(Excerpted from Anjasne History and Culture, by Pyra Farsky, an anthropologist from the Transcendental Imperium who went native during the first TI Invasion of the Anjasne Federation, circa 2352 AD.)
Around the time when the British colonies of North America were fighting the French and Indian War, the Anjasne had a thriving high-technology civilization already making their first forays into asteroid mining using ion-drive spacecraft. Morally, they had most of the problems of modern Western civilization, including a negligible respect for the rights of the unborn, endemic oppression of certain races, abuse and exploitation of the poor, constant warfare, and a rejection of the concept of any higher truth.
Of course, they did have an array of religions that despised these things for various reasons, but most Anjasne paid that little mind. So, when a young prophet stood up on the capital steps of their most powerful nation and declared that the God preached in their oldest texts, the creation texts recording their coming to Jirahata, would strike their world and level a quarter of their civilization for their wickedness in a year’s time, he was pretty much ignored. Others before him had said the same thing, and nothing much came of it.
Then the asteroid was spotted. Some five kilometers wide, and registering as largely composed of nickel-iron, scientists calculated that it was indeed on target for Jirahata, with an e.t.a. Of about one year, and that it would indeed wreck a large chunk of their civilization. The prophet was still paid no mind, but a few people did take notice and file his prophecy away somewhere. The rest set aside their wars and worked on diverting the asteroid.
In about half-a-year’s time, the consortium of nations had a mission ready. The asteroid was moving very quickly relative to Jirahata, so figuring out an intercept had been difficult, but they were certain they would be able to divert it with a series of repeated tactical nuclear strikes (see Terran “Orion Drive”).
While they were preparing to launch the mission, the prophet appeared on the steps of the capital again, and declared that the mission would fail, if the people of Jirahata did not repent, and that the judgement would become four times worse for their impudence, destroying their whole civilization. He specified that this time the instrument would be their own moon, and that God would graciously give them ten years before the end.
Investigations were made, but the prophet had no connections to any terrorist groups. He was just a man spouting craziness, who lived on the streets with nothing to his name but a backpack filled with camping gear and a change of clothes, who spent most of his time helping other poor people. He didn’t even have any electronic devices or an email address.
The launch proceeded, the charges were placed and detonated one after another over the course of a month. All calculations were double checked each time by scientists around the world so that corrections would be as precise as possible. Everything was on schedule and the asteroid was moving onto a new course, until the last charge failed. Quickly it was replaced with a spare. That charge failed too. In fact, all three spare charges failed. Analysis showed a flaw in the manufacturing equipment itself, at the factory where the charges had been made, which crept in near the end of the run. In desperation, the spacecraft itself landed on the asteroid and attempted to use its drives to finish the course correction. This appeared to be working to some extent, until the drives burned out, leaving the asteroid on a course for Jirahata’s moon.
A year after the prophecy, the asteroid struck the moon with incredible force. The moon did not explode, but it did turn partially molten in places. It also started on an inward spiral toward Jirahata, a spiral that would lead to its impacting with the planet in precisely ten years.
The prophet was summoned before the world council. Investigations into how he had known yielded nothing. All calculations had been in order, the factory had operated under high security, the flaw in the machines had been a genuine manufacturing defect, a wire of too-small gauge used in a high-current position that caused it to overheat under continuous use, increase resistance, and slightly throw off certain motions of the machine it was part of. It was unforeseeable, and the wire itself had come out of a package of wires grabbed by machine in no particular order. Eventually it was realized that there was no other answer than that the prophet was a prophet.
Asked for a solution, he said that all the people of Jirahata should love their neighbors, distribute their wealth to the poor and the downtrodden, and stop murdering babies and the elderly. Then beg on their knees for forgiveness, and maybe the Creator would show them another way.
Scientists sought a different solution, exhaustively, but after two years there was none. The force of attraction between the moon and Jirahata was too great, and there was no way to restore the momentum the moon had lost in the impact. No amount of force available to them could stop the collision, and the collision would leave nothing. Even underground bunkers would be shaken to pieces as the world heated and volcanism went out of control, and nothing larger than certain archaebacteria would survive.
In the third year, belief in the prophet’s message became almost universal. A strange peace settled over the world of Jirahata, stopping wars, redistributing wealth out of the hands of those who had held it so firmly, uniting mankind. Death was coming, and the growing of the moon in the sky, the rising tides, and the increasing earthquakes, all heralded it.
The prophet approached the new world council with another message.
God had heard. There would be no reprieve for Jirahata, but a remnant might survive elsewhere if his instructions were followed exactly. As proof, he gave coordinates for three worlds, all clustered together within twenty light years of Jirahata and ten light-years of each other. Each of those worlds could host life, abundantly.
The world leaders assented, and all nations contributed to a bold plan to build a fleet of sub-light colony ships. Money flowed, resources that had been wasted on war went to space, nearby asteroids were hollowed, and new technologies grew and found a home in the project. Brilliant minds from around the world, indicated by the prophet by name, were given control of designing and building the ships, which the prophet laid out some basic specs for. Colonists were selected by lot from around the world, and put into hibernation using new cryosleep techniques.
As the world became almost unlivable seven years later, the twenty-one colony ships left orbit, pushed by new Tzu drives that turned electricity straight to thrust, seven heading for each of the chosen worlds, each fully equipped to found a city and survive.
The prophet remained behind, continuing to preach a message of repentance and trust in God as Jirahata dissolved.
The colony ships faced their own troubles over the next forty years, most notably the Chiralthrana rebellion in which five of the twenty-one ships chose to settle on a world closer to Jirahata which looked better than the three the prophet had indicated, but in the end they all made it and the Anjasne, the “Humbled” as they now called themselves, refounded.