Make there be one less CH than predicted in the Grubber system. Have the records show that all 5 were found.
Phoenix has the missing CH - basis for FTL?
Were CH dropped into the planets to bust them?
Have the route to which no ship has returned and call it the Black Hole.
Slingshots are fast, but direction is limited. Also, no clue as to where you will land.
An implication is that you could manage to change your destination somewhat. But to get back, it is either real slow or you find another slingshot.
sub-FTL is slower, but you go where you want.
So standard must take a lot of fuel and not approach the speed of light. There must have been some break through which allowed closer to the speed of light travel. And the slingshot has to break the light speed barrier. So is there a subspace?
Sometimes if landing close to another system, a ship will go over to explore.
The Clans are descendants of early generation ships. They have a strong sense of family and work together. The rule would be: Ship, Name, Clan, and finally Clans. As such, they are fiercely independent and are keen scouts. They are willing to take a new slingshot journey. There are Clan shipyards somewhere, but their location is a closely guarded secret.
The XTC - eXtrasolar trade company are hired crews on newer ships. Despite the common umbrella of XTC, there is little loyalty between ships. This sometimes carries over into the ship's crew. They are not risk takers and seem to fear exploration. Ship crews are normally not gender integrated, but all female crews are common.
Earth's colonization went upspin and downspin.
But again, we want the shock of standard and sub-FTL cultures suddenly closer to Earth.
The exodus was not that great, but it is steady. I.e., how do you move millions off a planet? There is a fierce competition to emigrate or join the various stellar forces.
Earth's power extends several branches deep, but after that, it effectively stops.
There are several upspin governments and one large downspin.
Earth acts as a choke point between the different factions.
The Grubber system also joins the downspinners and the upspinners.
Note these references are in clear relationship to Earth. Also, good plot ideas come back several times. I *cough* just had this one a couple of days ago.
The Grubbers appear to be less technologically advanced than the
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