Good afternoon, to start things off today I'm going to recount a tale, one that I hope some of you are at least partially familiar with. Nevertheless it is a vital scene-setter for what we will be covering in the coming weeks.
If you look at the dead centre of explored space you will find a small, yellow Category G star, and orbiting it at a distance of roughly 1 Astronomical Unit is a small blue marble. To modern observers this world may not seem like much, but that blue marble is the most significant world in all of humanity's reach. It is the Home-world, it is Terra. Up until relatively recently it considered itself the centre of the known universe, both literally and metaphorically, and indeed for the majority of history it was the only thing in the known universe. For our first few hundred millennia humanity toiled in obscurity amongst the dirt of that world, fighting our own petty differences, though we were almost constantly looking to the stars.
It wasn't until after the Industrial Revolution that those stars started to get a little closer. The invention of Rocketry started a shift in understanding. While, somewhat predictably, those rockets were first used to hurl high explosives at distinct enemies, it was quickly realised that they could be used to take us further from home than we ever imagined. Two nations arose, super powers of their time, though vastly insignificant by modern standards, and in a bid to one up the other pushed science further and further. Quickly came the first artificial satellite, the first man in orbit, the first men on Luna, each side going that one step extra to claim glory. Then other nations got in on the act, and international cooperation brought us permanent orbital habitats, Lunar colonies, the first men on Mars, each milestone driving us ever onward as a species.
And then came the big breakthroughs that made our journey even easier. As our first offworld colonies celebrated their 50th birthday, the invention of Gravitic Manipulation changed how we traveled across the world, and in the 23rd century Dr. Tamara Machitov's discovery of Subspace, and Amida Kato's revolutionary Negation Field generator brought other star systems within humanity's grasp. Distances that would have taken centuries could be crossed in months, placing the stars within our grasp.
Then Exodus began. Starting with Verne, humanity spilled from it's ancestral home and filled whatever space it could find. The once insignificant blue marble extended its reach across unimaginable distances. On the home-world, want and poverty became things of the past, but rather than being eradicated, the Third World simply moved to the frontiers. The new colonies were used to supply the greed of their erstwhile parent, and not all were happy with this arrangement. Even before the end of the great Exodus, dissent spread amongst the stars. Starting with our own Phoenix, along with distant Arcturas and Kyushu, independence movements spread, and slowly the distant children of Terra threw off their shackles and formed nations of their own.
For a while the trend continued. The nations grew, and had exoduses of their own. Soon colonies were being settled that had no link with the Home-world, and only recognised it as a distant star on the horizon. Yet still, those closest to Terra remained as part of its Union, and it still attempted to pressure those who had left its care. Through ancient political bodies, the spectre of Terran imperialism still loomed over every human world. Despite protests from all corners of known space, the Home-world still expected much from its children.
It was in the final decades of the 27th Century that the great star-nations decided that they had far outshone the world that had given them life, and attempted to strip her of whatever power she still thought she had. War came on a scale never before seen by humanity. Whole worlds were wiped clean as the latest technologies were used in anger and without restraint. Slowly and with crushing inevitability the warring factions marched on the cradle of mankind, and eventually total war rained from her skies like fire. For nearly 20 years the humanities ancient home was torn apart until what inhabitants remained rose up and evicted their occupiers. But, it was too late. As the war came to an end, it became clear that humanity no longer needed, nor cared for, the world that gave birth to it.
The peace was short lived, and the great nations of humanity settled into a routine of periods of bloody warfare punctuated by short periods of peace used to recover and rearm. Each war brought about significant changes to the political landscape, such as Terra regaining some of its former holdings, the fall of Arcturas and the birth of new nations such as Jorus, Arietis and New Saxony, and over time the lines humanity had drawn between the stars redrew themselves over and over.
Eventually, after nearly 6 centuries, the nations, weary now of near-constant war, settled into what we call the "Uneasy Peace." Uneasy may be one of the greatest understatements ever made, and Peace is a blatant lie worthy of the greatest political spin doctors. While total war has become something of a rarity, raids across borders became a fact of life for those on the edges of their nation. For those far from such trouble spots, one could be forgiven for thinking that an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity had come about, but such self-deception serves only to continue the trends we still observe even today along the border worlds.
It is now nearly halfway into the 36th century, and tensions once again ride high between Terra's children. But to understand what is happening today, we must all appreciate that if it hand't been for those first steps off of the home-world so very long ago, none of us would be here now. Above all else it is important to have knowledge of how we got here, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past.
[i]-Extract from "An Introduction to Post-Industrial Human History," a lecture by Professor N. Greenwood, Royal University College, Loch Eden, Phoenix (Hawke system), Sagittarii-Kausan Coalition, 13th June 3544 [TSD][/i]