Introduction

Imagine, if you will, four stars. Viewed in the skies of Earth they appear to form a close-knit belt, reaching across the middle of a constellation called Bek. They are the closest stars to our own star, Sol, and like our star they are surrounded by planets both gaseous and solid. Once upon a time these stars hung in our sky, so close yet untouchable. Not for much longer shall that be the case.

Humankind has always been filled with the urge to spread, to carve out new territories and experience new vistas, from the time we wandered down from the trees to explore the savannahs, and this urge fills us still. On the centenary of Neil Armstrong's legendary walk, Armstrong, the first colony on the moon, was opened. Colonists on the moon now number in the millions, and their success has kindled further desires to reach into the stars. For we have just brushed the surface; there is so much more to see.

To this end, the World Government funded a vast group of scientists and other specialists to explore the possibility of terraforming: altering other worlds to suit our own needs. Years of research followed, filled with failures, but success crept into our work and it is now that I can announce the fruits of our labour.

We are not here to create a second or third Earth. Before all else you must understand this. In order to achieve such a wild aim we would have to be Gods. Our first priority, when terraforming a world, is to create a breathable atmosphere and a source of water and food. In short, we will enable the planets' colonies to sustain themselves. And to prosper. Each world's resources will further our scientific knowledge and daily living, and it is my dream that a network of trade will be set up within our solar system and beyond.

(Cheers from the audience)

A word of warning. We cannot predict what physical or even genetic effects living on a different planet will have upon humankind, especially if we are to eventually venture beyond our solar system. Alien elements, chemicals, flora, many other possibilities—these cannot all be eliminated from the worlds. Naturally, a planet would be fully assessed before it is terraformed, and if we detect harmful elements within a world's makeup that cannot be dealt with, that world will be passed over. But the danger of subtle genetic changes can never be totally overcome.

A great future awaits humankind! Our neighbours, Venus and Mars, are no longer enemies to our frail bodies. Plans to terraform them are being refined as I speak. And one day, the stars of Bek's belt will shine upon human worlds!

(Wild cheers)

Dr. Zes Orion, speaking in 2072.

- - -

Humankind did terraform and colonise the Bek Star-belt. The four stars—Allia, Solarei, Tethys and Venoia—now shine upon human worlds. But fate dealt an underhanded blow to the fledgling colonies.

War erupted in the Sol System. Relations between the Inner Half—the area between the sun and the asteroid belt, containing the three human worlds and many colonies—and the Outer half—the area between the asteroid belt and the edge of the star system, containing a handful of terraformed moons and an abundance of deep-space stations and drifter colonies—had always been difficult, as two ways of life had developed within the two sets of people. In 2251AD, these difficulties culminated in war, only three years after the colony ships departed for the Bek Star-belt.

The godsend of the non-space drive, invented in 2145AD, turned into a bittersweet boon. The drive allowed space crafts to slip between the fabric of spacetime, allowing long journeys to be made in a matter of minutes. But it was discovered that this means of travel could damage the human genome, and that the greater the warping of space—ie: the greater 'real' distance travelled—the greater the damaging effect. Consequently the journey to Bek was made over a period of five years and several non-space jumps were interspersed with periods of real-space travel. For obvious reasons it was vital that the colonists were healthy in all respects. They were cryogenically frozen during the travel to conserve resources.

Was all this effort in vain? In 2258AD, the war in the Sol System all but destroyed the system with its terrifying ferocity and the use of weapons of mass destruction. The Bek colonies, only established for five years and still reliant upon frequent shipments of supplies from Earth, were cut off from their mother and left to fend for themselves. Repeated attempts to contact the Sol System have been met only with static and nonsensical garbles. Fear of what we would find convinced us that a return venture would be foolhardy.

There are some who still say that we will perish, even now that it has been ten years since that dreadful year, 10 After Separation (AS). But that is not the human way.

For now we have lost the high technology that allowed us to travel between the planets and stars, but this is only temporary. Maintaining our growing populations has been the greatest priority. Already we of the planet Naiad do not consider ourselves British or even Earthers; we are those of Naiad, the Naidi. It seems that every planet of Bek will forge its own history and its own identity.

Yet it is important that we do not lose touch with our past. We are from the planet Earth. And one day, when the terrible affects of the weapons of mass destruction have passed, perhaps we will return to our motherland. For now, it is our task, the Chroniclers of Naiad, to record human history, the never-ending saga.

Introduction to the Naiad Historical Chronicles.