Background notes for a novel. Comments would be welcome.
Humanity begins a slow expansion into the solar system. Luna colonies (later, gas giant mining) provides a steady flow of HE3 to power Earth’s society, largely ending the dependency on oil. In response to a wave of terrorist attacks, Earth becomes more fascist, while those who don’t want to live in a police state start leaving for the outer colonies. Industry starts to move into space (safe from terrorist attacks). ISA (international Space Agency) founded to coordinate space exploration and expansion and prevent clashes between various nations, corporations and even individuals.
The first alien starship visits the solar system, manned by independent traders on the edge of the Dominion – a vast alien empire hundreds of light years from Earth. They trade the secret of hyperdrive to Earth in exchange for refuelling rights.
Hyperspace is not safe – travelling through hyperspace is rather like sailing through the worst of Earth’s weather in a tiny little sailing ship. Hundreds of lives are lost as humans struggle to master the art of building actual starships. However, humanity carries on and starts integrating into the galactic community. Small human settlements appear on dozens of worlds, while a number of aliens start interacting with humanity. Technology takes a boost forward as humanity absorbs alien ideas and starts to improve on them.
Humanity was only vaguely aware of the Dominion until now. It was founded by the first known spacefaring race (at least in this part of the universe) and much of the other races drew their tech from its developments. Now, it is a stagnant entity, bringing other races under its control so that they don’t threaten the stability of the Dominion. Humanity is told that they will become part of the Dominion, like it or not. In the meantime, human traders and settlers are harassed by local authorities as the Dominion assets its authority.
A cold war of sorts breaks out between humanity and the Dominion. The Dominion is many times larger than humanity, but cannot gather its strength quickly enough to crush humanity before it prepares. Once humanity is warned, human raiders start harassing the Dominion, trying to buy humanity as much time as possible. Unsurprisingly, those raids help to harden the Dominion’s attitude towards the upstart humans. After the Massacre of Yana’s World, where the Dominion slaughtered upwards of 10’000 humans while claiming that they were illicit settlers, humanity was in no mode to discuss peace.
Having gathered a formidable force of 400 starships, the Dominion set out to teach the upstart humans a lesson. Realising, correctly, that a conventional battle would be futile, humanity’s defenders met the enemy force in hyperspace and crippled it. (Historically, all powers avoided battles in hyperspace as they tended to be disastrous to both sides.) Having shut down or destroyed part of the navigational system, the remains of the Dominion fleet were lucky to stumble into the relative shelter of Wolf 359. There, they were harassed badly by the human fleet until they finally broke and scattered. A handful of battleships, the most powerful units ever created in the galaxy, were even forced to surrender. Only 30 starships managed to make it home after the battle.
The Dominion reeled under the unexpected defeat. It had always been invincible, with its force of mighty battleships ready to move in and suppress dissent from any of its subject races. Now, those races had a chance for freedom and many of them took it, launching uprisings that further weakened the Dominion. It would be years before the Dominion could turn its attention back to humanity.
This was fortunate, as humanity’s narrow shave seemed to have done something to the race. While hawks wanted to take the war into the Dominion’s territory, doves wanted to obtain a peace and nothing more, fearing that the Dominion’s overwhelming power might still prove decisive if the war continued. This wasn’t helped by political struggles over everything from settlement rights – the richer nations had staked their claims first, which the poorer nations resented deeply – to question marks over alien immigration to Earth.
While the Dominion recovered itself, very little was done …
This was almost fatal.
Having secured control of most of the vital territories, the new Dominion Viceroy turned his attention to Earth. Unlike most of his haughty kind, the Viceroy was genuinely curious about Earth and studied humans extensively. Having gained an understanding of humanity’s strengths and weaknesses, he alternatively flattered and threatened Earth’s politicians, who were hypnotised by the thought of being considered the Dominion’s equals … and the sight of the Dominion’s powerful fleet. Unsurprisingly, when the Dominion attack came, humanity was off-balance.
A number of military and intelligence officers had been warning of the threatening storm for years, led by Admiral Mathew Quinn. Their reward for this was to be ignored and sometimes dismissal from the navy. However, as the Dominion fleet entered the Sol System, Quinn was put back in command and, through desperate improvising of insane combat manoeuvres, managed to defeat the Dominion fleet before it could land more than a handful of blows on Earth. The death toll was 70 million; everyone knew that it could easily have been 9 billion.
In the aftermath of the battle, Quinn led a coup against the politicians who had failed their people so drastically. There was little overt opposition and he became dictator almost by default, charging himself to the human race to prepare for a long war.
The second defeat – and the death of the most capable Viceroy the Dominion had – resulted in a second round of chaos spreading through the Dominion’s territory. This time, human agents aided and abetted the resistance fighters, ensuring that the Dominion would be too busy to respond as human forces built up rapidly and put new weapons and sensors into production.
Admiral Quinn, with high approval rates, declared himself Emperor. With the looming threat of the Dominion, there was little opposition. His son, Admiral Alexander Quinn, was appointed First Admiral and CO of the Main Strike Fleet.
With reports that the Dominion were building up yet another strike fleet, humanity went on the offensive. The Main Strike Fleet advanced into the heart of Dominion technology, hammering away at enemy shipping nodes and shipyards, scattering ill-prepared Dominion forces. In their wake, the citizens of the Dominion rushed to declare independence and join up with the advancing human fleet.
The Dominion’s response to this advance was sluggish, at first. By its standards, even the Battle of Earth had been a relatively minor affair. By the time the Emperor and his court grasped the fact that they were facing a foe with more advanced technology than themselves, they had already lost control of a dozen sectors and thirty more were being threatened with collapse. The fact that humanity could not even begin to occupy so many planets was even worse, in their view. The barbarians they’d ruled for so long would surely avenge themselves on their suddenly helpless masters.
Once they grasped the danger, however, they adapted their tactics as best as they could. Small elements of their fleet were dispatched to raid human supply lines and knock out navigational beacons (a waste of time, as it happened; humanity had improved navigational technology as well as other pieces of equipment). In the meantime, the main body of their fleet harassed the advancing human force, slowing their progress considerably.
Peace talks continued between the two powers, even as mighty fleets kept clashing. However, neither side could agree on terms. Humanity wanted an end to the Dominion threat; the Dominion was prepared to concede human independence, but not that of their subject races. The Dominion still enjoyed a considerable production advantage; the human race had better technology and better-trained personnel. Indeed, by 2310, non-human personnel were starting to join up with the human military.
The Battle of Dominion Prime should have ended the war, as human starships surged into their enemy’s home system. Instead, the Dominion Emperor managed to retreat with most of his fleet, leaving the war unfinished. It was not until he was assassinated by one of his own people that the war finally came to an end, leaving the Dominion in ruins.
Humanity suddenly found that it had largely inherited the Dominion, along with all the problems the Dominion had worked hard to suppress. Dominion citizens were fleeing for their lives, while their former subjects were rising up against them everywhere. Large parts of the Dominion Navy surrendered, but other parts became pirates or set out to set up their own empires far from human space.
The ending of the war also brought other problems into the open. Should humanity bring the non-human races into the empire as equals, rule them as subjects or give them their independence? Matters were not helped by the death of Emperor Mathew I, even though his son succeeded to the throne without problems. (He was a war hero with a powerful fleet ready to die for him, said the cynics.) Humanity’s guiding hand was gone when it was most needed.
Alexander I came up with a solution that satisfied few, but seemed workable. Alien homeworlds would have internal autonomy. Non-natives would be allowed to leave peacefully if they didn’t want to stay. Multi-species worlds would remain under human jurisdiction, along with most of the space-based settlements. (In effect, the aliens would find it hard to wage war on humanity, were they so inclined.) Aliens who lived on such worlds – and human worlds – would be considered full citizens, with the right to elect representatives to human governments. Naturally, the Monarchy (and control of the military) would remain firmly in human hands.
The solution was greeted with mixed feelings. Some humans applauded the efforts of alien allies in the later part of the war. Others, however, were prepared to believe in human supremacy or that the only good alien was a dead alien. On Earth, aliens soon found themselves concentrated in ghettos, while many human colonies banned aliens altogether.
There were other problems. In order to make full use of captured Dominion infrastructure, the human race needed to use alien labour. In some places, this was effectively slave labour, with humans merely taking the place of alien masters. In others, Dominion citizens had to be coddled and given advantages denied to other aliens, sparking resentment.
Unsurprisingly, there were many problems in store … and one exploded into the light when an alien terrorist organisation managed to successfully assassinate the Emperor.
2451 – 2470
Alexander I had been a good Emperor, everyone agreed. His son, Mathew II, who succeeded to the throne in 2451, was rather less so. Unlike his two predecessors, he had no real military experience (the heir could not be exposed to real danger, they thought) and he had too many sycophants buttering him up pretty much from birth. And, after his father’s death, he developed a pathological paranoia and hatred of aliens.
He started slowly, purging the ranks of Imperial Intelligence and the Emperor’s Own, who – in his view – had failed his father. Then he removed a handful of senior military officers and replaced them with his own men. And then he started his campaign against aliens and alien sympathisers.
Mathew I and Alexander had created a monarchy where a vast amount of power resided in the Emperor’s hands. On his own authority, Mathew II started a security state that targeted aliens specifically. Aliens illegally on Earth were to be deported, alien organisations were to be treated with great suspicion, alien lovers – in particular – were to be exterminated. Five years after his Coronation, aliens were hardly to be seen on Earth and the outer worlds were experiencing the start of similar regimes.
This drew support, unfortunately, from human supremacists. It also drew horror from others and there were numerous protests, both in and out of government. Mathew, having taken over most of the military and civil security infrastructure, cracked down hard, asserting that those who failed to show obedience to the Emperor had to be removed. His mental instability growing as resistance started to take shape, he ordered mass executions of Senators and Congressmen … and even the scorching of an alien homeworld that had dared assert its legal right to secede from the Empire.
Thankfully, this was too much even for some of his supporters. Mathew II was assassinated … but it was far too late to preserve the Empire as it had been.