Sunday, August 07, 2005

Developing a Background: Part Two

Here is the second part of the "Exodus Project" timeline. Notice that I've provided a lot more detail for the second 33 years than I did for the first. This is important, as it is the events that occurred during the present generation's memory that will most affect your characters.

The Exodus Project
Background and History (Part Two)

Summer 2031: Mining operations begin on Mercury's surface. The Venus Mining Corporation arrives in Mercury orbit with cargo ships which will transport the Venusian half of the extracted raw materials. To the surprise of all, the cargo ships are escorted by three armed corvettes. Mars strongly protests the introduction of armed warships in space. The Jovian habitat chooses this moment to announce the formation of the Jovian Realm under the rule Queen Anne I. The first ship of the Royal Jovian Navy, the HMS Jove, is commissioned just six months later.

Spring 2032: Escorted by a four-ship task force, including a new destroyer-class spacecraft, the Venusian Mining Corporation begins mining operations on Ceres in the asteriod belt. No communication has been received from the Vesta habitat since spring of 2030. The Vesta colony does not break its silence even as the Venusians bring warships into "their" territory. Speculations as to the fate of the colony abound. Meanwhile, living conditions for the impoverished Mercurians continue to deteriorate.

Summer 2033: In response to obviously expanding Venusian interests, the Martian habitat announces the formation of the Federal Republic of Mars and the birth of the Republican Navy. True to the Martians' reputation, the three RN destroyers are the fastest ships in the Solar System, in addition to sporting more advanced weaponry than any other solar nation.

Fall 2035: The FRM launches an exploratory probe toward Vesta to attempt to determine the colony's fate. An engine misfire puts the probe into a tumble, preventing rendezvous, but approach images show no signs of life in orbit or on the asteroid itself.

22 October 2038: Twelve Mercurian commandos, disguised as cargo handlers, sneak aboard the VMCS Vulcan's Forge, capturing the destroyer. With the Venusian crew locked in their quarters, the Mercurians open fire on the other Venusian ship in the system, the VMCS Daedelus. The surprised light cruiser is disabled before she can fire a shot. The War of Mercurian Independence has begun.

25 October 2038: An aging Jaquil Fahir broadcasts a plea for assistance to the solar nations. The FRM publicly declares neutrality in the conflict, but popular Martian opinion is clearly with the Mercurians. The FRM arranges a "loan" of an uncrewed light cruiser and two uncrewed destroyers. Queen Anne responds that the Mercurians willingly entered into a legal and binding agreement with the Venusians and so the Realm would provide no assistance to a group of "brigands and pirates". Her advisors would spend years smoothing over this blunder of diplomacy, and the "Queen's Retort" would be a sore point in Jovian-Mercurian relations for decades to come.

Spring 2039: A fleet of converted Mercurian cargo ships led by the captured Venusian destroyer (renamed the MSS Vengence) arrives in Venus orbit. The First Battle of Venus (so named by the Mercurians even before there was a Second Battle of Venus) is counted a Mercurian victory. Even though Mercurian casualties were high, the task force succeeds in disabling the main Venusian shipyard for well over a year. The Mercurians make good use of this time with a crash program of warship construction.

21 November 2044: After six years of war, and both Venusian and Mercurian infrastructures near collapse, an armistice is signed between the two nations on the Martian moon of Phobos. The Treaty of Phobos ends the Venusian occupation of Mercury, but grants sizable reparations to the Venusian Mining Corporation, to be paid upon a set schedule over the next ten years. Both parties leave the negotiation table unsatisfied but physically unable to continue the war. The Mercurians note that this is the second time they have been forced to mortgage their prosperity for their lives, and swear "never again".

Spring 2046: Peace reigns in the Solar System for the first time in nearly a decade. The Jovian Realm, unaffected by the fighting and blessed with fabulous mineral resources in her satellites, has become the most prosperous of the solar nations. With much ceremony, the RJN launches a trade fleet toward the Inner System, the first journey sunward of this distance in the history of humanity.

Winter 2047: The FRM announces the successful testing of the first deuterium-tritium fusion drive, as an FRM scout ship becomes the first crewed vessel to visit the Saturnian system. Completely modular, the drive can be fitted on ships ranging fom the smallest scouts to the largest warships and merchants. All of the solar nations immediately apply for licensing of the new technology. After an eight-month layover, the visiting Jovian fleet is the first foreign fleet to be retrofitted with the new drive.

Summer 2048: A resource-desperate Earth looks skyward again for the first time in a generation, but no longer posseses the technology to compete with the other solar nations. A Venusian envoy is sent to Earth: in exchange for a military alliance and a market for Venusian goods, the VMC will pass its technology on to the nations of Earth. Together, they will engage in wholesale exploitation of the asteroid belt. This will provide a badly-needed personnel and economic boost to the Venusians and essentially limitless resources and the technology to exploit them to the nations of Earth. Simon Gonzales, Secretary-General of the United Nations, signs the accord on behalf Earth's heads of state. In their eagerness, the Earthers are completely unaware that the VMC intends to honor the alliance only long enough to rebuild its economic base to the point where it can achieve its ultimate objective: the defeat of the Jovian Realm and the defacto economic domination of the Solar System.

27 June 2050: Mercurian habitat commander Jaquil Fahir dies of congestive heart failure. His son Amman formally assumes command, though he has been effectively in charge since the war. He is immediately declared President by the people of Mercury.

Fall 2053: The USS New Hope, a dedicated exploration and mining vessel is launched by the United States from low Earth orbit. Accompanied by a new Venusian escort cruiser and two Venusian destroyers, the task force sets out for Pallas. After a quarter-century, native Earthers are back in space.

Summer 2055: Queen Anne of the Jovian Realm is confined to her bed indefinitely due to a mysterious illness. After much prodding, the aging monarch abdicates the throne in favor of her nephew Prince Roderick. Roderick is crowned King Roderick I by August.

14 February 2056: The Jovian Solar Network beams its first broadcast to the Inner System. While the reporting is considered reasonably fair and impartial, the Martians in particular are appalled by the decadence the Jovian culture. While far from prudes themselves, the Martians have managed to hold on to their egaltarian, frontier attitude far more than any of the other solar nations. Nevertheless, the event is marked as the first step towards bridging the vast distances, cultural as well as physical, between the solar nations.

Summer 2057: A Martian expedition discovers a slug-like lifeform on Saturn's moon, Titan. All the powers of the Solar System agree to prohibit development on Titan and restrict access to the surface to scientific missions only.

13 October 2057: King Roderick marries Janice Weston, a commoner from the Ganymede Settlement. "Queen J", is an immediate hit with the Jovian populace. In celebration of their marriage, the Royal Jovian Navy stages a fly-by of the Royal Couple by every warship of the fleet, including the newly-commissioned King Roderick-class battleship, the largest warship in the Solar System. The event is broadcast on JSN, stunning the Inner System with the sheer size of the Jovian fleet. Three months later the head of the UN arrives in Venus orbit for an extended summit with the VMC.

Spring 2059: Accompanied by her escorts, the UNSS Hornet, the first spaceborne fighter carrier, makes a "goodwill" visit to the Jovian Realm.

Summer 2060: The Mercurian Navy attackes a VMC "mining installation" on the asteroid Geographos. The MN fleet consists of two heavy cruisers and three destroyers versus an entire Venusian carrier battle group, including a battleship and two heavy cruisers; the Mercurians are victorious after a protracted 14-hour battle. It is the largest military action ever taken in the Solar System and the first since the War of Mercurian Independence. Initial hostile reaction by the other nations is quelled when the Mercurians reveal that the base was a research center for biological and chemical warfare. While the evidence is incontroversial, it is not lost upon the solar nations that there were no Venusian survivors of the attack at all. The ferocity of the Mercurian warriors earns them the fear and, perhaps, the gruding respect of the remainder of humanity.

Winter 2060: Tensions between the Jovian Realm and the Venusian Mining Corporation become strained when a VMC spy is discovered working deep within the Jovian military research organization.

Spring 2061: Martian scientists working on Titan publish a report on the Titanian lifeforms. The report contains a description of the lifeforms' habitat which intimates that Titan could be the largest treasure trove of water, minerals, and hydrocarbons in the Solar System. The VMC immediately sends its own teams to the Saturnian system to "aid in the research".

Spring 2062: VMC analysis of the Titan data indicates that development of the Saturnian system could supply the projected needs of much of the Solar System for centuries to come. A joint VMC-UN fleet is hastily assembled from Belt patrols for the journey to Saturn. The departing vessels are detected by FRM listening posts, and the Republican Navy orders its task force at Titan to protect the Titanian lifeforms and the research outpost. The Mercurian Navy, operating deep in the asteroid belt, intercepts the FRM call and moves its task force towards Saturn to intercept the Venusians, but makes it clear they have no interest in Titan itself or its inhabitants. The vagrancies of celestial mechanics, however, place the Jovian Realm with no ships capable of responding in time. King Roderick personally calls Lauren Jameson, the CEO of VMC, but she refuses to take the monarch's call. Roderick, unwilling to risk participating in what could very well lead to another intra-Solar System war, washes his hands of the matter.

22 December 2062: The Mercurian fleet arrives at Titan, but maintains its distance from the Martian fleet. Cheerful calls from the Martian flagship are met with stony silence. On an open channel, the Martian commander warns that he will defend the research outpost and the Titanians themselves at any cost. The Mercurian fleet continues to ignore them.

31 December 2062: The VMC-UN fleet is sighted on approach to Titan. They too ignore all hails from the Martians.

1 January 2063: The VMC-UN fleet accelerates to attack speed and heads towards the satellite. The Mercurians accelerate to intercept. The Martian fleet goes to general quarters, but maintains its position above the outpost. By mid-afternoon battle is joined.

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