50047:

Prologue

In the Year of our Lord, 2000, scientists discovered something horribly disturbing that affected the entire human race. Something so sinister and so devious that Mankind had overlooked it countless times in the past two centuries. And before that, no one had even had the technology to even see what was happening.

On September sixth of that year, some bright young researcher launched a bold new attempt to find out what powered our sun. But what he found instead was a much more unsettling find. Our life giving Sol was slowly but surely imploding, shrinking in on its self until finally it would detonate.

The researcher published his findings and notes and his research the next week, causing quite a bit of alarm on the part of the scientific community. Hiding it from the press and the public, they took it to the government, who in turn took it to the United Nations.

After much deliberation, it was agreed that the Russian Space Agency, the European Space Association, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from the US would collaborate on the planets largest project in history: The construction of the Genesis.

The Genesis would be constructed in space, jointly by every nation under the UN's control. Consequently, each nation would be given territory aboard the ship. Also, it would have to be incredibly massive and spacious, the world's largest craft ever built.

The ship, code-named Unit Project, would be hid until six months before its launch date, 2100 on September the sixth. Then the public would know why so many politicians were corrupting themselves and wasting their hard-earned money on seemingly useless projects. And when Genesis was at long last revealed, it got just the support the government figured it would: None.

They were in denial. Mankind was too important and too advanced to be destroyed by an accident of God. And the pivotal moment when Earth seemed hopeless enough to destroy itself, a beacon showed through. The moral decline was rapid, but at last something had united the world.

A shimmer of hope for the Unit Project. A small glowing orb in the middle of unknown space had been spotted. Strangely enough, it too was missed all these years by radio astronomers that thought not to look at closer neighbors to Earth.

But this hope was enough to kindle the last rays of the blessed gift of Sol's only habitable child. A radio signal returned to the planet Earth from a previously unknown planet orbiting a star fifty thousand years away. Earth was not alone.


In this small bubble of a solar system, a smallish, bluish-brown world was thriving. Technology had blossomed here in the past three centuries. Mining for precious vapors in the clouds of Darona was dangerous, but widely accepted as the source of power for this world.

And then, when the Daronites had caught on that they must not be alone in the universe, they, like their earthly counterparts, pointed their tracking devices toward the stars. Three livable worlds lay at their disposal, but only one was needed. And yet, here was a signal from fifty light years afar.

"We come in peace for all Mankind…" The linguists immediately went to work deciphering the strange tongue. And fifty years later, a stranger message from the same world who they had replied to:

"We are in need of assistance. Our sun is dying and our very existence hangs in the balance. We are in need of a hospitable planet to call our own and if possible technology to get us there."

The message repeated itself countless times. And Darona sent the reply, "We have room." A cacophony of visual and audio instructions accompanied the statement. The Earthlings would receive a warm welcome from the bubble in space.


Genesis, clearly a rebirth of the planet, was also a rebirth for other things. New inventions and power sources were developed quickly and steadily. The idea of holographic technology had also been spurred along by the Earth's allies from across the void.

When it was announced that contact had successfully been made and that the people of Darona were friendly, a day of celebration was called. No one worked; not even on the Unit Project. The next day, however, was back to work and people were as busy as ever.

The holo technology was used for receiving video instructions from the other planet. And when Man had its first look at the people of Darona, they were stunned beyond all coherent thought.

Here was a race of people so widely varied that no one even thought to try to classify them as mammals or anything else. And when the initial shock wore off, the real shock began. As their name might have suggested (though this was completely by coincidence), the people of Darona were none other than the creatures of our fables and fairytales: Dragons.

It was only by sheer force of will that Man was able to follow the instructions given by a Daronite. Other segments were given by overgrown and intelligent beasts, humanoids, and phantasmal apparitions. As the list of creatures grew, so did Man's curiosity. When the stream ended, we sent back our own list of questions and comments.

They had turned out to be a very religious society, adhering to beliefs startlingly similar to Christian values. Though some of the prophecy was off, it held true that Darona would gain paradise in the end.

They were also militaristic. The government was an Imperial dynasty that had lasted for four thousand years. And in that time, their technological advancements had surpassed Earth so much that they could just as easily send a ship of their own for a pick up.

But in the end, all roads led to this friendly, albeit strange society and people. Humankind had no choice in the matter and the coordinates were set the day before launch, videotaped and sent to Darona as a gesture of friendship.

Then the next day, with a complement of three million passengers and crew, the last hope for humanity left for the stars, guided by a renewed faith in a long fought-against God, and their partners across the great divide.

During the voyage, the population grew steadily until there was no more room left. And it would only continue to grow, for even traveling at a thousandth of the Speed of Light, it would take fifty thousand years to get there.

Within the first year, they passed the asteroid belt and strip-mined more than half of it for future building. And then moved on to the moons of the gas giants. Even if the ­­Genesis had been built for more than fifty million people, it would still not be enough.

The next generation would encounter the first task of building a second Genesis. So, during the course of eighty years they built two more, smaller ships. After the Genesis, the first of the two were called the Exodus, and the second was christened the Wanderer.

Every five hundred or so years, a new ship would be built. They would pass hundreds of systems with deserted planets and mine them into obscurity, taking the necessary materials to sustain the population of the Genesis Convoy. The ships never landed though.

Each of them was designed for one landing, where they would break into sections and land separately. After that, none of them would ever see space again. So to mine the planets, they built smaller shuttles to bring back the ore. Then they'd begin construction.

About a third of the way through the voyage, they struck disaster. A freak accident in the main engines of a ship known as the Prophet doomed that ship and it's compliment to oblivion. An over heated coupler had caused the entire thing to blow, destroying the Prophet and severely damaging both the Wanderer and a newer ship, the Babylon.

Thirty-two million were killed in the accident, including the entire population of the Prophet. Thankfully, it would only happen once during the voyage to Darona. Theories still abound about the reason the coupler overheated. Some include revenge, terrorism, and the most likely and believed: stupidity on the part of the man who oversaw that section of the Prophet.

But it only happened once. And nearly at the end of their voyage, what could go wrong?