Long History

It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir.

Seamus Heaney, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 7, 1995

General developments on Earth over four centuries

The exact crimes, follies, and misfortunes of Mankind on Earth are not terribly important any more, six hundred years after the planet was destroyed. Neither are the details of their benefactions, ingenuities, and strokes of good luck.

The population grew to 15.5 billion by 2353. Building habitats in space proved to be ineffective as a means of escaping crowding. Conflict and violence did not diminish much: old grudges smouldered on, and new conflicts made for new ones. Crime and terrorism, oppressive measures to suppress them, resource depletion, environmental degradation, climate change, occasional wars, and unwelcome social change combined to produce a motive for assorted people to wish to leave Earth. Habitats in space proved ineffective as refuges from terrorists, intrusive law enforcement, or malign social influences. Result: when it became possible, a small number of intrepid folk fled to the stars.

People of different races and cultures continued to intermarry, ever more so as wealth increased and transport improved. Distinct races dissolved as the majority became polyethnic. This trend was accelerated by the use of genetic engineering to alter, and cosmetic biomodification to obscure, racial features.

Major regional languages continued to gain speakers, and languages with few speakers continued to dwindle and die out. International Standard English, the lingua franca of trade, science, scholarship, higher education, and international culture, gained even at the expense of Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Bahasa, and Mandarin. When interstellar colonies were established ‘Standard’ was the common tongue of the pioneers, and became the mother tongue of their children.

Mass media, travel, intermarriage, and technical progress continued to drive social change and cultural amalgamation. Local and regional cultures tended to die out, but international subcultures (which people tended to choose rather than inheriting) proliferated.

Advances in neurology and artificial intelligence eroded the credibility of immaterial souls, and therefore of gods. And wider awareness of the variety of religious belief undermined the credibility of dogma. Traditional religion declined. And people turned to ostensibly-nonreligious sources for the ethical guidance, the sense of certainty and purpose, and the ecstatic and transcendental experiences that religion formerly provided.

Emigration from Earth

Colonists travelled to the stars using a highly limited ‘Just As Fast As Light’ technology. A large, expensive, and delicate apparatus was required, and these would function only at a distance from the Sun a little further than the orbit of Mars. These warp encapsulators or flingers would wrap a ship up in a little bubble of highly-distorted space and spit them at lightspeed outwards from the Sun. As a flinger dawdled around its two-year orbit different destinations would come into its narrow field of fire. A flinger placed to serve two or three lucrative destinations would, therefore, also offer also passage to other destinations in the intervals. Thus young and distant colonies were appealingly cheap to get to when the older and nearer ones became expensive.

Warp bubbles travelled in straight lines at lightspeed, minimally affected by gravity. When one entered a strong gravitational field it would distort and tear open, depositing its contents at rest in normal space. No time passed inside the warp bubbles. From the point of view of the colonists, their trips were instantaneous.

Flingers were large, far larger than ships. And expensive. No colony built its own flinger during the Emigration Period. Therefore every colonist’s trip was one-way. Emigration was a desperate, or at least intrepid, act, and very few people every dared it. Only 56 million people emigrated in 260 years.

Avalon (Tau Ceti)

Emigration began in 2091, when enthusiasts from the Interplanetary Society bought one octant of Tau Ceti III from the European Union, and set off to found the colony of Avalon. News of their safe arrival made it to Earth in 2115.

National colonies of 2117

In 2117–18 four major powers despatched pioneers to found colonies in different star systems: China founded Xin Tian Di, India founded Navabharata, the USA and Canada founded Mayflower, and Mercosur (a combine of South American countries) founded Paraíso. These ventures were supposed to build national prestige, but given lightspeed transport and communications they failed at that, and merely swallowed up ships until the voters got bored. Neither did they stake out any national destinies among the stars. The projects were de-funded and mostly sold off even before news reached Earth that their first ships had arrived.

The European Union sold three more octants of Tau Ceti III, allowing New Sunrise, San Pietro, and Ys to be founded adjacent to Avalon.

Religious colonies 2127–2141

The colony San Pietro in Tau Ceti was undertaken by a confraternity of the Catholic church. In a frenzy of emulation enthusiasts of other world religions established their own separatist or utopist worlds: Alhurr (Shia), Covenant (Judaist and Israeli nationalist), Emmaus (liberal Protestants), Fureidis (liberal and modernist Sunni), Hijra (conservative Sunni), Oikos Kyriou (Orthodox and Anglican), and Pentecost (conservative Protestant). Hindu religious separatists dominated migration to Navabharata in this era, pious Chinese went to Xin Tian Di.


In 2125 an enigmatic tycoon called Anchises Inangulo founded a colony named Aeneas. He selected colonists for academic, athletic, and musical achievement, public spirit, health, and ethnic diversity, then paid their way and provided their equipment. He thus provided the only way for poor people to emigrate to the stars without religious subsidies in the 22nd Century.

Later colonies

From 2140 groups started to establish colonies without the backing of either states, eccentric tycoons, or great world religions. These groups fell into six broad categories.

Religious utopists sought to establish idyllic states on radical plans of society founded on religious teaching. Traditional religions were most common at first, but new revelations took over in time. Religious utopists often defied the opinions of economists, sociologists, and political scientists. They sometimes defied planetologists and ecologists too, accepting dubious planets or making scant preparation for terraforming.

Religious separatists sought to escape the corrupting and demoralising influences of an increasingly irreligious society on Earth, but without radical social, political, or economic inspirations. They founded religious societies without any radical social or economic features, within conventional political, social, and economic forms.

Secular utopists sought to establish idyllic states on radical plans of society without religious inspiration. The early examples were based on old, popular schemes such as libertarianism, anarcho-socialism, or corporatism. Later, as the social sciences improved, the plans got much stranger—perhaps sounder, too, but few had a chance to get properly established.

Cultural separatists set up colonies by particular cultures or (increasingly) subcultures to escape the assimilating or censorious world culture. They are distinguished from secular utopias by conventional governments and economies, and from solidarity groups by cultural oddity.

Solidarity co-operatives were groups or communities with personal ties but without shared religious beliefs or a distinct subcultural lifestyle, and which sought emigration without any radical plan of society. Some were formed within large organisations such as the Scouts and Freemasons. Solidarity groups tended to effect comparatively well-planned ventures and establish conventional governments and economies.

Open-access ventures were colonies that accepted anyone who could pay his way, or otherwise ended up with a group of colonists with few social ties, no shared religion or culture, and no radical plan of society. Most were set up as commercial ventures by companies or non-profit co-operatives that bought the colony rights to a planet and block-bought flinger launches in its direction, engaged pioneers to go first at concessional charges (or with subsidies), and later recouped the investment by selling passage.

A given colony venture did not always maintain a continuous nature throughout its history. Religions and subcultures died out, as did utopist movements. Also, the co-operatives and corporations that owned the rights tended to go broke. Emigration to their colonies might cease (especially if the planet was unattractive, or the character of the emigrants known to be pungent). Otherwise ventures of a different character might buy the rights and flinger slots in bankruptcy sales. More subtly, religions and utopist movements developed and changed, so that later migrants had different values from their predecessors.

Emigration to the stars, a hare-brained venture in its first decades, received a major boost to its credibility in 2145–2165. News arrived at Earth (a) that Tau Ceti had reached a population of 100,000, (b) that Avalon had founded a university, (c) that the Indian pioneers had arrived at Navabharata, and (d) that American and Canadian pioneers had arrived at Mayflower. The EU sold off another three octants of Tau Ceti. A new class of less venturesome but more numerous people started taking an interest in emigration. Most took safe trips to the older colonies, but a large class of pioneering types continued to found new colonies on assorted plans.

By AD 2195 Tau Ceti was known to have reached a population of 1 million and to be thriving. By 2200 Xin Tian Di, Navabharata, Mayflower, and Aeneas were known to have at least 100,000 residents and a university each. Paraíso was nearly as populous. A large number of quite sensible and ordinary people wanted to go to Tau Ceti. Some of them risked other colonies instead. There were over fifty other colonies to attract assorted separatists, utopists, enthusiasts, and people who were reassured by the known successes but could not afford passage and freight to the popular destinations.

Trends continued for a century and a half. By 2353 colonies had been despatched to a total of 656 planets within 146 light-years. Eleven were known to be flourishing, with populations of one million or more. Another 22 were known to have populations between 100,000 and one million. 56 million people had emigrated over 260 years. 7.5 million of those were still en route at lightspeed. 200 million were living on the colonies.

No colony ever grew rich and crowded enough to build a flinger and return people or commodities to Earth. Interstellar trade would have been impractical anyway, with decades or centuries between order and delivery, between delivery and payment. So there was never any benefit to be had on Earth from the colonies, other than going to one, or selling passage to those who were going. Colonies were sometimes subsidised by idealists, but mostly colonies had to be financed entirely by emigrants’ sale of the assets they could not take with them.

The Destruction of Earth

At 11:47 Universal Time on the 18th of April, 2353, a catalytic thermonuclear explosion occurred at Rio de Janeiro. There was a dispute escalating between Brazil and the Union of Grand Columbia (a Latin-American confederation) at the time, and the explosion was long assumed to be a weapon that produced an unexpected chain reaction in the atmosphere. In light of subsequent discoveries it might equally have been an accident in a physics lab researching faster-than-light travel.

A wave of nuclear fire swept around the world. Hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen from the air and seas fused, to release floods of particle radiation and a terrific flash of gamma-rays. Habitats in Earth orbit were destroyed by explosive evaporation of their exteriors. A layer of the Nearside of the Moon was melted, and people in even deep tunnels were poisoned by penetrating radiation. 15.6 billion people died. 185 million survived: 200 million on colonies, 7.5 million in warp bubbles en route to colonies, 7 million on the Farside of the Moon and in deep space.

Survivors in the Solar system found their situation untenable without supplies from and markets on Earth. Salvaging what they could, most evacuated through the flingers to advanced colonies where they hoped to found space industries.

Vicissitudes of the colonies

Unless the people founding a colony were completely impractical, the first ship brought pioneers: a team of biological and ecological engineers to terraform the planet, essential support staff, terraformation gear, and enough survival equipment for them to live for years without agriculture. The pioneers’ task was to exterminate any native life that was incompatible with an Earth-type biosphere (most was), and introduce suitable plants and animals in appropriate stages. Thus they established biomes that spread themselves across the land, forming soil if necessary, poisoning native life if necessary, creating a suitable environment for human crops and livestock.

Pioneers had an uncomfortable life at first, and they required a great deal of equipment and supplies. They worked to the benefit of all subsequent arrivals, and expected compensation. Pioneers’ travel and equipment had to be subsidised. They often paid no passage. Pioneering was a path to the stars of people who could not afford their own passage and survival equipment.

Later ships brought colonists with skills and equipment to start building a community and economy. Later still settlers with general skills brought critical components for local industries and exchanged them for fully-finished local products on arrival. The communications and transport lags were far to long for the colonies to advise Earth in a timely fashion of shortages and gluts: migrants to older colonies anticipated economic development at their destinations, and brought gradually more sophisticated components and fewer finished products. There were consultancies that predicted the development of colonies and advised settlers on what goods to take.

If a colony developed faster than expected settlers found themselves with too many goods that could have been made locally and not enough high-value critical components. The colony found itself short of high-tech components, and this slowed development to the expected pace.

On the other hand, if a colony developed more slowly than expected on Earth, a development gap would open up. Settlers would find that the local economy was not advanced enough to use the strategic components they had brought, and that their trade goods were of little worth. The colony’s economy would find itself glutted with stuff it was not quite sophisticated enough to use, and with a critical shortage of products in the gap between the most sophisticated things it could make and the least sophisticated things that the immigrants brought in quantity.

Development gaps were most common in utopist colonies, which tended to attract migrants with unrealistic beliefs about the colony’s efficiency, and who did not consult or believe impartial development consultancies.

Severe development gap sometimes led to a failure of development, and a ‘post apocalyptic’ economy in which fully-assembled high-tech tools from Earth were rare treasures in a basically primitive society.

Strain often developed between immigrants and locals, especially as locally-born generations replaced the pioneers and early settlers. In utopist and separatist colonies religious or ideological conflict was common. Sometimes the religion or ideology developed in different direction on the colony and Earth. In others the settlers were disenchanted when the plan failed, or failed to pass on their values to their children: the ideological government was overthrown, but doctrinaire migrants continued to arrive for decades. In other cases the colonisation rights fell out of the hands of the founding group, and the new owners thought to take advantage of the work of the pioneers without sharing their doctrines.

On other colonies differences emerged between the pioneers and their heirs on one hand, and new migrants with much wealth in trade goods on the other. The first had wealth only in land, which they or their ancestors had made habitable, and they needed to exchange that for critical imports from Earth. The second had often paid colony promoters large sums for large promises, and did not propose to pay twice for a share in the colony and its public goods. According to circumstances and events, the locals might end up as aristocrats or an underclass, or anything in between.

The Age of Isolation

The sudden cessation of migration from Earth abruptly halted economic development of all colonies except those which had already fallen into a catastrophic development gap. Import-dependent manufacturing shut down. Every colony suffered a severe economic shock and went into recession (or an alternative mechanism for liquidating defunct enterprises). Most suffered a depression or complete economic collapses. Riots, revolutions, and coups were common.

A few colonies, those with dynamic economies and robust institutions, bounced back in about a generation, and resumed economic development. Many, for various reasons, took longer to recover, and afterwards developed only slowly. A substantial minority stagnated. Some slid down into barbarism and savagery from which they still show no signs of recovering.

Conditions on the colonies when news reached them that Earth had been destroyed varied enormously. Tau Ceti, 11.9 light-years from Sol, was 250 years old. It had a population of 107 million. Its native manufacturing was capable of GURPS TL 9 (advanced) / ForeSight TL 7.0. At the other extreme, pioneers had only been on Feilong (145.9 light-years from Sol) for a month when they heard. On Kubera there was no manufacturing capacity. There wasn’t even agriculture. 500 pioneers struggled to create crop plants from terraforming stock even while they were taming a world.

The economic development of each colony adjusted to a level determined by its population, its wealth, and the extent to which its institutions and public infrastructure supported economic integration, specialisation, and exchange. Most colonies had small populations when their last migrants arrived. Only 38 had so many as a million people, and one million is too few to staff an industrial economy much beyond GURPS TL 6 / ForeSight TL 4.5. Most had inadequate stocks of appropriate capital for self-sufficient manufacturing. Many had, and in the political chaos more developed, lousy institutions. The economies that emerged were often pretty basic.

At first, these economies did not much resemble historical tech levels: there were legacies of high-tech products which had been imported during the Age of Migration. But as the populations grew and tools wore out, old stuff from Earth grew rarer and was mostly confined to use by the privileged. Economies grew to resemble historical tech levels in many respects, and converged on time-worn paths of development, stagnation, or decay. The chief exception was in materials and livestock. Most colonies had substantial legacies of engineered plants, animals, and micro-organisms from Old Earth, which continued to provide high-tech materials (fibres, polymers, drugs, etc.) even while these were used to make pseudo-mediaeval products.

Populations grew. Even where tech levels collapsed, there were initially no or few pathogens of humans or their crops or livestock. Populations were small, so there was initially plenty of land. Plague and pestilence were rare until new pathogens evolved. Only on marginally habitable planets, where the terraforming had been done badly, and in the oldest colonies with the largest populations did land ever become scarce, and even there it took centuries. So chronic famine was rare and even warfare was muted. The most common causes of political violence were attempts to overthrow or to preserve ideological governments on utopist and religious separatist colonies.

Those colonies which had been longest settled and most successful had ‘general migrants’ in their populations, and had been open to cultural influences from Earth. Their societies reflected the cosmopolitan cultural mainstream of Earth with only minor idiosyncrasies. But only about fourteen colonies had a strong general migrant influence in their populations: Fureidis (41%), Iter (40%), Xin Tian Di (39%), Pentecost (38%), Paraíso (36%), Tau Ceti (36%), Emmaus (31%), Mayflower (28%), Kemet (28%), Alhurr (25%), Tian Longshan (25%) and Lahar (25%)—all within 47 light-years of Sol. Of the other colonies, some were more or less mainstream to begin with. But the utopias and the cultural separatists had often deliberately affected some very odd social and cultural practices. With the very rare exception of utopias that actually succeeded (and those were perhaps most bizarre of all) the colonies all underwent rapid social and cultural change, either in response to technological change or as a mere random walk through the space of cultural possibility. Each utterly isolated on its own planet, the colonies of the colonies drifted [further] apart, and most of them ended up very strange.

Most colonies also embarked on a roller-coaster of political change. Government forms conceived on Earth, if they had not failed already, succumbed to panic, economic collapse, loss of vital technologies, the emergence of new economic power bases, and the succession of generations who did not share the founder’s ideals. There were struggles over wealth and power, especially over the possession of technological relics. As long as they lasted, items such as high-tech communications systems, vehicles, and weapons allowed government to be maintained over wide areas and in advanced forms that would have been impossible with historical technologies. They were, correspondingly, much fought over. And as they wore out, if economic development did not allow them to be replaced, central government declined on low-tech colonies.

The invention of FTL Travel

By 340 ab Tellure destructa seven colonies had recovered levels of development equivalent to GURPS TL 10 / ForeSight TL 7.5. These were Tau Ceti, Mayflower, Aeneas, Iter, Seeonee, Simanta, and Todos Santos. Their populations of up to 9 billion did not allow enough specialised workers or wide enough markets for any higher development. Perhaps another thirty colonies had the technical ability to support space industries, but some of those (having low populations an plentiful resources) did not venture beyond orbit.

In 342 PDT Dr. Tomitomo Eichberger (a young physicist from Mayflower) successfully demonstrated the Eichberger Drive, which improved on the warp encapsulator in three ways:

  • It worked from the inside, so that a spacecraft could carry its own drive.
  • It propelled a ship faster than light (about 700 times lightspeed in the early models), rather than ‘just as fast as light’.
  • It was comparatively cheap.

Eichberger’s demonstration involved a trip to Aeneas, which took four days each way. Having cannily ascertained market conditions from the desultory radio chatter between the two colonies, he made a profit on cargoes.

Eichberger managed to keep the technology of his invention secret for nearly thirty years, during which time he extracted colossal profits from the monopoly on interstellar trade, and reinvested them all in expanding his fleet. Eichberger Spaceways held the commerce between each pair of worlds down to the level that would yield maximum profits, and grew very fast. By 370 PDT Eichberger was extremely rich, and rapidly getting richer.

The Age of Piracy

About 370 ATD there were rivals operating ‘pirated’ copies of Eichberger’s device. They claimed to have developed these independently in ‘clean-room’ engineering. Eichberger maintained that they had stolen the technology by corrupting his engineers and technicians, and besides that he held a patent under the law of Mayflower that was universal under the international laws of Old Earth. Eichberger Spaceways harassed its rivals with lawsuits and strategic market behaviour, and came to be quite bitterly resented for unscrupulous business practices. Competition forced down profits on the richest routes, but Eichberger Spaceways maintained a overwhelming market share and excellent profitability.

Pirate Eichberger devices were made in only the most advanced colonies: Tau Ceti, Iter, Seeonnee, Todos Santos, Ladon, Barutanah, New Rome, New Earth, Simanta,n and Stockhausen. At first pirate operators were based there too, but after a few decades they found that any colony with economic development equivalent to a GURPS tech level of 9 (early) or ForeSight TL 6 was adequate for maintenance (provided that parts could be imported). By one means or another FTL ships fell into the hands of operators from several other colonies.

By c. 390 ATD it was amply clear to Eichberger, and by c. 400 it was notorious, that the operators of some ‘pirate’ Eichberger devices were far more unscrupulous than Eichberger himself, who did not deal in arms, narcotics, or anything that was illegal at the point of sale, and who was diligent about quarantine precautions and not transporting known fugitives.

Raids & extortion

The closest that operators of pirate Eichberger devices came to the romantic notion of piracy was to steal satellites out of orbit, and to extract valuables from orbital habitats or ground-based colonies by raiding and extortion. Attacks on colonies with sufficient development for spaceflight did not continue for long. All such colonies built orbital weapons to defend themselves either after the first raid or after being warned by honest travellers.

A few pirates used high-tech weapons to raid treasuries, refineries, stockpiles and so forth on colonies that were too backward to defend themselves. Or, against slightly more advanced colonies they made a demonstration of frightfulness with an orbital kinetic-kill weapon or other weapon of mass destruction, and then demanded valuables such as bullion and industrial metals. Such raids and extortions were certainly spectacular, but seldom very profitable. They weren’t very common either, owing to their clearly criminal natural and the lack of support from home. Those that did occur (and those that were profitable) became famous.


Many pirates sought inflated profits by shipping commodities that Eichberger would not deal in: arms, narcotics, and other contraband. Some used force to overbear local customs (in the manner of the British in the Opium Wars), and even then were sometimes interpreted as heroes at home, if the goods in question were not illegal there.


Many of the advanced colonies were populated to their limits, and people sought to emigrate. Naturally, they preferred planets that had already been terraformed, and these of course were populated. But where the development level and population density were low, high-tech immigrants could move in and accommodate themselves at much higher population densities (on ‘unused’ and ‘underutilised’ land). If the locals resisted they could be overborne by superior technology: and often by numbers when pirate ships delivered hundreds of thousands or even millions of immigrants per year. Emmaus was a notorious example Where invaders from Mayflower and Tau Ceti overwhelmed 4.4 million Iron-Age agriculturalists.


Assorted admirers of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Cortes, Pizarro, and the like assembled and equipped small high-tech armies and set out to make themselves kings on worlds where their tech advantage was great enough. Also, bands of soldiers set out to make themselves aristocrats together. Very often they found that this was harder than they expected, but they usually did a lot of damage while they were learning.

Navabharata suffered repeated such invasions, and ended up with patchwork of invader states.

Abusive traders

Like European traders in the East Indies, traders in pirate spacecraft often set up depots or trading posts on backward worlds: either to carry out trade over long periods without keeping a ship idle; or to organise local production, setting up factories or plantations. These caused dislocations and strains in the local economy and politics, which led to attacks. Repulsing these attacks or defying demands for extraordinary taxes, the trading posts undermined the authority of local governments, inducing rebellion and revolution, chaos and war.

To protect themselves from the chaos they themselves induced, bad traders turned into conquerors or invaders.


A great many people set out on missions to bring "wisdom" to foreigners. A few were frankly religious. Others spread utopian ideals, or religion in the guise of ethical or therapeutic practice. Or, little appreciating the causes of poverty and backward economies, they set out to uplift the poor by delivering medicine, education, or technological progress, or by carrying out ecological engineering: bringing crops, livestock, even game animals to biologically impoverished colonies.

Many of these people were harmless. Some even did some good. But in other cases missions partook of the character of invasions or conquests, or they fomented revolution, factional conflict, and social discord. Sometimes missionaries were harshly treated, and invaders or conquerors made an excuse of rescuing them or protecting them. Many of the religious and utopist missionaries introduced toxic memes, which caused (for example) religious wars, or their gifts and trade goods caused warfare in the hinterland of their missions.

Attempts by missionaries to enrich impoverished ecologies, though occasionally of considerable benefit, were too often executed with greater enthusiasm than competence. Then they could be catastrophic.


Interstellar travel opened up the possibility of criminals fleeing to where the law could not pursue them. This possibility undermined the deterrent effect of the law, causing problems even on advanced colonies that were otherwise the sources, not the victims, of pirates. Made bold by the possibility of escape, criminals, criminals committed daring robberies and extortions that they could never otherwise have got away with, and fled to other worlds. FTL travel blunted the deterrent effect of law enforcement.

Being criminals, fugitives were disposed to make more trouble on the colonies they fled to, often acting as conquerors in a small way.

Human predators

A certain tiny proportion of the huge population of the advanced colonies consisted of serial killers, serial rapists, psychopathic sadists and so forth. Some of these people travelled, with or without commercial or charitable pretexts, to undeveloped worlds where they thought their technological advantage would enable to kill, torture, rape, and hunt with impunity.

These were the most malevolent of villains, but in gross their depredations did less harm than mere negligence.


As each inhabited planet or moon had been terraformed by a customised program, they all had ecologies that he been designed without reference to the organisms that were present on the others. Therefore plants, animals, and micro-organisms transported from one world to another could and sometimes did become runaway pests, or (in the case of some that had been designed as biological controls on vigorous terraforming species) blights.

Pirates sometimes introduced pest species as articles of commerce. Also, since most worlds had terraforming species on them that were designed to spread far and rapidly, or to act as long-range vectors for other species, there was a lot of trouble with spores and seeds. Some terraforming species had been designed essentially for biological warfare against native life, or to wipe out a pioneering species to make way for crops and so forth. Other species from the same planet were designed to resist these, but out of their environments they could be devastating.


Advanced medicine on Old Earth meant that few migrants to the older colonies carried pathogens that caused any serious illness. Migrants to the outer colonies typically carried no pathogens at all. But in the centuries of the Age of Isolation certain pathogens on the old colonies evolved for increased virulence, certain symbiotes and commensals (skin, mouth, and gut flora, for instance) evolved into pathogen niches, viruses reappeared rather mysteriously, and there were a certain number of genetic engineering accidents.

None of these new diseases was terribly serious at home. But introduced to a population without either high economic development or acquired resistance, some of them produced either chronic, endemic debility or an epidemic in which everyone was ‘temporarily’ incapacitated at the same time. That left too few people well to nurse the sick, or to provide heat, water, and food. Billions died in epidemics of non-lethal diseases.

Eichberger, having far the largest trading network at the time, was better informed about these events than anyone else. And he was inclined to feel responsible for them.

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.

Destruction of Mayflower

A number of flamboyant arch-criminals saw the writing on the wall, and formed a combination for mutual defence. The leader was Jorge Luis Bertillion, King of Orinoco (a ‘conqueror’). Massing their strength at Orinoco, the pirates launched a raid in force on Mayflower. Distracting the major defences with feints, they overwhelmed the missile defences with decoys, and succeeded in detonating a catalytic thermonuclear warhead in Mayflower’s atmosphere.

On the 23th of September, 431 ATD Mayflower went the way of Old Earth. 1.17 billion people were killed.

Bertillion’s raid killed Eichberger, the board of his foundation, and the high command of the Patrol. It destroyed Eichberger Spaceways’ largest orbital port and largest shipyards. But that was not even a tithe of the wealth that supported the Eichberger Foundation. Losses to the Patrol were (at least numerically) inconsequential.

All Bertillion achieved was to waken a sleeping giant and fill it with a terrible resolve.

Destruction of Orinoco

News of the destruction of Mayflower arrived at Aeneas four days later. The most senior Patrol officer present was Commodore Kobayashi Thomas. His parents, wife, daughters, and grandchildren had been on Mayflower. Kobayashi assembled a scratch squadron consisting of all the Space Patrol enforcement vessels that could be got ready for quick departure, and gave chase to 54 Piscium, where Bertillion took refuge on his stronghold, Orinoco.

Arriving at 54 Piscium on the 3rd of November, Kobayashi’s squadron first attempted a rush at the planet, hoping to get within range to destroy the pirate ships in orbit before they could escape. Unfortunately the pirates were alert, and within hours hundreds of pirate ships were accelerating for the warp zone.

Desperate to curtail the careers of these villains, to avenge the deaths of his family and homeworld, and to end the ‘war’ that New Aachen had started, Kobayashi determined on a dreadful plan. Dismissing those ships that were not required to neutralise Orinoco’s orbital defences, he rushed the planet with the others. Kobayashi rammed his ship into the atmosphere of Orinoco and detonated its Eichberger device, producing a catalytic thermonuclear explosion.

69 million people were killed. The pirate ships were destroyed by the blast of radiation. So was most of Kobayashi’s squadron.

Renewal of the Foundation

The rest of the Patrol and the Eichberger Foundation were stunned and horrified by the destruction of Mayflower and Kobayashi’s reprisal. About 15% of the personnel gave up. The rest had their sense of purpose doubled by this overwhelming evidence of the danger of Eichberger devices in untrustworthy hands.

The only surviving trustee of the Eichberger Foundation was Eichberger’s daughter Lara. She appointed a new Board, with one new trustee from the Bounty Hunter’s Association, two from the Space Patrol, three from ‘soft’ divisions of the Foundation, one from Eichberger Spaceways, and seven chosen from among eminent supporters of the Foundation on leading colonies. The reconstituted Board promoted new managers, and appointed the most talented of the Patrol’s commodores, Julius MacArthur, to be Admiral of the Fleet.

On the 18th of April 432 (the anniversary of the Destruction of Earth) the senior managers and new Board of Trustees of the Eichberger Foundation, and the Central Command of the Space Patrol took an oath: that they would dedicate their efforts, their wealth, their lives, and their posterity to preventing every catastrophe to Mankind that it ever came in their power to prevent. Admiral MacArthur arranged that on the following 23rd of September the personnel of the Space Patrol should take the same oath, and most employees of the Eichberger Foundation did so at the same time.

The Formation Wars

After the its renewal the Eichberger Foundation became a lot more aggressive than it had been before. Its enforcement vessels ruthlessly fired on suspected raiders rather than let them escape. Where any conquest was still in progress it intervened with military force, killing or capturing key personnel or destroying armies. It captured and dismantled extraterritorial trading depots, and deported traders to their homeworlds. Where there were villains whom no colony would prosecute, it punished them on its own authority.

In systems where there were notorious abuses in progress, and later in any system that did not have its own space authorities, the Fleet boarded ships in orbit and inspected them for contraband. Migrant ships were turned back. Ships with troops or weapons on them were seized and the crews repatriated. (The Eichberger Foundation had investigators and informants on most of the colonies with interstellar capability: it was often forewarned about pirate undertakings.) Gradually taking an ever harder line against Eichberger devices in private hands, Eichberger enforcement vessels started firing on any interstellar vessels that would not stop, and confiscating spacecraft with pirate Eichberger devices even if they were not engaged in nefarious activities.

From the point of view of colonies with FTL industries this amounted to intolerable interference with their commerce and migration, and denial of due process to their citizens in free space. Starting with Seeonee in 448 ATD, one by one they imposed sanctions: froze Eichberger Foundation assets on their surfaces; closed Eichberger Spaceways offices; closed or seized port facilities; boycotted Eichberger Spaceways ships; and sometimes arrested or expelled Eichberger Foundation and Spaceways staff. The Eichberger Foundation found itself gradually excluded from the lucrative trade routes between the fourteen most advanced colonies, which was a long-term threat to its success. In 459 Barutanah at last joined the boycott, and the Foundation was cut off from supplies of parts to maintain its spaceships and build Eichberger devices. This was an acute threat to its existence.

Seeonee, Tau Ceti and New Earth even went so far as to build interstellar warships. (To protect, it was said “their migrants, their merchants, and their missionaries respectively”.) The prospect of colonies maintaining rival interstellar navies was anathema to the Eichberger Foundation. In 458, after furious debate among the Board of Trustees the Foundation recognised a condition of war and resolved to win it.

Ship and fleet actions in the outer systems went both ways, with the advantage to the Foundation. But such actions could never decide the strategic issues. In 464 the Foundation deployed enormous plinkers—barely-mobile vacuum-UV laser platforms, which could focus a destructive beam at far greater range than any other space weapon. Starting with Seeonee, it warped a task force and several plinkers into each system, exiting from warp at a distance from the planet beyond range of any defensive weapons. While the conventional combat vessels held off torpedoes and counter-attacks, the plinkers systematically destroyed warships in orbit, orbital defences, and eventually all equipment in orbit. Interstellar vessels that arrived were allowed to orbit, and given time to unload and disembark before being destroyed. Vessels that attempted to leave were shot at, and most destroyed. The plinkers allowed the Fleet to interdict planets without bombarding ground facilities, since they could destroy any ship or torpedo launched long before it reached warp distance. But they could not keep Eichberger ships safe if they approached an enemy planet within range of ground-based weapons firing through the atmosphere.

Allies of the beleaguered colonies attempted sometimes to relieve them by warping task forces in near the suspected locations of the plinkers. These efforts were hampered by problems getting intelligence, and though some plinkers were destroyed, no system once beleaguered was relieved.

The reduction of Tau Ceti took eight years (465–472), because Tau Ceti built large orbital UV laser platforms of its own. The plinkers in the first invasion force were destroyed, and their escorts retreated in confusion. After years of skirmishing, Tau Ceti eventually succumbed to Minamoto’s Raid, an elaborate ploy involving clouds of asteroidal detritus put on an orbit to sweep Tau Ceti’s near space like a charge of shot, short-range bomb-pumped ‘mines’ concealed among the detritus, and eight converging interstellar task-forces englobing the planet with plinkers. After Tau Ceti was beleaguered there was no relief for other belligerents.

Where the colonial systems included substantial habitats in deep space, in asteroid belts, or in the orbital systems of uninhabited planets, these sometimes had to be captured by shooting off their point defences and then boarding. Eichberger Fleet combat teams were extraordinarily careful to capture orbital habitats with minimal casualties among non-combatants. In two cases they managed to capture occupied O’Neill cylinders with no civilian fatalities at all, a great achievement.

On no occasion did Eichberger Foundation forces make any demonstration of frightfulness against an inhabited world, nor threaten, nor imply a threat, to bombard from orbit. Their unwillingness to do these things left them with no way to force the surrender of a planet even after its defences were reduced.

By 480 major combat operations were over. The belligerent colonies were confined to their atmospheres. Any continuing hostilities or pirate activity amounted to villains gradually running out of parts and supplies as they futzed around in the deep Beyond. The Eichberger Foundation had its objective, but was not in a position to hold it for long. They had 72 billion people besieged on fifteen colonies, but those were the ones with the industries and skills it needed to maintain its spaceships. The Foundation had made efforts to develop sources of supply on Pacisordine, Tian Longshan and other advanced worlds that were not in the boycott, but the results had not been adequate. Besides, the huge majority of Eichberger Spaceways’ potential revenues depended on trade among the colonies now interdicted.

On the other hand, the advanced colonies had lost the prosperity that they had gained while interstellar trade was flourishing. They had lost access to their mines on asteroids and moons, and to free-fall manufacturing. They had even lost the use of satellites. These colonies now had populations that required development equivalent to GURPS TL 9 (advanced) or even TL 10 (ForeSight TL 7.5 or 8) to maintain them. Without space industries they faced hardship.

In 490 the Formation Wars were acknowledged to be an exhausted draw.

The Conference of Luna

In 490 ATD the Eichberger Foundation started trying to organise a peace conference. In 494 it secured agreement by the belligerent colonies to meet on Earth’s moon. The conference convened in reconditioned facilities on Nearside, with formal proceedings commencing on the 1st of December 494. The ruins of Earth were visible through landscape windows.

Delegations from the Foundation and the belligerent colonies (Aeneas, Barutanah, Farfalle, Iter, Ladon, New Athens, New Earth, New Rome, Sangreal, Seeonee, Simanta, Stockhausen, Svarga, Tau Ceti, and Todos Santos) were not the only participants. The Foundation also assembled envoys from its few significant allies and from a representative collection of colonies that had once been victimised by pirates. These could in no way impose a decision on the colonies whose acquiescence the Foundation needed, and their inclusion drew complaints. But their presence did not just waste time. It sensibly altered the tenor of the conference.

For over two months the Conference negotiated but made little progress. In the middle of February 495 the ambassadors from Seeonee and Todos Santos made a proposal that broke the deadlock by going a great way beyond negotiating a peace among the existing parties. They suggested creating a new organisation, a legitimate interstellar authority under the bicameral control of an executive that would pursue the Foundation’s goals and a legislature that would defend colonial interests. If this were given suitably limited powers, and with checks and balances agreeable to both sides, the Fleet and control of Eichberger devices could be passed to this confederation or empire, and the Eichberger Foundation could retire to its original philanthropic work.

Rather to the surprise of most delegates, it proved possible to work out acceptable details. The Treaty of Luna was signed on the 12th of March 495. Four delegations abstained, on the grounds that the agreement exceeded their instructions. In a separate instrument, the Foundation and the main belligerent colonies agreed to an armistice for three years, to allowed time for ratification.

The Treaty of Luna

The Treaty of Luna amounts to the constitution of the Empire. It established the Imperial Council as an executive committee self-perpetuating by co-optation, and gave it the power to veto legislation. It established the Imperial Senate as supreme legislature with control of taxation and appropriations, and gave it supervisory powers over the executive. It established the Imperial Supreme Court, and charged it to adjudicate disputes between the Empire and colonies, and under the terms of the Treaty itself, striking down pretended legislation that should exceed the strict limits it set for Imperial power.

The Treaty of Luna gives the Empire prerogatives over armed and interstellar spacecraft, Eichberger drives, CT weapons, interstellar commerce, and deep space. On the other hand it protects the sovereignty of the colonies within their atmospheres, and their freedom to use their own orbital space for peaceful purposes. The Empire may intervene in colonial affairs only as directed by law, and law can be made only by the Senate. Not only is the Senate appointed entirely by colonial governments, but its power to legislate is limited to enumerated causes, all of which relate to what the original signatories conceded to be inter-colonial issues or legitimate concerns of the Eichberger Foundation. There are no general security, common welfare, good government, or commerce clauses (though discriminatory import duties are banned).

The Treaty gives the Senate control over Imperial taxation and the expenditure of tax revenues. It also gives it authority to examine that actions of Imperial officials and to dismiss them for due cause, including the power to impeach members of the Imperial Council and the Imperial Supreme Court for malfeasance, negligence, corruption, criminal abuse, or gross impropriety. But it does not give the Senate the power to set policy for the Empire’s use of prerogative powers.

By the Treaty the Eichberger Foundation transferred to the Empire its naval fleets and military units, its public service functions, and its claims to monopoly on the Eichberger device and authority in deep space. This included personnel as well as matériel, so that the Empire was from its beginning basically the Eichberger Foundation under another name. Merchant ships, shipyards, orbital factories, orbital habitats, financial reserves, and other commercial assets were not transferred. Those remained the property of a rump Eichberger Foundation.

Ratifying the Treaty of Luna

The ratification terms in the Treaty were exacting. Among conditions more easily satisfied, it had to be ratified within three years by ten of the belligerent colonies (counting unanimous ratififaction by the Tau Ceti colonies as one) and by governments representing two-thirds of the populations of the original signatories. These conditions were not met until the 27th of December 497, when the last of eight colonies making up the Union of Tau Ceti ratified.

Four belligerents attempted to hold out: Aeneas, Iter, New Athens, and Ladon. But without a solid boycott their cause was hopeless: the Empire repaired its fleets and the Eichberger Foundation refilled is coffers without them. They ratified and took their places in the Empire, one by one. New Athens, last of the Belligerents to ratify, did so in 546 ATD, by which time its economy had suffered a setback from which is has not yet recovered.

Colonies not represented at the Conference of Luna continued ratifying the Treaty for over a century. Hundreds of colonies beyond about 100 lightyears from Sol had not been contacted by the Foundation at the time to the Conference. A systematic program to contact them all did not begin until 532. Settlements (new colonies founded by Eichberger Realty), customarily ratify the Treaty as their first legislative act on achieving self-government. About four do so per year.

Inauguration of the Empire

Colonies appointed their senators, and the Senate opened its first session on the 3rd of January 499 PDT, in refurbished facilities on Luna. The first session of the Senate was largely taken up with establishment work. The Senate recognised senators from colonies that had not been at the Conference of Luna, adopted rules of procedure, and elected officers. It voted on the trustees of the Eichberger Foundation, to choose which half should become Imperial Councillors. It held confirmation hearings (and confirmed) the Imperial Councillors nominated by the Eichberger Foundation from the colonies. It scrutinised and confirmed the inaugural Justices of the Supreme Court who had been nominated by a commission of eminent jurists.

Meanwhile, the Imperial Council elected Akiko Montesino (Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Eichberger Foundation) to be its Chairman, adopted orders-in-Council to set up its departmental structure, appointed senior executives, and submitted requests to the Senate to pass taxes and a budget.

The Senate also found time for some straightforward legislation, producing a Crimes Act with no provisions for enforcement, and a Declaration of Rights providing neither punishments nor remedies. At the request of the Imperial Council it enacted Civil Service regulations and Navy regulations.

Taxes on the colonies to defray the expenses of the Empire were debated, but the senators from the poor colonies would not approve a tax proportional to population, senators from the rich colonies would not approve a tax proportional to economic output, and no compromise was found.

Senate v. Council

Over the next two decades a hostile relationship developed between the Senate and the Imperial Council. This arose in the first place out of the failure of the Senate to raise any taxes. The Imperial Councillors formed a belief that key senators, acting in bad faith, were deliberately starving the Empire of needed funds. In retaliation, they resisted all Senate attempts to make policy and influence the exercise of prerogative.

The Empire made do on donations from the Eichberger Foundation. These were at first scanty, and the Empire spent twenty years lean and poor. But it developed an unintended freedom from Senate control through the power of the pursestrings. The Imperial executive ended up weaker but more independent than was planned at the Treaty of Luna.

Lacking significant ability to direct Imperial policy, the Senate developed no interest in increasing Imperial power. It has therefore remained chiefly a brake on Imperial intervention in colonial affairs, authorising intervention only in egregious cases.

Germination of the Empire

Until the mid-520s the Empire apparently did very little. The Imperial Council focussed on building up Imperial Spaceways as a future source of revenue, and that meant building shipyards, manufacturing facilities, and habitats as well as ships. Operational budgets were cut to the bone in favour of re-investment of profits.

Spaceways contracts to most lucrative routes

From 499 Imperial Spaceways withdrew ships from serving routes between poorer, more distant colonies to provide capacity on the lucrative routes among the fifteen most advanced colonies, and between them and about 35 nearby sources and markets. Spaceways’ profits and growth were spectacular, and trade fuelled rapid economic growth and development on the 68 colonies involved, but smaller and more distant colonies were neglected.

Stagnation for the Navy

The Imperial Navy sat in orbit as little more than a ‘fleet in being’. It did send out exploratory patrols from time to time, but these found their ships unsuited to planetary exploration. Lacking adequate landing craft, personnel for ecological or anthropological survey work, and diplomatic credentials, these missions concentrated on systems suspected of having spacefaring colonies. Colonies with sufficient development to make Eichberger drives (if they were found at all) were targeted by follow-up diplomatic and (if necessary) naval efforts. Other colonies with spaceflight were invited to ratify but ignored if they chose not to. Everything else was ignored. Beyond 90 lightyears from Sol the program found nothing that called for follow-up. Uncomfortable, costly, and unfruitful, it was cancelled.

The Home Office, civil life in Imperial Direct Jurisdiction

Life for the personnel of the Eichberger Foundation ‘returned to normal’ when they became Imperial Servants, which is to say that they stepped down from a war footing. There was a baby boom lasting for about twenty years from 499. The Imperial Council created the Home Office to provide living space and government services for Imperial employees. One of the early concerns of the Home Office was to establish schools. At the direction of Chairman Montesino the Home Office hired experts from Todos Santos to design a set of pedagogies for the schools, applying high-tech developmental psychology to design a system that should raise the children of Imperial Servants to share their parents’ ideals and dedication.

The Regulus Academy

Montesino arranged for the same technology to be used far more intensely and adaptively at an elite school she founded in 504: the Regulus Academy. Regulus takes in children in their infancy. It raises them with close personal attention from developmental psychologists, with the aim of producing utterly reliable and highly-motivated candidates for high office in the Empire. Alumni of the Regulus Academy began to enter the Imperial Service in about 525, and eventually achieved great prominence.

The Imperial Corps of Marines founded

In 507 the Imperial Council consolidated its plethora of personal combat units to form the Imperial Corps of Marines. Spaceport security units, boarding action teams, strike teams, and so forth were merged (based on where they happened to be), standardised, and designated as 65 regiments of Imperial Marines. Operational exigencies meant that some of those regiments were not actually mustered , nor did their subordinate commanders meet the commanding officers, until 519. Financial stringencies meant the some marines did not receive their standard kit until 535.

By the early 520s Imperial Spaceways had amassed enough capacity to provide a profit-maximising level of service on the shipping routes in the core. The Imperial Council cut back reinvestment and started drawing larger dividends to fund Imperial government functions. It increased funding for the Navy, started building up capacity to assist colonies with plague, famine etc., and started thinking about the Beyond.

Akiko Montesino retired as Chairman of the Imperial Council and Board of Trustees in 527, aged 130. Her accomplishment had been to turn the Eichberger Foundation into 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.


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


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.

Chairmen of the Imperial Council: years of election

499 Akiko Montesino
527 Harmon Arbeiter
543 Joscelyn Suzuki
554 Yekatrina Narajaya
560 Mikhail Eichberger
571 Dario Chen
588 Izanami Eichberger
601 Andrew Orloff

Copyright © 2010 by Brett Evill