As part of my participation in My 500 words, I am posting what I write each day. The following is backstory not included in my novel, Sidewinder.
When humankind stumbled on the ability to travel at light speed, the galaxy suddenly shrunk. Population on Earth was reaching critical mass despite limiting laws. So governments began building jump ships to carry humans to other worlds. The time and cost of these ships was prohibitive and the energy it took to accelerate a spaceship to light speed without actually accelerating required a fusion reactor big enough to power a state. The fusion reactor would spend a year charging capacitors to make the jump. So the ships that were built were the size of small cities, empty skeletons with several passenger sections attaching on before the jump.
Jumps only happened once or twice every decade. Worlds were colonized, and conflicts rose up. For lack of a better term, the military dedicated to the stars was called The Space Corps. Wars were fought, with The Space Corps always possessing superior technology.
As the years passed, space travel became more commonplace. New worlds were discovered and colonized. The less distance traveled, the easier. So worlds closer together became the centers for government, culture and commerce. The worlds allied into a loose federation called The Stellar Alliance.
Earth stayed out on the fringes with all its history and became something of a curiosity, where many humans would resolve to make a pilgrimage at least once in their life.
Out in other fringes other worlds lived in isolation, particularly the worlds with little to offer in trade. More wars started over economics than anything else, with planets vying for business with each other. One conflict grew to threaten the stability of the whole galaxy. One planet managed to capture another with excellent shipbuilding technology. Combined with new chemical lasers and charismatic megalomaniacs leading, the Petros system raided other worlds. That is when The Stellar Alliance and The Space Corps brought out a new style of spacecraft.
The Sidewinder was like nothing ever made before. It resembled the flying saucers of Old Earth UFO lore. And it was powered by pushing against gravity, an anti-gravity ship. With the fresh technology came the ability to navigate like no other ship had. Inertia was blocked, so the ship could turn and accelerate without the pilot experiencing anything. The Sidewinder ships were so maneuverable that they were impossible to hit. Skilled pilots almost appeared to dodge the directed energy shot from enemy ships.
With the Sidewinder ships, everyone thought the war would end. But Petros and its allies continued to fight. Driving them back meant going planet to planet. Space battles took weeks. The Sidewinders were large enough to be equipped with bunks and pilots, engineers and gunners slept in shifts during battles. Crew members struggled with fatigue. The Space Corps fitted Sidewinders for ground assaults and the war dragged on.
Then one day an engineer named Jarlath Ivanpah took off from a carrier on the border and flew off toward Petros. Just weeks later, the enemy fleet had Sidewinders of their own. Jarlath Ivanpah had sold out.
The Stellar Alliance negotiated a treaty with Petros. Worlds and trade rights were given over. But the war was ended.
Jarlath Ivanpah became the most hated man in the galaxy. Even though a small minority were thankful the war was over, everyone still called him a traitor. Most people believed he disappeared to live on Petros. But there were other worlds, frontier worlds far away from everything, where someone could go and start a new life. And on one of those worlds, a man named Burl Appleton arrived just before the start of the planet’s seven year winter. He reportedly buried something out in the dunes, halfway between the world’s city and its spaceport. Then the winter began and people forgot about him. He vanished, hoping to start a new life when spring came.