This page is more or less a supplement to the Historical Timeline page, with major events that are only mentioned in passing there given more detail. Some events on this page may not be mentioned on the historical timeline page at all.
No events noted here occur earlier than the Pre-Modern Era.
The first real field test of a distortion drive (the first prototype was actually created on Earth on February 11, 2206), which took place 3,000 kilometers from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, happened on November 3, 2217. It is a day colloquially referred to as DD Day by most, and D-Day by some. The spaceship outfitted with the drive was able to travel into Moon orbit in just over 3.5 hours by creating a “bubble” between the vessel and the normal space-time continuum, allowing for a massive spatial “short cut” while operating on normal thrusters at a fairly conservative rate of acceleration. On the return trip, the D-drive suffered a catastrophic failure, dropping the ship back into normal space very suddenly. This caused severe damage to the vessel, rupturing the hull in two places. Half of the crew was killed, and most of the remaining survivors were heavily injured. The ship limped back to Earth orbit about two days later.
It was on February 2, 2232, with the D-drive having been vastly improved and stabilized—and at that point having been used routinely on ships traveling between the Earth and the Lunar colonies for more than a dozen years—that the first trip to Mars was attempted. The test went off without a single problem, and the trip to and from the red planet was accomplished in just under 7 days each way. Future test runs to Mars involved a longer period of acceleration to achieve more thrust speed, until a minimum safe travel time of 3.6 days each way was established. (D-drive runs from Earth to Jupiter take about two weeks and Earth to Saturn requires about a month.)
It was not until almost exactly 100 years after the initial DD Day test run to the moon, on October 15, 2317, that scientists discovered slipspace and realized that what the D-drive does is warp space slightly to allow vessels to “coast” in an intermediary space between our spacetime and slipspace.
It should be noted that in the Modern Era, D-drives haven’t improved appreciably in terms of shaving off travel time, as speed is still limited by the human (or neo sapien) ability to survive high G forces. Thus, the ship can only accelerate at a pace that the body can handle, whether in distortion mode or not, and the sustained amount of time that you can continue to accelerate is limited by fuel capacity. However, the D-drives are much more efficient in terms of energy usage and are much smaller now.
Unmanned D-drive-equipped vessels can be accelerated at a more rapid pace, of course, and are sometimes used for express runs or research tasks when slipgate travel is not feasible. An unmanned vessel with a distortion drive can reach the Moon in less than 20 minutes, for example, and Mars in under 4 hours if it has sufficient fuel to maintain maximum thrust for the first half of the journey (7 to 12 hours is generally a more achievable goal with unmanned travel between Mars and Earth).
The Big Slip
Although slipspace was discovered on October 15, 2317, humans did not determine how to transition objects into slipspace right away. However, now that it was understood that the D-drive’s distortion field was related to slipspace, understanding of the basic mechanics of distortion travel allowed researchers to quickly figure out a way to punch through the barrier between “realspace” and slipspace. On January 19, 2321, a day known as The Big Slip, the first pair of slipgates were activated, and a small unmanned slipship was transported, in a fraction of a second, from Earth orbit to Moon orbit.
About a year later, after the unmanned test runs had proved so successful that drone ships were being sent through the slipgates regularly on cargo delivery and pickup missions, a manned ship was sent along the same path. The entire crew was rendered irreparably insane and virtually unable to communicate by the experience, except for the one person who—perhaps mercifully—died of something resembling a stroke en route between the gates. It would not be until 3002, in the Renewal Era, that scientists finally understood the physiological nature of this effect, and it wasn’t until much later in 3299 that they developed a solution with technology that produced neurostatic fields to protect humans traveling through slipspace.
In 2337, artificial intelligence becomes a reality, with the first few computerized systems with the ability to truly think coming online over a span of several months. This event is called the Emergence. These early AIs are limited, possessing the intellectual prowess of a three-year-old human at first, and progressing about one year of human development for every five years of their existence. By 2414, AIs are created that possess the cognitive powers of an adult human within weeks after activation.
The First Martian Push
In 2577, three megacorps, 17 different coalitions of smaller corporations, 32 charitable and community organizations, and 12 national governments band together on a project to “terraform” Mars into a livable planet for humans. Nearly 16 years after beginning the project, all of the critical technology is in place on Mars: automated atmosphere generators; AI-controlled mobile biolabs that would create and disperse genetically modified plants, microbes and insects to establish an ecosystem; moisture farms; etc. The process of terraforming officially begins on April 15, 2594, when all of the atmospheric generators are brought online. Almost two years later, the mobile biolabs begin distributing lifeforms that are adapted to live in the nearly waterless, frightfully thin atmosphere that has begun to be generated. Humans monitor the progress of the terraforming closely for the next decade, mostly dismayed by the slow and uneven progress, until the Conflagration begins and Mars ceases to be anyone’s concern for quite some time.
For more complete details on the Conflagration and its aftermath, see the entry on “The Conflagration and The Era of Chaos” on the Historical Timeline page. The Conflagration begins on May 18, 2604, when hellpod strikes besiege Earth and most of the planet is quickly plunged into war over the next few months, with the near-destruction of civilization being the result thanks to heavy use of other weapons of mass destruction in addition to the hellpods. Many cities are quite literally burned to the ground, and some were never rebuilt. The area formerly known as Los Angeles, for example, is in the Modern Age still a mostly unpopulated sheet of obsidian and ash. Many natural environmental features are destroyed or altered as well. For example, Lake Erie was steamed away and several peaks in the Alps were reduced to rubble.
The Wagon Wars
Beginning in 2604, the 10 warwagons that turned insane following their involvement with the Conflagration (aka the roguewagons) became embroiled in conflict with the 14 warwagons that didn’t have any direct role in causing the Conflagration (along with three warwagons that did but somehow retained their sanity). Initially, the conflict revolves around attempts by the warwagons to stop the most insane roguewagons from destroying Earth entirely as governments collapse and nations go into unchecked turmoil. Soon, though, it becomes a personal conflict between the warwagons and roguewagons alone, and the battles begin to be waged far from Earth. With an entire solar system to maneuver and hide in, the conflict rages on for centuries, running from 2604 until 2898, when the last roguewagon is destroyed, leaving only four warwagons still operational.
The Great Purge
Islam suffers its first great genocidal blow when, fueled by misplaced beliefs that Muslims were responsible for the Conflagration, many aspiring warlords and angry citizens in Asian nations crack down on the practice of Islam within their borders. This activity in concentrated during the period from 2608 to 2724. As this happens during the Era of Chaos, there is very little organized authority to check the aggression, and those Asian Muslims who are not killed outright over this period largely flee to the Middle East.
During the Renewal Period, the Terran Catholic Church initially takes center stage as it helps to broker lasting peace and reconstruction after the Era of Chaos that marked the three centuries following the Conflagration. (Israel also plays an important role, but often in partnership with the Vatican and mostly in the Eastern European region.) Many people turn to Catholicism during this period. Often overlooked, though, are Muslim leaders, who also played a significant role by stabilizing most Arab areas in the Middle East and some African and Asian areas as well during the Renewal Period. From 3120 to 3295, Islam enjoys a huge resurgence despite continuing to be blamed for the Conflagration by many people, and this period is often referred to as Allah’s Time.
The Renewal Crusades
Sadly, Allah’s Time leads directly to the Renewal Crusades. As the number of Muslims in the world rises, the Vatican becomes both fearful and resentful, and begins to wage active warfare against Muslims and even non-Muslim Arabs. The conflicts are not continuous, but they are intense at times. There are largely considered to have been three actual Renewal Crusades during this period that were more or less marked by continuous armed conflict between the Terran Catholic Church and various Islamic nations and coalitions. The First Renewal Crusade ran from 3295 to 3310, the Second Renewal Crusade ran from 3376 to 3381, and the Third Renewal Crusade ran from 3500 to 3571. During and between various Renewal Crusades, tensions increase between Israel and the Arab world as well, renewing old conflicts that were never really resolved.
The Second Martian Push
The terraforming effort of the First Martian Push turned out to be an utter failure. The automated and AI-controlled facilities and systems continued to operate for at least two centuries after the Conflagration on Earth, and operated flawlessly it seems. But for whatever reason, Mars would not hold most of the atmosphere that was being generated, and the bio-engineered microbes, insects and plant life not only failed to thrive but died off en masse. A few microbial strains and a couple forms of plant life maintain haggard existences on various portions of Mars’ surface, but it seems clear that making the surface habitable, even for genetically modified organisms, is mostly a fool’s dream.
In 3336, Europa and “Old Africa” (aka the Neo-African Republic) band together in a second effort to colonize Mars (The Second Martian Push), with plans to establish the planet itself as an independent nation. Partly this is driven by fears of the Vatican’s continuing expansion on Earth. This time, the plan is to create a contained ecosystem under the surface, with a network of towers on the surface to keep the underworld society connected to Earth and the rest of the solar system. The first true colonists (as opposed to engineers and architects) take up residence in 3411. As of 4001, Mars is home to 412 million permanent residents.
In 3579, after having been essentially an enslaved race for almost 200 years, Atlantean communities in the vicinity of Oceana begin to stage mass work stoppages and armed uprisings, the culmination of their own unrest and international pressures that had been brought to bear on Oceana’s government regarding its treatment of those neo sapiens (see Races in the Novel page). Conflicts largely cease by late 3618 and nearly two years later, Oceana declares the Atlanteans a sovereign nation and independent race and begins what will be a nearly 70-year effort to establish truly positive relations with the aquatic neo sapiens.
In 3617, the surviving four warwagons, satisfied that the Earth was sufficiently stabilized, return to restore contact with humanity. In doing so, and in contact with human governments, the vessels assigned themselves to the major world powers in an attempt to provide a balance of power, with Scion’s Dream to represent the Catholic Union, Battlehammer to represent Europa, Celestial Dragon to represent Old Africa and Shadowblack originally intended to represent Oceana. However, Oceana wanted no part of any warwagons and so the AIs of the four vessels decided that Shadowblack would represent Mars instead.
By this time, the four warwagons also had altered their own mission parameters greatly and—free of Earth’s control for centuries—had actually reprogrammed certain core functions, giving themselves more autonomy in some respects and more restrictions in others. For example, they demanded that human crews be placed on board each vessel to help prevent any warwagons becoming roguewagons in the future; they established very strict limitations on their willingness to use their most destructive weapons on a planetary body ever again; and they made clear that they would allow no other warwagons, nor any comparably destructive vessels, to ever be constructed.
It should be noted that although the warwagons are powerful, and capable of causing massive planetary destruction, they are far from invulnerable. The various military fleets in space both near and away from the Earth are sufficient in size and firepower to wage battle against the warwagons if necessary, though this is considered unlikely; in fact, all four warwagons have become very powerful positive symbols to both humans and AIs in the Modern Era, and each serves as the flagship of its respective nation’s space fleet.
The Final Crusade
In 3920, the Vatican strikes (indirectly, unofficially and unintentionally) a near-lethal blow to the Islamic world in what becomes known as the Final Crusade. The Vatican had continued to have conflicts with Muslims after the Renewal Period, and these “Modern Crusades” occurred a total of 12 times from 3582 to 3902, though no crusade during this period lasted longer than 3 years. (Once again, Jewish-Arab hostilities rise in concert with these crusades.)
In 3911, though, the Vatican decides that a decisive blow would have to be struck soon against Islam in order to preserve the authority of the Terran Catholic Church and allow it to further expand its influence. Pope Kuang-Hsu of the White Orders of the Vatican, a highly skilled biochemist and geneticist, leads a team to design a nano-attenuated gene-binding virus that would target people with genetic markers common to Arabs and incapacitate them so that they would be unable to resist a concentrated onslaught. Some 80% of Muslims remained largely concentrated in the Middle Eastern areas where Islam was born, primarily because of lingering distrust of them held by the rest of the world. Thus the plan was to, at some point, release the virus in that region and then take over Islamic-oriented nations while most of the population was wracked with illness. Because of the fact the virus was mostly non-lethal, would be located in a specific region and the nano-attenuation would cause it to self-terminate after a defined period of time, this was deemed the most humane way to “bring Islam to heel,” as Pope Kuang-Hsu put it.
This plan is never implemented officially, however. What does happen is that a militant subgroup within the Vatican, independently of papal authority, obtains samples of the virus and modifies it heavily so that it becomes a lethal strain. This group releases the virus at strategic points in areas with large Muslim Arab populations (almost entirely in the Middle East) in the year 3920. By the time the airborne version of the virus self-terminated as part of the nano-attenuation safeguards, More than 90% of the Arabs in the Middle East, whether Muslim or not, were infected, and a significant number of others worldwide. Three-quarters of them died within days of infection, and the rest were effectively rendered infertile, as the virus killed men’s sperm and women passed the virus on to their fetuses, leading to miscarriage. Worse, the virus was sexually transmittable by survivors.
The international backlash was immediate and vocal, and several nations were ready to wage war against the Vatican, even though the virus did not seem to be part of an official crusade. The papacy was equally horrified because, despite its desire to put down Islam, the preservation of reproductive capability and the protection of unborn lives remained some of the most important aims of the Terran Catholic Church. Also, the indiscriminate targeting of so many non-Muslim Arabs as well didn’t sit well with the Vatican. Because of what it saw not only as a genocide but a mass-abortion, the Vatican actually helped to track down most of the militant Catholic perpetrators and not only handed them over to international judicial bodies but excommunicated them from the church and declared them damned to hell with no hope for redemption.
Another reason the entire affair didn’t sit well with the Vatican was that Jews were also hit hard. They shared just enough genetic markers with Arabs to be affected by the virus as well. The virus was far less lethal to them and far less communicable, and had lower rates of causing infertility as well, but was still a huge blow. The Vatican was instrumental not only in restoring and rebuilding the state of Israel after the Conflagration but also vastly expanding its borders during various Renewal Crusades and Modern Crusades, and watching a virus initially of its own making be used against them was unforgiveable to the papacy.
It should be noted that Arabs are still numerous throughout the world. Unlike Muslims specifically, the Arab races in general were not concentrated primarily in one region and thus many of them were far enough away to be safe, particularly once the virus self-terminated. Currently, they only face risks from the sexually transmitted version of the virus, which is potent, but much less dangerous and largely preventable. But the Muslim subpopulation lost the vast majority of its numbers, and those that weren’t killed were largely rendered sterile, preventing effective repopulation efforts. Now, 80 years later on the eve of the Fourth Millennium, they continue to work toward reconstruction, zealously guarding the few fertile members of their ravaged ranks, wrestling with ethical issues around whether to research mass cloning options, and trying to covert people en masse to Islam to rebuild their population.
ah. that whole “final crusade concept” is heavy.
I sort of feel guilty laying a genocidal war against Muslims at the feet of the Catholic Church (having been raised Catholic)…but let’s face it, there’s an awful lot of precedent. 😉