The Siege of Ceres

The Siege of Ceres was a major feature of the Pan-Eurasian War and the one engagement to occur in the Sol System. It was a bloody affair which the neutral powers appeared content to let happen. The siege lasted until the end of the war; the Toronto Treaty officially recognised the Asian Coalition’s claim to the territory.

Human involvement on Ceres began before the advent of FTL travel; habitation and industrial units were developed under the rocky surface at the behest of the Chinese part of the Coalition. It had a population of over 1 million at the outbreak of the War; it’s industrial capacity made it a target for the European Union almost immediately.

It proved a difficult target. The Union Navy established a blockade around the world to begin with, assuming the population would quickly run out of food and water. Water was readily found as ice across the asteroid’s surface and the settlers had long since developed mature colonies of krill for food. These methods provided the populace with the very bare minimum of food but little else; life became increasingly difficult from the start of the blockade.

The Union experimented with orbital bombardment but the humans had buried themselves too deep. Even the docking ports were buried within canyons and other natural phenomena – Union dropships were easily repelled.

Still, the siege was relentless. The Union engaged in psychological warfare; they flooded local networks with terrifying images, they dropped earth-shaking bombs around the clock. The only relief came from brave Asian Coalition relief craft – tiny cargo ships bringing extra supplies to hidden docks and airlocks. The majority of these brave flights (nicknamed the Tokoyo Express after their WWII forefathers) were successful; the ships would occasionally be caught by the Union blockade. The best case scenario was being destroyed by their big guns. Surviving blockade runner crews were typically humiliated and tortured by the frustrated Union siege forces.

The Union denied accusations of torture and resisted United Nations calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian response. The post-War UN vote as to whether the siege amounted to a war crime was derailed – unsurprisingly – by European votes.

The colony developed into a hub of industry following the war; it builds heavy machinery and colony equipment for use throughout the new human sphere of influence. The hub of activity grinds to a halt once a lunar year, however, in a quiet memorial to the War, the siege and the thousands of people lost to starvation, preventable ill health and other causes.

Barracuda-class Gunship

The Barracuda-class Gunship is a now-illegal vessel manufactured by the Blackmane Corporation. It was originally commissioned as an armed dropship for mercenary and corporate security forces. It was found to be effective, agile and powerful in various roles, however, and a handful of the vessel were sold to the Asian Coalition during the Pan-Eurasian War.

This led to a ban on its sale, but not before scheming Blackmane executives moved the remaining stock to the lawless galactic Rim. The ship proved to be extremely popular amongst the various factions on the edge of humanity; it fulfilled the role later taken over by the strike fighter but without the exorbitant price tag.

New Bambara

mapping

The Far Planets Revolution was put down with brutal efficiency; any rebellious workers left alive were forced to finish their assigned construction projects and then were moved on. A large amount of these workers were from a slew of African countries – they had only pursued jobs at the edge of the Sol System to escape the crumbling infrastructure of their birth countries on Earth. By the end of the developments on the moons of Juipter and Saturn, the Second Age of humanity was in full swing and the Veritas leak had occured. A group of two hundred odd African hydroponics workers stole an old transport scow due to be scrapped and set course for the Pyramide System; it’s fourth planet in particular.

The group picked Pyramide IV due to its climate; humid and wet. They were desperate to live free somewhere, out from under the yoke of corporations or government. Although not the most comfortable climate, they knew they could use their hydroponic engineering knowledge in order to grow a significant range of food to support themselves.

The Earth-based seeds the colonists brought along struggled to grow in the alien soil; the group turned to native vegetables instead. Although there were a small, sad number of allergic reactions to the indigenous ‘raow’ tubers, they proved edible, nourishing and favourable to hydroponic farming. Thanks to the growth of raow – amongst other – plants, the settlers were able to sustain themselves by the end of the Second Age. The colony was established enough to give itself a name; New Bambara.

Once self-sustaining, the two hundred colonists brought families along and the population blossomed to a thousand or so. Independent merchants were quick to seize upon the new opportunities provided by the world – they arrived to sell basic building materials and prefabricated buildings for the new arrivals in exchange for the exotic foodstuffs from their hydroponic farms. These farms form the core of New Bambara; jungle has been cleared to accommodate both the farms and population housing but the continent is still heavily rain-forested and often victim to extreme monsoon seasons.

New Bambara eschewed hiring mercenaries for protection; many of its founding members had been abused and ill-treated by corporate armies during the Far Planet Revolution. Instead they formed their own militia to dissuade pirates and raiders. They are fortunately far enough away from Wun’Tux space to become a viable target – especially since the creation of EWO Outposts -though traders heading to and from New Bambara have suffered the occasional Hirudin Blackfin attack.

Jaipur

mapping

Jaipur was the name of a ‘residential’ UCW within the Jai Beta star system. Detailed scans of Jai Beta were part of the first wave of information leaked by Veritas. This information was seized upon and quickly claimed by a convoy of people from Earth’s India who set off in spite of a UN ban on such colonies.

Jai Beta III is a heavily wooded planet with a significant sized habitable zone. The climate within this zone is similar to Southern Europe and well suited to growing crops. Around ten thousand colonists (led by wealthy industrial farmers escaping the Asian Coalition) settled on the world near the start of the Second Age. They were far enough away from the Core to avoid unwanted attention and interference.

Early colony life was difficult; learning to farm an alien landscape had a steep learning curve. But the settlement steadily grew and developed; the ten thousand colonists eager to grasp the opportunity to live away their previously crowded existences needed a lot of food and had the incentive to grow it.
Jaipur grew in both population and stature throughout the Second Age. It became the terminus in a black market trade route – freighters would bring luxury and consumer goods to Jaipur in exchanged for food and crops which could then be sold on to more industrial colonies. The ruling council hired a small mercenary troop to protect the world for opportunistic raiders and pirates and all seemed well.

This charmed existence didn’t last, however. A Wun’Tux scouting party found the colony at the dawn of the Third Age. Although chased off by the local mercenary guard, the BroodClan soon returned in force. Jaipur’s protectors were quickly routed and the colony was laid bare for the slavers to pick clean. The Wun’Tux had no use for the planet itself – they abducted the majority of the population to make into slaves and left the old and weak to die. They burned crops and destroyed buildings. The destruction and chaos was discovered by a regular trader, the ISS Kiwako, and reported to the UN. There was little sympathy within the Core worlds, however. Instead there was a general feeling of ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’.

Unauthorised Colony Worlds

An Unauthorised Colony World (UCW) is the term applied to any colony, settlement or outpost established without UN agreement. This UN Agreement was brokered by the four main human factions and several influential megacorporations during the Second Age of humanity under the guise of a safety initiative – although in reality it was more designed around saving the best planets for these interested groups.

Each of these groups sent out scouts and probes – often automated – into unexplored space. These ships and robots were tasked with finding habitable planets or valuable minerals. Such information was then stored away in secret for later use.

All kinds of people sought to establish colonies of their own. Some people desired to escape the overcrowded Core Systems, others wanted to strike it rich or live outside of government control. But even large, well-funded groups of people lacked the necessary information about places they could journey to. The first round of UCWs were established by sheer chance; for every expedition venturing forth into the unknown several would be lost and never heard from again. The rules of the game changed after the unprecedented intervention of an entity calling itself Veritas.

Rumours abound about Veritas. Some believe Veritas is a rare collaboration between eminent computer hackers, some that it is just one person, others argue Vertias to be some secret AI program cut loose from corporate chains. Veritas had accessed and collated every government, corporate and UN record about these newly discovered, unclaimed planets and proceeded to dump this data across the Public ‘Net for anyone to read. This huge swathe of information gave fresh impetus and hope to groups wanting to escape the Core Systems and several significant convoys were established.

These groups – as well as Veritas – were disavowed by all authorities, up to and including the UN. But they stopped short of using force to stop these groups from leaving; a Resolution was instead passed that said all UCWs sacrificed protections afforded to them by various charters. They were effectively ostracised; though several of the anti-government groups were decidedly nonplussed.

UCWs can be effectively split into two rough groups; residential and industrial. The former types were set up by people desperate for space of their own to live in, away from the crowded Core planets. These residential settlements tend to be on worlds in the human-habitable range; not too warm, not to cold, average gravity and a predictable climate. Aside from farming and the construction of necessary infrastructure, residential colonies tend to be light on industry. They provide new markets for smugglers and independent traders to sell their produce to. The Jaipur colony is a good example of a residential settlement.

Industrial colonies were established to exploit resources, materials or caches deemed valuable and extractable. These worlds featured less in the way of ‘home comforts’ and were driven predominantly by profit. Industrial worlds provided similar opportunities for independent traders; this time as a place to buy valuable cargo to sell elsewhere. A thriving black market soon popped up; minerals and resources mined in the unregulated Rim could be sold to Corporations in the Core for a significant profit. Some corporations even broke the rules to join in; Blackmane’s colony on Dau III being a significant example.
Several of these colonies didn’t last in the long term; some suffered from lack of food, harsher than expected environments, disease, infighting or external threats. These external threats meant some colonies – especially those mining for valuable materials – funded their own militia or hired one in. Another black market – this one for military equipment – was created in order to supply¬†this need.

There are no thorough records of UCWs; this information is usually shared on an ad-hoc basis throughout the Rim. Even so, stories have spread to the Core about these frontier worlds falling victim to frightening external threats, such as marauding Wun’Tux BroodClans. Local militia is seldom strong enough to protect a colony against such a threat and images, video and other recordings of attacks spread through human media outlets like wildfire. Even so, the ‘rogue’ nature of these colonies means they are not offered protection from any human military expedition force. The loss of the Jaipur colony was effectively ignored by a USEF task force on exercises nearby.

Wun’Tux Invader

Wun'Tux Invader

The Wun’Tux Invader is not an elegant ship. It manoeuvres extremely poorly. It features few home comforts. Each change in speed or pitch makes the vessel shudder and shake. And yet it is perfect at what it is designed for; boarding other ships.

The most noticeable feature of the design in the prow – a durillium allow ram. This monstrous hunk of metal can gouge holes in a wide variety of ship hulls, bulkheads and even armour. Then and only then do the armoured doorways open and teams of angry, armoured Wun’Tux warriors stream out.

The ship has two purposes, though both involve the acquisition of slave labour. It is predominantly seen ramming unarmed ships – civilian freighters, etc. These targets are easy fodder and the boarding parties can usually reap rich rewards in the form of slaves. The second role is within battle; the ship can just as easily use its prow against a warship. Although these targets are usually ‘harder’ – more armoured, featuring better security – the attack of an Invader can distract and potentially destroy a larger ship. Slaves taken from warships are generally fitter and more hardy; ergo worth much more on the market.

Wun'Tux Invader

The Invader is unarmed – if you don’t count the infantry inside – and vulnerable to attacks from capital ships and fighters. They’re usually held back behind Wun’Tux lines until a battle is joined and the risks to them are minimal. Their thin profile means they present a difficult-to-hit profile when they attack a single target ‘head on’. Their flanks are lightly armoured, however; Invaders are high priority targets in many battle situations.

The ship is occasionally used as a transport craft – responsible for the transit of heavy equipment, slaves and cargo. A number in this secondary role have been disabled and captured by human and Gnobo forces and paraded as trophies.