The great space race had been a disaster. We could reach orbit, get back and all of that in one piece. Our greatest achievement had been getting a satellite in orbit around the moon, but nothing more had been achieved. Humanity, as it seemed, kept hitting blockades. And after a certain amount of time, and a certain amount of money “wasted” as some called it, most space flight plans were brushed aside. With no real military or civic purpose, few were left that had ambitions to venture unto space.
But human folk are explorers. We crave for the unknown, to find it, drag it out into the known and leave our mark upon it. No matter the dangers, no matter the risks. We will always crave that, slaves to our own wanderlust and thirst for adventure. And so when Henry Sabil made his global call for explorers to join him on a mission that would most likely end up in death and no return, many folks of many walks of life applied themselves. Along with people Henry also saw the needed skill sets and money streams coming his way, and with that, he had everything to start off his project and eventually set up the Brane Worlds Initiative. Or BWI.
A bit more about Henry, since he was an oddball and his story deserves to be told. Henry was the only child to a mixed-race couple living in a small shithole somewhere in West Europe. Growing up in an environment where most of his peers where either flat out racist or evaded him out of fear for other repercussions, Henry got a habit of losing himself in books and on the internet, as much as he could get access to them. His grades in school depended entirely on what he was interested at the moment. He was great at any math course, and years ahead of his peers, but flawed in most of the languages and history. At age seventeen Henry had formulated a theory on the multiverse and interbrane travel. At age nineteen he had produced satisfying results on a microscopic scale with the little materials he had gathered from old or broken appliances all around. Thanks to a scholarship he could move to a more developed area, where he could enjoy peers that actually interacted with him in a humane way for the first time in his life. Here Henry met Clara, daughter of a rather well off family. Clara fell head over heels for Henry, and she would love him every day after they met. Until her death. Few can say to know Henry, but the few that do are uncertain if Henry loved Clara back, or if he used her for her connections and wealth. Fact is, they spend an awful lot of time together, and an awful lot of time on Henry’s dreams and projects. At age twenty-four, Henry made the global call, after being able to recreate his experiments on a larger scale.
The first brane, another Earth, that Henry opened up a path to is now known as Brane 2 or more commonly called Second Earth by the world. Second Earth was perfect, it is like a carbon copy of our world, but pristine. Untouched by industrialization for a few decades, 68 years by the latest estimates. It did have signs of civilization on it though. Old cities, factories, infrastructural networks. But all abandoned, time slowly making it claim on them. Brane 2 remained a research site for over ten years before it was opened up to the world. First leased to businesses, later opened for travel by all. Most business has been banned on the world since Brane 3 has been opened. Brane 3 was much like Brane 2 but only less pristine. There were signs of civilisation again, this time more like ours. More polluting in a way too. They had left too, but far less long ago. Estimates hover around a decade or two. While heavily polluted the world was still rich in resources and was quickly branded a ‘Production brane’. A world destined for production with little regard to environmental impact. Over the next two decades, more worlds would be opened up, and they would be filled in three categories. Earth worlds would be ones habitable by people and would follow laws and regulations close to our World. Production worlds became forge worlds that had only one goal, to produce things with little regard to the world itself. If life was discovered on these worlds it would be moved to another, or if that was not possible, it would get a small reservation on the planet. The last type of world was an Initiative world, this meant that the world would be closed off and only the BWI could enter it. The official stance on this was that this was for research and experimentation reasons. Many of course had theories about it, that it was for wealth, or that they held intelligent life. But nothing of that was true. There were only three Initiative worlds in all of the fifty-three discovered worlds. The first one was discovered in the BWI first years and held a highly advanced reactor plant that was still functioning. It revealed the secrets of fusion power to the BWI. The second world was discovered fifteen years after the first world. This world had been entirely bare but on an enormous scale. The surface was smooth, no mountains, no valleys, no rivers and no oceans. Just a smooth ball. A perfect ball even, not the lumpy kind every other world was. To this day, no answer has been found for this. The last world, discovered only last year, was special as it was the world that revealed more about the “The Great Question”.
The great question was what had baffled the world and especially the BWI since the beginning almost. Every world so far had shown traces of civilisation, and every world, aside from I (initiative)-world 2 had shown traces of space travel. Launch sites, experimental spacecraft, orbiting satellites, even space stations. Some worlds even had Moon bases. All of it pointed at one thing, all of these civilisations had left their Earth. Not a single soul left behind, as any remains found where from graveyards. Why did these people leave their planets? Why so sudden, as most remains showed that most of them left their planet in the span of half a century. And why did it always occur as soon as the people had found the means to leave their planet? The Great Question was Henry’s obsession, pushing him on further and further, making him more reckless as well. Until his death three years ago. If only he had lived long enough to see I-brane 3.
I-brane 3 was different in that it was only very recently abandoned. Estimates hover between a few months and a few years. Large cities and factories, still almost functioning. A true treasure trove when it comes to technology. But the most valuable of all was that it held a fully functional space centre and command centre. With working computers, and archives. It was only a matter of time before they had cracked this world’s languages and they could start translating it. And the hope was that they would finally find the answer to the Great Question, or at the very least more hints. Theo “T” Franks was one of the techs working on the translation project. T was a specialist when it came to using the NERO-5, a highly advanced robotic unit that worked on a fusion core and a trained and nurtured AI that was specifically build to help and support Frontier troops. The people who would venture into new worlds and do the whole “dragging the unknown into the known” process.
T was head of the unit doing the translation, and while their work was not finished yet, had already started on translating some of the files. Launch data had been what you would expect to find. A lot of math, a lot of checks and the like. One particular thing that he had found was that all craft had gathered around a certain point in the orbit and then would leave to their moon, but in a very specific route, at very specific speeds that changed at very specific intervals or milestones. This had been done first with one ship, then ten and after that in various ‘waves’ of a hundred ships each time. And for every iteration, the logs simply stopped after they reached a certain point in their moon orbit. This data had already been send back and was being analysed by the best that the BWI had. In the meantime, T took it upon himself to translate further. While NERO used 90% of its computing power in aiding the other workers, it reserved the remained to assist T, and together they had made leaps of progress. Especially the last few days. T had managed to find a historical archive, it had been cast aside somewhere and was initially marked as ‘low prio’. But certain, so far yet unknown, letters had piqued T’s interest. Now he was blazing through the archive as fast as he could, with the aide of Nero. Not all could be translated yet, as it was a mixture of different languages, but T was trying to chronolog it as best as he could.
Anomaly found in Location – 7, found to be similar to others. Tests ran, equality rating of 100 per cent. Five teams dispatched, estimated total loss of all teams. Local zones evacuated and moved approved distance. No further actions are taken.
No news from teams anymore for the last forty eclipses. Location locked and declared lost. Three new breaches detected all are predicted to evolve into full anomalies in the next cycle or less. Fresh teams are prepared.
Project //>>//>>// on way, great progress. First test launch with full installation planned in 2 cycles.
As projected all breaches evolved into full anomalies in less than a full cycle. One team survived but confirmed the same results. All zones evacuated and locked.
The test launch is planned for next tenth. The world and all of the ><><>< are watching.
Test launch was successful, we have gotten data back, everything nominal. Our calculations for the power usage for the communications where off though. We will need to adjust these in time for the next test run. Ten Mark 2 ships will do the run. Planned for three Tenths from now.
Test launch was again a succes. Our new comms work perfect as well. Expected conditions are worse than first expected though, but considering the alternative are still livable. We have lost the first ship, anomalies reported in the first range. But this has been estimated as well. The deep range has been proved to be clean.
More and more breaches occur every eclipse. We have, at best, Two cycles left. The whole world is working on Mark II vessels now. At current speeds, we will be able to fully evacuate in one Cycle.
Last log. We will leave with the last fleet. Our ship will be a Mark III as well, and we will be equipped with a xxxxxxxxxxxxx capable of destroying the operational centre on the moon. Most of the world has been compromised, estimated that the world has half a cycle left before being fully compromised. We have set up the device, and left it armed. Whether or not this will work is uncertain, but we will no longer be here to witness it. Nor will we ever be back. Farewell, my world.
The logs ended there. T had left out much data, he knew, and some of the key parts where still placeholders. But this as alarming. Something had been compromising their world. And they had left an ‘armed’ device for that something. Was the world still compromised now? Was it dangerous to humanity? Or had the device solved the issue? Perhaps the compromising agent had left after the people had left, but the armed device remained? This changed everything. T rushed to send the information back with the next courier ship that would go through the Eye, which is what they called the interbrane portals these days. With their large almond shapes and the way that they shuttered when opening and closing, it resembled an eye an awful lot. The next day they already got a reply, full evacuation of the brane. T was angry, enraged, he had still much work to do here. But he knew better than to go against BWI command. He made sure to let NERO upload as much of the untranslated data as possible, and then left the world, along with all the other research teams. AS he was waiting in front of the Eye, T took another look at I-brane 3. it looked so peaceful, so perfect. And he wondered what had made these people leave a planet as beautiful as this.