Background: The Brothers At Arms Universe

2 Apr

The Brothers At Arms Universe

In 2020, Earth was invaded by the Sasanorah Empire. The Sasanorahi had starships, KEW weapons and a certain degree of ruthlessness, all of which made the outcome of the invasion inevitable. Most of humanity’s resistance was crushed in the opening hours of the campaign, followed by demonstration strikes against human population centres that forced world governments to surrender. While a resistance lingered for days afterwards, most notably in the less-developed parts of Earth, it had little hope of overthrowing the aliens. Humanity found itself becoming used to a new status as second-class imperial citizens.

The next 400 years saw Earth slowly becoming a more secure part of the empire. Loans and technological help were available for humans who wished to develop their own industries and even shipping fleets, all under the empire, while thousands of humans had entered the military. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of humans had ended up in another interstellar power, creating a problem for that power’s rulers. Humans bred rapidly and were dangerously inventive. They launched a pogrom intent on reducing the number of human settlers to a more manageable level. Unluckily for them, the starships on the border were largely crewed by humans who intervened – against orders – to save their fellow humans. A rather confusing three-sided war broke out (a civil war, a war of independence and an interstellar war) which ended with Earth becoming independent and claiming the thirty-seven worlds settled largely by humans.

Humanity was not quick to embrace the benefits of independence and a purely human civil war threatened to break out. Eventually, in 2434, Admiral Gordon Tyson, the de facto commander of the Terran Navy, declared himself the Emperor of Humanity and crushed most of the warring factions. While this didn’t sit well with a great many factions, it was seen as better than the absolute chaos that threatened to destroy humanity’s very existence. Gordon the Great (as he became known) created the House of Nobles (life or hereditary peers created by Gordon), the Imperial Senate (elected by the people) and the Imperial Household (the royal family). He also wrote the Charter of Humanity, which provided the legal basis for the Empire, and appointed an independent judiciary to oversee the law. When he married Admiral Sitka Jackson, one of his former subordinates, he solidified his grip on power. Even so, both the Assembly of Nobles and the Senate enjoyed considerable independence.

Gordon’s later career was spent overseeing the wars that humanity fought with most of its neighbours. Galactic geopolitics had been shifted by the appearance of humanity and several of the other powers sought to test human resolve. Ironically, the constant chain of threats helped the Empire settled down as unity against the outsiders was all-important. Admiral Jackson continued to lead the Imperial Navy from the front, ensuring that the military remained staunchly loyal to the Emperor. When Crown Prince Adam was born in 2449, it was clear that he too would go into the military. It was the best place for a future Emperor to learn the tools of his trade.

Emperor Adam succeeded to the throne in 2470, after his father died. He inherited an empire that had formed a rough, but effective balance of power that allowed for both centralised control (and therefore unity) and enough independence and freedom to encourage progress. Adam’s daughter Julia, the first Empress, followed him without incident. Thomas followed Julia, who in turn was succeeded by Andrew, who in turn was succeeded by Roland. History might have been very different if Roland’s older sister had survived to take the throne instead.

Roland wasn’t a bad person, but he hadn’t been the direct successor and had barely had any training for the position, least of all the military experience expected of an Emperor. That alone might not have been disastrous, were it not for a combination of other factors. The Empire had been expanding rapidly under Andrew, but the new territory hadn’t been properly integrated by the time Roland took the throne. Worse, there was increasing strife between the big industrial combines, which provided humanity’s economic muscle, and the out-worlds, which felt that they were being disenfranchised and raped by the corporations. A strong emperor would have found it difficult to steer a path through the looming reefs ahead – and Roland was not a strong emperor.

Unfortunately, Roland dithered. He’d made the typical mistake of surrounding himself with sycophants who filled his ears with praise while manipulating him in the direction they wanted him to go. Roland switched from position to position while the situation steadily got worse, finally leading to an outbreak of civil war along the borders. A new alien race had been probing the borderland for some time and made secret links with colonists who intended to rebel against the empire. Roland chose to lead the Imperial Navy in person despite a complete lack of military experience. The result was a staggering disaster and Roland’s death in combat.

Lacking an immediate heir, several prominent Admirals and Generals made their own attempts to take the throne. Four years of civil war followed – ‘The Time of Nine Emperors’ – until Admiral Ivan Gray won the civil war and made himself Ivan I. Ivan didn’t claim any descent from Gordon, but he did have family connections on both sides of the political divide and a certain basic understanding of the problems facing the Empire. During his reign, the corporations were pruned back sharply and the colonies granted representation in the Senate that made it harder for the corporations to trample on their rights. Unfortunately, Ivan also laid the seeds for something far darker – a resurgence of human xenophobia. Someone had to take the blame for the Empire’s dire situation and alien labour seemed a prime candidate.

Ivan II was a less capable Emperor than his father, but he did have a clear idea of his duty and he managed to combine the twin roles of Head of State and Warlord reasonably successfully. He had commanded the Imperial Navy in avenging Roland’s defeat, followed up by a series of swinging offences combined with adroit diplomacy that ensured that all the major threats on the border were pruned back sharply. While this did raise the spectre of other alien powers combining against humanity, it ensured that no Sector Admiral required the kind of force that would allow him to make his own grasp for the purple. It also meant that the Empire had to administer the vast new territories taken by Ivan II, placing an additional strain on the Empire’s purse.

Anastasia I might have made a great Empress, but one year into her reign she was assassinated by her Chancellor, one of the few aliens allowed near the Royal Family. The bomb that killed her also killed the Primary and Secondary Heirs, leaving her daughter Christina as Empress. Unlike Roland, Christiana did have a fairly complete education – as a Princess, she would probably have been sent out to govern a sector or command a battle fleet if necessary – but she was also dangerously unstable. The death of her mother and older siblings sent her over the edge. Humans had already launched pogroms directed against aliens, yet they had only been the beginning. Under Christiana, most of the remaining aliens in positions of power were ferreted out and executed, followed rapidly by the complete disenfranchisement of aliens even from worlds where they were the majority. Protest and outright rebellion was crushed by overwhelming force.

This alone might not have crippled the Empire, but Christiana’s paranoia swiftly turned inwards and she began lashing out at everyone who might have posed a threat, including leading members of the Senate and senior military officers. The Imperial Navy was badly weakened – and ‘loyalty officers,’ appointed by Christiana, were a further hindrance to operations – just as several alien powers launched a joint invasion of human space. Luckily for the Empire, a formidable Admiral had teamed up with a loyalty officer smart enough to let the Admiral win battles and humanity struck back, targeting alien industrial centres rather than seeking battle with their main fleet. The alien advance fell into confusion, giving the Empire time to prepare for the next encounter.

At that point, Christiana was assassinated…


The standard version of the Gravity Phase Drive works by warping the universe around the starship, permitting effective FTL travel. A ship in FTL is (practically speaking) in its own little universe, out of communication with the rest of the galaxy until the drive is disengaged. The basic design humanity learned from the invaders has been improved to the point where maximum speed is approximately 1LY per hour, which means that it can take months to get from Earth to the borders of the Terran Empire.

Phase Drive cannot be used within 3AU of any star or gas giant. The precise boundary tends to depend on the exact mass of the star, but most spacers err on the side of caution. Ships that hit the boarder tend not to reappear.

Inside a gravity field, starships are often vulnerable to orbital or ground-based fortifications. Directly assaulting an inhabited planet requires a major landing force while the fleet provides cover and fires on the orbital fortresses. Once a planet’s PDCs are eliminated, the inhabitants are generally expected to surrender. Further resistance can result in planetary bombardment.



2 Responses to “Background: The Brothers At Arms Universe”

  1. The Deposed King April 4, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    Brother’s at arms universe:

    Pretty standard set up for your empire. Nothing really innovative about it, except for the education set up for suceeding empires. You have two dynasties that have survived multiple generations before crashing on the shoals of assassination. The education ofthe heirs speaks to something more than just random luck. HAve the emperors been genetically engineered and sent to psych rehab while children to keep them strong and set up.

    I’ve been thinking about an anti-kinetic’s shield. Anything going fast is stopped. Anything going slow, ala Dune and their personal body sheilds, can get in if its going slow.

    Combine this with truely amazing sensing technology and they could stop any WMD’s from getting through by focusing PDF on the warhead. It would allow for slow drops of massive numbers of troops and decoys.

    Also whatever happened to the first alien empire. I got the impression Humanity was swimming in an alien sea but then nothing seemed to come of it. They went on to triumph. There’s no continuous alien threat.

    I had a cool idea for a dysonsphere. Encasing an entire sun is impossible. How about encasing a gas giant like Jupiter and then lighting it off. After which you could plant your species. The reports I’ve seen suggest that jupiter would burn for at least a million years. Combine in a little nano-tech and if jupiter slowly burnt down, you could slowly contract the sphere to maintain an optimal distance. This could be the test case for the real dysonsphere. And only require a fraction of the material to create.

    • chrishanger April 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

      Well, my feeling was that the first invaders were eventually defeated by humanity and didn’t play much of a role in galactic affairs afterwards.


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