Cast Adrift: A Brief Outline of Alphan Earth

7 Feb

A bit of background material for an upcoming book …

From the point of view of the Alphans, the invasion and occupation of Earth was a relatively minor affair.  Nothing larger than a frigate was required to put down the first – and pitiful – bout of resistance the human race could muster, while there was no need to deploy a truly massive army to garrison every city and village on the planet.  The vast majority of the human race never saw an alien – outside information broadcasts – for decades after the invasion.

From the point of view of the human race, it was the greatest disaster since World War Two.  Humanity’s isolation from the universe – and conviction that it was effectively alone in the universe – ended in a single night of terror.  The utter futility of resistance left a scar on the human mindset for generations to come.  Pre-invasion governments might survive, in some shape and form, for nearly two centuries after everything changed, but they were subservient to alien viceroys.  The human race might have had new and seemingly boundless opportunities, as the invasion receded further and further into the past, yet they came at a price.  Humanity was nothing more than a subject race to alien masters.

Earth had been lucky, in a sense, that the solar system rested within a previously-impassable region of multispace.  It was not until two decades before the invasion that Alphan scoutships finally found a way to traverse the region, eventually emerging into realspace near Earth and surveying the planet.  Noting that Earth’s space program was too primitive to count as a real space program – which would have given the human race some rights, by galactic law – they spent twenty years quietly drawing up plans for the invasion.  The combination of hyper-advanced surveillance technology and a simple lack of awareness of their mere existence gave them an unbeatable edge.  By the time the invasion itself began, the Alphans knew the precise location of the vast majority of humanity’s nuclear weapons.  Microscopic bugs had been attached to humanity’s submarines, serving as targeting beacons for KEW strikes.  The invasion had been won well before the first shot was fired.

The invasion itself began at midnight, Washington time.  The handful of Alphan warships decloaked and systematically destroyed humanity’s network of orbital satellites.  (The ISS was spared as a museum piece.)  Even as the governments of the world screamed for information, the first KEW strikes were already inbound.  Humanity’s nuclear deterrent was effectively obliterated before missiles could be retargeted on orbital threats.  The handful of missiles that were launched – with one exception – were useless.  The orbiting warships were used to handling missiles that moved at a respectable percentage of the speed of light.  The incoming missiles simply couldn’t compete.  Finally, clean fusion devices were used to destroy a number of capital cities around the globe.  The Alphans intended to make it clear that humanity was effectively defenceless.

It worked.  There was little effective resistance as alien troops landed in the remains of the destroyed cities and established fortifications.  The handful of attacks mounted by human stragglers were rapidly and cheaply beaten off, sometimes smashed from orbit well before they reached their targets.  The lone human success – it was later established – was an accident.  A Pakistani submarine, operating on the assumption that Pakistan was fighting a nuclear war with India, launched its missiles at Delhi.  The aliens were unprepared for the attack and their foothold was effectively destroyed.  It was a tiny bright spot in a day of devastation and defeat.  (The Pakistani Captain would later become a hero to the Humanity League, even though it was clear he hadn’t known what he was doing.)

Despite this, it rapidly became clear to the surviving governments that further resistance was futile.  There was no hope of winning any significant victories, let alone driving the aliens back into space.  Chaos was already spreading as people fled the remaining cities, the economy collapsing into rubble.  Reluctantly, a string of governments accepted the alien demand for surrender.  The terms weren’t that bad, they told themselves.  They would still maintain a great deal of autonomy.  But Earth itself belonged to the Alphans.

They wasted no time in exploiting the planet.  Human tech couldn’t reach orbit, but it could function in space.  The Alphans funded settlements right across the solar system – they started terraforming Mars and Venus – in hope of turning the system into an economic asset.  Humans were recruited to work for their alien masters, both within the solar system itself and outside.  A surprising number of humans left the system entirely during the first century after the invasion.  There was no shortage of steady employment – at high wages, by human standards – right across the empire.  If nothing else, it rapidly became clear that humans were good at war.  Human sepoys started to appear on alien battlefields.

Earth itself was a mess during this period.  The vast majority of governments had either been significantly weakened or effectively destroyed.  Some parts of the planet did very well, particularly when they integrated alien technology into their societies.  Others collapsed into chaos.  The Alphans were largely unconcerned, unless it interfered with their goals.  They didn’t need to worry.  There might be millions of humans who hated them, but they couldn’t do much harm.  The Vichy governments – the name stuck – took the brunt of their hatred.

There were, in fact, four major rebellions over the first two centuries.  The first two – the Minuteman Rebellion in America and the Islamist Uprising in the Middle East and Central Asia – were driven by resentment at the changes the aliens brought in their wake.  It didn’t help that traditional societies were changing as the aliens insisted on modern education and other innovations.  Both uprisings failed, at least in part because they didn’t grasp just how advanced the alien surveillance technologies actually were.  The third rebellion was a bid by sepoy troops to seize control of an alien warship and vanish into multispace.  It remains unclear precisely what happened to them.  (The Alphans claimed the ship was destroyed before it could escape.)

The forth rebellion was a great deal more serious.  Humanity’s sepoy regiments were – technically – under alien command.  Those officers ranged from very competent to grossly incompetent, mingled with outright racism against their human (and other) subordinates.  The mutiny started as a spontaneous protest and rapidly grew into something nastier.  It was eventually put down, through a combination of savage fighting and a handful of concessions, but it left scars on both sides.  The Alphans were not prepared to give up Earth, but they had come to realise that humanity was more than just another client race.

They handled the situation by making a series of changes.  The Vichy governments were swept away, to be replaced by local councils and a planet-wide assembly.  Humanity would have a degree of say in its future, at least on Earth.  (Naturally, they rigged the selection process to ensure their loyalists had more say.)  The military was reformed, with sepoy regiments reorganised to ensure their officers were more aware of their subordinates.  This was not wholly successful – the Alphan Empire was more ossified than anyone cared to admit – but it was so much better than anything they’d had before that everyone was delighted.  Best of all, from humanity’s point of view, Earth was permitted to develop a defence force.  It was the dawn of a new age.

In some ways, it was.  Humanity moved further into the galaxy.  Human corporations flourished.   A surprising amount of GalTech was reverse-engineered and installed in human ships, which were often cruder but more efficient than their alien counterparts.  In others, it was deeply frustrating.  The Alphans continued to hold the reins of power.  Worse, there were technologies they were unprepared to share with their subordinates.  The enigmatic ‘black boxes’ – advanced navigational systems that made it easier to enter and leave multispace – remained a mystery.  Humanity, it seemed, would always be at a disadvantage.  That didn’t sit well with a growing number of humans.

Politically, things changed.  The local councils were dominated by local issues, but the assembly rapidly became something more.  Two political parties – the Empire Loyalists and the Humanity League – rose to power.  They were led by men who’d studied Alphan Law and knew how to manipulate it, allowing them to steadily carve out more power for themselves.  This didn’t sit well with the Earthers – Alphans and other Galactics living on Earth – and eventually led to a crisis.  Did humans have the right to serve as judges when Galactics were involved?   There was no good answer and the outcome – the answer was no – led to a rise in support for the Humanity League.  The Viceroy viewed this unwelcome development with alarm, but there was nothing he could do about it.  Earth was growing far too important to the Alphan Empire.  The Assembly kept growing – or mutating – into something new.  The only thing keeping the reformers in check was fear of a violent reaction.  The Alphans still had the legal right to intervene if they thought things were getting out of hand.

Unknown to most of the human race, the ‘human problem’ had already started a considerable amount of debate on the Alphan homeworld.  Humans were just too important.  They made up a sizable percentage of the empire’s groundpounders.  Worse, there were millions of humans scattered across the empire, many of them second- or third-generation immigrates.  It was certain they would eventually start to chaff at the limited opportunities and start demanding more.  And while they could – in theory – be deported, it wouldn’t be easy.  There were so many of them that trying to remove them all, or even a majority, would start a full-scale civil war. 

The matter was put to one side when the First Lupin War broke out.  It was, at least on the surface, nothing more than a series of tiny border skirmishes.  The Alphans regarded the conflict as a minor headache, unaware that their opponents were testing them.  Once they’d learnt what they wanted to learn – the weaknesses in Alphan warcruisers, the most powerful warships in the known galaxy – they pulled back and signed a peace treaty, then started to make their preparations for a more serious offensive.  The Alphans, with too many other problems to worry about, let the matter lie.  It was a deadly – near-fatal – mistake.

The peace lasted twenty years, long enough for the Lupines – as humans came to call them – to build up a new fleet and deploy more advanced weapons.  There were no skirmishes this time.  The war started with a sneak attack on an Alphan fleet base, followed by strikes deep into Alphan territory.  The first counterattack ended in disaster, with no less than forty warcruisers destroyed.  It looked as if the Alphans were going to lose a war for the first time in over a thousand years.  In desperation, they threw their human sepoy – and the ever-growing Earth Defence Force – into combat.  The humans held the line long enough to let the Alphans get back on their feet and prepare a final counter offensive.  Five years of hard fighting followed, but the outcome was no longer in doubt.  The Lupines lost.  Their empire was shattered beyond repair.

But the war had done immense damage to Alphan-Human relations.  The humans knew their masters were no longer invincible.  The hulks of destroyed warcruisers had proved that beyond all doubt.  Worse, they knew that they had won the war.  They wanted – they needed – to stand tall.  The Alphans found themselves unsure how to react.  They had authority, but not power.  They could crack down, yet find themselves fighting another war.  It slowly sank in – as they considered the situation – that they were in no state to fight even a short war.  They’d lost too many ships.  They didn’t have the time to rebuild.  And even if they fought and won, it could cost them everything.  They didn’t want to let go, yet – at the same time – they couldn’t afford to hang on.

Three hundred years after the invasion, Earth is still something of a patchwork world.  There are regions that have done very well out of the invasion, economic boom and so on.  There are also regions that are poor, with very little hope of dragging themselves up.  (A problem made worse by a brain-drain to space, deliberately encouraged by the government.)  GalTech has made things better, at a price (for example, everyone knows that every message sent through the datanet is subject to examination).  People have been studying the pre-invasion world, learning about history that is purely human.  (This has been something of a mixed bag.  The Alphans never carried out anything akin to the Holocaust, something they have never hesitated to point out.)

Ethnic tension remains a problem, although the Alphan willingness to crush ethnic and religious movements with extreme force has kept most of the tension underground.  (It helped that the Alphans blatantly didn’t care who was right or wrong.  They applied the same rules to everyone.)  Many pre-invasion societies have been disrupted beyond repair, at least in part to the education system teaching everyone the same set of rules.  Others have been making a comeback, at least in the more isolated regions of the planet.  No one is quite sure what to make of them – or what to do, if they become a serious problem.

The Assembly remains dominated by the Empire Loyalists and the Humanity League, although there are a handful of smaller parties that might shift the balance of power if the bigger parties find themselves in desperate need of votes.  The Empire Loyalists want to remain part of the Alphan Empire (although many of them think humanity should have a bigger say in the empire’s government).  The Humanity League wants independence, though it is prepared to compromise to some degree.  The Empire Loyalists have a slight edge – their supporters fear the consequences if Earth leaves the Empire – but it isn’t solid.  There are too many people who want humanity to be rewarded for its services in the war.

The Solar System is densely populated, with massive settlements on just about every body of significant side.  Humanity’s industrial base may be crude, but huge.  Outside the solar system, humans are the majority on seven worlds in a loose cluster surrounding Earth; there are also major human populations on numerous worlds in and out of the empire.  Human traders can be found everywhere within explored space, although they are not always welcome.  There are persistent rumours of human mercenaries working for other alien races, even suggestions that there are human ships heading into unexplored space or setting up hidden colonies a long way from their masters.  The truth of such rumours has never been established.

And now, three hundred years after the invasion, humanity sits on a knife edge …

11 Responses to “Cast Adrift: A Brief Outline of Alphan Earth”

  1. David February 7, 2020 at 11:30 am #

    Yes please!

  2. Hanno Frerichs February 7, 2020 at 1:55 pm #

    This sounds really interesting for a good story. So Yes I’m interested and will read that story or at least the first volume. The later depends of course on the chars and the execution) but overall I think this sounds really promising.

  3. Wayne February 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm #

    Good start. I will buy the first one, at least.

  4. Hanno Frerichs February 7, 2020 at 2:13 pm #

    On second thought, it would still be interesting how big that empire is and how Alphans work from a biological perspective The single biggest thing that always puts me off about space empires is when 7 worlds is seen as a major fraction (if quick light speed travel is a thing.) 40 battle Cruisers also aren’t a lot. After all the most accurate (on the numbers such an empire would have is warhammer 40k not on the other Science, but the numbers are fairly accurate.

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard February 7, 2020 at 2:36 pm #

    Looks good. Definitely different from that other series of yours. 😀

  6. Cathy Howat February 7, 2020 at 7:50 pm #

    I LOVE it, get writing????????. Stay well Catjy ________________________________

  7. Doc Sithicus February 8, 2020 at 7:53 am #

    Sounds interesting enough for me to buy it.

  8. Roger Steel February 8, 2020 at 8:49 am #

    Like what I’ve read so far, looking for more, will buy it, my son “Haydn Steel” also who is if possible a bigger fan than me; we’ve both read all series based in space and yearn for more. Roger

  9. Daniel February 9, 2020 at 1:38 am #

    I like it. A good premise. Lots of areas for stories. Legit arguments about what is the right path or right thing. Moral ambiguity. Good aetting

  10. Bman February 9, 2020 at 7:11 pm #

    So is the main character going to be named Alaric, I’m definitely getting those kinds of vibes from the backstory. Also when does the actual story take place

  11. georgephillies February 13, 2020 at 2:52 pm #

    ‘Alphan’ is an bit close to ‘Alphane’, but perhaps almost no fen will remember the reference.

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