Natty closed his eyes momentarily. Darkness enveloped his body as he issued the command to the waiting Vérkatros, the machine that resided on the fringes of the Tenddrome, the vast, deep, endless collection of nodes of which he was one. One node among endless numbers of nodes, each bound to the other by connections at least as old as Griddish itself.
So what exactly is the Tenddrome? And where did it originate?
The book doesn’t go into great historical detail about the Tenddrome. All we really know is that it is somehow part of the existence of the people of Griddish. Perhaps more specifically, it’s a kind of medium, like a deep ocean that has many layers to it. And within each of these layers reside a certain classification of Griddishian.
I prefer to think of the Tenddrome as a sphere. The illustration shows, roughly, the regions of the Tenddrome where various types of Griddish beings reside. Slaves, those being Mechanics, Bestiars, Admins, and numerous other classes, traverse all levels of the Tenddrome. They alone have access to its deep core, which is where they discover their connections to each other. Vérkatrae, the machines that Griddish uses to create and dismantle worlds, as well as undertake large numbers of menial, administrative tasks, such as transportation or repair, reside on a layer outside of the core. Or what has come to be known as the Vérk. They only have the capability of sending data to the core and receiving data back. However, they cannot enter it.
Much later, after the first Slipshot incident that we see in Vol 1, a Vérkatros ponders his own access to the Tenddrome.
He pushed some of his internal fluids towards the front of his face, as if he were trying to close his eyes. A moment later, the world around him grew dark. A sphere, which looked darker than the dark world around him, and which seemed to span the entire field of his vision, appeared in the distance. Soft lights flashed inside the sphere, as if they were obscured by clouds or mist. If Cythiria were here, then she could get inside the Tenddrome. I can only wait outside. He grunted, and then pushed a data stream, in the form of the request, “Please provide mapping options of Griddish topography,” towards the sphere. Well, I hope someone receives it. A moment later, he felt a vibration in his head, followed by multiple packets of data. He opened the packets, which contained a store of Griddish maps, and then queried the maps’ metadata. He flipped through a list of results.
The Engineer Class Citizens, such as Matere Songgaard and Betel Longshrew Piper, do not have access to the Tenddrome. The original Tenddrome was developed eons ago by the first Engineers. It is thought that the reason for it was to relieve Slaves of the need to make individual decisions. Were a Slave to come across a particularly tricky problem, they could simply query the Tenddrome and expect to receive an answer. However, the Tenddrome has evolved in such a way as to exclude the Engineers, thereby restricting their access in more direct ways.
Finally, devices like screens, doors, computers, and the Slipshot itself have very little sentience and exist only to receive commands and communicate status messages. They reside on the outer edges of the Tenddrome.
Every being that resides within the Tenddrome is a Node. And the connections of Slaves, in particular, to each other is an important aspect of the Tenddrome. As we see here,
They were all Nodes on the Tenddrome. Natty, Rive, Opal. The Slipshot. But here, deep inside the primordial mass, they were broken, scattered data, bits and pieces of an ancient, timeless depth. Natty breathed deeply. His body felt heavy, liquid, viscose. His eyes drooped. His breath slowed to near stillness.
It is this connection where Slaves find their identity. The big problem, which we will see with Cythiria, is that when that connection is broken, how does the Slave survive without that intimate connection to other Nodes within the Tenddrome?
The short answer, which we will see in Volume 2, is with great difficulty.