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Monthly Archives: January 2009

star-map-a,0

As a treat, I’d thought I’d upload the 2100 Star Chart for the near Earth systems. This is by no means a comprehensive list of every star around Sol, and instead focuses on the politically active stars, or more accurately, the inhabitable systems.

The Commonwealth is in brown

AMA – yellow

Russia – Dark blue

China – Red

New Inca – Green

America – Light Blue

Independents are uncoloured, and may or may not be settled at this point in the history.

The Derelict was the defining moment of Vast Worlds history. Appearing from the out edges of the solar system, the only reason humanity didn’t notice it until it was too late was a faint call it was emitting[1]. Even so, we were only just able to intercept the monstrosity before it completed its inevitable dive into the sun.

An American ship, a prospector called the Valiant, was the first on the scene, and it was immediately apparent that the Derelict was not a ship of peace. The hulk was around two kilometres long and in a rough cigar shape, with metre thick armour along the sides and most of the nose was given over to shielding. Turrets lined the sides, some even managing to unsheathe themselves as the American scout approached, though none managed to fire.

As they drew closer the weapon damage could be seen. Entire sections were left open to the vacuum. Batteries of guns had been sheered off and the very backbone of the ship could be seen, broken, but still miraculously hanging together.

Docking was interesting to say the least, as none of the airlocks were designed to meet with a human craft and anyway, were completely inoperable. Not to mention that the Derelict was going noticeably faster than the scout, which was almost completely out of fuel by that point. In the end they winded up latching on to an exposed support and simply taking the jot down the axis of the ship.

The first major shock came when an EVA mission was taken into the Derelict[2], and the entire team hit the floor with a bang[3]. The knowledge that the Derelict makers had artificial gravity unnerved the team no end and further exploration was minimal, though this was also partly due to a lack of supplies.

With the arrival of the Chinese, and soon the rest of the world, the proper exploration began and it quickly became apparent that someone had beaten them too it. The main drive was gone, not destroyed, but simply removed, along with anything more dangerous that point-defence guns[4] and apparently all the thrusters. The bridge was never found, presumed destroyed, and the computer likewise. All in all, the technology the Derelict possessed was made up of anything that had not been worth salvaging[5], but this was not by human standards. As far as we were concerned a lot of the tech’ was simply beyond comprehension.

Grav’ panelling was obviously the first discovery, still holding charge after millennia in space, and the Null’ed areas of the ship were identified with infrared imaging and entire sections were torn out for analysis. Next, as the Derelict was nearing Earth, the humans started swarming over it, and quite a lot of technology was recovered clandestine by the various governments. Meanwhile, corridors were mapped, any scrap of writing gathered and the hull was stripped of anything that had been left[6]. Most of this was taken with intention of decrypting it later, though with what little information left on the ship not much progress was made.

After a few years the first Derelict based technologies started coming on line, and Vast Worlds began…


[1] This has been generally agreed to have been a distress call. Though it was so simplistic that it may have been the equivalent of Morse Code. No language has ever been derived from the Derelict makers.

[2] I think they made about three dozen movies based around this moment over the centuries.

[3] Ah, moving from zero-G to artificial gravity. Bringer of pratfalls throughout the ages.

[4] Which were admittedly bloody dangerous.

[5] Whether or not the Derelict makers salvaged the ship and then left it to float, or it was salvaged by another interstellar species who could not then retrieve it is unknown, and practically unknowable.

[6] The Jump Drive (technically a hyper accelerational device H.A.D. as the Derelict did not use a human style Jump Drive) was recovered almost as an afterthought from the hull, and was only loaded onto the last couple of ships that made it off before the Derelict hit the sun.

2080

  • Al Nair [2081] and Arhmar [2083] and colonised by the Commonwealth and massive numbers of people emigrate within a year of the colonies being set up despite the distances involved.
  • In response China settles Polux [2082] and Capela [2084] and begins massive shipping operations, of both supplies and citizens. Scandals soon erupt over the legitimacy of the movement of people and the Commonwealth extends their offer of free passage to residents of all planets, not just Earth.
  • Gemma [2082] is settled by the Russians. Alioth [2083] and Mitzar [2084] settled by AMA and Beta Pictoris [2084] is settled by New Inca.
  • The instance of stellar piracy increases rapidly with many colony ships looted on route, no nation is ever linked to the attack and they appeared to be indiscriminate, still every country upped their military presence in space and the so called ‘lost people’ (the ships that never reach their destination) are suspected of owning colonies off the map.
  • Altair, facing falling funding as an over reaching Commonwealth attempts to quietly drop them off the budget, legalises all forms of genetic modification. This creates pandemonium across the systems as everyone scrambles to block this action. They fail, and even the Commonwealth backs down seeing this as a way to neatly prevent further development of the colony[1].

 

2085

  • Hawk is born [2086]
  • America founds its first colonies Theemim [2085] and Regulus [2086] and following the British example funds massive people moving projects specifically targeted at the intelligent upper classes[2].
  • In an unprecedented move AMA colonises Phecda [2087], Megrez [2087] and Mitzar [2088] within six months of each other[3], the other nations scramble to move their own colonisation efforts into high gear.
  • Delta Virginis [2087], Atria [2088] and Epsilon Scorpii [2089] are founded by the Commonwealth. While there were already small settlements of humans living in these systems the Commonwealth provided much needed infrastructure. It was the first official acknowledgment people reaching the stars without government assistance[4]
  • Castor [2087], Aldebran [2089] and Eta Ceti [2089] are settled by China. While Commonwealth settlement practices are debated, China’s are simply mysterious and it is not until years later when vast swathes of deserted countryside are discovered on Earth that their mass exportation of people is unveiled. By then it is far too late and no one has the political pushing power to do anything about it[5].
  • New Inca responded to the American settlement by also colonising HD 44594 (Heedee) [2086] and Delta Doradus [2087]. New Inca is almost crippled economically by this movement but cannot divert funds from its arms race with America.
  • Finally Russia moves into space in a big way, shipping thousands of tonnes of material to there new colonies: Skat [2087], Rasalhague [2087] and Unukalhai [2089]. This was only made possible by the plummeting cost of transporting goods interstellar and many applauded the Russians for waiting long enough to economically settle the stars[6].
  • At this time the initial colonies, now reaching economic sustainability were partitioning for greater self government. Many were still being run from a capital with over a month long communication delay and people were beginning to wonder why they should obey the commands of a government they left long behind.

 

2090

  • Russia pioneers the first jump station Tolylatti [2091]; an artificial structure built at a planetless star[7]. The entire station was maintained by visiting ships but it severed as a vital refuelling and navigation point to traverse interstellar gaps. Two years later Jamestown [2093] is constructed by the Commonwealth.
  • Miaplacidus [2092] is colonised by America. Nearly all the ships have to go through Commonwealth space to actually reach the planet and there is a high incidence of piracy in several of the less settled areas. Of the few ships that attempted to travel through New Inca space only a handful actually reached the planet[8].
  • Dubhe [2092] and Cor Caroll [2094] are settled by AMA[9].
  • The last oil well is officially dry on Earth. While humanity does not rely on fossil fuels it is a sign of the damage humanity managed to do to their planet. While many people took this as a positive sign, international tensions were pretty much similar to pre-derelict levels. The only real difference was the power of weapons and the new battleground, space. Amid all this the colonies were getting progressively rowdier and many were begging to produce fleets of their own to counter the American’s impressive military build up.
  • Kaus Australis [2095] and Kaus Meridionalia [2095] are settled by the Commonwealth. They are generally agreed to be the final colonies settled before the independence wars though many other independent settlements were made.

 

2095

  • Tensions continue to rise as piracy begins to spiral out of control, vital shipments are looted, key infrastructure never arrives, and many of the border lands face starvation, either literal or economic, as the systems strain under the weight of missing supplies[10]. Every government moves to deal with the piracy threat[11] and the militias[12] are set up to control planetary space.
  • America starts to feel the first affects of its dangerous emigration policy, grades are falling to critical levels and the drugs companies[13] are beginning to just repackage the same old pills[14].
  • The five trade centres, Arcturus, Denebole, Procyon, Merak and Vega are officially all larger than the Earth system planets, finally outstripping Mars’ supper cities and the Venuses’ sky colonies. Many of them attempt to push for independence[15] and a viciously put down with large orbital fleets threatening bombardment. There is some wonder why these ships are available for intimidation but not the protection of convoys.
  • Construction of the free ports, System [2097] and Alpha Omega [2098] begin. Like Jamestown and Tolyatti these structures are built to bridge jump gaps but are owned by a consortium of local companies, their stock skyrockets.
  • After several tense years interstellar piracy begins to fall to manageable levels, while this is mostly attributed to increased military development militias all give themselves a slap on the back[16]. Pirates are forced to the edge of human space, though few of the more infamous groups[17] are captured during this period.
  • The first signs of corporate expansion are seen with a large Radiant base being built on the surface of Botien [2099]. While not an official colony it severed as a vital refuelling base for trade ships attempting to reach the more distant settlements.

 

2100

  • The turn of the centenary is celebrated by many, though the celebrations on the colonies fizzle due to continuing unrest over external government. Settlements across the inhabited planets are slowing beginning to boycott foreran trade and several go so far as to attempt to dodge taxes. These protests are short lives as currently no colony is self wholly sufficient.
  • Construction of the first space elevator outside the solar system is completed above Arcturus [2101]. The other factions rush to build their own elevators around their trade planets but only Russia [2102] and AMA [2104] finish theirs in this period, though this may have been due to a lower import rate necessitating greater infrastructure investment to keep their space based assets running.
  • Border skirmishes erupt on the America – New Inca border. While war is not declared and the action put down to bandit groups[18] a free fire zone five miles across appears between the two countries.
  • Four major American politicians die in riots on Theemim as millions march in protest over the growing war with New Inca. Similar protests erupt on Regulus, Miaplacidus, Beta Pictoris, Heedee, and Delta Doradus. Protestors quiet down as fleets quietly move into orbit above the planets but the small war begins to quite down as both factions realise they don’t quite have the political support required[19].

 


[1] The Commonwealth’s plan fails however as every major biotechnology company in the systems flock to Altair. The independent researchers soon follow and Altair experiences a technology boom unheard off since the discovery of the derelict, many factions are completely unable to compete with the cheep and high quality merchandise coming out of Altair.

[2] In a way this both succeeds and fails, the top ten percent of America do leave for the new colonies and they do in fact, flourish. On the other hand the top ten percent of America leave for the new colonies. The economy does not as such crash but stall as innovators seek out new ventures, technological progress grinds to a halt and a good two thirds of private schools close their doors. Many of these affects are not seen for years but they proved near catastrophic for the American nation.

[3] Colonised may be a generous term here, a few buildings were thrown down and the AMA government funded the building of a space port, otherwise they were left to their own devices. Many suspect it was a purely a political play and other say it was a way to remove unwanted ethnic groups and fragments of society.

[4] Debates rage over just how peaceful these occupations really were but it is generally agreed that the majority in the habitats welcomed the support.

[5] Only the Commonwealth actually achieves anything against this policy with their open arms immigration procedure, while the free ticket offer had long ago been cancelled due to lack of funds, anyone who wished to stay on a Commonwealth world was still granted citizenship. 

[6] The Russian colonies, while highly developed never quite got the same volume of citizens that the others got, this was mainly due to Russia’s low population but immigration was less encouraged than in many other cases.

[7] Technically, a star without a terraformable planet, most systems possessing jump stations at least had a gas giant.

[8] Privateering was never proved and both factions denied all allegations, still America built up a large space borne fleet at this time in order to protect its ships. This fleet continued to expand up until the independence wars and by that time the majority of ships were hidden in asteroid bases spread out across the solar system. It was never quite realised just how optimised the patrol ships were for taking and holding territory.

[9] Settling was merely the official term by this point. AMAn space was increasing at a ferocious rate due to the huge movement of people off the continent and occupation would probably be a more accurate term. Admittedly growth quadrupled with government assistance but there are tales of whole habitats levelled simply because they did not submit to the AMAn rule. These stories have never been conclusively proved.

[10] The final straw was the raiding of the Nova Maria, on route from Saturn to Earth, which vanished without a trace. People are outraged that something like this could happen in the very cradle of humanity.

[11] Though in some cases it is rather half hearted, for undisclosed but obvious reasons.

[12] The militias were always a hot topic, many argued that the effect of their few squadrons of fighters was not worth the cost and they could do no real damage against a proper military vessel. The counter to this was that most pirate vessels were lightly armed and armoured and a small display of force would send them running. Debates raged for years though no one deigned their use after the battle of Altair.

[13] America’s National Health Service is second to none at this point, with the possible exception of the new clinics on Altair, its pharmaceuticals were some of the most effective in the world and billions of pills were exported off planet each year.

[14] Despite the pharmaceuticals being years ahead of their time new developments were beginning to stall and there were some serious worries being voiced on the stock marked. Fortunately any falls in stock were compensated for by the American government.

[15] Arcturus was not very active in these discussions and it was already a member of the Commonwealth with appreciable amounts of independence. Still, a few were disgruntled over the amount of control the, no longer that much bigger, Earth countries had over them.

[16] Local figures usually show a large kill rate, more ground patrolled, and more ships saved, intercepted or taken than military forces in the area. Sadly the militias are a worrying development to most of the faction and so most were decommissioned, or at least significantly reduced, after the piracy scare ended.

[17] Famous groups include “The Black Hand”, “Thorn” and “Burning Skies” none of which were successfully brought to justice.

[18] Always the other sides’ bandits for some reason.

[19] America quickly moved to remedy this, launching a huge propaganda campaign against New Inca. It was disturbingly effective and many saw it as a sign that the world was falling into its old pre-derelict pattern.

2057

  • The first ship is sent to intercept the Derelict in less than two days, an American scout, the Valiant, which was prospecting the asteroid belt. While the ship expends all its mission fuel it reaches the derelict before it passes the orbit of Jupiter[1] and rides it until further ships can reach it.
  • The second ship, a Chinese hauler reaches the derelict bringing much needed supplies for the Valiant and begins the first stripping of the derelicts systems,  its arrival back at Radiant One is considered one of the more momentous occasions of the centaury and the current ‘Stars day[2]‘ is celebrated on this date.
  • The derelict rush begins with every ship with fuel in its tanks making a bid for the derelict which through luck or happenstance passes within a tenth of an AU of earth. While a great deal of the technology from the derelict seemed to have been removed long before humanity found it enough was found to revolutionise human understanding of the universe.
  • After two months the derelict finally goes beyond humanities range and hits the sun three weeks later. While all technology is agreed to be shared equally the sheer volume of material salvaged ensured that some faction got information others didn’t[3].
  • Within a few months life on earth returns to normal, space fever ebbs somewhat and humanity redoubles the SETI program though given the derelicts slow speed, massive weapons damage and its total abandonment it is doubtable that it was a direct attempt to contact humanity. Many suggest that the mere fact the derelict was clearly a battleship is evidence to suggest that we shouldn’t try and contact potentially hostile alien species, while the popular interpretation of an ET doesn’t change all government funded first contact projects slowly fade away[4].

 

2059

  • After two years of failed back engineering projects the first identical copy of a derelict technology is produced, admittedly it was over one thousand times larger than the original but when a large enough current was passed through it the device successfully cancelled out all the effect of acceleration in the space above it. Simultaneously it causes an attractive effect towards itself of about 1.2g, when placed on a centrifuge no motion was detected, even at centripetal accelerations of up to 20g’s[5]. Within a month an active panel was launched on the mag-rail, with no change in the field strength being detected, and a further month later, live and delicate cargo was being hurled into orbit, humans swiftly followed though the power demands were initially extortionate. This technology was quickly nicknamed gav’ panels by spacers and was standard for nearly every ship build after this point.
  • A sister material, dubbed null panelling, was successfully created from back engineered technology. While the cause of the effect is mysterious, it appears to cause high energy particles to spontaneously lose said energy, converting it into heat. This is quickly adapted for nearly all radioactive fuel sources, and the power output of fusion and fission reactors trebled overnight. The first fusion reactors built using this new technology could power tens of millions of homes and massive construction projects begin globally.

 

2060

  • Metallurgy breakthroughs brought about by study of Derelict based technologies revolutionise the space industry and multiple shipyards are built in orbit[6].
  • The first plans for arcologies are drawn up to cope with the increasing populations in cities.
  • Venus is officially settled despite a semi permanent research station being present of the planet for five years, efforts to reduce the surface temperature cause a global cooling of a degree in less than five years. While this is not a great amount predictions show it could be terraformed into an Earth like planet by 2200.
  • The first ‘nulled’ fusion reactors come online and the world’s energy crisis ends within a few months, taking with it a large chunk of global tensions. For once the major factions are at a loss over what to fight about and settlement projects are planned across the solar system to stake a claim on various resources, particularly the heavy metals.
  • The first replica of a jump drive is produced, while it is immense compared to the originals it proceeds to function perfectly and instantly smashes itself into a wall. Research continues.
  • The first official incident of piracy occurs as a freighter on route to Mars disappears without a trace, privateers are suspected but this never confirmed.

 

2065

  • Off planet population reaches ten million people spread across the solar system, while this is a fraction of that on Earth immigration off world is disturbingly high[7], especially now with the promise of near Earth conditions across the system.
  • The first foundation rod for the Beijing arcology is placed, nearly a quarter of a mile long the supported building could potentially reach over a mile into the sky. The London and Deli towers are begun a year[8] later quickly followed by two more Chinese and a Russian, no other factions actually start building arcologies but many cities world wide adopt mass population projects[9].
  • The first successful jump drive test takes place and transports one research ship beyond the orbit of Jupiter in under a microsecond. While it takes two months for the ship to be retrieved humans have officially travelled faster than light for the first time in history. The second space boom begins.

 

2070

  • Fusion rockets, the first true hybrid of human and derelict technology, are perfected and private space interests boom with Noble Shipbuilding quickly experiencing one of the largest incidents of corporate growth this century.
  • The outer planets are explored within a few months of each other. Pluto and the moons of Uranus and Neptune all see human life for the first time in history[10].
  • The first interstellar jump is performed after six failed attempts to reach alpha centuri[11], while the process uses huge amounts of fuel its is nowhere near the same amount as if the journey was made slower than light.
  • Massive hydrogen refining projects begin across the surface of Saturn and over one hundred thousand people emigrate to the various satellites in under a year[12], a movement brought about by the massively reduced travel times due to the jump drive.
  • Exploration of other solar systems begins with over a dozen colonisable systems being discovered in under a year, further exploration is limited by fuel and supplies but claims over planet ownership begin to spark tensions between the major factions[13].
  • The first ever interstellar colony is founded on Alpha Centuri [2072], a historic achievement for humanity. Fomalhaut [2074] and Sirius [2075] follow a few years later[14].

 

2075

  • The first national colony is founded on Arcturus[15] [2075] by the British Commonwealth quickly followed by the Chinese on Procyon [2075] and the Russians on Vega [2076]. Massive amounts of money are sunk into each colony and many wondered why Russia was willing to make such an expense at the time[16] especially due to their weakened economy.
  • Denebole [2078], Merak [2078] and Altair [2079] are settled by the New Incan, AMA and Commonwealth governments respectively. Many question the wisdom of the Commonwealth settling another planet when there first was still under heavy development and the same goes for the US not colonising anywhere at all, and placing themselves in danger of being left behind as the other factions had practically hextupled their land area in under a year[17].
  • The free trade industry exploded[18] with the cheep synthesis of ships materials perfected by Pageant Industries who quickly begin to dominate British shipbuilding. Other companies soon catch up but Pageant retains its place as a major corporation.
  • With the availability of cheep shipping the cost of transporting people interstellar plummets and millions purchase tickets to new colonies, especially from the factions various minority groups[19].

[1] This incident provoked the USA to claim right of salvage on the derelict, a claim that was overturned by the UN and threat of arms. The derelict was deemed to valuable to belong to any one government, especially as its suicide trajectory towards the sun had already been discovered and humanity couldn’t afford to waste any time scrapping over it.

[2] Stars day is the celebration of humanity gaining the ability to travel interstellar, while it didn’t actually start until the first colony was settled ten years later it is one of the few holidays that persist across the settled galaxy.

[3] This was forbidden by international agreement but is the closest thing to an explanation of the remarkable technology behind Rayy guns and plasma cannons.

[4] Incidentally twenty years after the derelicts discovery the Voyager probes were retrieved and now one resides in the American Spaceport. The other is owned by a private collector.

[5] The later limit was discovered at roughly 25g (25.38g to be precise).

[6] Many of the patents for production of these materials were held by Pageant industries.

[7] During this period several factions begin to set emigration limits, especially Russia, America and China who all suffer from a shortage of workforce.

[8] Many argue that all three projects were rushed in order to compete though the atrocious safety figures quoted at the time are never quite realised.

[9] The most famous of these are the Streets of Manhattan. The Streets of Manhattan resulted from the massive amount of congestion that was occurring in the city; eventually a second arterial highway was built five stories above the original greatly reducing traffic problems. In 2068 this network was expanded to all other major roads and 2076 the last ‘ground level’ road was covered. Many buildings now sport two entrances, high and low.

[10] Sadly this final discovery proves that Earth is the only planet in our solar system to support multicellular life. This is a fairly redundant as three other stellar bodies as three other stellar bodies were being terraformed at the time and therefore had at least bacteria on their surface, Martian terraforming was proceeding slowly, and the moon boasted proto-oceans.

[11] A true appreciation of just how precise a jump had to be was gained during this time and why a good distance from the central stellar body was needed. Most of the early jump vessels missed their targets by light-years due to the sheer complexity of the required calculations.

[12] This is about 300 people or six standard liners a day, an unprecedented movement of people into space.

[13] Initially the colonisation efforts are joint attempts, most notably the colony on Alpha Centuri I, but additionally both Sirius and Fomalhaut are very multicultural holding no real allegiance to a particular faction and being mostly funded by a consortium of the EU and Japan.

[14] Sadly these colonies were funded by the rapidly ailing united nations and budgets dried up

[15] Arcturus is generally agreed to be the first arcology colony where the main building structure was dropped from orbit and the infrastructure built later. This contrasted strongly with the bubble cities and pressure building used in many other colonisation attempts, though while it was expensive the colonies started by arcology seemed to grow proportionally faster. This may have been an artefact of how these systems were run however.

[16] At this time costs of interstellar travel and journey times were quadruple those of 2100 and there was very little of the supporting infrastructure.

[17] The US was unable to press any major colonisation efforts through the government due to the popular sentiment against space exploration. ‘God’s Country’ was fairly influential in many of the southern states and successfully boycotted government expansion for many years

[18] Many ships were retrofitted to become interstellar in this period as this even boosted their in system speed. A Space elevator to surface trip to Mars took roughly a week and a round trip just below a fortnight. Interstellar flights could take anywhere up to a month for a single jump and still the success rate was just under four out of five but many private ships emerged, and a lot of these were owned by small shipping firms and sole traders.

[19] The Commonwealth took advantage of this pioneering spirit by offing to pay for transport and offer citizenship to anyone willing to emigrate to a British colony. Tens of millions applied.