The Starfall

In 2010, a comet approaches Earth. There are many who call that we are all doomed, but most scientists say that the comet will break up in the atmosphere. They are correct that it breaks up, but it does not dissolve as they had predicted: The raining fragments cause significant damage in certain areas, but the largest impact is near the city of New Ashenham. Particles from the comets are thrown up into the atmosphere, blocking out much of the sun's light in wide areas near the points of impact. Many plants die, animals and humans suffer lung disease from the dust and particles. Over the next decade, there are many deaths.

Eventually, most of the dust has fallen and the sky is clear again. After the starfall, many births ended with miscarriage. However, some of the surviving children begin exhibiting extraordinary abilities. Due to the concentration of these manifestations in areas where the stardust was densest, these effects are attributed to the extrasolar particles. The humans with special powers are termed 'starborn'. No animals born in the areas exhibit powers. It is supposed sapience is required to enable and control the abilities.

Almost thirty years after the starfall, in 2038, the frequency of new starborn decreases dramatically, as do failed births. Studies show that it is not a genetic condition, but is caused by the mother's exposure to the stardust during pregnancy. Several organisations experiment with artificially induced starborn.

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