Throughout modern history, there have been many attempts at theorising the notion of parallel, alternative or “infinite” universes, such as Max Tegmark’s “Taxonomy of Universes” & Brian Greene’s “Nine Types”. However, the general principle has remained that we may be living in one of an endless number of universes, and that within them there is an infinite number of alternative probabilities, decisions and outcomes to that of our own.
Of course, all that changed with the Quantum Shallot Model in 2032.
Since Durham University’s Senior Professor of Astronomy realised the complex formula devised by her Michelin Starred Brother to determine the exact number of layers in an onion could be adapted and applied to studying cosmoses, its been confirmed there are precisely 817. (As it happens, they’re also stacked on top of each other.)
Within these 817, 26 versions of the professor experienced an instance of the same discovery, all within 8 months of each other. 3 abandoned their work, either refusing to accept their parallel neighbours’ existence, or simply out of fear. The remaining 23 spent the next several years secretly developing methods of making contact.
By 2040, 5 succeeded. In 2041, the first ever cross-dimensional conference call was held between them, cementing the existence of not just one but multiple alternative universes. These professors, well instances of the professor, along with their respective realities later became know as the Prime 5.
After a series of recorded tests and exchange of research, all five agreed that attempts should be made to reach as many of the remaining dimensions as possible. However, this would be a vast undertaking, and international funding from their respective government organisations would be required. This would mean somehow convincing said organisations that a) such a thing as an Onion Multiverse existed in the first place, and b) that it was in their interest to pursue it.
Each one gathered their teams and approached their nations’ councils with their work, and in a bid to convince all parties of the legitimacy of the Quantum Shallot, a secret demonstration was arranged. Either the esteemed panels of UN and NASA members would experience a discussion with themselves like no other, or the professors that brought this claim to them would willingly be ridiculed and step down from their posts forever. Incredibly, all five versions of the council eventually agreed to the proposal. Probably out of bewildered amusement.
However, the 5 knew that to truly get everyone on their side, mere audio was no longer enough.
In December 2045, the culmination of tireless inter-dimensional group research produced an incredible breakthrough. Quantum molecular imaging transmission, what would be called Trans-Dimensional Video. In February 2046, the team had stabilised the TDV feed, and were ready to present.
Cue five rooms across five existences of space-time with five jaw-dropped international committees, being presented to by the five professors.
Naturally, the initial reaction blew the minds of just about every panel member. (A bit like when you discover you can’t hum when you hold your nose, but far more significant). Whilst each version of the council could not deny they were interacting with four other instances of themselves, those who could actually take a breath to comprehend the situation saw this as an opportunity for various means. Exploration. Expansion. Development of Sciences and Materials. Even Trade.
They also all expressed heavy concerns of security. Especially when it came to the Prime 5’s request for funding a programme to reach other realities. What if they were hostile? What if they were already more advanced? What sort of military power could they have?
Some felt the focus of exploration should remain in their own existence. A portly man in a dark grey suit , sporting a thick black moustache from Council 3 leaned forward and exclaimed “Why should we dive headlong into a program that would create a network of universes, when we’ve barely explored a fraction of our own?”
He had a point. For them, The Mars colonies had only been established 3 years ago, and the ISS-2 was due to launch in a few weeks.
His goatee’d instance from Council 1 leaned back on his chair and roared with laughter.
“Are you serious, man? You mean your sorry lot haven’t even managed faster-than light travel yet?? How in goodness name do you jump between star systems?”
The balding Council 5 instance clasped the bridge of his nose and sighed.
“We’ve barely put a dog in our orbit.”
“Perhaps there is something to all of this after all,” A senior member from Council 2 declared. “Some of us, some versions of us could do with the knowledge you each have. Between us all, we could exchange the technological research and information we have gathered on various subjects, and advance together towards a unified collective of systems”.
“Perhaps we can also collectively find ways to contact the others?” the professors responded.
“If we’re all going to agree to continue this work,” the member replied, “This whole operation needs to remain out of the public eye. Total silence. We’ll get the backing, but the last thing we need right now is the average Joe or Jane freaking out over this. We got enough alien conspiracy nuts already. One universe is vast enough to comprehend, let alone.. how many did you say again?”
“817..” repeated the Primes.
“Incredible.. well we’ll also need a way to monitor this network, once you start connecting with more of them. Let’s face it, our own world is in a mess. Wars all over the damned place. Last thing anyone needs is one with another version of ourselves.”
“Well maybe we can also combine our resources on social policies and political reform” said his council 4 counterpart. “We’ve had a record low of conflict worldwide for the 10th straight year.”
The Prime 5 smiled at each other… things were looking up.
By 2060, the Confederated Dimensional Alliance comprised of 500 Universe Members, with more being exponentially contacted and inducted as the CDA’s size grew.
In 2068, decades of research into bending quantum space and “phase shifting” resulted in a landmark achievement. Ultra-frequency Matter exchange. Prime 3 and 5 successfully sent an Onion (of all things, naturally) between the 2 universes. This would forever change the way the Alliance would interact and continue to exist.
In order to both police and maintain peace within the Alliance, two groups of operatives were assembled to engage and monitor both potential and existing members. Either formally or covertly, especially with parallels considered a risk. Depending on the results of their Physical, Mental and Medical Exams, successful applicants would either be assigned as Specialised Contacts within their Headquarters, or as Field agents, who soon became referred to as “Shifters”.
In 2073 Sergeant Eric Winters was enlisted to the Prime 4 Field team, and quickly formed a bond with his superior Lieutenant Gerald Maclay. And deployment for the 3 years that followed had been smooth sailing, or rather smooth shifting. .Until now. Rumor was, Gerry had a breakdown on the job.
Now he was heading to Alpha 316 of all places to find the guy. Before he drifted off the map entirely.