Many centuries ago, war and destruction devastated the Earth. Most surviving people were closed in great overcrowded cities and life was getting worse. Finally a decision was made to combine every resource into building and launching a vast escape craft named Wanderer.
When Wanderer went, not everyone went with it. Small Earth-bound groups remained. Some stubborn, fearful, hiding in deep shelters made with the tools that built Wanderer itself; some just forgotten, scattered in the remotest, least ruined parts of the world.
For all of them, life went on - and slowly, children of children of children created new worlds in the ashes of the old. The sheltered ones began dependent on their sanctuaries, but over ages they learned how to survive outside their caves. New civilizations grew and filled with food, art, music, fashion, laws, hierarchies. Wealth accumulated, passed down generations, and families once more grew powerful.
Elsewhere, others became new kinds of people who found a new energy growing in them, that they called aenimus.
In time, the wars of the past and the deserting of the Earth became myths, stories of a time before time, prehistory and legend. The perpetrators of ancient horrors became gods in the cultures and memories of the descendants of those who never left. And the vast spacecraft Wanderer became merely a symbol, a promise that such barbarity would never occur again; the ancient gods had left and would never return.
Astronomers see it first, from their remote mountaintop - but a new star crossing the sky night after night can remain no secret. Fear spreads among citizens of the ex-empirial Commonwealth; among Sentinels from the Lands Beyond; and among the people of the Marathy Heart Lands.
Most believe the Old Gods are now returning to bring again war and destruction. A few Undying have an inkling of the true nature of the star - but they have no idea what will happen when it arrives.
Nobody does, and everybody is afraid.