An introduction to the 731st Millennia
So what now? That is the question they all posed on those fancy pants news shows constantly pounding through the ether on StellaNet. What now indeed. Humanity, the progenitor, the curious, the astral predator sweeping all before it in a breath of wind unstopped since Homo Sapiens wiped out their Neanderthal cousins.
Indeed so perfunctory was the question that the lips of all from the United Earth Territories (UET) President down to the humblest tecnoserf were all aquiver. Ever since the Eagle had first pieced the trans-galactic wormhole to discover a whole new galaxy some ten years previous mankind was all abuzz with this eternally optimistic question: what now?
Perfunctory as it may be, it preoccupied the minds of the brightest stars in the UETs constellation of universities, monasteries, and sky-high offices. New planets to colonise, new worlds to exploit, new mysteries to explore, and above all more riches to embellish mother Earth. For all their ponderings she was never far from their mind. Earth, Terra, Sol-3, call her what you like she was still all our cradle, and in due course all paid their taxes to enrich her coffers, or so the UET liked to make them believe.
The what now of the great Ars Technicha, Bellus, Genetica, Telepathica, and Mercantile was as simple and as utterly complicated as Terra herself. Simple in as much as they all wished to further their own ends, and as complicated in as much as they had to interact and co-operate with each other. Politicos extraordinaire run each body with panache and flair suited to their own means, all the while their UET masters exploit the petty differences that rankle and kindle discordance.
Coming from the iron wombs, the loins of maidens, and the material of legends what now never really crossed the mind of the Spartoi, Preatorians, or Cybornarsis. If it had, maybe the great Ars would have quaked in their mighty sanctuaries, but their ever-loyal warriors performed their duties as stoically as the day they were conceived. Though each warrior caste vied for that vital edge what now never really crossed their minds.
And in the depths of the monasteries, cathedrals, mosques, and the innumerable other faith buildings flung across the stella canvas by the faithful whispered prayers to ancient deities echoed off unhearing walls. For all their progress Homo Sapiens stubbornly clung to the ethereal spiritual calling that seemed intrinsically burned into their very DNA. What now was burning a hole in the matras, sutras, Koranic verses; for every stultifying rational answer postulated by men of reason a man of faith would utter forth a fizzy, exciting, frothy explanation to grab the masses by the heart strings.
For the common man, scattered amongst the far-flung stars, the what now was infinitely simpler and more straightforward: survive. Survive the tithes, the petty squabbles of their overlords, the machinations of the warrior castes, and hopefully make a quick buck along the way. Not that any of the 239 colonised systems was in a position to challenge the authority of the UET, but what now was slowly coalescing into rights and charters.
Then came the whispers.
Like smoke in the air the intangible nagging feeling that we were not alone crept up on them all. Secrets buried deeper than anyone imagined awoke, and as a collective whole mankind felt the galaxy shift. One by one the brightest minds dreamt the nightmare, and one by one their screams filled the corridors of the sanatoriums.
Something is coming
run to the darkest shadow and hide.
Did they listen? No. Well some did, but those who did knew to be quiet, lest they too ended up where the brightest minds were kept. The whispers crept into every corner on some worlds, and it was in the ensuing madness They chose to announce themselves.
We were not alone, and we never had been.