The Universe of First Strike

22 Feb

Just another vague idea.

The Universe of First Strike

Although humanity had been largely unaware of it, for the past few thousand years Earth had been within the space claimed by the Association, an alliance of three races (the Jul’Kek/Canaries, Yaje/Rabbits and Tamanas/Dogs) that had joined together to develop their technology. The Association, believing that early contact between primitive races and far more advanced interstellar powers was disastrous for the primitive races, kept an eye on Earth, but forbade open contact. Earth would be invited to join the Association when its inhabitants managed to develop FTL drive. Given humanity’s alarming rate of technological advancement, there were some in the Association who believed that humanity would destroy itself before it ever got into space. It had certainly happened before.

The Association, however, was entering a long period of decline. Odd as it might seem, the Association’s real problem was that it had advanced too far too fast and was unprepared to deal with the social upheaval caused by advanced technology. In particular, the discover of an immortality treatment for the Canaries led to the Canaries effectively coming to dominate the Association. This was not a deliberate racially-based plan to seize supreme power, but it hardly mattered. As the effective leaders of the Association grew older, they became more set in their ways and attempted to freeze technological and political change. This in turn led to massive racial and economic strife within the Association.

Given time, the Association might have overcome this problem and recovered. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the time. As stagnation began to set in, they encountered several other races on the far edge of Association space. Unlike the Association, which had always worked towards peaceful co-existence between different races, the newcomers were young, vigorous and intent on carving out space for themselves. As they started to realise just how far the Association had fallen from the glory days where its superdreadnaughts could dominate the local region, they started to push harder. The Association’s ability to respond to this crisis was very limited. By the time they faced the newcomers in open combat and lost badly, the Association Navy was dominated by officers whose naval experience was literally centuries out of date. Worst of all, some of the once-loyal naval officers were seduced by dreams of power for themselves, often from the best possible motives.

This pushed the Association further down the slippery slope to destruction. As a society, the citizens had had very little contact with the military; indeed, the whole idea of going out and dying for one’s homeworld was considered rather outdated. What this meant, practically speaking, was that the Association Navy was constantly undermanned, while officers who showed a spark of initiative found themselves suspected of plotting a military coup (on the grounds that removing the government and imposing military rule could hardly be worse) and under constant suspicion. The result was inevitable. Over three hundred years prior to First Contact, the Association found its borders being eroded, with the newcomers held back by desperate fighting or their own competing ambitions.

One particular Association Oligarch (by then, business and government had effectively merged together) saw the writing on the wall. There was no hope of stirring the government to demand the kind of sacrifices it would take to save the Association from falling apart, even if the invading powers were satisfied to leave the original homeworlds alone. He looked around for a new solution and finally settled on Earth. Humanity lacked the FTL drive that would have qualified them for membership in the Association (if that had meant anything any longer), but humans were good fighters and had a knack for imagination that the Association’s Oligarchs had lost many years ago. Putting together a mission to Earth, with a small fleet of starships and technological goodies to offer to the human race, he led the mission in person. The Association’s observers, who had spent hundreds of years gathering data on the planet, would have objected strongly to his plan to contact the planet, so he had them arrested and held on his ship before making open contact. Even for a being richer than the entire planet Earth, that sort of action wouldn’t be allowed to pass unpunished. He had just burned his bridges behind him.

Making covert contact with Earth’s major governments (originally, the UN Security Council’s permanent members) in 2020, he explained his mission. The situation was dire. Earth had been protected from contact and exploitation by the Association, but within twenty years at the most starships from other powers would start prowling around Earth’s general region. And they wouldn’t let the primitives develop at their own pace. Indeed, given that humanity’s advancement was alarmingly fast, it was quite possible that one or more of the Galactics would see Earth as a threat to be squashed before it was far too late.

The UNSC argued for hours, trying to decide what to do. On one hand, the promised alien technology – samples had already been handed over – would help humanity make its own way into space. On the other hand, the Association looked to be on the verge of coming apart – and humanity didn’t want to end up on the losing side of an interstellar war. Complicating matters was the presence of the Association monitoring post on the Moon (with new observers expected in five years) and the fact that none of the ships the businessman had been able to bring were warships. Earth was in no state to stand off even a single warship from any of the Galactics

After several days of heavy negotiation (eventually bringing in most of the other major nations) they managed to cobble together a working agreement. The UN would be discarded as no longer being suited for purpose. Instead, the major governments would collaborate to produce the Terran Federation, which would have overall responsibility for preparing the Earth for the coming storm, creating the Earth Defence Force and settling the rest of the Solar System. Voting rights in the Federation Assembly were allocated based on the percentage of the Federation’s overall operating costs paid by each country (which meant that, in practice, the wealthier countries ran it to suit themselves). The Federation would also oversee the introduction of alien technology into Earth’s economy, providing additional funds for its operations.

Matters went reasonably smoothly, although the introduction of fusion power and other technology caused considerable political upheaval, until the arrival of a Drans battlecruiser at Son. They’d been scouting along the Association’s border and homed in on Earth’s radio transmissions. Unsure of Earth’s relationship with the Association (the Drans, who reassembled humanoid fish, were a very new power on the galactic stage), they settled for establishing a cloudscoop in orbit around Jupiter (to be maintained by human techs, although owned by the aliens), rather than trying to claim Earth itself. Over the next four years, humanity established cloudscoops around the remaining gas giants, as well as settlements on all of the planets and moons. Terraforming a planet had been pioneered by the Association and their records helped jump Mars towards becoming inhabitable within one hundred years of the first comet and biological seeds dumped into the atmosphere. Venus would take much longer.

The first crisis came when an Association starship arrived to resupply the Observation Post on the Moon (which had now been joined by human bases and settlements.) Humanity didn’t have any warship worthy of the title and the Federation was grimly aware that the Association, even in its weakened state, would be able to squash Earth with ease. The Oligarch stepped forward, however, and confessed his role in the affair. Facing the prospect of yet another political crisis, the Association settled for arresting the Oligarch and removing most of his people from Earth. They did, however, open up diplomatic relationships with the Federation. Humans were willing to work for less than Association citizens and many of them intended to learn all they could about alien technology.

Earth’s first extra-solar colony lay in a system that had been regarded as second-rate by the Association, but humanity was less easily deterred. It had no gas giant to provide fuel, yet it did have a Mars-like world (for terraforming) and literally millions of asteroids that could be used as raw materials. The discovery of several other similar worlds near Earth allowed for much greater colonisation efforts, particularly with the help of massive colonist-carrier starships leased from the Association. Unfortunately, the discovery of an Earth-like world caused two political crises in quick succession.

The first one took place on Earth, in 2035. Some parts of the planet had benefited hugely from the expansion into space. Other parts had not, particularly the Middle East and Africa. The sudden fall in demand for oil had destroyed the basis of the economy and there had been no compensation from ET technology. With a world that required minimal adaption to colonise up for grabs, the Third World was determined to have a full share of the colony world. The Federation found itself in something of a bind. All of the previous worlds had been doled out to nations that contributed, yet this was definitely different. It was a prize everyone wanted a piece of. After much negotiation , it was decided that the planet – Terra Nova – would be settled under Federation authority, but there would be quotas from each nation on Earth.

Five years later, with upwards of a million humans settled on Earth, disaster struck. A starship from the Ruthen Hegemony arrived at Terra Nova and announced that the world had been claimed by the Hegemony in 2020. The Hegemony had been one of the powers that had been eroding the borders of the Association and they weren’t disposed to care about the far more miniscule human race. When the colonists on the planet demurred, the Hegemony starship dropped kinetic weapons on their main city. With the Association unwilling to push the Hegemony, the Federation had no choice, but to surrender Terra Nova, along with its remaining colonists. However, the Association did insist that the Hegemony paid Earth compensation for the lost venture. Somewhat to everyone’s surprise, the Hegemony paid up.

The lost colony galvanised Earth like nothing else. Political debates about the exact division of power and quotas for settlement vanished, replaced by a public demand for revenge. The compensation was promptly invested in new ships and technological data from the Association and some of the smaller Galactics. Perversely, the Hegemony’s unwilling gift helped to push Earth forward – and assisted the human race in covertly advancing its own weaponry. Thousands of young human students wound up studying in the Association, while hundreds of thousands of workers started to drift through space. Many of them were ordered to keep their eyes open and learn all they could about the Galactics.

Terra Nova itself rapidly became a military base for the Hegemony, which was eagerly awaiting the break-up of the Association. This worried Earth’s strategists as the Hegemony would be able to maintain a sizeable force near Earth. The humans still on the planet provided what information they could about their new overlords, as did diplomatic missions to the various alien worlds.

Time was rapidly running out for Earth, unfortunately. On the other side of Association space, alliances were being drawn up to finish the job of destroying the Association and sharing out the booty between the participants. And one of those pieces of booty was Earth…

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2 Responses to “The Universe of First Strike”

  1. The Deposed King February 23, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Humanity seems to have given up on the Oligarch pretty easily. Also what’s up with the federation system defense force? Seems like a bunch of toothless or guttless wonders.

    Oh its probably suicide even if they could defeat the aliens seizing Terra Nova. But i’d think that after a couple decades, they should have some kind of surprises up their sleeves.

    The Deposed King

  2. chrishanger February 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    The Association could have taken him from Earth by force and/or punished Earth for holding him, Think the US against Micronesia.

    They do have some surprises up their sleaves, but they are still massively outgunned by the Hegemony.

    Chris

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