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396 Post Arrival

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In the far future, humanity has been forced to abandon the doomed Earth, the cradle of the species. Refugees from the Solar System crossed a vast expanse of space reaching a far-off star cluster. They would name their alien foster home as the Traverse, and in close to 400 years that followed, humankind flourished. New cultures and nations, not based on race or creed of old, but on politics and ideology. New belief systems sprang to compete with the old religions brought from Earth. Diplomatic and trade ties with sentient alien races were established as well. But it was not always so.   By the 23rd century, projections had all but confirmed worst case scenarios for global climate change; the planet Earth would be reduced to largely inhospitable wasteland before 2350. The former garden world had been devastated by a runaway greenhouse effect, natural disasters, man-made catastrophes, wars and civil strife, and the hubris of man. At the turn of the century it had become clear that the human race had squandered every chance to prevent worst-case predictions from becoming an inevitability, due to short-sighted squabbling over resources and misguided political decisions. Despite the extensive settlement of Mars and the Moon, and expanding to the rest of the solar system, the human race had not been able to preserve the planet, or the future of life on Earth.   In order to save the human race, and life on Earth, from total extinction, the remnants of the international community finally came together in the early 2200’s taking on an undertaking of an unprecedented scale - the Seeding.   The Seeding would see the remnants of humankind to send out massive colony transports to interstellar destinations light-years away. This was made possible by the Einhorn drive, the first practical warp drive capable of faster-than-light travel. In the course of the century various sponsors seeded stars with sleeper ships full of human colonists and gene banks of Earth biome.   One such mission was the Indus Mission; an interstellar colonization effort composed of four colony transports: the Raven, the Tianlong, the Jerusalem, and the Hyperion. Their objective was Bayer-Webb II 286c. BWII-286c was remarkably close to Earth itself - so far so that it was called an Earth twin. Furthermore the star BWII-286 was confirmed to be a G-type main-sequence star (G2V), just like the Sun. The planet 286c was also very comfortably within the Conservative Habitable Zone within the star. Even so, there was a catch: the BWII-286 system was extremely far away. Calculated to be at a distance of many thousands of light-years from Earth it was estimated to take hundreds of years to reach - yet even with the Einhorn warp drive, the invention that essentially enabled the Seeding. Hence there had been no missions planned to be sent to BWII-286 prior the Indus Mission.   Estimates for the duration of the space flight to BWII-286 system averaged at 800 years, even with the Einhorn drive, as it lay many thousands of light-years away from the Solar System. The long flight was quiet and unremarkable; there were no major issues. The settlers spent all this time in cryosleep; the flight crews alternated between hibernation and duty shifts. However, approximately one year away from their goal, following a coordinated warp jump, a routine procedure at this point of the mission, only the Raven, the Tianlong, and the Hyperion met at the predetermined rendezvous point. The Jerusalem failed to meet up with the rest of the fleet, and sensors picked no trace of it within a million kilometers. The colony transport had vanished without a trace. Just as the initial shock was beginning to wear off, crews in active duty on all three remaining sleeper ships made a terrible realization - all flight records and logs had been suddenly and mysteriously erased. What happened next aboard the three remaining colony transports is not well understood, but what is known is that the Indus Mission was effectively disbanded as first the Hyperion deserted the fleet, and shortly after the Tianlong. This would become known as the Fools’ Folly, and repercussions would still be felt centuries later.   Immediately after the Fools’ Folly and the failure of the Indus Mission, humanity struggled immensely to establish presence in the alien expanse of space. Several times the settlement efforts on BWII-286c, by colonists from the Raven, and on Huyan-1941d, by the refugees on the Tianlong, almost came to an abrupt and catastrophic end. Only on ATHENA-73Ab the settlers from the Hyperion proceeded with settlement efforts without serious trouble. Eventually, though, humanity prevailed; BWII-286c was renamed Terra Nova, ATHENA-73Ab became Elysium, and Huyan-1941d Baiyue.   Perhaps inevitably, humans did return back into the stars - the Terranovans, Elysians, and Baiyunese all expanded first in their home systems, and then systems beyond. Within a few decades all three human nations of the Traverse had succeeded in recontacting each other, after a long separation. As a result the Human Sphere would make great economical, scientific, and social advances. Yet, humankind is flawed, so much blood has been shed as well.   New Earth Union, the Dominion, and Jinbi are the three most powerful hyperpowers in the Human Sphere. Rivalling these are Omarid Caliphate and the Bokhan-Yoong Combine. The Order, the Montcaldic Free Republic, and the Zelazny Collective are antagonistic to the interstellar status quo, but are currently not influential enough to enforce their will apart from singular events.   By necessity all moral and ethical considerations against gene-editing and experimenting with human cells have been shed. As a result there are now a large number of variant human races. Homo Superior are those, who have been gene-edited, but are still considered human. Recombinant subspecies are people of two or more separate species. Parahumans are not considered human at all. Bioroids are most advanced, and perhaps the most alien.   Machine intelligence is an integral part of the society in the Human Sphere, indeed in the Traverse. AI’s of various capabilities perform tasks from system operations and frontline combat to complicated mathematical calculations and managing interstellar space vehicles.   Humans are not the only ones to dwell in the Traverse; there are several other sentient races who call the star cluster home. Käfers are native to Terra Nova, who at first bitterly fought humans over the control of their home world, but are now content, even if they begrudge human presence. Ourogs are a primitive sentient race from Aje, who are exploited wholesale by Elysians. Parker’s Peddlers were the first technologically advanced alien species to be encountered. Pentapods are large amphibians from a punishingly cold ammonia world. Draconians, from the Draco system, the third advanced alien race to be encountered, are very warlike and very hostile. None were as enigmatic or dangerous as the Zhotannu with whom a coalition of human governments fought a long devastating war.   Psionics are a thing in the Traverse, and have been for some time. First confirmed cases of psionics were reported in the Old Earth. Other races are PSI-talented as well, most notably zhotannu, with the exception of käfers. The scale for psionics range from I to V, where I are limited empaths and V’s are extremely rare, yet potent demi-gods.   At the present, there is a fragile peace between the Human Sphere and the Zhotannu, but many have not forgotten the horrors of the war. Greed and hunger for power is ever present in the Human Sphere, and the Traverse. Old grudges against gene-edited people, psionically gifted individuals, and machines have not gone anywhere. Differences within the Human Sphere, dorman during the war against the zhotannu, have now begun to resurface again. Not to mention a menace, incredibly ancient and utterly alien, stalking in the shadows.

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