Introduction

Fred: “Welcome folks, my name is Fred, and we gathered here today to witness an ascension. A transformation of sorts. Evolution at its core. All participants have gathered here, arriving from all over the world, hoping to be the first to reach the stars. The weather forecast is sunny, with a slight breeze from the southwest. The air is clear and visibility excellent. While we wait for all racers to take their positions, grab your popcorn, beer and snacks, you’re in for a ride, people!

With us now is Frank Oberstiegel van Krankenhausen. Welcome Frank, what can you tell us about the race to the centre of the universe?”

Frank: “Hi there. Glad you asked, Fred. First of all, I can tell you that each and every one of the competitors is filled to the brim with Hopium. Their wishes and inflated dreams, lighter than air, are the fuel that facilitates the travel up to space. With this ability, they compete against each other in order to be the first Solloon at the centre of the Universe. On their way, they will encounter many opponents and obstacles they will need to overcome.”

Fred: “So it’s a contest of speed and skill?”

Frank: “It is indeed. As our Solloons will be resisted by The OF, they will need a bit of luck and a lot of effort to reach their goals.”

Fred: “You heard it, folks, it’s not gonna be easy for our contestants. But Frank, isn’t it a bit unfair to just throw the Solloons into a dangerous situation like this? To acquire skill, one needs practice, and those balloons seem very… poppable. Are they even going to survive the first leg of the race if The OF is already waiting for them?”

Frank: “Well, as you know, The Opposing Faction, OF for short, cannot be found on Earth. Meaning that the first few legs will be considered a tutorial. They will consist of only our contestants and increasingly dangerous obstacles. This will certainly pop the hopes and dreams of many a Solloon, yet this race is not for the faint of heart, as from there, things will only get harder. Beyond the atmosphere The OF awaits, adding further difficulty to the game.”

Fred: “Seriously? How are our contestants going to survive that? I’ve seen The OF, they look pretty dangerous. Any 1 of them can pop at least 5 Solloons, and there is an equal number of both factions. This seems a little unfair to me.”

Frank: “Very true. That pointy antagonist OF is going to become troublesome. But fear not, near the earth there will only be the weakest of The OF. Slow to move and singular, they will not be able to get all of the Solloons, that’s for sure. And once they get farther out, The AF will be standing by.”

Fred: “The AF?”

Frank: “Assisting Faction. They are a smaller, faster, and more diverse faction and offer support. Every Solloon can have up to 3 Assistants, helping them on their path. And every OF can have 1 Assistant to help them take out the Solloons. Crazy, right?”

Fred: “Indeed Frank, and thank you for the explanations. We will go into further detail at another time. I am sure our readers will like to know more about the different factions and how they work. This gives our crew the time to set up the first few legs of the race. See you later.”

Frank: “Later mate.”