Brief history to A.D. 2959 (606 ab Tellure destructa)

History is philosophy, teaching by examples.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1st century BC) Ars Rhetorica

Starting in 2091, people emigrated from Earth to set up colonies on naturally-habitable planets orbiting other stars. They travelled just at the speed of light, by a means that depended on having a huge technological infrastructure at the origin point, and therefore which did not allow them to return home, nor to trade. People established 646 colonies by this means, all within 146 light-years of Sol.

In 2353 Earth was blown up, perhaps by a catalytic thermonuclear (CT) weapon, perhaps by an accident in a lab researching faster-than-light (FTL) travel. The colonies were suddenly and unexpectedly cut off from streams of immigrant and their high-tech goods. The old, large colonies near Earth mostly came through okay. The young, small colonies far away mostly suffered badly.

342 years later, a physicist named Tomitomo Eichberger, who lived in the colony Mayflower, invented a practical means of FTL travel. He rapidly grew very rich on the profits of a monopoly in interstellar trade. But within thirty years the secret of his drive had got out, and others were using "pirate" FTL drives. Some "pirates" were unscrupulous, others merely careless. Either way, many of them did conspicuous harm. So in the year 417 ATD (after the destruction of Earth) Eichberger vested his wealth in a charitable Foundation intended to ameliorate the down side of interstellar travel.

Among other activities, the Eichberger Foundation built warships to hunt down those out-and-out criminals who were using spacecraft to raid, rob, blackmail, and conquer undefended communities on orbital habitats and on backward planets. The early successes of this program scared the pirates. In 431 ATD one of them, Jorge Luis Bertillion, tried to stop the Eichberger Foundation by blowing up Mayflower with a CT-armed torpedo. Eichberger was killed, but his Foundation went on. One of its commodores used a CT weapon to destroy Bertillion's stronghold, Orinoco. Shaken and horrified, the survivors of the Eichberger Foundation swore to bend every effort to preventing the like from happening ever again.

Over the next sixty years the reconstituted Foundation pursued its mission with increasing strength and confidence, but its obsession with controlling the use of FTL travel drew it into a series of conflicts with those colonies that had sufficient tech to field their own fleets. The Foundation was successful in space, but found itself boycotted by a large majority of those economies that could supply it with critical space-drive components, and excluded from the most lucrative markets for interstellar trade. The "Formation Wars" ended in a stalemate.

In 495 there was a peace conference on Earth's Moon. This ended up acting as a constitutional convention. The Treaty of Luna which it produced amounts to the constitution of an interstellar Empire, based on the Eichberger Foundation but subject to stringent oversight by a Senate of colonies' representatives.

Enough colonies ratified the Treaty of Luna straight away that the boycott of the Empire/Foundation became ineffective. The Empire spent most of the next thirty years building up its commercial strength and pressuring the hold-outs into ratifying. By 546 ATD the Empire's supremacy in Central Sector was unchallenged. In the 530s it began to survey, secure, and organise the outer reaches of inhabited space.

Relations between the colonies and the Empire have always been rocky, especially as repressive colonial governments fear the extension of Imperial power. The Senate has passed a succession of ad hoc intervention acts to deal with blatant colonial crises, but mostly the Empire can act only by the assent of the colonial government. An exception arose in 570, when the Senate authorised the Independent Commission for Justice as a standing body to enforce the Imperial Crimes Act that it passed in 499. As a safeguard of colonial liberties, Justice Department agents must obtain their warrants and prosecute their suspects in courts that are appointed by the colonial governments. Few convictions of colonial high government officials have ever resulted.

The canonical game date is 606 PDT, a time when the Empire is mature and secure, and when nothing much of interest is happening in space.

Copyright © 1988–2009 by Brett Evill