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The Rise and Fall of Altair

Altair was never more than a regional power. A mostly educated populous and the low grade discrimination over the planet’s biotech specialism led to quite an introverted culture, and by the End Time Wars both the ruling body and the people wanted little to do with the wider galactic community. Even in the war itself Altair had little to do with the end result, though was the site of one of the final battles.

The AI virus wiped out nearly every machine humanity had, along with the ability to make more and in some cases the ability to even fix them. Large scale failure of cybernetic implants rendered brain-dead the rich and powerful, and more importantly the skilled. Only those off the network at the time, or those without significant electronic outsourcing, survived as anything more than a shadow of their former selves but their story is for another time.

Altair had one of the lowest numbers of cybernetic implants due in most part to trade regulations and their own small electronics sector limiting access, not to mention they had their own biological substitute, the ex-brain[1]. When computers fell, Altair almost didn’t notice and a few weeks of disruption, while the electronic systems were shunted over to the biological or simplified, was the worst they had. Even their food production was unaffected, most of their farming being done by trained biological systems that continued functioning.

It is one of the huge advantages of a biological focus that its products are extremely hard to break. Okay, so they also tend to be hard to manufacture, and take years rather than ours to reach a useful stage, but when you break an axle on a mechanical tractor you have to call in a mechanic, on Altair you gave it two weeks bed rest and a special calcium feed for the rest of the month. Not only that, but even if the secrets of biotech’s design is lost, they have a tendency to be self propagating[2].

Because of this, while even Earth lost a couple hundred years of its development Altair was more or less unfazed, but that left it standing head and shoulders above the other planets who were struggling even to hold a government together, let alone feed the survivors of the war.

Within months Altair had become the biggest export of technology in all history and fleets of trading ships filled the skies between her and the core worlds. Refugees streamed onto the planet, so many that at the height of the troubles Altair closed its doors to prevent its own people starving.

As you can imagine during this time Altair became very rich, but also powerful. Therein lay the seeds of their downfall as Altair had never had power before. They always survived under the protection of another and had no martial history to speak off beyond a small, near ceremonial militia[3]. Thus, when power was handed to them they used it badly, investing in a secretive defence program Project Q.

This was to be their ace in the hole, the telekinetic population granted by this project would be supremely powerful as both a trained army and a militia, but they failed to see the flipside. As their power waned the rising Empire of Earth had to remove Altair as a threat[4] but the people of Altair could not be cowed. While Altair’s official military and fleet was paltry in comparison to the forces the Empire could muster, one on ten of their population could take on a fully trained man in close combat, one in a thousand could take on tanks and there were a few individuals that could destroy armies if they put their minds to it.

There was no attempt to occupy Altair. The nukes began to fall before the space battle had even finished, and it was only the efforts of over eleven thousand merchant vessels that any Altairians escaped at all and even then barely a tenth of the population escaped with their lives.


[1] Short for Exterior Brain (again, Altairians aren’t good with names) the ex-brain had been designed some fifty years prior and was extremely popular for those trying to get an IQ boost beyond passive genetic mods. Essentially a lump of unconnected neural matter the ex-brain would learn along side the original brain and allow for greater parallel processing and so quicker and more accurate thinking. Many foreigners disregard the ex-brain as inferior to computerised processing as it is not capable of the same speed or aclarty in its function but many, even outside of Altair, applaud its ability to mirror human thinking patterns as it does not introduce the overdependence of wholly logical processing required to use an electronic mind. The fact it can act as a back up form in case your cranium is blown out is just a plus.

Reproduction of the ex-brains were lost with the destruction of Altair though a few still exist and still have personality.

[2] Never plow during the mating season, you get some interesting fields out of it that’s all I’ll say.

[3] The Hawks just for reference.

[4] The Empire exists by promising protection for tribute. However, with only the Empire as a major power the only protection they can offer is protection from the Empire and so only their overwhelming firepower and technological superiority prevent a wide scale uprising. Altair as a nation powerful enough to resist them is not therefore compatible as a single power world can protect the worlds around it from the thinly spread forces of the Empire and so form its own power block and fight back. To ensure galactic peace therefore, Altair had to die.

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