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The New Epoch (A ST MOD 1.51 Story)

Written by Nostalgia for Infinity


All of a sudden things changed. The heavens lost something. In a blink of a eye the entire panorama vanished, then just as quickly appeared again, but diminished!
Observers searched for our neighbours. No Luna, Mars vanished without a trace. Even the Sun was different, gone was warm cheery Sol, in its place was a sullen Red Giant.
It didn't take long to discover that everything had changed. Where there had been untold billions of galaxies, there was now none. Just 250 stars clumped closely together. That was the new universe
The entire world went into mourning. The offworld colony on Luna was lost forever, 5013 of the planets best and brightest cut off, with no hope of resupply. Various Orbiting Pleasure Parks and Miners were gone as well. Not even the satellite network was left untouched. Child mortality rates skyrocketed as there were no longer tracking systems in place to keep track off their whereabouts, or indeed stop runaway gravtrains from plowing through them. A Division of US troops participating in survival training in deepest Sahara got lost and were never seen again. Critics rejoiced though, at the cessation of SkyFox's programming. No doubt Old Man Murdoch was spinning in his grave.
There were benefits however. Paranoia of the unknown banded the world together like never before. Woodrow Wilson's dream of a League of Nations came to fruitation. The few countries that refused to join were ruthlessly harassed, embargoed and assaulted until they fell in line with the worlds will. The process took a mere 27 years. By 2290 the world was united.
Soon later a core principle of this new Cosmos was discovered. Dr Drussin of the French Astronomical Institute in Lyon happened to detect gravitic emissions from the edge of the system. Further analysis discovered that the disturbance lead somewhere. In time the anomaly would be explored. First there was an entire system to exploit however.
The home system, now universally known as Castor, after a rigged vote, contained 9 worlds, and 4 satellites. A tiny asteroid field was located at the further reach of the system, and a cosmic cloud provided a colourful sight in the sky.
Four of the planets were gas giants (GG). Research in the late 20th/21st century had disapproved the theory that Gas planets formed far away from the Sun. However Fiery Castor's system was more similar to Sol than expected. The only surprise was how far away Earth was. If the sun had been a normal Class G, Earth would have been a Frozen snowball with a diminishing atmosphere. The benefits of having a Red Giant as a Star became apparent.
Two of the planets were Icy cored, and the other 3 were rocky. Like the Home system these worlds were uninhabitable, however the planets seemed to be considerably richer in minerals.
The next 110 years were spent rebuilding the satellite network and trying to exploit the Earth in a more responsible fashion. There were many setbacks. A secret experiment went wrong, exotic Alien technology went haywire and converted the Antarctic ice to Argon. An entire continent was rendered uninhabitable, extensive decontamination programs were required to keep the sea pure. In time these problems were solved however.
By 2400 Earth was fully exploited. A impressive space yard had been built. All that was left was for spaceships to be built, to conquer the system. Four Corporations competed to win the contract for a set of ships.1 of them would end up disappointed!

The world Goverment had 2 targets by 2400. To have the planet united and the groundwork laid for the exploitation of the system. The first was achieved earlier than anyone could have hoped, in 2290. The latter set up a fierce rivalry that would continue for a very long time

Four Major design houses vied for the ship contracts. Up for grabs were a simple set of designs for Explorer, Defense ship and Colonizer type vessels. Each firm had its own unique design style.

Christopher R&D Built ships that liked to emphasize the cutting edge. Consequently they took risks. Promise vessels which are very economical on manpower but possibly over automated. Their ships have a sleek predatory design.

KWOK Industries Unspectacular ships that were designed to make their crews living easier. Very good storage wise, perhaps combat performance is not emphasized enough. Their ships have a rounded, smooth appearance.

SACHMO Conglomerate Branching out from ground forces hardware. Their ships emphasize combat performance, but lack crew amenities. The antithesis of the KWOK method. Their ships are very utilitarian and functional in appearance.

Geoschmo House Even more militaristic designs than Sachmo. Non combat facilities are minimal in their design. Their ships tend to have flat profiles and enclosed engine nacelles.

The competion was fierce. It came to a head in 2293 when Sachmo's CEO was pushed down a lift shaft. The killer was never found and Sachmo's tender suffered as a result. The company deeply missed the presence of the man who gave them their name and wasted time, accusing Geoschmo House of his assassination. The Government had to step in to calm the situation down, threats were made, no more suspicious deaths occurred.

The Newly Named Earth Democratic Republic (EDR) had to judge whose design was best. By 2394 they had made their decisions.

The Explorer contract was won by Christopher R&D. it was felt that the very best sensors would be needed for the exploration ahead and Christopher offered the best package. Their Nova concept was a very nice looking design and would become known as the Gagarin class Starship. Popular with Model makers everywhere.

Geoschmo took advantage of Sachmo's corporate turmoil and won the contract for the Escort type vessel. What was more surprising was how attractive their ship looked. Earlier designs had resembled Balsa blocks with a harmonica stuck to either side. Their Sabre however liked quite sleek, not to mention deadly. The ship was designated as the Earth class, each ship would bear the name of a Continent, then country etc etc. Commentators expressed great interest in discovering how her crews handled the nonexistent recreational facilities

It was no surprise that Kwok won the contract for the Colony Ship. Such a vessel would always emphasize comfort for its occupants. Soon people would consider the ungainly Homestead class Colony ship to be a blight on the Spacelanes.

As for Sachmo. They had a lot of recovering to do.

By the time that the designs were completed, 4 planets and a moon had been designated for colonization. The first target was Ashington, the world closest to Castor. Residents of Ashington, the town on Earth, expressed great disgust at the use of this name. The world Ashington was a arid world, cooled by great winds, very surprising for what should be a boiling world. Ashington would prove a unpleasant place to live, hence its name!

For the conquest of space to succeed, a group of people able to perform the missions were needed. Just under 40 countries had explored space, when countries had been more than just semi autonomous regions. However only the USA, Japan and China had put up manned spacecraft since the Earths shift in 2263. Russia had never massed enough resources to return to their 20th century heyday.

So three countries would commit the bulk of the resources for the training of a new spacefleet. The countries fell into their stereotypical roles. America provided the resources, Japan the tech and China brought in tens of thousands of willing volunteers. Of course only a select handful would meet the exacting standards required.

The training program began in 2377. Twenty three years to have the facilties ready and to train their operators up. However the EDRhad another problem to solve. Selection of the colonists for Ashington.

How do you select the right people, without skimming off the cream of Earths population. Almost a decade was spent wrestling with the problem. It wasn't a particulary difficult quandary to solve, it was just that various interest groups muddied the issue. Even the Cult of Hubbard wanted to get in on the act. However by the fall of 2396 the Stock Equalization Act (SEA) had been brought in.

As you'd imagine, the SEA basically ensured that all the racial groups on Earth were represented. This only applied to the major groups, such people as the Aborigines wanted to stick to their ancestral grounds in Australia.
Februrary 9th 2400. A momentous day in Earth history. The first ever Earth Colonizer, the Homestead prepared to leave for Ashington. The Spaceyard doors opened, the Homestead rolled out.

The Homestead was a large ship, despite that it was a struggle to cram in one million people. A lot of the ships reactor power was spent on the maintenance of Cryo Capsules. Capsules that were stacked up like cordwood in every place
imaginable. The only places left clear were the Bridge and Engine room. Even the med Bay doubled as a chilly warehouse.

The journey to Ashington took 8 months. Captain Zheng Go Chen of the Homes tead planted the EDR flag on Ashington. The flag would become the centrestone of every Earth colony that came into existance.

It took a further Two years two months to colonize every rock planet in the system. First was Ashington of course, then tiny ringed Doughnut, which resembled a small kiwi fruit jammed into the centre of a doughnut. A planet abaundant in all resources. Next was Slingshot, a small captured body that orbited the systems largest gas giant. Last was huge windy Dust and Luna's Son, which brought a tear to the astronauts eye. The only difference was that Luna's Son was 4 times as big as Earth!

All the planets in the system were mineral rich. To prosper the EDR would have to venture outwards however. Almost 2 centuries before, Dr Drussin had discovered gravitic emissions at the edge of the system. By 2400 a second slightly different point had been discovered.

Construction of 2 Gagarin class ships would begin.

Written by Nostalgia for Infinity

Copyright © by the author, posted with permission.

Published on: 2004-07-04 (5809 reads)

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