From Autonomicon Mk. II
|The Scinfaxi Hegemony|
For thousands of years the Scinfaxi had spread across the Orion Arm. A parasitoid alien consciousness, the Scinfaxi mind was driven by the simple need to expand, to spread the virus that sustained them. Unable to even conceptualize failure, they swept across the galaxy. On planets that harbored life The Virus absorbed all it touched, transforming once fertile worlds into barren husks of Scinfaxi growth.
Sentient life, while rare had been encountered by the Scinfaxi periodically over the course of their expansion. While the spread of The Virus had been slowed considerably by resistance, over time such resistance withered and the nature of the conquered races was absorbed into the Scinfaxi mind. In several cases the process of absorption was left incomplete as elements of the opposing races escaped from the grasp of the Scinfaxi into space. While unfortunate, the Scinfaxi were content with the knowledge that sooner or later the advance of the Virus would catch up with those remnants.
In the 12th century the elder pioneers of the Scinfaxi race encountered Earth. To their collective mind the human race was an enigma. The thought processes of humanity were odd and crippled to them, devoid of telepathy and trapped in a cauldron of emotion. Nevertheless the world was in the path of the Scinfaxi advance and despite the peculiarities of the inhabitants a conversion ship was sent.
With the arrival of the conversion ship in 1943, the Scinfaxi mind was as close to astonished as their race could perceive. Unlike the other species they had encountered, humanity had advanced technologically far faster than they would have believed possible. In the end however it changed nothing, Scinfaxi ships landed across the planet spreading The Virus across the atmosphere.
Already embroiled in the Second World War an unprepared for such an event of this magnitude, humanity was at first incapable of withstanding the onslaught. But even as cities burned and one green pastures were replaced by fields of red Scinfaxi growth, the leaders of the greatest nations on Earth forged an alliance of desperation.
The United States, British Empire, Greater German Reich, Soviet Union, and the Empire of Japan agreed to an immediate armistice and for the first time in history all the peoples of Earth were united in a common purpose, against a common foe.
Even unified however, resistance to the Scinfaxi seemed hopeless. Asia was transformed into a monstrous killing field as untold millions were swept up in the Scinfaxi advance, with millions more now refugees seeking a safe haven from the destruction.
In Europe and Africa the situation was the same, as civilization broke down across the continent, the masses of humanity sought any refuge they could find. In desperation the British Empire and Third Reich turned to chemical weapons, as their armies turned from a strategy of static defense to coordinated withdrawals meant to buy time for civilian evacuees. The British Isles in particular were nearly emptied of civilians as the United Kingdom was drastically reorganized to provide the means of a continuance of government.
Across the Atlantic, the Americas were split in two as Scinfaxi occupied territories stretched from Argentina to Illinois. Compounded with an immense refugee crisis, US control of the westernmost states collapsed, forcing a separate emergency government into existence.
In the Soviet Union resistance to the invaders was aided by the vast distances of the nation. And while the great cities of Russia were spared, the fertile fields of the Ukraine were ravaged by the Virus and the Soviets now faced an immense food shortage. Combined with the influx of millions upon millions of Asian refugees, the Soviet government seemed to be on the verge of collapse.
However in 1944 the first glimmer of hope appeared. In the ruins of Zyhtomyr the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were able to obtain quantities of an immensely reactive material out of the ruins of a Scinfaxi starship. With this newfound material, the Soviet Union detonated humanities first atomic bomb a year later, sacrificing an entire city to blunt the Scinfaxi advance.
As startling as these developments were to the Scinfaxi, another element was even more devasting. The Virus which had successfully spread across hundreds if not thousands of worlds had begun to wither. While it was still present in abundance within the world’s southern hemisphere, as winter set across the north, the Scinfaxi advance stalled.
Faced with atomic detonations across their areas of advance, and the death of the Virus, the Scinfaxi were forced to consolidate their gains and enact new methods of conversion. Against all odds, the human race had been spared.
See: First Scinfaxi War
While the direct threat of the Scinfaxi had been overcome the remaining nations of Earth still faced a monumental challenge. The massive destruction suffered in the war and the resulting refugee crisis transformed human geography overnight.
The Greater German Reich was forced to withdraw from many of its conquests made during the Second World War and consolidate its manpower intro restoring Central and Western Europe. The destruction of nearly the entirety of the German Leadership forced the Reich to dramatically change its structure and policies. While it retained the iconography and image of the Nazi Party, it was no longer the same nation.
The removal of German troops from Eastern Europe granted the Soviet Union an opportunity to reclaim lost territories which it quickly seized upon. Flooded with refugees from Asia, the Soviet Union was in dire need of arable land to feed its massive population. Red Army troops advanced as far as Sofia, eager to claim as much territory as could be had.
In Siberia the arrival of so many evacuees, primarily Chinese created a new cultural identity in the Soviet Union. Maoist theories and doctrines soon held equal weight in the Kremlin to Marxist-Leninist schools of thought. While racial unrest and threats of insurgencies were common, the Soviet Union was able to remain intact.
Anxious to avoid the fate which had befallen Eastern Europe the nations of Scandinavia, now free from German occupation formed a collective pact of military and economic assistance. The Federal Nordic Cooperative, while fragile, would create a new independent nation, the last bulwark of democracy in mainland Europe.
Japan, spared the invasion of its homeland that had befallen the other nations, retreated into a period of isolation. While its civilian population had been sparred, its military assets had been shattered. While it retained control of much of its colonial possessions, it would spend the next two decades ensuring it could maintain them.
North America was perhaps most transformed by the conflict. As the haven for millions upon millions of refugees from all across the word, the United States and Canada were forever transformed. Canada became the new center of the remaining British Empire, its vast territories providing for all the British Commonwealth refugees who no longer had nations to return to. The arrival of a great French population who had taken advantage of German disorder successfully succeeded Quebec, creating a new French government a state of semi-exile. Hundreds of thousands more escaped into North America from nations that no longer existed with nowhere else to go they were allowed to settle in specific areas and denied freedom of movement. Branded the "Nations Within Nations" program, it effectively created a population of second class citizens.
America, which had been split into two nations during the war, was faced with the task of reunification. Yet so great was the devastation that no agreement could be made on a united reconstruction effort. While committed to an economic union, the Andrean Republic and United States of America would be left to rebuild as separate nations.
The greatest change however was the new border that extended from California to the Mediterranean to Mongolia to New Guinea. All the nations of Earth now faced a new and terrible threat that threatened to resurface at any moment.
|The Space Race|
The activities of the Scinfaxi within the Quarantine Zone were totally unknown to humanity, nearly permanently concealed beneath great black clouds; thousands of black towers appeared, directing massive amounts of an unknown energy into the atmosphere. While the specific nature of these machines could only be guessed at, reconnaissance was attempted at every opportunity.
In the late 1950s a hypothesis developed, one that was not shared with the general public. It was theorized the towers were somehow altering the planets environment, adapting it to better suit the Scinfaxi and their Virus. If continued unabated, it was estimated the planet would no longer be suitable for human life within 300 years.
The great powers realized this independently and met in secret to discuss the future of the human race. While nuclear weaponry had proven effective during the war, the number of bombs required to eliminate the Scinfaxi would surely destroy mankind as well. The options seemed limited to a Scinfaxi holocaust or an atomic one.
After weeks of debate the German representatives announced a third alternative. Experimenting with the Scinfaxi fuel source, and using it as a basis for terrestrial alternatives they had already made significant advances in rocketry and heat shielding. With further development, and international cooperation, colonizing extrasolar planets might be possible.
That international cooperation never became a reality, the nations of Earth having reverted to a pre-invasion mindset in regards to their human neighbors. The advance into space however became the focal point of each nation, and after numerous rocket and satellite launches, the Greater German Reich became the first nation to land a man on the moon in 1967.
After that, the space race intensified, the newly formed Allied Federation and the Soviet Union achieved their own moon landings in the following years and decades, and by the year 2000 13 different manned stations were in orbit of the Earth.
Spreading across the Solar System gave mankind access to new resources and new opportunities but the threat of a resurgent Scinfaxi was never far from the minds of human leaders. The Solar System was viewed not as the final frontier of human exploration, but rather as a mere stepping stone to the thousands of stars that lay beyond.
|The Colonization Programs|
When the slow transformation of Earth by the Scinfaxi towers became public knowledge in 2034, public support for space exploration exploded. The Soviet Union, German Reich, and Imperial Japan were able to leverage this support into a “total war” mindset. Each nation became utterly devoted to the goal of escaping the Solar System, building infrastructure and conducting research at an increasingly rapid rate.
It was the United States however that made the greatest breakthrough. It’s immense private industry and academic freedom was perfectly suited to the great task facing humanity. In 2085 an unmanned spacecraft made the first faster than light jump, jumping from Mars to Pluto in roughly 4 minutes. Manned spacecraft soon followed suite and the construction of the first interstellar fleet begun.
Hundreds of systems had been cataloged for possible expansion in the preceding decades and now both automated and manned probes undertook survey missions to find the best locations for the first human colonies. Alpha Centauri, home to a planet that could be terraformed in a matter of months and rich with vast amounts of resources became the site for mankind’s first extrasolar colony.
The expense of establishing such a colony was too great for any one nation however, and the Allied Federation proposed a joint effort with the other major powers. Eager to gain experience in extrasolar settlement and interstellar logistics, the Soviet Union and Greater German Reich accepted. Only Imperial Japan was not involved, preferring to remain in relative isolation.
The terraforming of Alpha Centauri and the establishment of the first colonies achieved a success well in excess of even the most optimistic predictions. The plants and simple animals and insects that survived the terraforming process were discovered to be quite primitive when compared to life on Earth; Terran crops swept aside all native life enabling self-sufficiency on the colony in under a year.
What could have been the first example of rewarding cooperation between the nations involved however soon became strangled in politics and began to decay. What began as a symbol of hope and peace, the Alpha Centauri colony was reduced to a bargaining chip, as each nation leveraged their support for the colony to affect politics on Earth.
The colony descended into riots as its populace fell into nationalist or secessionist movements, basic services fell apart and for a period of nearly three weeks the colony was without any recognized government. Combined with the drastically falling cost of manufacturing faster than light vessels and supporting off- world colonies Alpha Centauri was granted independence, the minority of colonists still loyal to their respective superpower were shipped to the newly forming Soviet, German, and Allied colonies across the Orion Arm.
|The Sol Treaties|
By the start of the 22nd century the environment of Earth had begun to deteriorate, the effects of the Scinfaxi devices in the Southern Hemisphere were now being felt across the globe as the atmosphere itself grew deadly.
The race off-world intensified and the role of private corporations greatly increased, soon colonization charters were granted to private citizens free to establish colonies outside the rule of any major government. Dozens and then hundreds of privately funded colonies were established, and while the majority eventually became state funded and merged into the territories of one of the superpowers, a small remained seperate and grew into independent nations, mirroring the development of Alpha Centauri.
These neutral colonies became of great importance to the Allied Federation as it struggled to transport those part of the "Nations Within Nations" program off world. In an effort to provide a new home for people they could not hope to accommodate on their colonies, the "Sanctuary Worlds" program was created. In return for accepting refugees from Earth, neutral colonies would receive economic incentives and aid in the future.
The arrival of hundreds of thousands of people across a few dozen worlds created a demographic crisis across the Solar Sector. Colonies that once thought as themselves as German or English now identified as Cetians, Gallerians or Tanarsians.
Wary over the potential for future conflicts and heavily invested in the unfettered development of their own colonies, the nations of Earth and the newly formed independent colonies signed a series of treaties that would later become known as the Sol Doctrine. The Soviet Union, Greater German Reich, Empire of Japan and the member states of the Allied Federation would settle no worlds in any system already claimed by one another power and the sovereignty of the neutral colonies would be respected. Any colonies in violation of these terms prior to the signing of these treaties would be relocated or offered independence. The Sol Doctrine would become one of the guiding tenants of human exploration, creating tangible power blocs for each power and giving rise to modern interstellar politics.
On Earth the last remnants of humanity were steadily transported to the colonies. The Scinfaxi Virus, so successfully contained in the southern hemisphere now began to spread north, outbreaks occurred in every region and the effects of winter no longer hindered its spread. The Scinfaxi were finally ready to resume their conquest.
All across the quarantine zone alien tripods advanced into human territories in such ferocity not seen since their initial landings. Modern human weaponry, infinitely more advanced than their predecessors in World War 2 proved no more capable against Scinfaxi weaponry and produced only the slightest resistance.
It was moment humanity had prepared for and transports departing for the colonies left every hour of every day. Transports in service all across the human colonies were repurposed and sent back to Earth to assist in the evacuation.
The Second Scinfaxi War preceded much like the first, delaying actions were fought on the outskirts of every remaining city, buying precious hours for those on the transports. The war grew in scale as Scinfaxi aircraft no longer restricted to targets simply on the surface of Earth attacked ships across the system. Unprepared for space warfare hundreds of human starships were lost.
Three years after their advance resumed the Scinfaxi claimed the last pockets of human territory on Earth. In a last act of defiance, thousands of nuclear weapons were launched at the surface of the planet, and the entire system was placed in quarantine. No human would ever set foot on the surface of the Earth again.
|The Golden Age of Exploration|
The next century saw humanity re-establish its civilization as an interstellar one. Colonies grew, prospered, and soon rivaled Earth at its height in both population and industrial development. While the vast majority of these worlds were under the control of the superpowers, many remained independent, some recognizable as predecessors of smaller Earth nations while others totally unique with no cultural identity dating past the evacuation. While none of these nations could never hope to match the superpowers in any capacity, regional and middle powers emerged, seeking their own spheres of influence and at times challenging one another for control.
The great task of reconstruction over, old rivalries began to take hold and the great nations began to redevelop their militaries, reading themselves for the next major war, whether it be against the Scinfaxi or a human neighbor. On many worlds, particularly those with more than one independent nation state, conflicts broke out, often thinly veiled proxy wars between larger, more powerful nations. On Juno, Sirus, Joseph, Heinlein, Silverhold, Welles, the list goes on, wars were fought between those of different religion, ideology or benefactor.
With the cost of interstellar travel now reduced to within the means of the average citizen, a large piracy element was born, eager to prey on shipping often dozens of light years from the nearest protected system. Even the poorest of nations could operate a fleet of spacecraft, and havens for those operating outside the law appeared across the Orion Arm.
|Dawn of Victory|
Nowhere in the Orion Arm was the situation more perilous then on the border worlds between the Soviet Union and the Greater German Reich. Their mutual hatred undeterred throughout the centuries each began plans to move against the other.
The star systems of Tanarus, Galleria, and Orson became the setting for the next great game between the powers. Both sought influence there with the local independent nations, providing military aid, economic assistance and even deploying observers. Rivalry between the two powers intensified and it became only a matter of time before open conflict between the two superpowers would ignite.
When war broke out between two alliances on Tanarsus the seeds of a greater future conflict began to grow. The Greater German Reich and Soviet Union both gave nearly unlimited assistance to their respective alliances on the planet investing everything to win influence over a vital strategic system. When the war ended with the victory of communist-aligned nations, the Soviet Union finally had a vital system from which to launch an invasion of the Reich.
It was the Greater German Reich that struck first however, under the pretence of preventing further Soviet aid to the nations of Tanarsus it moved to occupy the system starting a chain of events that would start the Soviet-German war.
Tanarsus, Galleria, and Orson became battlegrounds for a conflict never before seen in human history. Thousands of starships, millions of troops were deployed to a front extending across a dozen worlds. Since then the conflict has only escalated, seeking to open a new front and break the stalemate, the Greater German Reich has broken the Sol Doctrine and invaded the German breakaway colony of Vega, a system at the heart of interstellar trade.
No better is the situation between the Empire of Japan and the Democratic Federation, as in moves paralleling those on the Tanarsus, have backed nations in proxy wars across the Orion Arm.
Worse still is the fact that the Scinfaxi are not blind to the rise and expansion of humanity. As the old alliances of mankind fall apart they begin their plans to complete what they had started nearly three centuries before.