The ArcBuilder Universe

 

TimeLine of the ArcBuilder Universe

 

The Neoaster Period
The Inner System Commonwealth

2061 AD to 2281 AD

 

2071 AD:  Hermes completes its first generation Equatorial Collider.  Girdling the circumference of the entire planet and set squarely on the equator, it will begin to efficiently produce economically viable quantities of antimatter within a few months.  With the export of this power source Hermes becomes a major political force in the Commonwealth, and becomes a direct competitor of AmTech in the power supply market.  it is a rivalry which sparks an economic resurgence for all nations.  Many of the poorer habitats and stations, however, continue to use Solar and asteroidal resource power.  The Earth is outfitted with several antimatter power reactors across its surface, but by and large remains fixed on fusion energy.

2099 AD:  The Summer Without A Sun on Earth, marking the beginning of the terrestrial Great Famine.  Summer temperatures even at the lower mid latitudes are far below the average, while snow further north only accumulates, not allowing for the growth of new plant material.  The stumbling recovery of agriculture across the planet collapses, and starvation again becomes a dominant issue for the world's population.  Even with offworld aid, millions will die this season.  Many believe that the planet is moving into a new and prolonged cooling period, pushed along by heavy particulates in the upper atmosphere, and some say it is possible that the next glacial period is on its way.

2107 AD:  The collapse and fragmentation of what remains of the Soviet Union.  With much of the nation losing ground to a growing and almost endless northern winter, as well as the much reduced flow of goods from offworld, the USSR simply cannot support itself.  In a glut of ongoing internal armed conflict, Russia finally splits into dozens of splinter nations.  None of these polities can retain control, however, and finally most of Eastern Europe and Siberia fall into chaos, coming to exist at a level hardly better than the Dark Ages.  In time local communities will become the powers of the land, townships and even small city-states that exist on trade and interdependence with one another.

2114 AD:  Unequivocal radio signals are detected, originating from Alpha Centauri.  Discovered by a research station in high solar orbit, the signals are undeniably Human in origin but clearly of no Terrestrial civilization.  Other such signals will be detected in the coming years as technology in this field progresses, providing clues to the long known but mysterious Lost Civilization.

2118 AD:  The Global Unity and Cooperation Pact is signed by the remaining major (and most minor) nations of the Earth.  In essence, the treaty outlaws armed conflict or territorial aggression and gives sole stewardship of the planet (militarily, socially, and environmentally) to the International Terran Authority.  From this point on the entire Earth will be represented in the Congress of Nations by a single representative.  It is true that the treaty is not perfect, and indeed transgressions are relatively common.  However, it is an important first step towards the ancient dream of a single unified and free Earth community, however forced its implementation might be due to the continuing deterioration of the planet.

2121 AD:  The launch of the Ableyard Interstellar Probe Fleet.  Conceived of and funded by the Exploration Society, these probes utilize fusion engines and advanced robotic AI's to travel to nearby star systems and to explore them.  Thirty-one probes are launched and will attain a maximum speed of 0.11c.  Their launch point is the Ableyard Habitat, the center of the Exploration Society, located in a high solar orbit.  Their targets are those systems that have been found to be the source of artificial signals, or which have been shown to have potentially habitable worlds.
2132 AD:  The nation of China begins to fragment, peacefully, into a series of independent territories centered on major cities and large towns.  Unlike the collapse of Russia, this is a planned event that had been laid out by the nation's Founding Elders.  The end result is a much more stable series of communities that are better able to cope with reduced goods and services as well as the cooling climate.  Indeed, surrounding regions that had been struggling since World War III are given a much more stable existence as they begin to enter into farming and trade ventures with neighboring communities.

2155 AD:  The beginnings of a trade war between Hermes and AmTech as Hermes begins to sell its solar power at record low prices.  This move causes an economic downfall for AmTech, which cannot compete in the power supply market.  While not yet official, mutual blockades of goods are initiated by both sides as they attempt to out maneuver each other in the economic arena.  Unfortunately the growing sporadic delivery of power and asteroidal resources as a result of this impacts the Earth the most, while prices begin to gradually rise throughout the entirety of the Commonwealth.

2163 AD:  The United States, while still formally a single and united nation, officially advocates the formation of independent territories based on the in-place state infrastructure.  This is a continuation of the trend towards nation-state decline  and the rise of smaller polities, which leads to more agrarian-based societies which require less invasive advanced technology.  As such, less off world goods are required, while a drastic population decrease makes self-sufficiency much easier.  The United States is simply the latest to join in a move towards a less technologically sophisticated but healthier and lower impact Human presence on the Earth.  These societies are still often linked together, and to the rest of the Commonwealth, via the internet and interweb, and they still receive sufficient medical services from their host nations or the Terran Authority itself.

2172 AD:  The first known instances of piracy in the Asteroid Belt occur.  Spurred on by the ever increasing prices laid out by AmTech in response to competition from Hermes, these initial incidents are small raids against automated mining ships and processing stations.  However, the scope and target sizes will eventually grow, enough to draw the attention of the Congress itself.  It will be a slow reaction, however, and one that is often distracted by the growing Trade War itself.

2177 AD:  The first ships of AmTech's infamous Red Fleet are commissioned.  Officially billed as a deterrent against asteroid piracy, the Fleet is swiftly utilized to maintain control over the Belt and to discourage independent mining operations from establishing anything but a low level foothold in the region.  The sheer military potential of the growing Fleet does not go unnoticed by the rest of the Commonwealth.
2180 AD:  The Earth continues to suffer under the environmental impacts of World War III as evidenced by an ever increasingly cold global climate.  This, combined with the movement towards smaller socio-political communities in Human society, has been bringing about a marked decrease in the planet's population.  In many regions around the world where the International Terran Authority cannot maintain proper medical and technological support the quality of life has begun to plummet, and large areas have become largely abandoned.  Disease has begun to strike with varying degrees of severity, and in many former nations famine has become a major problem, even where farming should theoretically keep the local population self sufficient.  By this year the total Human population of the Earth is estimated to be at 2.1 billion, and it continues to fall.
2181 AD:  The first ships of the Icarus Fleet, at Hermes, are commissioned.  Billed as a deterrent against possible resource piracy, it is clear that they are truly a reaction to the ever growing Red Fleet of Mars.  With the  establishment of a second independent military, polities throughout the Commonwealth begin arming themselves as they can.  Ironically, they often contract vessel construction from Hermes and AmTech.
2193 AD:  The first of the so-called Beta-Level Artificial Intelligence Systems are brought online.  Far in advance of any previous model and truly possessing a large degree of independence, these systems will become the norm in most levels of society throughout the Commonwealth.  While not truly sentient, they nonetheless have intricate and learning personalities and will often times develop personal nuances, independent of any programming.
2195 AD:  Several competing pirate faction in the Belt are united under a single personage, a man known only as Altair Jones.  Under his leadership piracy becomes frighteningly efficient, streamlined, and raises the pirate population almost to the level of an actual polity.  Jones will become one of the most notorious personalities of the 22nd and 23rd Centuries, even going as far as to appear (virtually) on various media outlets and marketing campaigns for recruits.
2197 AD:  The Battle of Ceres, in which the Red Fleet actively engages a small force of Belt pirate vessels.  While the conflict itself takes places over an area of several hundred thousand square kilometers, the point of contention is an attempted pirate invasion of the Ceres Colony itself, the center of AmTech operations in the Asteroid Belt.  The conflict ends with only a few surviving pirate vessels retreating back into the Belt, and the Ceres Colony held intact by the Fleet.  While the pirates are not eliminated as a threat, it is their first major defeat since being united under Altair Jones.
2203 AD:  A direct message from Alpha Centauri is received throughout the Solar System, and is broadcast in nearly every inhabited corner of the Commonwealth.  Likely as a result of their own ability to detect various signals from Sol, it begins a period of prolonged communication and sharing between the two branches of Humanity.  It is learned that the three suns of the Alpha Centauri System are under the rule of a monarchy that has been stable and prosperous for the last several hundred years.  Their technological level is much the same as the Commonwealth's. although their histories demonstrate different periods of technological growth and recession, as well as prolonged periods of cultural senescence.
2227 AD:  For years Altair Jones has lead a lucrative career, bringing his population of Belt pirates almost to the level of a recognized socio-political nation.  Indeed, it is believed that this was his ultimate goal, to create a new and independent Asteroid Belt nation.  However, in this year AmTech and the Red Fleet stage a multi-pronged massive incursion throughout the Belt, as well as on Mars itself.  The end result is the downfall and presumed death of Jones, and the fragmentation of the remaining pirate forces to a level of anarchy.  Piracy will never truly disappear, but neither will it ever again reach the level of organization that Jones had achieved.  AmTech is the undisputed ruler of the Belt, the most expansive territorial acquisition in the history of the Commonwealth.  Curiously, sightings of Jones continue for decades after his death, all through the Solar System, although it is typically attributed to the near mythic level that he had achieved.
2229 AD:  The Trade war between Hermes and AmTech is all but finished when both governments sign the Inner System Resource Agreement, in which they both freeze prices on their commodities and allow for the necessary movement of goods throughout the Commonwealth.  Many habitats and stations are brought back from the brink of abandonment or even extinction by the renewed economy.  On Earth the economy improves, although of course there remains a whole host of other issues that continue to plague the inhabitants.
2235 AD:  The first manned outpost is established in the Jovian System on Callisto.  From here the colonization of the system and the exploitation of local resources will advance and grow, each one providing for the other.  Callisto itself will become the hub of Jovian activity and will eventually become a thriving colonial metropolis.
2250 AD:  For the first time since the global cooling of the Earth was recognized snow and ice fields in the northern latitudes begin to expand, even during the summer months.  Drops in the oceanic levels are recorded, and so the beginning of a new glacial period is officially recognized.  Estimates of a return to a full glacial period range from a few decades to a few hundred years.  The majority of the Earth's population live in ignorance of this new phase of planetary climate, however, and entire geographical regions have long since fallen to a pre-industrial level of subsistence.  Several arcologies have been built throughout the world, and it is these (as well as SkyTower) that remain the centers of modern civilization on the planet.  The rest of the world is being allowed to fall into a far more primitive state of society.

2251 AD

  • The AmTech seat of government is won by Kale Writtenhouse during the latest political election cycle.  With a campaign based on Martian economic dominance and an end to the largely cold Trade War, he swiftly becomes a public hero.  However, once secured in office he begins to use his position to solidify his political party in all aspects of AmTech government.  Within the year the public regards him as a largely dictatorial leader, a notion that he does little to discredit.
  • The Exploration Society, along with the backing of several Commonwealth governments, launches the Alpha Centauri Project.  This is Mankind's first manned interstellar voyage, utilizing an antimatter-fusion engine which will push the vessel to 0.12c.  A total of 120 people are sent on the mission in three ships, one targeted at each star of the Alpha Centauri System.  A series of faster, unmanned support vessels are also sent.  The project is supported by the Imperial government of Alpha Centauri, and indeed much of its architecture was based off of suggestions from the Imperial scientific community.  Both solar systems see the Project as a mission to properly reunite the two branches of the Human family, long since mysteriously divided.
2257 AD:  Found buried deep within Elysium Mountain, the entire complex hidden for thousands of years by ancient landslides, the complex which houses the ArcWay is discovered.  While it remains unpowered, the entire network long since inactive, it is clear that the site is the most advanced center of technology ever discovered in the Sol System.  It is believed to be a non-functioning relic, however, and becomes the center of the largest archaeological site in the Commonwealth.
2261 AD:  AmTech, firmly under the rule of Writtenhouse and his political party, removes itself from the Resource Agreement, denying Hermes access to all points beyond 1.2 AU.  Hermes swiftly responds by denying AmTech access to all points inward from that mark.  While inherently unenforceable on the scale of the Inner System, this does restrict trade flow enough to upset economies throughout the Commonwealth.  The Trade War is reawakened from its cold status, and swiftly borders on a shooting war.
2267 AD:  The Red and Icarus Fleets begin open conflict, initiating the Martian War.  While fought throughout the Inner System, the war is named after Mars as it is the perceived source of antagonism.  The conflict is initiated by the destruction of a small Hermian transport fleet en route to Earth.  With a course that deviated just beyond the 1.2 AU limit, AmTech responded with a small fleet that did not actually catch up the the Hermians until they had reached Earth's outer Halo.  With the destruction of the vessels so far Sunward, a shooting war became inevitable.
2274 AD:  The AmTech Congressman and his staff are killed when their ship is destroyed as it leaves Caprion.  The event is blamed on Hermian forces despite the official investigating blaming a catastrophic engine failure.  Writtenhouse uses this as an excuse to withdraw AmTech completely from the Commonwealth.  Until now the Martian War was seen as an extension of the Trade War.  This move by AmTech sets off a chain reaction of hostilities throughout the Commonwealth, one that threatens the stability of the entire polity.
2276 AD:  AmTech forces intercept a new habitat, manufactured from an NEA asteroid, and bound for Jupiter.  The habitat, contracted and inhabited by a group that had just been granted independence by the Congress, is occupied by AmTech forces while accompanying vessels are either captured or destroyed.  The habitat is turned into the center of AmTech operations in the Jovian System and is renamed Jupiter Lapis.  The outrage of the theft and the imprisonment and forced labor of an entire independent nation rocks the Commonwealth.  Little can be done, however, against the might of the Red Fleet.
2277 AD:  A habitat arrives in orbit of Saturn.  Named Saturnius Mons, it becomes the furthest permanent outpost of Humanity in the Solar System, and will serve as a stepping off point for further and deeper manned exploration of the Outer System.  It is initially under the control of the Exploration Society, but there are plans to grant it independence once self-sufficiency is reached.
2281 AD:  The Commonwealth is effectively dissolved as a Congressional meeting collapses in accusations, threats, and boycotts.  Independent nations threaten both AmTech and Hermes, AmTech threatens armed reprisal on any nation it perceives as being insulting or a threat, while AmTech and Hermes mutually demand the resignation of each other's respective governmental administrations.  AmTech eventually walks away, promising that any form of violence against their holding s will be met with extreme prejudice, as well as the chilling statement, "Eventually, the Inner System will benefit from our leadership."  The lack of the binding Congress brings many to fear that the coming years will see the collapse of the interplanetary civilization.


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The ArcBuilder Universe is a science fiction project established, authored, and copyrighted ©
by John M. Dollan 2002-2016
This page first uploaded in April 3, 2016
Most recent update for this page April 25, 2016