The Apollo Cluster
The SS Cassandra is the largest project humanity has ever undertaken. A massive ship designed to make a 10 year journey to the Apollo cluster, where preliminary scans reveal a bounty of mineral resources and potentially habitable planets. The ship reaches the edge of our solar system, escaping the grip of Sol’s gravity then make the first of many faster-than-light jumps. Families, children, scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers and more embark on the largest journey in humanity’s history. There are 700’000 souls aboard the Cassandra as she blinks out of existence in Sol, destined for Apollo.
In between each jump, she breaks apart into countless smaller vessels which get to work monitoring the ship’s systems. She is maintained and observed thoroughly and each system must be fully optimal before another jump is made. Support and supply ships buzz around her like bees, while power vessels spread out huge arrays of solar panels to recharge for the next jump.
Jumping isn’t perfect. Some smaller vessels don’t reappear as they are meant to, and several lives are lost en route. But still, right on schedule, 10 years after leaving Earth, the Cassandra arrives in the Apollo cluster where it breaks apart for the last time and makes planetfall on the humble world of Lagrange.
Back on Earth, an effort was to be undertaken to create one side of a jumpgate to provide an instantaneous wormhole which would allow rapid transit between Earth and Apollo. The Cassandra herself would provide the chassis of the gate for the Apollonian side of the wormhole.
But there are problems. Initial scans show that Lagrange’s mineral deposits aren’t as abundant as had been promised, and the fleet has to spread out across the cluster and start building colonies around other, more bountiful planets.
As time passes, the colonies grow resentful of the newly-created Apollo-Earth Authority’s demands for their resources to be poured into EarthGate. Many feel that the establishment of EarthGate will rob them of the freedom and autonomy they had been working for years now to achieve. They want no masters. Others see EarthGate as a link to their history, their culture, and to their humanity itself.
Such dichotomy brings down the Apollo-Earth Authority, and systems form their own governments. Self-interest creeps in as EarthGate lies dormant and incomplete. Prosperity is had, rebellions come and go, powerful people grow and fall, wars are fought, and a new generation of people who had never seen Earth begin to slowly rise to power.
It has now been 44 years since planetfall. Most systems now fend for themselves, and fanatics even seek to destroy EarthGate entirely. But a question plagues everyone in Apollo. Why did Earth never reach out again?
That same year, a ship blinks into existence somewhere near the Galileo system. It is a badly damaged, and is quickly identified by a passing trader as one of the missing support ships for the Cassandra, finally reaching Apollo after all these years. On board is you, alone and in a world which has had almost half a century of development without you. You have no friends, and no one knows you’re here…