Of all physical forces light is the biggest knobhead. Photons effortlessly jump from their point of origin to light-speed, just like that. Not happy to be the fastest particle in the Universe they jealously guard their privilege against everyone else setting a hard boundary against anyone trying to get past it. One may approach its fabled speed if enough effort is shown. Equalling the speed of light let alone surpassing it is a natural taboo though that must not be broken.
"Ye shall have no speed faster than mine." Light said.
All the species that ever reached beyond their star of origin and went on to prosper in outer space challenged that law. Every single one of them found ways around the hard limit. Usually by cheating. That way the crafty species got to expand into the universe while light maintained its dignity.
However there seems to be almost always someone who doesn't take no for an answer. Most species will have individuals among them who will rebel against the light and try not to side-step this one fundamental law but will go out of their way to break it. Every once in a while they succeed. If advanced technology is paired with a strong will prepared to repeatedly bash against the wall of light it can be broken.
True faster than light travel is the fastest, the most flexible form of travel there is and yet the vast majority of ships uses other forms of faster than light travel, preferring to avoid the confrontation with light, carefully avoiding any eye contact. For light is a vengeful force. If one takes its birthright, it will break reality in return.
That leaves a void that is filled by those who pushed past the barrier. True faster than light travel always creates a surge in new religions among those who first surpass it. "As you leave the light behind, you become the light yourself." they would say. Temple ships would be build, monastic orders of cosmonauts founded. In the end the technology would fade away, replaced by other methods that allowed to travel beyond the stars without having to confront the strange phenomena that bled out of the passengers minds. The technology would survive in obscure niches, favoured by those who travel alone or in small close knit groups, but would remain obscure. And light would remain the sovereign king of the physical world. And remain a being a bit of a dick.
I should have asked Pentyl if she had broken the barrier before.
I was stupid.
I had assumed that she had. I told her we would be going faster than light. I had stressed that part because I was so proud of it.
It was perfectly reasonable to expect her telling me that this was her first time.
I was an idiot but it was to late to complain all I could do was hope for the best.
I concentrated focusing on my surroundings. Everything was white I was suspended in mid-nothing. I took a deep breath. I smelt burnt caramel. Pentyl. I felt my body, its position. I forced myself to feel my command chair. The controls held in my hands. The whiteness receded slowly uncovering my cockpit. I had spent a lot of time working on its design adding personal touches and I had spent years within it. The cockpit was practically a part of me. Returning to it was easy. I went through my post-acceleration rituals checking all the instruments. Bringing them into focus making sure that I anchored them properly in the shifting reality around me. I ignored that behind me was a wide open field leading away to a strange horizon, that wasn't important right now. In front of me was space. That was good. The parts of the cockpit that kept the atmosphere in and the nothing of space out materialised like a mirage on a hot summer day. The sun above was shining in a perfect blue sky. Perfect weather for a picnic, that had to wait.
I could now see the navigation line in front of me. The ship was still on course. I could see the Hadalag system slowly moving closer towards us. I corrected our course adding a navigational assistance program to the ships auto-copilot. After double checking our course I carefully increased our cruising speed. ONce past the light barrier it was easy enough to gain more speed. But even so reaching our next obstacle would take days.
Enough time to save Pentyl