The Chronicles of Exile
The following presents a condensed history of the known Galaxy, as pieced together by the monks of Itan. Begun in AD 3492 as an educational effort by Erum the Blind, this document continues to be maintained by the Order to this day. It is said that Erum bade all his students read it, that they might understand the frailties and sadness that wrought the universe in which we live.
The human race is still limited largely to the planet Earth. Sparsely-manned scientific colonies exist on Mars and Luna. After sporadic conflicts and bloodshed in the previous hundred years, Earth now exists mostly in a state of peace. Considerable scientific achievements have been made, especially in the areas of cybernetic implantation and genetic manipulation. Children are born free of birth defects, accident victims often have body parts replaced with newly "grown" parts, derived from their own DNA. People with nerve and brain damage commonly undergo cybernetic augmentation to restore their senses, cure paralysis, and solve many common debilitating brain disorders. A jubilant scientific community celebrates the many contributions their technology has made, allowing humanity to live happier, healthier, longer lives.
At about the same time, various military organizations are secretly researching the possibilities that these technologies may offer them. Among other things, great strides are made in human dermal reinforcement, muscle enhancement, reaction speed and perception enhancement. Test subjects are able to endure harsh environments for long periods of time and perform superhuman feats of strength and speed. Some governments begin testing and producing cloned "drone soldiers", human bodies with no brain, controlled by a small computer implanted in the skull. These soldiers have limited effectiveness when run autonomously, instead being wirelessly linked and controlled via a central computer. Other, more ghastly creations are engineered, strange creatures intended for a multitude of uses, both on and off the battlefield.
Drones begin to be used in terrorist acts and assassinations. Terrorists and unfriendly governments are able to bypass all biometric security protocols using drones developed from the stolen DNA (a hair, a flake of skin) of their intended targets or from other people with high security clearance. The existence of drones and other military experiments are eventually made public. The United Nations and various governments condemn the development and use of such creatures. A popular western politician calls the drones "Terror in the guise of humanity". Further discussion in the mass media eventually causes the term "Guise" to become the general term for the drones. All-out war is eventually sparked between rival nations, with many unorthodox technological creations seeing action against a horrified civilian population. In some areas, entire battlefield control is lost, with creatures running rampant and Guises autonomously targeting anything that moves.
Space combat becomes an important part of the war. Large vessels are built and launched for the purpose of orbital assault, along with small fighters to escort and defend them. The previously scientific bases on Luna and Mars become military outposts of considerable strategic value. Space tactics and warfare evolve from conflicts over these outposts and the orbiting assault stations. The outposts themselves become storage areas for genetic material and data, in the event of the Earthside war rendering the planet uninhabitable.
After 16 years of constant Earthside and space combat, and with much of the economically and technologically superior areas of the world now in ruin, the war is finally brought to an end. The Guises are destroyed and a frightened population demands a ban on all research and practice of genetic and cybernetic engineering. The scientists formerly responsible for much of the good brought about with those technologies find themselves cast out of society. In some countries they are merely pariahs, in others they are imprisoned or even killed. A formerly fringe movement for a "pure humanity, unsullied by technology" gains strength in the wake of the war's disaster and the economic collapse that follows. Eventually a world government is formed, populated by many of the now-powerful "pure humanists". Peace is maintained and the world economy slowly recovers.
With much of the economy now restored and the world at peace, scientific thought is now bent on exploration of space and finding better peacetime uses for the advances in space travel made during the war. Theories of long-distance travel are postulated and studied. Many now begin favoring the colonization and terraforming of other worlds, such that the human race might survive if another war or equivalent planetary disaster struck the earth. Terraforming experiments begin on Mars, while Luna begins to see civilian colonization. The former sciences of cybernetics and genetic engineering are banned, their technologies no longer taught. The overall population is filled with a nearly religious fear and hatred of those technologies and those who practiced them. Other, related sciences of medicine and computer engineering are quick to publicly distance themselves from the stigma, while the mass media continues to play on the populace's fears in the interest of higher ratings. The former cybernetics and genetic engineers are embittered by the rabid and misdirected fear of the public. Most attempt to keep as low a profile as possible, all the while finding themselves demonized for their former peacetime (and well-intentioned) occupations. Often they secretly instruct their children and family members in their sciences, that the knowledge which wrought so much good (as well as bad) not vanish entirely from human memory.
During scientific exploration of the solar system, an unusual gravitational anomaly is found near the orbital path of Saturn. After some study, it is theorized that within this area it might be possible to open a gateway, or "wormhole" (the existence of which had been postulated some 200 years earlier) to another point in space. Popular interest in exploration brings the wormhole project considerable funding, and experiments begin.
The wormhole consortium achieves the successful opening of a gateway to an unknown destination. Within a month an unmanned probe is sent through and returns successfully, carrying data of an emergence into a solar system almost on the other side of the galaxy. Many additional probes follow, all of which return with newer and more interesting data. Soon, probes containing live animal test subjects traverse the wormhole and return with no ill effects. Studies of the remote system indicate a sun similar to our own, with several planets.
The first human pilot is sent through the wormhole and returns successfully. Further flights follow and the remote system is explored. One of the planets is found to be of similar size and mass to the earth, with a thin atmosphere and a large polar ice cap, ripe for terraforming. The wormhole is considered stable, and scientists theorize that it will continue to be a viable method of transportation to the remote system for the lifetime of our solar system.
The Sol II system colonization project begins in earnest, after 20 years of studies and safety tests by the united earth government. Several thousand colonists volunteer, filled with yearning for exploration and hope for a better life on a distant world. Among those colonists are many of the former geneticists and cybernetic engineers, who, with their families, hope to start a new life far from Earth and the bitterness it holds for them.
Colonization of Terra II proceeds apace. The terraforming processes learned on Mars are applied to considerable, albeit slow, success. A lush, green world with a self-sustaining ecosystem is hoped for within a hundred years. Colonists live out the meantime in self-sufficient domed towns, the use of which had been perfected in the past colonization of Luna and Mars. The population of the world remains peaceful and democratic, a hardworking people who take great joy in seeing the planet slowly come to life around them. Soon, other colonists from Earth join them, until the overall population numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
After considerable exploration of the Sol II system, three other possible wormhole areas are discovered. Exploration and study of these wormholes are begun. All are found to emerge in other solar systems, however none feature planets or moons where terraforming would be possible. The ship-mounted gravitational displacement device is perfected, allowing craft to pass freely between Sol and Sol II without the need of a third party to open a wormhole. Even simultaneous wormholes are now possible, allowing many ships to move back and forth between the respective anomaly areas at once. Collision fears are abated when it's discovered that the wormhole exit points have a natural tendency to be as far from one another as possible, within the limits of the gravitational anomaly area.
A young, little-known scientist publishes a paper after extensive research of the Sol and Sol II wormholes. His paper postulates that the gravitational anomaly areas may cease to become useful for wormhole travel on a regular and periodic basis. The paper goes on to state that the usable lifetime of the area may be determined from a modulation of its gravitational field. His measurements further assert that while the periodic lifetime of all the known wormholes appears to be several million years, the wormhole area between Sol and Sol II may be nearing the end of its usable period. This paper goes against the long standing theory, held in the scientific community and population in general, that wormhole areas will continue to be stable as long as the nearby gravitational body (the Sun) remains. Because of his youth and lack of other published works, the scientific community dismisses his findings and theory. Chastised, he abandons that field of research.
Traffic between Sol and Sol II increases as the terraforming advances on Terra II. The population of the planet remain entirely self-sufficient within their domes, but most of the supplies needed for the terraformation process are shipped in from Sol. The flashing of colorful wormhole activations for the great cargo ships can be seen by telescope from the surface of Terra II.