History and Timeline:Icarus Age
|History and Timeline|
Sol System/Humanity and the entering of the FTL age
The Sol System
Immediately prior to the FTL age, the Sol system was the most heavily populated human system. Earth's immense population was sustained only through agressive exploitation of the latest advances in nano-technology. While undeveloped land existed only in nature preserves, and even Antarctica and the continental shelves had been settled by expansionist groups, pollution had been minimized, and what little remained of the natural environment was in superb condition. The terraforming of Mars had been accelerated to near completion by genetically engineered flora and offshoots of that same nano-technology. Man had outposts on Luna, Europa, Titan, and several other moons. The asteroid belt was alive with mining activity.
Thus it was that, with humanity's entry into the FTL era, the Sol system was among the worst hit of any of humanity's systems by the nano-plague that followed on the heels of that entry. The exact method by which the nano-plague spread remains a topic of research. Every species that discovered the Ancients' jump network encountered the same aftereffect. However, the model of FTL ships as carriers is too simplistic, as it doesn't explain the rapid movement of the plague to locations never visited by the early FTL craft, nor, indeed, by any craft prior to the coming of the nano-plague to that location. Likewise, that the plague does not seem to have arbitrarily spread through the jump network further complicates the behavior of the nano-plague. The chain reaction following the Rlaan discovery of the Ancients' jump network, for instance, did not extend beyond the Rlaan area of space and does not appear to have at all been a factor in the Human or Aera plagues. What is certain is that, in all cases, nanite colonies appeared, scattered throughout each affected system from the comet clouds to asteroid belts and on the surfaces and throughout the crust of every planet in every affected system. From these colonies spewed nanite devouring nanites operating on principles that remain outside the understanding of all of the modern species even in the present. The devourers operated without evidence of internal or external power generation or transmission, they gave evidence of FTL communication at the primitive level, and sensory ability completely counter to their size and construction. The dominant theory holds that these nanites are remnants from the war (or otherwise cataclysmic event) that ended the Ancients' occupation of this portion of the galaxy. The voraciousness that these nanites go after other nanites with, while leaving nano-constructed materials alone, and completely ignoring the similarly scaled parts that make up macro-scale objects such as humans and other lifeforms, has lead to the belief that the Ancients' greatly feared the possibility of one or more of the following: a biologically oriented nano-plague, replication-destruction devices ("Von Neumann Bombs"), or even a self-constructing invasion force. Whatever their original purpose, their active presence remains an inescapable fact of modern life, and their disruption of the previous lifestyle of each FTL discovering species a tragedy in every history. No cure is known for the nano-plague, and though no particular triggering caused it to ripple out throughout the entire jump network, there is no new place that any of the existing races go that is not almost immediately infected, and the exploration of space means that every known system already is infected.
Collapse of Nanite-Based Technologies and Human Expansion Efforts
At the beginnings of the plague, as nanite reliant technologies crumbled, billions died on Earth alone. Chaos and disorder gripped the planet for years. It was at this time that the Purist faction gained dominance in the Sol system and the explanation of the catastrophe as the result of Man's hubris resounded well and drew followers to their extremist sub-factions, who would merge to become the "Interstellar Church of True Form's Return". With the constriction of resources, the expansionist factions, outstretched to their limits before the plague, crashed into oblivion. The population of Earth plummeted, and has never returned to the heights it reached before FTL.
However, Earth is a rather nicer place for the change. Even with a mere eight-billion inhabitants, population densities are much higher than is considered pleasant on the majority of the colony worlds.
While the nano-plague deeply hurt the Martian terraforming efforts, the efforts were far enough along that modified flora and Purist oversight of colonization have, over the intervening centuries, made Mars a pleasant and popular destination for visitors to the Sol system. Nanite based terraforming efforts of the Venutian atmosphere were still in their infant stages, and Venus remains utterly uninhabitable to the present.
The stoppage of supplies from Earth wiped out all of the minor outposts except Europa, which managed to sustain a minimal human presence until regular resupply resumed 24 years later.
Mining in the belt resumed, but many of the moon colonies were not repopulated for some time due to Purist reluctance against adapting to environments so alien and hostile to human life when such adaptation is not deemed necessary. Notably, the absence of a human colony on Titan means that it once again has residents in the form of the Rlaan embassy, but while humanity operates throughout the Sol system, the population is centered on Earth and Mars.
With Purist reverance for the Human homeworld, the solar system is one of the safest places in Purist space for (those believed to be) law abiding citizens, with the Purist Earth Guard on permanent assignment, the headquarters of the Homeland Security Forces on Luna, and the Confederation 13th fleet parked in orbit above the Confederation Central Complex on Mars. Earth itself is still a sufficiently common destination, vast and diverse enough to have its pockets of less than reputable types, but the Purist reverance for the cradle of humanity extends to quickly extinguishing any significant disruptions planetside.