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Part of the Proxima Shared Universe -- concept by Bjorn Townsend.
Approx. 200,000 BCE -- Cartorans achieve space travel, colonize their system and start mining their asteroids. About a century and a half later, some bright person builds the first Slipdrive, and the universe lies wide open. The golden age of the Empire begins.

Approx. 190,000 BCE -- The Cartorans have by this time encountered a number of intelligent races, and have either subjugated or allied themselves with them. Numerous attempted coups or revolutions have taken place, and occasionally succeeded, but little actual change occurs. Just means a new House on the throne. They're pretty damned arrogant, by this point, and when they run into the Gestalti at around this time, they get into real trouble. A war promptly ensues; no one knows who started it, exactly, and no one knows why either. The war snowballs into a War.

Approx. 190,000 BCE to 100 BCE -- The Sundering War. The Cartoran Empire, which formerly encompassed an entire spiral arm of the galaxy, has been torn apart. The locations of inhabited systems are fiercely-guarded secrets, to prevent the Gestalti from discovering them. Much of this information is lost when Cartora itself falls in the year 112 BCE. The war has not been a steady conflict, of course, and there have been "breaks" of as long as a hundred years. It is during this time that the current Imperial House is slaughtered, the empire thrown in chaos.

10,000 BCE -- Terra is colonized by a primitivist group. A Cartoran immigrant sparks the legend of Astarte in Sumer.

112 CE - New Cartora is founded by House M'deihaien, exactly two centuries after the fall of both Cartora and the old House M'dirath. House M'deihaien takes advantage of the scattering of the Empire to hide from the Gestalti, who eventually give up and go looking for other prey while they wait for the Cartorans to set off one of their probe-traps. Technology on New Cartora is very low, for a while, as space travel is discouraged. During this time, biotechnology flourishes.

113 CE - Construction of the Luminant Palace on New Cartora is completed.

447 CE - Empress Gelle sa-ne-Mdeihaien declares that the Empire shall be rebuilt, and commissions the tattered Imperial Space Navy to seek out the worlds with which contact was lost during the Sundering War.

1408 CE - Princess Lyvara travels to the outer worlds of the Empire, lives with the people for a time, and commits ritual suicide in the face of her task.

1420 CE - One of Princess Lyvara's bohemian friends, the playwright Gessan J'larea, writes down her story, and eventually publishes it under a thin gauze of fiction.

1851 CE - Princess (later Empress) Merydithe sa-ne-M'deihaien, Lady Ishtar's mother, is born.

1942 CE - Merydithe succeeds to the title of Empress of the Cartoran Empire, after her parents are killed while directing skirmishes in the 109th War of Internal Dissension.

1969 CE - Terran humans reach their moon for the first time.

1973 CE - Princess Ishtar sa-na-M'deihaien is born on New Cartora.

1976 CE - Shinobu Sasaki is born.

1977 CE - Simone Atkins and Richard Miyazuka are born.

1978 CE - Kira Weatheral is born.

1979 CE - Mark Huntley is born.

1999 CE - Mark and Kira meet for the first time. On New Year's Eve, they jokingly concoct a plan to migrate from Terra out into space.

2001-2002 CE - NASA is formally disbanded. Special permission suspending antitrust laws is given in the case of the failing aerospace industry, and United AeroSpace is formed by a coalition of aerospace companies (Hughes, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Bell, United Technologies, Pratt & Whitney, engines division of GE, et cetera). This coalition brings with it a change in the attitude of engineering corporations towards talent and creativity in new employees, bringing it more in line with that of the software industry. In September of 2001, a terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center sparks a wave of xenophobia and paranoia among American citizens, and a quiet curtailing of civil rights begins within the USA.

2002 CE - Mark and Kira enter the employ of United AeroSpace.

2004 - The political situation on Terra takes a turn for the worse as brushfire wars break out all through the Middle East and Africa. Shinobu Sasaki and Richard Miyazuka found Shinma Industries in Japan. Richard and Simone Atkins begin to devise PGPnet at the suggestion of Mark and Kira.

2005 CE - Mark and Kira persuade the UAS board of directors to fund their Ground To Orbit (referred to as Get To Orbit by some) Project. The events described in the story Yesterday's Garden, Yesterday's Sky take place.

2007 - The first GTO Project ship lifts from the former Kennedy Space Center in Florida, now the William B. Proxmire Memorial Testing Area. Earlier in the year, PGPnet goes online. PGPnet, an underground computer network that piggy-backs invisibly on top of normal TCP/IP packets, grows by word-of-mouth as people begin to fear for their free speech through normal Internet traffic.

2008 - Three nuclear missiles are fired at targets in the United States, Europe and Japan from the Middle East. These are all destroyed in the air by the defense systems of those nations. Jyhad is proclaimed against the West, and oil stops flowing from Saudi Arabia and other mideast nations. The United States formally declares war to protect its interests. Later in the year, the Crisis Communications Act is passed by a narrow margin, allowing the NSA to monitor any and all communications during time of war for potential communications "contrary to popular morale or well-being". Eighty-seven people are arrested under the terms of the CCA during the first year of its use, under charges of conspiracy, treason and conduct damaging to public morale. The evidence used to try these people was composed of private e-mail correspondance, conversations on IRC, and postings to USENET.

Mark and Kira fall under suspicion of treason, but thanks to their adept friends in PGPnet, the evidence against them is destroyed. PGPnet spreads even further. Also, construction is completed on Perihelion Station, the largest space station yet built. It continues to expand.

2009 - Mark and Kira begin to fear for the future of United AeroSpace as it comes under economic attack from various directions, corporate and government. The Board of Directors bail out entirely, leaving Mark and Kira in charge of UAS. They see the potential in this, and revisit a certain conversation they had in 1999. Their first action is to buy some land on the coast of northern Australia and begin to construct a launch site. They spread word through PGPnet, gleaning thousands of supporters from various technical backgrounds. With the help of their allies, they blackmail various NSA and FBI officials into leaving United AeroSpace alone, as well as keeping the existence of PGPnet a secret. Modifications are made to Perihelion Station in secret, which is now home to almost a thousand people, including the installation of a fission reactor. United AeroSpace announces a plan to mine the asteroids. The first mining ship is to have a crew of eight hundred, and be almost as large as Perihelion Station itself.

2011 - "Hot" fusion is made practical by a team of European and Japanese scientists. Mark and Kira immediately make plans to incorporate it into the design of the asteroid mining ship Ceres Or Bust. Shinma Industries announces that their latest supercomputer, the "Nightingale", has the intuitive problem-solving capability of a smartish bird, as well as a true parallel-processing neural network capable of performing well over a quadrillion calculations per second. China becomes involved in the conflict over Middle East oil, and Israel threatens the use of nuclear weapons to end the conflict forever.

2017 - Construction is completed on the Ceres Or Bust. It heads for the Asteroid Belt for a trial run.

2018 - The Ceres Or Bust returns, bringing with it an asteroid with a mile diameter. The asteroid is mined, hollowed and fitted with engines. It is comissioned the mining ship Hollow Comet, and goes down in history as the first Asteroid-Ship. It carries a normal crew of five hundred, but its passenger capacity is more than two thousand.

2019 - The Hollow Comet departs with the Ceres Or Bust for another run to the Belt. More mining ships are constructed. A rash of bizarre disappearances runs across the world, people apparently neatly packing up their homes and vaporizing into thin air without a word. No sign of foul play can be found.

2021 - Nanites constructed by Shinma Industries are used in a medical procedure for the first time. A doctor - also a member of PGPnet - conceives of using the nanites for life-prolonging purposes. He soon joins the secret emigration to the Asteroids.

2025 - The Belt has been populated in secret. Its population is now about sixty thousand and growing, as the first children have been born in free-fall. China and the allied nations of NATO throw themselves into all-out conventional warfare over the oil in the Middle East. In Australia, which has remained largely neutral throughout the conflict due to its huge uranium reserves, Mark and Kira prepare to leave Terra with the final shipload of colonists for the Asteroids. As Perihelion Station begins its deorbit burn, they override all standard media communications to announce that they, and some sixty thousand others, have decided to leave Terra and found their own society elsewhere. The nature of the "elsewhere" is not specified, but they do emphasize that one day they will return.

2026 - Shinobu Sasaki agrees to be the first human test subject of nanite rejuvination procedures.

2027 - Mark and Kira arrive in the Belt. Perihelion Station is mated with the asteroid Ceres and formally renamed Perihelion City.

2027-2049 - The Belt civilization continues to expand. Advancements are made in nanotechnology, with particular respect to rejuvination therapy. Shinma Industries and ICBM compete fiercely. Banditry and claim-jumping in the Asteroids becomes widespread. The Belt forms its own culture. Around 2030 or so, someone coins the term aestheneering. Shinobu Sasaki begins to publically share her ideas on the nature of shinma as it relates to technology, as well as her methodology of intuitive reasoning.

2030 - The Economic Protocol is written by Mark, Kira, Richard, Simone and several others. Shortly thereafter the Economic Protocol Council is founded by United AeroSpace and Shinma Industries. They grant autonomy to some of their divisions, and encourage individuals to found new companies in various areas. There is a scramble for seats on the Council as opportunities arise. By virtue of the romantic natures of the people involved, people who hold seats on the EPC are granted the title of Lord or Lady. The first Guilds - Spacer's Guild, Miner's Guild, Storyteller's Guild and Aestheneer's Guild - are formed.

2031 - Protesters of the Economic Protocol found a seperate community in the Asteroid Belt, surviving through piracy. They later obtain Slipdrives and emigrate to the Canopus system, using it as a base of operations to continue the harassment of EPC-loyal shipping.

2034 - (Lady Commander) Rigel A. McCaffrey is born.

2037 - Teachers in the Belt population begin to note the highly intuitive nature bestowed on their "students" by their unorthodox education. The term 'intuit' comes into usage as a pronoun.

2038 - Shinma Industries and ICBM split. The Belt civilization rejoices as Shinma Industries introduces the first semi-self-aware artificial intelligence system, based on the Instinctual Motivation Metaphor concept. There are four models: the 'Turing', for use as an automated control system for other devices (ie factories, ships), the 'Seamus', a smaller system designed specifically to provide security for another, larger group of computer systems, the 'Nightingale', which is oriented towards complex problem solving and chaotic simulation, and the 'Oneko', for heavy-duty research, data collection and simulation. Shinma Industries also announces its intention to create a human-level artificial intelligence.

2040 - Another asteroid is mated to the Perihelion Station/Ceres combination. Perihelion City grows enormously. The Preservatory, a great hanging garden in the free-fall at the core of the city, is created. In its Center is a storage area filled with great wonders: real books, from Terra.

2043 - Rigel becomes interested in Void-Which-Binds, and begins to research the shaping and distortion of space.

2045 - Rigel founds Bespoke Aestheneering Solutions Corporation at the age of fourteen as a consultant and custom engineering outfit. With the profits, she buys parts, equipment and a Shinma Industries Nightingale-Twelve computer. She uses the Nightingale to attempt to model the structure of the Void-Which-Binds in five dimensions. With this information, she begins to construct devices with which to test her hypotheses.

2048 - Pirates attack Perihelion City directly. They are defeated - narrowly - by a hastily-formed militia. The EPC contracts United AeroSpace to oversee the security of the city and mining operations. The city security eventually separates from UAS and becomes known as the Protocol Enforcers. Lord Mark Huntley and Lady Kira Weatheral retain control of the Space Defense Division, which under their aegis evolves into the Fleet.

2049 - Not long after her sixteenth birthday, Rigel McCaffrey completes her most ambitious piece of testing equipment - a device intended to distort the shape of the Void-Which-Binds itself. Unknowingly, she had constructed a prototype Slipdrive. She soon realizes the potential of her invention and takes it to the Economic Protocol Council. The EPC contracts her to design a series of interstellar probes with Slipdrives.

2050 - Mark and Kira push for a mass migration to any new system with a congenial planet located by the probes. When they succeed, fusion rocket motors and Slipdrives are installed in all the inhabited Asteroids. Bespoke Aestheneering Solutions Corp. is admitted to the Economic Protocol Council, and its founder (Rigel McCaffrey) obtains a seat.

2052 - The first of the Curious George series of interstellar probes leaves Perihelion City, its destination the Centauri system. The second and third leave later that year, heading to Tau Ceti and 40 Eridani.

2053 - The probeship Curious George I reports back from the Centauri system. The first picture sent back by the Oneko-Ninety artificial intelligence on board is of the second world out from Proxima Centauri, lush and blue-green. This defies explanation and reason, as Proxima Centauri is an M5-class star that should under no circumstances support life resembling that of Terra. Later in the year, the other two Curious George ships report back, with another habitable world around Tau Ceti and rich asteroid belts around 40 Eridani. However, Proxima Centauri II has just the right balance of alien difference and sweet similarity to Terra that it entices the population of the Asteroids. The great fusion rockets at the heart of each of the asteroids fire, and they lift themselves into the night. The brilliant light of their drive streams can be seen in the night sky on Terra.

2054 - The Asteroid Fleet clears Sol's gravitational field, and Slips collectively into the Proxima Centauri system (a very tense moment for Lady Rigel, indeed). It takes the better part of six months for the Asteroid-Ships to enter orbit around Proxima Centauri II, which is named, simply, 'Proxima'. The inhabitants of the Asteroid-Ships vote unanimously that Lord Mark and Lady Kira are, together, to be the first human beings to set foot on an alien world. As they did so, the fancy speech they had prepared sort of slips away, they look up at the night sky (for they wished to share this moment with their beloved stars), and then turn to one another and kiss in a moment recorded for all time by technology - and never forgotten by the people who came to inhabit that world.

2054-2125 - The Proximan civilization grows and expands as the people move into their new home. Biologists go crazy as they try to comprehend the new ecosystem and catalogue its life. Human habitation on the surface and in orbit (for the Asteroid-Ships, particularly Perihelion City, are still home to many) expands and grows.

2061 - The city of Daybreak, on Isle Verite, largest landmass in the Downover Archipelago, is founded. At the time a collection of small houses, factories and shops, it later grows to be the largest city on Proxima.

2100 - The city of Hoshi is founded on the diametric opposite point on the planet from Daybreak. (Note: The word 'hoshi' is Japanese for 'star'.)

2125 - On the hundredth anniversary of the exodus from Terra, the Economic Protocol Council (still led by Lord Mark and Lady Kira) announces the beginning of a new age of exploration. A fleet of ships will be constructed to explore the universe - starting with a ship to be commanded by the Lord and Lady (as the United AeroSpace councilmembers became known -- see the short story The Lord and Lady for the reference) called the Majesty.

2130 - Construction of the Majesty and her sister ships is completed. Lady Rigel McCaffrey insists on signing on as the Majesty's engineering officer, even though she is offered a ship of her own. When asked about her decision, she replied that "Romantics should not be allowed to roam the universe unsupervised."

2130 CE - First Contact between Proximans and Cartorans. By some random chance, the Proximan starship Majesty encounters the Cartoran Imperial Space Navy ship Mares on her maiden voyage. The Majesty returns to New Cartora with the Mares, and treaty negotiations begin with the Cartoran Empire. An instant friendship forms between the Proximan ship's crew and the heir to the Cartoran throne, Lady Admiral Ishtar sa-na-M'deihain, daughter of Empress Merydithe and commander of Her Imperial Majesty's space navy. This proves helpful in 2132, when Empress Merydithe, attempts to annex Proxima by force - and is given a demonstration of the capabilities of the dormant, but not dead, PGPnet when Proximan hackers take control of the Cartoran military and civillian data networks. Ishtar later solidifies the relationship between Proxima and the Empire, since she simply cannot abide a mess.

2135 - As the Proximan Exploratory Fleet and Cartoran ISN combine their efforts to locate the lost worlds of the Empire, and perhaps some new ones, a new golden age of exploration begins for the Empire.

2153 - The worlds of the Proxima Centauri system, as well as the newly colonized worlds of Tau Ceti III, 40 Eridani IV and Vega IX, are united as the Proxima Centauri Consortium. New treaties are signed with the Cartoran Empire.

2167 - Several lost worlds of the Empire are contacted, including Ikkan (25 Centauri IV) and the world settled by the Mn'hssi (genetically engineered life forms created by the Cartorans as living computers, to help figure out Gestalti technology, during the Sundering War).

2170 - The Lord and Lady of United AeroSpace announce on behalf of the EPC that the time has come for the Proxima Centauri Consortium to build a defensive/exploratory fleet comparable or superior to the Imperial Space Navy. Construction begins on the three flagships of the fleet, to be called the Mephistopheles, the Prometheus and the shi'Mdeiha (to be commanded by a Cartoran). The ships are unique - cylindrical, ten kilometers in length and two kilometers in diameter, and powered by a radical new invention from none other than Lady Rigel of Bespoke: mass-to-energy converters, otherwise known as the Reflex Drive. They are a showcase of the latest technologies - a fully self-aware human level artificial intelligence system built by Shinma Industries, Version Four slipdrives, Van Allen field generators, full artificial gravity, an artificial ecosystem and an entire city built into the core of each ship. The crew of each Deep-Exploration Starship numbers about 15,000 (mixed Proximan, Cartoran, Ikkanna, Mn'hssi, Hylar and Shiro).

2180 - The flagships of the Consortium Fleet, as well as eight other heavy cruiser-type ships are commissioned. Lord Mark Huntley assumes command of the Mephistopheles, Lady Kira Weatheral of the Prometheus, and Lady Ishtar sa-na-M'deihaien of the shi'Mdeiha. Mark and Kira become the Admirals of the Consortium Fleet, and the shi'Mdeiha becomes the de facto flagship of the ISN.

2180 - 2350: The Cartoran Empire enjoys the benefits of its partnership with the Proxima Centauri Consortium, and a series of treaties tie the two ever more closely together both politically and socially. Some believe it is only a matter of time before the Empire is subsumed into the Consortium. Ironic, since it was the Empire that tried to annex the pre-natal Consortium in 2132.

The events of the story Making Choices take place. This marks the end of the grand romance of Mark Huntley and Kira Weatheral. While they remain the dearest of friends, and occasionally lovers as well, their relationship is never what it was. For they decide that in order to continue to pursue their dreams, neither can be suboordinate to the other.

Lady Rigel refuses command of a cruiser, deciding instead to remain at Lord Admiral Huntley's side as XO of the Mephistopheles. Three guesses why.

2180-2300 - The Proxima Centauri Consortium continues to grow, as a number of alien races side with them rather than the more imperialist Cartoran Empire. The Consortium flourishes, the cities grow. The city of New Victoria Harbor is founded on Tau Ceti III, which has been named Kallisti by its inhabitants and grows to a city of one point two million. Immigrants from the Cartoran Empire flood the Consortium, giving its population a much-needed boost. During this time, the Canopan pirates prove to be a minor annoyance. The Economic Protocol Council also grows, as many new and successful corporations are founded.

2303 - The events described in the stories Reflections in Thinnest Glass, Prometheus and Antimony take place.

2308 - The Gestalti attack the 8th Tactical Fleet of the Proxima Centauri Consortium. The 8th Tactical wins the day, with help from the PCCS-Mephistopheles and PCCS-Prometheus.

To be continued...

Part of the Proxima Shared Universe -- concept by Bjorn Townsend.

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