Twenty-first century science led to the conclusion that faster-than-light time travel through the use of wormholes is possible. However, since wormholes appear seemingly randomly and collapse in the span of milliseconds, anything simply trying to squeeze through would be crushed when the wormhole closed, not to mention that it would be impossible to get any craft within a wormhole before it collapsed. The only material that could theoretically keep the wormhole open for a longer period of time was known as negative matter, and so scientists believed that obtaining this would be their goal, creating instruments that could locate such matter. Getting this negative matter would not be easy. It would take until near the end of the century to develop the rudimentary containment technology needed to trap the negative matter; furthermore, since negative matter is repulsed by gravity and generates negative gravity wells (repulses positive matter), it could only be found in the depths of interstellar space, light years away. Negative matter coalesces into celestial objects, much like stars and planets, that are strong enough to repel other forms of matter. Their locations were mapped out and a close negative planet with a weak gravity hill was selected.
The United States (now merged with Canada) revived NASA and spent a trillion dollars to build the fusion-powered, AI-controlled Shadowstar, their one and only Gatherer-class rocket, which was built on the independently-operable-unit concept featuring self-maintenance and many redundancies. Ten years later, the Shadowstar, assembled in space, was launched toward the chosen negative planet in 2120. Realizing the political and military significance of being able to reach other stars, several other world powers - notably China, India, the Latin States, the European Union (now merged with Russia) and the Muslim League, each launched their own Gatherers in the two years that followed. Even at a tenth the speed of light, it wasn't until 2150 before negative matter harvesting began, and then there was still the problem of getting this back to the labs and factories on earth. Each entrant's Gatherer also had enough fuel for a return journey; however, some were faster than others. It was soon discovered that the Chinese and Indian Gatherers would be the slowest, returning some 12 years later than the EU Unity would, and time was strategically critical in the race for warp travel. But if their two crafts combined fuel, the Chinese YiShouZeTian would be able to reach Earth three years before the Europeans, and that is exactly what was done.
By 2180, when the YiShouZeTian was the first to return to Earth, the planet had already become an ecumenopolis - a city spanning the entire world, despite the ever-more-tense political stress - and watched over by the UN. With nearly every nation in possession of nuclear weaponry after the collapse of nonproliferation, the world had seen an era of peace never before known; no war, proxy or otherwise, had broken out anywhere on the planet since 2050, though plenty of nations were still dictatorships. Alliances, seen as the only way for any nation to advance in comparison to others, spread their umbrellas over every nation on the planet; these were the six mentioned above, but by then the Chinese and Indians had, because of their shared destiny, united into a new nation, still called China. Research into using the negative matter immediately began, conducted from the lunar colony, while each of the five alliances began to ressurect their long-forgotten military and expand their nuclear arsenal. Fleets of starships were built in secrecy by every side before anyone even knew how a warp drive was supposed to look like. It was predicted that World War Three would break out in an attempt to stop the first alliance to succeed with their research from getting a chance to use that technology to control the world. Though they didn't know it at the time, each of the five alliances had numerous spies in each of the others' research facilities. As a result the discoveries any one alliance made were quickly revealed to all the others.
A wormhole was successfully kept open by the Chinese in 2185. Rather unsurprisingly, the laws of relativity predicted, correctly, that physics inside a wormhole would be little different from that outside, at least from the point of view of the one experiencing it. Thus, a wormhole could be sustained indefinitely. Within hours each of the other alliances had learned of the Chinese warp drive's design and successfully opened their own wormholes. Nukes flew everywhere, but every one of them were intercepted mid-air by the fleets of every other alliance, resulting in nearly no casualties - beam weaponry had entirely replaced all other modes of attack. Realizing that no side had an advantage despite all they had tried to do, the UN managed to negotiate a five-way truce. In the aftermath of this near-bloodless World War Three, each of the alliances used wormholes to send their Gatherers to various negative planets to continue negative matter harvesting, and continued research. By now over 80% of the world's population were scientists, so this was no problem. A breakthrough in 2200, quickly stolen by all the other alliances, resulted in the creation of a true warp drive, one that could create a wormhole at will from any two places it wished. Finally, the dream of faster-than-light time travel was possible. Though wormholes took a few seconds to get their mouths open, travel within the wormholes was the equivalent of warp 3: twenty times the speed of light. The nearest stars could now be reached in a near or two. Those traveling on them aged at one twentieth the rate of those not within a wormhole. For them it felt like they were going at 400 times the speed of light.
It is the year 2247. The story starts with the isolated planet of Gehenna, where the 500,000 people on the planet - who are all Jew - live in ignorance of the rest of the galaxy and have been for as long as everyone planetside has known. They have backwater technology, but don't know it yet: faster-than-light travel, advanced research laboratories, and powerful weaponry are things they don't have and don't even believe in, and they believe that they have always been on this planet (and since there are no prehistoric fossils on Gehenna, no theory of evolution has taken hold). The entire populace follows the way of the Torah (their religion hasn't changed all these years of course), and so they place devout religion and its teachings ahead of scientific inquiry. During their entire time, however, they are confused as to where all the places referred to in their Book are... It's as if something is missing from their world, their life, as if they were disconnected from reality. As far as they are concerned, they can't seem to find any promised land whatsoever, no bliss outside the garden of Eden... nor can they find any trace of their religious enemies, since everyone on the planet heralds to the same religion and as far as they know no life exists on any other planets in the galaxy. Life on the planet continued this way for long time... as it had always been.
That all changed when a Mothership appeared seemingly from nowhere and entered low orbit about Gehenna. The astronomers of the planet quickly informed the king of the situation, and before long the entire populace and come out into the open and knelt before the humongous vessel, which they believed to be their Lord, and prayed to him. The Mothership then obliged by communicating with them under the pretense of being God. He told them that the Jews who have been banished from Eden for so long have been through hundreds of years of punishment and may begin to atone for their crimes (according to Genesis). Now, he tells them, they are free to return to Eden, the Promised Land - and he gives the Gehennans its galactic coordinates (35,000 light years away). But, he tells them, it will be a hard journey -- an incredibly hard journey taking a very, very long time. It then leaves, with the entire population kneeling in prayer to the gigantic entity.
In the next three years, the world's already well developed factories and its own (sublight) space exploration program was turned to creating a vessel of their own that would be able to venture into deep space and be self-sustaining for an almost infinite number of years - enough to planet-hop until they reach Eden. The journey is expected to take 500,000 years - and the Gehennans understand that this is what is meant by their atonement having just begun. Yet they decide to construct a Exodus-class capital ship very similar to what they had interpreted as God's representative. By the year 2250 the vessel is complete and its complement of 10,000 Jews, those who volunteer to leave their home planet for an uncertain future and who know that they are doomed never to see Eden anyways, set off for their interstellar homecoming. Their nearest destination: Meridia, two light-years away and reachable within 30 years. Unbeknownst to them, their sending such a large vessel away from their planet has set off an alarm they could not possibly have known about...
Barely days into their journey the Exodus runs into an encounter with a carrier with different markings and design styles than that of the 2247 Mothership. Believing the carrier to be an angel (aka. God's representative) as it seemed a smaller version of the Mothership, the people on board the Exodus kneel in prayer. Then the vessel sends the message that because the people of Gehenna had left their planet, they had violated an ages-old banishment. The crew then replies that the Lord had told them that it was time they began to return to Edens... religious language that gets the carrier's crew very confused. When the Exodus refuses to turn back, believing this particular "angel" must be misguided, the carrier fired its ion cannons, causing many compartments of the Exodus to vent oxygen into the void of space and killing many helpless people. Helpless and terrified, the Exodus agrees to turn back. The crew is dumbfounded by this incident for days; then suddenly the same Mothership appears right beside the Exodus, the crew of which quickly prays for an explanation. The Mothership tells them that there are other peoples, far descendants of Adam and Eve who have likewise been banished but who have not been blessed as being Abraham's descendants. He tells them that these other people are their enemies because they do not believe in the Lord. As was stated in the Book, their enemies in the universe far outnumber their numbers, so they cannot choose the path of simply destroying their enemies. However, He gives them no hints on how to make it to Eden safely when they have been so thwarted before even leaving their own solar system...
Immediately after the Mothership "vanished" (returned back into hyperspace), the Exodus enters high orbit over their own planet while the planet's scientists worked to develop space weaponry for the first time, now that they see the need to defend themselves along this journey. With the combined brainpower of all the planet's scientists, researchers and thinkers, railguns, fusion warheads, and high-yield lasers were developed to serve as a rudimentary defense. Tests for efficacy were successfully conducted in low orbit. Soon the Exodus was equipped with a small fleet of interceptors and bombers that could serve as both offense and defense, and departed for its original destination once again fully repaired and its crew fully replenished. They tripped the alarm once again.
The enemy opened fire without warning the Exodus crew and immediately initiated a method of warfare that they could not easily comprehend: the assault frigate first fired at them, then warping short distances, then firing, then warping again. It took a while for the crew's military command to adjust, but the Exodus was simply more armed than was the assault frigate, and destroyed their enemy. With their first victory came the realization that their enemies were human and mortal like they were, not fallen angels or demons. The Gehennans then celebrated their first victory over the enemy. Unbeknownst to them, they had just angered a federal republic stretching across numerous star systems: the Americans.
The Americans had already been well aware of the fact that the Gehennans were going to try to break out of their banishment the moment the Mothership had visited. That was why they had set up the alarm satellite sphere around the planet in the first place: so that they could respond to any action by the Gehennans. But they had not expected that the Jews would have destroyed a frigate trying to break out. Immediately a fleet was summoned from Meridia to intercept the Exodus, which was not a hard tracking mission. Within days the fleet had brought a representative force to bear on the Gehennans in the asteroid field. There they found the Exodus and its fleet of Gatherers extracting and processing materials for the construction of a novel fleet, but were vanquished soon after informing the rest of the fleet. Now angered, the American representative ordered the use of lethal force if necessary to subdue the Gehennans.
It turned out not to be necessary at all. When the rest of the fleet from Meridia warped in, ready to take on their enemies, they immediately surrounded the rogue fleet, which in turn immediately surrendered since they knew something like this was bound to happen. Electronic control over the Gehennan vessels was handed over to the American fleet, which then immediately proceeded to direct the Gehennan fleet along with them back to Meridia. The crew was brought to the planet surface and questioned as to their motives, during which the crew discussed the situation from their point of view. Being the open society that has defined America, many people sympathized with them, but the administration decided against aiding them, opting instead to demand that they return to Gehenna and bring a decree never to leave the planet again as part of their banishment.
At this point the Exodus commander asked about why they were thus banished from wherever they had come from. The Americans now begin to tell a new story, one that the Jews as a society has no recollection of and can scarcely believe is real. Back in the 2100's the Jews back in Israel had engaged in World War III against all the Arabic nations encroaching on its borders and declaring its existence blasphemy. The result had been massive loss of life and a near unanimous decision by the UN to banish the Jews, first to the lunar colonies and then, after the discovery of the gravitic drive, to a remote planet (Gehenna), so named for the purgatory that the UN bureaucrats found fit in an example of utter religious discrimination. For the next century and a half the Jews of Gehenna had been kept in the dark about the existence of the rest of humanity, and the Islamic peoples kept ignorant of the location of Gehenna, with a few other governments keeping the buffer. Keeping humanity separated, for everyone's good. And additionally, the American officials also tell them that the Mothership that had approached them three years earlier was not their Lord, but actually a capital ship belonging to another nation and peoples altogether.