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.