History of Space Colonization
With ever increasing population and a desire to expand, tendrils of humanity began stretching across the inner solar system. Humanity’s first off-world colony, Mars Prime, was founded in 2126 by the newly renamed UK Stellar Empire. This sparked a land grab among completing corporations and countries, eager to expand into new territory. The following decades of mankind’s colonization of the inner planets was deadly, as countless lives were lost to poor planning, conflict and harsh environments. With humanity unable to leave its terrestrial conflicts behind, the militarization of space had begun.
Faster Than Light Travel
In 2208, a major breakthrough in space travel was achieved by scientists at MIT. They had theorized that through the manipulation of the direction and power of gravity generators found on most space faring vessels, gravity could be used to compress the empty space in front of a vessel, allowing it to travel at seemingly super-luminal speeds to a distant star. A year later, MIT launched the Centauri Explorer, an unmanned probe designed to test the theory. The probe made its way to the edge of the heliopshere, away from the interference of heavy solar winds, locked on to the gravity signature of Alpha Centauri, charged the jump engine and disappeared.
The MIT scientists waited patiently for the next four years, slowly developing larger gravity drives and devising the Einstein Field, a tachyon particle field designed the protect anything inside it against the effects of time dilation caused by moving at higher velocities. On the morning of August 8th 2212, the first images of Alpha Centauri arrived, after a four year journey back to earth. Mankind had taken its first steps outside the solar system of its birth. Within months, MIT opened an Alpha Centauri campus, part colony, part institute of higher learning, part PR campaign.
Over the next century, mankind began branching into local star systems and presently has colonized out 80 light years from earth and is ever expanding.
The primary form of superluminal travel, the gravity drive has helped mankind colonize neighboring stars within 80 light years of earth. The gravity drive work on the principal that gravity can warp and compress space-time. It induces a massive buildup of gravity at the bow of a ship, compressing space-time and allowing a ship to travel vast distances without actually reaching the speed of light. It “brings the mountain to Mohammad” in a sense. Because the complexities of interstellar travel, one must first get clear of a stellar body and into interstellar space. This means travel is not possible within a star’s heliosphere, or though nebula or other phenomenon. Additionally, as a gravity jump must lock onto the gravity signature of the target star, one can only jump to adjacent stars. Further, a gravity jump takes a tremendous amount of energy to catalyze, so any jump capable ship must store up power in capacitors and batteries as no power system is capable of that level of output. In practical terms, gravity jumps tend to max out at 10 light years in range, depending on the mass of the target star. The term “jump” is a misnomer as well. Travel is not instantaneous, as it is impossible to infinitely compress all of space-time between two stars. Instead, gravity jumps make travelling a light year roughly a matter of a single day. Currently, it can take 8-9 months, depending on route, to travel across the entirety of colonized space. Once a gravity jump is started, it can be interrupted, however this requires more time for a ship to charge its jump batteries once again, this time without the assistance of solar cells.
On August 3rd 2275, the UK Stellar Colony Ship Lennox entered orbit around Theta Boo and was immediately hailed by Aaron Stobulous, a planet surveyor that had crash-landed there 15 years before and was forgotten about. Stobulous informed the Colonial Leader, Anthony Barnabas, that the planet was already colonized, not by humans, but by six humanoid races who that collectively called themselves the Wanderers. Humanity had found it was not alone in the universe. Shortly after the Asellus City Accord was signed, which would allow the UK Stellar Empire colonists to join and live along side the Wanderers as an autonomously ruled territory. The Human colonists were generally willing to work along side these new creatures, who closely resembled different animals of the earth, however the leadership of powerful UK Stellar were not receptive to being told how to run a planet they saw as their own.
Colonial Independence Wars
UK Stellar saw the situation at Theta Boo untenable, and in 2296 sent the 1st Royal Naval Squadron in an attempt to seize the seat of power and bring Theta Boo fully under it's central government. They were shocked to find the Asellans prepared for the attack, and the Royal Navy were dealt their very first defeat in nearly a century. Thus began the Colonial Independence Wars, a seven year stuggle against UK Stellar rule by the colonists of Theta Boo. Along the way several other colonies and stations asserted their independence, inspired by the bravery of the Asellans. The final straw in UK Stellar's attempts to hold together it's empire came when the government of the North American Concord joined forces with the colonies in 2301. Facing enemies at home and among the stars, parliament was in full revolt and in 2303, UK Stellar was forced to admit their position was untenable, and grant independence to the rebelling colonies.
In 2266 the United Earth Alliance was formed to replace the United Nations. The UEA was an intergovernmental organization that was tasked to maintain interstellar peace and security, develop friendly relations among sovereignties , achieve interstellar coperation and be a center for harmonizing the actions of sovereignties equitably and fairly settle disputes between conflicting parties across the expanse of space.
Represented bodies, both governments and corporations, selected members to serve on the UEA parliament, which was tasked with keeping the peace. The first decades of the UEA were dismal, as nations were often unwilling and sometimes unable to offer soldiers and equipment needed to serve in peacekeeper roles and back up demands, and the futility of he UEA to properly manage the situation was apparent with the breakout of the Colonial Independence War.
From the ashes of that war, the United Worlds Alliance was formed, a stronger alliance between the governments of earth and newly independent colonies. Earth and Asellus Primus were chosen as the alternating seat of power for the UWA, with the seat of government in Geneva Switzerland for 10 years, followed by 10 years in Asellus City. The colonies would get a say in the larger affairs, and the Wanderers would get a place at the table. As the Colonial Independence war was winding down, a powerful senator from North America, Clyde Evard, along with Aaron Stobulous formed a coalition of parliamentarians to pressure their home worlds into increasing funding funding a peacekeeping force. In the summer for 2304 the parliament met to appropriate funds to the creation of the creation of the UWA flagship vessel, given the name Starlight. The Starlight would be crewed by both Wanderers and Humans.
Project Starlight proved to be successful, and several more ships were added to the peacekeeping force over the intervening years. Humanity and Watcher alike continued expanding outwards, settling new lands, both as part of the UWS and independent. Conflict and banditry still exists, of course, and just how secure a particular system may be depends on how close one is to major civilized planets. Around Earth and Theta Boo, for example, one can expect assistance fairly quickly when in trouble. In other parts, however, a person may find themselves quite on their own. Systems within the first 50 light years from earth are known as the Inner Colonies while those out to the edge referred to as Outer Colonies.