In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The Word created the Ascendant

It started two thousand years ago, when an alliance of Terrans and Morpheans developed the Waypoint Beacons, and the jump drives capable of using them. Those early starships required Morphean pilots, as only advanced artificial intelligences could perform the dynamic computations necessary for quantum travel. For a thousand years, mankind reached for the stars.

Then, in a day, it all stopped.

Out here on the frontier it’s hard to say what caused the Crash. The occasional Morphean traveler tells of how a war broke out on Old Earth, and one of the central servers of The Dream was destroyed. Whatever the cause, hundreds of colonized worlds—spread over thousands of light years—were immediately isolated from each other as Morpheans across the sector went into Safemode, reverting to rudimentary virtual intelligence protocols. Without a connection to The Dream, Morpheans were nothing more than robots.

For another eight hundred years, the scattered inhabited worlds of the Milky Way remained isolated from each other. The Morpheans gradually rebuilt, then retreated to the Valerian Drift, far away from the Terrans who they believe caused the Crash. Terrans were unable to use interstellar jump drives and Waypoint beacons without Morphean help, and so many societies regressed to pre-Exodus technology levels. Some regressed even further. This time was known as the Dark Ages.

Then Ryu Hitomi experienced The Word. He was able to construct an Architect Core and run a pseudo-A.I. using his own mind as a blueprint. The ARC that he developed would soon be replicated and used to control starships bigger and more advanced than anything that had been seen for the past eight hundred years. Hitomi himself became the Prophet of the greatest of these vessels, the Ascendant Okami.

The Ascendant lifted the Terrans to greatness

These advanced machines, known as the Ascendant, spread throughout the Hitomi Sphere, a region of space containing about a dozen habitable star systems, near the Rosette Nebula. In addition to starships, people eventually began using ARCs in rigs—giant humanoid machines, used for great feats of engineering, or for unprecedented acts of war.

Now, even as Ascendant starships are exploring the Waypoint network for the first time in a millennium, Ascendant rigs—and their Prophets—are turning their attention to a new threat, pressing in from the darkness beyond the frontier.

Scenes from the Hitomi Sphere

Rose of Perseus