Timeline of the Firmament
All times are given in interstellar time (IT). Individual planets and colonies generally have their own time zones and calendars to reflect the local orbital period and seasons of their home. However, interstellar time is the agreed-upon fixed reference of the Firmament and is used to track dates and times in terms of how much time has elapsed since the Firmament was first discovered.
The Old Earth
- 2045: New and improved deep-space scanning technology discovers an unstable “wormhole” at the edge of the solar system. It is dubbed “Heaven’s Gate” by the media, and the world buzzes with speculation about what might lie on the other side.
- 2060: Mankind undertakes its first colonisation mission to Mars, aboard a new fusion-powered spacecraft called the Horizon. Establishing a colony on the hostile Martian surface is a mammoth task; even the most optimistic projections estimate that the terraforming efforts will take at least 300 years.
- 2080: A failed asteroid mining facility is converted into the Beyonder: a secure vault containing seeds, embryos and other samples of Terran life - including humans. Its purpose is to safeguard against the growing risk of climate change. Even if Earth is destroyed, the life that evolved there will be ready for restoration.
- 2100: Sparked by the ongoing environmental collapse on Earth, a diplomatic incident on the Martian Colony marks the first in a series of escalations that will ultimately result in thermonuclear war.
- 2125: Twenty-five years later, Earth is crippled and dying, and can barely be considered a spacefaring civilisation. The Martian Colony has collapsed without logistic support, and is all but gone.
- 2130: The remnants of the Martian Colony, led by Captain Malcolm Shaw, seize control of the Beyonder. They alter its orbit, sending it on a collision course with Heaven’s Gate.
- 2131: The Beyonder passes through Heaven’s Gate and vanishes. The unstable wormhole collapses shortly after. No sign is ever seen of the Martian Colonists again.
- 2415: The Beyonder emerges in the Tau system. By scanning the stars, they are able to identify that they have been displaced in both space and time. In an instant, they travelled 500 parsecs and almost 300 years into the future.
- 2420: After scanning their new environment, the colonists realise they are in a star system with several planets, one of which is habitable by a stroke of sheer dumb luck. A tiny colony is established on the planet, christened Tabula Rasa.
- 2745: The population of Tabula Rasa reaches 2 million, helped along by human embryos from the Beyonder and the advantages of an extremely hospitable world.
- 2825: Colony ships leave Tau for Amber, Mira and Eden. They are significant improvements on the old Terran spacecraft, but still expect to take decades to make the sub-light journey.
- 2855: Colony established on Amber. The existence of primitive alien life, long suspected, is confirmed.
- 2875: Colonies established on Mira and Eden.
- 2925: The population of Tabula Rasa reaches 1 billion.
- 2932: Scientists attempting to understand the wormhole phenomenon discover metadimensional space, and innovate the spike drive. Contact is established with the new colonies for the first time since they were founded; they are still very much in their infancy.
- 2935: This is the official year that the Foundation, humanity’s first truly interstellar government, was formed.
- 2950: The discovery of the spike drive has opened up many new opportunities for daring trailblazers. The first colony ships of the “New Wave” begin to leave for distant systems.
- 2965: Rudimentary outposts have been established on 12 additional star systems as far as 20 parsecs from Tau. These new colonies are largely autonomous, though officially part of the Foundation. Expansion slows, since more distant systems are either unprofitable or too far away to maintain contact.
- 3025: Colonisation of Hope, the first system of the Rim. Other Rim colonies are slowly established over the next few decades.
- 3055: The Tau Ultimatum is broadcast throughout the Firmament by the Foundation, reaffirming that all human colonies are members of a single interstellar government. For most systems, the benefits of joining the “Incorporated Territories” outweigh the risk of losing access to interstellar trade. Since the Foundation cannot effectively control distant colonies, they remain largely autonomous.
- 3056: The War of Pacification begins. Some systems outright refuse the Ultimatum, and close their borders to Foundation ships. Most notable and influential amongst these are Limina, Eyrie and Chuangzi.
- 3060: The Battle of Athens. The Foundation occupies the Limina system and deposes the existing planetary government. Seeing the writing on the wall, Eyrie surrenders shortly after.
- 3065: The enormous expense of interstellar war shows itself, and the Foundation suffers a crushing defeat in Chuangzi. However, intense corporate pressure leads Chuangzi to agree to a “special arrangement” for incorporation shortly after.
- 3125: The present day.