Mars had fallen. Earth had burned.
By 2305, the chaos of the limbic riots had also spread to the remaining colonies, despite the quarantine procedures and hastily declared martial law.
The orbitals around Earth that survived were severely crippled. Over a period of several months, three of the seventeen orbiting stations were destroyed as the rioters overcame police forces by sheer force of numbers and either set off incendiary devices or overloaded the fuel stores. Those that remained survived only by banning all public gatherings and physically partitioning the stations to prevent large groups from gathering.
Europa fared no better. Its main dome was punctured by a grief-stricken freighter pilot who had just been informed his wife and two young daughters had died in the riots. He set his fully-loaded freighter on a collision course with Europa Primus, the colony's main habitation center. On impact, the ship tore through the dome like paper, crashing into the main power core. The subsequent explosion blew the dome wide open. In an instant, over eighty percent of Europa's population was either consumed by the fireball or sucked into the vacuum of space.
Some of the survivors of Europa decided to make their way inward, towards the orbitals, but soon discovered the situation was even worse. The 700,000 Martian refugees had flooded Earth's orbit, also hoping that the already overloaded orbitals would offer some form of sanctuary.
No one knew how to deal with the catastrophe that had befallen humanity. There weren't enough resources in Earth orbit to feed 1.1 million people. Station administrators argued with the refugee ship captains over food and water supplies, to the point that several ship captains threatened to forcibly take over a station and seize its goods.
The tensions came to a head when a group of refugee ships surrounded Alexandria Station, which was constructed as a repository of mankind's knowledge and the central node for the internet satellite network. Ignoring repeated warnings, the 23 ships began systematically disabling the station's defenses. The captain of the Profugus, however, took the dismantling too far and targeted the station's fuel depot. The ensuing explosive chain reaction didn't completely destroy the Alexandria, but it may as well have given the consequence of the damage.
Multiple fail-safes failed to protect large portions of the data repository because the magnitude of the blast exceeded the system's design for risk tolerance. Great quantities of scientific data were wiped out including the latest advances in biology, genetics, physics, nanotech, and medicine. Mankind's greatest remaining hope for recovery after the Burning was gone.
The response was instant and brutal from the other stations and even the other refugee captains. The captains and crews of all 23 ships were put to death after a hasty trial issued a unanimous sentence.
The attack had a sobering effect on all parties as they realized that the chances of survival had diminished for everyone. A meeting for refugee and station leaders was called for at Midpoint Terminal, a station situated at the L1 Earth-Moon Lagrange point, to discuss the future of humanity.
Despite the desperation of the situation, various factions emerged that demanded to lay claim to various parts of the solar system, with multiple claims on the most viable locations. However, the specter of the infighting and resource grabs on Mars and in Earth orbit loomed over the proceedings, with more conflicts threatening to erupt in the near future.
The limbic riots were another consideration at the forefront of the conclave's collective mind. Nearly every surviving human had been exposed to and had proven susceptible to the epigenetic virus. A cure seemed unlikely anytime soon given the loss of almost all medical research on Alexandria Station. The best countermeasure to the riots on Mars and in orbit had proven to limit populations to groups of 500 people or less.
Discussions and fights continued for several weeks, with multiple solutions being proposed and shouted down by one faction or another. In the end, no one was happy with the final agreement, which was labeled the Diaspora Declaration.
Simply stated, the Diaspora Declaration concluded that remaining in the Sol system was too likely to bring about the destruction of humanity through fights over resources. Because no one could agree which faction would get which colony location, everyone was to leave the solar system altogether to settle in surrounding systems.
Since limbic riots were still a real danger, it was decided that each settlement would have a population of no more than 500 people. Only a single settlement would be planted in each system to allow the initial colony room to bifurcate as it grew over its population limit.
Furthermore, to prevent multiple groups from returning to Sol to fight over resources or to scavenge the ruins and gain an advantage over other factions, Sol's coordinates would be erased from all computers, with pieces of its location divided among specific faction leaders. Should humanity ever be united again and a cure for the epigenetic virus be found, a return to reclaim Sol and Earth could be undertaken.
In order to address the most immediate needs, namely the resource shortfall, it was decided that the majority of the survivors would be placed in cryogenic suspension until they were ready for colonization. The move would also serve to deescalate tensions while preparations were made.
While wave drives were a new but proven technology at that point, they weren't in common use as no extra-solar colonies had yet been established. Only a few of the ships had a wave drive. Those few scientists and engineers remaining were charged with copying the drives and installing them in every ship.
The orbital stations were also to fitted with wave drives, though preparing them for space travel and wave jumps was a more Herculean task as they needed to be structurally reinforced.
While the ships and stations were being prepared for travel, other measures were being taken to improve the viability of each new colony. Databanks were created from a pool of the remaining computers in an attempt to reconstruct the knowledge lost in the Alexandria Incident. Each colony would be equipped with basic genetic databases to form limited ecosystems for growing food and some animals. Sadly, the spectrum of genetic diversity on Earth was lost forever.
Colonial kits were constructed from debris and by stripping down some of the ships that were unable to travel. The ruins of Earth and Mars were excavated and what remained of Europa was dismantled. Enough materials were gathered so that each colony would be self-sufficient, but only barely. There would be no redundancy and the margin of error would be razor-thin.
The Emergency Astronomical Survey was also commissioned to find the most viable locations for colonization. The survey used telescopes to identify likely nearby habitable planets, but also extended their search by using micro-probes outfitted with wave drives to explore systems that ranged beyond the capabilities of the telescopes.
It took over two years, but the preparations were finally completed in 2308. There would be over 2,000 colonies in total, to be spread out among the stars, scattered in every direction. Systems were assigned to colonies by lottery, with each colony only knowing the location of other colonies that belonged to their faction.
When the day of departure finally came, all ships were slaved together to make sure they jumped at the same time. At precisely 3:30AM GMT on May 5, 2308, 2,045 ships winked out of existence from the heliosphere of the cradle of mankind.
The Diaspora of Sol had begun.comments powered by Disqus