Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been, and there you will long to return.
- Leonardo Da Vinci
In the depths of space, there sits technology unknown. Made by human hands, established by human grit and willpower, these miracles of science have lain dormant for three centuries, quietly awaiting the day when they might at last flare back to life. Today, that day has come. Although the creators of these machines lie dead, the planet they came from an ashen monument to the failures of humankind, something has awoken these great structures. At a signal unseen and unheard by the rest of the universe, these glorious creations begin to process new information. Once-ignored data winds its way through them all, and then, in an instant, there is light.
The Gateways open.
Misters gently breezed water up into a foreign sky, olive trees greedily gulping up the provided hydration. Through the gardens of the Cortes Generales, an army of Patricians marched, a veritable sea of military uniforms and business suits, some fresh from conflict zones, others having hurried from offices, yet more having come in from training or holidays. The halls of the Patrician's Congress hummed with activity, seating room filled, then overfilled, and then yet more patricians having to jostle for standing space. The senate had not been designed for so many people to all attend at once, built instead to allow for the core of those particularly politically motivated, but the recent opening of the Gateway hanging low above Azulvista's horizon had driven anyone who could come to do so. Everyone wanted to be here for this momentous occasion.
"Speaking now, Generalissimo Agustín de Aquila, President of the Gran Republic." Grandes Béatrice's voice cut through the hubbub and sparked a small smattering of applause from the collected throngs, news cameras adjusting their focusing to zoom in on the Gran Republic's leader.
He was a stony-faced man, and at a guess, one might have placed him in his fifties or sixties, but he was far more venerable than his appearance belied. He had been president for three electoral cycles now- over fifteen years of uncontested political dominance across the cliques and factions that made up Azulvista's government, but in all those years, no speech had been as important as this one.
"Friends. Patricians. Azulvistans. Lend me your ears." The man cast his arms out wide, to draw in listeners from across the worlds that the Gran Republic ruled over. "We stand today beneath not one, but two suns. We gaze at the first, and it brings us life. Nourishment. Power. We gaze at the second, and see limitless potential."
"Three centuries ago, our ancestors made their way here, risking everything they had ever known to give their descendants a better life than the one they had. Every day this Republic stands is another day we live up to the legacy of our ancestors and witness the glories that the saints have created for mankind."
"Today, we have the opportunity that none before us have. We have the opportunity to return to our cradle. To see Earth, to meet with those we were so cruelly cut off from, and to spread our proud nation and our prouder culture into an uncivilised galaxy." Applause rippled through the audience once more.
"The honour of returning to Earth will be given to none other than Alfonso De Caravajal. He is a righteous and noble individual, and just as his forefather once sailed the azure seas of our home planet, to seek out realms unknown and unexplored, so too will he." The applause rose as Alfonso stood up and took a deep bow.
"To all watching, be you patrician or plebeian, understand now that what we have been given is nothing more than a gift from the saints themselves. The galaxy awaits us, and together, we will welcome it, and lead the Gran Republic to a renaissance never before seen. I swear this, witnessed by the saints, and in the name of our people and our proud nation. Viva Azulvista. Viva la República!"
A formally-dressed man hurried through the cramped halls of the Khagn's flagship. He pushed aside a courtier, slammed his hand down on doors as if it would force the airlocks to part more rapidly, and then, finally, arrived outside the Khagn's inner court. Two Kheshigs turned to him, plumed helmets rustling slightly, and the man gulped.
"Vital news that must be delivered to the Great Khagn immediately," the man said, averting his gaze from the towering figures. "I know this is highly unprecedented, but I assure you that he will need to hear this."
The two Kheshigs turned to each other, and then each reached for the tremendous blast doors. Their armoured fingers dug into the small handholds, then, with a hiss, they parted, and the small man scurried through, quickly attempting to smooth down his clothing before he was face-to-face with the leader of the Khagnate.
Emerging out into the Great Khagn's throne room, he sank to his knees immediately, before kowtowing low, pressing his head against the floor.
A jovial voice replied to his act of submission. "What troubles my people so, that a learned man must rush to my throne room in such a hurry? Rise, and speak your piece."
The researcher let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding in, then slowly rose to his feet, eyes briefly meeting with the High Khagn's. He was still a relatively young man, thirty-three by the standards of Earth. He was tall and limber, with a long moustache that reached down to his jawline. Although clad in synth-silk, his impressive physique was still obvious, earned from time spent in recovered biosculpting pods.
"Oh great and mighty Khagn, ruler of the Hordes and Ste-" Before the researcher had time to finish his sentence, the Khagn had waved him off.
"You are here to deliver a message, and it is apparently urgent. Speak then, and fret not about my titles." He sat cross-legged, relaxed and uncaring on his throne, the Kheshigs in the room still staring dead ahead, seemingly uncaring for the stressed but apparently harmless interloper into this most innermost of rooms.
"Great Khagn, forgive me if I speak the obvious, but when our venerable ancestors traversed the greatness of Uzay, they did not do so with mere engines. Instead, they used so called 'Gateways,' which shut shortly after they arrived. Today, now," he corrected himself hurriedly, "they have reopened, my liege. The Gateways stand ready. The oldest of our vessels have already begun to interface with the technology, including your flagship here, my liege."
The Great Khagn raised a single hand to his face, fingers stroking one whisker of his moustache. "Fascinating. Did we do this?"
"We are unsure, my liege. This vessel was not experimenting with any technology that should have interfaced with the Gateways, but..."
"There is always the possibility with what has been left for us, is there not?" The Khagn nodded in understanding.
"Indeed, Great Khagn."
The Khagn continued to stroke his moustache for a few more moments, before nodding slowly. "Very well." He turned to face another courtier, who had made herself small against the side of the room. "Send a message to the vessels within the Golden Horde. We will journey to the home of our ancestors. I will brook no failure."
The mass drivers of Aterrizaje's Spaceport began to hum and whine. The crew of La Introducción strapped themselves in and braced, before the electromagnets fired, and the craft was launched up into the sky, breaking through each layer of the atmosphere one after another, until sound faded, replaced by the stillness and silence of space. The crew quickly unstrapped themselves and set to work, and soon after the silence was replaced by the roar of the vessel's plasma generator, La Introducción's thrusters pushing the vessel towards the new sun that hung in space.
More than three hundred years had passed, and yet even now the Gateways interfaced with the Azulvistan vessels. The helmsman turned towards Alfonso, the question not needing to be asked.
"Set a course for Sol system. Vama nos."
With that order, the vessel passed through the light, and out, into the unknown.