The Final Test

Prologue

To early humans the greater universe did not exist. It did not need to exist. It did not need their attention, concern or fear. It was an incomprehensible reality that did not cross their undeveloped minds. To them, the instinctual need to eat and survive was all pressing.

Early humans were as much a part of the natural ecosystem as a ground slug or big cat of the savanna; upon waking each morning their instinct was to find food. Each morning was the beginning of a new adventure, and with no memory of the previous, it was an endless instinctual cycle.

Over the next million years, these early humans would slowly develop more complex thoughts and emotions. In time their ability to plan beyond the immediate future was apparent. Tools and weapons were used to assist them in their everyday cycle of food gathering and shelter. For the first time on Earth, a species could break the endless cycle of the previous day. All biological energy up to this point was used to maintain this endless loop with no single calorie left to spare. Now with the development of tools and weapons, excess energy was available and allowed for a greater development of the human race. Within a million years, plantation, livestock, construction, and self-governance were now common place. The human brain had developed beyond its basic instinctual need and allowed for wonder, passion, love, hate and countless emotions totally unknown to any other living creature. No longer would they glance up at the sky in a passing thought. Now their eyes would bore into the heavens and wonder what was there. What were those bright shiny dots in the night sky? And what was beyond them.

Human progress was now moving forward at breakneck speed. Technology was allowing for greater and greater scientific leaps of invention. The progression of all things material was improving, but not necessarily for the betterment of mankind. With superior brains came superior ambition. Wars were fought and country lines were redrawn. More and more resources were being channeled into weapons of war until the treasury of countries were depleted and wide scale conscription was mandated.

World War 3 was the culmination of their superior ambition. Mass starvation and disease spread over the globe as each nations collapse triggered the onset of mass genocide through various causes. 'The Great Cleanse' is now what it is referred to in history books. The history of the world was almost snuffed out, lost forever. It would take time, but progress was made. The survivors banded together and promised never to allow this to happen again. Energy, creativity, resources and desire would be channeled into the betterment of mankind. Within a few generations the first warp drive was created and contact was made with an alien race. The first of many as the warp signature was a beacon to the rest of the galaxy that mankind was ready for the stars. Social progress was made over the next century and the United Federation of Planets was formed. An alliance of 150 different worlds spread across 4000 light-years. While each world remains independent they form a political and social unity where each could rely on another in a time of need. Wars were fought and won, but this time it was not human against human. It was the collective and democratic will of the whole, The 'Federation' would defend the rights and freedoms of other races throughout the Alpha Quadrant. No longer would wars be started due to power, money or land, but for the protection of all sentient life. The United Federation of Planets had and still has a keen interest in exploration and science; to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Modern humans now stretch out with eyes wide open, moving steadfastly towards their bright horizon on the cusp of their vision. The boundary of science is being pushed and so is their understanding of what they seek. Driven by their wonder and natural instinct to explore, humans are devoting a great many resources to exploration and discovery. And yet as they search and learn there is an unmistakable and unforgiving truth. The universe is a dangerous place, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Unlike human ancestors, the universe now matters, the need to know, the need to pay attention is pressing. And yet with all these advances and developments, they are limited by 'Human Nature'. The concept of right and wrong, life and death, and time and space are all human constructs. The universe, however, comprises more than the dreams and imagination of mankind.

Beyond the stars and galaxies are deeper realities of space and time where things are no longer things and places no longer places; where all force and matter is perverted, stretched and torn. Black gulfs with no end, no beginning, no distance, no direction... and what may lurk in the darkness no person can know...