The Legend of Zommie

Several large meteors streaked across the night sky above the home of Zommie, a young Unicorn, from the planet Yoriara (yoor-ee-ahr-uh). While she stared upwards in awe, her dad used the opportunity to explain the radiant meteor shower that took place yearly, in their part of the galaxy. It was rumored that the meteors always landed in the great oceans of the planet because there was never any trace of their meteorites left behind. Zommie loved hearing about the names and meanings of the many galactic bodies that layered the skies of Yoriara, the home planet of Zommie and her people. The main inhabitants of Yoriara are majestic unicorn-like beings, with elegant horns in the center of their foreheads. The way of life for unicorns has always been simple and aimed at harmoniously enjoying everything that nature provides. Their culture and civilization had developed around community life, a fluid integration with nature, and making use of the natural phenomena governed by Alpha Monocerotis, a red giant star, which was the brightest star in their constellation. The Monoceros Constellation lies in the outermost edges of the Local Arm of the Milky Way. This part of the sky has several areas of active star birth, and given its expanding nature, it seems there is never a dull moment in the space between the planets, the stars, and the galaxies in this area of space. 

Even though Zommie had seen what seemed like countless shooting stars, meteor showers, and other spectacular cosmic events, she was just scratching the surface of the knowledge she would come to attain. Over many nights spent on the front porch with her parents, Zommie would make her family’s famous lemonade recipe, while her father recited legends of the surrounding constellations as the red and orange skies faded to nighttime stars. He explained that their home planet, Yoriara, was located in perfect proximity to Alpha Monocerotis, or Alf-Mon. He always said that they were blessed with the good fortune to be the perfect distance from their star, Alf-Mon. This allowed for a perfect balance of energy exposure and sunlight for their life-giving, terrestrial planet. 

Another layer to Yoriara’s elusiveness is its undetectable nature. The partnering of Alf-Mon’s incredibly large mass with the planet’s proximity to the star itself made Yoriara only discoverable by detecting its gravitational pull on the electromagnetic spectrum. This meant that for most other civilizations, the planet is undetectable. Much like other terrestrial planets, Yoriara is filled with a plethora types of biomes; vast grasslands trailed by deep, foreboding caves, high peaks covered in snow and dense forests, long shorelines acquainted by the crisp salted smell of a vast ocean, and many more, all rich with an abundance of life. 

Many of the Unicorns on the planet live relatively simple lifestyles. Even as they have made amazing technological advancements, they have always prioritized their bonds with nature and maintained their spiritual connection to the planet. This connection bestows a sense of gratitude and appreciation from the people of Yoriara to Alf-Mon and is deeply rooted in every aspect of their lives. Aside from their spiritual connection to the planet, many Yoriarans, like Zommie, are heavily involved in agriculture, botany, or zoological practices. Yoriaran civilization is arranged into separate clans, which live nearby and create self-sustaining communities. At the center of these clans is a large, community farmland, around which most of the group lives. These clans can be found almost anywhere the soil is fertile and the sun shines bright in the sky.

For centuries, Yoriarans have studied the stars and the Universe, diving deep into astronomical and astrological knowledge. Pursuing this knowledge became an integral part of their culture and beliefs. All of this combined allowed the advancement of technology to bloom. Although they were able to build elaborate observatories on the planet’s highest mountain ranges, they had not yet achieved space travel. Masters of the world beneath their feet, there was not much of the planet they didn’t completely understand. As they completed their understanding of the flora and fauna on the planet, their curiosity took a celestial turn. By day, most Yoriaran’s can be found tending to their farms, developing their passions and skills, or exploring the nearby wilderness. Nighttime provided them the opportunity to turn their heads to the stars, to delve into another passion of theirs - space. 

Zommie’s family played a critical role in managing their clan’s farm. Her father even took a more administrative role in the clan shortly after Zommie’s birth. Ever since, she was, to a great degree, tied to the farmland, which bordered her property and all the others in the area. She spent her childhood diving into both her book and her martial-art studies while keeping up with the ever-present demand that the farm had on her life. All of this dedication was not without its perks. Zommie was born with an incredibly high IQ, which was sharpened and honed by her intense studying. Work on the farm felt like it broke and rebuilt her body a thousand times over; consequently, she was unbelievably strong and incredibly agile. During the many conversations with fellow farmhands and family, Zommie discovered she was as adept at debating as she was at fighting. Through her time on the farm, Zommie had gained access and found enjoyment in an unfathomable amount of exotic fruits that she wouldn’t have been able to ever interact with otherwise. One of her favorite fruits of all time is lemons, which were especially prevalent on the farm. More specifically, she loved the delicious and tangy lemonade that she was able to make from the fresh-picked fruit! Zommie’s love of lemons was contagious and eventually spread to her entire family. This is why they developed a tradition of drinking it on their porch, every night, as they watched the sunset. Zommie often used this time to ask her parents questions about all of the constellations in the skies and what places may lay beyond them.

 Through her love of lemonade, Zommie also discovered that she had a particularly strong sweet tooth, which followed her everywhere she went. She frequented many of the trade markets that occurred between clans, where they would sell their respective crops to each other. Zommie was always excited for the chance to try out the goods produced by the other clans. While her palette and recipe repertoire grew every day, nothing seemed to beat the sweet taste of lemonade, which she eventually sold herself at some of those same markets. These markets came together to culminate in an annual festival that coincided with the yearly meteor shower, where all of the clans from a collective region would gather together at alternating host farms to celebrate the year’s harvests. One year, after a particularly strong harvest by Zommie’s clan, their farm was chosen to host the event. Leading up to this year's weeklong harvest festival, Zommie spent months practicing on her father’s acoustic guitar, in hopes that she would get a chance to perform and share her passion for playing music and singing on the big stage. 

On the third night of the festival at her clan’s farm, Zommie was busy operating her lemonade stand; her time in the markets was very lucrative. She earned lots of credits for the sole purpose of being able to buy as much festival food as possible. After some time, a little girl and her father walked up to the stand and asked for two glasses of lemonade. Zommie happily poured them two cups, and while she did, the girl asked her what her favorite constellation was. Taken aback at first by such a complex question from such a young girl, Zommie answered that her favorite was their home constellation, Monoceros, which meant ‘single horn’.  She went on to tell the girl that the Monoceros Ring was a vast galaxy filament of stars that wrapped around the Milky Way galaxy a whole three times and formed boundaries between the voids of space in between the larger galactic objects. The girl’s eyes widened and glistened as she listened in awe, and not a second after Zommie had finished explaining, a group of small meteors appeared to crash land just beyond the horizon. Everyone cheered because this had never happened and meant good luck. The two paid for their lemonade, and after paying, the girl’s father stayed to speak with Zommie. Dressed with an expensive-looking suit and tie, he praised the young unicorn for her deep knowledge of their local solar system and constellations. The man looked important, so Zommie asked who he was and what he did. He introduced himself as Professor Koios and told her that he studied constellations at his University’s observatory, in the megacity of Unia. He encouraged her to apply to the University because they had an extensive Space Studies Curriculum. He even left his card and told her she could drop his name if she ever needed it.  She knew this wasn’t by chance because she had spent the last few nights wishing upon many stars for a way to uncover more wonders of the universe.  

As months and years passed, Zommie’s intrigue with the skies above continued to grow. Eventually,  Zommie completed 21 solar cycles; she was fully matured and her horn’s abilities began to blossom. This became evident by the fact that her horn began to absorb sunlight, which caused it to give off a strong,  bioluminescent glow that shone both during the day and the night. It was around this time that Zommie realized, despite loving farm life, she had to pursue her dream of going to the megacity of Unia to study the stars. Soon after she came of age, Zommie informed her family that, despite her love and reverence for the farm and everything it had to offer, she was ready to travel to Unia, to see what the rest of Yoriara had to offer. The entire clan was saddened by her decision, some relatives even tried to convince her to stay, but her parents, realizing the importance of this dream to Zommie, decided to fully support her decision. As parting gifts, her mother gifted her their family’s cookbook, and her father gifted her his acoustic guitar, both in hopes that they would be of great use to her on her travels. After a series of emotional goodbyes, Zommie set out towards Unia, full of passion and excitement.

Eventually, Zommie made her arrival in the megacity and quickly realized that it was everything she had expected and more. Grandiose cityscapes surrounded her, and the lights they emanated at night were the only thing that came close to matching the mystical awe of the stars above. Without wasting any time upon arrival, Zommie headed straight to the University’s Observatory and Planetarium. She spent hours touring the parts of the observatory which were open to the public. She was instantly captivated and had to see more. She started the application process immediately. Although delighted and full of excitement, Zommie was devastated to find out that women were not allowed into the main research facility. This was due to the unknown consequences that the energy emitted from their horns would have on the hyper-sensitive equipment in the facility.

Zommie was understanding of this answer but was heartbroken nonetheless. She left the observatory shortly after and began putting together plans to get herself into the main research areas. She sipped on her thermos of lemonade and contemplated all the possibilities, the sweetest of strategies splashed upon her: she would prepare delicious meals from her family’s cookbook and offer them to University’s professors and apprentices, every single day. The catch was that she would only make 13 meals at a time. While working in the markets, she learned about supply and demand, so she had a little ace card in her pocket. Over time, everyone came to know and love her because of her delicious meals and sweet treats. Zommie made quick work of the first part of her plan because she soon received a formal letter asking her to become the facility’s Chef! Zommie showed up in person, the letter in one hand, and the professor's business card in the other. She said she would accept the offer with one condition, that she be allowed to study and learn about the stars! After all, why couldn't a young unicorn woman become educated about the universe?!

It turned out Professor Koios was the University’s headmaster! Word was passed along to the Council of the Observatory and Planetarium. After some time, she received another response by mail, telling her that her proposal would be brought forth to the council of professors at the University. They would see if they could come up with a solution. The discussion initially caused great stress. Professor Koios spoke highly of Zommie and had a lot to say about her intelligence and knowledge. They maintained that there was never any issue with women being educated about the stars. The concern they had always theorized was that the bioluminescent glow of the female unicorn's horn would damage their light-sensitive space equipment. After a week of serious debate and discussions, she was accepted on the condition that she would always keep her horn carefully covered with a special energy-absorbing helmet. For Zommie the condition was acceptable. Her dreams were coming true, and soon she began her apprenticeship to learn about the stars. 

Within three short years, Zommie’s knowledge of the solar system had far surpassed everyone’s expectations. Several versions of her helmet had been upgraded and adapted for her. She excelled at solving advanced calculations and understanding all the physics behind the way the universe seemed to operate. 

On a particularly slow day of work, Zommie traveled into the basement of the observatory, to gather some archived experiment notes. As she moved around, she knocked over a box of files and folders. While putting everything back, she stumbled upon some schematics and field data tests for what seemed to be a spaceship! She was delighted with the accidental discovery and ran to the headmaster as quickly as her legs would carry her! 

Professor Koios had long forgotten about the spaceship. He went on to explain that the ship was designed to harness zero-point energy by creating a quantum vacuum He went on to explain, in detail,  that the ship was designed to harness zero-point energy by creating a quantum vacuum to reduce the vacuum energy in a region of space around the ship. This reduction introduced a disequilibrium. It would theoretically use a super-conductive material that could be cooled below -270°C, which is the ambient temperature of space. Two plates of the unknown super-conductive material would have to be cooled and placed very close together. By cutting off certain frequency modes between the plates, quantum fluctuations are created and you could successfully lower the vacuum energy in that region. He further explained that according to the second law of thermodynamics, the vacuum would fill the disequilibrium gap to produce a high-entropy equilibrium. With the super-conductive material being cooler than the space around it, the super-conductive material would be able to receive zero-point energy, at a quantum level, from the infinite vacuum of space. His words were that in a nutshell, space in front of the craft is contracted, and the space behind the craft is expanded, allowing the spaceship to warp travel.

Zommie was also impressed that the inside of the ship contained an anti-gravity generator to maintain a standard amount and source of gravity at all times, no matter the ship's position or orientation at any axis. Some displays allowed the ship's occupants to see panoramic views of the environments outside of the ship. While it was fully built, all testing to find a material with the appropriate energy density had failed. The propulsion system allowed them to navigate near-to-ground missions, but the materials that were tested couldn't provide enough power to overcome the thrust-to-mass ratio of the ship. At a maximum altitude of 50km off the ground, their spaceship had never made it out of the planet’s stratosphere! Despite the initial disappointment, Zommie held onto the idea that one day she would get that ship into space!

It so happened that at the end of that same year, when Zommie was visiting an area near the home, a small group of the researchers had gathered to search and excavate for meteorites that were rumored to have hit land instead of falling into the ocean. Being outside, Zommie’s horn had absorbed plenty of sunlight and shone vividly, which was completely normal. What was not normal was that random chunks of material being excavated seemed to shimmer as Zommie got close. She noticed that this material didn't react directly to sunlight, but that they had a very strong reaction to the light coming off of her horn! Zommie had no idea that this discovery would change Yoriara forever!

Upon returning to the study center, Zommie ran different diagnostic tests on the material she collected. She figured it would be easy to identify what this stuff was made of by identifying the molecules by either their mass, momentum, or energy. They turned out to be crystalline in structure, and while running different tests, she noticed that the energy of the glowing crystals had multiplied exponentially compared to crystals only exposed to direct sunlight. Not only could they receive vast amounts of energy, but they were also extremely conductive! She knew there had to be a way to use the intense energy of these crystals to power the ship. She gathered the center’s most skilled engineers and shared her discovery.

After months of research and development, Zommie's team managed to integrate plates made from the crystal into the engine, further enhancing the power of the crystals and successfully transforming their failed project into the first fully-functioning spaceship in Yoriara! The team agreed that Zommie should be the one to name the ship, and she excitedly bestowed it with the name, “The Luminous Horn.”

And that's how Zommie Mommie, a unicorn astronaut who never gave up on her dreams, revolutionized her world and became the first unicorn to explore outer space!