Star*Drive: Visions of the Verge
Union of Sol
The Union of Sol rests at the core of humanity. The hub between all of the stellar nations, it remains a center for trade, diplomacy, and intellectual pursuits. Whatever other stellar nations may claim about their place in the galaxy, man is Solar. Humanity has not sailed so far or so wide as to forget its origins, and Earth is the mutual center. And it shall remain that way, so say the Solars.
That Solars are arrogant nationalists has never been disputed. Neither has the nation’s place in humanity’s past and present.
The history of the Solar Union is the history of mankind, the description of which fills libraries of electronic files. Until the 22nd century, the history of man is the history of Earth, and not until the 23rd century can one attempt to claim that men and women lived and died independent of Earth’s influence. Warfare between nations and eventually corporations continued all the while, and many historians consider humanity lucky to have survived long enough to discover the stardrive. Now, humans have ensured the survival of the species by spreading throughout this region of the Orion Arm. While utopians and radicals fled the Sol system and eventually declared their independence, life continued on Earth.
Earth nations poured their own resources into space even while continuing their intense competition. Gradually, the superpowers devoted more and more resources to the colonization of space, and the systems near Sol all fell under Earth’s direct control. Farther out, independent colonies grew at a feverish rate, and the new colonies gave birth to new stellar-based powers. So many newly explored planets held human life that by the mid-23rd century, Earth’s leaders could no longer control them. To further muddy the waters, the stellar colonies declared a desire for independence from the homeworld.
In 2250, the Terran Empire was declared. The Proxima conflicts lasted only a few years; openly defiant systems were systematically brought to heel. The Terran Empire and its Imperial Council claimed the right to govern all human affairs.
Although the Proxima conflicts discouraged political agitation for the next 20 years, the Terran Empire was a failure from its conception. Earth’s nations continued to bicker over power and seat assignments on the Imperial Council even as the fledgling stellar nations sought their own representation. More and more of Earth’s populace left the earthbound rivalries behind by fleeing into space.
In the end, the Asiatic Union seized control of the Imperial Council by co-opting (one way or another) more than half of the council’s 100 voting members. Ironically, the move was Only possible because most of Earth’s superpowers had relocated their capitals to the stars. Still, the leadership of the early Asiatics was refined and benign; a multitude of cultures thrived. At the same time, final steps were taken for the protection of Earth’s biosphere. By then, Earth was the worldwide metropolis that modern Solars know today, a ball of mud en- circled by water and asphalt. The council instituted strict measures to prevent further erosion of Earth’s environment.
The new leadership did not, however, show any leniency toward the upstart colonies. The Terran Empire put down several rebellious colonies that refused to acknowledge the dictates of the council. The military might of Earth and its tightly held neighbors could easily match the strength of half the growing stellar nations. But as their power and stability continued to grow, the stellar nations demonstrated more and more contempt for the Imperial Council.
The Thuldan Empire was the first to claim independence in 2298. Although the Empire was one of the strongest of the stellar nations, the move was unexpected, given the constant Thuldan speeches crying for humanity’s unification. Instead of a swift military response, the Imperial Council rattled its saber and tried to cajole the Thuldans back into the fold. The posturing lasted for more than a year, and most of the new stellar nations took the Council’s reluctance to attack as a sign of weakness. Dozens of the tiny star-born nation-states threw in with the Thuldans, and the First Galactic War began.
If the stellar nations had kept to their unified purpose, the war would have quickly ended. Instead, the nations spent al- most as much time fighting one another as they did fighting the Terran Empire. After 12 years of war, the Imperial Council capitulated and recognized the independence of the stellar nations. The Treaty of Earth dissolved the Terran Empire and replaced it with the 26th stellar nation, the Union of Sol.
The Second Galactic War
The new Solar Council had no desire to enter into another war a short 30 years after the first was concluded. The Union of Sol had just finished decade-long reconstruction projects on Earth and in the nearby ring of systems. Solar vessels for the first time had joined in the exploration of the deeper reaches of space, visiting sites as far off as the Verge
When the war opened in 2346, the Union immediately declared neutrality. For almost two decades, the Solars held onto that neutrality. The Solar defense forces kept incursions and skirmishes to’ a minimum while Solar industry went to work to increase the size and strength of the Solar navy. With the creation of the Expansion Pentad in 2361, the nature of the war changed for the Solars. The Thuldans had already crushed several of their neighbors, and the Solars thought – correctly – that they would be next on the Thuldans’ list. The bad blood between Solars and Thuldans was already a century old. In response, the Union of Sol formed the Profit Confederation with the Rigunmor Star Consortium, Austrin-Ontis Unlimited, and StarMech. With the aid of its new allies
and sometimes the assistance of the FreeSpace Alliance the Solars pushed the Thuldans back. It was ironic that when the war finally ended in 2472, the Solar Union had grown by 20%.
When the Union of Sol formed in 2312, many of the institutions of the Terran Empire survived. The Solar Council operates with much of the old Imperial hierarchy. After the war ended, for the first time colony planets held more seats than those given over to Earth itself. Today, Earth still controls 42 of the 100 seats, and many Solar colonies are unrepresented at the highest level of government.
One decisive change in the Union was the anointing of a chief executive, the Sunlord. A charismatic figure in the Imperial Council, Jimol Gatanita, became the first Sunlord, and after his death the position became hereditary. For the most part, the Sunlord is a figurehead: he performs the role of public spokes- person for the Solar Council’s decisions. The military reports directly to the Council, and the Sunlord’s legal powers to check the Council are seldom exercised. The Sunlord’s actual function is to act as the Council’s foreign minister, meeting with heads of state to iron out political and economic agreements. The cur- rent Sunlord is Acron Gatanita. His daughter, the temperamental and ambitious Princess Cestre, will become the first female Sunlord as soon as Acron retires, possibly within the decade.
Despite internal calls for disarmament, the Solar Union retains a strong fighting force. Military service is voluntary, but generally considered a position of honor and a prelude to a life of public service in the Solar government. Traditionally, the Sunlord and his heirs spend at least a few years in the navy. Younger sons and daughters of the Sunlord’s family have been known to make a career of the military; whenever a visitor to the Union asks about ‘Admiral Gatanita,’ a Solar must respond ‘Which one?’ Ten fortress ships bear the Solar flag; the first and largest of these, the Kiku, is also the Sunlord’s flagship in limes of war.
The Solar economy is among the healthiest Earth’s location at the center of explored space still makes it an ideal trading and diplomatic center. Solar planets tend to have large, educated populations, but few resources. Solar mining corporations, for example, swept the solar system’s moons and asteroids clear of valuable materials almost a century ago. The Solar economy has evolved to focus on manufacturing and services, raw materials are imported for refinement and manufacturing. Solar financial markets run second only to the Rigunmors’, and since the Earth financial market doesn’t move as the Star Consortium’s does, many favor it over the mobile Rigunmor financial centers.
Surrounded by history, the Solars are often accused of arrogance and self-centeredness. It is a claim that Solars are quick to refute, citing their interest in helping all of humanity find diplomatic solutions to its problems.
That desire to serve as the galaxy’s diplomats has made the Solar relationship with the Concord difficult. Most Solars view the creation of the Concord as entirely unnecessary. After all, the Union of Sol, as the center of humanity, is perfectly capable of fulfilling the Concord’s charter. This new upstart, say the Solars, is a subtle insult. Solars rarely miss an chance to upstage a Concordan on issues of charity, policy, or governance.
Playing A Solar
With nearly 60 billion sentients on Earth and most habitable worlds experiencing acute problems of overpopulation, Solars are accustomed to a crowded, urban lifestyle. As necessity pushes planetary populations thousands of meters below or above the ground, or ultimately into space, the stellar nation at the center of humanity faces unique challenges.
As the caretakers of Earth, Solars are surrounded by history. Over 4,000 years of recorded history passed before men and women left their homes for the stars, and only the Solars can truly appreciate the ties to the past. As a result, they have radical environmental goals. To preserve Earth’s surviving native flora and fauna, they forbid any interference by humanity in the Union Preserves. On Earth and the colony worlds they’ve discovered and settled, Solars display the deepest respect for ecological issues. In many cases, they do more than preserve native creatures; they restore damaged biospheres and ensure species survival by elaborate stewardship arrangements.
Even while aggressive steps are taken to prohibit the loss of natural treasures, Solars protect Earth’s cultures. Human history is filled with examples of extract and endangered cultures. Today, years after humanity left Earth behind, Solar communities and individuals attempt to preserve the human cultures of Earth. Many Solars adopt the lifestyle and fashions of a lost age, such as the precolonial Aztecs, imperial Japan, independent Athens, or 17th-century France. Ethnic origin plays a role, but many Solars join cultures outside their own heritage. Since most Solars take part to some degree, almost every culture that ever was finds representation in the Union.
Of course, if the Union is to survive, it must look to the future as well as the past. 0nly the most radical Solars completely abandon modern technology in their devotion to ancient cultures. Most Solars strike a balance between the culture they grew up in, and the demands of the present day. Though Solars care about the past, Solar driveships also roam the edges of human space, seeking new frontiers and new resources for the overpopulated and resource-hungry nation.
Solars show great respect for native life forms, but they rarely tolerate mutants and genetically altered humans. Some attribute this attitude to the Solars’ sense of historical and cultural stewardship. Others point to the Solars’ long dislike of the Thuldans, whom the Solars consider little more than filthy mutant freaks. Thuldans and others don’t answer the Solar bigotry directly. Whatever the reason, genetically altered humans are usually given a very hostile reception in Solar space. Solar diversity doesn’t seem to be harmed by its dominantly Japanese leadership, and religious freedom is widely accepted. Old Earth religions remain the most common. The younger religions have met with small, but growing, success.