The Colonies of Beyond Sector: Yang 3

The Yang Corporation is one of the largest interstellar corporations in Imperial space. It has more employees than the population of an average planet, and an annual turnover which can be measured as a meaningful percentage of Imperial GDP. It is far easier to list the goods which the Corporation cannot produce than it is to list the ones it does produce.

Wei Yang was a junior executive aboard one of the colony ships Helen Cleon led into space. As the Terran Mercantile Association grew and transformed into the Terran Space Empire, the Yang Corporation grew with it. It built warships for the Imperial Navy to conquer new worlds, pre-fabricated shelters for the Ministry of Colonisation, and massive super-computers for the Ministry of Finance.

The fact that the Corporation survives until the present day can partly be attributed to its size and its closeness to the Imperial authorities, and partly due to its decentralised structure. The Yang Corporation is technically only an umbrella corporation; it doesn’t make anything and employs relatively few workers. The rest of the corporation is broken up into a horde of autonomous divisions, franchises, subsidiaries, and shell corporations. Individual sub-units have on occasion gone bankrupt, been bought outright by third parties, been arrested en masse by Imperial authorities, or simply disappeared, but the overarching Yang Corporation carries on.

Yang 3 is – as the name would suggest – the third planet the Corporation has bought. The initial survey report by the Ministry of Colonisation noted the unbreathable atmosphere, the lack of liquid water, the lack of a magnetosphere to protect from stellar radiation and the absence of any strategic minerals. It was promptly logged as Beyond2147/8/F and deemed not suitable for colonisation. However, for the Yang Corporation purposes, it was ideal; close to a significant population who could purchase Yang products, who were sufficiently geographically distant from the Imperial Core to make shipping problematic; well situated within that market; and available very cheaply.

The colonisation rights were purchased for a pittance, Yang 3 ILC (Imperial Limited Company) was promptly spun up and a colony ship dispatched to settle the world. Within a generation, the Executive Board had created a thriving manufacturing centre in great underground cities. Focussing initially on consumer goods and heavy machinery, Yang 3 was soon exporting goods to the rest of the sector and was held up as an ideal example of New Beyonder world.

The surface of Yang 3 is uninhabitable without heavy-duty protective equipment and so the population lives underground. Conditions are cramped, and industrial accidents are regrettably common. 10 years ago, worker discontent boiled over and sparked civil unrest which was only suppressed with the assistance of Imperial Civil Stabilisation units from the Ministry of Stability. Since that date, the Executive Board has opted to create an advisory group for the workers to air their grievances. While all workers are permitted to vote for the members of this group, all candidates must be pre-approved by the Executive Board, and the Advisory Group has no power beyond access to the Board. The Corporation has also supplied additional funds for internal security, and the Security Division’s surveillance is omnipresent.

Beyond Sector is the sector furthest from the Imperial Core, and the Yang 3 ILC Executive Board thus operates with even greater autonomy than most Yang subsidiaries. The local executives cannot afford to wait a month for instructions from Head Office on an immediate crisis, and accordingly are granted considerable latitude. This unusual situation is compounded by the fact that Yang 3 ILC is recognised by the Sector Governor as a world government, and thus the corporation’s PR department carries out work comparable to a foreign ministry in most governments.

Current issues concerning the Board include the increase in political tensions in the sector, and how best to maximise profit from this; whether the increase in productivity which could be gained by introducing gene-modded workers would outweigh the inevitable worker unrest; and an ongoing rivalry in high-tech products with Helen’s World.

The Colonies of Beyond Sector: New Angeles

New Angeles – a new Beyond! It was with this slogan that the Ministry of Colonisation started to promote the post-Reunification New Beyonder initiative. The intention was to settle entirely new worlds within Beyond Sector, both to show the locals the advantages that Imperial development could bring, and to provide bastions of loyal Imperial citizenry in case of any insurrection amongst the newly conquered worlds.

While Yang 3 was bought outright by the Yang Corporation and Jasmine’s colonisation was a Ministry of Stability program, New Angeles was the Ministry of Colonisation’s pet project. The Ministry of Information ran extensive advertising campaigns on overcrowded Core worlds that touted the opportunity to ‘Start Again’, on a world with enough space for everyone, clean air to breathe, and a chance to create a world from scratch. The government of Elizabeth did raise a protest once the selected world was identified, claiming that they had already earmarked it for future expansion, but they were summarily overruled.

The campaign did successfully raise the number of colonists needed but had an unintended side effect. The sort of people who were willing to sign up for what was likely to be a one-way trip to a distant backwater sector were generally those who were in some way discontented with life in the Imperial Core. Efforts were made to screen out any dangerous radicals, but political activists, idealists, and ideologues of every flavour made the trip.

Many new worlds settled by private initiatives struggle to survive in the first few years, and it can be decades before they become major players in local politics. New Angeles benefited from a development plan drawn up by the Ministry of Colonisation’s brightest minds, and considerable direct investment from the Sector government. Within two decades, New Angeles had been successfully bootstrapped to a position of prominence.

While New Angeles does possess significant industry and agriculture, its most famous output is culture. Numerous holovids, musical compositions, and artworks are produced here. If you want to know what upmarket citizens of Elizabeth or Kentai will be wearing in 6 months – you only need to walk the streets of New Angeles. Certain especially notable performances have even been shown in the Core worlds.

The citizens of New Angeles chose to govern themselves as an indirect democracy, with directly elected senators representing their constituents in the New Angeles Senate. The executive role is filled by a President, who is again directly elected by the citizenry. The population is highly engaged, and pressure groups on almost every conceivable topic can be found here. Freedom of speech, religion and assembly are enshrined in the New Angeles constitution, and few topics are off-limit. The New Angeles Senate has vigorously resisted attempts by the Ministry of Stability to limit acceptable subjects for debate, and thus far the Ministry has not pushed the matter.

One pressure group which deserves specific mention is the Humanist Society. They are dedicated to halting the enslavement of innocents in the name of gene-modding. They hold that it is a barbaric practice which causes unnecessary suffering and have repeatedly petitioned the Sector Governor to outlaw the production of any further gene-mods. This view has popular support on New Angeles, and the Senate has passed motions of condemnation against worlds making use of the technology. Relations with Helen’s World and Elizabeth are unsurprisingly poor.

The New Beyonder ethos is alive and well on New Angeles. Most citizens believe that the advantages their world received from the start require them to ‘return the favour to the galaxy’, and New Angeles does contribute an unusual amount of development aid to its neighbouring worlds. Unfortunately, this attitude has contributed to New Angeles reputation for arrogance and superiority.

 

The Colonies of Beyond Sector: Monmouth

Monmouth was settled during the Great Exodus. Unfortunately, the colonists found their new world would be a challenging one to be a challenging one. While the atmosphere was breathable, the climate was harsh, with frequent storms. More importantly, the world lacked easily accessible sources of various metals vital to modern society. Over time, the people of Monmouth were unable to maintain much of the higher technology they brought with them. Civil society fragmented, with extended family groups – the Clans – becoming the main social unit.

The Clans are integral to the governance of Monmouth. The head of each Clan is entitled to speak at the Moot, which is the governing body of Monmouth. After contact with other spacefaring worlds, the Moot agreed to appoint one of their number as High King, who could speak for all of Monmouth. However, the High King’s authority is nominal, and the title can be claimed by any Chief who believes they are strong enough.

Lacking in material resources or industry, Monmouth’s main export remains its people. Honed by frequent inter-communal violence, Monmouth-born mercenaries are a common sight in brush wars across the Empire. Most notably, the Empire retains several Monmouth Legions, who have distinguished themselves in recent fighting in the Bug War. The Emir of Jasmine also retains an elite company of Monmouth Guards as his personal bodyguard; this role is highly sought after and extremely lucrative.

Approximately 5 years before the Reunification, Monmouth was invaded by Kentai during one of the many Kentai-Matisse conflicts. Easily sweeping aside the Monmouth space forces, the Kentai Grand Fleet landed troops at the clan strongholds and declared victory. This would prove to be premature.

The next 5 years were marked by incessant guerrilla warfare, as the Monmouth clans showed uncommon unity in the face of an external threat. Stung by steadily mounting losses, the Kentai poured in more troops. Reprisals became increasingly common, and several strongholds were simply destroyed by orbital bombardment. While the Monmouth forces had no ability to project power beyond their world, Kentai similarly proved unable to subdue the angry populace.

The matter was eventually decided by the arrival of Terran Space Empire forces, and the declaration of the Reunification War. The Kentai Grand Fleet was withdrawn to meet the new threat, with the Imperial Kentai Cabinet pledging that “they would return and fully subdue the Monmouth rabble once this new threat is dealt with”. Naturally, subjugation of the whole sector by Imperial Forces has delayed any resolution of this matter, but Kentai has never formally revoked its claim on Monmouth.

The Colonies of Beyond Sector: Elizabeth

The colonists who arrived at Elizabeth had a near miss. Had they arrived slightly earlier (geologically speaking), they would have found their world an uninhabitable volcanic hellhole. As it is, they instead stepped off the colony ship and into a veritable paradise. Blessed with an abundance of rich volcanic soil and a temperate climate, Elizabeth was destined to become an agricultural powerhouse.

Governance of the colony was vested in the imaginatively named Land Council. The head of each household was permitted to attend and vote, provided they owned the requisite amount of land. Ownership of land was determined by the area that one group could work and keep productive, and it was felt that only those who were truly invested in the world could be trusted to govern it properly. Initially, this qualification was modest enough that almost every family attended the Land Council. As the population increased the threshold was gradually increased to maintain the Council at a workable size. This lead to several family groups amalgamating to form single large families, and hence meet the threshold for attendance at the council. Now, the requirement is set at 65 million hectares per family.

Once contact was established with the other worlds of Beyond Sector, Elizabeth quickly became the breadbasket of the sector. While most worlds were self-sufficient in food as a matter of necessity, Elizabeth was able to produce food in such quantities that even after shipping costs they could compete with domestic production. Some worlds embraced this new supply while others imposed tariffs to protect their domestic producers, but almost everyone bought food from Elizabeth.

The creation of gene-modding technology revolutionised agriculture on Elizabeth. Previously, the limiting factor in the productivity of estates on Elizabeth had been manpower. The overwhelming cultural importance of owning productive agricultural land had stunted the development of any local industry, and so automated machinery was expensive and imported from off world. Unable to manufacture enough gene-mods to keep up with demand, Helen’s World opted to sell templates for certain patterns of gene-mod and allow the customer to produce from that template. In a landmark ruling, the Land Council ruled that the creation of gene-mods was agriculture, just like raising cattle, and hence families were able to dedicate land to their production without risking their political and social standing. Within a decade, gene-mod labourers outnumbered the citizen population by a ratio of 1000:1. It was this employment of gene-mods which would lead to an attempted invasion by Matisse (repelled with Kentai assistance), and the creation of the Elizabeth Militia Fleet from converted grain transports.

During the Reunification War, the Imperial Navy ordered Rear Admiral Hiram Burrows to assume command of a small task force of battlecruisers and light cruisers and conduct raids against shipping in Beyond Sector. The loss of numerous freighters loaded with grain caused food shortages on several worlds and threatened to collapse the economy of Elizabeth entirely. The Elizabeth Militia Fleet proved ineffective against hardened warships and was incapable of preventing the Imperial 86th Assault Army from making planetfall. Surface resistance was desultory, with the Land Council agreeing to surrender once the Imperial forces had occupied the main space elevators.

Since Reunification, Elizabeth has thrived. The New Beyonder worlds of Yang 3 and Jasmine are utterly dependent on Elizabethan food supplies, and the core sectors of the Empire are a bottomless market for any surplus Elizabeth can produce. The Imperial Navy keeps the trade routes mostly free from piracy, and the Militia has been allowed to degrade to a mostly ceremonial force.

There are essentially three social castes on Elizabeth. The first is the enfranchised heads of families and their immediate kin. They own the land, can vote in the Land Council, and generally reap the benefits of Elizabeth’s prosperity. Social seniority is determined firstly by the length of time a given family has sat on the Land Council, and secondly by the amount of land farmed. The second is the gene-mod labourers making up the vast bulk of the population. With no independent will or emotions, they cause no problems directly. However, certain worlds in Beyond Sector are violently opposed to the technology and have repeatedly petitioned the Governor to declare it illegal.

The third group is the most troublesome, and that is the fully human population of Elizabeth who are not entitled to sit on the Land Council. They work as gene-mod supervisors, in the small service sector, or as skilled workers such as doctors, lawyers, and brokers. While they generally live comfortable and moderately prosperous lives, they have no political power and are nowhere near as wealthy as the landowners. After joining the Empire and gaining access to a bottomless market for its produce, Elizabeth has undergone a second rapid expansion, and for the first time in history a generation of Elizabethans has grown up knowing that all of Elizabeth is now farmed and there is no new land to claim. This effectively eliminates any chance of this disenfranchised group joining the Land Council. At present, discontent is limited to graffiti and other youthful bad behaviour, but some elements of the Land Council are pressing for action to address the issue.

The Colonies of Beyond Sector: Jasmine

Along with New Angeles and Yang 3, Jasmine is one of the ‘New Beyonder’ worlds. This trio of worlds was settled by Imperial colonists after the Reunification War, and accordingly their history is much shorter.

A harsh and arid world, Jasmine was initially settled by members of a minor monotheistic religion known as Thelism which had stirred up religious conflict in the Imperial Core. As often happens in these cases, the Empire decided to solve the issue by offering the faithful the “opportunity” to settle a world that they could mould in their own image. The Ministry of Colonisation dropped off the clergy and their followers on a  barren, arid world with some basic supplies, handed over their file to the local Ministry of Stability, and washed their hands of the matter.

For some decades after that, the people of Jasmine tenaciously continued to survive, forming several smaller states based on control of the limited water and usable agricultural land. Minor raids and skirmishes between tribes were common but kept from escalating by the presence of the Thelite priests, who commanded the respect of all residents of Jasmine.

All of that changed when the faithful stumbled upon the largest deposits of lanthium ever discovered in Beyond Sector. Lanthium is a key strategic mineral vital to Jump Drive construction, and so Jasmine quickly became a site of key importance. The original surveyors from the Ministry of Colonisation were swiftly executed for incompetence; naturally, the priestly leaders of Jasmine credited the intervention of their deity in hiding this blessing for His faithful.

The Ministry of Colonisation quickly granted resource exploitation licences to several multistellar corporations, but initial extraction efforts were marred by frequent conflict. Local tribes fought each other for control of valuable deposits, and often attacked mines and refineries in rival territory. Ultimately, the situation was stabilised when Emir Faisal of the Elhabi unified enough of the tribes behind him to be acclaimed Emir Faisal of Jasmine, First of His Name, Light of Thel, and Protector of Jasmine. His ascent was partially enabled by the untimely deaths of no less than three of his main rivals, a surprising coincidence  which the Thelite priests claimed was a sign of their god’s backing. More cynical observers noted the Imperial interest in a unified, stable Jasmine, and wonder if Imperial covert intervention might not be a more realistic explanation.

The Elhabi dynasty has retained control of Jasmine since that date, in an uneasy dual power structure with the Thelite clergy. The two sides are mutually supporting, with the clergy providing moral authority to the Emir and preaching obedience to authority while the Emir guarantees Theliteism as the state religion and protects the clergy. However, the two sides frequently clash when the Emir attempts to introduce some sort of ‘modernising’ practice which the clergy disapprove of, or when the clergy attempt to extent their domain to cover practical as well as spiritual matters.

Most recently, a proposal to use gene-modded labourers in some of the mines was abruptly reversed in the face of implacable resistance from the clergy, who have deemed the technology forbidden. There are also concerns that the current Emir Fazad is growing old and has not yet named his successor.

The Colonies of Beyond Sector: Matisse

Matisse was settled during the Great Exodus by a colony ship staffed by veterans of a major military power on Earth. They brought with them a sense of purpose and dedication to duty unmatched by almost any other colony ship. Devoted to the worship of a spiritual ancestor known as Chaos, they soon tamed their watery world and began expanding to the stars.

Most worlds in Beyond Sector possess a military force of some nature. In the case of Matisse, the Matisse Navy possesses a world. There is no civilian government on Matisse – the schools are run by the Training Department, the Corps of Engineers builds highways and spaceports, and the Military Police enforce the law. The Joint Chiefs of Matisse are the governing body who set strategic direction; everyone else in Matisse fits into a lengthy chain of command beneath them. Supreme command is executed on a rotating basis by each of the Joint Chiefs; this is considered a temporary position until Chaos himself returns to lead them. The Joint Chiefs are advised and supported by a priest-like caste known as the Senior Mess, who attempt to apply the teachings of Chaos to any new situation.

To outsiders, Matisse often appears to be a military dictatorship, but this would be a false assumption. Citizens of Matisse are passionately dedicated to the notion of freedom and liberty, and indeed the Matisse Navy has fought numerous wars to that end. When a child reaches majority, they are given a choice to either undergo the ceremony known as Enlistment, at which point they formally become members of the Matisse Navy, or to leave Matisse and find their own way in the world. While all members of the Navy are under strict military discipline, culturally it is extremely important that all citizens Enlist voluntarily and of their own free will. Over 95% of new adults do enlist, but there is no rancour towards those who do choose to leave.

Mysticism in the form of studying the teachings of Chaos is omnipresent throughout Matisse society, and numerous observers have described the Matisse Navy as “heavily armed warrior monks”. The ideal Matissean is calm, polite, professional, and utterly merciless to his enemies. They are unmoved by great success or by disaster. They are passionately committed to democracy and to liberty, and accept their own loss of liberty as a necessary sacrifice to ensure it for others.

It is this commitment to liberty which has lead Matisse to fight numerous wars over the years, predominantly against the Kentai. Indeed, much of the pre-Imperial history of Beyond Sector can be crudely categorised as the history of Kentai-Matisse conflict, with other worlds switching between the two power blocs depending on local circumstance.

12 years prior to Reunification, the Matisse Navy invaded the agricultural world of Elizabeth to put an end to their employment of gene-modded workers. To Matisseans, gene-modding is a repugnant technology as it eliminates the free will of the subjects. Kentai promptly declared war in support of Elizabeth, and the war expanded across several systems. Matisse forces had the upper hand for a period, but the war was eventually forced into stalemate as the Kentai- Elizabeth coalition began deploying large numbers of highly advanced missiles.

After stupendous losses on both sides at the Battle of Agathon, an exhausted peace was signed, with no territorial changes on either side. During the Reunification War, the Matisse Navy won a notable victory against the Imperial 553rd Scout Flotilla, one of very few Imperial defeats during the war. Historians have often wondered what would have happened if, immediately after that victory, the Matisse Navy had linked up with the advancing Kentai Grand Fleet and pressed the attack against the Imperial supply line through Scafell. In any case, mutual distrust destroyed any hope of fleet co-ordination, and both fleets were subsequently defeated separately by Imperial reinforcements.

The Colonies of Beyond Sector: Helen’s World

The world which would become known as Helen’s World was founded by a group of academics from several of Earth’s most prominent universities. They sought to build a Platonic Utopia, where they could focus on their research untroubled by the rest of the universe. Their destination world – originally dubbed Hellene – proved to have a very pleasant environment, easily human survivable and with accessible deposits of vital rare minerals.

Throughout the history of Beyond Sector, Hellene has been the recognised leader in innovative technology. Unusually, the world is governed as a genuine direct democracy. All citizens are given discreet cybernetic implants which are necessary to interact with many systems – most importantly, the Forum. All decisions of state are settled by online referenda in the Forum. For routine day to day matters, the Forum commonly votes discretionary powers to certain citizens or committees to deal with the matter, but all significant state decisions must be settled by a vote of the citizenry. Participation rates are high, and failure to maintain an acceptable voting presence is grounds for loss of citizenship.

Hellene was the first world in Beyond Sector to develop the Jump Drive and exported the technology to many other worlds. They also developed the highly controversial bioengineering technique known as “gene-modding”. This process entails growing new organisms from human DNA but modified to remove almost all capacity for free will and emotion. Other modifications to increase strength or dexterity are also common. The uses and morality of this technology remain hugely controversial across the sector and are a considerable headache for the Imperial bureaucracy. On Helen’s World, gene-mod labour is used for all menial tasks, freeing the citizenry to devote themselves to matters of the mind.

In pre-Imperial history, Hellene maintained a careful neutrality. The Hellene Provost Corps was respected as a small but deadly force, often fielding ships a generation more advanced than their opponents. As Hellene was largely self-sufficient in energy and foodstuffs, those worlds wanting access to Hellene technology had to sign trade deals on sharply unfavourable terms – and everybody wanted access to Hellene tech. Both Kentai and Matisse dealt with Hellene, rather than risk pushing the highest-tech power in the sector into the opposing camp. To Hellenists, this “rational mutual interest” was simply the only logical approach.

In the years immediately prior to the Reunification War, Hellene had been trending loosely pro-Kentai in its foreign policy as a counter to the growing power of Matisse. When the first reports of the size of the Imperial fleet reached Kentai, they reached out to Hellene seeking a formal alliance against the Empire.

After a record 56 hours of debate in the Forum, the world of Hellene stunned the sector by formally announcing its allegiance to the Terran Space Empire, and that it would henceforth be known as Helen’s World, in honour of Empress Helen. Although the worlds of Beyond Sector singularly failed to present a unified front against the Empire, much of the sector has never forgiven Helen’s World for actively switching sides, leading to several impolite nicknames in use in spacer bars throughout the sector. For Helen’s World, it was simply the logical choice – it was obvious which way the war would go, and this was the best way to secure their interests.

Early recognition of the Empire secured favourable terms of annexation, and Helen’s World enjoys several liberties not available to the rest of the sector. Notably, the Empire pledged not to limit the academic freedom of the citizenry, leaving them free to study subjects banned elsewhere. Overall, Helen’s World is one of the more loyal worlds in the sector, but the relationship is not entirely harmonious. The Ministry of Stability has lodged frequent protests regarding the content of certain lectures given to off-world students, while the Ministry of Finance is becoming increasingly forceful in its view that the occasional good idea does not excuse such an unreasonably low tax rate.

The Colonies of Beyond Sector: Kentai

Continuing our series on the setting for Shot Heard Around the Universe is a look at the world of Kentai, one of the oldest colonies in Beyond Sector.

The Sovereign of Kentai can trace his lineage back unbroken through dozens of generations to a time when his ancestors were rulers on Earth. When news broke that the Earth was dying, one of those ancestors decided to travel to the stars with his loyal subjects and seek out a new world they could rule over.

The people of Kentai revere their leaders as literal divine beings. All authority derives from the Sovereign, and his or her word is law. Ministers are appointed or dismissed at the Sovereigns pleasure and any decision they make may be overturned on a whim. Every citizen of Kentai is raised from birth knowing that their life will be spent in the service of a greater power, and they are fanatically devoted to their work.

Military service is deemed the highest possible form of service, and accordingly the Kentai Grand Fleet is the largest and arguably the most potent local force in Beyond Sector. While technically the Sovereign maintains a Prime Minister and even an elected body to advise him, in practice his closest advisors are all senior military officers.

The Kentai Empire (as it was then known) expanded rapidly on acquiring Jump Drive technology. The Kentai cultural dedication to their Emperor quickly set the trend for their interactions with other worlds. First contact between Kentai and Matisse took place when a Matisse trade ship jumped into Kentai space, seeking new markets. The Kentai were most pleased to receive this tribute from their Emperor’s new subject, a notion which greatly offended the freedom-loving Matisseans. The situation quickly escalated when the traders were executed for insulting the Emperor, and the first of many Kentai-Matisse wars began.

The bitter rivalry between Kentai and Matisse has been the defining fact of pre-Imperial history in Beyond Sector. Periods of détente where the conflict was limited merely to diplomatic manoeuvring, espionage, and mutual trade sanctions were frequently interspersed with outbreaks of war. Matisse and Kentai both maintain large and powerful navies, and it is highly likely that either one of them could have unified Beyond Sector under their leadership. Unfortunately, their mutual rivalry has instead blighted the growth of the sector.

The declaration of the Reunification War shocked the people of Kentai not because a new power had arrived on the scene, but because some interloper dared to call themselves Emperor, the equal of the Kentai Sovereign. The world was whipped into a war frenzy, and the entire Grand Fleet was dispatched to bring these upstarts to heel.

The Battle of Highguard was the largest single engagement of the war, as the massed Grand Fleet attacked the Imperial 8th Battle Fleet. The Kentai attacked with a savagery that surprised the advancing Imperial forces, who had been briefed to expect only light resistance. The Imperial Navy suffered heavy losses, including the battleships Cleon’s Fist and Nuevo Cadiz. It was not enough. Imperial forces rallied, with reinforcements from the 6th Fleet and Task Force Burrows jumping in system to join the fight. Most admirals would have ordered a retreat at this point, but Admiral Yamato instead ordered the Grand Fleet to press the attack into railgun range. After the first pass, the Imperial Navy had lost three more battleships and countless smaller escorts. The Kentai Grand Fleet had functionally ceased to exist. Highguard is preserved as a war grave to this day.

When news of the scale of the disaster reached Kentai, whispered rumours indicate that the Emperor briefly suffered a breakdown, roaming the halls of his palace demanding that Yamato give him back his fleet. Acting in his name, his ministers ordered a crash re-armament programme and began fortifying the whole planet. Much of the population was armed and given basic training to resist the occupation which would surely follow.

The Imperial Navy was stung by the losses inflicted by the Kentai and had no intention of carrying out a costly occupation. They opened negotiations with a stinging orbital bombardment. In line with Imperial Navy doctrine, the first wave of attacks destroyed the Kentai Emperor’s Winter Palace, and the memorial at the landing site of the original colony ship. When no surrender was forthcoming, the fleet devastated the industrial cities of Kyogu and Panmun, causing hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. It was at that point that the Kentai Emperor emerged from isolation and in a planetwide broadcast, announced the unconditional surrender of his world.

The terms of surrender were harsh. Heavy reparations were demanded to pay for the lost Imperial ships; strict limits were placed on the size of the Kentai Fleet; and worst of all, the Emperor had to renounce his imperial title and swear fealty to the Terran Space Empire. This last clause almost scuppered the peace talks and remains a sore point to this day. Rather than officially adopt a lesser title, the Kentai refer to their leader as the Sovereign. Whenever he or she must have an official title (for example, at official functions), the sovereign uses one of their lesser titles as a courtesy title – usually, Baron Panmun.

The History of Free Beyond: Imperial Government

### Electronic copy of classified briefing document prepared for newly arriving Beyond Sector Governor Arabella Indira Theresa von Granger vam Soso vam Underwood verch Byers. This document was publicly released by the unauthorised newscast Radio Free Beyond following a network security breach ###

Madam Governor,

I have prepared the following report to prepare you for your new role as Governor of Beyond Sector. As you are aware, your learned father has expended no small amount of effort to secure this role for you, and it is vital that your efforts are seen to be successful in the Imperial Court.

Beyond Sector is the Imperial Sector furthest from the Imperial Core. It is a backward and underdeveloped region populated mainly by a local population still mired in loyalty to individual worlds. It is however rich in certain strategic minerals (notably lanthium) and borders Wilderness space; it is therefore not without opportunities for economic expansion. The local Ministry of Colonisation office should be consulted regarding expansion opportunities.

The most credible risk to your term in office is tensions between the local worlds. Most notably, the controversial technology of gene-modding originates from Beyond Sector and is widely used on multiple worlds there. This technology involves the genetic manipulation of human specimens to eliminate all free will and emotions from the subject. In combination with further genetic alterations to enhance physical strength and hardiness and implant knowledge regarding certain tasks, this creates an unparalleled worker suitable for all manner of menial labour.

While this technology does present considerable opportunities for economic growth, concerns have been raised on moral, legal, and sociological grounds by various groups. The moral argument is that to deprive these potential human beings of the chance to live full and meaningful lives is cruel and inhumane and is most commonly espoused by certain religious and liberal groups. Some representatives of workers groups have argued that the creation of a tireless workforce who do not require pay will cause mass unemployment. Finally, there remain questions regarding the legality of the technology and whether it might contradict the Imperial Edict proscribing slavery. At present the Emperor has not issued any ruling on the subject, and it is possible a Gubernatorial Edict may be needed to clarify the situation.

Beyond Sector is plagued with an unusually active secessionist movement, which has shown increasing sophistication in carrying out complex attacks on high value targets coupled with multi-layer information operations. The current Minister of Security was killed in a roving attacker operation on the Imperial administrative world of Scafell, and the Imperial Navy has reported a ramming attack against one of their vessels. You may wish to request a further report from the local Sector Admiral and the Ministers for Stability and Security on arrival.

Reports from the Bug front are that the war is progressing well, and the Navy is on the advance. Beyond Sector is on the far side of the galaxy to Bug space and direct involvement would be highly implausible. Nevertheless, it is probable that the costs of prosecuting the war may lead to an increase in required taxation from the various sectors, and preparations should be made to levy additional taxes. The Ministry of Finance will be able to advise on possible sources of income, and it is likely that Ministry of Information involvement will be required to manage possible negative public sentiment towards additional war taxes.

Remember more than anything else that it is vital that you are seen to be governing effectively for the duration of your term here. While this may not have been the posting that you would have wished for or had prepared for, it is for a strictly limited duration. Success here will propel your career onwards and upwards; perceived failure, regardless of conditions on the ground, could end it.

Your servant,

John verch Smith

### Radio Free Beyond commentary ###

Well, there you have it folks! The Supreme Overlord being sent to rule over us all is some Core Imperial Noble dilettante just looking at you as another springboard to bigger and better things. But don’t worry, because they’ve got their excuse lined up to tax you until your pips squeak! The whole Bug War is the greatest idea the Ministry of Information has ever come up with – find some minor semi-sentient species that looks ugly for the vids and declare that the whole galaxy is at threat! Tune in tomorrow for our expose on this fake war, and the oppressive system your tax credits will really be going towards.

The History of Beyond Sector: The Terran Space Empire

This is the second in our series of background lore posts designed to give you an insight into the setting of Shot Heard Around the Universe – look out for more of these over the next two months!

### Recording of seditious lecture delivered by Professor Seumas Cartwright, formerly Professor of Political Science at Aniston University, New Angeles. Recording made with covert audio-visual device by Ministry of Security Confidential Informant codename GOLDRUSH ###

“I appreciate that a history lecture isn’t what you expected today, but knowledge is power, and you need to understand the mindset of those Core Imperial officials you may encounter. Believe me, when you’re playing it cool and trying to talk 500 kilos of smuggled lanthium past some jumped-up dilettante from the Core, you’ll find a basic understanding of their mindset vital. With that in mind, let’s begin.”

*grumbling from the crowd. Speaker begins lecture*

“The generation ship which arrived at the world imaginatively dubbed Terra Nova was crewed by the employees of a large corporation named for its founder – Helen Cleon. Cleon Enterprises had been one of the largest transnational corporations on Earth prior to the Great Exodus, and the industry leader in spaceflight technology. The shipbuilding boom that the Great Exodus triggered made the company unimaginably wealthy, and Helen Cleon channelled most of that wealth into her plan to start over in a world she could remake in her image. Cleon Enterprises left Earth not in one generation ship but in five – all targeted on the same world, all built with absolute bleeding edge technology, and carrying as many experts as could be packed aboard. With them went Helen Cleon, cryogenically frozen and awaiting her new world.”

“Jump Drive technology was developed separately and independently on multiple human worlds, but Imperial histories insist that Terra Nova got there first – merely 20 years after the arrival of the colonists. Official histories claim that this had always been Helen Cleon’s intention, and that work had been underway on the project even before departing Earth. At this point it’s impossible to determine whether that claim is true, and to be honest, it’s not terribly relevant. The important thing is that the Imperials trumpet that success as the first sign of their exceptionalism. Yes, I know, same as always.”

“Terra Nova quickly leveraged its financial and technological advantages to begin annexing surrounding worlds. Not every world was keen, but the sheer economic clout available to the newly forged Terran Mercantile Association made not joining economically impossible. Where world leaders were noncompliant, Helen Cleon essentially bought new world leaders. All worlds in the Association would send representatives to Terra Nova, who would advise the Chief Executive – Helen Cleon. In practice, all meaningful power lay with the office of the Chief Executive. Despite this, Cleon carefully refrained from interference in the internal affairs of the member worlds, and this precedent continued until her death. You’ll note that’s rather different from the current state of affairs, where the Principle of Autonomy is being steadily chipped away.”

*angry muttering from crowd*

“Over the next 50 years, the Terran Mercantile Association continued to expand. Eventually, however, it encountered another true interstellar power – the Star Kingdom of Wu. The Kingdom firmly closed its borders to the Terrans, refusing access for any trading starships. Sensible people. Following the destruction of a Terran merchant convoy in disputed circumstances (the Shanxi Incident), war broke out between the two powers. The Terrans emerged victorious, and it was Helen Cleon’s grandson Michael who was able to use the prestige from this victory to reform the TMA into the Terran Space Empire, ruling as Michael the Founder.”

*Cartwright is interrupted on stage by event host. Inaudible discussion lasting 12 seconds*

“I’m sorry, people, but we’re going to have to end it there, it seems the Ministry of Stability is en route. If I can ask you to make your way to the nearest exit. Gentlemen, if you could – thank you.”

*Camera pivots suddenly to floor. GOLDRUSH triggers emergency retrieval beacon. Picture shakes and auditory analysis shows signs of a struggle. Loss of signal after 8 seconds.*

 

### Ministry of Security analyst comments ###

It seems Stability got an anonymous tip about the meeting and naturally decided to rush in mob handed. We’ve not received any actionable intelligence from them following the raid, so it looks like they didn’t catch anyone meaningful. Through this blunder, they’ve blown 6 months of careful work cultivating GOLDRUSH and supporting his entry into Cartwright’s inner circle. Cartwright is a suspected leader of the proscribed Beyonder Sovereignty Movement. No trace has been found of GOLDRUSH after this recording. 

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