2054

When Earth and the solar system become uninhabitable, a select few attempt to escape to a new world using an untested military faster-than-light craft.

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1. Chapter 1 - Hope

The inevitable destruction of all life on Earth and the successful development of a faster-than-light speed craft coincided marginally too late. If it had been invented earlier maybe more could have been saved.

The greenhouse effect had been one thing, contributing to ridiculous levels of sea-rise, flood, extreme weather disaster, temperature-rise, famine, drought, displacement of millions, death and unavoidably - war.

Imagine Marshal law, the fight for basic resources like water, food and shelter as a way of life. The everyday survival of individuals versus governments trying to prevent civil war breaking out. Rioting met with mass extermination by the state, the dire situation spiralling out of control.

For many decades various governments of Earth had been secretly experimenting with warp drive technology. It required large amounts of nuclear fission energy to work, a technology that itself had also been in it's infancy.

Using slower forms of propulsion humanity had populated the solar system with small outposts on The Moon, Mars and various other points of interest which included Titan, Europa and the asteroid belt. All of which still heavily relied on the umbilical cord of Earth in various ways.

The urgency to get away from Earth and the solar system altogether would always seem more obvious in hindsight, but how were they to predict things could possibly get worse than they already had? At this stage it was possible to imagine that the worst damage to Earth's environment had been done, that the 5 billion survivors could be fed, got under control, that they could slowly repair the environment and avoid further conflict between resource hungry nations.

There were contributing factors that would make this impossible.

It was well documented that the magnetosphere that surrounds and protects Earth from solar wind was weakening. It is also a fact that the solar winds which bombard the Earth are on an eleven year cycle, The Sun becoming hotter and brighter enough to effect our environment by its peak in year eleven then returning to 'normal'.

It is common knowledge that our Sun will one day expand and become a 'Red Giant' engulfing the Earth with its huge size. This is not a sudden process, in the billions of years between The Sun as you see it in the sky now and that monster Red Giant it will become, it will steadily become brighter and hotter. Scientists predicted that anything from a 6% to 15% percent increase in brightness from our star over and above the eleven year cycle would send the greenhouse effect into 'runaway greenhouse effect'. Meaning not just a temperature increase, but an ever increasing temperature so high the seas boil off entirely. Our world would be left a dead boiling hellhole, a desert world where no drop of water could exist, no human could survive the new crushing thick poisoning air, much like Venus. An oven. A baking rock.

So, two events conspired against the already damaged Earth. The magnetic field continued to weaken, a measurable and almost manageable situation perhaps. Then, something which the one thousand survivors of humanity would later come to refer to as 'sudden star brightening syndrome'. Scientists watched and measured as over a ten year period it became clear The Sun had brightened steadily and quickly by 8% or so.

Earth's oceans began to boil. This was a surprisingly quick process, at first there were 'runaway greenhouse deniers' who insisted the worst of the temperature increases had been seen. I suppose they couldn't be blamed for hiding their heads in the sand as civil war and all out war broke out across the globe.

The moment had been prepared for. What was left of the governments of the western alliance put into action their escape plan as chaos ensued on Earth. One thousand members of humanity had already been selected. Scientists, soldiers, politicians, doctors, engineers, people from many useful backgrounds for the future of the human race. People of various racial backgrounds. Poets, artists and musicians. Democracy may have died and humanity turned against one another down on Earth, but now, with the huge hidden warp ship based at The Western Alliance Moon Space Station (a known but secretive place much like Area 51) there was hope.

Surveillance of Earth from the warp ship they now called 'Hope' showed huge thickening Venus-like clouds which had become the norm in the last 12 months. Estimates put human life on Earth at about 1 million in underground bunkers. They too would very soon be dead as the atmosphere thickened making the air pressure crushing to human life.

Just when 'The 1000' thought the situation could not get any worse a further complication reared it's ugly head.

Somebody on Earth, probably a dictator from 'The Eastern Alliance' had activated the 'Nuclear Defence Deterrent'. All sides had the ability to nuke each other for decades, both sides upgrading the technology right up to the present, the deterrent was that if you wiped them out their systems got you too. Now with certain death at hand, The Eastern Alliance must've decided to nuke everything in sight. And so the Earth was littered with nuclear explosions. There was another bitter reason for this attack though. The defence system extended to the whole solar system with a guidance system which would home in on any colony or base in existence.

The 1000 had been ready to warp jump for days now, but were forced into emergency procedures to avoid this sour attack.

Other than the doomed people of Earth and The 1000 there must have been another 3000 or so scattered around in basic colonies and bases in the solar system. All relied on Earth and would have eventually died out anyway without support, so young and dependant as they were. The plan was to return to the solar system and assist these survivors, maybe even bolster the colony on Mars to make it self sufficient, even eventually take advantage of The Suns extra heat and terraform the small planet. Now these survivors would be brutally murdered, and the defence system would make it very difficult to return to the solar system.

Hope had a defence system of its own and shot down some nuclear missiles which had honed in on it, but they couldn't stop The Moon base being destroyed outright and many other missiles heading towards Mars, Mercury and other bases.

Hope activated it's torus shaped engine and it started to spin around the habitat within. They would have preferred to increase speed slowly up to a fast pace, expanding and contracting space in front and back of the ship in a controlled method. The emergency escape manoeuvre had never actually been tried. Within mere minutes Hope had shot passed Pluto, escaping Earth and the troubles of the solar system, there was no cheering, no sense of victory, the human race had failed and destroyed itself, they were running away, like rats jumping from a burning boat.

Two hours after passing Pluto the emergency sirens and lights came back on. The emergency warp jump had damaged the warp drive, something was seriously wrong.

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