There are three stages to any great adventure, where humans leave a comfortable land to seek new homes in vast wilds. First, the Explorers. Great men sail their ships and plant their flags on far off shores. Legendary astronauts, navigators or adventurers name and claim new lands and then return home, lucky to be alive. Next, businessmen. Kings and queens, billionaires and entrepreneurs send their lackeys to mine gold in the far distant lands. Colonies are founded for the farming of tobacco, or the mining of gold, or construction of spaceships. Workers labour in harsh conditions in the new land, shaping it to their will. But the third stage brings comfort. Those same workers marry and have children. Their interests no longer lie in making trade for the men back home, because this is their home. The colonists declare independence, fight a war, and go about making the “far off land” just like any other place.
These stages can be easily seen in the early progression of America: between 1400 and 1600. Explorers sailed west, planted flags, then returned to Europe. Between 1600 and 1750, colonies were founded and gold flowed into the coffers of England’s investors. In 1775, making profits for the motherland was no longer enough for the colonists, whose parents had lived and died taming the wilderness. The colonists wanted more rights and comfort in their home, hence The Revolutionary War and founding of the United States.
The same cycle happened on the Moon, and Mars, and is happening now in the outer planets. This is a chronicle of those adventures, the story of a thousand stories.
Not much is said in modern times of the first step man took on the Moon, just like few care that the Vikings were actually the first to discover (or re-discover, to really particular people) the American continent. Nevertheless, the greatest journey starts with a single step. On September 12th 1962, President John F. Kennedy made a speech before the Rice University, officially starting what many called the 'Space Race' between the Soviet Union and the United States.
This race eventually led to the Saturn V rocket, which carried the Apollo capsule, Eagle lander, and a service module to the Moon. In 1969, this rocket brought Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to Lunar orbit. Neil Armstrong landed the Eagle on the surface of the Moon seconds before it ran out of fuel. While Buzz Aldrin watched from the lander, and Michael Collins waited in orbit, Neil took the first step on the Moon.
The crew then returned to Lunar orbit, rendezvoused with Michael Collins in the Apollo module, and returned to Earth. The Apollo 11 mission was followed by 6 others, including the Apollo 13, which never landed on the Moon due to pressure vessel failure. Further missions were dropped by the US government after funding was cut. NASA never regained the momentum it had after the Apollo program, and outside forces were necessary to rekindle the World’s thirst for space exploration.
Roger Williams, Industrialist in space.
Most historians refer to the period after the Apollo missions, but before the human population reached 1 trillion, as the Post Apollo period (PA). Some scholars dislike this calendar system, arguing the Apollo program didn’t actually start a new era, because life proceeded as usual after the program ended. For nearly 40 years, humans didn’t journey back to the Moon or to any other planetary bodies. However, this can be compared to the period between 1492, when Christopher Colombus visited America, and 1607, when Jamestown was founded. During this period, companies and governments lacked the proper motivation to travel back to the Moon. The Apollo programs were motivated by America's perceived race against the Soviets, fueled to outperform their space program.
In 52 PA, the United States founded a research and development station in low Lunar orbit, with the goal of eventually building infrastructure around the Moon. This return to the Moon was motivated by profits and public reputation, as NASA needed to accomplish something involving human exploration or lose 50% of their government funding. NASA’s Gateway station, created by political pressure more than business sense, opened the door for an organic economy to grow in space. NASA opened their Gateway station to commercial use and expansion, and by 58 PA, humans were permanently living in Lunar orbit, and making regular trips to the surface. Most profits from the lunar economy in these early days were R&D missions from large companies or countries back home. In late 50’s this sort of research started to drop off, and Lunar prospects looked dim as various commercial partners pulled their support from the Gateway project. NASA had been unsuccessful in developing a spacecraft capable of carrying a crew to Mars, and their government backing was waning.
In 59 PA, billionaire Roger Williams started a new project on the Gateway, promising to develop manufacturing on the Moon itself. After 2 years of development, during which nearly 230 million dollars worth or prototypes and Roger Williams himself visited the Gateway station, they were ready. In the year 61 PA, Captain Erik Fadley landed a 10,000 kg spacecraft in the Sea of Tranquility, 107 km away from the original Apollo 11 site. Erik stayed on-site for 17 days until a relief crew of 3 men replaced him. Since that day, there has always been some number of humans offworld. Roger William's company was the first commercial venture located exclusively in space.
Captain Johnson’s mission landed just north of the Valles Marineris, the longest canyon in the Solar System, and west of Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the Solar System. They spent 473 days on the Martian surface, then blasted back to orbit, and Earth. They returned 250 kg worth of samples, saw firsthand evidence of ancient oceans on Mars, and erected a temporary base. This base would be visited by 4 later missions before the conclusion of the Armstrong program 16 years later.
In the second century after the Apollo program, Earth experienced a set of economic and political upheavals unlike anything felt before. Earth’s population reached 10 billion, overtaxing resources and rapidly changing the planet. Widespread drought and extreme weather events cost the global economy trillions of dollars and millions of lives over the course of a few years.
Accompanying this shift was a renewed focus on environmental protection and a large immigration wave towards space and the Moon. Many people predicted global disaster within the decade, and thousands gave all they had to leave their unstable world. With panic rising and governments becoming unstable, the world looked for an authority figure to save them from their own humanity. That person arrived in the form of Tod Thompson. Elected to the German presidency in 125, he immediately won the hearts of his people with an honest manner and uncompromising ideals. Tod restructured the German power grid, incorporating geostationary power satellites as the primary source of power. He funded and constructed Berlin’s first successful airport, building it in less than 2 years. The Sigmund Werner Paul Jähn Airport opened in 129, and serviced thousands of sub-orbital supersonic airplanes each day.
In the summer of 130, political riots killed hundreds throughout Europe, while heatwaves killed thousands. However, Germany was relatively calm during this period. In 131, Tod was elected Chairman of the European Parliament, a position that had not previously existed. Tod’s authority extended over the meetings of Parliament, how and when they were held, and what was discussed. During his 5 year tenure, he converted most of the EU member countries to cleaner power sources, made a compromise plan to solve the national debt issues of the central European countries, and succeeded in bringing western Russia and Great Britain back into the Union. In 135, Tod was elected President of the United Nations, responsible for organizing and coordinating the six major committees that made up the world government. Under his leadership, the United Nations published the 2106 World progress Accords. This document created fines and taxes to protect the economy as a whole, and mandated certain changes to the world government's organization.
Missions to Mars were also becoming commonplace, and the tourist industry was just taking off. During this period, several stations were built in Low Earth Orbit, mostly focused on low or zero gravity activities, as well as gambling. Space-poker, a variant first created by miners on the Moon, became very popular during this period, and were seen as very sophisticated. Often, the orbital casinos would be filled with first-time tourists being cleaned out by gamblers, who made their career living and winning in space. Working at these orbital facilities, as well as making entertainment in low to zero gravity, were among the first orbital jobs open to the general public.
By the start of the 22 century, nearly 5 million people lived and worked in space. Permanent habitats were built in Earth’s orbit, housing some of the most significant celebrities of the time. Habitats such as Everestar station housed up to 5000 people and began developing their own niche cultures, distilled out of the many rich nations the citizens had come from. Manned missions to the asteroid belt brought back millions of tons of rare metals, and the manufacture of cheap, high quality electronics in massive automated factories on the Moon or in orbit disrupted many industries on Earth. Seeing space as a valuable place, the United Nations, under Tod Thompson, shifted its political scheme to “reclaiming Earth” and millions of acres of forests were replanted, the production of foodstuffs was outsourced to orbital factories, and several species were brought back from extinction. Led by Tod, the arts and sciences flourished in a new period of progress in space, and of healing on Earth.
Part 5, Colonies "Proud to be one of them"
147 PA / 2116 AD
"The visionaries came first. The hopers of far-flung hopes and dreamers of improbable dreams. They were followed by the idealists, the romantics, those who wanted to move humanity forward and ride the crest of the wave. Entrepreneurs came next, and adventurers, hardy people prepared to build lives for themselves in the empty wastelands. But they're all crazy, and they all have one name in common. Colonists. I'm proud to be one of them." - Mayor Michael Springsteen, Tranquility base (109 PA).
The late 21st century was full of panic, the early 22nd full of industry. The adults that had conquered space and served in the healing of Earth raised a generation that was taught exploration was the highest ideal, and to be fiercely loyal to their respective homes. On planets like Mars, this fiercely loyal and independent generation held riots and protests against the vice-like control LunaCorp
had over Armstrong base
and many other settlements. The turmoil peaked when the Mayor of Tranquility base, Michael Springsteen held a formal protest at his lunar mansion. Michael had been an outspoken attacker of LunaCorp
for many years.
The UN, led by Tod Thompson, created the space government act (150 PA) in response to the crisis. This policy granted colonies the right to self-rule if they could prove ‘sustainability’ over 10 years, and were more than 1 light-minute from Earth. Michael Springsteen was extremely dissatisfied with this policy, because it didn't include the Moon in its allocation of rights. The Moon was excluded from the document, because it is a mere 1 light-second from Earth. In rebellion towards this act, Michael Springsteen would eventually lead a rebel group to shoot their way out of Tranquility base, steal a brand new-spaceship, and disappear into interplanetary space.
Despite continued unrest, the new policy led to a wave of colonization, most notably on the inner planets. The first humans to land on the solid surface of Venus accomplished the feat in 224, when a series of expeditions ventured down into the crushing pressures. As of 402, 29 people have walked on the surface of Venus, and 11 have survived. The colonies on Venus are found high in the sky, above the crushing pressures and temperatures hot enough to melt lead. On Venus, the atmosphere is mostly CO2, and the clouds are made of sulphuric acid. At the proper altitude, however, the atmosphere is mild enough that humans can survive without temperature control systems, provided they have acid protection and an oxygen supply. Oxygen is significantly lighter than CO2, and can be used as a lifting gas at altitude. The first base in Venus was founded in 137 PA, and the planet has been permanently inhabited ever since. Venus’ atmosphere holds massive pleasure resorts, sports and racing are abundant there, while the planet exports large amounts of nitrogen and rocket fuel from the surface each year.
Elsewhere in the inner system, Mercury was colonized entirely by robots (142 PA) and didn’t have human inhabitants until nearly 25 years after the first bases were built. The planet is second only to the Moon in industrial output. Mercury has been the site of the largest mega-projects in the solar system to date, and analysts estimate the entirety of its resources will be consumed by 581. Mercury’s massive manufacture of metals and other materials began in earnest (159 PA) when LunaCorp
and its associated partners finished a massive ring around the planet’s equator, capable of launching materials into orbit and generating power using the heat differential between the east and west faces of the planet. The engineering challenges conquered on Mercury would lead to it being the premier location for research and development in the Solar System
The first expeditions to the outer solar system consisted mostly of UN sponsored spaceships, crewed by visionaries at the forefront of humanity’s thirst for exploration. The first landings on Gandamyde and other moons of Jupiter happened between 143 and 147, but unfortunately captain Allison McNoogie and her crew of 37 died on the return journey from Jupiter, after suffering multiple failures of their oxygen filters. In response to the tragedy, Tod Thompson announced he would personally fund the next mission to the outer system. Saturn was visited by this mission 176 PA, though permanent bases in any of these locations would have to wait.
Part 6, Space Homes "A different kind of life"
170 PA / 2139 AD
In 170 PA, the population of humanity in space had nearly reached 600 million, and had grown by a steady 25 million per year for the past 10 years. Of these millions, 450 lived and worked in space on the Moon, or in space between the Moon and Earth. Most of these people worked on computers, providing entertainment for the 11 billion humans back on Earth, programing and steering the massive drone-freighters between Earth and the Moon, studying the data from enormous telescopes on the Moon’s farside, or designing the next generation of interplanetary spaceship.
The culture that evolved from this group of people was as exotic as their locations and occupations, as the space habitat market soon realized that it could create homes in space of nearly every variety, customized to the user’s needs. Massive server banks floated forever in the Earth’s shadow, cooled to provide the highest performance. Gigantic water-filled spheres floated in zero gravity, filled with fish of every variety. Massive cities, packed with millions, thrived in low gravity, spinning slowly to spread the heat on their outer hulls. A good example of such cities is Murdo, South Dakota
, which held a mere 2 thousand people in 161. Murdo Station was founded in 134, when the town of Murdo South Dakota was paid to move it's entire population into Earth’s orbit. The station employed 8% of its population directly, most of these people working on the numerous oxygen and CO2 filters scattered throughout the station. The biggest imports and exports of most stations were their foodstuffs, and Murdo specialized in blueberries. A carefully guarded sub-species had been developed and selectively bred in the station, with precision only available in space. The station’s other experts included custom electronics and hardware, anything that couldn’t be made by robotic programming, and entertainment industries.
Even stations like Murdo that weren’t fully specialized in entertainment or resort industries often had extensive facilities for adventure in zero or no gravity. With the rise of mass-automation, the average station inhabitant had free time for their hobbies and activities. Space poker, zero-G combat simulation, and even track and field grew remarkably in one third of Earth's gravity.
On the planets of the Solar System, humans slowly adapted through generations of medical care and genetic manipulation on their respective planets. The inhabitants of space habitats became shorter and stocky, adapted for smaller spaces and lower gravity. Martians slowly grew taller in ⅓ of a g, and their skin adopted a reddish hue to better cope with the thin atmosphere. Venutians are renowned for their high breath capacity and tough skin, allowing them to walk around for minutes in the toxic atmosphere. Early inhabitants of Mercury adapted themselves to live at high temperatures. All over the Solar System, since the first few generations in space, humans conforming themselves to their surroundings has slowly changed the species. Extreme adaptations, like those allowing birth at less than 1g, have so far always proved futile efforts and cost the lives of thousands of test subjects.
Part 7, Earth "Simply and purely evil"
188 PA / 2157 AD
“There are things in the universe that are simply and purely evil. A warrior does not seek to understand them, or to compromise with them. He seeks only to obliterate them.” -Timothy Zahn, Star Wars: Thrawn
Unbeknownst to the various territories and governments of Earth, during the second half of the 1st century there was a growing underground movement unsatisfied with the current state of affairs. The United Nations, in alliance with LunaCorp
, had progressively tightened its grip over the space industries in Earth’s orbit, including the massive lunar factories with their millions of workers. Growing levels of piracy and smuggling between the Earth and Moon had been met with brutal crackdowns and vice-like controls over trade. The anonymity of deep space had allowed multiple rebel factions to seclude themselves into secret asteroid bases. The largest of these bases was founded in 157, by Michael Springsteen, who had previously been the mayor of Tranquility base on the Moon. For 25 years after his self-inflicted exile Michael had harassed LunaCorp
in a variety of ways using smuggling, piracy, and fraud. Michael died in 183, likely of unnatural causes. Less savory heads took over his ring of smugglers thieves and pirates, and the combined band of miscreants called themselves the Libérateurs.
In 187, a robotic tug visited Asteroid 132 RQ36, intending to attach itself to the asteroid and drag it back to Earth’s low orbit, where it would be processed down into the material for space stations. The tug was hijacked and the Libérateurs steered back towards Earth. The tug entered it's assigned orbit, 500 km above Earth, and was ordered to wait until further orders were given. But on the fateful day of June 21 188, Asteroid 132 RQ36 was dropped into a sub-orbital trajectory aimed towards central Asia. The 27 km asteroid impacted just south of the Himalayan mountain range, directly on the Indian town of Dehradun, and 150 km north of India’s capital of New Delphi. This catastrophic event killed over 600 million people outright, and caused earthquakes throughout the entirety of Asia and volcanic eruptions in Indonesia.
The ash and dust thrown into the upper atmosphere by the meteor impact and subsequent eruptions darkened the Earth’s skies for 40 years, causing global starvation and death at a scale completely unprecedented. The terrorists had timed their attack to coincide with the global UN summit in Delhi, killing the entire Council, including the 91 year-old Tod Thompson. The global government collapsed under the pressure as panic ensued over the entire world. The east coast of America was the least affected, and the United States government would eventually re-unify the world.
In the first 10 years after the disaster, one tenth of the world’s population (1.1 billion) died of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, or starvation. Central Asia suffered the worst, its population dropping by nearly half in 20 years. The death didn’t stop until 201, and the Earth’s population didn’t return to its previous level until 321.
Part 8, Isolation & Independence "I am free"
211 PA / 2180 AD
"I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them." - Robert A. Heinlein
In the years following the fall of the Libérateurs, travel off Earth and between planets was scarce at best. In the years after the disaster, nearly 150 million people died in space, destroyed by debris low in Earth orbit, or starved of supply shipments from Earth. The majority of Earth’s low orbit stations were able to boost themselves onto higher orbits to avoid the runaway Kessler syndrome that Earth’s thousands of unguided satellites created.
Earth’s closest colonies suffered the most in the decades of chaos, as they were the most reliant on the planet for supplies. On Mars, a planetary government was established to evenly dispense replacement products to the many bases on the planet. At this time, there was only 1 base on Venus, including an orbital station that serviced the floating city Phosphor. The asteroid belt’s population shrank dramatically after Earth 'went dark' (as the belt-miners called it), as most of their business had been transporting rare minerals to Earth’s markets.
Exploration of the outer planets completely ceased when Earth went dark, but development of the Solar System's isolated industrial islands continued. The automated industry of Mercury survived unaffected by Earth’s nightmares, and surprised most analysts on Earth with it's quick expansion and great efficiency. This was largely due to the efforts of one Gherard Kubler, the son of the planet's previous head scientist. The cities on the Moon and bases on Mars continued to expand, aided by their extensive machineries.
The greatest changes Earth’s apocalypse brought to the many small colonies of the solar system involved their systems of government. Most colonies, small bases, or space habitats before the disaster were directly governed from Earth, or one of LunaCorp
’s bases. After the disaster, it would take some years before the deep space network would restore communication between the planets. This forced the many colonies to survive alone or die, and after Earth recovered, it never regained the same degree of control upon humanity’s hordes of havens in the heavens.
The governments that arose in space were as varied as the planets they presided over, from the totally democratic to completely dystopian. Mars led the Solar System on one side of this spectrum, adopting a purely democratic approach to organization, while other stations like Venus' Phosphor city chose representatives based on purely arbitrary guidelines, such as the ability to hold one's breath for 2 minutes, and fly one of the cities' V-planes to orbit. Mercury's surviving inhabitants disregarded democracy completely, posthumously electing Derek Kubler 'king of Hermes base' and holding ritual duels for the throne.
Interplanetary travel was only truly restored when a coalition of Asteroid miners, led by trading lord Joergen Rance, contracted the help of the largest surviving space habitat, Murdo 2, which had escaped Earth’s orbit to slowly clear the lingering debris. Laser weapons were imported from Mercury, and Joergen's asteroid miners were transported in from Ceres, and the many habitats served as supply manufacturers for the workers. Murdo 2 served as a staging area for the project, and the inhabitants sacrificed their beloved elm forests to make room and shelter for the visitors. Nearly 250 thousand miners, pilots, and factory workers descended on Murdo 2 during the operation, which lasted from 224 until 229. Murdo's inhabitants worked their hardest to play host to the horde for these 5 years, even though they were outnumbered nearly 200 to 1. Thus the most massive and heroic project the solar system had ever seen didn’t involve Earth at all, but rather its many colonies.
Part 9, Civilization rising "Evermore in space"
242 PA / 2211 AD
In the year 242, the population of Earth was well on its way to recovering from The Fall of the Liberauters, and travel had resumed between the planets. The first colonies were being founded on the moons of Jupiter and in the rings of Saturn. Massive freighters slowly traced Hohmann transfers between the inner planets, and vessels carrying passengers sped through the Solar System.
The most significant of the 23rd century was the population of humans in space. In December 242, a LunaCorp
funded census of humans across the solar system made an announcement. Of the 18.2 billion humans currently living, 51.5% of them lived and worked in space, greater than the 8.8 billion people living on the still recovering Earth.
The first interplanetary holiday, Harmony Day, was created to celebrate the occasion. Harmony Day is celebrated every 10 years on the seventh of August. To celebrate this occasion LunaCorp
announced The Ouránia project
, intended to be the first manned interstellar spacecraft. Because fusion power was incapable of providing the power density necessary, the Humanity Star
would have to accelerate to speed using conventional fuels, before cruising the long journey towards Alpha Centauri. The spacecraft was originally intended to travel at 8% the speed of light, though design constraints later lowered this speed to 5%. The spacecraft would take 115 years to reach Alpha Centauri. The Humanity Star
was crewed by 100 individuals, all of which were below the age of 25. They planned to replenish their numbers with children en-route, and reach a maximum population of ~150 before their arrival. The ship was designed to drill itself into a loose asteroid at its destination, providing shelter and building material for the explorers. The Humanity Star
wouldn’t leave until 245.
To cope with the new Human majority, the Interplanetary Governance Council
was officially founded, though it had been an ad hoc organization ever since Joergen Rance led the soldiers of Mercury, the inhabitants of Murdo station, and his organization of Asteroid miners to clear Earth’s low orbit of Kessler Syndrome. Approved in 239, the Council would deliberate at the previously UN-owned headquarters in New York until it officially relocated to Eous Station
in 242. The Council’s duties include maintaining the safety of planetary orbits and interplanetary travel, overseeing the many space-based human habitats, authorizing various planet-altering mega projects, designating various taxes and tariffs on intersystem goods, and setting the rules and regulations for all pressure-vessel ships/bases/stations.
Originally made up of 1710 councilmen, the Council is divided into various sub-committees based on their individual skills. The original Council chairman was Joergen Rance, who was responsible for deciding which committees needed to be involved in a given deliberation. Rance would lead the Council until 261, when he died at the age of 93.
Part 10, Robots of Mercury "Creators of worlds"
272 PA / 2241 AD
“The hottest planets don’t lead to the coolest heads” Joergen Rance, (227 PA)
Mercury was first colonized in the year 167, when the robots that had arrived 25 years previously proved unable to maintain themselves without human assistance. The first factories and production lines on the small planets consisted mostly of burrowing miners, who would drive themselves deep into the surface to protect themselves from the elements, whilst they collect and sift through regolith in search of ore. The majority of the early facilities crept along with Mercury’s day-night terminator, staying barely out of the searing heat. Mercury’s day lasts 176 Earth-days, and it receives 2.5 times as much energy from the sun at its lowest point compared to the planet's highest. These factors coupled with Mercury’s temperatures, which are among the most extreme of the solar system, meant that all machines and spacecraft there must be amazingly robust, and able to operate with low power in very harsh conditions. The first human explorers lived in an orbital habitat, visiting the surface occasionally for survey or repair missions. The explorers, led by Derek Kubler, built large tracks 20 meters below the planet’s surface, connecting the ore fields of the equator to the cooler craters in the poles. Hermes base, the largest human dwelling of the planet, was built on the south pole around this time. Derek Kubler was among the few scientists with the capital and will to try industrializing Mercury, and many were astonished when he managed to do so. By 175, Hermian ships were seen as the standard for small craft, and played a large part in enabling asteroid mining throughout the Solar System.
The Hermians were completely blindsided when Earth ‘went dark’ in 182, and didn’t even receive news of the tragic event until several days afterwards. Mercury is relatively far from the rest of the Solar System, as it's proximity to the sun and lack of atmosphere makes travel to and from the planet extraordinarily difficult. Hermes base had a population of only 2.5 thousand people before the disaster, and all but 400 starved to death in the year after Earth went dark. Among those to starve was Derek Kubler, and among those to survive was his son, Gherard Kubler, who took over as commander of the base upon his father's death. Under Gherard’s leadership, the few remaining Hermians survived and began to recuperate their numbers, relying more than ever on automation to assist them in their survival. In the years after the disaster, when the Earth and the other planetary colonies continued to remain distant, a curious type of culture developed on the Solar System’s hottest planet. The constantly hot temperatures and low food made the majority of Mercury’s inhabitant irritable to the point of violence, and Gherard introduced a system of duels to settle disputes.
Adversaries would duel in pressure-exoskeleton suits designed for travel across the surface, using mining lasers or cutting and welding instruments to attack their opponent. These duels where traditionally held at ‘high noon’ the point on the planet’s surface where the sun was at its highest and the ground at its hottest. Temperatures at these places exceeded 430 degrees Celsius, and most suits would run out of coolant in under 10 minutes. Gherard’s mother died in one of these duels, which she accepted for her son’s sake to preserve his right to rule. Gherard became monarch of Mercury after this event, and set about building the planet into a powerhouse of commerce and might.
Under Gherard’s leadership, mining on the planet increased 10 fold, and a track was completed around the equator of the entire planet. This would be used to launch newly made craft into orbit, and in extreme circumstances interplanetary transfers could be made partially or completely by the magnetic track encircling the planet. The massive track was slowly expanded by the Hermian robots, and in 272 a massive heat engine was brought online, powered by the 600 degree difference between the day and night side of the planet. This brought stable, abundant power to the entire world, and allowed Gherard to construct facilities on every part of the planet. After he contributed to freeing Earth, Gherard was seen as a hero throughout the solar system, and Mercury became the industrial center of a growing trend towards development in space. Gherard was king of his planet, and his subjects developed thousands of habitats and spacecraft to meet every specification. The computers of Mercury soon grew so advanced, that a spacecraft could be constructed from the design phase to final launch without human intervention. But still, Mercury was one of the very few locations where ICG authority was not acknowledged, though the ICG still had an embassy in Hermes base, the only human settlement on the planet’s surface.
Part 11, War in Heaven 304 PA / 2273 AD
"Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides." -Shakespeare, King Lear.
In 301, the ICG changed it's ‘representatives per citizen’ value from 1 councilmember per 10 million citizens to 1 per hundred million citizens which shrank the Council from an outrageous 6000 members, to just over 600. This sparked an outcry throughout the solar system, and many habitats and colonies threatened to expel the ICG’s representatives if the motion wasn’t repealed. Chairman Boris Charlstein of the ICG declared a temporary state of emergency in response to the crisis, and called for a revote of the full Council to confirm the resolution. Originally produced by the Societal Committee, and passed by the Chairman, the resolution technically didn’t merit a full Council hearing, which was not necessary unless the Chairman vetoed the proposition. However, this breach of conduct quieted the majority of unrest when it passed 4219-2141 in the Full Council vote. Only Mercury carried out it's threat, expelling all ICG representatives under their new leadership of Queen Emma Kubler
Gherard Kubler had died in the year 265, and his daughter had inherited his position. She focused the Hermians’ efforts on developing cutting-edge technologies fit to be used in Mercury’s extreme temperatures, and started several secret projects with the aid of her head scientist and cousin, Travis O'Connor. It is extremely hard to keep a project hidden in a solar system full of humans, but the Queen managed to hide her intentions until it was too late for the ICG to make any difference in her plans.
In 307, an ICG satellite broadcast photographs of a large installation on Mercury’s surface, apparently designed to fire a massive gamma laser into space. The discovery led to panic throughout the solar system, as the ICG Defense Committee drafted an emergency resolution. The ICG demanded that Queen Kubler de-power the laser, cease construction on all projects, and permit ICG agents back onto the planet to inspect her facilities before construction was allowed to continue. This was ostensibly on the grounds that the laser could be weaponized (which it could), but Queen Kubler refused the demand categorically, calling for the withdrawal of ICG satellites from the region of Mercury’s orbit. The ICG responded with a trade and travel ban to and from Mercury, and the Queen sped up the development of her many projects.
This uneasy standoff lasted for 3 years, as the ICG secretly built new warships, and ran their old ones under extensive checks (they were Mercury-made), and the Queen stopped bothering to hide the massive spacecraft she was constructing on her planet’s surface and the hordes of robots working for her. In 310, an ICG analyst determined that the millions of robots on Mercury’s surface were self-replicating and growing their numbers using the bountiful Mercurian ore and abundant sunlight. They had been developed by Travis O'Connor, and deployed across the planet. Self-replicating machines of any kind were illegal under the ICG Advancement Committee decision 01283, and so the ICG demanded that Queen Emma Kubler immediately cease all robot activities on the surface of Mercury. They also insisted she open Hermes base to ICG occupation. This launched the Human race into war, for the first time in 250 years.
The first strike was carried out by the Hermian forces, who sent ballistic missiles to destroy 7 observation satellites responsible for the ICG’s intelligence. The ICG responded with a formal declaration of war, until such a time as the rebels of Mercury would surrender themselves to ICG occupation and disassemble their illegal robotic labor force. Queen Kubler made direct response to this, but launched 8 spacecraft of unknown purpose deep into space, at such a speed that they could not be caught. Among other projects, it appears that the Hermians had managed to develop space-grade fusion drives, which allowed them to accelerate to appreciable percentages of the speed of light, and refuel at almost any body in the outer system.
The ICG brought forty eight Belaena-class battleships into high Mercury orbit in the middle of 311, Mercury-built craft capable of launching dozens of surgical strikes each across the surface of the small, airless planet. They had laser point defense systems capable of striking a dime from 100 kilometers, or turning a ten centimeters of steel into plasma. The ICG immediately turned their lasers against the multitude of communication satellites the Hermian’s had in orbit, attempting to cut their communications off from the rest of the solar system. Before the attacking ships could strike, all of the satellites self-destructed in unison, spreading millions of tiny metal splinters throughout the planet’s low orbit.
The ICG immediately began sweeping the debris field with lasers, slowly clearing the particles and causing them to crash back into the surface in a deadly metal rain. Most of the Mercurian robots and bases withdrew underground into their many craters and thick-roofed storerooms. Their buildings were always deep in the ground, to better protect against the sizzling heat and frosty nights. They launched more metal shrapnel into orbit in response, taunting the invading forces. The sharpnel surrounded the planet so thickly that the orbiting fleet' radar couldn't observe the surface.
In August 311, a small hole appeared in the orbital cloud, exactly when Mercury was on the opposite side of the sun as Earth, and also when it was closest to its parent star. These combined factors meant that any message back to the ICG defense committee would take nearly 2 hours. Commodore Michael Hense of the ICG task force instead opted to immediately send half of his force down into the ‘hole’. From there they could prevent the Mercurians from launching more debris, and begin strikes or landings on the planet.
Upon arriving in low planetary orbit, the ICG were immediately barraged by thousands of nuclear-equipped missiles, intended to evade point defenses and swarm their targets. The Balaena battleships were designed for this type of situation, and fended off the attacks with relative ease. Only 3 battleships were lost during this phase of the combat, but the nuclear flashstorm temporarily blinded their sensors. This allowed several self-replicated Hermian robots to sneak onto the outer hulls of the battleships, and begin to attack the spacecraft’s outer hulls. The ICG ships were completely unprepared for this, and Michael Hens responded by launching fusion missile counterstrikes at the planetary surface. These missiles were almost immediately shot down from the planetary surface, where point defense lasers temporarily revealed themselves, retracting moments after striking their targets. The battleships hulls were quickly breached by the attack drones, and Commodore ordered his craft to fire upon one another if necessary to remove the robot pests. 4 more freighters were lost to hull breaches, and 2 to friendly fire. The Commodore’s ships continued to launch mass-destruction missiles at the surface, thought only 3 out of the hundreds launched made contact. The strikes to the planet’s surface did no significant damage, and caused an estimated 200 casualties among the Hermians. The Commodore then boosted his ships onto an eccentric trajectory, hoping to carry the drones burrowing into his ships beyond their communications range. What he didn’t know, is that when the drones lost contact with their controller computer back on the planet, they self-destructed. Only 2 battleships would survive to escape Mercury’s low orbit. The dessicated hulks of the other 22, including the commodore’s flagship, either crashed into the surface or added to the massive debris cloud that blocked the planet from view.
In response to the disaster, the ICG ordered the remainder of the Balaena task force to retreat to Mercury’s L5 point, trailing the planet in its orbit. Before they could properly regroup, the Hermians activated their massive gamma-laser, vaporizing all debris in its path. They timed the attack to strike the fleeing task force, destroying all but 13 of the ships and blinding the surviving ship’s sensors. The Queen then boarded the last of her secret projects, a spaceship called the Heart of Gold. The ship deployed a massive solar sail and activated the largest fusion drives the solar system had ever seen. Using these, and the gamma-laser to push it’s light sail, the craft accelerated at nearly 1 meter per second, and reached the sun’s escape velocity in less than 24 hours. Her spacecraft, holding approximately 300 people, and aimed for the star Sirius, and would arrive in 16 years. She would never be seen again.
The ICG declared the war a success when they were allowed to land on Mercury afterwards, and head scientist Travis O'Connor officially surrendered the planet to ICG authority. However, he first dismantled the critical components of the gamma laser. The equivalent for this machine would not be developed for another 50 years. Along with his surrender, he offered his expertise with self-replicating machines, claiming he had used them to increase Mercury’s metal output 100 fold in less than 12 years. Travis was put under permanent house arrest in an ICG research habitat, low over the sun.
Part 12, Progress of Technology "Void Between the Stars"
326 PA / 2315 AD
“When ships to sail the void between the stars have been built, there will step forth men to sail these ships.”
- Johannes Kepler
After the the Hermian war, the Solar System regained a profitable and busy center of travel and trade in the planet Mercury. The planet has the lowest and fastest orbit, letting it access the rest of the Solar System faster and sooner than the other planets might. Mercury is deep in the Sun’s gravity well, and thus it takes exponentially more fuel to leave from there than a further planet, but for speed the Hermians are unrivaled. A new age of travel, progress, and scientific discovery grew after Mercury was conquered, and the population rapidly developed. Space-grade fusion drives recovered from the Hermian’s unused fleets provided new, cheaper and faster travel throughout space, and their innovations in laser and robot design furnished upgrades across the board.
The human population soared, unfettered by the tight spaces of their home planet, filling habitats made for millions on a daily basis. These were built by the dozen, massive O’Neil cylinders, each a country in their own right. The largest of these stations housed billions of people, floating around the sun in gigantic clusters of cylinders. There were 12 cities above the population of 1 billion people in 350, referred to as “Menschen stapel”. These massive cities formed the core of Humanity's new stellar empire, arranged in a circle pattern low over the sun.
The colossal gamma laser left on Mercury after the Hermian war was intensely studied and reverse engineered, eventually used to launch interstellar probes. The installation would be renamed the “Star of Hope” and was the first of many such lasers. Later versions of interstellar laser orbited mere thousands of kilometers over the Sun’s atmosphere, and bounced their lasers back and forth between the ionized particles of the corona, strengthening them by orders of magnitude. The first bases on the moons of Saturn and Neptune were founded using these lasers, massive ships pushed by sails far beyond the inner system. These lasers made trips to the outer planets possible in just 50 days, and later fusion-aided passenger ships would make the trip in just 30, reaching 1% the speed of light while still inside the solar system.
Jupiter's first bases in it's moons had reached full maturity, with massive cities that light up the Jovian nights. The bases in Saturn’s orbit were mainly research focused before the fall of the Hermain queen, but when trips to and from the gassy planet dropped from 4 years to 40 days, passengers flocked by the hundreds of thousands to see the Solar System’s most majestic rings. The planet Neptune would serve as a valuable stop along a trip out of the Solar System, as it’s atmosphere is full of fuel ripe for fusion. Mining colonies in Neptune’s upper atmosphere, paragliding through the clouds of Titan, and spelunking in the icy glaciers of Tatiana, Humanity finally had the tools to spread its wings and fly beyond the Asteroid belt.
“I can package the future. I can build a star. I can send you power on a piece of paper, or progress in a picture.”
- Travis O’Connor.
The captured scientists from the Hermian war served a crucial role in the design and implementation of the Solar System’s new tools, notably led by Travis O’Connor. He was confined permanently to a small habitat low over the Sun, but when his inventions (including the Star of Hope) gained him glory throughout known space, he was allowed to equip his permanent prison with the fusion drives and sails necessary to roam the Solar System at will. His ship, always one step ahead of commonly found technology, oversaw the construction of orbital cities in Saturn’s rings, mining colonies on the radiation-basked Jovian asteroids, and massive floating factories, riding the 550 km/hour wind of Neptune. Travis’ greatest achievement was ‘Rung 1’ the first step in a series of way stations that could refocus lasers from the inner system, as well as keep their immediate vicinities clear of dangerous space debris. These 'R.U.N.G.S
' as Travis called them, could eventually be built all the way out to the stars, about 1 astronomical unit apart, and enable travel between stars at almost unimaginable speeds. The first of these rungs, the largest of the Menschen Stapel, was later named O’Connor citadel after the scientist.
The only project Travis was not allowed to work on, were his prototype replicating robots, forged in the fire of Hermes base. No intact specimens could be found after the war, as all apparently self-destructed when the Queen fled. Travis often begged the Council to allow him to reconstruct his robots, but they never relented. Travis was placed under close surveillance after a series of vague threats he made concerning self-replicating technology, and was never allowed to touch robotics again. Travis O’Connor would eventually disappear when his ship crashed into an asteroid at 1.2% the speed of light, traveling back to the inner system after an extended visit to Uranus. The debris from his ship was never recovered.
Part 13, Inwards Focused "The heaviest penalty"
337 PA / 2306 AD
“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”
-Plato, the Republic
In 337, a small research outpost deep in the Oort cloud radioed back to Eous station with an urgent message. At their distance, it took nearly 5 hours for their message to reach the station, but after it arrived a mere hour elapsed before a full Council of the ICG was called. The assembled Council listened in rapture to the startling message, and saw the data that had been relayed to them. A massive swarm of spaceships, accelerating startling speeds, pointed towards the Solar System from Sirius A. The light carrying this image had taken 8.6 years to arrive at the edge of the Oort cloud, and the spaceships would take under 15 years to do the same. By the time the Council issued the Infinite Silence protocol, the ships would be only 6 years and 5 months away.
Over the next few years, the Solar System went through the most dramatic changes ever witnessed. Habitats orbited thicker than ever before around the Planets, seeking protection. Massive lasers were built in orbit, and even greater production lines were built and put into use. The 12 massive citadels of Humanity closed their doors to a flood of immigrants, seeking the shelter of larger habitats. Combat computers predicted mass destruction across the entire Solar System, and the birth rate plummeted. As panic grew, millions of individuals left their homes to work in the shipyards of Mercury, the factories of Saturn’s rings, or the fuel refineries of Neptune.
In the half-dozen years between the unknown fleet’s detection and it's arrival, the ICG mandated the production of massive fleets of ships, lasers large enough to fry the hull of a habitat, and massive battleships departed from the Solar System to meet the oncoming horde. But all this did nothing to calm the System’s growing panic as each sensor reading revealed the mystery fleet growing larger and larger with each passing month, more and more ships departing Sirius, and spacecraft appearing apparently out of nowhere as the fleet progressed.
Early in 340, the first ICG Armada met the mystery fleet as they approached the Solar System’s edge. They were met by a message:
“You won’t stop me. You’ll sit in Committee and call a Council and whine and beg and fight. How adorable. I admire the fact that you try, though it is a shame that you didn't try hard enough. But I'm too smart. I’m ready. I use the technologies you have nightmares about. I will build an empire of steel, and no one will remember you." - Queen Emma Kubler
The fleet was then showered with metal debris, a cloud with hundreds of millions of pieces thousands of kilometers square. Hidden inside the cloud, armed with hair-trigger proximity sensors, were dozens of bombs. Fusion, atomic, and chemical, they impacted the fleet with devastating force. The ICG armada tried to sweep their path clear with lasers, desperately fired their missiles into the confusion, searching for enemy ships. In the end, they all crashed into the deadly debris, and died. Analysis of the warships’ sensor logs revealed the enemy force was several hundred self-replicating robots, and a small cluster of metalloid asteroids. These had been designed and built by Travis O’Connor, who managed to communicate through them to the ICG forces. He had been sometime after the destruction of his shipcaptured, which had collided with an asteroid at relativistic speeds in 326.
In response to the growing crisis, ICG Admiral Corbin Tolle requested permission to assault the enemy force immediately, but he was denied and his plans stalled by the ICG’s many committees. The Admiral formally requested a restructuring of the Council’s authority, and permission to act as he saw fit to respond to the ‘critical situation’, but again the Full Council couldn’t reach a conclusion on his propositions.
The Queen’s fleet was directly engaged in 2 months later, when another fleet met her ships in deep space. She had 21 massive ships, each a kilometer long and weighing hundreds of tonnes. These ships carried a complement of several dozen fusion bombs, hundreds of smaller atomic weapons, and thousands of shrapnel torpedoes. The ICG would later find out that each of these ships also held 18 Self Replicating drones, built by Travis O’Connor after he disappeared from ICG custody. The massive ships easily fended off the attacks of the ICG armadas, tweaking its velocity constantly to avoid the barrage of lasers and missiles from the inner system.
Queen Emma Kulber’s 1st invasion fleet reached the boundaries of the Solar System in 342, and were met by an emissary from the Interplanetary Governance Council
. This emissary, Herald Krueger, was a Councilmember from the ICG who volunteered for the mission. His ship hailed Queen Kubler’s fleet, was pushed up to speed by a prow-based laser, and docked with one of her 21 ships. He was never heard from again. Three days after the Queen kidnapped an ICG diplomat, The Full Council was still struggling to come to a majority agreement one what course of action to take. The Defense Committee had presented three plans, each of which consistently earned ¼ of the Council’s votes. Led by Corbin Tolle, the ICG’s main Armada waited in orbit of asteroid 297 RT17, a 25 kiloton rock 62 AU from the Sun.
The fleet was scheduled to meet Queen Kubler’s fleet 7 days after she captured Herald Krueger, but the armada commander Corbin Tolle finally usurped authority and took matters into his own hands. He did this after receiving no orders for over half of the Queen's approach. The Queen’s fleet had separated it's forces, splitting off into different directions. Each splinter was composed of 3 of her “B.A.B.E.
” Starships. Each ship had a 400 meter cylinder inside the main hull, which gave their few inhabitants ¾ of Earth’s gravity. The cylinder’s were barely 2/5 the length of the ship, most of which was taken up by fuel capacity, storage, and their robotics factories, and manufacturing facilities. These ships were the motherships of Travis O’Connor’s Mk 12 Self Replicating Robots
, each containing the facilities to house dozens, and manufacture hundreds more.
Commander Tolle made the decision to split his armada into 2 portions, and move to intercept the 2 closest enemy pieces. His maneuvers were a success, and the half-fleet he commanded blocked the path of 3 B.A.B.E.
starships in the later part of January 342. His fleet of 42 Baelana battleships where successful in destroying all 3 enemy warships, costing 14 of his own. The combat lasted a mere 192 seconds, with the ships moving at a relative velocity of 9% the speed of light. The expanding debris cloud resulting from the quick, destructive encounter blocked the area from view or communication for over 9 hours, prompting the ICG’s Defense Committee to order Admiral Tolle’s second fleet away from it's planned intercept. The fleet, led by a less willful commander, obeyed. Queen Kubler’s remaining 6 fleets would continue towards the Solar System unmolested.
In frustration with the ICG’s hesitant actions, Admiral Corbin Tolle brought his remaining 28 ships around, contrary to the ICG’s orders, and spent 90% of his available fuel accelerating into a ballistic trajectory towards the Sun, set to intercept another of Queen Kubler’s fleets. The ICG Defense Council passed an emergency resolution, granting them immediate authority over military matters. Production of Military vessels and training of personnel continued at a breakneck pace, as the politics of the inner system reached a roiling boil. Humanity was at war, and chaos reigned.
Part 14, The War of Stars "The Last Hope"
342 PA / 2311 AD
In the summer of 342, The Queen’s fleets was a mere 10 AU away from the planet Jupiter, with three of her six fleets accelerating towards the planet’s trojan asteroids, and the other half facing the planet itself. Nearly 750 warships awaited them, gathered from all over the Solar System to defend the largest of planets. Both sides of combat launched thousands of kill missiles, dumb lumps of metal with just enough brain to maneuver towards a target. These showered the Jovian system with debris, threatening to envelop the entire planet in a chaos of Kessler syndrome. The Queen herself lost 3 of her ships to this long-range barrage. For a short time, it appeared the Jovian forces would succeed in breaking the charge of enemy ships, but their numbers were soon recuperated. New ships appeared almost magically from behind the Queen’s fleet, originating from the small asteroid the Queen’s fleets had passed on their pathway to the Solar System. Hundreds of ships, small and fast, made of bare scraps with fusion drives, dove into the fray. Hundreds of thousands of kill missiles were launched in the week leading up to the Queen’s arrival at Jupiter, and millions of shrapnel pieces made travel inside of the planet’s gravity well treacherous at best. The Queen was at this point 2 days away from the Moon Ganymede, and the battle would be over in less than a week.
Trailing behind the Queen’s fleet, coasting inwards on the gravity of Jupiter itself, Admiral Corbin Tolle hid his ships as best he could from the enemy forces. The space behind him was full of bright flashes from the fusion drives of the Queen’s reinforcements, with the faint residue of lasers that had pushed the fleet up to speed in the Sirius system. Coasting past him by the dozens, the self-replicators from behind the Queen’s lines sped by Admiral Tolle's fleet, accelerating towards the planet Jupiter. Some of these ships came as close as 1,000 km to the Admiral's ships, but he was never discovered. As the Queen’s fleets approached the small moons, and rained fire upon the ICG’s powerful fleets, the Admiral made his move. He had hidden his ships, even from the ICG, as he secretly carried out his plan. The ICG had officially court martialed the Admiral, after he assaulted the enemy fleet without permission, and then ignored orders and turned his fleet back towards the Solar System.
With a startling flash, the Admiral spent the last of his fuel for one last acceleration towards the planet, at the same time triggering several explosives planted behind the many ships that had passed him, coasting until they reached communication range with the Queen’s motherships. Only 20% of the Queen’s newly arrived ships were affected by the attack, barely scratching her main force. The largest blow was struck by the Admiral’s ships themselves, which plunged into the combat on the bare edge of their operational range, launching fusion missiles, atom bombs, and shrapnel torpedoes with reckless abandon. Several of the Admiral’s ships were destroyed by their own shrapnel torpedo's, and over a dozen more fell to the Queen's lasers. Admiral Tolle's desperate charge lasted 37 hours, during which oxygen levels ran low on his critically struggling spaceships.
The Queen herself focused the majority of her firepower down on the ICG forces, slowly grinding down the larger force. ICG reinforcements, ordered by a hesitant government, had all taken slower transfers to the planet. Communications gradually broke down as layers of lasers and debris filled Ganymede's orbit. The Queen slowly gave more and more of her attention to Admiral Tolle and his ships, as they fought their way closer and closer to her main fleet. The battle of a thousand ships was swayed by 10 that refused to die. Eventually, the Admiral transmitted a message to the nearby fleets. His image flickered across hundreds of screens, a small bridge with a sealed airlock and flickering lighting. The recording had been taken 3 days previously. The Admiral stood firm and tall, his computer screen casting a reflection of the titanic battle across his face.
“Never before has humanity faced a threat of this type. We have fought, and defeated, the elements and predators our own planet, the vacuum of space itself and most difficult of all, the terrible among our own species. But now, outside in the darkness of space, far away in the vast interplanetary void, there comes a curse, a plague, unlike anything Humanity has ever faced. Descending on our Solar System, a hurricane of steel devours all in it's path. We have never faced a threat of this type, or magnitude. But we have never been this strong. Never before have so many foes threatened our homes, but never before have so many stood united. The Mad Queen and her hordes of monsters stand against you, but the man who made the monsters stands with you. And I, the man who fights the monsters, stand with you. And I say, we shall fight!” -Admiral Corbin Tolle, 342.
His ship was rocked by an explosion. It’s twin, the only remaining spacecraft from the Admiral’s grand armada, pitched over and died in the flash of it's fusion drive. The Admiral and his crew were killed as the oxygen left their warship, disintegrating the small flagship into thousands of pieces. The Queen’s lasers, previously focused on the darker portions of the spacecraft's armor, had no place to aim as the debris roiled and spun like a bewitched cloud. Several shrapnel torpedoes had been detonated whilst inside the hull, turning the Admiral’s ships into shrapnel of a deadly variety. The cloud charged the Queen’s fleet, full of deadly steel and molten metal gas. 2 of the Queen’s remaining motherships recoiled and burned under the deadly rain, sending their many drones crashing and burning into the planet below. The ICG warships released a grand volley of missiles, and the Queen lost her 3rd battleship of the day. The battle’s tide had turned, and the whole of the Solar System felt the effects.
The Mad Queen of Mercury fought to her last ship, constantly struggling against the tide that threatened to sweep her away. She received 3 more waves of reinforcements from the outer System, and 3 more times it seemed victory was in her grasp. But in the end, her final ship lingered in orbit, high above Ganymede, as the ICG stopped their barrage and hailed the fallen Queen. At first she didn’t respond, waiting perhaps for more reinforcements, but after an hour of ominous silence, she transmitted a message to the waiting navy.
“That’s too bad. I was your only hope. Humanity cannot spread throughout the stars with flesh alone. You are too weak, too cowardly. I would have shown you the light. Now you think you have me, now you expect to take me prisoner. YOU FORGET WHO I AM. I am Emma Kubler, 3rd and final monarch of the Hermian line, rightful heiress of the planet Mercury, and I will not be captured and paraded before Eous Station like some trophy won. You WILL remember me. If not with gladness, then with grief. You have lost your last hope today, and you will remember with despair!
” -Queen Emma Kubler, 342.
The Queen then performed the same cruel strategy that Admiral Tolle had heroically used 4 days earlier, the Queen sent her last hundreds of Self-Replicators crashing into the surface, their fusion drives exploding in destructive splendor. The Queen’s final flagship, a kilometer long and 200 meters wide, crashing into the moon as well, breaking into dozens of fiery pieces as it descended on the densely inhabited moon. The ICG fleet fell into confusion, some diving towards the surface in an attempt at stopping some of the debris, others rising out of orbit to avoid the billions of shrapnel pieces that had accompanied the seven days of fighting. The moon Ganymede was rendered uninhabitable by runaway Kessler Syndrome, as well as planet wide earthquakes and radiation. Nearly 1 billion people died on the surface, while 2.5 more died in the coming years, when the Jovian system was rendered largely uninhabitable. The War of Stars was over, and everyone had lost.
Part 15, Outwards bound "The Universe will never be the same"
397 PA / 2366 AD
The Solar System will never recover from the War of Stars. The mania of Queen Emma Kubler
, Travis O'Connor
’s genius, and the bravery of the ICG’s armadas left a permanent mark on the Solar System. The Battle of Ganymede had ended the Queen’s reign, but her massive fleets were barely affected by the losses of battle. In the years after Ganymede’s apocalypse, thousands of robots assaulted the Solar System, following the Queen’s last vector and attacking anything in their path. The 6 B.A.B.E.
warships that avoided the battle of Ganymede would plague the Solar System, each gathering followings of thousands of Self Replicating Robots
and leaving trails of devastation in their wake. 4 of these were hunted down and destroyed within a few years of the war’s end, but the 5th would not be trapped until 387 when Kyle Tolle led a small task force to intercept the 5th B.A.B.E.
at relativistic speeds, and destroyed the enemy ship. The sixth made a slingshot maneuver around the Sun and escaped to interstellar space, though an aggressive rendezvous had been planned for 431.
The Solar System’s population took years to recover. The death toll from the Mad Queen’s second war would rise above 11 billion people, as Self Replicating Robots
attacks and debris collisions continue to this day. The ICG would eventually clear space around Jupiter from the Kessler syndrome the war caused, first wasting years of effort trying to evict the rogue pirate gangs and scavenger factions that had inhabited the area during its quarantine. Eventually the ICG retreated from the region and assigned control of the territory to the System’s local governments. To this day roving scrap gangs eke out a life on the radioactive surface of Ganymede, warring over the wasted hulks of the dead moon.
The Solar System only benefited from the war because of Travis O’Connor, who had escaped from the Queen’s Armada by ejecting himself out of an airlock, equipped with nothing but a pressure suit and personal computer, at the age of 61. Travis had stolen copies of his schematics from the Queen, including the blueprints for her interstellar relay system, modeled off Travis’ original concept for a ‘space ladder’. The Queen had built thousands of relay stations between the Solar System and Sirius, floating stations with lasers to push her ships forwards, and clear the debris from their path. Some of these stations even included small pods, which would accelerate in front of passing ships to dock with them and deliver supplies.
Travis would perfect his design of these R.U.N.G.S
, and implement them throughout the Solar System. The first completed R.U.N.G.S
was built before the war, and the 12 menschen staple were each designed to be the base of a massive ladder, stretching to the stars. O’Connor station was founded as the first of these R.U.N.G.S
, and housed nearly 4 billion people at the end of the war. These R.U.N.G.S
were expanded and completed after the war, finishing long before their expected dates, benefiting from the post-war economy. The first of these ‘interstellar highways’ transported ships which constantly accelerated, utilizing massive fusion reactors to focus and strengthen the massive lasers that pushed ships from the Solar System. Ships could accelerate for years on these highways, being resupplied yearly by the stations they passed. Halfway to their destination, an interstellar spacecraft would flip over and begin slowing down until it reached its destination. Ships on the longer journeys reached speeds as high as 80% the speed of light, accelerating constantly at 1 meter/second^2. The first of these great trips left with 378 colonists to Gliese 1061 in 397, and they will stay there for 8 years before finishing construction on a laser that can propel them back to the Solar System. The trip will take 56 earth years, but time dilation means the colonists will only experience 48.
Hundreds of these adventures have launched from the Solar System, among them the ISS Goodfellow
, which departed in 379 to rescue LunaCorp
’s first interplanetary mission, the The Ouránia project
. Travis O'Connor
died in 391, and his cremated ashes were sent on a parabolic trajectory towards the Milky Way's central black hole. Before he died, he was given the honor of composing a speech to Humanity, when the Interplanetary Governance Council
officially declared its population to be above 1 trillion individuals. That milestone was reached on March 18th, 391, when the ‘Speech to end an age’ was played. Travis O’Connor’s final achievement is considered the most important event in tens of thousands of years.
“It is truly impossible to understand the leaps and bounds by which we have changed the worlds in the past 500 years. If these years were a day, then in 24 men have moved from steam and oil on a small planet, to 1 trillion humans living by the power of the Sun. Humanity nearly wiped itself out 3 times during this day, first at 3 o’clock during the dark morning. This was the second ‘World War’. Humans first walked on the Moon at 4:45, and for a moment our race showed signs of awareness on our small planet. But again at 5:45 humans teetered on the brink, incapable of controlling the power we had unlocked, in a terrible ‘Cold War’. Humans began to live outside our sphere at 11:00, and as dawn arose over our new Era, space was reached like never before. At 1:30 in the afternoon, there was the 3rd and greatest of the World Conflicts, the last event that would threaten the lifeblood of Humanity. But for many bright hours, Humanity would be allowed to spread its wings and learn in peace. But as evening came, a new kind of war was invented. At 7:45 this war was fought and won, and the threat to the Solar System fled. But soon, at 9:15 of this crucial day, the monsters Humanity had created in it's lust for progress, once again threatened all of Humanity. That threat continues to this day, and it will continue to plague the Human race for the remainder of time. But we have conquered in the past. Today, half an hour before midnight, it is time for the future.
Even now, expanding outwards at the speed of light, the greatest cataclysm the galaxy has ever seen spreads its organic grip. Riding in climate controlled metal bubbles, forced forwards by the power of a star's core, the explorers forge new links in a chain; a chain years long and decades in the making, a chain outward. Away from the comfort of their home system, away from the roiled politics of their solar system, 1 trillion humans climb outwards towards the stars. The universe will never be the same."-Commemorative Broadcast, Travis O’Connor. (PA 397 / AD 2357)