It came to me when I was in University and eventually grew to become the seed of my very first written work. It was intended to become part of a series called Legacies, and I had big plans for it. I even wrote a few short stories over the years that were part of this fictional universe. However, as years passed and I became more committed to hard science fiction, I fell out of love with the series. Since it was my first effort, I also felt that the writing was amateurish and needed serious polishing.
But the other day, I found myself musing about the seed. It wasn’t a bad idea, and I could still recall the sense of inspiration I felt when plotting it all out. And over the years, the basic concept was still there, always trying to find expression in new form or variation on the old. I can’t help it. There’s just something about ancient migrations, long-lost tribes, and forgotten histories that is so damn intriguing!
And since I’m at a transitional point in my writing – my first trilogy down and an open field in front of me – I’m once again contemplating if this idea has a future. While it’s not exactly hard science-fiction (more space opera), I still think it has the potential to be fun and intriguing.
So here’s how it breaks down. Picture it as the opening crawl of the movie…
Several centuries from now, the human race has accomplished the dream of interstellar exploration and settlement. This was made possible by the Gateway, a revolutionary technology that relied on negative mass to create artificial Einstein-Penrose bridges (“wormholes”). The process of expansion was initially slow, since these gates needed to be established at both ends of the bridge. But in time, many bridges to many new systems were established.
What followed was a period of unprecedented growth as new systems were explored, planets were settled, and the reach of humanity extended further. But as always, old habits followed the human settlers to new worlds. On several frontier territories, settlers began to clash over land, rights, resources, and differences of every kind.
Restoring peace among these newly-established outposts of civilization required that Earth create the first interstellar military force. Thus was born the Interstellar Terran Corps (ISTC), which oversaw defense and enforced the peace, which consisted of the Kaigun (Fleet), the Raumjäger (Infantry), and the Kosmicheskiy (Aerospace Corps).
The Office of Adjudicator General (OAG) was also created to rule on matters of interstellar law and help resolve conflicts. This brought an end to local skirmishes and conflicts between settlers that threatened to become full-scale disasters.
Over time, new problems emerged. After reaching the limits of what could be settled and administered, a sense of listlessness became apparent. The more-developed settlements began threatening to break away while the periphery became more difficult to administer. Breakaway republics emerged that sought independence. Some chose to do it peaceably, others violently.
Consequently, the same military forces created to restore peace and order were called upon to perform another duty. ‘Peace at any cost’ soon became the thinking of those who had governed a united human race for many generations.
For those living in the Settled Worlds, a terrible decision had to be made. Some chose to fight, others to wait, and others still to break out and seek new worlds where they could live freely and be safe from the conflict raging across known space. One such group was the Hagirah Flotilla, a collection of colony ships that departed known space searching for greener pastures.
The Flotilla included vessels from multiple settled worlds, including the Tanga, the Vándorol, the Reika, the Tirugu, and the Tenüüchlekh. All told, over 150,000 human passengers departed with the Flotilla, seeking a new home in another Sun-like star system. According to all available accounts, the Flotilla disappeared shortly after passing through the 82 Eridani system.
They were never heard from again.
Fast-forward a few centuries. After a prolonged conflict that turned into a full-blown civil war, the Earth-centered government was finally overthrown. Several localized skirmishes and deliberation followed, but in time, peace and stability returned to the known Universe. Even unity was restored, eventually, but only after the government of Earth agreed to grant local planets autonomy and repair the damaged gateways.
But just as it seemed like the worst conflict in human history was behind it, there’s a disturbance in the outer reaches of space. In one of the farthest systems explored, a strange object appears seemingly out of nowhere. When Terran ships are sent to investigate, they are quickly destroyed by this object, which is clearly the work of a highly advanced species. There had been rumors of extraterrestrial civilizations for generations, as evidenced by ruins and debris that clearly were once starships.
Many expected that it was only a matter of time before a new civilization showed up on our doorstep. Before this theory could be confirmed or even investigated further, a broadband message is received from the outer reaches that shocks and astounds anyone who sees it. Not only it is decipherable and readable in human text, but it is also only a few words, the deeper meaning of which cannot be denied:
“Humanity’s children have come home.”
Many more ships appeared in the outer reaches and began pushing their way into Terran-occupied space, destroying any resistance in their way. The mystery of the Hagirah Flotilla, which had long since faded into legend, was finally resolved. How they had managed to assemble a fleet of such size and where their advanced technology came from was a mystery that would take several more years to resolve. In the meantime, humanity had to mobilize itself for another terrible war.
This newer version of the idea takes advantage of many concepts and scientific research that I’ve picked up over the years (mostly in my capacity as a science communicator). These include “Percolation Theory,” which imposes limits on the extent to which a species can expect to create an “interstellar empire.” There’s also “non-convergent evolution,” the science behind Near-Light-Speed (NLS) propulsion, and even some of the theoretical work regarding wormholes.
But the basic idea of a “13th tribe” returning after generations to wage war on the parent civilization remains. I would say more about the idea, like where the 13th tribe’s fancy new technology came from, why they were intent on waging war on Terran civilization, and how they disappeared and managed to find their way back. But that would be venturing into spoiler territory.