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Aberrant: The Long March - A brave new world

Mr Fox

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"O wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is!

O brave new world!

That has such people in't!"

- Shakespeare's The Tempest, Act V, Scene I


Morgan spoke, "Ship are you capable of unassisted flight if given proper commands?"

The unemotional voice replied, "Yes. Please provide destination."

He sighed, what he felt toward the AI was not quite frustration, nor was it quite disappointment, but there was a little of both in his attitude. The ship was beautiful and no doubt it was very functional, but it in no way compared to Lorean. "Please take us to Egypt, specifically to the Sphinx."

The AI responded, "Unable to comply. No such place exists."

Morgan wasn't a genius for nothing and realized his mistake immediately. "Take us to the location where the Sphinx would be located if it had been built."

"Please strap in for atmospheric entry." Unlike aboard Lorean's bridge these seats actually had real harnesses attached to the chairs. Once everyone was safely strapped in the ship accelerated toward the surface.

The ship slid into Earth's atmosphere the friction of entry far less than it would have been thanks to the aerodynamic shape and the advanced materials of the hull. Even so it was still several minutes before things returned to normal and the new unnamed ship settled into a relatively slow approach toward what would someday have been called Egypt. After nearly thirty minutes the ship came in low over the desert from the west and settled to the rock and sand just next to a large mound of sandstone over looking the Nile.

Long before the ship landed Morgan was using his console to pull up information about the ship itself. Best to get to know their new home for the indefinite future. "Hey check this out." An image appeared on the main screen. It was a layout of the ship, including living quarters for four, a large area marked Lab, and a spacious cargo hold, a galley which doubled as recreation area. "Looks like Lorean included a library of all the best entertainment vids and holos, as well as a complete database of everything we discovered in our journeys. I'll definitely be able to continue Andrew's research and in a few years make the cure for anyone that we meet that needs it. Speaking of which, I intend to take mine now, but I think I would like to do it in the privacy of our quarters." Lorean smiled at Morgan and took his hand as they led the way below decks to their new rooms.

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Steve tapped his finger on his chair and commented,

"No Sphinx, no pyramids, monuments to governmental insanity those. Some king spends the GNP of his country to build a monument to his own death."

"odd to find that I miss them. ...We're going to find warring tribes I think. Even the idea of the nation state shouldn't exist yet. We've got a lot of work ahead of us."

Amber said, "The first rule of great drama honey. Start small, then build. And speaking of great drama, since we spent all those years waiting, I think it's time for a cure or two."

Steve replied with a smile, "Agreed", and the two also left for their rooms.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Two days since arrival and two days since the four travellers had taken Andrew's miracle cure for taint. For Morgan it had been a massive relief. He had not been terribly tainted like some of the others, but it was still something he had been waiting for decades for and the moment was not a disappointment. It had been intensely painful as if every cell of his body was being ripped open and rewritten at the same time. Of course the cells had not being ripped open, it just felt that way; all of his DNA had been rewritten however. The first thing he had done after Lorean had taken her own cure was to give each of them complete checkups in the lab. Even with Andrew's formula and research he had a long way to go before he would be able to formulate a vaccine to innoculate other potential novas against taint. That meant the four of them were the only subjects he was going to have for hundreds of years. For that reason he decided to disturb Steve and Amber only minutes after they had taken their own cures and beg some blood samples. They had been reserved and he had hated to bother them in what might have been a tender moment but the science was too important to ignore.

Lorean had seemed a bit disappointed that they had not had a tender moment themselves, but said she understood just how important getting samples could be under the circumstances. He did his best to make it up to her later that evening. They walked out on the sand and shared a blanket under the stars of the young world.

The ship had settled on the sand by the river and had sat undisturbed for two days, it's occupants discussing and planning what they would do with this virgin world unfettered by the lessons of history and hate. This was a world with no three thousand year old Arab/Israeli conflict, no black/white prejudice, none of the ancient grudges and quirks that made such a snarl of modern Earth politics. Two days of sitting and planning had passe when the first natives began to arrive. The first were very nervous and frightened hunters wearing leather shorts of a sort with belts holding pouches and stone knives. They also held stone tipped spears in hand held before them in a defensive posture. Their faces also had streaks of charcole in imitation of a lions claw marks.

Morgan looked up at the screen as the AI spoke, "Intruder alert. Intruder alert. The 200 meter perimiter has been breached." On the screen an image of the hunters appeared and zoomed in on them. None of the hunters seemed to be very old, but they looked pretty weather worn despite their ages; the years had not been kind to them. They looked both awed and terrified staring toward the ship.

"I guess we had better go greet the natives, what do you say Steve?"

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For Steve the cure had been disappointing. He didn't feel any different. This raised the question of whether the monster under the bed he'd been hiding from all these decades had always been an illusion... or worse, whether the cure had done anything at all.

Amber had said she felt 'odd' and 'different' but couldn't be clear on what had changed and what was the same. The best she'd done was saying 'the world had shifted'. Steve interpreted that to mean that her aberrations were beyond her event horizon. He felt better that one of them had felt *something*... and although he'd never admit it to Amber, he'd felt relieved that Morgan had taken blood samples. Maybe Morgan would confirm it had worked.

"I guess we had better go greet the natives, what do you say Steve?"
Steve answered,

"Yes, we'd better... how are you with languages?"

Steve altered his appearance to look much older and more weather beaten.

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"Languages... well, I think we should teach these folks our language rather than trying to learn a bunch of ancient ones. Besides, for now Lorean can communicate with them via Telepathy if necessary. Lets get the whole world speaking one language as soon as possible, English." He grinned. "I think we should work on a single culture as well. The more homogeneous the world is the less conflict we'll have to deal with and the quicker we can advance society." Before walking out he considered. "Maybe we should dress in a uniform way? The natives will likely want to imitate us and business casual is going to be tough to reproduce for a while. What do you guys think?"

Lorean grinned and made her eufiber morph into the gold banded white of a pharaoh's queen. Long gleaming white fitted skirt with gold trim along the bottom and a belt seemingly of gold and lapis lazuli at her waist. For a top she had more white linen wrapped twice around cris-crossing her breasts and covering them.

Morgan smiled and made his own eufiber into the male version, a gold banded white kilt of Egyptian style and sandals but no shirt. Seeing Steve and Amber follow their example, "Right. Let's greet the natives." He led the way down and out of the ship and onto the sand and into the heat. The hunters were closer now having somewhat conquered their fear of the ship since it had not moved or done anything as they approached. As the boarding ramp decended they scurried off behind the outcropping that would someday become the sphinx. And then the clean, white and gold clad beings who looked healthy and perfect beyond comprehension to the the natives walked down the ramp and onto the sands. They were tall and fair and too perfect for this world of struggle and subsistence living. When they smiled gleaming white teeth shown in their mouths perfect and white, not stained and worn practically to nub and rotting in some cases. One of the hunters in fact had a large abscess that was likely infected and slowly poisoning him to death.

Morgan noted that and knew it must cause the man great pain. He called out to them, "Greetings we are travelers from a distant place and time. We come in peace. " He chuckled to his companions and said quietly, "That was kinda corny I suppose, but what else do you say at a time like this?"

Lorean projected those concepts into the minds of the hunters. They fell to the sand on their faces one by one trembling in fright knowing now they were certainly in the presence of gods. Lorean blushed, "They think we are gods, oops." She smiled and projected, We are not gods, but we are very powerful and we wish to help you and be your friends. Please rise and come foward so that we might look upon you.

Morgan pointed to the one with the large abscess. "Tell that one to hold still I want to heal him. He only has weeks to live at best if he isn't treated." Lorean relayed the concepts again. The men all had risen to their feet but still looked ready to flee at a frown from the strangers in white. The man indicated tried to put on a brave face and hesitantly met Morgan half way between the two groups. He stood uneasily as the healer reached out a hand to his forehead. For the first time in over a hundred years no glow sprang into being as the healing energies coursed out of Morgan and into his patient. The man gasped at the feeling of the damage that had been done to his body by the environment and hard living reversed itself in seconds. No longer was pain a constant factor in his life. He wept at the change and fell to his knees before Morgan saying something in his own language.

Lorean translated for her companions as the other hunters gathered around their fellow marveling at his new healthy appearance. Soon they were all asking to be changed in the same way. Morgan was happy to comply and soon all the hunters were as healthy as was possible.

Over the next hour or so Lorean explained that they were called Novas and what each of their names were, and the men had begun to learn basic English. It was a good start.

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Steve read not the men's minds, but their posture and reactions, clothing, and the weather.

Nova has been translated into God. Not a shock. The plant life around here strongly suggests a much wetter climate than the modern middle east. I think historically the big shift from hunter gatherer to agriculture is in progress. So we're in the middle of the Neolithic Revolution. Good for us, this is a well chosen time and place. I wonder if they've domesticated the goat and pig yet?

Morgan eliminating poor health will make the tribe strong, various moves on our part will increase food supply and thus increase it's size... and I'm getting ahead of myself.

Odds are great none of these guys is the local chief, that's probably who we need to deal with next. He might or might not like the idea of for real gods signing on as advisers...

(Sent to everyone) *What next? I'm thinking something like 'Take me to your leader'. Hey, that's a new joke now isn't it?*

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  • 4 weeks later...

"Take me to your leader." The four aliens to this timeline chuckled or smiled at that phrase, but the natives took it with great seriousness and escorted the four back to their home in a cave in the sandstone cliff overlooking the river Nile. It was typical of pre-agricultural civilization, women and children and older men going about the tasks of living, cleaning hides, preparing food, and making or repairing clothing. Judging from the height of the cave they were probably nomadic or at least abandonded their home during the yearly floods. The cave would be under water then. The children looked healthiest but even they were harder looking than any children the four had ever seen. Life was harsh here and the 'adults' were those in their late teens and early twenties. Their eldest member was an old woman who looked to be in her last years but was actually in her thirties.

The people were amazed at the clean healthy strangers who were escorted into their midst. In total there were nearly twenty people altogether in the extended family unit that made up this small tribe. The children cowered behind parents, but eventually the hunters convinced the people to welcome the four. Once attention turned to the hunters even more amazement ensued. It was one thing to have clean healthy bizaarly dressed strangers in among them, but to see their own men healthy and showing no signs of their age really caused a stir. The 'old woman' came forward and touched her son, who was one of the hunters and pulled back his lips to examine his perfect if not terribly clean teeth. Reading their mind confirmed the general amazement and awe that the people held for the new comers.

Morgan moved forward and motioned to the 'old woman' to move closer. She did so hesitantly, but with courage given the circumstances. Once she was within reach he reached out and put his hand on her shoulder and sent the message into her mind *I will heal your people and make them all strong and well. Call them to come closer revered mother.* He repeated the same aloud in English.

After a moment of speaking in her odd proto-egyptian language they people did so. Morgan moved his hand from her shoulder to her head and reached out with the other gesturing over the heads of the crowd. Unlike in the past there was no longer any visible effects as a result of taint, so no glowing hands or aura or eyes. There was nothing to be seen at all except for the crowd of people starting to stand straighter and look healthier. There were gasps and cries of more amazement as injuries and age related damage that peoeple had suffered for years were wiped out in a matter of seconds.

As Morgan removed his hand the 'old woman' now in the prime of life fell to the ground before Morgan weeping and kissing at his sandaled feet. The rest of the tribe followed suit going to their knees and bowing to the four strangers. Reading their minds it was obvious the people saw them as gods. Morgan being center of attention blushed slightly and turned to Steve, "This part is a bit uncomfortable. I'm used to greatful thanks for the healing, but I've never had people think I was a god before. I don't think I'm comfortable with this. We'll have to figure out something to tell them. It's one thing to be the first pharoh's, but I think I want to leave out the god part. I'm just mortal and I'd hate to have this turn ugly some day as people become more sophisticated and realize we are just novas and mortal like themselves."

Lorean carefully stepped up and placed a comforting hand on Morgan's back, "I think that's a good idea, but what should we tell them?"

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Steve replied with some humor, "You're used to defining 'god' as the three O's. Omniscient, omnipresent, & omnipotent. They are probably more 'Thor' school; Gods are like them but with powers. Thor and his friends could die and had human flaws and motivations. If that's the case by their definition we are gods."

"As for what to tell them, the truth usually works. Whether or not they believe it is a different matter. Please translate for me Lorean."

[soothe On]

Steve stepped forward and lifted his hands to attract attention and said,

"Morgan and I were just arguing over whether or not we are gods. We were born and remain mortal, but we could live a long time. We have knowledge we would like to share, but we can make mistakes and are not all knowing. We are powerful, but not all powerful. Please, respect us but do not worship us."

"Let me introduce us, I am Steve, nova of Wisdom and Knowledge. This is my wife Amber, nova of Organization and Prophesy. This is Morgan, nova of good Health and transportation. And this is Lorean, nova of Communication and Beauty."

"Again, there are things we can do. There is much more that we can not. We come not as gods looking for worshipers but rather teachers looking for students."

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Lorean placed these ideas into their heads directly. This again amazed the people as much as Morgan's healing in it's own way. The old woman rose from her prone position but still bowed deeply if crudely to the four. She spoke, "We will do anything you command. Will we become like you?"

Lorean smiled and answered, "No. You cannot become like us, but we will teach you and you will learn many things which will make your lives better. In time your descendants will be masters of the Earth fearing no beasts not even the mighty lion. Those who follow us need never fear violence from other tribes of men, for you will be brothers and sisters with all the peoples of the Earth. We will teach you things which will allow you to always have food and never worry about hunger again. But first follow, and we will help you devise shelter that will not be flooded and from which you will not have to move again. We will give to you permanent homes."

Lorean lead the people up the slope near the cave above the level of the annual floods. She pointed to the walls. This is where you will live. We will return with tools for you to use to make your new homes in these cliffs. It will be hard work, but the homes will last for seasons beyond counting. They will also be far more comfortable than your temporary home. No longer shall the rain soak your beds leaving you wet cold and miserable at night."

The four suited action to words and over the course of several weeks they helped the people carve out homes from the sandstone cliffs. Each dwelling housed a small family and consisted of a main living room in which meals were prepared and the family could relax, a bedroom for sleeping, and a room for the storage of food and supplies. During the weeks of hard work the people were taught the secrets of agriculture and shown how to irrigate fields to help plants grow. They did not really understand, not until harvest time. That winter the people ate better than they ever had before. By spring five new babies had been born, all perfectly healthy thanks to Morgan and a bit of medical teaching.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The fall and winter went quickly with the teaching of the tribe. Once they began to see how much improvement there was to their lives they were like a sponge soaking up all that the Four would teach. In the lives of the eldest member of they tribe they could not remember any time when the people had been so happy. The relief alone from years of constant pain from old injuries or infected and rotting teeth made the people devoted to their new benefactors.

The novas did not settle for merely teaching one small tribe however. Each week they would venture out further and further afield and find other tribes and heal them and invite them to join their people on the banks of the Nile. By the time of the hot winds of the spring tribes from across the whole region had arrived at the village. Where once there would have been bloody violence over scarce resources, now because the Four said to welcome all, all were indeed welcomed. At first it was with trepidation, each fearing that they would be attacked by the other, but once they saw that each respected the Four and followed their requests the tensions eased. By spring there were fifteen tribes gathered in what was becoming a small town. Nearly 300 people total, and thanks to the farming and irrigation, there was food enough for everyone.

In the spring the Four began to divide up the people into specialized labor. Where once each individual had done a little of everything, now some were designated as farmers, some as stone masons, some as herders, etc. Where possible each was given a choice as to what they did. They were also encouraged to intermarry between the tribes to bond them closer together.

By the end of the first year of the Four's reign the city had grown to over 1000 people and all tribes from the region were now forged into a single people. It was by far the largest group of people gathered to one place in the history of the world. Of this world at least, and at such an early time period. In their own timeline the nomadic tribes wouldn't be starting to gather into cities and develop agriculture for hundreds of years yet. With the guidance of the Four, it was possible that man would be exploring their solar system by that time.

The grand vision was coming together. Bring the nomadic tribes together and form a civilization at peace and focused on the advancement of humanity. By starting so early, there were no millennium old feuds and hatreds. There was no preconceived ideas of what civilization should be like. There was no modern sense of individualism where the wants of the individual took precedent over the needs of society. There was no nationalistic or regional patriotism to divide the people. There was skin color as an issue, but it was a minor thing, and with the Four being lighter of skin color and treating all people as equals that difference was a small one and caused no trouble. Certainly problems did arise, but they were always brought before one of the Four for judgment and telepathy always ferreted out the guilty party and punishments were just and appropriate for the offense.

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  • 4 weeks later...

In the Seventh month of the Second year, a crime was committed in the City. It was not the first time one person had done something that another objected to, but it was the first real honest to goodness crime. One of the young women was found dead in the fields obviously beaten to death. An investigation was begun immediately and Steve, the Nova of Knowledge was called on to find the culprit. He spoke with her relatives, he spoke with those she worked with and after only an afternoon he had discovered that it was an older man who had wanted her.

Under telepathic examination by Lorean it was revealed that he had tried to force himself on her that evening and she had fought back. He had lost control of his temper and gone too far. The four discussed the issue and ruled that the man would have to spend the rest of his life paying for his crime. He would be forced to work for the community doing the worst menial jobs and Lorean 'modified' him so that he could never again gain pleasure from any kind of sexual experience, nor would desire such. He wore a collar to signify his status and be an example to others.

This incident led to the Law being handed down letting the people know what behaviors were not acceptable. The laws were a combination of the most enlightened systems in history and on their experience as part of the Cabal. The Novas also decided it was time to begin the peoples education. They began teaching as they had done on the Cabal timeline, indoctrinating people to put society's needs before that of the individual.

Over the next few years the civilization that took shape began to look a good deal like a Egyptian low tech version of the Cabal timeline. In five years the city had grown to 10,000 people, in ten years it contained the entire population of the human race. Knowing that division can cause hostilities the Novas used their persuasive abilities to convince everyone to come leaving not a single human out of the city. The full population of the earth was barely over 100,000 people.

By year 15 everyone had a basic education and could read and write and were skilled in performing whatever task they were assigned. By year twenty five the Earth's population had doubled. Certain monuments were erected in stone to mirror the great works of the original Egypt, but the people did it gladly in their spare time. The sphinx and the pyramids both took form in their traditional place by the banks of the Nile, but unlike in the original Egypt they were constructed with more modern techniques and were not intended for so worthless a purpose as to mark the death of a powerful man. These pyramids were buildings for use of the Novas and the people. One was a museum for great works of art yet to be created. The largest and central one was for the Novas personal use, containing Morgan's lab and other things. The third was for the government.

The people were happy. The city was beautiful having been planned by the Novas and made more so by the sound of many playing children. The man in the collar remained the only person to wear a collar during the lifetime of the original inhabitants of the city. The numbers being as small as they were his example served to deter any further incidents of violence. Of course it didn't hurt that the Novas had a reputation for being infallible.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Years passed and the population grew but the city was finite in size and limited by the resources at hand. Despite the efficiency and advanced techniques provided by the Novas the time came when the people had to be divided. A colony was begun in Italy and the people were taught sailing and navigation to stay always in contact with one another. Where once Rome had stood the people began a great and beautiful new city of marble with many gardens and parks. The Novas divided their time between the two great cities so that no rivalry or nationalistic spirit could arise. Always they ensured through education and training that all mankind was one people no matter where they might live. Travel and inter-marriage between the two cities was encouraged.

Historically couples had large numbers of children because of the mortality rate, but due to the state of medical knowledge which was pushed as far and as fast as technologically possible and because Morgan regularly healed the people once a week in both cities, the death rate was extremely low and the life expectancy sky rocketed to nearly 100 years. Because of the low mortality rate families had fewer children, but still averaged enough to support the population growth rate that was encouraged by the Novas and because life was cherished. As the population grew and both cities filled again reaching their maximum they were split off again to for two new colonies, one was London the other Paris.

The populations of the new cities were mixed from both of the original so that again there would be no nationalistic mentality formed and so that humanity would remain as homogeneous as possible. by the 300th year since the arrival of the Novas humanity was becoming an odd blend. With race not being any social issue the look of the human species was slowly merging into a light mocha shade and into what to the eyes of a traveler from another Earth would consider strangely exotic but pleasing features.

This too was due to the influence of Nova Morgan who encouraged specific breeding. Each person born had their genetic material sampled and added to Morgan's database. He in turn used that information to prevent genetically incompatible people from marrying. In this way he worked to breed out of the human race many of the congenital diseases. Each person was also given a list of people with whom they would be excellent genetic matches and encouraged (but not forced) to seek mates from among them. In all of this Morgan tracked the genes and in particular the specific genes that led to Nova/Psion development. By the 300th anniversary of their arrival he was completely confident in his understanding of how the Nova/Psion gene worked, but still unsure of how it came to develop in the first place.

The 300th anniversary also saw a great celebration in all of the cities with massive fireworks displays. Each time the population of a city reached around half a million it was split and a new city was started, in this way were created Berlin, Madrid, Athens, Vienna, Prague and many more. As the population increased it became harder and harder for the novas to give personal attention to the people. In time most people only knew the Novas from their public appearances. Everyone had the chance to at least be in their presence, but by the time of the celebration the population was great enough that it was no longer possible for everyone to spend one on one time with the novas. Even so the people were educated through the indoctrination program that the Novas had devised and perfected on another timeline making the appropriate tweaks to make it work under these changed circumstances.

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  • 1 month later...

The 300th anniversary came and went. Each century after that saw a grand celebration and to make it more special, many people who were alive for the 300th were still alive to see the 400th thanks to the greatly increased life spans under the Four. Men and women celebrating their 100th birthdays was not so unncommon, the average lifespan tended to be around 90 years, with many living as long as 125. Prosperity was steady as was the population increase, both carefully controlled by the Four. At the rate civilization was growing the world would easily be in space by the 1000th anniversary.

In year 700, Morgan announced to his companions his completion of his studies into Nova and Psion physiology. It had taken him 600 years more than Andrew, but he had not been so dedicated and had divided his efforts between his studies and his position of one of the Four. Much time was eaten up with moving from city to city healing the people. Over the years as more and more cities were founded it became impossible to hit every city each week to heal. By 700 he was only able to hit each city once a quarter, but that was supplemented by the sick being transported to whatever city he was visiting that week. To compensate his healing abilities did grow over time and by 700 he was also able to heal everyone in a city and within a good range around it with one use of his power.

Morgan however was not the only member of the Four to be kept busy with their roles. Lorean spent a great deal of her time adjudicating disputes and acting as supreme magistrate. In her case disputes that could not be decided locally or serious violent crimes were brought to her for her infallible judgment.

Steve was brought in to investigate when things were unclear and there was no one caught for the crime. Although not every crime was solved, it was widely believed by the people that no violent criminal ever went unpunished. If necessary all Four would work together to bring down a guilty party that was particularly clever. In such cases the punishment was harsh and sure enough to act as a real deterrent. Never in the history of the civilized world was a serious violent crime not solved and the perpetrator not punished. As a result, murder, rape and violent assault were rare events. Most crime tended to be less harmful such as theft.

After year 700, Morgan was able to produce a vaccine to inoculate the population against taint, but with held the serum on Amber's warning. One night she woke from a disturbing dream and spoke these words, "When the Serum is given, strife will arise, for a new age of novas will awake among the people and they will attempt to throw off the yoke of their rulers."

For that reason Morgan held off, but from his studies he revealed to the Four that the human race was becoming advanced enough genetically to begin erupting soon especially given their own presence.

So it became a race to see which would happen first humanity spread to the stars or novas disrupting the progress and evicting their benefactors.

In the year of the Four, 873, the first Nova erupted. Still Morgan withheld the serum, and tailored for her a cure for taint, remembering the words Amber had spoken. From his genetics program in which compatible people were encouraged to meet and incompatible once not allowed to marry, Morgan was sure that even without the serum the effects of taint on this Earth would be lessened. In a way he had managed to breed out of the human race some of it's dangerous potentialities. There were whispers among some people that perhaps humanity's potential even negative should not be consciously bred out. However, the vast majority remained happy with the rule of the Four and such whispers were just quiet grumbling behind closed doors. Though it was no crime, speaking against the Four was strongly discouraged by the people. This was due in large part to the Four including graphic historical footage and accounts of what life was like before they arrived in the public education and indoctrination programs.

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  • 1 month later...

127 years passed. The grumbling that had been whispers behind closed doors never amounted to more. The Four used their considerable pooled intellect to keep the people happy and prosperous. By year 1000 Steve had advanced technology and manufacturing to the point that it rivaled anything they had found in their previous travels. Space travel completely skipped the intermediate stage of colonizing the solar system and on the first day of the 1000th year of the reign of the Four the first interstellar ship was launched and visited Alpha Centauri.

In the year 975 of the Four, Morgan and Lorean had a child of their own, a beautiful girl. The people celebrated their joy, but they kept the girl out of the public eye as much as possible and allowed her to grow up as normal as possible for a second generation nova and daughter of two members of the Four. It was their daughter who piloted that first ship.

Practically every person on Earth watched the pivotal event. It went off without a hitch.

From that day the Four began the program of expansion into space. Thanks to Amber there were never any launches or explorations that led to inhabited systems or the discovery of any of the species of aliens that the Four were familiar with. Their goal was to have humanity at a level of equality or superiority before they encountered any alien cultures.

Because of the Four nova's did not begin to erupt naturally until after exploration in space was begun. The decision was finally made that humanity was now beyond the Four's ability to govern and guide completely. With a heavy heart Morgan released the vaccine and educated the populace about taint.

In subtle ways the Four also began to ween the people off their leadership. Thanks to Amber they knew that their leadership would come to an end with the rise of novas and psions.

Medicine was advanced to the point that Morgan's healing was no longer needed except in the most extreme of cases.

With the rise of psions much of the magistrate duties that the Four performed were slowly turned over to talented Psions.

Finally, in the year 1000, the Four established a council of citizens. At first the council did little but witness the Four's decisions and learn of governing. Over the next two hundred years they the Four turned over more and more responsibility to the Council. First they asked the Council to vote acceptance on what they decreed, but as the years passed they voting on acceptance progressed to seeking the Council's advice on how to decide. Finally by the year 1200 the Four only advised when they felt necessary or when approached by the Council.

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  • 4 months later...

In the Year of the Four, 1250 the first real grumblings began as Amber had long said they would. The young nova's flush with power and ambition wanted more than a backseat role in humanities' destiny. A secret organization had formed dedicated to assuming positions of power throughout humanities sphere of influence. Using their own abilities they were able to at least partially conceal their identities from the Four.

At this time humanity itself was flush with the confidence and blind drive that only a child who has never burned their hand on the stove or suffered any loss can muster. The Four continued to race against the clock to progress humanity to the point where their first encounters with Aliens would not be their last. In other timelines the aliens humanity had encountered proved to be hostile to one degree or another. It was only a matter of time before humanity stumbled onto one of those races by accident.

The year 1250 became the year of the perfect storm for humanity. The nova splinter group NSR, Novas for Self Rule, initiated a coup attempt on several of Earth's colony worlds taking control at the key jucture just as homeworld elections saw several seats on the Council won by Nova schemers in league with the NSR novas. The plot was to force a confrontation with the supposedly external threat of NSR and use it to create a destablized central government which would force the Council to abandon even the advice of the Four in favor of being completely autonomous and thus make it far more easily manipulated by the mega social novas among the plot's members. At the same time other NSR members broke out of humanities self imposed domain to explore and claim new colony worlds in order to extend their influence even further.

The plot was both more and less effective than the NSR planned. The government was far more destabilized than they had intended. The pro-Four faction among the members turned out to be far more staunchly conservative than they had anticipated and fought like cornered lions to keep their positions on the council. They voted to severe ties with the NSR controlled colonies rather than reallocate Council seats according to population. That effectively split humanity into two separate factions at a time when it most needed unity.

In the outlying regions of human space where the NSR novas had gained new territory through exploration they had also encountered aliens and conquered them. Or so it seemed. The reality was that the NSR novas had only taken colony worlds from the Qin and had conquered the surface of the Chromatics homeworld. 1251 saw humanity's first defeat at the hands of aliens. On the the Chromatics world the aliens surged up from their underground warrens and slaughtered their erstwhile conquers to the man and took control of their ships and equipment. The Qin on the other hand took a much more subtle approach to confronting humanities aggression. They offered trade. Soon the populations of several NSR worlds were thoroughly addicted to designer Qin drugs, a problem humanity had never had to face thanks to the guidance of the Four.

Despite the chaos of politics and the attempts of the NSR to gain seats on the council, it remained largely in favor of the Four. Earth's colonies fell away one by one, but Earth itself was a bastion of Four supporters.

As the dark times came ever closer Amber became more and more convinced that the only way humanity would survive was to make Earth itself a bastion of hope in the darkness. Earth severed it's ties with the colonies and became independent leaving them to follow their own paths. From the Earth perspective this seemed the right choice. Where colonies fell into chaos one at a time Earth remained strong and science advanced. The pace of that advancement had slowed with the resources of all those billions of humans in the colonies lost to them, but it continued doggedly forward.

In time both Qin and Chromatics came to Earth seeking to trade or attack, but the Qin were rebuffed and the Chromatics were defeated and Sol system stood strong and alone, a candle burning in the darkness. Across all of what had once been the human dominion nothing but Earth remained free, elsewhere humans in collars miserably did the bidding of their new masters with no hope of escape.

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In time both Qin and Chromatics came to Earth seeking to trade or attack, but the Qin were rebuffed and the Chromatics were defeated and Sol system stood strong and alone, a candle burning in the darkness. Across all of what had once been the human dominion nothing but Earth remained free, elsewhere humans in collars miserably did the bidding of their new masters with no hope of escape.

And so things remained for decades of darkness. On Earth the Four steadily stepped further and further away from leadership and instead concentrated on establishing the most stable of possible governments based on principles. They also put their own growing powers and intellect toward advancing human technology in order to make Earth safer and eventually take back the populations of the colonies.

To that end the Sol system became militaritarized. Occasional strikes into Earth space occurred at the hands of novas either brainwashed or coerced into doing so and while they sometimes did great damage, it only succeeded in strengthening the resolve of the people. In time Earth had an armada of ships all designed with advanced technology created by, or at the directon of the Four. When the time was right the campaign to liberate human space began, starting with the closest world. The Four could have used their powers to aid the reconquest, but it was important that the people did this for themselves. The battle was very onesided, the Chromatics fought tooth and claw, but their ships were based on designs stolen from the human's first colonies, and although they were armed to the teeth, their weapons could not penetrate or even lock onto the newer Earth ships. The population of the colony world had been kept in abject slavery for more than half a century and welcomed their liberators as saviors. This was repeated on every world where the Chromatics ruled in a matter of days.

Despite the liberation they were not welcomed into the arms of Earth. The psychologists and experts felt that immedate inclusion would merely lead right back into the circumstances that led to their conquering in the first place. Each world was appointed a ruling council established by Earth and a road map was laid out on what needed to be accomplished for full inclusion. During the time of rebuilding the worlds were not allowed to arm themselves in any way, and had to submit to 're-education', which indoctrinated the poupulace in what it meant to be citizens of Earth. After more than 50 years of slavery this was not seen as too great a burden and by the time the people became accustomed to freedom again they were far enough along in their indoctrination that there were few dissenters.

With only two weeks of 'fighting' and no loss of life or ships on the part of Earth's people, the Chromatics were driven back to their homeworld and disarmed. A treaty was signed in which the Chromatics agreed not to venture into Earth space again and Earth agreed to leave their homeworld in peace. With what seemed like a single decisive stroke Earth space grew to include seven solar systems besides Sol itself. Each one put into indoctrination and on the road to citizenship. With the seemingly near total retirement of the Four from all active politics there was no longer any reason for dessention. Each colony world and every human on them knew that full citizenship awaited at the end of the process. It was a long process, and not easy, but there was no doubt in the minds of every parent that their child could grow up to serve equally beside anyone else in the Hegemony of Man. The new name seemed appropriate to the Four and they faded more and more into the background every year, at least as far as the average citizen knew. Only the Council knew of their new purpose which was to develop antitdotes to anything the Qin could attempt to introduce.

The year 1325 saw the inclusion of the colonies as full citizens and also saw an attempt by the Qin and their puppets to attack the Hegemony. In Qin space, or rather, the worlds formerly colozonized by the human race, now under Qin influence, Novas ruled, but their dominance was enforced by might and addiction. It was not the Qin's way to set themselves up as rulers, but rather to rule through puppets. They had achieved this by introducing designer drugs to addict the populace, particularly the novas, who then in turn subjugated the people with whatever means they chose. On some worlds it was slavery enforced by the physical might of the novas in charge, on some it was through the force of personality of unscrupulous mega social novas. On still others it was like a global crime syndicate with the novas controlling the supply of drugs, but in all cases it was the Qin who pulled the strings.

During the 50 years of the Hegemony there was no expansion at all. Earth consolidated it's position and fortified it's solar systems and made sure that the indoctrination was as complete as possible. There was desent, and those who did not like indoctrination and they were allowed to feel as they wished and were left alone. The Hegemony was confident that the vast majority of it's citizens were content with the shape of their lives and it was apparent that without unity Man would be under someone's boot. For their part the Qin were happy having the former colony worlds as buffers between themselves and the rest of humanity, and they were confident that should the Hegemony begin advancing again that their bioengineered drugs or diseases would keep them safe.

The attack by the Qin at first seemed like a horrifying success as the populations of two worlds began to riot and fall apart. The Hegemony was prepared however, and moved in immediately with sizeable fleets around each world and distributed medicines that calmed the populaces quickly and efficiently. Looking at the distruction of property it seemed as if the Qin won a great victory, but the reality was that the Four was able to test their new 'innoculation' on two entire worlds and the treatment worked with a 100% success rate, returning the out of control populations to normal in a matter of hours. With further testing it was revealed that anyone treated would be immune to Qin taylored drugs. This proved both to the government and to the Qin that their old methods would not be effective against the Hegemony, but in time the Qin became complacent since the Hegemony seemed content to sit behind it's borders peacefully.

In the year 1350 however, on the 25th anniversary of Citizenship Day, the Hegemony launched it's next attack aimed at regaining it's former colonies. The 'innoculation' was sprayed into the atmosphere's of all of the former colony worlds under the Qin influence. At the same time military invasions ensured that the novas living as near dieties on those worlds were captured or killed. On the worlds where the populations were directly enslaved by powerful novas, there were celebrations. On worlds where the populations dominated through their addictions the reception was not so friendly. Regardless of the circumstance the populations were given the choice to undergo the indoctrination process or elect a local government. Two more solar systems elected to apply for citizenship and three chose independance.

The Qin were offered the same deal as the Chromatics. Remain bottled up on their homeworld and stay out of human space and they could live in peace. Enter human space or attack in any way and they would be destroyed. The Qin representative tried to deny any complicity in what had passed on the human colony worlds, but the Hegemony representative simply repeated the conditions of peace. With a show of being falsely accused the Qin agreed to sign the treaty and abide by it's terms.

For the first time in over 300 years the human race was again at peace and and united in purpose. Unlike the past, the Hegemony began to expand human space, but now did so cautiously and at a measured pace, claiming new solar systems and consolidating their positions there before each new wave of exploration. Newly established colonies were immediately considered citizens with all the rights and priveleges that implied.

The three independant colonies remained so and the Hegemony considered them to be a good outlet for any dissenters. "Don't like the way things are? You can always go to the Indy colonies."

By the year 1500 the Hegemony of Man included 23 solar systems and both the Chromatics and the Qin were content with the protection afforded by being surrounded by human space. More importantly, the Four had fully retired and felt confident that things would proceed without their supervision.

One evening Morgan and Lorean sat talking on the patio of their home beside the nile when he looked at her and said, "You realize, that this year would mark the birth of Rameses the Great if we hadn't changed history on this timeline? The Egyptians would just be entering the New Kingdom period and because of what we've done the human race has colonized more than 50 worlds and numbers in more than 75 billion people." He was feeling pretty smug about it.

Lorean raised an eyebrow, "You feeling a sense of accomplishment are you?" There was a teasing tone in her voice.

Morgan knew her well enough after all these centuries to know when she was more than just poking fun at him. He considered for a moment, "Yes, I believe I do. Is there some reason we shouldn't?"

She smiled to take any sting out of her words, "You're like a father who is proud of his daughter winning first prize at the science fair for a project that he built. They will never really have accomplished anything until we leave them to make their own mistakes and live with the consequences."

It was not a new conversation between them, but it was a different time. It had been over a hundred years since the last time any of the Four had really made a contribution. "We've retired, we haven't done anything in ages. Everything they've accomplished in over a hundred years has been all them."

She just shook her head, "No love. As long as we remain here we will be a crutch to them. They've had no challenges in that time, but they've known that if something came up, we were always here to bail them out. Even if we do nothing, our presence alone effects events. I think it's time we leave. I've long since learned how to travel the timelines, we're not stuck here and we don't have to rely on the Watchers to come get us."

Morgan rolled his eyes at that last comment in amusement, but he didn't voice the old argument. Lorean was a Watcher no matter that she denied it. They had created her and given her life and she shared their essence even if she chose not to claim her heritage. He looked around at the house, "I was kinda looking forward to settling down and relaxing for a few centuries. The house is paid for after all."

Lorean laughed, "You old liar. You've been bored out of your mind for the last fifty years, the only reason you've stayed this long is that you feel responsible."

He grinned, "I suppose you're right. I just didn't want to go without knowing how things turned out."

"We can always come back and visit if we do it in disguise"

Morgan nodded in thought, already considering what to take with them. If only they still had Lorean the ship, she could accomidate all of their stuff. The little thing that the Watchers provided was barely more than what would be considered a life pod on board one of the Hegemony ships. And that got him to thinking... "Do you think you could shift something as big as one of the Hegemony ships with my help? I want to take my lab with us."

The grin on Lorean's face was answer enough, but she said, "I wouldn't need your help, and I could shift and entire fleet if I chose."

"Do you think Steve and Amber will want to come along?" Morgan was starting to think of needing more than one of the big capital ships to carry all their things.

Lorean shook her head, "No, they will want to stay for now and watch their descendants grow, but I know they'll agree about us being a crutch. They'll pretend to leave then disguise themselves and return to live normal lives."

Morgan smiled already starting to feel the first excitement he'd felt in a very long time.


When the Four requested formal audience with the Senate and High Council it created quite a stir. There were seats reserved for them in at every meeting of the government and had been since the very beginning of the civilization, but they had not attended one formally in over 500 years. Rather than take the seats of honor that were always there waiting they instead stood before the assembly as petitioners would. Morgan stepped forward and spoke for the group, "We come before the assembly with a request. We would like the gift of a ship, the time has come for us to take our leave. Humanity has grown beyond it's need for our guidance and we would resume our explorations."

The announcement was met with dismay at first, but as the Four spoke they instilled a sense of resolve and hope to overcome the loss they the people would feel. In the end the Senate and High Council voted unanomously to commission a new ship to be built and no expense to be spared in it's construction. Morgan and Lorean provided the design since they would be the ones to actually leave on the ship. It had all the latest technology plus some new additions that they supplied and implemented during construction. It was a big ship and well armored and armed, but designed to be flown by a single person. It was a strong enough vessel that anyone they ran across would most likely think twice before attacking. Despite it's armaments it was a sleek ship and could fly within atmosphere and had the good looks one would expect of something designed by Lorean.

When the day finally came and everything was packed aboard, the Four said goodbye to each other and to the people. With some sadness, but also with a sense of adventure, Morgan looked to Lorean, "Let's go."

The ship disappeared from the sky above the Capital with a flash of light and with it the end of an Era.

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