A New World Government
A decade after the Shinigami Disaster civilization was well on its way to recovery. From tragedy arose brotherhood and the remaining world governments came together under a single flag of humanity. On December 23rd 2039, Dean Karls is elected as the first Head Chairperson of the Unified Global Committee and for the first time in human history there is a single unified governing body. The UGC immediately sets to work, establishing two other organizations.
The Earth Defense Initiative (EDI) is established on February 4th 2041 with the sole task of defending the planet and its population from any and all extraterrestrial threats. General Kenneth Brightman is appointed as Operations Director. The organization is given access to unlimited resources, and a deadline of two years to develop an early warning system composed of a series of listening posts positioned throughout the solar system.
On March 16th 2042, the World Sciences Organization (WSO) was formed. Under UGC policy all technological advancements must be made public with full disclosure. The policy was designed to prevent another Blaisdale/Shinigami type incident, however the EDI required for certain technologies to be classified in the interest of global security. It was agreed that certain technologies would be granted a level of secrecy however the newly formed WSO would be in charge of disseminating variations of beneficial technologies to public and private firms, maintaining the confidentiality of the technology without stifling advancement.
The formation, and initial policies, of this new unified global government was in no small part motivated by the discovery of the true origins of all of the former Blaisdale Corporation’s technological advances.
We Are Not Alone
In July 1988 the Soviet Union, along with other nations, launched a number of missions to Mars. It was reported that due to loss of communication with the Soviet Mars orbital probes, Phobos 1 & 2, the landers attached to these satellites were never deployed. This was a lie. The landers were in fact deployed to a region of interest at the planets southern pole. On August 13th 2004 a Russian top secret manned mission lands unceremoniously on the surface of the red planet with a crew of three unnamed Cosmonaut scientists. Their mission; to study the crash site of a large alien space craft.
Over the next several years the Soviet scientists cataloged, analyzed, and reported on their findings of the alien technology. Information that Blaisdale, and the company’s five founding members, obtained from the Soviet government during the global economic collapse of 2011. Blaisdale then proceeded to reverse engineer the technology and began releasing “innovations” to the public.
Of the projects derived from this alien tech was something codenamed Distant Horizon, an apparent means of long distance space travel that possibly explained the Shinigamis 101-D’s sudden disappearance years prior. The news that we were not alone in the universe, coupled with the possibility that the murderous Space Station may still be lurking, was cause for great concern.
Huge Leaps Forward
In 2048, after suffering from numerous setbacks and a year behind schedule, the EDI finally begin deploying their early warning system. There were more setbacks to come however with the continued failure to produce a more viable propulsion system, a major hurdle to the effective expansion of the detection network. The project limped along under great scrutiny until 2060 when Dr. Abla Zwarhi, a prisoner serving two life sentences for ethics violations in a WSO Science Work Camp, makes a breakthrough.
Zwarhi had spent the first twelve years of her sentence working on a new power source based on Tristan Benoble’s Quantum Static Theory. On March 23rd 2059, she confirms Benoble’s work and creates the first Quantum Static Reactor. A year later Pinot Garrett, building on Zwarhi’s work, designs a version of the reactor that is safe and magnitudes more powerful. The Generation 1 QS Reactor was the solution to the EDI’s propulsion woes. By 2065 the detection network was growing rapidly, however so were public concerns over the exorbitant costs associated with the EDI program. The Shinigami disaster was not so far from everyone’s minds to question the need for the network, but there was growing debate as to whether EDI should continue to have a blank check given its continued lackluster performance.
Then on September 7th 2072 the nature of human space exploration is changed forever. At a research facility in Cern, an egg is successfully transported from a test chamber into the wall of an adjacent lab thirty meters away. The project is called Linear Exchange of Absolute Position, aka LEAP, and is the result of more than 70 years of work done by John Hawking to prove his Interuniverse Resonance theory.
The first LEAP gate is put into service on September 13th 2074 and successfully transports a shuttle and its crew from Earth’s orbit to just inside the Mars orbital plane. The 78 million kilometer journey took a mere .3 seconds. Within a year the EDI was positioning LEAP gates throughout the solar system dramatically cutting the long term costs of maintaining the detection network and allowing for expansion far beyond its current range. A new era of space travel had begun.
Just a few years later on June 24th 2083, Terrance Wilcox, a physicist working out of a makeshift lab in a rented warehouse, successfully measures a theoretical light spectrum existing far below all known wavelengths. A subject of interest for scientists for nearly a decade, sub-spectrum wavelengths travel outside normal space, 200 times faster than upper spectrum light, passing through all known matter. Many scientists theorized that sub-spectrum light played some role in our perception of time itself.
Eugene Mills, a 28 year old engineer working for a small technology firm in former Canada, wasn’t interested in time. Mills saw sub-spectrum’s potential in communications and in April of 2088 created the Sub-Light Data Burst (SLDB) communications array. The immediate advantage of the SLDB system was speed of communication over long distances. Eugene also devised a method for secure communications by spreading data across multiple wavelengths making the signal nearly impossible to intercept. SLDB quickly replaced current MBUS technology for deep space communication.
This wasn’t necessarily a good thing for the EDI. The increased speed and range of SLDB made nearly 70% of the EDI network redundant, and again made them the target of public scrutiny over cost. To make matters worse, the company SkyEye introduced a new deep space probe of their own, boasting that they could achieve 50 times the coverage of the EDI network, and do so at one third the the current operating budget. In July of 2094 the first SkyEye probe cluster is deployed and the UGC cuts the EDI’s budget by two thirds. By 2107 SkyEye had become one of the most profitable and powerful companies in history, and on September 21st 2112, the UGC officially dissolved the Earth Defense Initiative, handing over complete responsibility for defense monitoring to SkyEye.
The Orbital Boom
Not all technical innovation was in government and defense however. As per UGC policies the general public enjoyed the benefits as well. In 2097 eccentric quintillionaire Hjörtur Gudmunsson announces his retirement from earth and moves onto his very own private space station. Gudmunsson’s succession from the planet made world headlines and sparked public interest in the idea of living in orbit. Within a few years more than 30 companies were in a mad race to build consumer space stations. By 2104 the Orbital Boom was in full swing with the world’s wealthiest scrambling to live among the stars.
Between 2107 and 2112 roughly 250,000 people were living at least part time in orbit, either in private space stations or small colonies. By 2120 that number had doubled. Then in September of 2120 the construction of a massive space complex named Pangaea began. Pangaea would be an ever expanding complex housing not only living facilities, but all the needs of a flourishing society. The goal was complete self-sufficiency from the planet.
By 2129 LEAP had travel made moving around the solar system almost as convenient as taking a weekend drive. Both Venus and Saturn had become popular vacation destinations with luxurious space station resorts. Mars was home to the Besbool Research Colony on its surface, and the Martian Academy of Astronomy in its orbit. The draw of orbital life was more than just the thrill of living in space. It also proved to be very beneficial to humanity in terms of health benefits and technological advancements. By 2142 the Pangaea Orbital Complex officially reached a population of 100 million.
But all wasn’t a model of Utopian happiness. While many cities around the world thrived in the new orbital economy others had been all but abandoned and fallen into disrepair. Entire towns were closed down and in some areas the lack of municipal resources had allowed crime to run rampant. Some researchers were also beginning to think that the massive Pangaea complex itself was causing planetside environmental changes. The so-called “Shadow of Pangaea” was suspected of blocking sunlight, causing lower crop yields and vitamin deficiencies in people and livestock.
Fueled by negative press and speculations, “Earth is home” groups gained more and more influence. Originally started by a handful of people that simply chose to adopt a more off-the-land lifestyle, some factions harbored more extreme views and actively protested people leaving for Pangaea. The picketing and graffiti of shuttle stations, and incidents of “mud slinging”, where mud was literally thrown on departing passengers, had become commonplace. Many sociologists were concerned that the division between the population on the ground and in space would continue to grow. But whatever the consequences, it was clear the migration had just begun.