The Colonies story
From the Ashes
The 24th century was an age of unsurpassed change for humanity. It was marked by scientific innovations but more importantly by the repercussions of expansion that threatened to tear apart social order.
Politically, humanity's old era was witness to the worst of wars. Terra was encased in a horrible war between several of the world's superpowers. Decades of raging battles had driven most of larger populations into Demilitarized Zones while land warfare destroyed most of the capitols of Terra. Massive bombardment leveled coastal regions with countries scrambling to retaliate against rivals. It seemed as if the darkest days were on the horizon as reports confirmed the use of tactical nukes by an independent political group on the Euro Front.
As the European strife threatened to bring the rest of the planet to the brink of nuclear war, a joint force of Northern Bloc and Pan-Atlantic allied troops intervened to end hostilities in 2317. This outcome greatly strengthened political ties between nations of the Northern Bloc, resulting in a formal unification of involved military forces. By 2318, the Northern Bloc included Japan, the American Empire, the newly liberated Eastern European nations, and the now-separate seven Russian states. Replacing the defunct United Nations as a world senate the Northern Allies created the Combined Parliament. As a vigorous sponsor of scientific research and space- exploration activities, the Combined Parliament handsomely rewarded similar efforts by its member states.
Rising from the ashes, the Combined Parliament went about globalization and reunification, setting its sights on both short and long-term goals. Administrating the rebuild of the collapsed world economy fell to several inter-territorial corporations that remained loyal to the past allies. This network rose to become the later-day Trade Consortium making several improvements such as a standard currency and birth credit.
With the Trade Consortium working behind the curtain, the Combined Parliament set about bold new plans that would take history down an interesting path. Needing a figurehead for the populace, the consulates of the CP held a summit meeting for the election of a leader. After several years of deliberation, a decision had been made. In the summer of 2322, Nathan Bloch, former general in the previous war was elected as High Consul. The world now was firmly united under one leader.
Capitalizing on Bloch's popularity, the Parliament met with no resistance at removing several of humanity's worst inventions. Political parties were abolished with Bureaucratic Ministries paving the way for social reform. Territorial armies and law enforcement were disbanded in exchange for the Regular Army Guard. Plans for final unification came with the decommissioning of weaponry and the enacting of the Commissionatory Acts of 2330.
During the next 200 years humanity flourished under the reign of the Parliament and its Ministries. Land relief marked the end of upstart rogue terrorist factions and massive conservational movements reclaimed most of the radiated areas on Terra. A golden age that was once thought impossible.
Offworld: Paradise Lost
In the year of 2503, research seeds planted by the Trade Consortium came to fruitation. The Ministry of Aeronautics along with its subsidiary, the Mayoto Group created the first spaceworthy craft that could travel at lightspeed. Under the supervision of the MoA, the Mayoto Group built the enormous vessel completely in space from the Jechy-Brisbane Sub-Orbital Platform over the course of 23 years. It carried in its belly; 3 Dropships for planetfall, 12 post-fusion engines, several small naval escort ships, as well as a host of communications modules for space exploration. Named after its creator, the Noyatoma MK I, was made in efforts to establish an outpost at the edge of the Sol System. By having an adjustable operation platform, the outpost would help to coordinate new offworld colonies and mining facilities for Terra's expansion.
After setting up a waypoint near Pluto, the Noyatoma was sent to search for new planets in the NGC-1157 Sudro-Alpha galaxy. After several disappointing planetfalls, the crew concluded that there simply were not any worthy sites. Air and ground scans from robot scouts confirmed the crew's reports and within a year, the exploration project was scrapped. Pressure soon increased on the Trade Consortium to cut its losses and establish mining operations closer to home.
Mining on the homeplanets turned out to be more difficult that earlier projected, as rugged conditions forced most facilities to become semi-permanent in nature. Terraforming was simply too expensive for short-life mining operations so mineral extraction was left to those desperate or destitute. Those that chose to mine offworld were quick to adopt a feudalistic lifestyle, living in tentative slavery to mining corporations that controlled the space lanes to and from Terra. Worker riots were common offworld but since the Ministry of Information controlled communications, the general populace of Terra simply was unaware of how bad things were getting.
In 2536, High Consul Marik died in an accident in transit to one of the mining facilities on Io. At the time, there were two candidates fixed to succeed Marik and world peace became a very fragile business. Escalation mounted as the two candidates blamed each other for the alleged assassination of High Consul Marik. The Combined Parliament decreed that both were unworthy for ascension to the position and regulated affairs through the representative senate.
Secretly working against the Parliament, the two failed candidates competed in buying large sections of the industrial sector. Through proxies, they established themselves as clandestine heads of several mining outfits. Seeking to rebuild their power, their efforts created two of the largest and influential syndicates. Trade warfare ensued, as the two tried to oust each other in the market share with those depending on free trade caught in the middle. Fearing an economic collapse, the Parliament passed a law constructed by the Trade Consortium. The Mining Law of 2545 stated that 'A company or proxy body that cannot deliver the quota set forth will be replaced and further prohibited from operation of new contracts for 5 years or until they can prove themselves capable of supplying the material set forth by commission to a colony'. The Parliament then set forth new laws and amenities to offworld colonies that would further improve the worker's living conditions. Within a year, a new High Consul was elected and colony reformation was set in motion but not without giving birth to trade cartel families.
Expansion: Paradise Found
It was in the autumn of 2547 that scientists stationed on the decaying Noyatoma discovered strange radiant emanations from the fringe of the Milky Way. Indications concluded that the emanations were from a wormhole that was previously overlooked. Within 2 years, phase technology had become advanced enough that a Tachyon Jumpgate could theoretically built next to the wormhole in the hope to control its flux. By 2553, the first unmanned probe had been launched into the rift with the hopes of finding what was on the other side. Results generated from the probe were more than what scientist dreamt of. Not only did the probe travel through successfully intact, but also trans-space communications were possible with the other side. Information gathered told of the neighboring galaxy hosting a relatively stable solar system with dozens of supportable planets. At the end of 2554, intelligence operatives from the Ministry of Aeronautics had surmised that most of the newfound planets were inhabitable with only minor Terraforming needed.
Shortly afterward, Parliament shipyards began producing light-drive ships. By 2556, the first permanent space colony was established on Epsilon Magus II (Paradise). As engineering improvements reduced the cost of building space ships, corporations and even dissident private groups began to acquire their own vessels to exploit the seemingly limitless potential of the stars. The Combined Parliament soon acted to place colonization under its sole authority, passing laws requiring that all ships have a Terran naval escort, and placing all colonies under Terran jurisdiction in the form of a senate-appointed governor. In 2558, the first Offworld Consensus Survey reported the existence of more than 20 settled human colonies spread across a sphere 80 light years in diameter. The fourth survey, conducted in 2559, recorded the settlement of more than 60 worlds. As more and more planets became settlements, the colonists began to encounter the problem of impure water supplies suitable neither for human consumption nor for irrigation. As the costs of water purification equipment were prohibitive for most colony worlds, the lack of potable water tended to discourage new exploration. It was only with the advancement of electro-isotopic technology that allowed resident status for many colonists in the first place and it was only with the help of gray market cartels that many colonies could be established. By ignoring trade sanctions against new tech being available offworld, syndicates would control more and more, often developing deepspace colonies without Terran consent. With each expansion of human-occupied space, the centralized government of the Parliament degraded. The importance of the Trade Consortium became clear as the power of the mining syndicates grew. The once heavily commissioned mining corps ratified their operations by becoming less dependant on Consortium contracts almost overnight by supplying colonies off record. Under the table trade agreements became commonplace, with more and more colony worlds secured mining rights directly from the mining corporations, underpinning standard trade regulations. With each passing year, separatist factions grew in the burgeoning offworlds allowing more lax treatment for trade crimes. In time, the Terran government was viewed as an outside entity trying to control the life of everyday colonists. Anti-Parliament sentiment merely fanned the flames of what was about to happen next.
The Winds of Change
On March 4th, 2560 (Terra Calendar), world peace came to an abrupt end when an unknown assassin ended the life of Thomas Markus, CEO of Bulwark Offworld Corporation and suspected leader of the Maggie Trade Syndicate. Speculations on who ordered the hit would never be confirmed but it was enough to create a schism in offworld politics and trade. Politically, the fallout caused a general uproar based on who had the real power to deal with potential rivals. Backlash continued as the Trade Consortium came under fire from the Parliament and its resident Ministries. The line was soon drawn as the Trade Consortium disbanded under pressure from internal investigations by the Ministry of Information. Once powerful trade families now scrambled to become absorbed by offworld resource corporations. On Terra, regional markets crashed as trade became stalemated with its sister planets. In the state of emergency, the Parliament requested aid from neighboring colonies only to find their pleas being ignored. The reply was simple and straightforward; the colonies were now their own. Those that chose independence were to be known as the Free World League and would no longer suffer under the tyranny of the Parliament. The offworlds that were Loyalists became the Colonist Federation and fight for reunification with the homeworlds. The future of humanity now rests in the hands of two opposing forces poised for conflict.