The Alpha Empire and Earth

5 May

Another piece of background.  Comments?

The Alpha Empire and Earth

The Alphas were not really ‘alphas’ at all. Their name for themselves translates roughly as the ‘Illustrious Lords of All,’ but a mistranslation in the original communications packet they sent to Earth (from House Alpha) left them with a nickname that humans could, at least, pronounce. Physically frail humanoids, the Alphas had built an empire that covered ninety worlds by the time they discovered Earth and, by the time of the Human Uprising, their empire included no less than four hundred worlds and fifteen different races.

Oddly (to human eyes) the Alphas had four sexes/castes, creating a confusing sexual structure that made little sense to humans at first. The first three castes (worker, warrior and thinker) impregnated the fourth caste (breeder) and the resulting progeny was determined by the precise combination of sperm injected into the breeder. Complicating matters was a ‘semi-caste’ that was considered the aristocracy of the Alphas. The gold-skinned aristocrats, unlike the other castes/sexes, never bred with the other castes in order to maintain their bloodline.

The Alpha political system can be described as a cross between aristocratic feudalism and intensive capitalism. Leading the empire is the Houses; fifteen families that between them own almost everything in the empire. The position of Emperor rotates among the House Heads, but decisions that affect the entire empire are taken by the House Council in concert. These decisions are governed more by unwritten constitution than anything else, with the effect that each House is largely independent of the others, even to the point of possessing their own private space navies. The only change towards a more organised navy for the empire came with their contact with the Sabah, a spacefaring race that resisted the expansion of the empire towards their territory. Even so, the concept of a ‘national’ space navy is regarded with considerable unease by the Houses.

Internally, House politics are bloody affairs, with the gold aristocrats constantly vying for power. These contests are also governed by unwritten laws; it is legal to force a House Head to abdicate his position under duress, but not to kill him outright. The aristocrats know that one bloody purge would probably start several more, taking out vast numbers of aristocrats as various factions take revenge for past slights. Overall politics are consensual more than anything else, but with rules that denote the proper way to commit treason it is hard to see how the aristocrats find time to actually build the empire. But Houses that find great riches in space find their position boosted on Homeworld.

The Alphas pride themselves on always living up to the letter of a contract, although they also take great pride in interpreting agreements to suit themselves. They even extend these traditions to aliens; they generally dictate terms to their subject races, but live up to them when there is no – legal – way to screw their subjects any further. That said, they have no belief that aliens have intrinsic rights and have little hesitation about opening up worlds for trade and exploitation with force.

In 2025, a starship from House Alpha stumbled across Earth and spent the next four months conducting a tactical survey of the Sol System while under cloak. Satisfied that Earth could offer no significant resistance, the starship decloaked and transmitted a demand for surrender, offering Earth’s elite positions in the empire in exchange for submission. When several Earth powers responded to the ultimatum by launching nuclear missiles at the starship, the Alphas allowed the missiles to strike the ship’s shields – doing no damage to the ship – and then repeated the demand for surrender. Realising that resistance was futile, the majority of the human governments surrendered.

House Alpha promptly signed an agreement (at gunpoint, perfectly legal in the empire) with the human race’s disparate governments. This indenture contract bound the human race to provide various services, including workers, for House Alpha. In return, human governments were given a handful of technological tricks that would help them convince the rest of the human race to submit to the aliens. Fusion power, limited counter-gravity and a number of other technological surprises helped Earth develop, although the fusion power came with a catch. House Alpha owned the only cloudscoop in the solar system and sold HE3 to Earth at a colossal mark-up, further indenturing the human race.

Human resistance was very limited. Reaching the starships (and the later orbital bombardment system put in place by House Alpha) was impossible and the Alphas themselves rarely visited Earth. The human governments found themselves in the uncomfortable position of balancing the demands from the aliens with demands from their fellow humans, particularly when the Alphas demanded colonists for newly-discovered worlds (and later mercenaries). House Alpha was content to grant Earth limited autonomy right from the start, if only because this would save them the trouble of administering a rebellious planet. They were much more involved with the government of newly-settled worlds, which promised rich rewards for their aristocrats.

Over the next 300 years, humanity slowly spread through the empire’s space. House Alpha was happy to sell humans to the other Houses (humans did not get a say in the matter) and the Houses found humans very useful indeed. Humans were good workers, stubborn soldiers and innovative researchers. A number were even on worlds taken by the Sabah during the 30 years war between them and the Alphas; later, humans became the mainstay of the Emperor’s Navy, a combined force that was intended to reduce the bickering between the Houses that cost the Alphas so much in the early battles of the war.

But humans did not have legal equality in the empire, no matter how useful they were. The Alphas had never had a concept of ‘equality before the law’ and saw no reason to grant rights to humans. And some Alphas believed that they were becoming too dependent upon human labour. They believed that humans could be pruned down considerably without weakening the empire. What the humans thought about it didn’t matter.

But some humans had been working for a very long time to overthrow their masters…


6 Responses to “The Alpha Empire and Earth”

  1. ppaulshoward May 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Very interesting idea. One thought, it might be useful if a minor House “thought” that it could use the rebels to gain more power or a minor House/group thought the “non-Alphans should have rights” were “using” the rebels to convince other Alphans.

    • chrishanger May 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

      Well, my idea was that the Alpha version of the ‘Feds’ would be largely using humans as crew for their fleet as the Houses wouldn’t be keen on giving any ‘supernational’ authority power over them. This just happens to put a great many humans on the Fed Fleet, but almost none on the House Navies.


      • ppaulshoward May 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

        Humans taking over part of the Fed Fleet is possible but I’m also thinking in terms of “who builds the warships/weapons”. IMO your rebels will need a support base for their fleet.

  2. chrishanger May 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    True – I was thinking that there might be some industry in Sol and a handful of other nearby bases belonging to the Houses. Taking them might be more important than taking Earth.


  3. The Deposed King May 8, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    I don’t see how human’s having the greater part of the national fleet, (an organization probably torn with strife and internal politics, I can’t imagine Golden’s from various houses wouldn’t politic and scheme against eachother) standing up against 13 major house formations.

    With this kind of set up, I think the human’s are destined to be crushed. But if not, perhaps the end game should be to incorporate the Human forces into the empire as a new house or two.

    Lots of cool ideas here. For some reason I keep imagining this Golden Alien at first working with the humans of the National Fleet (maybe because he’s part of two houses and accepted by none or from a minor house) and then later when the humans go beyond their original, equality in the Empire, into lets kill and conquer, standing up against the ‘wild’ humans of terra and ‘feral’ human rebels of the national fleet.

    I know its not where you’re going with this. But its giving me ideas.

    The Deposed King

    • chrishanger May 8, 2012 at 9:34 am #

      Depends. I’m working on the plot now, just to see where things go.


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