Friday, February 21, 2014

Traveller: Secrets of the Dark Nebula

After posting my Dark Nebula variant on the SFRPG-Discussion Boards, I was asked on these boards by the Evil Doctor Ganymede: "Is there a reason that the planets in the Dark Nebula polity aren't inhabited or named?" So here is the answer, which is pivotal to the back-story of my Dark Nebula variant (i.e. non-canonical) official traveller universe.

Experimental Jump Coils on N3
The 2740's (the distant Third Imperium's calendar speaks of the -1770's) were well within the waning years of the Rule of Man, marked by significant political, economic and social instability. The old, stagnant Imperium, with a thin layer of Terran rule superimposed on it, was going to hell in a handbasket. Soon enough, in 2746, the dreaded Twilight, and, later, the Long Night, would engulf known space, leading to almost two millennia of barbarism and decay.

But instability has its perks. The failing Terran Empire was no longer a coherent government body, and those with connections and a clout could apprehend budgets, resources, even whole worlds, and get away with it in the chaos. Research Unit #72 was one such group of people (in this case, scientists) with clout, and, indeed, they managed to appropriate funds - stolen from the decomposing corpse of the Second Imperium - undreamed of by scientists of more civilized times. With that money, they moved to the deep Spinward-Rimward frontier, to the scantly explored Dark Nebula, to be free from the moral and political constrains of the Core. And there they worked wonders. At least, they tried to.

The Event, as seen from the surface of N3
They tried to develop technologies which will save the failing Rule of Man from its inevitable collapse - artificial intelligence, cybernetics, genetic engineering, and, especially, new technologies for interstellar travel and, theoretically speaking, communications.

The latter technology reached a place that even the great scientists of the Solomani Confederation were unable to replicate, but at a price. On November 3rd, 2747 AD, The Event occurred. Experimental stationary jump coils on the world known today as N3 fired as part of a planned experiment. But they caused an unexpected effect. In an instant, all five star-systems of the Dark Nebula were torn from their place in the Space-Time Continuum, and hurled, through jumpspace (or a similar parallel dimention), as a whole, not in space, but in time. For a whole year, local time, these systems were in limbo - disconnected from our universe. But then they burst back into Real Space - almost three millennia, in Real Space dates, after their disappearance. For that time, the Nebula was a dead zone - an area of space where no solid bodies could be seen, and where anomalies in the Space-Time Continuum endangered any ship entering that space.

In August 5638 AD (1117 Imperial), suddenly the N4 star of the Dark Nebula appeared on the night sky of Taida Na, re-lighting the old cloud (this means they have appeared in real-space a few years before, as it takes the light of N4 a few years to reach Taida Na). Soon enough, rumours have reached both Solomani and Aslan ears that the worlds of the Nebula, hinted upon in legend, are back. And now, their technological treasures are ripe to the plucking, though still ripe with Space-Time Continuum anomalies, mutated animals, crazed survivors and a mad, mad AI.

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