Back when I first started planning out the Mendaihu Universe — or more correctly, the Vigil Universe, as I’d envisioned it then — I’d thought of creating a multiplanetary federation in which these stories could take place. On the same day I’d spent in that overheated laundromat on Charles Street in Boston coming up with the Bridgetown setting, I made some cursory notes on this federation, but thanks to overthinking the physics of space travel as well as realizing I was overreaching a bit, I scaled back so the story would remain on a future Earth. I’d keep this federation idea in pocket for future ideas.
Crimson-Null Foundation was a name I came up with before I even had an idea. Originally it was ‘Crimson Nine’ as I was going to have nine planets involved. I knew “Crimson” was going to reference Earth, but it took me quite sometime to build something around the rest of the name.
It wasn’t until writing The Phoenix Effect that I came up with the idea of Null, which was my own personal answer to bending the laws of physics for space travel. It was partly inspired by the New Age books I’d been reading, specifically the subjects of remote viewing and astral travel. I let the idea simmer for a few weeks, doing some deep thinking about the ground rules before I even wrote about it. The shortest, oversimplified version I came up with: while in reality the body carries the soul in travel, in Null travel it’s the opposite: the soul travels and pulls the body along with it. It’s a LOT more complicated than that, of course, but that’s the elevator pitch for it.
The use of the word “Null” soon changed to “Light” as the idea expanded, but I felt Null should remain when it’s referred to commercially: the Nullport, for instance. This is also the reason I kept the “Foundation” part of it, to hint that it this planetary group is centered around commerce as well as peace treaties, but less so about the spiritual end of things.
Trisanda is not part of the CNF, even though it’s the ancestral homeworld of everyone involved; they are not part of the commercial ventures, only spiritual ones.
The first-in-line planet on the CNF board is of course Meraladh [mey-rah-LADH, slight lisp on the dh], the current physical homeworld of the aliens in this universe. It’s an Earthlike planet that has five major continents and numerous satellite islands. It’s the first planet that the Trisandi colonized after starting their spacefaring age, and has become a major travel destination for both business and pleasure. In the trilogy, we meet numerous characters who are full or half-Meraladhza.
The second planet is Mannaka [mahn-NAH-kah], which many call the Midway between Meraladh and Earth. It started out as a colony planet during the Trisandi spacefaring age, and was originally to be closed down once they traveled to Earth. However, many of the families that had taken root there during this age did not want to abandon it. It’s got a much smaller population than Meraladh or Earth, but it’s one of the most important transportation hubs in the CNF. The Mannaki are an incredibly friendly and sociable people, and are also fiercely protective of their own. They’re the leaders in transportation and communication technologies. Councilor Mancka Udéma, a member of the Provincial Governor’s Council, who we meet in the latter half of A Division of Souls, is Mannaki.
Earth/Gharra is the third-important planet in terms of the CNF, and was the main destination of the Trisandi spacefarers. Eons later the Meraladians reestablished contact with Earth to strengthen their connection; both planets created the Foundation soon after to solidify the commercial and spiritual connections of all planets inhabited fully or partly by Meraladians.
Gharra [GAH-rrah, very slight glottal fricative on the rr] is the original name given by the Trisandi to the planet. Whenever the planet is talked about in spiritual terms, both the Mendaihu and Shenaihu will always refer to it as Gharra.
Fourth is Hallera [HAH-leh-rah], a purely Meraladian-made satellite world in which its inhabitants all live within the planet, not outside of it. It’s another midway planet and is mainly a transportation hub, both for Null travel and for shipping purposes. There are also some minor technological and industrial companies based here as well. [Later on when I started working second shift at a warehouse in late 2000, I came up with an MU-related story about dock workers on Hallera. I’m yet to write it, but I’m sure I’ll be doing so soon enough.]
Hallera does have a significant population, mostly those who live and work there, such as dock workers, transportation, security, and so on. CNF representative Jack Priestley, who we meet early on in A Division of Souls, grew up here.
Fifth is Runeia [roo-NAY-ah], a planet not too far from Hallera. It unfortunately has gotten a bit of a bad reputation, as technically it’s a prison planet; this is where many of the worst criminals would be sent to for rehabilitation. The world itself is actually quite beautiful and lovingly curated by its inhabitants. It’s extremely distant from most of the other planets, which adds to its unfair reputation as a bad place to be. [This one’s a Tuckerized name: It’s named after the final track, “Runeii”, of Talk Talk’s 1991 album Laughing Stock. That song title is also the inspiration of using the extra ‘i’ at the end of some clan names.]
There are other planets involved, but I have yet to sketch them out. 🙂