2145: The Legendary Maori

With the widespread adoption of shared-cognition technology and the explosion of AI that defined the 21st and 22nd centuries, fantastic breakthroughs in the world of physics, matter manipulation and engineering proliferated. However, the stars remained out of humanity’s reach until the invention of the Helium Ionic Thruster engine by the United Nation’s Multinational Astronomic Research Administration (MARA), led by Dr. Abu Maori. The HIT engine was a major breakthrough in cosmic exploration: It not only allowed spacecraft to accelerate to previously impossible speeds (up to a quarter of the speed of light), it was also hyper-efficient, allowing them to run on the infinitesimal amount of helium present in the interstellar void. Ships could now collect their fuel as they traveled, opening the door for interstellar voyages.

MARA sent thousands of HIT engine–powered probes to hundreds of neighboring solar systems. Over the next two hundred years, data from the MARA probes flooded in, reporting endless opportunities for exploration and wealth creation in select solar systems now within the reach of humanity.

In the ensuing three centuries, the HIT engine was adapted for widespread commercial use to transport people and cargo quickly within the Sun’s solar system (the Sol). While these adapted HIT engines did not have the capacity to reach the speeds of their interstellar cousins, they could still attain speeds in excess of 5 million mph.

With this leap in travel technology, the Sol was transformed. Transplanetary trade between colonies reached unprecedented levels. Research and advancements in terraforming and world-building methods enabled humanity to turn once-lifeless rocks into new Earths.

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2436: All Eyes on Proxima

By the late 2300s, after centuries of advancements to HIT-equipped spacecraft technology and new insights on how to sustain human life in prolonged deep space outposts, human interstellar travel was now viable, and plans dreamt up over decades were now set into motion.

In 2400, MARA announced the launch of a mission to its closest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri. It projected that each leg of the trip would take about 15 years, with 6 years in between setting up proto-mining colonies. In 2436, MARA successfully completed the Proxima Centauri round trip, returning with a wealth of new information about interstellar colonization.

MARA’s probes had identified 7 star systems as “highly viable colonization candidates” within 40 light years of Earth. These systems featured the right mix of stellar characteristics, had terraformable planets in the goldilocks zone, and possessed critical resources that would give pioneers the best potential for a successful colonization.

Despite its dominance, MARA alone did not have the resources or capabilities to lead mass stellar colonization, so the United Nations turned to the private sector. Corporations across the world were invited to bid for the colonization rights for each of the viable star systems.

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2465: Breaking the Chains of Sol

The bidding process took years. Prospective corporations needed to demonstrate they had the financial resources, technological sophistication, and administrative capabilities to carry out the monumental undertaking. This high barrier to entry led to a wave of corporate mergers and joint ventures, creating a new class of mega-corporations whose sole purpose was to win colonization rights.

Of the 8,000 corporations that submitted proposals, 7 were selected to lead a colonization, with Kepler Corporation winning the rights to colonize Arcturus in 2465.

Kepler Corporation funded its Arcturus colonization through a combination of private equity investment (investors were promised a share of resources harvested in Arcturus) and the sale of subcontracts to smaller corporations specializing in terraforming, farming, banking, construction, engineering, and mining. Kepler also sold a few full-priced tickets to the adventurous ultrawealthy, but the vast majority of the 19 million passengers on Kepler Arks fully or partially funded their journey with indentured-labor contracts. Perhaps it was passion for exploration—or just economic desperation—that motivated citizens of the Sol to sign up in droves for colonization missions, despite the substantial risk, not to mention the likelihood of never seeing their homes or families again.

In 2500, 127 Kepler Arks departed from Earth to Arcturus. The 37-lightyear journey would take 150 years.

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2650: Foundation Years

Advancements in cryogenic technology allowed the passengers of the Kepler Arks to be ferried in a biologic-stabilized slumber so that the 150-year journey passed, for the pioneers, in an instant.

In the year 2650, colonization began on Arcturus-α2 and Arcturus-α3, renamed Kepler and Tycho, respectively, as these rocky planets were in the inner and middle areas of Arcturus’s goldilocks zone. Both planets had liquid water and atmospheres not too chemically dissimilar from Earth, allowing the colonists to rapidly terraform these dead rocks into lush, arable worlds. Terraforming and colonization quickly radiated toward the outer reaches of the solar system.

The next 200 years saw a period of rapid population and economic expansion, with colonists setting up homesteads (which in many cases, grew into large, thriving cities) on 15 of Arcturus’s planets and moons, while interplanetary trade routes formed and entrepreneurial corporations proliferated.

Because the distance to Earth prohibited any old-world governance or intervention, Kepler Corporation had uncontested control over the administration of all communities, colonies, and trade in the Arcturus system, allowing it to accumulate immeasurable wealth for its shareholders and managers through taxes and favorable trade arrangements.

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2880: The Sovereign Accord

Beginning in the mid-2800s, Arcturus entered into a state of economic and societal maturity, at which point many Arcturians began to question its system-wide administration by a private corporation as a viable governing system.

Prolonged, strategic activism brought Kepler Corporation to the negotiating table with top business and thought leaders from across Arcturus, leading to the United Peoples of Arcturus Accord of 2880. This agreement, known as the Sovereign Accord, led to the dissolution of the Kepler Corporation and installed a democracy—known as the Sovereign United People of Arcturus (or the “Sovereign”)—to govern Arcturus in its place.

While citizens of Arcturus rejoiced at the apparent social and political progress, the formation of the Sovereign resulted in little substantive change to the control of Arcturus, as the social elites of Arcturus (principally, the heirs to the Kepler Corporation fortune) continued to wield political control over the Sovereign. In fact, the Sovereign’s capitol, Gesag City on Kepler, was where Kepler Corporation had been headquartered, with the Office of Sovereign Chancellor and the Sovereign Senate chambers occupying the old corporate campus of the Kepler Corporation.

Nevertheless, the citizens of Arcturus were satisfied. The economy continued to flourish and opportunities abounded for the ambitious and industrious to create wealth.

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2980: Ulysses Farsei IV

For the next 100 years, the Sovereign experienced its Golden Age. Stability in Arcturus required robust, complex trade routes that connected every planet, moon and space station. The Sovereign regulated all trade to ensure food, commodities, and other tradeable goods spread from resource-rich territories to resource-poor territories. The wide net of the Sovereign (and the Kepler heirs at its helm) was positioned in the middle of this dynamic flow, collecting tariffs.

But cracks eventually began to form. Goshen was a thriving mining planet, that boasted, among other resources, a rich supply of kinetic Farsei Crystals useful in synaptic energy manipulation, the properties and uses of which were discovered by the Farsei family generations before. The Farsei Family originally marketed their crystals as the principle input for Penfield batteries. Given that not all planets or moons in Arcturus had the resources required to generate adequate energy, efficient energy storage and transportation were critical for Arcturus; hence, Goshen was required by the Sovereign to trade Farsei Crystals well below market prices. The residents of Goshen felt as though they were overcontributing to the Sovereign without getting anything in return. These feelings strengthened as the versatility and power of Farsei Crystals became more apparent, and their use became ubiquitous in nearly every advanced technology—including weaponry.

At the first centennial celebration of the Sovereign Accord on Kepler, an heir to the Farsei family, Ulysses Farsei IV, witnessed firsthand the opulence on Kepler bankrolled by tariffs and trade regulations imposed upon the citizens of Goshen. After returning to Goshen, Ulysses shifted his focus to politics with a goal of normalizing these trade inequities. He and a core group of supporters founded a grassroots party known as the Terran Coalition. This political party quickly grew in influence on Goshen and took majority control of the local Goshen government.

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3030: The Sovereign Senate

In 3030, 50 years after its formation, the Farsei-backed Terran Coalition—now the leading local political force on Goshen—won several seats in the Sovereign Senate. Although not powerful enough to enact major reform, the Terran Coalition was extremely vocal and increasingly influential.

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3090: Secession of Goshen

Despite the Terran Coalition’s influence in the Sovereign Senate, decades of attempted renegotiation and reform of trade regulations through traditional political discourse failed. In the year 3090, party leaders of the Terran Coalition sent a letter to the Sovereign Senate announcing the secession of Goshen from the Sovereign United People of Arcturus and the formation of the Goshen Republic. Furthermore, the letter invited other territories to join the Goshen Republic in the Terran Trade Federation—a network of new trade agreements beyond the supervision of the Sovereign and free of tariffs from the central power.

Soon a substantial network of trade outside the Sovereign tariff system was formed, and Kepler was feeling the effects.

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3092: Blockade of Goshen

After two years of failed negotiations with the Goshen Republic to dissolve the Terran Trade Federation, the Sovereign—fearing the collapse of its reign if it lost control of interplanetary trade—sent a flotilla of Dreadnaught Battle Cruisers to Goshen’s orbit, blockading all trade in and out of Goshen.

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3094: Sinking of the ASF Ragnarok

As their access to resources dwindled over the course of several years, the Goshen people faced near starvation, but they still refused to yield. Intense trade negotiations with the Sovereign and pleas to other territories with influence in the Senate on Kepler continued with little progress.

With no end to the blockade in sight, a cadre of desperate Terran militants covertly boarded one of the blockade ships, the ASF Ragnarok, and rigged its thrusters to overload, causing the dreadnaught to explode, killing all 15,000 crewmembers.

This attack marked the official beginning of the armed Terran Rebellion.

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3099: The Destruction of Goshen

For 5 years, the Terran Rebellion continued in the form of minor skirmishes planet-side and in space. With its origins in trade, corporate governance and an institutional history of banding together for survival of the colony, the Sovereign government had zero experience or military capacity for war with an enemy that, while poorly supplied, had equal and sometimes greater technological capability.

 The prolonged conflict strained the economy of the Sovereign as its trade networks were compromised. Territories dependent on trade began to seek other ways—such as black markets and secret inter-territory trades—to fill the resource shortages they faced.

Sensing it would completely lose credibility and control if the rebellion persisted any longer, the Sovereign escalated its response. It equipped its dreadnaughts with overcharged Tesla Cannons, and with a synchronized blast, shelled Goshen until it was nothing but a belt of rubble and debris. The entire planet was annihilated along with 9 billion lives. Only a lucky few, who were off world or narrowly escaped by ship past the blockade and into the Exo, survived.

The destruction of Goshen swiftly put an end to the Terran Rebellion and shifted control of the system firmly back into the hands of the Sovereign.

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3105: Present Day

In the wake of the destruction of Goshen, the Sovereign, struggling to enforce its rule of law after spreading itself thin during the Terran Rebellion, has resorted to increasingly authoritarian rule. For 6 years, a series of strict laws and harsh punishments for offenders has cobbled the Sovereign’s trade network back together. But this rebranded iron-fist government is stretched too thin as it tries to control a vast empire, and the Terran Rebellion and the history behind it has revealed its weakness. In this chaotic environment, the door has opened for the proliferation of organized crime, and the grab for money and power has begun.

The events of SYNDICATE begin this year.

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