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Galactic Encyclopedia
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A brief history of the galaxy

A brief history of the galaxy

 

Introduction

It was quite humbling when humans figured out that Earth was not the center of the universe but instead what in fact just a small planet around a minor star in a particular galaxy. In the early 22nd century when humans learned that there was not only other intelligent life forms but that they had been traveling in space since before human civilization began, that was really humbling.

In the beginning of the 22nd century when the first contacts with the Arcean Empire arrived via one of their interstellar probes, the first reaction was excitement. But later dismay and concern arose over just how long other civilizations had been traveling through space. It was also a bit discouraging that intelligent life was so rare. Unlike popular science fiction of the era that envisioned the galaxy teeming with thousands of different aliens, it turned out that there were only a half dozen or so space faring civilizations in the entire galaxy - spread out at that.

The Galaxy at large

From the Arcean probe humans learned about subspace communication and other technologies that would allow humans to interact with other civilizations. The first sobering discovery is that interstellar travel was nothing like humans had hoped. There was no method to just instantly travel anywhere in the galaxy. Instead, the powers had developed star gates. A star gate was an immense city sized structure that used massive amounts of energy to fold space and allow a star ship to travel from point A to point B. And both sides had to be a star gate.  A star gate's expense is incredible. Their mass so immense that moving them, even with the inertia of the vacuum to make doing so easier, was quite an undertaking.  It cost the equivalent of billions of US dollars to just use one a single time. Needless to say, they were not used often.

The net effect was that you had roughly 6 galactic civilizations (counting the humans) who had very little contact with one another beyond sub-space probes. But at least there was no war. If someone tried to invade, you could simply turn off your star gate and ensure that nothing came through. But trade also could never be achieved either nor could any real political understanding.  Subspace communication was very limited in that it still took many months for communications to arrive and the longer the message, the longer it took to receive. 

The first 15 years of communication with the Arceans was mostly taken up by the transmission of plans of how to create a star gate. What is today (2178) a matter of debate is whether the Arceans sent us the plans to aid us or to conquer us -- their star gate plans had no mechanism to turn it off. But given recent events, it's all moot anyway.

Hyperdrive

The star gate plans confirmed many theories by scientists. And the new field of alien anthropology was trying to imagine what civilizations like the Drengin and Arceans (to name two) which had been traveling the stars for tens of thousands of years might actually be like. The Drengin, for instance, had achieved nuclear fission over 100,000 years ago. Yet their government was a dictatorship and there was some speculation that the emperor wasn't even a Drengin.  To put things in perspective, the Drengin had nuclear power while the humans were still well in the stone age in East Africa.

I mention anthropology here for a reason, human society seems to be quite different.  The United Nations world government (made up of dozens of technically sovereign states) was based largley on private capitalism with the government providing only basic services. This seemed to be quite different than what we know of the various races - though our information is quite limited.

This is what probably led us to achieve Hyperdrive. Hyperdrive which would create a brave new universe was not a government project but instead created by United Terra Dynamics Ltd. Basically, hyperdrive allows individual ships to fold space and travel great distances very quickly. In fact, Hyperdrive is literally 10X faster than a star gate.

For the past few years, private corporations have been allowed to trade bits of technology with other civilizations via subspace. This has brought many benefits to our lives as we all know. Unfortunately, the ramifications of Hyperdrive really weren't well understood until it was too late. Trade of the basics of this technology with other civilizations went like most other trades. Since it wasn't a weapon, it wasn't heavily regulated. Unfortunately, within months after sharing this technology, all communication with the other civilizations ceased. We have not heard from them.

Black out

For the past 2 years, we have heard nothing from any of the civilizations. To make matters worse, with the entire world considering that situation that Earth is in, things are a bit grim.  For example, we have finished building the first colony ship - the Santa Maria. The ship is massive in size and holds 10 MILLION people in it.  It took 2 years to build and that was with the entire planet focusing just on it. But we don't know where any "Class 15" or better planets are. But the other races, who have sent out probes for eons, know where they are. This is a major disadvantage. As if that's not bad enough, we don't even know where the other civilizations are. We don't even know where Arcea is located. But they sure know where we are and they know we have few defenses.

Our first priority has to be "spreading our seed". Get humans out onto other planets. Explore the galaxy, build up defenses, learn how to trade and learn about galactic diplomacy. Then we can decide what to do next. It sure is a brave new universe...

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