What if we were the first in our part of the galaxy to discover the secret of faster than light travel? What if this discovery was 10,000 years before it was supposed to be? Our neighbors had been watching for centuries and were surprised with our early arrival into the Web of Worlds...
The Year is 2166: To the people of Earth, the universe seemed to be a very lonely place. Astronomers have discovered tens of thousands of planets; many had indications of organic life. SETI had been searching for signals for over 200 years. There had been a few tantalizing bits of radio or radar energy received but nothing ever proven to be of intelligent origin.
But there was an alien civilization out there, in fact many of them linked together in a Web of Worlds. They were watching us quietly, carefully and patiently. It had long been the prime directive of the Web that no developing civilization be contacted until that civilization made it into interstellar space on their own; and that always took time, lots of time. Most Web worlds took 1,000 years or more to go from steam to the atom and none had made it from the atom to a sublight stardrive in less than 5,000 standard years. Every civilization of The Web had proven that faster than light travel was impossible, so there was plenty of time to watch the Earth...
The watchers were astounded with the speed of progress of human science and also horrified at the periods of violence. By 2076 nuclear fusion power was widespread on earth. By 2100 the first interplanetary fusion ships explored the Sol system. The men and women of the Anglosphere Alliance began their first missions in ships approaching 0.1c. At that velocity, manned flight to even the nearest stars would take a lifetime.
What would happen if a beautiful engineer and a brilliant physicist stumbled upon an artificial gravity field which would make a faster than light drive possible...
Cover by: The Distinctive @Distinctive