Tom Connery first became a household name in 2615 when he led a team of interstellar explorers in discovering the Moon Belt, a sparsely populated sub-section of the Kuiper Belt made up of the fragments of hundreds of destroyed moons—and the shattered remains of Pluto—extending from Neptune’s orbit to beyond. His fame further increased when, to the surprise of many, Connery gave up his glamorous life of adventure in favor of politics, first temporarily filling the role of Vice President and finally being elected to the Presidency of the Terran Republic in 2618 for three consecutive 4-year terms. It wasn’t until 2630 that Connery, accompanied by a team of experts including xenobiologist Henry Briggs, finally returned to space. In truth, Connery wasn’t simply returning to space; he was returning specifically to the Moon Belt, to a particular moon fragment from which his team had discovered signals emanating fifteen years earlier. At the time, they didn’t have the equipment to locate the signal, but now—with the resources of a former President at his disposal—Connery and his team were positioned to make history once again.
The signal turned out to be emanations from a strange, intricate figurine of an alien species. Returning to Earth in 2642 with the artifact in hand, Connery and his team sparked an incredible boom for space exploration. And, though this newfound interest in alien life resulted in the charting of the solar system twice as far as Pluto’s former orbit, it did not result in any more evidence of extraterrestrial life.
In 2636, Connery petitioned the Terran Republic for the funds to mount an expedition through the wormhole, a great rift in space that scientists had calculated to open in Earth’s solar system every 98.3 years. With its next scheduled appearance but a few years away, the Senate tasked Connery with collecting the signatures of 150,000 volunteer crewmembers for his fleet in order to earn the government’s backing. He returned a mere two weeks later with over 300,000. By May of 2638, 256128 ships had been reconditioned for the expedition, and by October of 2640 the fleet had reached the site of the wormhole’s predicted site. When it opened on October 20th—exactly as expected—the first wave of the fleet, including Connery’s flagship Discovery-1, were pulled through before they could even react. Other ships tried to follow, but ultimately the stress of the ships on the unstable wormhole caused it to collapse, taking with it the lives of almost one thirdhalf of the 150,000 man expedition.
Trapped in uncharted space with a fraction of their supplies, the fleet turned to Mission Commander Connery for leadership. They immediately began searching for a habitable planet to colonize, but despite Connery’s best efforts to keep the crew occupied and in high spirits, an insurgency movement formed amidst their growing restlessness. As months passed and violence erupted, his increasing desperation led Connery to impose curfews and military patrols, despite his personal hesitations about military intervention in day-to-day life. Despite—some may have argued because of—these measures, an insurgent-led assault was made on the military vessel Explorer-5 in January of 2642. Though it would have taken a much larger force than the 53 men in the assault to actually commandeer the cruiser, they nonetheless succeeded in temporarily taking the bridge and in killing the key military leadership there before Connery ordered them taken out by force.
Connery’s response to this treachery was one that defined his altruistic if not naive character: Rather than retaliatory strikes, he opted for diplomacy, calling a meeting between himself, the remaining military leaders, and representatives of the insurgency to negotiate a truce. On January 6th, 2642, the meeting took place aboard the civilian ship Discovery-7—but what was said there was never found out. An explosion, officially blamed on extremist members of the insurgency, tore through the Discovery-7, killing Connery and the other 591 people aboard.
With the death of Mission Commander Connery and the fleet’s few remaining military commanders, the role of Provisional Commander fell to Lieutenant Commander Brent Waterson. Declaring the situation a military emergency, a vote was taken and passed to give the military—and Waterson—unrestricted control of the fleet. It was a cruel irony that, though Connery devoted much of his life to defending personal liberties, his death would ultimately play a part in the fleet voting away its freedoms for security from an unseen threat.