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A brief history

There follows a brief history of the Sol Trader universe as far as I've thought it through, with a few things kept back (I don't want to release too many spoilers at this stage!)

It's likely to change dramatically as I refine and update it.

The first colonies: 2040 - 2060

The aftermath of the Water Wars led to a serious rift in global affairs. Few smaller countries had the resources or political will to explore space, so it was left to China, the United States and the Former European Union to build the first permanent colonies offworld. This led to the period named the "Second Space Race" with colonies being built first on the moon, and then on Mars. With booming unemployment, citizenship of these colonies was oversubscribed by 10,000 to 1, leading to a highly selective process, where prospective colonists were vetted according to athletic and physical ability. A team of 300 individuals were selected per colony to live in the 'domes' as they were called, and left to great fanfare in 2055.

A major discovery: 2060 - 2140

After the discovery of technology which enabled near light speed travel in 2060, it was only a matter of time before humanity colonised the outer solar rim. Earth's natural resources were fast running out and the Moon's minerals had proved less useful than hoped. There was also an increasing desire for the precious metals which were known to exist in the asteroid belt. Technology was created which allowed a ship with a specially fitted engine to enter a "spatial disruption field", permanently held open through a man-made structure colloquially known as a "jump gate". This allowed the ship's speed to approach 2% of the speed of light, dramatically decreasing the time it took to travel between the planets.

In order to build these gates, construction materials had to be transported to either side of the gate using conventional propulsion, which meant that the first gate from Earth to Mars took two decades to build. Once constructed, the technology had finally been proved to work across large distances, and demand for minerals and resource led humanity to push ever onward to the outer reaches of the system.

Early expansion: 2140 - 2206

Humankind initially expanded fast, mostly funded through private mining expeditions, with Earth attempting to regain a political foothold in their lost colonies. A slew of international treaties followed suit to attempt to bring order to the expansion, culminating in the Federation Act, which gave political authority to democratically elected representatives of each continent. Colonies spread through the asteroid belt, and on to the Jupiter and Saturn moons. Expeditions to Uranus and Neptune also provided glimpses of previously unknown and extremely rare materials which might hope to solve the ever worsening resources crisis.

Over time, the colonies on the Moons of Jupiter and Saturn grew more and more confident. Thanks to mining expeditions on Europa, they had discovered an abundant source of water which could be purified enough to make them independent from Earth. Previously to this, manufacturing their own water and oxygen had been extremely expensive, and they had been dependent on Earth and Mars for imports. Colonisation continued, but diplomatic relations became more and more strained.

Eventually, after about thirty years of gradually worsening relationships, something snapped. A convoy of ships from Mars went missing near Celas, the colonial capital of the Asteroid Belt. Io's government blamed Pirates, but a lone returning ship claimed the Jupiter colonies were responsible. The Federation issued some angry threats, and a fleet of warships were sent to the Asteroid Inner Jumpgate as a "Protective Measure".

This was interpreted as an act of war by the Io colony, and the other Jupiter and Saturn colonies rushed to their defence. They quickly formed a alliance, calling themselves the "New Order", and severed all relations with the Federation, an act now known as the 'Sky Schism'. Unbeknownst to the Federation, the colonies had secretly built up an armada of ships, and had researched a great deal of new technology thanks to the exotic minerals it had access to from the Outer Rim. The New Order attacked and destroyed the fleet at Asteroid Inner without mercy, causing a full scale war to erupt with the Federation.

The Great Solar War of 2206 - 2244

The ensuing conflict raged for forty years. Many, many lives were lost, and whole colonies were wiped out. Many huge capital ship wrecks still drift through deep space: with communication lost, no-one knows what happened to the crew. With the cost of salvaging them prohibitive at the time, they were abandoned to deep space.

One particular devastating move late in the war was the destruction of the Water Run in 2240 by the Federation. The Water Run was one of the first constructed pair of gates between Europa and the Inner Asteroid Belt. It was built with early gate technology and spanned a huge distance, making it one of the most unstable. A fleet of New Order ships were betrayed by a First Officer travelling with them: he secretly transmitted their location and intentions just before the jump occurred. The Federation had a huge fleet on standby and attacked the gate at the Asteroid belt end just as the New Order fleet jumped. It was hoped they might send sufficient energy through the gate in order to damage the incoming fleet, but they had the unintended effect of interrupting the spatial disruption pathway, causing the gate to become totally unusable. The New Order fleet never arrived at the other end and no-one knows what became of them, or the officer who betrayed them. It is possible they're still travelling through hyperspace: not long after that, stories of a "ghost fleet" began to surface in bars across the system, although no trace of them has ever been found.

The bitterness that followed this attack was severe, and the New Order decided to strike back at the very heart of the Federation. In 2243, Earth came under attack at the climax of this daring retaliatory campaign. Despite sending eighty percent of their ships, the attack failed and the New Order fleet was almost completely destroyed. The battle came at huge cost to both sides: the orbital stations and the Earth Defence Fleet took massive damage. This led to an effective stale-mate, with both sides were too depleted and exhausted to continue, and a reluctant truce was signed.

Aftermath

That was six decades ago. Since then, the system has been held in an uneasy peace. There is enough enmity in the older ruling classes to fuel frosty relations and strong words, but a new generation has grown up largely ignorant of the pain and suffering the war caused. This generation are keen to put the past behind them and to move on, remembering the spirit of endeavour that caused humanity to reach for the outer system in the first place.

It is this generation that you were born into.