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The Vendetta Universe
Humanity’s First Contact occurred in 2025 when a Trader starship decloaked above Earth and entered into negotiations with the United Nations Security Council, eventually trading some technical items and data in exchange for a 99 year lease on Jupiter, which they intended to mine for HE3. In the following years, humanity restructured the United Nations to create a body that could reasonably speak for Earth – or at least the most powerful nations on the planet – and made a start on exploring and settling the rest of the solar system. The UN also served as the coordinating body defending the allied nations against the Wreckers, a transnational semi-alliance of the dispossessed following the economic upheaval caused by Trader technology. In doing so, the building blocks of a united human military were laid.
In 2050, humanity’s first primitive flux drive was developed (the Traders had refused to sell FTL technology, citing previous bad experiences with cultures that had purchased the technology and used it against them) and the expansion of humanity began in earnest. Thirty Earth-like worlds were discovered and divided up among the most powerful nations – leading to the settlement of Washington, New Moscow, Britannia, Edo and others. A number of worlds more akin to Mars were also discovered and largely distributed (along with basic terraforming techniques) to poorer nations, who believed – rightly – that they were being frozen out of interstellar expansion. With the mass movement of governments to their new worlds, the UN assumed overall federal authority on Earth (and Sol System) in 2070.
The next first contact occurred in 2146 with the Teechan, a peaceful and advanced race that occupied four star systems and saw no reason to expand further. Humanity opened a trading relationship with them, learning – among other things – how to produce basic StarCom units for FTL communications. As if humanity had encountered a wave of aliens, first contact with the WE WHO ARE – a race of intelligent machines, their origin uncertain – occurred in 2150. More significantly, contact with the Sutra Empire (2156) forced humanity to face up to the prospect of interstellar war for the first time, not counting pirates and rogue human factions. The Sutra were in the middle of a civil war between Royalist and Communist factions and both sides were willing to take their conflict into human space. Eventually, following a devastating Communist attack on a human colony, the UNNS entered the war and assisted the Royalists in overcoming their enemies. Once the Royalists were firmly established, a border line was marked and both sides resolved to communicate rather than face the prospect of outright war.
So far, all of the intelligent races discovered had been on an equal or greater technological level than humanity, leading the UN to believe in non-interference while frantically struggling (if necessary) to catch up. The discovery of Innocence (2367) tested that doctrine as Innocence was primitive, roughly at the same level of technology as Earth in the 1960s. Worse, they were on the edge of a world war between five factions, all armed with nuclear missiles and very basic ABM systems. While the UN observers dithered, Innocence went to war, convincing the observers to push for the UN to intervene. Unsure about the effects of contact on a primitive world, the General Assembly authorised the UNNS to prevent a major nuclear exchange, but to make no further attempt at contact. When Innocence’s forces finally launched their missiles, they were shot down in flight by a UNNS squadron that then retreated into deep space and vanished. Perhaps surprisingly, the discovery that they were not alone paved the way for a lasting peace on Innocence that would eventually take them to the stars.
Humanity could be said to have entered a Golden Age, but the same could not be said of other races. One possible threat was the Magana Empire, a little-known race on the other side of the Polis Society, one of Earth’s more friendly alien contacts. In 2375, the Magana attacked the Polis and brought them to the brink of defeat before the United Nations authorised an intervention. The UNNS entered the war, but discovered that it was woefully ill-prepared for fighting the Magana. Eventually, after several shattering defeats, the UNNS regrouped, adapted and – with a new flood of warships from Earth’s yards – defeated the Magana. Two other races were liberated as the Magana were confined to their own star system. To crown what had been a very successful century for humanity, Innocence’s first experimental flux drive spurred the General Assembly to allow First Contact to finally take place.
In 2435, the human race could justifiably claim to be the preeminent race in the local sector. The UNNS was the most powerful military force known to exist, the Conference of Luna had paved the way for several races acting in concert and humans – quite simply – outnumbered most of the other races. Humanity could look forward to a bright future.
Unfortunately, 2435 was the year humanity encountered the Trolls.
The United Nations serves as the federal government of humanity, with each world or nation allocated a single seat in the General Assembly and a rotating place on the Security Council. A handful of powerful planets and nations have permanent seats on the Security Council, allowing them to block measures they don’t like; in truth, the UN has very little power to intervene on individual planets. The UN is funded by contributions from member nations fees for the StarCom network and very limited taxes on interstellar shipping, although these amount to vast amounts of money.
Below the UN, each star system, planet or nation has internal autonomy, save for the inability to deny people the ability to leave if they wish to go. (A compromise between those who wanted a powerful federal authority and those who feared such an entity.) It is also generally understood that local authorities have more power over their own citizens than over visitors from other parts of the galaxy. The most powerful worlds have their own self-defence forces, although they are forbidden by treaty from building the logistics train that would allow them to threaten their neighbours. They also provide troops and equipment to bolster the ground forces assigned to the UNNS.
By 2435, there are over 300 major worlds settled by humanity and countless smaller colonies. Some of the new worlds are direct descendents of pre-Contact nations (New Washington, Edo), some were settled in line with religious or ethnic beliefs (Ramadan, Zion, Martin Luther), some were founded by corporations and a handful are built around artificial social matrixes developed by sociologists on Earth. It is impossible, therefore, to make generalised statements about human societies; some are democratic and very open, others are closed, sexually-restrictive and reluctant to risk outside contact.
Outside the UN, there are a handful of Rogue Worlds that make no direct contact with the rest of humanity. The UN generally ignores them on the grounds that they don’t pose a threat and that they may want to join the UN later on. These run the gauntlet from Williamson’s Freehold (a libertarian society) to Draka (a master/slave society).
The RockRat Association is both a member of the UN and an interstellar government in its own right, although it is difficult to speak of it as a united body. Put simply, the RockRats are descendents of the original asteroid miners from Earth, now spread throughout interstellar space. The basic creed of the RockRats is a mixture of capitalism and communism; RockRats are expected to profit for themselves, but also to refrain from harming others who didn’t ask to be involved. RockRats pride themselves upon realism and responsibility and tend to regard planet-dwellers as effeminate liberals.
Like the UN, the RockRats are spread throughout human space and beyond, retaining a determined independence from system governments. Many governments are wise enough to trade or ignore the RockRats, knowing that they can be dangerous enemies when pushed into a corner. Although the RockRats have no formal space navy, they do have vast fleets of asteroid miners to call upon, as well as a fearsome technological prowess that makes them masters of space.
The principle dispute between the UN and the RockRats lies in genetic engineering. In 2200, the UN banned genetic engineering that would eventually create a subset of genetically-superior human, believing that this would eventually lead to civil war. (They do permit modification to allow increased disease resistance or life on particular planets, something that the RockRats use to charge them with hypocrisy.) The RockRats, however, ignored the UN’s edict and continued their own programs into producing modified strains of humanity, with an eventual goal of producing a strain of humanity that can live naturally in space, without needing any form of protective equipment. Although they have yet to reach that goal, they have succeeded in producing tougher and smarter humans who are better adapted to live in space, link with computers and adapt to sudden shifts in the environment.
This has lured many UN residents with the money to seek upgrades for their children (or even themselves) from the RockRats. As the modified genes are effectively dominant (passed on through the family line, overwriting the unmodified genes) each modified person adds the modified genes to the overall genetic pool. The UN has been attempting to ban this practice, but as the RockRats completely refuse to prevent outsiders from seeking the treatments, the UN’s ban has been largely ineffective.
The RockRats also trade happily with the Rogue Worlds, whatever the UN has to say about it, and alien races, particularly the Traders. It is commonly believed that their space extends well beyond humanity’s formal borders and deep into alien-held territory, but the RockRats rarely comment on the extent of their holdings. In a sense, given the nature of RockRat society, one group of RockRats might not know what other groups are doing.
The United Nations Naval Service is charged with defending humanity from outside attack, policing the space lanes and surveying new worlds for human settlement. As such, it is the largest military force known to exist and has a reputation for winning wars, although in some cases it took heavy early defeats before adapting and overcoming its foes. Politically, the First Admiral reports to the United Nations Security Council, which issues the Navy’s General Orders and ROE. The First Admiral heads the Admiralty Board, which provides overall guidance for the UNNS. However, owing to the difficulties involved in commanding an operation from Sol, the individual Admirals are granted wide latitude by the Admiralty.
There are ten fleets within the UNNS, each based in a different sector, a considerable number of roving squadrons and several smaller fleets of support vessels. The fleets provide security for their home sector; the roving squadrons serve as fireman brigades for emergency response as well as a reminder of the UN’s power to alien threats.
The UNNS is based on Luna, with all prospective officers going through the Luna Academy before being shipped out to their first posting. Enlisted recruits go through smaller training facilities in the various different sectors, although mustangs (experienced enlisted men who want to become officers) are generally put through a brief course at the Luna Academy before returning to the fleet. The Admiralty has supreme responsibility for promoting officers up to the rank of Commodore before politics intervene; the worlds that provide much of the UNNS’s funding would prefer that they had a say in the men who command the big fleets.
After its experiences in the Magana War, the UNNS’s largest unit is the fleet carrier, followed closely by the assault carrier. Each carrier carries a vast number of starfighters configured for a number of different operations, as well as bristling with weapons and armour to defend itself if necessary. Most UNNS task forces are formed up around carriers, with the Admiral flying his flag from the carrier’s CIC. Below the carriers, there are missile-heavy battleships, cruisers and destroyers, designed to use missiles to finish off the enemy after the starfighters have done their work. Close-in weapons systems serve as counters to enemy missiles that might break through the starfighter patrols and head towards the targeted ships.
All UNNS starships are equipped with the latest version of the flux drive, allowing instantaneous jumps of up to five light years, followed by a recharge period of ten minutes before the drive can be used again. (Civilian ships need upwards of thirty minutes to recharge their drives.) Starships are heavily armoured to allow them to survive jumping into extremely hostile space long enough to recharge their drives and jump out, if necessary. Standard (pre-Troll) doctrine calls for defeating the enemy fleet by destroying its carriers, and then using starfighters to batter it to pieces from a safe distance before sending in the battleships.
Standard missiles carried by battleships and cruisers generally carry specialised nuclear warheads for penetration and internal detonation. An assault carrier can generally survive a number of nuclear hits on its armour, but a warhead detonating inside the ship will almost always inflict enough damage to render the ship useless if it doesn’t destroy it outright. Larger ships sometimes carry variant missiles for special operations and deployments; smaller ships tend to stick with tried and tested nukes. Monitors (starships optimised for planetary assaults) carry kinetic energy weapons (KEWs) which can bombard a planet without leaving radiation behind.
Starfighters carry basic projectile weapons for confronting enemy starfighters and nuclear-tipped torpedoes for engaging enemy vessels. The ideal starfighter attack would put a torpedo inside an enemy hanger or shuttlebay, allowing the warhead to detonate inside the vessel. Starfighter pilots may also seek out areas where the enemy hull has been damaged and fire torpedoes into the presumed weak spot. As starfighter do not possess FTL drives, they are totally dependent upon their carriers for transport from one world to another. Some SDF units have modified freighters to serve as carriers if necessary. Unsurprisingly, starfighter pilots have a reputation for being hot dogs.
The United Nations Marine Corps is limited, by the UN Charter, to a maximum force of 1’000’000 officers and men. Given its responsibilities, the Corps is actually badly undermanned and largely reliant on formations contributed by member planets to uphold its responsibilities. Once graduated from their training camp on Mars, Marines are assigned to one of the four Marine Divisions, smaller units on individual capital ships or small garrisons on newly-settled planets. Marines, unsurprisingly, have a reputation for getting the most out of anything; their support units are effectively second-tier combat units, in the few deployments where they exist. All Marine officers come up through the ranks, without exception.
In the event of the UN needing to invade and occupy a number of worlds, as in the later years of the Magana War, the member states are called upon to provide additional formations for combat deployment. This solution satisfies very few outside the political arena and the Marine Corps has been quietly pressing for the right to expand ever since the war.
The United Nations Survey Command is not, technically, separate from the UNNS, but it upholds a differing ethos that isolates it from the military. It is charged with surveying new worlds (and certifying them for settlement), locating new alien races and studying them – if possible – prior to making first contact. Although partly civilian, the UNSC takes its responsibilities very seriously, to the point where survey ships don’t carry star charts of human territory (apart from the flagship) and are designed to be completely destroyed if necessary, preventing unfriendly aliens from learning anything about the United Nations before support arrives from the UNNS.
Holding the UN together are the engineers of the United Nations StarCom Network (SCN). They are responsible for maintaining the StarCom units placed in orbit around most inhabited planets, allowing high-speed data transmission instantly across the United Nations. StarCom units are large and very power-intensive, rendering it impossible to mount them on ships smaller than a fleet carrier (and limiting the capabilities of such units).