Eichberger’s Foundation

The Eichberger Foundation

In 417 ATD Eichberger established a philanthropic foundation to ameliorate the harm done by his invention. He vested his patent on the FTL drive, all his stock in Eichberger Spaceways, and most of his other wealth in this Eichberger Foundation for Interstellar Peace and Justice, of which he kept control.

The Eichberger Foundation recruited staff on many worlds. On well-developed worlds it funded research, offered prizes lobbied governments, and engaged in public education campaigns. The goal here was to promote legislation against arms dealing, invasion, and conquest; regulations governing trade practices and quarantine; and interstellar agreements on extradition and prosecution of crimes against humanity.

As for backward worlds, the victims of pirates: the Foundation did what it could to help. It sent journalists, geographers, and anthropologists to afflicted worlds to make documentaries (to support its diplomacy on rich worlds). It sent pharmacologists, genetic engineers, and epidemiologists to deal with plagues. It sent agronomists, entomologists, botanists, microbiologists, epizoologists, ecologists, and genetic engineers to help deal with pestilences. Rather more controversially, it sent sociologists and memeticists to oppose missionaries. More controversially still, it sent political advisers, law-enforcement trainers, and military consultants to native governments that were under attack by invaders and conquerors.

Success was limited. Reactions were mixed.

The Space Patrol and the Bounty Hunters’ Agency

About 425 ATD the Eichberger Foundation started building a fleet of armed starships. In 425 ATD it announced the formation of a Space Patrol, charged with suppressing raiders and extortionists and with preventing other “criminal abuses of spacecraft”. Eichberger offered a seat on the Executive Board of the Space Patrol to each of any colonial governments that gave it sanction. None accepted except Mayflower.

At the same time the Foundation also announced a bounty hunter’s agency to expedite the capture of fugitives, conquerors, and criminals against humanity for extradition to colonies that would prosecute. Eichberger Spaceways offered free transport in secure accommodations for bounty hunters delivering legitimate fugitives for prosecution.

The governments of the big colonies expressed disapproval, but since the Foundation’s activities were to happen outside their jurisdictions, and since they had no interstellar navies, they took no effective steps. Private reactions were polarised. Critics of Eichberger’s business practices denounced an attempt to establish interstellar tyranny, but the Eichberger Foundation attracted millions of volunteers for its space patrol and bounty hunter’s agency.

For four years the Eichberger fleet cut a swathe through the worst pirates and bad travellers. Squadrons of Patrol vessels ambushed and destroyed or captured several raiders’ ships. They used orbital weapons to discomfit conquerors, invaders, and warmongering traders in battles against their native opponents. Bounty hunters arrested or kidnapped fugitives and human predators. Some made daring raids to capture conquerors and the most overtly criminal missionaries and traders. Captives were delivered up for trial and punishment in whatever jurisdictions would prosecute them (and had suitably elastic laws concerning arrests out of jurisdiction).

Concentrating at first on “low hanging fruit”, the Eichberger Foundation managed an excellent success rate in its undertakings, and conspicuously concentrated on only the most heinous criminals.