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Hello, and welcome to Cloud 9. This story tells of Humanity's struggle against an expansionist alien race called the Blagh'ai. The story begins with a prologue outlining Humanity's path from 2013 to the 2680s when society nearly falls apart after its foundations are shaken by sudden and violent attack by the Blagh'ai on the outer colony worlds and the subsequent war that followed. Cloud 9 A Story by: Kazi the Matoran Table of Contents: Prologue Part 1 – Earth Before the Chaos Prologue Part 2 – The Chaos Prologue Part 3 – The War Part 1: Chapter 1 – Recruits Chapter 2 – This Ain't Your Mom's Place Chapter 3 – Trial By Survival Chapter 4 – Cloud 9 Chapter 5 – New Guys Chapter 6 – Surprise Attack Chapter 7 – Mobilization Chapter 8 – The Blagh'ai Part 2: Chapter 9 – To The Ends of the Universe and Beyond, There Is No Escape Chapter 10 – Pursuit Chapter 11 – The Planet Killer Chapter 12 – Hopeless Endeavours Chapter 13 – Separated Chapter 14 – For Those We Left Behind, We Go Once More To Battle Chapter 15 – The Costs Of Victory Chapter 16 – Broken World Part 3: Chapter 17 – The Path To Glory Chapter 18 – The End Of All Things Chapter 19 – We Lucky Few Chapter 20 – Boldly, They Rode Epilogue – We Will Not Go Quietly Into The Night Star Charts Time Line of Events New chapters will come whenever I finish them. See the following posts for parts 1 and 2 of the prologue! Enjoy! NOTE: After the prologue, please read at your discretion, as this story will have some language, but according to guidelines, I will edit it to be as G, PG, or PG-13 as possible, and descriptions of brutal violence, which will, again, be edited down to an appropriate level for this forum. I'll keep the 14A/R language to myself and for my friends on the Book of Faces. Prologue Part 1 – Earth Before the Chaos - Years: 2013 – 2683 In the year 2013, Earth was in a troubled place. The economy was in a constant state of flux, and the environment was well on its way to becoming uninhabitable. Politically, things were not much better. North Korea was on its way to a functional nuclear program, but it was laughably decades behind other nations, such as the United States or Russia who in the previous century, had been threatening nuclear war with each other for roughly forty years. Iran was also doing the same thing, which, what with the crisis in Syria and the generally unstable political climate of the Middle East, was something the world did not need. In April of that year, science was making rapid progress in the area of ion and fusion propulsion drives. The first successful tests yielded promising travel times for NASA's planned mission to Mars in coming years. Indeed this was a huge step toward humanity's great dream of exploring the cosmos. Finally, something people could look forward to! In 2023, the Mars One program sent four individuals to the Red Planet; essentially, the farthest any man had ever gone before. On Mars, these people gathered information previously unknown due to the limitations of remote controlled probes, such as the Curiosity rover launched in December of 2012. Twenty years after the Mars One mission, in 2033, and colony was established on Mars. Advances in fusion propulsion drive technology had now cut the journey down to fourteen days. The colony thrived, and by 2096, a space station was in orbit, along with ship building facilities on the surface as Earth was now looking to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. In 2107, catastrophe broke out on Earth as North Korea, now surrounded by American, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese military forces after annexing South Korea, launched thirty nuclear missiles aimed at Australia, the United States, Canada, China, and Russia. Many of the missiles were shot down before they even reached their targets, but five of them hit their mark. Los Angeles, Beijing, Seattle, Melbourne, and San Francisco were all vaporized by 90 megaton explosions. America retaliated by wiping North Korea off the map in the same manner, but with a new 1000 megaton bomb no one in the US government or military had ever hoped to use. Due to the fallout that followed, China, Japan, Russia, and Mongolia had to move people within the fallout radius to safe distances. Japan, with help from aid organizations and the US military, was evacuated. The populations of Eastern Russia and Mongolia had to be moved west to get out of the fallout radius. China suffered the worst, what with the government gone, and people migrating to the southern and western edges of the nation. Over crowding became an even bigger issue, and because of the lack of jobs, China's economy disintegrated causing the largest global economic crisis in recorded history. On top of that, the world was in the midst of the biggest humanitarian crisis ever due to the billions of recently displaced people. The depression and the humanitarian crisis lasted for fifty years. During this time, however, science had once again been busy. By 2157, colonies had already been on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn for thirty-six years, and during those thirty-six years, scientists had been working on a new kind of propulsion: the jump drive. If it worked, it would allow ships to travel beyond the solar system to other worlds within the local cluster. In Mach of 2153, the first successful test of the new jump technology enabled a ship and a crew of twenty to travel to the Alpha Centauri system, the closest system to our own. The planets in Alpha Centauri's Goldilocks Zone were not habitable for human life due to the presence of Krypton, which if breathed in excess can induce a state of narcosis. Without it though, that atmosphere would be pure Oxygen/Nitrogen, and therefore habitable. A research station was established in 2155 to try and find a way to remove the Krypton from the atmosphere, and in May 2157, a solution was found and atmospheric processors were brought from Earth to purify the atmosphere of the planet, now known as Centauri-B2. In September of that year, people displaced by the fallout of 2107 were given the choice of leaving Earth to start anew on Centauri-B2. Three billion people decided to go, and so, the first colonists, 250 000 souls, arrived on Centauri-B2 on December 31, 2157 on the eve of a new year. 250 000 more came every week for the next twenty-three years. Over the course of the next 400 years or so, humanity spread throughout the cosmos, establishing colonies on every habitable world from Mars in 2033, to Tau Ceti in 2609. All throughout the area, space stations were set up to act as supply chains for the sometimes 2 year journeys to the outer colonies. Sometimes, depending on where one was headed, one wouldn't see a station for six months due to a nebula, which had to be navigated at sub-light speeds to avoid any accidents. One such station was the Cloud 9 Station floating in the M-Class atmosphere of a gas giant in the 61 Cygni system. Each colony was independent of Earth, economically, but politically, they were still under Earth control, though everything was fair, as over the past few centuries, corruption, greed, and anything considered below the new standards for humanity, were abolished in favour of a utopian society where crime was almost unheard of, and currency was uniform and and tax collection was a thing of the past, having been discontinued in the 2200s. Cloud 9 Station was a model example of this new utopian system. It's inhabitants, some 237 000 people of various Terran nationalities, ran the station very efficiently. Cloud 9 even had business, shopping, theatre, and industrial sections, all of which were under the most efficient control, guaranteeing fair wages and good hours, and in the industrial facilities where water was collected and purified before being sent to either the station's reserves, or exported to desert worlds, most of the equipment was automated, allowing only for supervisors to monitor the machinery and make sure everything is running at peak efficiency, and technicians in the event of a system failure. Again, a model example of how far Humanity had advanced since the 21st Century. Then, one day in the year 2683, out of nowhere, the Terror came and threw everything off balance. What was this “Terror”, you may ask? The Terror was a horribly violent alien species called the Blagh'ai. They came and annihilated the outer colonies and didn't stop until they reached Tau Ceti. Those who managed to escape brought word to other worlds in the United Terran Republic, and eventually, word reached Earth. Twelve billion dead in the attacks on the outer colonies. Earth sent an envoy to Tau Ceti to try and broker a peace with the Blagh'ai. The mission was expected to take 5 years, but when no word came after 6 years, it was feared something had gone wrong. On August 15, 2690, a message was sent from Tau Ceti to Earth, and those fears were confirmed. The message stated the envoy had been destroyed when it jumped into the Tau Ceti system by a long-range warhead. War was declared on the invading Blagh'ai the following week, after several days of intense debate in the United Terran Senate in Geneva, Switzerland. In December of 2690, the first fleet of 150 United Terran Republic warships was completed and launched from Earth. Many more fleets followed from shipyards orbiting Earth and the colony worlds unaffected by the Blagh'ai threat. By July of 2691, the first battle had been fought, and the whole local cluster was plunged into a state of war that was new for humanity, and far more destructive than any that had been fought in previous centuries. Prologue Part 2 – The Chaos - Years: 2683 - 2691 When The Chaos began in 2683, and word of the Blagh'ai Terror spread throughout the Terran Republic, panic gripped the systems closest to those that were attacked. People began packing up and fleeing to worlds closer to Earth. Places such as Ross 614, Struve 2398, and Ross 154 opened they're proverbial doors to the refugees, and stations like Cloud 9 and Station Sigma 27-K, located half way between Earth and Tau Ceti, opened relief stations in their cargo bays and other non-essential areas. As more and more people began leaving the outer colonies, space to put them became an issue on the stations, and on the planetary colonies providing aid, refugee camps became breeding grounds for disease causing a widespread epidemic on some worlds. On GJ 1245's Pi Cannaris IV, a plague broke out on a scale not seen since the Black Death of the 14th Century. Death rates were much higher due to the hurriedly put together accommodations and substandard living conditions that accompanied them. One third of the refugee population, roughly 133 000 000 people, were gone within three years. One quarter of Pi Cannaris IV's colonist population died withing four years of the outbreak. With this new humanitarian crisis came mass hysteria. Attacks such as those committed on the outer worlds around Tau Ceti had not been seen for centuries; not since the destruction of North Korea in the 22nd Century. People on all the colony worlds were scared that there was going to be an all-out Blagh'ai invasion of the Terran Republic resulting in the decimation of Earth and the end of Humanity. Apocalyptic fanatics, such as those seen during the Y2K crisis at the start of the 21st Century, and the End of the World conspirators who believed the world would end on December 21st, 2012, suddenly made a reappearance en-mass, and religious bickering over the subject of The End once again, after hundreds of years, became the topic of debate among the general public. All throughout this though, many worlds, including Earth, managed to maintain a utopian degree of collected calm, though all was not well. As disease and in-fighting gripped some of the worlds helping with the humanitarian crisis, the United Terran Senate in Geneva, Switzerland on Earth became locked in a seven year political quagmire as senators from the colonies met and debated what should be done about the crisis. Many wanted to create an army to destroy the Blagh'ai threat and better organize the humanitarian effort, while others wanted to try a diplomatic solution to try and talk with the Blagh'ai to get them to either leave Terran Republic space or to peacefully co-exist with Humanity. A vote was taken in the spring of 2684, a vote was taken, and the diplomatic solution was chosen. An envoy was sent, but as we already know, they were destroyed and in 2690, the United Terran Empire declared war on the Blagh'ai. The fear and disorder that gripped the Terran Republic during The Chaos was very akin the that which gripped the United States after the 2001 terrorist attacks on September 11th of that year in New York City. Once war was declared, however, the people were only too willing to come together and support the war effort. In 2691 alone, weapons, munitions, equipment, and uniform production quadrupled from what it was in 2690 when the war began. Fleet shipyard production was also at an all-time high in 2691 with fleets of battle-ready, quality made, top-of-the-line command ships, assault cruisers, transport frigates, and patrol-gunships being turned out at shipyards across the Republic every month. One might say the war gave Humanity something to be positive about. Refugees joined the war effort with great enthusiasm, and made up almost 40% of the new United Terran Military's recruits that signed up to fight. And really, why not? They'd lost their homes in the attacks, so to them, it only seemed reasonable to join the fight to regain them. With The Chaos over, and the war well on its way, things were once again looking up, though only slightly.