Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Settlement History

Hera, the second planet from Helios and the first in the system's habitable zone, was the first to be settled during the Subjugation. The sister Gate to the Sol system's was built in orbit of Hera's second moon, taking advantage of its abundunt mineral wealth. Little remains today of either the moon or the Gate: the former having been largely destroyed by decades of mining on a level never seen in human history, and the latter by hundreds of years of scavenging before its archeological and scientific value was regonized by both scholars and the HCTA.

Hera's proximity to Helios makes much of it inhospitable to human life. Its equatorial region is constantly shrouded under a cover of thick, turbulant gas, while the geography consists of deserts, mountains and rocky canyons, all devoid of water. This region remains mostly unsettled, save for government-sponsored mining operations and academic research outposts. The former can sometimes exist in massive outposts, as the equitorial region contains the lion's share of Hera's mineral wealth, which is substantial (the largest in the system).

The two polar regions represent Hera's habitable zones. Of the 2 billion survivors of the Subjugation, only 240 million chose to remain on Hera, while the others settled on the more distant yet hospitable Nike and Tyche. Today Hera's population numbers over 700 million, although it has remained capped at this number for the past three centuries in an effort to limit import dependancy.


Hera has sat in a trade surplus for hundreds of years, largely since the establishment of the HCTA and the construction of the two mini-Gates the make intra-system trade a reality. The planet's mineral resources have allowed her to build remarkable wealth over time, and supply of Heran minerals has a dramatic impact on system prices across the System Commerce Exchange (SCX).

Hera's primary industries are mining and starship manufacturing; her wealth has allowed for the construction of an independent Heran Confederate Navy, which has in-turn necessitated strong domestic manufacturing conglomerates; of the inter-planetary consortium of three defense corporations that are responsible for constructing destroyers for both the HCN and the DCSF, two are based in orbit around Hera; these also build smaller naval craft, as well as starliners, trade ships, and other vessels.

While hydrogen cracking stations and controlled growing environments provide much of Hera's consumables, the planet imports a substantial amount of raw foodstuffs from Nike and Tyche, as well as water from the latter. This has led to periods of significant trade deficits between Hera and her sister worlds, and resulted in strict population control measures throughout the Heran population over 200 years ago, shortly after the start of the Rgyasian period. Given the strict population controls, much of Hera's labour population consists of government owned helots, who are in-turn licensed to private corporations. Much of the Heran economy is rooted in the system of helotry, and while it is a historically recent development, support for it throughout the population remains high.

Politics and Government

Owing to a smaller, more geographically localized population, Hera possesses a unified world government overseeing a federation consisting of prefectures, managed by regional parliaments. Federal laws and powers constitutionally rest with the Heran Federal Assembly, although this has evolved into an advisory body; instead, true federal power rests with the Supreme Council of the Federation, a group of 27 men and women who, besides other powers, are responsible for appointing regional Prefects. Together the Council and the Assembly constitute the Heran Congress, which sits in a city-state within Hera's First Prefecture known as The Argolid. Entry to this area is restricted to Heran citizens; those non-citizens with business in the Argolid can be granted access papers on a case-by-case basis.

Note: Additional information on Heran culture will be added shortly.

On Cultures

The best way to think of Nike and Tyche on a micro level is like earth, only more varied. It's rare to have things like "east" and "west"... those types of distinctions formed from historical expansion and colonization have no meaning when everyone landed pretty much where they settled. Colonization of new territory HAS happened, but there were no indigenous cultures to convert. Hundreds upon hundreds of countries, varied in terms of politics (kingdoms, theocracies, technocracies, federations, etc.), religion (Hinduism, atheism, Buddhism, Islam... almost never Christianity and rarely Judaism), and, of course, the cultural elements that derive from each.

Hera is less varied, with a system of locally governed prefectures reporting to a planetary Assembly. Given the small habitable region of Hera, the population is markedly smaller than her two sister worlds. The cultural is close to nationalism, rife with entitlement and "better than". Things like government contracts and access to certain areas are limited depending on ones status as a "Heran Citizen" as opposed to "aliens". A system of helotry exist, and the resulting state-sponsored slavery is a sore spot between Hera and some trading partners. There is, of course, much more data on Hera available for anyone interested. Note: Hera's not at all evil, and shouldn't be taken that way. Nor is it monolithic by any stretch of the imagination. It's just comparatively homogeneous compared to Nike and Tyche.

On a macro level, Nike has a loose UN-type organization, while Tyche allows for free market control over planetary affairs. Both fall under the rubric of the DCSF (see History 3), which ensures planetary stability. Wars that occur between nations are primarily economic of guerrilla, rather than large scale engagements that would catch the eye of Fleet. As mentioned in the histories, Hera has its own Navy (the HCN), and this sometimes leads to some tension between Tyche/Nike and Hera. While there's not a strict divide between those two "camps", proximity and a shared defence force have driven T/N's trading relationship closer together.

On a universal level, the last great cultural clash was between those of the heliosystem and those of Earth some thousand years ago. The technology doesn't exist to explore the Solar System (save for the remnants of the Terra Arcanus in orbit around the remnants of Hera's second moon), nor does the inclination; after the subjugation, who'd even want the Terrans to be alive, let alone make contact with them? (Note that the discussion doesn't happen much: it did early on, but people came to their senses and decided to let sleeping dogs lie. Besides, the Sol system was so strip mined to build the first Gate and colonize the Heliosystem that it was all but uninhabitable.)

Neo-Mercantilist Economics

By far the two largest consumers of raw materials are the ship and orbital platform industries, and the colonization industry. Is there money to be made in precious metals and fuel? Sure, but the size is small compared to the massive amounts of money to be made in the provision of raw metals and gasses like: copper for EM quench coils; nickel, cobalt and molybdenum for cermet; lightweight metals for ship frames and interiors; and, the most valuable of all, hydrogen.

Heading out to the gas giants is done, usually be people with significant reserves of money: that said, they also make a lot of money in doing it. It's a lonely life, with the round-trip transit time being on the order of years (15-36 months, depending on ship size and speed). Many ship owners don't bother with crews, because that just costs more money. Other ship owners are just that: owners. They have crews that do the work for them, and they just skim off the top. Ship captains often buy small suckers and then put all the money they get into ICC shares, hoping to build up enough to buy larger ships and so-on (see supra, the HCTA).

Part of the curse of the heliosystem is that it has a total of eight planets, three of them habitable and three of them gas. That leaves precious few to strip-mine for minerals, and the lack of a sizable asteroid belt causes all manner of problems (there's a few thready belts, but nothing on par with ours). Mining takes place both on and off world, with Hera being a planet rich in mineral wealth (that's one reason why they've got so much money). The distance of the gas planets limits their usefulness, but some small operations make trips. One can search on planets, on asteroids, in space for scrap... you think of a place, you can bet there are people looking to supply the insatiable maw of interstellar commerce.

The large companies like Sparta have divisions tasked with doing their mining for them. However, there are other conglomerates that contract out their surveying work (or, in some instances, their mining), so there's no shortage of jobs. Everyone needs these materials: governments, the ICC, the DCSF, Colonial operations, companies that supply these guys... everyone.

On Terra

No-one has seen Earth or the Solar system in almost a thousand years. After the techs conquered the world (see supra), they quickly realized that the Earth was on the fast track to environmental ruined, and resolved to leave. When the Gates went down, there were two take-home points:

1) the colonization of the Heliosystem was carried out by humans, with a small number of techs managing them (they could do it with small numbers, given the fact that they had super-strength, psychic powers and all that jazz). The humans were able to defeat the techs comparatively easily, and there are none in the heliosystem. Additionally, such technology is not only forbidden, but is anathema to the social consciousness. It's not something that's secret and some people are doing anyway--everyone's smart enough to know not to do it. Additonally, the lack of working on it for a thousand years means that it's questionable whether anyone could build a tech in the 35th century.

2) the solar system was so strip-mined in the effort to get to the heliosystem as quickly as possible that it's almost impossible that the techs left behind could build a new gate to seek revenge, or that they'd last long in what was left of Earth or the other planets. Those humans that were left behind knew they were going to die.

Today, few remember--let alone talk about--Earth. How many people today know about history a thousand years ago? In the initial years after the exodus there was debate over whether to eventually build another gate to return to Earth and rescue those left behind. It was decided that to do so would be suicide, as it would invite the remaining techs (if there were any) to return. The thinking was as follows: if there IS anyone left alive on or around Earth, they can't travel to the heliosystem, because they can't be sure there's a gate there. In other words, it would be a one-way trip. So, if people from Helios traveled to Sol, one could expect any remaining Terrans to immediately arrive in the heliosystem in a very angry, pissed off way. Best not to open that can of worms and just leave the whole thing alone.

Terrans are something of legend at this point, about of relevance to their life as England ca. 900ad is to yours. That said, they whole reason everyone's in the Heliosystem is because the techs took over the whole planet and used everyone as pack mules to build the new system. Getting back to Earth is physically impossible; the two mini-Gates that service the system are about the size of a small city, and took the formation of the HCTA and 60 years to build. In contrast, the Terra Arcanus, one piece of the original Gate that served as the connection to Earth (a similiar Gate existed in Sol... both were destroyed during the Rebellion, sealing off both systems from one another) is the size of Manhattan Island.

True, some argued to return, especially those parts of all the major religions that believe parts of Earth to be especially holy. Today, such groups are limited to the moon of Olympia. Again, this is a debate long decided, and isn't talked about much. It's not like kids wake up after having nightmares that the Solar Angels have come to kill them.

"Terran culture" is a whole field of study in the heliosystem; there are those that are fascinated in the subject, and even some that continue to insist that contact should be made. At this point you, the reader, have about as much information about Terra and the subjugation as the average member of the heliosystem (save the odd bedtime story and skip-rope rhyme).

The Current World, ca. 3349 A.D. / 999 N.G.

Again, the historical eras as utilized by historians are as follows, give or take a few decades of overlap and hindsight:

POST-MODERN: 2000-2100
SUBJUGATORY: 2100-2250
NYAMS GSOSIAN: 2600-3000
RGYASIAN: 3000-Present

The heliosystem (as opposed to its solar brother) consists of 8 planets, including three outer-system gas giants. The habitable zone contains three planets: Nike, Tyche and Hera, with Hera possessing two small moons.

Nike and Tyche are both well populated, earth-lake planets with hundreds of governments on them that range from monarchies to theocracies to liberal democracies and dictatorships. Hera is a strong confederation under a world government, but that's only possible because it's closest of the three planets to the sun and therefore 1) is rich due to all the mineral wealth and 2) only habitable near the poles, owing to hostile environment over the rest of the planet. This means a smaller population which is easier to unify. Think of Hera as old school Rome: they think they're "better than" on a planetary level (hence, Hera has it's own planetary military, communications system, etc.)... they even have a slave race, which are treated like a lower caste.

NIke and Tyche lack planetary coordination: the closes thing is all countries that are capable participate in the DCS Fleet (dmag chas skyabs), a NATO-like force that serves is an inter-planetary defense force, preventing any one country from launching space-based attacks against any other under the auspices of the rgol srung mnga' mthun Nike-Tyche (Alliance for Offensive and Defensive Protection of Nike and Tyche) of 318 NG. Hera has it's own, and the DCSF is as much a deterrent against Heran aggression as anything else. Destroyers are built by an inter-planetary consortium of three defense corporations (think Halliburton, but bigger), each of which in turn also builds smaller craft like starliners, trade ships, planes and helicopters.

Intra-and inter-planetary communications, as well as long range ship-to-ship is handled by the Intersystem Communications Commission, a semi-private corporation that maintains the technological infrastructure necessary for spatial communications. While Hera has its own Hermes Planetary Communications System, it grudgingly uses the ICC for everything off planet.

Interplanetary and intrasystem trade and transport is managed and regulated by the Heliosystem Commerce and Transport Authority, or HCTA. While the HCTA maintains traditional space lanes using patrols that keep piracy to a minimum, it's mostly known for the two mini-Gates it keeps at either end of the heliosystem's habitable zone. Using these, traders and transport ships need not go all the way across the habitable zone and instead only need to closest of either Tyche or Hera, and planets on either end of the HZ. Tariffs are charged, and these in turn are used to fund the policing and Gate upkeep costs, plus a profit for shareholders.

Additionally, both the HCTA and the DCSF operate the system's RASUS nets: a chain of radiation detection posts that both monitor intrasystem traffic, and detect Gate Jumps into the system from the outside (something that has never happened). Hera has officers seconded to the project.

Just as christianity forms the ideological and moral foundation of western society, even for the atheists, so Buddhism does likewise across the heliosystem. Some nations have slants towards specific religions--especially the theocracies--and some have taken rational scientific thought into the realm of the religious. Christianity is the minority, owing to the whole "enslavement of humanity" thing from a thousand years ago.

Inter-planetary universities include AWU, or Ausonia World University, Tenzin Gyatso University of Tyche at Queenston, The Ophir Collegium, The Loyolan Univeristy Network, The Helion Javeriana Pontifical University and the Al-Azhar University of Hera. The Collegium is extrememly theoretical, loyola is known to be rigorous and very scholarly, Javeriana is philosophical, Tenzin is all around awesome in politics and governance, AWU is science and Al-Azhar is the oldest and most prestigious (Ophir is the newest). Languages abound (even English is whatever it will sound like a thousand years from now) and Tibetan is the new Latin or French--the international language or governance and academics.

(Dramatic) conflicts abound: on Tyche and Nike, between different nations for a variety of different nations; Between the larger planets; between corporations; between NGO's, pirates, brigands and others. You name it, in a system of 7-8 billion people, it's there.

The Helion Commerce and Transport Authority

The HCTA is the system's largest publicly traded corporate interest with stations across all three planetary bodies, on a number of colonized moons, and in orbit throughout the system. Its capital budget is larger than that of the Heran Navy, and it employs enough people to occupy Nike's fifth-largest continent. The HCTA began as a consortium of governmental and private organizations tasked with the construction of two Gates, one at either end of the heliosystem's habitable zone, in stationary orbit around Helios. The first gate was constructed on the same orbital plane as Nike, the outermost planet, while the second was stationed in close proximity to Hera, the innermost. The effect was to decrease the travel time from Hera to Nike from three months to just under one minute, and the travel time from Tyche to Hera from 65 days to two-three weeks. Note that travel is not directly between Gates--they are not connected. Instead, the Gate acts as a catapult that sends ships a pre-determined distance: in this case, within the proximity of the sister Gate.

Upon completion of the project, the HCTA assumed management and operation responsibilities for the Gate system specifically and the resulting intrasystem traffic generally. Today, the Transport Authority's operations are divided into five main divisions: Planetary Traffic Control, System Traffic Control, Gate Control, Security, and Ancillary Operations.

Planetary Traffic Control operations are monitored and maintained by the HCTA for Nike, Tyche and Hera. Ships are given orbital and sub-orbital clearance via Authority comcast, and flight-lines are monitored by stations located in geosynchronous orbit above the polar regions of each planet. Additionally, satellites, anchorages and construction platforms fall under the Authority's prevue where movement is concerned: docking is handled by the respective installation, but initial approach vectors must be filed and approved by HCTA controllers. Once sub-orbital clearance has been received, flight paths must be approved by appropriate national planetary authorities--the HCTA's jurisdiction ends when the atmosphere starts. Docking fees, paid upon arrival on-planet, typically include a hidden HCTA orbital tariff. These fees are collected by the Authority from the national governments based on relative traffic-weight.

Before leaving planetary orbit ships must file a flight-plan with HCTA System Traffic Control and must remain in contact with controllers via Authority comcast for the duration of their voyage. Ships are required to broadcast an IFF transponder at all times, and to maintain their electromagnetic and thermal emissions are kept above the minimum civilian threshold to ensure ease of detection by the HCTA/DCSF RASUS nets. From towers located at both Gates and aboard monitoring platforms stationed in orbit outside established space lanes to mitigate time delay owing to relativistic distances, all spacecraft movement is orchestrated by System Traffic Controllers.

The two Gates located at either end of the habitable zone are limited capability FTL catapults that, due to limited power-generation capabilities and design, cannot provide transport outside the heliosystem. Under extraordinary circumstances, the Gate's range and destination can be re-tasked to take part in long-distance, intrasystem rescue operations and military exercises. Due to the Gate's importance in interplanetary commerce and transportation, all commercial and military ships must abide by certain design restrictions with regard to materials, dimensions and atmospheric displaced volume. Hence while ship size and design varies, larger vessels--particularly DCSF and HCN destroyers--share common dimensions as the reach Gate limitations. Traffic is managed by Gate controllers, who queue outgoing ships into clusters that depart at regular intervals. Departure is only granted upon registry confirmation and payment of HCTA Gate Operation Tariffs. Incoming ships are required to file updates flight plans before they are integrated into the system flight-lines. Both incoming and outgoing ships are under the exclusive purview of the HCTA, and are subject to boarding, search and seizure at any time.

Security, at the Gates, in planetary orbit and along shipping lines, is provided by a fleet of HCTA patrol frigates armed with medium-grade ion cannons capable of disarming the electrical systems of most civilian transports. A limited number of fast-reaction missile frigates are available to respond to greater threats, including pirate elements EM shielded civilian transports. Normal practice is to demand a ship heave-to and prepare to be boarded via HCTA comcast. failure to comply will result in the disabling of the ship's engines and, if necessary, life support systems with a subsequent evacuation of the ship's crew under DCSF marine guard. Pirates routinely attempt to hijack transports and civilian liners in order to salvage the ship's hull for scrap metal and ransom the crew. As criminal vessels are often armoured and run with low-intensity EM and thermal signatures, they are subject to summary execution by HCTA/DCSF patrols. However, an option of surrender is provided, for subsequent trial in HCTA law-courts.

Ancillary Operations include management of transport and storage services, short-term habitation and ship refurbishment aboard HCTA Gates, orbiting and space lane anchorages, and other aspects of corporate affairs. HCTA shares are publicly traded on the Helion Commerce Exchange, with profits distributed amongst shareholders, many of which are ship captains and owners. Revenues from tariffs are largely directed into ongoing capital expenses, including refurbishment, upgrades and new projects. While the volume of traffic results in gross revenues far in excess of most planetary government budgets, operating costs are high. Nonetheless, revenue from ancillary operations results in significant profits, as does the HCTA's relatively recent foray into off-world mining.

In short, many private individuals, companies, and governments have made and continue to make significant money via the Commerce and Transport Authority.