1962 – A meteor crash-lands in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America. Scientists discover that there is an isotope contained within the meteor that is pulsating at odd frequencies and intervals. The asteroid is sent to NASA for further analysis, under the project name “Apollo’s Riddle”. 1966 – After several years of fruitless work, NASA decommissions the project and classifies Apollo’s Riddle as inactive. All files, documents, computer tapes, and the asteroid samples are stored at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. 1987 – Looking for any advantage as the possible Cold War with the USSR heats up, DARPA reactivates Apollo’s Riddle and sends the materials to their headquarters near Washington, DC. The project is headed up by Dr. Beverly Cruces, a brilliant cosmic theorist. 1993 – After 6 years of researching, Dr. Cruces and her team discover that the isotope is actually pulsating a code that contains equations and data that can be mapped as images. However, a very powerful computer will be required to actually decode and deconstruct the data. IBM is contracted to build the world’s fastest supercomputer in conjunction with Cray Technologies. The computer is known as ‘Deep Black Sea’. 1995 – 2 years after the joint project starts, Deep Black Sea is completed and begins to process the isotope’s data. 1997 – The data is finally mapped. What the AR team discovers is astonishing. The isotope contains a blueprint to build essentially a ‘stargate’ to points unknown. Dr. Cruces prepares a presentation before the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After the presentation, the decision is made by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the President and the senior leaders of the military, to attempt to build the stargate – but to modify it so that is can actually teleport troops and war material to any part of the globe. Dr. Cruces objects to this alteration of the alien’s apparent wishes for these blueprints and resigns from DARPA in protest. Work is begun under a new operation name, “Apollo’s Gate”. 2002 – In a remote desert in northern Africa, after Egypt is given billions of dollars to essentially ‘sell’ a portion of the Sahara to the US, an operational test of Apollo’s Gate is completed as a probe is sent through a small version of the stargate. Contact with the probe is lost and no way of reestablishing contact is found. However, the prototype is deemed a success since it did teleport the probe… somewhere. The probe is never found, and after further unsuccessful tests, the project is suspended. 2016 – With war imminent throughout the planet, and the rise of asymmetrical warfare, a new focus on Project Apollo’s Gate is made by the US military. Advances in tracking technology and space technology lead to a virtually ‘tethered’ probe that remains transmitting at a VLF level. With this addition, a new probe ‘Odysseus’ is sent through the gate. The probe disappears, but a signal is sent through the gate byte by byte: the probe exists, and has been teleported to a part of the Milky Way Galaxy almost 60,000 light years poleward – in an instant. Greatly excited by the results, the project is greenlighted by Congress in a secret vote to attempt to control the technology, as well as to build a spaceship to travel through the portal and build an upscaled version in space. This portal will be called ‘Skywalker’. Great Britain, France, Israel, Canada, and Japan are brought into the project and lend some of their foremost scientific minds to forward the project, with the promise of new materials that are literally beyond imagination. June 17, 2024 – After 8 years of secret launches, failed attempts, and great frustration, the Skywalker portal is built. Its sister ship, the ASV Marco Polo (ASV stands for Allied Space Vehicle) has been ready for a while, secretly floating in orbit above Antarctica for 3 years. The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, refitted for supporting the shipyard orbiting directly above the South Pole, launches the personnel capsule that will take 6 men and women to the Marco Polo for transit through Skywalker. June 19, 2024 – The Marco Polo moves to within 2000 km of Skywalker’s nimbus. Skywalker is powered up to full output for the first time ever. The process of aligning the gate elements and powering the gate takes almost 15 days. July 4, 2024 - In a carefully calculated political maneuver, the Marco Polo makes transit through Skywalker on the U.S.’s Independence Day. The updated VLF warp transmitter installed on the Polo is able to send data back to NASA’s Johnson Space Center at almost 10 terabytes per second. July 7, 2024 - The Polo exits the portal without incident. Strangely, there does appear to be a reciprocal gate, although it is assumed that the Polo team would have to assemble a prefabricated replica of the Skywalker gate, designated Numina, in order to get back to Earth. The size of the gate horizon is not large enough to allow transit home, so the original plan is retained. A marker buoy is dropped and the Polo begins to explore the system. 2025-2026 – The Polo maps the space around the gate location. Without engines more efficient than chemical thrust, albeit the most advanced ones humanity can build, they can only explore a limited portion of the system that they are in. 11 months into exploration, the Polo does pick up a beacon beyond what looks like a dwarf planet, similar to Eros, on the very edge of the system, but as it is over 20 billion miles away, reaching it with the Polo would be hopeless. The Polo stores the message for further study and concentrates on building the return gate around the smaller return horizon that already exists. July 4, 2024 – The Polo returns. According to the Polo’s chronometer, the date should be March 19, 2026, but once Mission Control hails them asking if there was a problem, they quickly realize the truth: They exited the Skywalker gate apparently 2 seconds after they entered it. The nearly 2 years spent in the distant system, relatively, did not occur. The Polo returns to its berth above Antarctica while the crew returns to Amundsen-Scott for debriefing. August 2024 – After extensive testing and research, it is determined that the Polo did show decay and wear consistent with an 18 month long trip, as did the crew. Physiologically, they are nearly 2 years older than when they left. Baffled, but very excited, scientists at DARPA and NASA, along with the Alliance, each work to decode the beacon message brought back by the Polo. 2026 – After years of analysis, a breakthrough is reached. The scientists had known for a while that the signal was similar to the one that was decoded by Deep Black Sea. There was a different underlying algorithm, however, which proved much more difficult to decode. When it finally was, however, it proved to be a set of coordinates and a schematic for what seems to be translated as a ‘blur drive’. Scientists create a simulator for the equations that are generated as part of the download and are astonished to discover that the drive essentially generates small ‘gates’, similar to Skywalker and Numina, around an object at hundreds of times per second that allow it to travel faster than light. Since the gates have a small gravitational pull, steering and movement can simply be controlled by setting the location of the horizon of the gates. While the implications are tremendous, the countries controlling the technology realize that this is technology that will fundamentally change the world dynamics and politics. A council of scientists urges the Alliance to disband and destroy this work before it falls into the hands of others who could use it for their own evil ends. Secure of their ability to control the technology, the Alliance votes to press forward in the name of ‘science’ and attempts to build the blur drive to reach the coordinates. December 25, 2026 – Large chemical bombs simultaneously destroy the Vatican, the National Cathedral, the Crystal Mosque, Westminster Abbey, and the Temple Mount. Despite tight security, no trace of delivery is discovered. News coverage sensationalizes one quote from a investigator in Jerusalem as saying “It was like they were literally teleported into the Mount.” Pressure to discover what happened grows exponentially around the world. The US moves to orange terror threat level, from green where it had dropped 7 years prior as a result of a lack of activity by ISIL and Al-Qaeda. December 31, 2026 – A huge bomb goes off in the middle of Times Square during the ball drop, in front of millions of horrified TV viewers. The force of the blast is enough to knock out windows as far east as the Chrysler Building and as far south as Freedom Tower. Over 20,000 people are killed, with nearly 100,000 injured. No survivors were left near the epicenter of the blast, but the bomb appeared to be too large to be transported by a person. The US moves to red terror threat level, and Carrier Strike Group Two is mobilized from Norfolk to patrol the East Coast, while Carrier Strike Group Nine is mobilized with similar orders for the West Coast. Britain, Canada, Japan, France, and Australia also announce similar measures. 2027 – While there are no more incidents, work is stopped on the Valhalla project and the research is moved to several discrete parts of the world, and above: in Cheyenne Mountain, in a secret location in the Tibet Mountains, at Amundsen-Scott, and in Northern Britain. Clearly, a security breach has taken place. February 19, 2028 – The Liaoning, supported by its battle group, appears instantly within the midst of Carrier Strike Group Nine. There is no warning, no radar signature. Using a combination of stealth DF-21E ballistic ‘ship killer’ missiles that have been upgraded to Mach 10 and designed to be launched from a cruiser’s deck, along with the sudden appearance of overwhelming air power, CSG Nine is obliterated within 16 minutes. A few planes do manage to launch before CVN George R. Bush is destroyed, and they manage to damage the Liaoning, but destruction is essentially total. Effectively, with this action, China has dropped the flag to start WWIII. 2028-2032. WWIII rages. With the teleportation technology, China, with Russia as a junior partner, seeks to ‘neutralize the threat to the Chinese Dynasty’. They claim to act only to keep the peace by preemptively removing threats to ensure a peaceful planet. Many of the world’s major cities are heavily garrisoned. Curiously, the use of the teleportation technology seems to be limited, either to small minor raids or a large incursion, but after a large movement, the ability is not used for weeks. Scientists speculate there must be a mass limit in play. Fortunately, perhaps; it is the only thing that prevented the instant destruction of most of the global power’s capitals. By mutual agreement, nuclear weapons have not yet been used, with all parties knowing that even the new technology cannot stop a nuclear holocaust. Late 2032. The Allies have been seriously pushed back. Europe lies in ruins. Russia has steamrolled through Germany and is just outside of Paris, having pushed south to Spain. South America has been taken by China. Japan has been reduced to Tokyo and a few surrounding prefectures. Africa was claimed by China the first few months of the war for the resource bounty, and is now a major resource hub. With the gate technology, raw materials can be sent to production hubs without fear of being interdicted, an advantage that the Allies clearly do not have. With defeat looming, the American government unilaterally decides to reactivate Valhalla to see if the beacon provides any technology opportunity that may turn the war. A crash program is initiated under Cheyenne Mountain, led by a 77 year-old Dr. Beverly Cruces. March 2033. A prototype engine is developed that may work, but testing the engine in a terrestrial setting is problematic. Dr. Cruces and a small team take the prototype engines to Antarctica using a submarine to get past the sentinel Chinese navy. It takes almost a month, but they manage to get to McMurdo, from which a transport plane takes them to Amundsen-Scott. May 2033. The engines are finally moved to the orbital shipyard at a time where there is no satellite coverage over the area. Curiously, the Sino-Russian alliance has not attempted to attack the shipyard yet. The fear is that may change if a ship is detected leaving, so a window must be created when no reconnaissance is performed. During that small window, the engines are brought up to be installed onto the Marco Polo. August 2033. The engines are ready, but another window must be available. One finally appears in late August. The original 6 person team returns to the Polo to test the new engines. Their mission: to fly to Pluto and back. They leave Earth’s orbit late in the evening. 6 hours later, after leaving Earth’s gravity well, the Valhalla engines are engaged. Immediately the ship moves to an effective .7c at half-power. After observing the performance of the engines, the decision is made to go to max. The power distribution in the Valhalla setup is exponential, not linear, and the ship moves at 15.1c – over fifteen times the speed of light! Einstein’s speed limit has just been broken. September 14, 2033. The Polo returns from the round trip from Pluto in just under 3 weeks objective, but only 2 days subjective. Elated, Dr. Cruces studies the data downloaded from the ship and determines some small adjustments that would make the engines even more efficient. In the meantime, the information is sent to DARPA for work on their advanced missile program – missiles that could travel a fraction of c would be enormously deadly, provided that they could be even remotely accurate. September 15, 2033. Information from the Gaofen-3 satellite is downloaded to the Chinese military, showing a personnel shuttle landing in a hangar from space, along with some suspicious installations. A decision is made to overfly the base to get a closer look at just what is going on at the South Pole.