85 At Astatine 210
8(5|6) Di Dilithium 221
86 Rn Radon 222
Dilithium is the only known ‘bi|ambi|valent’ atomic number. What this means is that it is at once all of: both, neither, and either atomic numbers 85 and 86. It also always has precisely the ‘impossible’ atomic mass of 221, in any frame of reference. This has resulted in its adoption as the newest reference material for timekeeping, and is the reason it can be used as the consumed material in a standard warp generator.
It’s a commonly-held belief that dilithium is the ‘fuel’ for these generators and in fact this was actually believed to be the case, making it one of the luckiest (or unluckiest) flukes in the history of intelligent life. It was only recently that it has been understood that dilithium is a sort of ‘quasi-catalyst’ that is consumed in the reaction it engenders – which is actually the combination of particles of dark energy, dark matter, and antimatter.
These latter materials are what is consumed and which actually create the unimaginably large energy release of a warp generator. Because of the large energy potentials locked up in the – look, it’s difficult, okay? Everything hinges on the fact that dilithium is both infinitely stable in mass and infinitesimally superposed in atomic number, seemingly both having and not having one extra particle, and somehow this thus allows the effortless complete fusion of the three fuel materials.
Materials which (the antimatter, dark matter, and dark energy (note within a note: which it seems is actually a latent form of energy locked up in ‘not-quite-matter’)) contain an almost infinite (and as it may turn out, an actually infinite) amount of energy, such that the complete annihilation of just one particle of each in the ‘warp reaction’ would result in the universe imploding.
Luckily, (???) it seems that dilithium is actually a moderator of the reaction rather than a catalyst, continually preventing the complete annihilation of the three (yep, a mere three) actual particles at the heart of the enormously intense reaction taking place inside a warp core. The dilithium itself is consumed in quantity during the reaction, but it prevents rather than catalyses the reaction.
As it takes a lot of dilithium to manage and moderate the reaction, and only three particles of the exotic materials, it was always assumed that the dilithium was the fuel. It really was the luckiest mistake ever. (Or was it? Read on . . . )
Because it gets even stranger than that – at least three independent researchers have uncovered information that proves conclusively that all warp reactors in the universe share the exact same three particles via some as yet unknown spooky action at a distance, and if ever someone succeeds in starting any other three particles reacting, it’s – well, we’d never know it. Here one second, next second there’s no such things as next seconds or anything else. Game over.
It’s also for this reason that dilithium has completely resisted all attempts to synthesize it: The creation of new dilithium would require – and so also inevitably result in – a new group of three elemental particles to attach to, then the first time you put that dilithium in a warp core you suddenly have two infinitely large energy sources and – well, see the last paragraph. So long and thanks for all the everything.
And the biggest reason it’s really REALLY unlucky that we discovered the dilithium warp drive is that if all the warp generators in the universe ever shut down simultaneously, or we (drum roll . . .) run out of dilithium (drum roll again . . .) then those three particles will finish their reaction and the universe goes >pfft< as well. Once this particular genie was out of the bottle, it turned out to be Pandora’s Pestilent Paradox and is already the eventual cause of the end – of everything.
It’s also a fairly reliable indication that the formation of universes (at least in THIS iteration) were / are / will be cyclical and the actual natural stable state of things is the state of no universes, while simultaneously creating as many universes as possible simultaneously as possible.
A gigantic fluke – until THIS universe formed and set the state to be one of continuous cycling, there were no Universes, and then, suddenly, an infinite number of them all forming and fizzing, in an effort to prove that the normal state of everything is NOT to have any universes at all, and any universes that dared to exist would always inevitably un-exist again.
That’s as good a reason to live life to the max as any philosophical reasoning. We really may be here for just the one time, this time, every time. . .
(Ed. Note: This text was found when a series of uniform resource locators were discovered along with a number of personal effects, and Your Editor took the liberty of browsing the original author’s memorialised websites. It’s been theorised that the original owner of these items may have been Mr Roddenberry himself, while others maintain that the whole cache was the property of captain Picard, which you have to admit was strange considering that Picard was a character in the famous Star Trek series that Mr Roddenberry created some three thousand years ago. Some people claim that this is actual proof that the Universe has Big Bang / Big Pfft’ed multiple times already.)
(Ed. Note 2: There’s also the nature of the ‘Big Three’ elemental particles the author mentions – we know that neither matter nor energy may be created or destroyed in this Universe, so it’s not a stretch to imagine that the entire powerhouse for the Universe exists in just three particles reacting and decaying slowly over an unimaginably long time.)
Ed: I discovered the above article from an unknown editor, referring to documents I know have existed for centuries as though they were newly discovered. But the premise(s) tickled my imagination and my Spidey senses. What's referred to as warp generators and warp reactors seem to be the fairly ubiquitous warpcore engine in common use around the Federation. I present it as a nod to the possibility of 'Reader Universes' where the Authors, texts, and characters are created by the act of Readers reading the books that didn't exist until they'd read them, by Authors who didn't write those books until their Readers had read them. And of course it's as good an explanation as any, for the weird fucked-up state of this Universe. Read on, dear Readers, for without you there are also no Editors!