The year is 2210. The devastating Climate Wars came to an end sixty-two years ago. The wars raged for decades, leaving behind a ravaged earth and billions of dead.
The Climate Wars ended only because humanity had pushed itself to the brink of total collapse.
To ensure the survival of the race and to prevent further conflicts, the armed forces of every nation were disbanded. Facing extinction, a true global society has emerged for the first time, under the control of the United Nations. Civil projects, scientific institutions and the military no longer exist at a national level, but have been merged around the world to make the best possible use of their remaining powers.
Under this amalgamation, space exploration and research have progressed rapidly. The United Nations Space Agency (UNSA) has managed to establish a permanent settlement on Mars, even though the planet is actually too dry to sustain human life — but humanity’s survival on an earth devastated by nuclear winter was no longer guaranteed.
In this phase marked by hope and despair, an unknown signal reaches earth. The source of the signal is traced to the outer edge of the solar system. When this is established, it immediately becomes clear that the signal is of extraterrestrial origin.
Eventually, a Chinese linguist and musician manages to decipher the message. He has spent years working with numerical notation and has developed a programming language based on music. He realizes that the language of the Strangers — as the unknown senders of the message are known — is also based on music.
The message provides the coordinates of a previously unknown solar system: seven planets orbit a dwarf star, and the fourth of these planets — now called “Hope” — is an uninhabited second earth.
The Strangers’ message also includes plans for a new kind of spaceship drive, one that will allow a ship to reach extremely high speeds and thus make it possible to travel to Hope.
The third thing contained in the message is a blueprint for a neuromuscular implant, known simply as “the device.” The device makes it possible for humans to withstand the enormous G-forces generated by the new drive over an extended period of time.
The Strangers’ three gifts have probably ensured the survival of the human race.
In a global feat of unity, a spaceship — the Laniakea (Boundless Sky) — is built, and 1024 humans from every corner of the earth are sent out on the journey to the new earth: a journey of no return, because the flight to Hope takes forty years, even with the Strangers’ new drive.
Those setting out on the Laniakea have to say goodbye to their previous life and leave everything behind.
After their arrival in the new solar system, most of the crew get to work preparing the settlement on Hope. Two crew members, Lucy and Mason, travel in a smaller space-ferry to an almost Mars-sized moon, called Mirnah by the Strangers. Mirnah circles a gas giant and is almost entirely covered in water, with only a few volcanic islands towering above the extensive oceans. Mason, using a space elevator built by the Strangers, journeys down to one of the islands. He attempts to reach the mysterious Gates of Mirnah that the Strangers talked about in their message. Lucy initially remains in orbit.
Open the Gates of Mirnah with them.