At the end of the destructive and seemingly unwinnable War of Attrition, the three powers that dominate human space came together to create a great scientific work in the hope that it would unite them in peace. The Odin probe was to link human space with another galaxy all together, travelling on to Andromeda in a voyage that would take almost a thousand years to complete.
The Odin Probe was the largest and most advanced machine ever built, carrying at fantastic expense not just its own FTL drive and fabricator but a wormhole linking the probe with the joint scientific outpost on Bifrost where new supplies and advanced technological modules could be fed through to the massive robotic craft. It's twin AIs Huginn and Muninn were vast, self modifying engines of thought, far more powerful than any human brain and capable of continued extension and self-programming to meet the necessities of its voyage.
The deployment of the Odin marked the beginning of a new calendar: Year 1 of the Outreach Era, and, despite some squabbling between the major powers and even wars between the minor ones, the human galaxy remained at peace for almost eight hundred years.
In the Year 780 of the Outreach Era, the Odin encountered something in a star system drifting between Andromeda and the Milky Way: An Anomaly.
This is the story of what happened next.
The Galaxy, 780 OE
The Milky Way is linked together by an ancient series of wormhole gates created by some vast and extinct civilization many billions of years ago. These gateways are one of the two factors that explains the shape of human space: there are many areas which, for reasons unknown are simply bypassed by the gate network. The second factor, equally as important is that earth type planets are relatively few, and teraforming is often extremely difficult. Most systems are left fallow, as they do not have anything which humanity really needs.
Since the War of Attrition, three powers have dominated human space: The Green Empire, the Central Allied Republics and the Mnemosyne Network. The current galactic order was created during the War of Attrition, a bitter conflict which raged on and off for more than one hundred years before a peace settlement could finally be worked out between the surviving galactic superpowers. Fought over strong disagreements between the galaxies powers over ideology, genetic rights and the legitimacy of interference in territories claimed by other states, the War resulted in the Peace of Ultimir, a the final settlement was known guaranteed the three powers sovereignty and status, ensuring, so it's signers hoped that never again come to such conflict and launching the Outreach Era.
The three superpowers have since then enjoyed a period of almost uninterrupted peace, with wary trade and even international cooperation between them. Despite this, the tensions that caused the War of Attrition still exist, if buried a little way beneath the surface.
The Green Empire
From her Throne in the Emerald City on Garden, the eternally young Fated Empress of the Green Empire directs trillions of subjects with grace and foresight. Vast works of art and science are bought forth at her word, and citizens are quite willing to pay for the lavish parties the nobility enjoys.
The Green Empire is said by some to be the ultimate meritocracy. All nobles are genetically augmented, with higher nobles enjoying more and more enhancement, until they are all but superhuman beings. At the top, the most perfect being, is the Fated Empress. The Empire is hardly a closed aristocracy however, as capable people from the lower orders may purchase genetic therapy for themselves or their children, allowing them to raise in social rank, and at the same time every level of the nobility must make sure they are not left behind by science.