The growth of the Empire

Growth of the Empire

In 527 ATD the Imperial Council elected Harmon Arbeiter as Chairman. Now that its financial future was secure, the Empire turned its attention to expanding into the Beyond.

Imperial Spaceways built smaller, cheaper ships for economical operations on thin routes outside the Core. It built scores and eventually hundreds of spaceports. It returned to neglected markets, increasing capacity and slashing fares and freight rates. It brought interstellar commerce back to colonies that had not known it since the Age of Piracy, and eventually to ones that had never known it before.

Survey

In 529 the Navy sent out a trial Survey mission in a purpose-built ship. This failed, badly, for want of expertise in diplomacy and social sciences. A joint program between the Navy, Colonial Office, and Imperial Office was substituted, which in 532 began a full-scale Survey program. Armed transports rather than warships, Survey vessels carried an accredited ambassador-at-large with a diplomatic staff, planetary and ecological scientists, social scientists and field anthropologists, economists and intelligence analysts, and a complement of marines to protect the rest. They also carried their own orbital lighters and were equipped for refuelling in the wilderness.

Survey carried out only preliminary investigations of each planet it contacted. Its mission was basically to find out what the Empire needed to do, and to prepare orientation materials for the people who would come later to do it. Nevertheless it took eighteen years for Survey to visit all the known colonies. The rate of contact could have been improved by increasing the number of Survey vessels. But the Empire would not have been able to keep up with the follow-up.

Survey missions discovered savages eking out miserable subsistences on half-terraformed worlds without adequate crops or game. They found societies with space travel that resisted the notion of giving up their liberties to join the Empire. They found colonies with horrible endemic diseases, and colonies locked into chronic famine. They found colonies with raging wars, and colonies with tense nuclear stalemates. They found governments of every description, and bizarre societies that were sometimes beyond description. A few even encountered pirates.

The Assistance Services

The success of Survey kept the Imperial Council busy finding staff for, organising, and equipping a suite of agencies to address these problems. In fifteen years the Empire created (or reorganised and vastly expanded) the Terraformation Service, the Agricultural Assistance Service, the Public Health Service, the Technology Transfer Assistance Service, the Economic Advisory Service, the Social Engineering Advisory Service, and the Civil Engineering Service. The Navy had to be expanded and equipped with modern and well-found spacecraft. The Corps of Marines was tripled in size by turning every battalion into a regiment and recruiting marines to fill the billets — and it was still stretched thin.

The Empire sent tiny contingents (with the best equipment and supplies it could manage) to deal with huge, complicated problems. Their instructions were to pick the low-hanging fruit and worry about the rest later. This was the era of “one epidemic, one doctor”, “one famine, one agronomist”, “one depression, one economist”, and “one war, one warship”. The Empire was made of heroes in those days.

Changes in the Senate

The Senate, growing comfortable with the limits of Imperial power, started passing occasional intervention acts authorising the Imperial Council to use military force in colonies where democides, genocides, and devastating wars were in progress. Rather more cautiously, it also passed intervention acts when colonial governments caused mass deaths by negligence, indolence, or incompetence rather than violence.

On the other hand, the Senate also developed an uncompromising attitude towards interventions not authorised by it. Unauthorised interventions were investigated vigorously. The officers responsible were invariably impeached unless they could demonstrate an actual, reasonable, and correct belief that exigent circumstances permitted no alternative nor delay, that mass deaths would have continued or certainly and immediately commenced if they had not acted.

As a result of the Empire’s expansion hundreds of colonies ratified the Treaty of Luna and sent senators to Luna. Debate in the Senate chamber became impractical, a serious obstacle to the business of the Senate and Empire. The Senate addressed this problem by changing its rules of procedure, adopting ever more asynchronous procedures mediated by communications networks. Eventually the Senate only actually convened for the opening and closing of each session and similar ceremonial occasions.

Many of the new senators came from so far away that collecting them for an annual session and taking them home after it was impractical. They stayed at Luna between sessions. Senators from the older colonies stayed too, not to fall out of the loop on diplomacy. The Senate became a standing body with only nominal breaks between sessions.

Distinct though informal factions developed within the Senate: the Colonies’ Rights Movement (“League of Repressive Autocracies”), the Economic Justice Group (“Levellers”), the Responsible Government Movement (“Federalists”, “Rabble”), and the Public Safety Group (“Jackals”).

Consolidation of the Empire

Sectors

The great increase in Imperial activity in the outer reaches of inhabited space made administration from the centre problematic. It took almost two months for news to reach the Capital and as long for orders to return,which made control impractical. In 547 the Empire established nineteen sector headquarters at distances of 100 to 123 lightyears from Sol. Each colony was assigned to the Sector of the nearest HQ: colonies nearer to Sol than any SHQ were assigned to Central Sector.

Each Sector HQ was established in a system with, actually in orbit about, a colony world. But the locations were chosen for convenience of strategic communications, and the colonies in question were usually rather modest places, with populations averaging under 730 million and average development equivalent to GURPS TL6 / ForeSight TL4.5 . Some comparatively well-developed colonies that had previously been considered part of the core (such as Ladon, Stockhausen, and Svarga) were annoyed or chagrinned to find themselves allocated to outer sectors and ‘governed’ from comparatively remote and unsophisticated places (in those cases Gawain, Vingilot, and Qinglong respectively). They agitated (without success) either to have the border moved or to be made Sector HQ.

Sector # Sector name SHQ colony
IV Andromeda Logos
X Aquarius Sparta
I Cassiopeia Dehúdié
XVIII Centaurus Mesta
IX Cetus Ramotswe
XVII Corona Australis Nicole
II Draco Qinglong
XVI Eridanus Danubia
V Gemini Franklin
VII Hercules Gawain
XV Hydra Walden
VI Leo Silotimia
XII Libra Blackstone
XIV Pisces Austrinus Sehausie
XIII Puppis Vingilot
XIX Reticulum Newhome
XI Sextans Khujandi
III Ursa Major Saguenay
VIII Virgo Laurens

The Capital

The Senate and its staff outgrew its makeshift premises on Luna. The Empire built a new capital consisting of a titanic O’Neill cylinder in the L4 point of Earth and Luna. Scheduled for completion in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Luna, it was formally opened on the 3rd of January 549, the fiftieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Senate.

New Settlements

As a continuation of the work of the Survey program, the Empire discovered a number of uninhabited but habitable or terraformable worlds beyond (or slightly within) the envelope of settlement. These opened up the possibility of gratifying the desire of millions of people on crowded colonies to emigrate to worlds with spare elbow room, without invasion. In 552 the Empire sent terraformation engineers to a score of worlds, and started planning to sell a great deal of real estate.

In 557 the Imperial Council sought legislation from the Senate providing for interim government on new settlements. After extended negotiation it ended up getting an establishment act for each of four worlds. These allowed it to govern the world specified on strict terms for fifty years.. The Imperial Governor of each settlement had to build up self-government in phases, establishing at least some self-governing counties within ten years. The governor was to add self-governing tiers of government at ten-year intervals, handing over to a colonial government after a total of fifty years.

With minor adjustments the original establishment acts became templates for routine legislation. It became customary for the Senate to pass four establishment acts at the beginning of each year, without substantial debate.

The first new colonies in over four hundred years (unless pirates has established some) were founded in 561, when migrants from crowded core worlds arrived on the four most easily-terraformed of what were then 92 works in progress. Demand for new real estate had been pent up for centuries: the Empire got good prices for land on new settlements and for fares to them. By 580 there were 600 million immigrants per year arriving on the Empire’s eighty open colonies.

In the first quarter-century of renewed settlement the Imperial Realty Corporation set up the governments of new settlements as constitutional federal republics with elected government and guaranteed liberties. Not because of democratic ideals, but because it was the simplest way of organising a functional government.

Imperial Heirs

In 565, for the first time, the Imperial Council co-opted an alumnus of the Regulus School. The ensuing publicity drew attention to the extraordinary careers, achievements, and rate of death in the line of duty of those alumni. Also to the fact that none had ever been decorated for valour. Councillor Dario Chen, (Chairman of the Imperial Council Co-optation Committee) gave an opinion that to a Senate committee that attracted wide comment. “The Regulii have been raised from infancy and groomed from adolescence to be Guardians, philosopher-kings. We expect a great deal of them. Eventually most Imperial Councillors will be Regularii, and all Chairmen of the Council, I think.”

Responsible Government Movement senators were vocal in their disapprobation, and there followed a string of assassination attempts against Regularii on democratic and republican colonies. Four were successful, including the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 21-year-old exchange student on New Rome. The Imperial Council assigned bodyguards to the Regularii, known as “pretorians”.

The Independent Commission for Justice

In 566 the Senate passed Acts to establish Imperial criminal courts and an agency to enforce the Imperial Crimes Act of 499. Adamant that this not become an instrument of Imperial policy, the Senate beset the enforcement of Imperial criminal law with protections for colonial independence and liberties. the Imperial district courts were to be appointed by the governments of the colonies. The investigative agency was established as an independent commission, not subject to policy or operational control by the Empire. The Justice Commission Act required that the Commissioner for Justice and his or her assistant commissioners, deputy commissioners (each running the Commission for Justice in a sector), and assistant deputy commissioners be recruited from outside the Imperial Service.

The Independent Commission for Justice recruited its first field investigators from among experienced detectives in the colonies. The very first went into action in January and February 570. Every colony had a bureau by the end of that year. It was not until 585 that the Commission for Justice was worked up to its full establishment.

The Establishment Crisis

In the Senate session of 580 there was unprecedented debate over the customary four establishment acts. Senators from the Colonies’ Rights Movement pointed out that the federal democratic republics that the Empire was founding would eventually send senators to the Senate who would tend to join the Responsible Government Movement and force democracy on everyone. Despite paranoid tinges to their rhetoric, the complainers attracted support from the Public Safety Group. For four years stalemate prevented any establishment acts from being passed.

In 584 the Senate and Imperial Council thrashed out a complicated compromise that required future new settlements to be established as a balanced mix of democracies, aristocracies, meritocracies, etc., and that allowed utopist movements once again to buy the colonisation rights to a planet and set up a new government and society to their liking.

First Regularius Chairman

In 601 Inzanami Eichberger resigned as Chairman and retired. The Imperial Council elected Andrew Orloff as Chairman, the first alumnus of the Regulus School to hold the post. the Regularii were noted to have a strong contingent on the Imperial Council, though not a majority. It was generally acknowledged that the Empire would develop into a meritocratic aristocracy of people trained from birth to govern.

Thousandth Colony

New settlements in the year 606 brought the number of colonies in the Empire up to one thousand.