The EARTHBOUND Series
A Capsule History of Planet Floran
The Centauri Mission
Planet Floran's history begins with an early 23rd century Earth expedition to Beta Centauri, a star so close as a stone's throw. It was Earth's first attempt to form an extra-stellar colony. A suitable planet was discovered orbiting Beta. Scout ships employing newly-discovered warp jump technology had traveled there and back. A tachyon communications relay station had been put in orbit around the Beta planet in preparation for the colonization.
Three interstellar cruisers had been constructed. The flagship, the Floran had made a crossing to Beta and back, manned by a shakedown crew. Now the time came, and the Floran and her sisters were fully loaded with colonists and the equipment needed to build the colony. On the Floran's bridge were Captain Ty Davis and astral navigator Koichi Kyhana. In the engine room was chief engineer Bryan Quinn.
All three vessels made a nominal sublight journey beyond the Solar heliopause to interstellar space. The clutter of matter inside the heliopause made warp jump near Earth risky. It required two and a half Earth days to make the sublight transit at a maximum velocity 0.3C. In formation, the three starships prepared for the jump to Centauri.
Captain Davis ordered the warp coil to be charged. Quinn replied all systems were "go". Davis gave the order and the warp coil was triggered. The ship lost contact with Earth and with her sisters.
Davis realized right away some sort of problem had occurred -- the starfield visible through the bridge viewpane was not what he expected to see. Navigator Kyhana attempted to triangulate their position using easily-characterized deep-space objects. He realized immediately the warp jump must've also involved time displacement. One of the deep-space beacons he attempted to locate was the pulsar in the Crab nebula. He couldn't locate the Crab -- and since the supernova creating the crab exploded in the tenth century, he realized they had been thrown at least a thousand years into the past.
They eventually fixed their position at approximately 200 light-years from Earth, in the general direction of Deneb. Without understanding what went wrong with the warp jump, they dared not risk another. The decision was made to seek another planet to host the colony. Fortunately, the warp jump had landed them in a star cluster -- an area dense with matter; a stellar nursery packed with young solar systems.
Engineer Quinn rigged the sublight engines for near-relativistic velocities. The Floran's fuel supply was ample as the ship had been intended to make regular transits between Earth and Beta without refuling. After nine months of deep space travel, the Floran made planetfall and entered into orbit around the sole planet orbiting a star of spectral class K4. Their timespace position was fixed -- they were in one of the many star clusters found in Cygnus, and their time displacement was computed from proper-motion calculations to be -5,500 Earth years, give or take a couple hundred.
Shuttle craft were dispatched to the surface to determine if their long-range analysis was correct. The shuttles returned with the following assessment: Mean surface temperature: 30o C. Rotational period: approximately 29 Earth hours; revolutionary period: roughly 290 Earth days. Gravity: 0.89 of Earth. Atmosphere: 25% oxygen, 10% CO2, 60% nitrogen and 5% rare and trace gasses. Bottom line: The planet would support human life.
Geographically, the world was covered in water. Mean depth of the sea was 15km. There was a single continent, about the size of Australia, lying between the equator and the north pole. The planet had no axial tilt; hence, no seasons. It lacked a moon; hence, no tides. Arising in the center of the lone continent was an enormous, apparantly extinct volcanic peak lofting 80km into the statosphere. On the eastern side of this mons was a small desert formed from the peak's rain shadow.
The continent was covered with primitive vegetation based on an alien biochemistry. The leaves ranged from deep purple to black, to soak up the lower-energy spectrum of the orange sun. Evidence of invertebrate sea fauna, based on the same biochemistry, could be found. The land appeared devoid of animal life. On an evolutionary basis, the planet appeared to be about the equivalent of Earth during the Devonian era.
Analysis of the life forms yielded a good-news/bad-news story. The native biochemistry was incompatible with that of humans. The good news was infection from native microbes was unlikely. The bad news was none of the native vegetation was edible -- in fact, it was unpalatable to the verge of toxic. A high percentage of sulphur ocurred in the native life, and when dead vegetation decayed it released sulphur-containing gasses into the atmosphere. Some of these gasses were very foul smelling.
The decision was made to form the colony on the surface of this world. The ship had brought hydroponic agricultural equipment intended for the Centauri colony as well as ample seedstock, so the crew and colonists would likely not starve. A site for a main camp was selected in the rain-shadow desert, away from the stench of the thicker forests on the uplands. Passengers and crew were offloaded in shuttlecraft, and the Floran was brought to the surface.
The Floran Compact
After the main camp was established a committee was formed to draft a constitution known as the Floran compact. This document forms the basis of the government of the world named after the vessel. Planet Floran had been founded. The Floran signateurs pledged to build a society for the benefit of future generations. The first twenty years were spent becoming self-sufficient. The equipment and structure of the Floran were cannibalized to build the necessary infrastructure. Hydroponic planting beds were created and sufficient food in the form of grains and legumes were grown. Expeditions to the mons discovered metal ores and smelting facilities were constructed. One recognition was the need for vigorous interbreeding of the population, as well as the need to jump-start population growth. The Earth institutions of marriage and the family were deliberately weakened to encourage procreation and to promote mixing of the gene pool. Though intially successful, these policies would return to haunt the early Floran population.
Around 150 years After PlanetFall (150 APF) Floran entered the time in which the colony was at greatest risk of failing. The population had outstripped the ability of the hydroponic beds to produce food, and what food they had was threatened by a native microbe mutating and attacking the Earth plants. This was the first evidence the native bioshphere was beginning to rally to throw off the human infection. Bickering among various factions had disrupted the unity fostered by the Floran compact. The population was of two minds.
One viewpoint was to attempt to reach outward. Material sufficient to construct a starship on the pattern of the original Floran had been amassed. A candidate planet had been identified -- an Earth-like one orbiting a blue star about 1500 LY distant. Long-range analysis indicated a biosphere more compatible with human life. An expedition was launched and never heard from again. The loss of this mission, commanded by Midoro Kyhaha, one of Koichi's descendants, set the Floran space travel program back nearly two hundred years. Ironically, this same planet was eventually colonized and given the name Lexal, but only within the last 300 Floran years.
The other viewpoint was to regroup and exploit what resources the land could provide. A strong and charismatic leader emerged, the first High Chancellor, who unified the planetary population. A major breakthrough in food production was developed, the use of covered agridomes under which Earth crops could be grown in environments closer to those of their planet of origin. The Floran population again began to thrive.
Return to Space
By 350APF, space travel had resumed. The ExoService was founded with the mission to identify and explore worlds suitable for colonization. A priority had been to reestablish contact with Earth in order to gather agricultural specimens necessary to improve genetic diversity within Floran's food crops. Such was needed to stave off the increasing threat of constantly evolving native microbes.
Florans realized the nature of the temporal paradox -- contact with Earth ran the risk of disrupting the Centauri mission that was part of Floran's past but Earth's future. The elite ExoAgency was formed to carry out covert but benign missions on Earth's surface.
Initially, placing Floran agents on Earth was relatively easy. Earth was in the late Bronze Age, and Florans could masquerade as gods and goddesses in firey chariots demanding tribute in the form of foodstuffs. As time progressed, Florans realized they would need to be more circumspect in their approach to their planet of origin.
By 500APF, the first offworld colony had been established. Gamma-5 provided a modicum of non-Earth based foodstocks, and relief for the burgeoning population on Floran proper.
The Floran lifestyle was improving. Cities were being built with transportation and communication infrastructures. Floran medical researchers had eliminated all pathological organisms in the biosphere (all such pathogens had been brought from Earth). An economic and political structure based on socialism and communal ownership of property was well established. The benevolent but all-powerful Central Adminstration was established with powers to monitor and control the lives of all Florans from birth to death. Personal Identification codes were assigned, and Florans began receiving at birth implanted microchips used to initiate and record all transactions with Central Admin.
By 1,000APF something had to be done to manage population growth. This was attacked on two fronts. First, family lines were codified and registered. An institution of birth licenses was established. Children born without benefit of birth license were denied certain privileges of citizenship, and resulting broken family lines would suffer stigma for generations to come. This was a powerful incentive to adhere to birth license policies.
Secondly, a system of mandatory contraception was implemented. All girls would receive a contraceptive implant capsule at the onset of puberty. This capsule would be disabled by Central Admin only upon the granting of a valid birth license, and re-enabled after the birth of the child. As incentive to comply, the synthetic hormones contained in the implants were engineered to drive incidents of breast and ovarian cancer to the vanishing point.
With the prospect of a maximum of two children, Floran couples began planning their families with great care. Genetic counselling became the norm, to the point today where the majority of children are conceived in-vitro, the embryos implanted only after careful screening. The rare naturida, or natural child, is now regarded as the ultimate testiment to love between a man and his wife.
With the establishment of Central Admin, birth licenses and fertility control, Floran's society entered a period of managed growth, peace and relative prosperity. Food was ample. The Florans had eliminated hunger, poverty and disease. There were no racial differences, no national jealosies and no religious or sectiarian strife. The planet entered a Golden Age, one it enjoys to this day.