The Unified Humankinds and Bright Sol Sector

As the year 2994 dawned, every light within two light-years of Bright Sol, homestar of a humanity, guttered and disappeared. Innumerable chunks of ice in the Three Centaurs' far cloud vanished, never to be seen again. The beating heart of the Unified Humankinds was torn out out from it, and the farthest reaches wouldn't even see the light go out for two decades. By spring next year, nearly everyone in the sixty systems was in shock. Most coped with what-ifs: what if it had been instant, what if they were still alive, what if some megastructure had appeared somehow... and what would have happened if this had occured centuries prior, when even the near stars were still dependent on Solan aid? As it was, the more isolated stars suffered while supply routes were redrawn- but the Dogstars' prodigious farmstations prevented famine. Cultural reactions varied- as many advocated for spreading the Humankinds across the stars as advocated for becoming self-sufficient as advocated for hunkering down and hiding.

By the next century, the edge of inhabited space had leapt from an average of ten light-years from Sol to thirty- with one excursion to the vicinity of the orange giant star Follower, where the Three Centaurs were invisible to the unaugmented eye. By then, the impact of Sol's loss was a dull ache- but that didn't stop the frenzied expansion. By 3250, the second planet of the second star in Lionheart Prince system had a thriving colony. In 3429, a Unified Humankinds explorer ship exchanged messages with a ship from the Far Stars Prefecture in the Runaground system- three hundred light-years from the Three Centaurs. The Unified Humankinds took rather quickly to the idea of being part of the Ecumene, if only because the crew of the ship could empathize with the loss of a homestar. This crew was human: ultimately from the homestar Itelé, which has a high proper motion. The slowboat colony ship they launched had flown in just the wrong direction, and when it arrived Itelé was centuries further away. As it is now, in the year 3581/8726, the Unified Humankinds are the most populous (both in stars and in people) part of the Far Stars Prefecture- much to the grumbling of those in the Chloricentric Diocese on the other side of the Ecumene.

Bright Sol, the third-most-populous system in the Unified Humankinds, did indeed lose everyone directly within the system- but crucially, the FTL routes that Bright Sol enabled remain intact to this day (some claim this must mean that somehow the star became a black hole, but no actual gravitic signatures that would prove this are detectable). As a result, many ships that would have disappeared had their schedules been a few days in the wrong direction survived- both incoming and outgoing. Most were coming from or going to the Three Centaurs, but plenty traced their journeys to one of the other eight systems accessible from Sol. By distance, and therefore roughly by volume of star travel: the Three Centaurs, Quicksnake, Dualsail, Fast Chill, Wolflion, Lalande's Bear, the Near Dogstars, and the Ostrich's Twins. A total of five million people streamed in and out of former Bright Sol in the next year-and-a-quarter, both in the form of interrupted trade journeys and relief missions. These include about a tenth of the people who had been in Bright Sol in the past two years outside of the system, and as well include the first people to realize something had happened to the star- the crew of Barnham's Phase, which had been inbound from the Ostrich's Twins for almost nine months and arrived perhaps a day after Bright Sol disappeared.

It didn't take long for Barnham's Phase to be joined by others, though. An informal rescue operation sprung up where Bright Sol had been in the next few days- most of the incoming ships carried little surplus food, only enough to abide a short stay waiting for traffic control clearance. It didn't take long for more well-laden ships to arrive- though many were on through journeys to other stars, only a few of the ships elected to leave rather than give away their food reserves... and most that left made it their mission to get help from other stars. In the eight months it took for the Three Centaurs to send help (near-entirely travel time, with just a day of preparation before ships streamed away towards Bright Sol), everyone was kept alive through this aid- some ships were even refilled entirely from the food freighters that had been arriving and could leave. When the Centaurian relief ships arrived, nearly every ship was able to leave- even for vast passenger liners and other high-population ships, the huge amount of support was enough to make their journeys safe.

A hundred days later, ships from Quicksnake arrived to relieve the Centaurs' ships- though they didn't know it, having left with similar haste. The trickle of ships from red dwarf and brown dwarf systems sustained the opposing trickle of incoming ships despite the small agricultural industry of such dim-star systems. A year and a third in, the Dogstars Agricultural Collective farmship "Hainuwele" (named years before) arrived. "Hainuwele" sustained every ship that arrived for the next few years on its own. Today, it is the core of the Bright Sol Memorial Station- which allows former Sol to still serve as a trade waypoint and as well allows millions to pay respect every year.

An upscaled incomplete pixel map of much of the region near Bright Sol, here including the star itself. Lines denote range between stars for Hop-family and Leap drives, the primary mode of interstellar transit in the years during which these stars were first inhabited. Not all stars are given name markers. See also a contemporary star map.

Appendix: Star naming and inhabitation

Note that these are ordered by distance from Sol, rather than first inhabitation. Note, for example, the Far Dogstars/Procyon- while these stars are a similar distance from Sol as Swansoar/61 Cygni, Swansoar is by way of a travelling FTL starship 1.5 light-years closer to Sol (or even closer, if the Far Dogstars are travelled to by way of the Near Dogstars)... but at the time of the first city-expeditions to either star, the Three Centaurs and Lalande's Bear (not to mention the Near Dogstars) had a higher population and more amenities than Double Ddraiggoch, and Procyon was not only considered a star as useful as Sirius but also was known to host a potentially safe-to-inhabit planet. Swansoar's comparative lack of useful worlds (though fascinating worlds are another matter) meant it first gained prominence as a star "on the road to Tau Ceti" in the 2770s, immediately following the discovery that beneath its clouds Third Ostrich's sixth planet was remarkably earthlike.

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