Star*Drive: Visions of the Verge
Humans got lucky. That’s the only explanation the t’sa will accept. They lucked into the discovery of dark matter physics and the mass reactor less than a century after discovering the fusion generator. They lucked out again when, having only just begun space exploration, an older, wiser species simply handed them working knowledge of gravity technology. And luck blessed humanity a third time – again with fraal assistance-with the largely accidental invention of the stardrive.
The t’sa did it the hard way, without the helping hands of friends and fortune. The t’sa built up their expertise and civilization over 20 millennia-longer than human history even pre- tends to remember. The t’sa were developing their solar system while humans were erecting tetrahedrons in the desert. When humans confirmed that their world was indeed round, the t’sa sent their first robotic probes into the depths of interstellar space. And around the time humanity detonated an atomic bomb, the first t’sa colonists fell into a deep cryogenic sleep and began their voyage to nearby stars.
When humans met the t’sa in 2296, the t’sa had claimed five star systems near their homeworld. A group of independent explorers were the first to meet the t’sa, and that may be the one bit of blind luck that t’sa society has had. Even though fate blessed humanity with the stardrive, none of humanity’s young stellar nations could press a clear claim to the t’sa and their stars. T’sa independence was the spark that lit the First Galactic War. Standing on the sidelines, the t’sa observed their fascinating new neighbors, and slowly made friends.
It was a challenge for both species. The t’sa disliked human arrogance, nationalism, and belief in a manifest human destiny for the galaxy. They’re rightfully proud of their accomplishments as a people. As for humans, even the most enlightened were unprepared for a species that demanded equal consideration. With the exception of the fraal, humanity was used to loftily dispensing freedom to the species it encountered.
The t’sa weren’t about to take handouts from anyone, and they didn’t sit idly by while humans colonized the galaxy. They took the opportunity during both galactic wars to settle a few new systems with their own fast driveships. These planets were settled with incredible speed, because their ships could each carry millions of t’sa settlers in cryogenic sleep in their cargo holds, eliminating the need for life support by treating the settlers like bulk goods. Soon swarms of hard-working colonists were raising t’sa cities on new worlds. Within a few months, tens of millions of t’sa could settle a world or an entire system. When humanity looked around after GW1, the T’sa Cluster had expanded by three densely populated new worlds. After GW2, the t’sa had settled fifteen more. Today, the T’sa Cluster numbers twenty-three worlds, and the t’sa have petitioned the Concord to settle forty-one new worlds in nearby Concord space. The case is currently under review.
The t’sa today aren’t totally content, but they can be proud that no human government presumes to govern for them. Officially, the T’sa Cluster is a protectorate of the Galactic Concord. For all practical purposes, the t’sa have complete independence within their space. The t’sa also have standing invitations to be- come citizens of any stellar nation. Almost a tenth of the t’sa have left their homelands behind to join human affairs.
Exciting humans provide an answer to t’sa restlessness. The t’sa, more than any sentient species, are a curious people. They like to know, to find things out, to discover. To many t’sa, humanity’s scientific and stellar explorations are irresistible. It’s impossible not to join in.