It was late 2133 when we first surpassed light speed, on March 10th 2136 we first successfully survived The Traverse. Triumphantly we reached out into the stars and brought the riches of The Milky Way to one single point. We found all kinds of primitive life, flora and fauna with strange new properties from their different suns. We even changed our own until many were unrecognizable. Though all kinds of life, even some which was non-carbon based, greeted us in our exploration there were no signs of intelligence. We dared not travel beyond our galaxy, for fear of the endurance required to survive the distance. While that could become a possibility later once medical science improves, it is still some ways off.
Colonization is an eventual goal but the profit in consolidation is too great an allure. Nations are still hilariously bound by the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, which prevented base nationalism from trumping the day. The entrepreneurial spirit was not to be dissuaded though. The sheer vastness of the new territory made true governance impossible so cooperative agreements were made. Communications became difficult, as human interconnectedness has always been based on light. Telegram buoys had to be erected, constantly flickering back and forth between jump-points. Other areas are blackout zones, where there are no resources there is no means of contact without travel.
Much like the Old World cutting up the New, sectors were created and sparred over in proxy wars between the true powers of mankind; Hope and Fear. Fear drives the competition and the continuing supposition that this is a zero-sum game. It is man’s duty to gather all that he can for the glory and defense of his species in this dark and deadly universe. The Hope is that eventually we will find someone or something that has done this before, and crib their notes. Terraforming and extra-galactic exploration took a back seat to the amassing of precious resources. Improvements in efficiency and sustainability allowed us to keep growing within our enclosure, as the shipcities got larger and less temporary.
With Earth wallowing in unimaginable wealth and plenty its populations bloomed and merged. Population growth was incendiary, breaking the 20 billion mark half a century early. As technology for the support of all this exploration exploded onto the marketplace the private sector adapted it for civil uses. Entire regions of Earth’s surface became bustling hives of self sufficiency as a raw materials race that dwarfed every other escalation in history began.
It is now 2233, almost 100 years since the Expansion began, and there is hope in the air. Someday, maybe soon, we will reach beyond our little glowing wheel and see the face of our destiny. This is good, as the Habistacks are getting increasingly bottom heavy, inequality is growing as increased reward benefits increased risk. We have begun leaving people behind in larger and larger quantities, and over 60% of the earth’s population currently lives in poverty. That is over 30 billion people.