The Waning Years of Earth: Late 21st Century to 2150
The 21st Century ended in a blaze of fire on Earth, as the major nations of the world engaged in World War III. The intermediate, reconstructive years that followed saw a rise of internationalist NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) combine with the United Nations in an effort to realign the world. By 2100, the age of global superpowers was at an end, as the post-war world reorganized under the U.N. umbrella located in Brussels, New York City, and Beijing.
The war on Earth during the 2060s – 2080s introduced various technologies to the spheres of battle, including sub-orbital weapon satellites, supersonic jets, and anti-matter. At the conclusion of the war, when organized regional governments exhausted their resources and collapsed, there was no clear victor, which created a global power vacuum. Subsequently, and perhaps by default, the U.N. emerged as the dominant power on the weakened planet. In a massive rebuilding effort, the organization spearheaded the re-purposing of war machines for peaceful endeavors, which led to breakthroughs in technology and allowed a group of scientists to develop the interstellar drive system (I.D.S.). Seizing on this opportunity the newly formed U.N. Sol Colonization Authority (SCA) proclaimed that the future held limitless possibilities and that humanity would colonize the solar system and Orion belt of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Subsequently, the Sol Colonization Authority partnered with private corporations from around the planet to develop orbital and terran technology to reduce the burden on the global public to bankroll the colonization efforts, which it was more than willing to do. Once the war ended, people sought to escape the confines of Earth life, which became increasingly bleak; the fright of global extinction had set in, and people looked to the one-world government U.N. and its SOL Colonization Authority to initialize space colonization. When the SCA partnered with several post-war global conglomerates, many welcomed it as a way to hasten research and design efforts to this end. Others began to fear the obvious growing power of the corporations.
Initially, the SCA-corporate partnership was symbiotic and mutually beneficial. But eventually the Earth-based corporations, loyal to their shareholders and seeking ever increasing profit, seized the reins of power from the SCA. With immense wealth, infrastructure, and backing from investors, many of whom profited from World War III and the deadly technology they introduced during it, these powerful corporations developed shuttles and space stations around Earth at an alarming rate – far surpassing what the Sol Colonization Authority accomplished.
By 2130, the blueprints to the I.D.S. were realized on a space station orbiting Jupiter by the Zeus Corporation. The first major colonizing corporation, it formed as a partnership of many of the old order multinational corporations that existed before the war. Over the succeeding years, more corporations followed and constructed their infrastructure around Jupiter, leaving Earth and the Sol Colonization Authority as afterthoughts in the race to colonize.
In Jupiter’s orbit, the largest corporate entities of Earth constructed mass drive yards, infrastructure, and used the immense gravity from Jupiter (a necessity to building the I.D.S.) to forge what would become the headquarters of the United Colonies of Earth (UCE). Over the next two decades the corporations colonized SOL and left the governmental organizations of Earth behind. This rapid colonizing effort caused immense social and political problems for the U.N. and the SCA, both of which collapsed under their own weight by 2150, despite promising starts after the war. Only the major hub cities of the U.N. (Beijing, Brussels, and New York City) remained intact while the surrounding populations disappeared into space: waves of people departed Earth to colonize the stars. Additionally, leaders, scientists, and the brightest minds joined the various corporate entities in the private sector, as corporations sponsored numerous colony ships from Earth in one of the greatest Diasporas in the history of humanity.
Mars the Model Colony: 2140-2150
Mars was the first terraformed planet in 2140 and a bastion of corporate sponsorship. The Red Planet became the model colony for the corporations, paving the way for the future colonies of Sol. Due to its close proximity of Earth and location to Jupiter, Mars emerged as an important hub for the corporate entities; they sought to leave Earth to form their fledging headquarters on Jupiter, which provided them the means to implement I.D.S. construction.
Without regulations to bind them, Mars became a waystation for the corporations; the planet’s vast surface was fertile ground for the conglomerates, allowing them to model and showcase various terrain installations for future colonial projects. Due to the testing-ground nature of early space colonization, many of the denizens of Mars were renegades, survivalists, and people who lived on the fringe and wanted to leave Earth’s strictures behind. These individuals became the first Martians or “The Primes” and worked tirelessly to remake the Red Planet in their image, in part, by dispensing with Earth’s bureaucracy, regulations, and taxes. The new planet prided itself on corporate sponsorship, and many of these people found meaningful positions in the corporate entities. By 2150, a new wave of settlers from Earth arrived on Mars, as the corporate giants sought out resources and labor from the heart of Earth’s population to help construct their new model world. However, The Primes began to look down on the second-wavers in what would become an ever increasing divided between the original and new settlers of Mars.
The First Corporate War: Circa 2190
By 2185, the core worlds of the Orion Belt were colonized by over 200 corporate powers. The majority of the colonies were sponsored by the most prosperous 15 corporations, which were based around the gas giants in the Sol System. With the discovery of an ever-increasing amount of planets in nearby solar systems, which included super gas giants that surpassed the gravity well of Jupiter, many corporations established headquarters outside of Sol, choosing to forsake what appeared to them as the now-ancient home world of Earth.
Tensions began to build prior to 2190, as various corporations, seeking to establish their dominance, initiated hostile takeovers, quiet assassinations, and sabotages in a series of power plays. This sequence of violence eventually led to the formation of the United Colonies of Earth (UCE) in 2190, as the most powerful 12 corporations of Sol, headquartered at Jupiter, pledged to dismantle their upstart rivals. The nexus of the united colonies, or “The Jupiter 12,” which becomes “The Jupiter 10” when Dion and Hesti fold (see the discussion of their failed Venus ventures below), establishes itself as the most powerful mega-conglomeration in Sol space with what becomes its military division, the UCE, which is tasked with protecting its interests.
Undeterred, upstart companies hoped to gain similar power during the game of colonial expansion by establishing bases of operation around Neptune and Uranus, bold moves that distinguished these corporations from the Jupiter Twelve. But such settlements were only the beginning. Unsatisfied with Sol holdings, the upstart corporations, in an attempt to achieve further power and prestige, expanded colonial efforts; they grew their respective companies around the recently discovered and unsettled gas giants outside of Sol in a region that becomes known as Corporate Space. However, the UCE response was immediate. In its initial military response shortly after its formation in 2190, the UCE mobilized to combat the upstart rival powers in the corporate realm with great efficiency, maintaining minimal losses in a victory in what is now referred to as The Corporate War.
Consolidation: Circa 2190-2210
Consolidation for the Jupiter-based corporations came swiftly in the post-war years. Each retained its corporate spheres and economic zones of interest, but as a group, they consolidated their military power in the UCE after its resounding success in quelling the upstart companies. The UCE, then, became the military arm of Jupiter 12’s combined corporate might, operating as a shield for the corporate-sponsored colonies from threats, domestic or otherwise.
Despite maintaining a relative ‘independent’ status from corporate rivalries and power struggles, the UCE still relied on the corporate giants for manpower and resources. This process was undertaken by the Directorate, the governing board of the UCE, which was a 12-person committee tasked to oversee its operations. Each of the 12 Jupiter-based corporations received a chair on the directory and could nominate anyone from the combined military of the UCE to represent its interests.
During the consolidation period of the UCE and following the brief Corporate War, Jupiter corporations realized the plan of the defeated upstarts and established new settlements outside of Sol. Known as The Middle Colonies, they were controlled tightly by the UCE and the corporate giants that it still serves today. Such expansion efforts meant that model colonies like Mars ceased to be a priority for the Jupiter-based corporations. Facing little challenge to its power and authority, the Jupiter 12 and the UCE no longer felt compelled to show the migrating Earth population that its combined sponsorship offered a new and better life. The Middle Colonies reflected this shift in focus, as this set of mining, farming, and resource-gathering settlements remained functional corporate towns and lacked the accoutrements so proudly displayed on Mars. Moreover, worker organization was unheard of and banned in the new colonies. But many of the destitute from Sol and Corporate Space came to these developing settlements looking for work and a hopeful future that was increasingly difficult to find.
The Venus Tragedy: 2205-2210
Following the Corporate War, two of the Jupiter-based corporations, Hesti and Dion, attempted to colonize Venus. Their goal was to turn Venus into a model colony like Mars, as both Dion and Hesti had been left out of the terraforming success that produced Mars. Moreover, neither corporation had large economic zones of interests and faced dwindling sponsorships. Hesti believed it could develop the climate control technology necessary to colonize Venus and set out to do so. Previously, Venus had not been colonized due to the planet’s strong greenhouse effect. Hesti attempted to colonize Venus in 2205, but failed as a result of technical errors, which caused a massive loss of life and bankrupted the corporation. Dion soon followed, staking its future on the fame and fortune that eluded Hesti. Its goal was to turn Venus into a model colony and show that hazardous planets like Venus could become profitable terran worlds. But Dion confronted the same issues that short-circuited Hesti’s operations. Dion’s climate control technology and wide-ranging negligence led to the deaths of tens of thousands of colonists. In the end, two of the Jupiter 12 bankrupted and subsequently were dismantled by the remaining Jupiter-based corporations, which are still referred to as the Jupiter 10 today.
Venus now serves as a graveyard to the Dion and Hesti corporations, but important climate control technology, infrastructure, and wealth may yet remain on the surface of Venus.
First Colonial War: Circa 2210-2220
The First Colonial War was not an organized effort to dismantle the UCE, but a ragtag worker uprising across several Middle Colony worlds. There was no leader or organized threat, only a collection of separate rebellions orchestrated by local activists in an attempt to break the yoke of the UCE and bargain for greater organization of workers in company towns.
Unfortunately for the rebels, the UCE was formed precisely to deal with such threats to the corporations, and the sophisticated arm of the UCE swept forward and annihilated any group opposing the UCE or demanding greater pay, private property rights, or organization in trade guilds.
Still, as soon as the UCE put out one rebellious fire more flared up on neighboring Middle Colony worlds, and even the poor in the Core began to organize. On the planet Bastion, a major financial capital and choke point along the trade route from Jupiter to the Middle Colonies, a terrorist strike destroyed the headquarters of the Herculean Solutions Firm. Following this attack and other terrorist strikes in the Core, the UCE organized and dished out greater and more powerful strikes on Middle Colony planets harboring rebels and dissenters. Ultimately, the flame of rebellion died, but not before a notable Atlantian penned a treatise arguing for greater collectivization of laborers and reforming the human condition under corporate rule. Darius Shaan’s The Ten Points, a work that explicitly evokes the Jupiter 10, is still referenced with reverence in circles resisting the UCE; the meditation would go down as an inspirational piece of literature for future rebellious leaders in the Middle Colonies. Furthermore, it served as the beginning point for the Intelligentsia of the Atlantian Underground Movement that emerged throughout the Middle Colonies and the Core, which quietly exchanged ideas about reform.
Intervening Years: 2220-2238
The intervening years following the First Colonial War served as another period of consolidation for the UCE. The corporate giants based on Jupiter dispersed throughout the Orion Belt, choosing new homes for headquarters while keeping a presence on Jupiter. This served to consolidate and separate their expanding power spheres from the operations of lesser corporations. The UCE had grown exponentially in size and strength, and corporations such as Zeus expanded at a faster rate than any other major or minor company. Minor corporate entities feared for their own economic zones and sponsorships, unsure if they would be absorbed into giant corporations like Zeus. Some even expected and prepared for a Second Corporate War that never came, as the UCE focused on reconstructing the Middle Colonies, despite a quietly flourishing reform movement that operated in clandestine. The Atlantian Underground Movement strengthened as settlements were rebuilt, picking up new members where it could from Atlas, its colonial powerbase. From there inter-system underground networks fueled the message of resistance to willing ears in Core and Middle Colonies.
Toward the conclusion of the intervening years the corporate entities, which had by now spread throughout the Core and Middle Colonies, initiated a new wave of colonization even further into unknown space. Small corporate headways were made into this region named “Wild Space.” By 2238 dozens of new worlds were settled with promises of corporate sponsorship. However, during the midst of these colonial ventures the Middle Colonies began to rally around a new political figure that altered the course of history, inspiring the poor and oppressed to challenge the UCE once again, giving rise to the ACP, The Atlas Confederation of Planets.
Rise of the ACP: 2232-2238
The rise of the ACP was orchestrated and planned by N.D., a son of a wealthy mine owner on the planet Keline in the Middle Colonies. N.D. was a young man during the First Colonial War and witnessed firsthand the brutal suppression tactics of the UCE on Keline and elsewhere in the Middle Colonies. He also witnessed the lack of leadership by the activists and fighters and vowed that the next struggle against the UCE would be one with organized leadership – for that was the only way to win, according to N.D.
In the intervening years N.D. used his father’s wealth and prestige to travel the Middle Colonies and built up a network within the Atlantian Underground Movement. His growing influence and popularity in underground circles helped shift the focus of the movement, realigning it with his own vision and goals. However, on Keline, while distributing anti-UCE propaganda, N.D. was arrested and sent to Gaelon, the infamous UCE prison on the moon Taros. While in prison N.D. wrote the Colonial Chronicles, a rejoinder and companion piece to Darius Shaan’s The Ten Points, the publication that sparked the underground movement. The subsequent public outrage of N.D.’s arrest forced UCE authorities to release him after a short prison sentence of six months.
Free from prison and with an even greater following, N.D. continued to build a network in the Middle Colonies designed to act when the time was right. That time rapidly approached. By 2238 on the planet Keline a massive protest erupted, which took the UCE by surprise. The protest ended in bloodshed; evidence suggested that UCE Shadow Operatives were behind the attack, but questions still linger about the incident.
The Massacre at Keline in 2238 served as the launching point for the rebellion. Following the massacre, Atlas, which had grown from a pastoral colony to the only true metropolis and manufacturing center in the Middle Colonies, declared its independence. A governing body on Atlas formed the Confederacy of Planets in an attempt to take the power from the corporations and give it back to the people. They unanimously elected N.D. their President.
The Interstellar Civil War: Circa 2239-2248 (ongoing)
N.D., the Atlas Convention of Delegates, and Underground Movement served as the three main organs that launched the Interstellar Civil War in 2239.
The early years of the war took a toll on the ACP, as it lacked resources, manufacturing capability, and strong leadership, despite N.D.’s attempt to centralize operations. However, this changed when Admiral Crane emerged from the fog of history to prominence in the newly formed ACP Navy, a collection of rag-tag, refitted ore haulers, refinery ships, and captured UCE vessels. Crane’s navy was able to land several landmark victories using hit-and-run tactics in the Middle Colonies, and in the early years, each victory gave Crane an opportunity to seize more and more UCE vessels for the ever-growing ACP navy. However, his prowess began to be matched by Admiral Perry of the UCE, who quickly took the UCE fleet into the Middle Colonies to suppress the rebellion. Perry and the Directorate of the UCE found this war to be different from the First Colonial War; in this war Perry faced an organized foe, rather than the disparate adversary that confronted the UCE previously. To compound matters for the UCE, the ACP organized behind around a shared political ideology with the following tenets: greater worker rights; greater rights and representation for colonists; the end of UCE economic zones and taxation on Middle Colony Worlds; a desire for independence; and acceptance as a sovereign state.
In addition to facing a unified and motivated opposition, the UCE was hamstrung by defections during the first phase of the conflict. Many of its soldiers hailed from the Middle Colonies, and large numbers of them quickly left to join their brothers in arms. Ultimately, the war dragged on in the Middle Colonies for years. The UCE found victories difficult to come by due to the defections and the brilliance of Admiral Crane. Its inability to overcome the ACP fleet protecting Atlas and other key middle worlds, according to some, resulted from the fierce passion encountered by the UCE forces in all the theatres of war that could not be matched.
Finally in 2246, the UCE gained a victory due to the defection of Admiral Crane who had joined the UCE a year earlier, giving the UCE Vital Intelligence on the ACP and its forces. Victory after victory followed for the UCE, including the fall of Atlas in 2247. Just when it seemed like the war was over, rebels assassinated Crane on distant Earth in New York City. Soon after, the ACP salvaged its forces to retake Atlas and several nearby systems that had fallen in a surprise pincer attack on the main UCE fleet. This bold sequence of strikes forced the UCE to withdraw to the Core until it could manufacture additional ships and supplies.
Hoping to capitalize on these successes, N.D. ordered a general counterattack on the planet Bastion, gateway to the Core and the manufacturing planets beyond. By 2247, Bastion had been attacked several times by guerilla and non-uniformed ACP combatants. Despite the relentless assaults, the UCE garrison on Bastion repelled ACP invaders from the Capital City, but it lost control of the outlying farmlands. When the ACP fleet arrived, it served to block food shipments into Bastion, which prompted mass protests and further weakened the UCE garrison. The blockade held for several weeks until the UCE fleet arrived and began to battle the ACP forces in low orbit over Bastion.
The Battle of Bastion continued for months into late 2247 and into 2248. As the first days of 2248 began, the ACP mounted a massive strike outside of the Capital City, forcing its way into the city’s boundaries, which was yet held by the UCE. Currently, the ACP plans to take the city and force the UCE Navy to retreat. Thus begins the second phase of the Battle of Bastion, which will serve as a turning point one way or another for the Interstellar Civil War.
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