Sep 092012

Vividly colored stars clustered together in space.Excerpt from Duenias na-Havk’tan’sOrigins of the Hub,” Vendri & Filles, Tansa Minor

The year the Hajra colonists set foot on Altair III, five years after their arrival in the system, has been designated by Hub historians as RT-1.

Sixty RT years later another of the primitive Terra Prime colony ships reached another star with habitable planets and founded the second viable human colony. Procyon was a fortuitous accident, one of those strokes of serendipity that reinforces belief in a humanocentric Deity. The colony ship Destiny set forth for the star system identified by Terra Prime astronomers as “Procyon.” It was believed, based on microwave spectroscopy and a flawed understanding of planetary morphology, that one satellite of Procyon A might be habitable with the primitive terraforming technology of the era. Destiny’s navigational computer was set accordingly.

The fragmentary log remaining from the voyage showed a relative time (RT) lapse of three years in sublight drive and nineteen years for the subspace transit. What it did not show, because at that time there was no technology capable of tracking it, was the subspace distortion—likely some variety of parabolic current—that redirected the Destiny’s trajectory and flung it far from its original course.

When the ship surfaced, there was indeed a double star “landmark” in the approximate range expected. There were variations in spectral type and rotation, and the local neighborhood was configured differently, but the colonists had no way of knowing the actual relative elapsed time (RET) of their transit, and they ignored the variations. There was a yellow-spectrum star near enough and they were concentrating on finding a viable planet and terraforming it.

We now know that the star they arrived at was nowhere near the actual “Procyon” as designated by Terra Prime astronomers. Which was extraordinarily fortunate for the Destiny, as that star has no planets habitable even with advanced Tavis generators and Ermag conditioners. But the system they arrived at, designated only by a string of numbers and arcane characters on Terra Prime, had four habitables in its primary system, including two Optimal-1 planets, the third and fourth, and two large moons of a gas giant, adjacent to an asteroid belt rich in stable transuranics.

For nearly three hundred years after the founding of Procyon Deliades, as that colony is known, humanity concentrated on conquering its new habitats. It was not until RT 384 that the Procyon engineers, seeking ever more efficient power sources, discovered the properties of transuranic minerals. Thus followed the first great wave of Colonial technology, enabling the development of the first truly efficient subspace drive systems and the discovery of the generators which could exploit the principles of soft-transit waves.

Concurrently, the scientists of Altair were working on mapping what they could grasp of subspace, and testing the hypotheses that would result in the Temporal Prediction Equations. They had no way to harness the knowledge, for although they had developed incremental improvements on their own primitive subspace drive technology, they lacked a power source that would enable them to apply what they had learned.

Both colonies were also, not unnaturally, concerned with re-establishing some form of relation to Terra Prime, if only to communicate the bare facts of their existence. Procyon sent the first expedition, in RT 427 or 429 (the record is unclear.) The expedition was lost. Two more expeditions were lost, presumably due to temporal displacement, before a fourth ship, the Homefall-4 (dispatched in RT 437) managed to fetch up in the rough neighborhood of Terra Prime some six hundred-odd years (local time) after the departure of the Destiny.

The Homefall crew assumed their journey, too, was one-way. None of the eleven expected to see homes and families on Procyon Deliades again, nor did they expect to be able to communicate with home. Few records were kept, and no records regarding the nature of the geocultural profile of Terra Prime of that era survived at all.

What we do know is that some decades after their arrival at their destination, an Altairan ship, the Xing Hikobo, showed up, bent on the same mission—communication with the mother planet. Although they had been in transit for ten years (RET) longer from a star that was considerably closer to Terra Prime, they had arrived within three years (RT) of their temporal destination, the precision made possible by a seat-of-the-pants application of TPE navigation and a good deal of luck.

From the Xing Hikobo records we know that the population of Terra Prime was a small fraction of what it had been at the dawn of the Interstellar Migration, when the two colony ships set out. No other colony ships had reported back. Terrans, absent population pressure (Xing Hikobo records are silent on the reason for the population decline,) had lost interest in the colonization program.

It was the now-aging crew of the Homefall who were most excited to greet the Altair colonists. And the Altairi, in turn, were stunned by the power technology of the Homefall. If such power could be fused with the ability of a TPE-enabled navigation system, purposeful interstellar travel might become possible (if, by the standards of the era, prohibitively expensive.) Even more exciting, one of the Xing Hikobo travelers was Liadatra Kentobo, a researcher from the team that had investigated the anomalies of soft-transit waveforms. Kentobo saw the possibilities of linking the tremendous power generated by transuranic fusion to soft-transit waveform generators. True supralight communications were possible at last.

Five of the Altairians traveled back to Procyon in the refitted Homefall, replacing crew who had died in the decades since their arrival on earth. Using a jury-rigged version of the first true TPE nav computer and the massive transuranic-powered drives of the Procyon ship, they set out for Procyon Deliades.

And arrived, disappointingly, at a point prior to human occupation of the system. The Procyon members of the expedition assumed all was lost. The Altairans convinced them to use the last of their transuranic fuel in another attempt, making their way on insystem drives to a point outside of the system’s gravity distortion, and entering subspace again.

This time they landed within two years of their target, but with their power exhausted. Hanging just outside the system’s gravity distortion, they called for help with virtually the last of their resources. Liadatra Kentobo’s final log, trailing off into incoherence as cold and oxygen deprivation finally killed the scientist, remains as the most precious relic of that doomed attempt.

The Procyon rescue ship arrived almost a year later. With the Homefall’s power exhausted, the ship had drifted from the coordinates they expected and the search took some months.

Nearly four decades later, in RT-518, the Procyon ship Emissary appeared in the Altair system.

Timeline: The Origins of the Hub

  One Response to “Before The Hub: Reaching for the Stars”

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