of those encounters, a human being fell into and then out of the Void. Of those twelve documented cases, only five didn’t have to be put down after the encounter. Those five survivors are federally marked as Innate Weaponized Personnel and monitored closely for any lapses of sanity or predatory behavior.
The Faye seem fantastical at first. Beings of almost any shape and size, often accompanied by creatures of just as varied type and description. The first publicly recorded alien was that of a Faye woman who wandered down the streets of Montgomery Alabama and helped spur the later public reveal of the rifts and the governments failed information crackdown. Once serious research was found on the Faye, the mystery deepened. Technically a single species, the Faye are masters of genecrafting. Children are born to custom genetic templates chosen by their parent during incubation, and modify their genetic code as they grow up in the way a human might change clothing or makeup styles. The Faye have become almost obsessed with this aspect of science, and their history is a long series of experiments and trials as they create, edit and eliminate genetic technologies almost as quickly as they can think of them.
This obsession has ruined their world, and they live in great bubble-domed cities surrounded by the flora and fauna of thrown away creations that have flourished int eh kind of hellish Darwinian competition that really has no parraells in other realms. The Faye haven’t let the ecological insanity stop them however, their great quest is to create a winning beast for the Gladiatorial games they hold inside the domes. New species are created, killed or released into the wilds outside as they seek to outdo each other in deadlier and deadlier creations.
Survivors of the Faye-World portals describe near endless jungles of almost every color imaginable, populated with the most aggressive forms of plant and animal wildlife. The jungle is a writhing, murderous, combat kilometers long in which things are killed and eaten often mere moments after they are born from their accelerated growth eggs. Human survivors of the Faye realm are pretty low, but things that escape into our world are often easily recognizable by the swatch of destruction they create before local ERC officers can put them down.
The Eternal Plane
Nothing stirs up fear and opinions in the same way as The Eternal Plane. The world itself doesn’t seem too awful, it’s a flat plane that seem to stretch on forever, with no mountains or hills to identify the landscape. Occasional rocks break the landscape, but the only real terrain feature is the tall buildings of its cities. The walkers live in these cities, averaging seven to eight feet tall, the inhabitants are pale reflections of the human form. The cities are not unified in a common government, but instead have been in a constant cold war with their neighbors for centuries.
The books and beings of the Eternal Planes don’t speak of a sun, other planets, or even of other forms of life beyond the walkers. No one is certain if this state of affairs came about as the result of a war, some kind of ecological disaster, or is simply the natural state of that plane. What we do know is that the walkers of the Eternal Plane consider themselves at war with all other sentient life and have an amazingly complete knowledge of the rifts and their workings. While there is no way to reliable send people over to the Eternal Plane, the US government is reportedly very interested in any materials or information that can be seized from the realm.
The Elemental Realm
No realms makes less sense or captures as much wonder at the Elemental Realm. No one is really certain what it is, other than a collection of small seas of elemental force that collide and roil against each other. Whatever the seas are comprised of, they aren’t actually comprised of what they appear to be. People who fall into this realm speak of swimming in roiling flame seas and crackling lakes of plasma, all without injury or pain. It is thought that the Elemental Realm might be a world of sheer mana in its natural state – the people who come out certainly seem to have a deeper understanding of the energy, but it’s just as likely that this is a realm so abstract that our eyes and minds can’t comprehend it properly.
There are thousands of realms that leak into earth in Dark Days, from the begin to the actively invasive. Only one thing is certain, none of them are safe and every day that the rifts appear our world gets a little less safe as well.