Three major military forces currently spar with each other in the Solar System. The Jovians, powerful and idealistic, have built a vast nation of spaceborne colonies in the orbit of Jupiter. Having lived in space for more than a century, they are masters of space combat. Their avowed goal of saving the inner Solar System from the tyranny of Earth and Venus stems both from the nobility of the Jovian people as well as the greed and arrogance of their leadership.
Directly opposite the Jovians on the battlefield is the Central Earth Government and Administration, inheritors of the battered home planet of humanity. Stubborn, imperialistic and xenophobic, the Earthers seek to establish dominion over the other planets, which they perceive as rogue colonies. Not only will doing so reestablish Earth as the dominant power in the Solar System, but it will enable CEGA to turn its resources inward to feed its people and rebuild Earth's shattered biosphere.
The Venusians are a wild card in Solar System poltics. Wealthy, urbane and ambitious without limit, their small but effective military is a cause for concern for both the Jovians and CEGA, as are their ambiguous goals. The corporate society on Venus is civilized and hardworking, but also duplicitous and cutthroat; even the Venusians cannot agree on what they really want from the rest of the Solar System, beside money.
Traditionally neutral, the Mercurians nevertheless possess a significant force of fighters, exo-armors and warships. While Mercury lacks a military structure and doctrine suitable for attacking its neighbors, its defensive arrangement is enviable, considering its precarious physical position at the inner boundary of the Solar System.
Mars is divided between the ideologically and politically rigid Martian Federation and the freedom-loving Martian Free Republic. Both nations bear much antagonism toward the other, however, there is no question that both nations regard Mars as their own battleground; any intrusions from outside will likely be met with a united front, and while the Martians lack a powerful navy, their orbital defense network is impressive and modern.
Not really a nation, the Nomad clans live within the vast space of the Belt, mining the rocks and operating way stations for commerce and diplomacy. While militarily insignificant, the intelligence and support they can provide make them allies to be valued or enemies to be quickly eliminated.
In addition to these nations, several independent groups also possess significant naval power, as well as the political or financial clout to make their presence worth more than simple firepower. Perhaps the most well-known of these are the United Space Nations Guards, who operate a small fleet of corvettes, patrol cutters and transports. The USN Guards are often sent to "hot" zones as neutral observers or peacekeepers; so long as the United Space Nations retains its power as a convocation of nations, the USN Guards will serve as a potent buffer against war atrocities and outright chaos.
Just as well known as the USN Guards is the terrorist organization known as STRIKE. Mysterious in motivation, membership, strength, and the source of its impressive military might, STRIKE's avowed primary goal is the reunification of Humanity under the guiding hand of Earth - but not under the control of either Venus or the current CEGA leadership. The result is a naval force whose appearance on a battlefield is greeted with apprehension by everyone involved, not least due to the skill and experience of STRIKE'S ranks of defected CEGA, Venusian and even Jovian pilots.
The Solar Cross is the famous organization responsible for saving the lives of spacers in danger, regardless of creed or nationality. Attacking a Solar Cross ship is regarded as an unparalleled atrocity, since if these ships were to be removed from service, all spacers, everywhere, would suffer the consequences.
- Main Article: Earth
In the late twenty-first century, a series of social and economic disasters brought the civilization of Earth to its knees. The causes of the Fall are still debated today, with no clear answer in the offing. The fragmentary records of the time signal a worldwide computer network blackout, followed by stock market crashes and mass economic confusion. There is also evidence of a plague that struck down millions in the months of darkness that ensued.
Nothing from that time is certain; all that is known by the other planets is that all contact with Earth was suddenly lost, and none of the shuttles sent to investigate the situation ever returned. In later decades, telescopes showed massive ecological devastation caused by neutron bombs and uncontrolled biological warfare, while intercepted radio transmissions told of terrible atrocities and barbarism. The colonies were struck by the realization that they were now on their own. They adjusted their internal structure and spent the next half-century struggling to become self-sufficient.
When Earth re-established communication in 2184, no one expected to see a powerful, unified government like the Central Earth Government and Administration. Although nearly half the planet was still in a state of civil war, CEGA moved quickly to regain control of the orbital colonies and the Moon, and declared itself as a new superpower in the solar system. Unwilling (or un-able) to face down CEGA in its own backyard, the other planets allowed CEGA to do as it wished, much to their current dismay.
Earth, as it has ever been, is a fragmented world, its people a constellation of cultures and traditions. While CEGA is the power that now rules the Earth and its surroundings, nations in the middle-east, Africa and Asia all maintain independence from their imperialist neighbor. Though there is no longer a state of war between CEGA and its Earthbound neighbors, small skirmishes break out on a regular basis between the parties involved. Any who travel on the surface of the planet are advised to stay well within the borders of the particular nation that they are visiting, lest they become entangled in the heated international politics. Travelers should also be on the look out for terrorist or guerrilla activity wherever they are, and steer clear of anyone who would like to get them involved in their disputes. Despite the conflict that raged among the nations of the Earth in the past two centuries (or perhaps because of it) the Earth remains the most culturally diverse human world in the system. The myriad of smaller nations on the surface, the CEGA-affiliated territories, the Orbitals and the moon each have a distinct culture, and there are often subtle cultural differences within these larger groupings.
The massive colonization of Jupiter's orbit was not a planned event. The first stations around the huge planet were thickly armored wheels crewed by highly paid technicians. These stations were built for the express purpose of mining Jupiter's rich gas resources. Other mining colony stations were built by the same companies in Jupiter's L4 and L5 points.
The Fall of Earth changed everything. Millions of refugees, fearing that war would spread throughout the inner solar system, fled as far as they could and settled in the orbit of Jupiter. Once there, they discovered that life without solid ground or a bright sun was possible, and that the vast untapped resources that surrounded them would ensure comfortable lives for their children. Pursuing that dream, the Jovians worked hard over the next century to survive their harsh environment and build a civilization for their descendants.
The modern Jovian Confederation consists of three states of roughly equal size. Olympus, located around Jupiter itself, is the founding state of the Confederation and is where the Confederation's capital, Elysee, is located. The other two states reside at Jupiter's L4 and L5 points. These are over 800 million kilometers ahead of and behind Jupiter in its orbit and are home to thousands of asteroids. These asteroids are known as the Trojans. The colonies constructed amongst them are referred to as the Trojan States: Vanguard Mountain and Newhome. Both were founded by expanding Terran corporations and joined Olympus in an equal partnership to cover each others' resource weaknesses. All three formed the Jovian Confederation in 2113.
The Trojans are almost as far from Jupiter as the sun is. Despite this, the ties between the three states are very close. Being this far from the sun makes the Jovians much more in tune with each other than with anyone else in the inner solar system. Over the years, an extensive network of refueling stations and communications relay outposts has been constructed. A constant stream of ships and barges take advantage of the local unlimited fuel supply to provide a constant link between the Jovian settlements. The Jovian Confederation is both the most spread-out nation in the history of Humanity and one of the most stable.
The Moon was the first attempt at permanent space colonization. The closeness and material richness of Earth's satellite made it a logical choice for the large corporations that founded the first colonies. The settlements, all named after nearby craters, were built underground to protect them from radiation and have been steadily expanding for nearly two centuries. Even today, the mines of the Moon provide the Earth and Orbitals with much of their raw materials, mostly oxygen, processed water and silicates.
In addition to a permanent population of about one million, Luna is home to several CEGA military bases. Lunar cities have a martial atmosphere because of the number of soldiers that spend leave there. All inhabitants of the Moon maintain rigorous exercise regimens and take mineral supplements and advanced biocompounds to counter the debilitating effects of prolonged life in low gravity. Natives of the Moon (known as Selenites) tend to be very tall and thin (much like inhabitants of Mars).
In the mid-l800s, a most amazing discovery was announced: there was life on Mars! The evidence was plainly illustrated through the numerous canals crossing the Martian surface, obviously meant to carry water from the last few oasis into the ever expanding deserts. In fact, this was not just evidence of life, but also intelligence. Unfortunately, it was intelligence of the most malevolent sort. The first invasion from the red planet came in the late nineteenth century, almost completely overrunning England before the aliens were defeated. The Martians returned many times throughout the twentieth and twenty first centuries, each visit bringing widespread destruction and untold suffering as this evil race sought to rescue themselves from their dying world by conquering the lush, green Earth. On every occasion, the creatures were repelled by the courage, ingenuity and sheer determination of the human defenders. However, no defeat has been severe enough to discourage the single-minded Martian attackers, who even now are laboring over the next stage of their malevolent plans...
Assuming, of course, that any of this is true, which it is not. Mars as a world has been cold, dry and dead for a very long time. Authors of the fantastic have never been the type to let facts stand in the way of a good story, and humanity as a whole never let exploration and discovery tarnish the dreams and hopes it has for the red planet. Of all the worlds ever discovered, Mars was the one where humanity most desired to find life. Although modern expeditions revealed a harsh desert world, evidence suggests it was at one time much more capable of supporting life, and with a few centuries of effort it possibly could again. Despite the harsh reality of Mars, people were still eager to emigrate - humanity still had dreams for the planet, dreams of colonization and remaking that world into a second Earth. To some, this meant bringing life back to the world, resurrecting it from the wasteland it has become. To others, it meant a new home for their greed and ambition. To the red planet these darker dreamers brought a centry and a half of conflict and death. After such a long time, the drive for each of the Martian nations to overcome the other has become so consuming that ultimately there seem to be few differences between the bloodthirsty Martians of classic fiction and the Martians that the human colonists have become.
The terraforming of Mars was one of the greatest technological projects ever attempted by humanity. The first Martian colonists were dreamers, people who were willing to devote their entire lives to changing the face of a planet. As Mars grew in wealth and population, and as Earth collapsed, the Terran corporate and government interests that had sponsored Mars' colonization attempted to take control of the planet in the hope of stealing its resources to rebuild their power. The great distance involved, and the Martians' own remarkable stubbornness, however, proved to be insurmountable obstacles. In 2085, Mars wrested its freedom from Earth's grasp. Independence had a price, however. The following years saw several civil wars erupt as the Martian Democratic Party fought to retain power in the face of a concerted opposition which disagreed with the Party's desire for a strong central government. Today, Mars remains a divided world.
Mars has long attracted a hardy brand of pioneers. Most of the immigrants that made their way to the Red Planet in the twenty-first and twenty-second centuries were of one of two groups. The first was composed of people escaping tyranny, war and persecution. These have an aversion to central government control. The others were escaping poverty and hardship. They wanted only to find a peaceful place to live, and were more ready to accept a strongly hierarchical society in exchange for security. Both had to make many compromises to build a new world for Mankind. Martian history has demonstrated that the experience was less than successful, and that the diametrically opposed philosophies are hardly compatible. While timid attempts are made by prudent diplomats to re-establish formal relationships between the Republic and the Federation, most observers foresee that the situation is only going to deteriorate in view of the growing tensions between the CEGA and Jovian governments. Regardless, despite their many cultural differences, the Martians share several characteristics.
Fewer than two dozen large stations orbit Mercury, hidden from the blazing solar radiation by the solar system hottest planet's shadow. First colonized for the New Earth project, the Mercurian nation has swelled in ranks in the early twenty-second century when it offered asylum to disgruntled Venusian salary men escaping from Venus' choking political climate. It has grown rapidly over the last century to become the most influential trading power in the solar system. By remaining carefully neutral in all conflicts involving other settlements, and by making sure not to pick any fights of its own, Mercury has gained the grudging trust of the other solar nations. The huge mag-sail barges of the Mercurian merchant fleet can be found in every corner of the solar system, ferrying all manner of goods between the planets, a constant reminder that the nation of Mercury extends far beyond the orbit of the innermost planet.
The space societies of the Earth system are commonly known simply as the Orbitals. The name includes all space settlements, beginning with the transfer stations and workshops of low orbit to the colony and autofactory clusters at the various Lagrange points. They are home to millions of people, many of whom are descendants of refugees from the collapse of Earth. As the global economy slowly disintegrated, many corporations and academic interests fled to the space stations, followed in 2081 by the provisional Terran government. After they lost regular contact with Earth, the colonies were forced to become mostly self sufficient. The difficulty of this task barred them from paying any attention to the deteriorating planet below for nearly a century.
The Orbitals, well aware of their vulnerability and lack of resources, established good relations with the Moon (which was in the same situation). Together, they survived and even prospered until the Central Earth Government and Administration rose from the ruins of Earth.
Saturn & Titan
Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, is a frigid world enveloped in mysterious, red-orange clouds. It revolves in near-total darkness around its giant parent, a billion kilometers beyond the asteroid belt, making it by far the most remote human settlement in the solar system. Only the lure of vital resources - and profit - could have convinced human beings to establish a foothold in such an inhospitable location, and Titan offers both in abundance. Its icy crust is covered by huge seas of organic chemicals (mostly ethane), the only natural ”oceans” in the solar system beside Earth’s. This liquid wealth is lifted out of Titan’s light gravity well to mighty orbiting refineries, where it is converted into valuable compounds and shipped for sale throughout the solar system. Though Titan is nominally international territory, the main colony is under the control of a Jovian company, THC. Many of its inhabitants are often just temporary, lured to the cold reaches of space by the rewards of hydrocarbon mining in the depth of the moon’s oceans. Such a hard life requires hardy, tough people, and most Titanians are just that.
Saturn also supports a small population of scientists who monitor and maintain the automated research stations that orbit each jovian nation. The current permanent population of explorers numbers about four hundred and is located in two Inter-settlement Geographic Society (IGS) sponsored bases.
The Asteroid Belt was first colonized as a mining venture in the 2030’s. With the troubled times of Earth and the resulting introversion of the solar nations, the various Belt mining companies lost money and faded away. Over the following century, the Belt became a place where refugees built new homes for themselves, far away from the stifling inner system and ignored by the solar nations.
These modern-day Nomads have colonized small asteroids, outfitting them with gravity wheels and thrusters to make them habitable. Their numbers have remained rather constant for the past few decades. As new groups of refugees move into the Belt, a steady stream of nomads decide to give up wandering and join one of the solar nations. Abandoned colonies are quickly reoccupied and refitted to continue on their journeys under new ownership.
Venus has always been a world of mystery, its secrets of old hidden for centuries behind rolling clouds of poisonous gas and surface temperatures high enough to melt lead. Although Project New Earth converted the atmosphere with terraforming techniques late in the twenty-first century, the spirit of Venus' veiled threat has been passed on to its human inhabitants.
Project New Earth was sponsored, designed and paid for by a group of Terran corporations who foresaw the impending social chaos on Earth and decided that their positions were too weak to withstand the coming storm. They organized a mass emigration of resources to a new world, leaving the remaining cartels to squabble over what would soon be a wasteland. The wisdom of that decision has been borne out - the corporations of Venus are now the richest in the solar system.