Out of the many millions of planets that circle the galaxy, there is one in particular which stands out among the rest.
There isn’t anything particularly unusual about this planet; there’s nothing about it that isn't duplicated across many thousands of others. It fits right in the middle of size, mass and composition.
What does make this one different though, is how it’s used by those who can get there.
See, while people know that it’s on the edge of the galaxy, only the smallest handful of people know exactly where.
The planet was called Hub and it was, arguably, the oldest planet in the galaxy. Remember all those fairy tales that your parents told you before bed? The ones you tell your kids now? Most, if not all, of these are taken from actual stories about the species that used to live on Hub. Old stories from long dead civilisations. It goes to show how important Hub was that we still tell them.
Now, though, not a single species calls Hub home.
The history of Hub does revolve around its ancient inhabitants, however in more recent times it has been the centre of a much larger story. The story of a more civilised galaxy.
It is an almost universally accepted notion that if life can develop on one planet, then it can happen again on another. Based on this, and a healthy respect for life in general, the Hub species of old spent millennia searching its galactic neighbourhood for other life and introducing themselves wherever life was advanced enough to understand the implications.
Over time, as the Hub species fell towards extinction, the societies they had found flourished under their guidance and, mostly, grew to replicate their reverence for all life.
Among these societies were five that were already well on their way to being on an equal footing with Hub by the time they were found. These five took what is generally looked back on as being lieutenant type roles alongside Hub and when Hub stopped being involved, they were seen as the new leaders, the ones who would lead the rest to further glory in the galaxy.
When the Hub species broke off their interactions with the other civilisations, the five more advanced societies formed a Coalition in order to best utilise the separate benefits each brought to the table.
When suspicion and paranoia over who was in charge overwhelmed the group, it was decided that the Coalition committee would meet on Hub, the one planet considered neutral ground, to hash out, once and for all, the organisation of this coalition.
By this point, Hub was a lifeless planet, with no resources to fight over. It was the perfect place to establish, not a capital, but a place solely for governance where the representatives would be reminded that their duties were for the good of all life.
Time passed and the Coalition became the singular power in the region. At its height it contained over two dozen civilisations, each coming under one of the original five Caregivers, as they called themselves.
Each Caregiver made their own basic rules for how the societies under their guidance were to behave, with each electing people to represent them at the Caregiver level, who in turn elected from each of them to represent them at the Coalition level. This seemed to work, by and large, and there weren't many issues that needed to be dealt with at the Coalition level.
However, time, as the saying goes, plays fools of us all and the Caregivers would have to make a very difficult decision very soon.
Hub wasn't accessible by space, or so the current crop of Caregiver representatives thought. In fact, it had been many generations since space travel in a ship had even been necessary. One of the greatest innovations in Coalition history was the discovery and practical application of artificial wormholes which worked on any scale. That is to say, technically, you could use these for day to day travel within a single town or travel anywhere within the coalition. They were mostly used for space travel, though, and were the primary cause of the current Coalition golden age.
They were also used by the Coalition government representatives to travel to and from Hub for their meetings, each a different colour to represent the different zones of influence: Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple and Orange.
Each zone, or colour, had a reception area below the surface of Hub, where a network of underground tunnels would take them to the government chambers, not too far away. Each reception area also had a large tunnel bored through to the surface where each would illuminate when the representatives were on Hub. These were almost entirely ceremonial and were only there as tradition, but were the only way to the surface from the reception areas.
When people saw it for the first time, their reactions were always the same. It was the turn of one of the Orange representatives this time. He was one of the most idealistic politicians, a result of an experiment into direct democracy, or the closest approximation one could have in a society with several billion people. It was his first visit to Hub since his election and he was very excited about it all.
He was the first of the Oranges to arrive on Hub, and thanks to his curious nature, he found himself climbing the huge amount of stairs that led up the light tube to the surface.
It was well into night time when he stepped off the ceramic tube and onto the soft sand it was built into. Nearby, other tubes sat. Two of them, Green and Purple, had already lit up and as he watched, Yellow did too. No one had told him, and he hadn't expected, that the five tubes had been built in the middle of an immense horizon-to-horizon ocean, the undisturbed water reflecting the many thousands of stars above. He spun slowly, looking at the night sky in this new, unfamiliar place.
When he had reached 180 degrees from where he had started, he saw it and fell to his knees. There was nothing. No stars, just an inky blackness staring back at him. His colleagues, the ones triggering the lights from the other tubes below had always called Hub the Edgeworld and now he realised the full truth of what that meant: Hub was the last planet on this edge of the galaxy, beyond its orbit lay the full spectre of empty space.