The Prides called them Artifacts.
To the people of Pharos and the colonized systems under the control of the Prides, these Artifacts were powerful and mysterious devices found after the Cataclysm had torn our little corner of the galaxy apart. That is indeed true, since the Artifacts were fished out of the thick cloud of the Hurakan Nebula by numerous starships built for this kind of salvage.
Artifacts were also referred to as Fragments.
This is because Artifacts came in two packages.
An Artifact could be referred to as a Fragment if it was incomplete, that is, it was missing pieces that denied it becoming a full armor, a weapon, or some other category of device.
An Artifact could also be referred to as a Fragment if it was locked down, and this affected those Artifacts that possessed a Core.
Either way, Fragments and Artifacts were powerful and varied devices, some of them nearly unstoppable by conventional means. For that reason, the Prides chose to keep many of them locked away in secret vaults throughout the asteroid colony of Pharos, and probably elsewhere at covert installations deep within the Hurakan Nebula.
Another reason was that the Prides didn’t trust us Familiars, and we Familiars were the only ones that could operate a Fragment.
For now, I’ll continue explaining the important aspects about the Fragments with a general overview.
We already know Fragments are incomplete or locked down devices the Prides refer to as Artifacts, and these Artifacts were recovered after the Cataclysm from deep inside the Hurakan Nebula. Who made them is a point of contention, because Fragments – and Artifacts – are simply too advanced and amazing for humans to have created, and there are no records of Fragments and Artifacts existing before the Cataclysm during humanity’s First Golden Age.
However, if they were not created by humans, they were at least created for humans.
Specifically, they were created for Familiars.
On this point, there is overwhelming agreement in the scientific community.
Another point of consensus is that the majority of Fragments are designed for conflict. They’re weapons, not toys, and they’re meant for chaos and destruction.
They’re meant to kill.
The whole story behind Fragments and Artifacts would undoubtedly require a separate volume. I’m not privy to all the details, just a fragment of them, so I have no intention of writing such a book. Instead, I’ll simply summarize what I knew then and complement it with what I know now.
Let’s begin with the definition of a Fragment.
As I explained earlier a Fragment refers to two types of Artifacts.
The first type refers to an Artifact that is incomplete, and missing the pieces that would allow it to achieve its full potential. It’s like saying, it’s missing bits of inventory from its armory.
The second type of Fragment is an Artifact whose Core is in a locked down state, and as such is unable able to manifest its true form. Thus when summoned, the Fragment is only a fragment of the completed, unlocked Artifact. In game terms, it’s a device with abilities that are locked and can’t be used. The player or Familiar needs to overcome challenges that will unlock the Core, and release the full potential of the Artifact.
Now we need to describe the two types of Artifacts – those with a Core and those without.
When the right pieces are combined in the right order, they form a complete Artifact. The Core of an Artifact determines what pieces it will accept into the mix, or armory. This means that an Artifact with an armory can swap out its components for other components depending on the situation at hand. I’ve come to learn that those Artifacts with a Core are by far the most powerful and dangerous. Invariably, they are weapons.
That said, there are a great many Artifacts that lack a Core, and their pieces come together by mutual agreement. While less powerful as weapons, it is foolish to underestimate their abilities, how dangerous they are, and how much damage they can cause.
There is another part to a Fragment or Artifact and that is the aforementioned armory.
We call this armory, the Sarcophagus.
As the name suggests, the Sarcophagus resembles an enormous coffin, and depending on the type of Artifact, some are considerably larger than others. They provide the means of storing, servicing, and repairing an Artifact. But they also provide the means to discretely transport the Artifact without anyone knowing that it’s there. In other words, the Sarcophagus serves to keep the Artifact close to the Familiar, allowing them to summon their Artifact at any time, and have it delivered to them within seconds.
How does it do this? By generating a fold in the fabric of reality.
We call this fold, Pocket Space.
Hiding within this pocket, the Sarcophagus is able to go wherever the Familiar goes, thereby travelling incognito with no visible interaction with reality around it. In other words, it’s like having a magical pocket that you can throw things into, and not worry about this pocket bumping into people or objects in the real world. Because of this, some researchers refer to Pocket Space as Phantom Space, because it’s invisible and cannot be touched.
However, not all of the Fragment or Artifact resides within the Sarcophagus.
One piece is left outside. That is, one piece is left outside of the Pocket Space bubble.
Invariably, this piece resembles an item of jewelry such as a necklace or a pair of anklets.
In my case, it was shaped like a wide bracelet about an inch across that I wore over my right wrist. The Lanfear researchers explained that the bracelet was my link to the remainder of the Fragment contained within the Sarcophagus that was hiding in Pocket Space. Because of this, I like to think of this bracelet as the key ring, and the Fragment as the collection of keys carried in my pocket.
For the record, I will state that my Fragment’s Sarcophagus does indeed resemble a sarcophagus from ancient times, though there’s no mummy inside. It’s a huge thing, some twelve meters tall, with enough space to fit a small shuttle inside and still have room to spare.
There is one more thing I’d like to mention.
Whenever I summoned my Fragment from the Sarcophagus, a breach would take place between Pocket Space and real-space, resulting in a thick, black mist that would spill out of the opening. Nobody knew why it was black, but one theory was that Sarcophagi employed dark matter as an energy source, and that the mist was a by-product, a form of pollution akin to the black smoke that results from burning coal.
Whatever the reason for its existence, the mist was chilling to the touch, and there were many times that I felt it possessed some sinister life of its own.
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