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’.

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The Union-Oroso Conflict

The Union-Oroso Conflict (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Human-Oroso War) occurred at the height of the Third Age. European colonists had been held back in their expansion due to the strains of the Pan-Eurasian War and had subsequently missed out on prime ‘local’ colony worlds to their American and British rivals. They had to explore further afield to find suitable worlds and this brought them into conflict with the usually peaceful Oroso Conclave. Union colonists were well-armed, if foolhardy, and were quick to skirmish with local Oroso populations and their protectors. Outmatched by the aliens, the gun-toting civilians were quick to call on their military to help.

The Union military was being rebuilt following the damaging, inconclusive war with the Asian Coalition and eager to test new recruits, tactics and toys. However the new additions were in the minority and it was with predominantly old equipment that they squared up to the Oroso.

European Admirals highlighted several Oroso military and civilian targets and assigned task forces to siege and capture them. The Pan-Eurasian War, however, led to a specific set of heavy handed tactics that would prove ill-suited against a patient, defensively-minded foe like the Oroso. The EUN found themselves evenly matched or overpowered; most of them retreated with severe damage or losses. In particular, their ageing fightercraft were outmatched by the Oroso T’frr and – with no fighter cover – the Union heavy ships were particularly vulnerable.

The Oroso retaliated with punitive strikes against these retreating forces, managing to rout a force of heavy destroyers at the Battle of New Dresden. The Union admiralty demanded reinforcement from the Core and it was only the arrival of the brand-new Caracals of Grendel Squadron which turned the tide at the decisive Battle of New Riga. Finally given a bloody nose, the Oroso forces withdrew and the conflict was soon ended with an armistice.

Ompolor VII

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The Battle of Ompolor VII marks the turning point of the brief war between the Gnobo and Illayko. The League opened with a lightning offensive, various mercenary brigades working together in a coordinated assault across the Illayko border. These Gnobo forces then concentrated their numbers into a spearhead aimed at the Illayko homeworld.

The colony at Ompolor VII was viewed as the weakest link in the Illayko defence. The Gnobo intended to overpower the defenders, strip the world of supplies and use it as a springboard towards their final goal. Although they met little initial resistance around the planet itself, once landed they found themselves victim of a carefully prepared trap. The Illayko army on the ground were dug in, well supplied and tactically adept. Many of the overconfident Gnobo generals found hundreds of personnel dead before the dropships could land, sniped from the air by specialist artillery.

A drawn out ground battle followed. The dug-in Illayko could afford to take their time; the Gnobo were in a rush, wary of losing momentum on their push towards Ehoi. Their hurry made them careless, however. Their fleet broke from a defensive formation in order to strike at targets planetside. Then and only then did a similar sized force of Illayko starships – led by the IFS Shroud – arrive to strike at their vulnerable flanks.

The Gnobo were routed; the commanders left with the few ships and troops they could muster. Their war on the Illayko stalled as it waited for reinforcements from home. The defeat at Ompolor VII led to acrimony and indecisiveness amongst within the shaky Gnobo alliance. A counter-offensive followed, forcing the League to retreat. An armistice followed within months; the Illayko border restored. Ompolor VII was the closest the Gnobo League got to the Illayko homeworld.

Sadly, the conflict and following fallout led to world being evacuated. It remains a uninhabited graveyard of war machines and soldiers to this day.

Soril Tulaco was involved throughout the Ompolor VII campaign, from the setting of the trap to the ground fighting and counter-strikes, earning the respect of his superiors and peers in the process.

The Illayko

The Illayko race were travelling the stars long before humans. Physically tall, muscular and humanoid, they evolved from tree-dwelling omnivores on their home planet. The Illayko grew to controlled a large area of space to the Galactic East, their behaviour to other species neither overly aggressive or pointedly peaceful. Their most famous planet was Ehoi, their lush jungle homeworld. Large, stable and teeming with life, the planet is still spoken of in hushed tones – but nowadays for all the wrong reasons.

ill2Above: Typical Illayko male

Ten years before humans reached Alpha Centuari, trouble came a-calling. A civil war within the core Wun’Tux worlds meant the outlying BroodClans could expand in only one direction – outwards still. The Illayko became the next resource in this Wun’Tux civil war – they were attacked by numerous factions on several fronts. Distant colonies were besieged, their populations harvested as slaves. With no allies and no apparent hope, the leaders fled ‘South’ with a fleet of colony ships, the surviving Illayko military paid heavily to protect them.

Ehoi was left virtually unguarded. Those not airlfted in the retreat became the largest ever single slave haul of a Wun’Tux BroodClan. A small proportion of those left behind resisted, using their knowledge of local geography and conditions to flee the Wun’Tux, to make every invading step painful. The majority became slaves in their own homes as the Wun’Tux civil war expanded onto their doorsteps. Modern day Ehoi is situated well within Wun’Tux territory. It’s towering palaces and walkways are rubble, replaced with the drab, ungainly structures of the Wun’Tux.

The new Illayko worlds were chosen in haste – they remain under-developed and isolated from many trade routes.  The government is loosely organised and poorly led – politicians lack the confidence of the population. The soldiers who protected the retreat from Ehoi are held in similar contempt, treated as failures for their unavoidable defeat; the surviving veterans of the war are bitter and twisted. The fledgling government could offer them little work, opportunity or chance to retaliate and their anger simmers under the surface, undiminished. Now they scour the galaxy for work suitable for their skillsets: bounty hunting, assassination and hired muscle are the most common roles.

ill4Above: Typical Illayko bounty hunter

Their tragic story has had unexpected fallout. The most angry of the Illayko are vocal in their feelings of betrayal: by their leaders and the rest of the galaxy. They accuse the Gnobo and Vonn of presiding over their near extinction and seize on any opportunity to do either race damage. Indeed, whatever ethical code they originally had has disintegrated; instead they pursue profit and power over others to extreme lengths. Some are so lost and jaded that they are even known to keep slaves of their own in some odd vengeful twist to the universe at large.

The Far Planet Revolution

The Far Planet Revolution describes the attempted revolt and reprisals centred around Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. Before the advent of Faster-Than-Light travel, the Solar System had a booming economy. Factories on Earth, Luna and Mars built the equipment and supplies to further develop infrastructure on the moons of the more far flung planets, often referred to as the Far Planets. The work to settle and tame these environments was labour intensive. With the exception of Europa (ironically claimed by the British) and Titan (settled by the United States) the other moons were part or fully projects of the multinational megacorporations. These groups hired labour en-masse from the overpopulated countries of Europe and Asia and shipped them off to the remaining moons on the promise that they could live there, providing they played their part in making it fit for human habitation.

These remaining moons (Triton, Enceladus, Gandymede and Callisto) involved hard labour and toil to settle. It was during this period that the first FLT jump was successful. This fundamentally shifted human horizons beyond their own solar system and shifted the priorities of these megacorporations accordingly. Resources were taken away from the moon projects in order to develop and manufacture the ships and infrastructure involved in interstellar exploration.

The Far Planet Projects were considered more expensive to abandon than they would be to continue. Additionally, the Sol governments had no room to accept hundreds of thousands of people back onto planet. So the megacorporations continued their work, but with significantly less in the way of resources. For the people working on these projects, times went from bad to worse. Food, materials and safety measures were slashed and workers were expected to do much more with much less.

A series of deadly accidents cumulated with an explosion at a fuel refinery on Gandymede which left 60 people dead, including children who had been working in the admin block. A leaked report found fundamental flaws in the corporation’s safety procedures and risk management. It went on to suggest token changes to procedure but was widely regarded as a corporate whitewash. Sol governments, tied up with interstellar exploration, ignored the incident. And colonist anger grew, simmering under the surface.

One day in June, the workers on all four moons declared a general strike. One corporate manager on Callisto ordered his small security detail to break the picket line. They were mobbed by strikers – weapons seized and taken prisoner. News of this spread like wildfire, causing the remaining corporate personnel to go on lockdown and the colonists to move against the remaining infrastructure, raiding stores for food and supplies.

These four moons declared independence and set out a list of demands – including self-rule – in exchange for release of the corporate hostages. Having already sunk major investment capital into the projects, the multinational corporations refused to give in to the would-be democrats. Following a meeting of CEOs and security officers, they made the bold move of contracting various mercenary agencies, including (it is rumoured) the Agency, to disarm the revolutionaries and restore order.

The colonists were large in number but mostly civilian, with little experience or taste for war. The mercenary groups elected for a brief and bloody campaign against the leaders of the would-be democracy. This approach paid off: the majority of the populations, seeing the brutal reprisals meted out to their leaders, backed down and agreed to go back to work.

At continuing cost, the megacorporations kept mercenary brigades stationed around the sites until the construction was complete. It was only by the end of the Second Age that these colonies began to sustain themselves, export goods and become less fearful places to live. Liberal political groups of Sol paint this is a modern day war crime and regard the entire incident as a stain on the ruling governments of the time, the majority of whom veto’d a proposed UN Resolution on the matter.

A brief history of the Agency

TheA

The Agency is often disregarded as a rumour. An old tale told around a bar table. Or a catch-all excuse for a mission gone wrong. But, like with every rumour and legend, it contains a grain of truth.

The Agency has existed for an indeterminate time before the First Age. It’s origin is shrouded in secrecy, but Agency assets have been recorded in operation since before Sol was fully colonised.

The true nature of Agency assets forms the crux of the legend. Some people describe these individuals as talented solo operators, humans (mostly) operating at maximum efficiency and deadliness. Other reports describe individuals with fantastical abilities to resist damage, to walk through walls or to create chaos without even picking up a gun.

These individuals are described in Agency files as ‘GD’: genetically different. The mechanism by which they are created is a closely guarded secret, but all of these assets have a wide array of capabilities leading some to describe them as ‘superpowered’, like heroes of pulp fiction. Or – as is often the case – the villains.

The vast majority of the human population know nothing of The Agency. A tiny proportion are aware of rumours and heresay. An even smaller section of the human race (high level government/military figures, CEOs of megacorporations) know how to contact the group and what it is capable of. In this sense, the Agency effectively forms the most expensive and effective mercenary company in existence and is contracted for the most delicate and difficult of jobs.

Agency assets have worked in the background and the shadows of several major events through the modern Ages, including the Far Planet Revolution and the Pan-Eurasian War. Their missions are clandestine and their presence covered up as to prompt as little suspicion as possible.

The closely guarded secrecy has prompted its share of curiosity and animosity. Most notably is the American Atlas Project (dubbed the ‘Super Soldier Solution’). A long-term experiment in production of GD soldiers and operatives for the American military. The programme itself started in ignominy and bloodshed as the original director, Dr. Hans Zimmerman, made a unilateral decision to kidnap an Agency asset to experiment on. In the days after this brash move, the secret American base went silent. The teams who arrived to investigate found a stark message in the form of every member of base personnel dead in the Director’s office. This was the first and last time Atlas attempted to access an Agency operative.

The tiny group of individuals who have (often explosively) left the employ of the Agency are labelled XA. Their old employer places the highest of bounties on these individuals: for live capture only. Their motivations, like most things about them, remain shrouded in mystery.

Kepler

kepler

Kepler was the third star system reached by human scouts. Preliminary surveys discovered two habitable planets and an asteroid field rich in valuable minerals. The largest world became the American colony of New Kansas, a warm and dry planet 1.3 times the size of Earth covered in fertile soil. The smaller, colder world was claimed as Bretton by the British.

By the Second Age these two colonies were home to over 200,000 people each and featured technology comparable to that of Earth. During this time, the Asian Coalition had sent settlers to the desert world of Kepler IV to establish a self-contained, underground colony. A hard existence for the settlers was only made worse by the Pan-Eurasian War, which turned the tiny colony into a bitter battleground.

The colony was eventually ceded to the European Union, it’s people and infrastructure decimated. Fast forward to the Fourth Age and it is years behind it’s development schedule. Politically, Kepler IV is still a source of great tension between the two sides.

The Kepler System forms part of the human ‘Core’, the handful of developed worlds local to Sol in which law and order and structure exist. The capital city of New Kansas is the grand city of Washburn, a expert centre for modern agriculture and veterinary science.

Alpha Centauri

ac2

Alpha Centauri was the first new star system humans visited at the dawn of Faster-Than-Light travel. Its locality to Sol made it a natural first stop. Scientists were intrigued by the concept of a binary star and surprised to find a handful of planets in a far orbit of the two celestial bodies.

AC IV and V were closely examined and found to have no breathable atmosphere, but deemed suitable for scientific settlements. Large, pre-fabricated buildings were flown in and half-buried in the tundra environments. Early life was cold, bleak and difficult, but scientists flocked from Sol to study the new tiny forms of life discovered, the environments and the possibilities of terraforming.

The comparatively tiny arid planet of AC V was claimed by a stubborn group of Asian Coalition settlers. Although gifted with an almost breathable atmosphere, the planet had scant resources and life was hard. The colonists’ existence was only made more difficult by the turmoil and conflict of the Pan-Eurasian War.

The colonies on AC III and IV gradually expanded in size and scope. The pre-fabricated labs were easily added to and over years the settlements grew in stature. First one of the first breakthroughs in xenobiology came out of Centauri III in the form of an antibiotic developed from a hardy weed from the surface of the tundra world. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Scientists transported their families to live with them, necessitating schools and increased food production. This infrastructure began as a functional response, but soon people were setting up small businesses: cafes, restaurants, general stores. The capital city of AC IV, Ravensmere, was officially established. By the Third Age the Centauri System had become a place not just for science, but for people too.

Although terraforming remains a pipe dream, a group of geologists managed to detect a number of hot springs beneath the planets surface and harness them for power and warmth. In spite of what some might see as a claustrophobic cityscape of joined up structures, many have grown to see the icy Centauri worlds as their own.

The Pan-Eurasian War

The Fourth Age (named after the fourth and most modern generation of Faster-Than-Light Drives) is an age of relative peace for the major human powers. But it wasn’t always so. The Second Age saw the advent of the Pan-Eurasian War, a conflict fought not on Earth, but through the Solar System and the first of what would become the Core Worlds.

It was a turbulent time for humankind. The stars were within reach but the American and British powers had claimed the nearest, most resource rich destinations. The European Union and Asian Coalition lagged behind. The Union more technologically advanced, the Coalition with a glut of manpower. During the First and Second Ages, small skirmishes between opposing colonists weren’t rare, but the deployment of warships made this conflict something new and more dangerous.

The UN gathered and debated for days as Union and Coalition warships postured and often innocent miners and travellers were killed in acts of retribution. With no clear solution, the American and British militaries declared themselves and Earth neutral. Any conflict on Earth, they made clear, would not be tolerated. And they had the most advanced technology to enforce this ruling. The UN action ended there, however, and nobody did anything to stop the mobilisation of opposing Union and Coalition forces through Sol and beyond.

The conflict centred around Sol, the Alpha Centauri and Kepler Systems. The most habitable and resource rich sites of these locations had been claimed by neutral powers, leaving the Union and Coalition fighting over the remainder. Both were resource hungry, but the Coalition particularly desired space to expand it’s overcrowded populations eager to escape the crowded Earth. The asteroid Ceres, which had served as a refuelling station during the First Age, saw boardings and counter-boardings. Although nominally held by the Coalition, Ceres was under Union blockade for a year. Many people died of starvation and preventable diseases in the process.

Such tragedies did little to prick the consciences of the neutral powers. An arms embargo had been place from the beginning of the conflict, the British and American militaries protective over their technological edge. The temptation for some people was too great, however, leading to the prosecution and dissolution of Bolo-Ataris Systems. BAS had sold prototype strike fighters to each side and was punished by it’s American masters with extreme prejudice.

Aside from the black marketeering of weapons and other technology, the War featured significant use of mercenary brigades. The armoured infantry of SolSec made their name fighting for the Union on Kepler IV, whilst the canny Widebrims supported the protection of Coalition outposts in the ‘Centauri System, often using the hostile desert environment to confuse and trick the opposing Union forces.

Other groups worked for both sides during different phases of the conflict. The elite forces of the Tailored Saints were contracted against the Coalition during the early stages then deployed for them near the end. Rumours persist that the shadowy Agency deployed ‘assets’ (i.e. it’s superpowered individuals) throughout the conflict, at great expense to the Union and Coalition. This is denied by all involved, but ex-soldiers bought a drink in some out of the way bar will tell tales of individuals flying, shooting energy from their fingers and other fanciful feats.

Both sides started the War with outdated technology. The Union’s flagship, a the First Age generation EUS Dupleix, was easily neutralised by a mercenary fighter squadron in the early stages of the conflict. Necessity was the mother of invention, though. A year later, the Union had developed a more resilient replacement flagship with advanced anti-fighter capabilities.

The Ceres Blockade lasted over a year. Coalition ships ran the blockade but were unable to mass enough firepower to break the Union formations. Elsewhere, the Coalition ceded a fledgling colony on Kepler IV to Union troops, but made them pay for it by preying on stretched supply lines for the remainder of the conflict. Recent historians agree that Kepler IV was more of a Pyrrhic victory for the Union.

Earth was a tense and odd place to be throughout the conflict, a tenuous peace kept on the ground and in orbit. Both sides operated terrestrial and near-space shipyards, meaning the highest concentration of warships around Earth since the invention of FTL. Attempts at an armistice frequently failed, neither side willing to give an inch of territory nor gaining a decisive edge in the conflict. Union ships were larger and more suited to naval formation fighting and supporting their ground troops from orbit, whilst the Coalition had more men on the ground and favoured smaller ships working independently. These differing approaches led to decisive Union victory in the deep space Battle of Centauri Reach and conversely the Coalition victory and eventual defence of Alpha Centauri V.

The War ended not due to some great victory of peace, but for two reasons. Firstly, significant loss of life and resources left both peoples with limited hunger for war, with protests on the streets of major cities and colonies. Secondly (and perhaps more importantly) the advent of the third generation of Faster-Than-Light drives expanded the horizons of humankind, allowing colonists and supply ships to reach planets further from Sol more efficiently and quickly. This ‘new’ zone of habitable and usable space meant one of the prime reasons to going to war at the first place was null and void. The Toronto Peace Treaty was organised through the UN and brought an end to the War formally. The Toronto Treaty included UN administered loans to both sides, which were then used to invest in new colony ships and – controversially – more modern warships to escort them. The Third Age saw the battered and bruised Coalition and Union prosper, whilst still lagging behind the British and Americans in claiming new territories.

Battles of the Pan-Eurasian War:

  • Centauri Reach – Union Victory
  • Kepler IV – Pyrric Union Victory
  • Siege of Ceres – Stalemate
  • Alpha Centauri V – Coalition Victory

The Ages

The ‘Ages’ terminology is used by mankind as a marker of their development and progress. The First Age (aka. The Golden Age) was the mass exploration and exodus from Earth, using their newly discovered interstellar capabilities to explore and colonise nearby territories like the Kepler System. The First Age led to the development of jump-capable warships and brought mankind into contact with races like the Oroso, Wun’Tux and Vonn.

The Second Age was defined by the ability to travel even further afield, opening up more worlds and territory for humankind to develop. The effective range of exploration still wasn’t far afield enough to bring them into conflict with other races, but was a significant step forward. The Second Age is most famous for the Pan-Eurasian War between the European and Asian states. The innovation and invention stemming from this conflict in part led to the Third Age and the expanding horizons of mankind.

The Third Age was one of relative peace between the various human factions, the ability to travel further afield meaning less competition for places habitable and resource-laden planets. This increased reach brought some humans into more close contact with their galactic neighbours, however. In spite of being war weary, European Union forces recorded skirmishes with the Oroso Conclave before agreeing a hasty peace deal. Additionally, the reptilian Wun’Tux raided newer human colonies for slave labour, making the Wun’Tux border a much more risky proposition for civilians leaving Sol and the Core Worlds for a better life.

The Fourth Age is the present. In comparison to Third Age technology, Forth Age FTL drives are physically smaller in size and significantly more fuel efficient. In this respect, the Forth Age made travel away from the Core Worlds a realistic prospect for people and groups of more modest means than major governments and megacorporations. These people poured into the new frontier, the neo-Wild West of the Rim.