The Solar Alliance was the primary governing body of humanity for nearly two thousand years, and the largest human nation to ever exist. Formed in the earliest days of space exploration from the wake of the War of the Red Hand, it represented a unified humanity for centuries, and endured eras of exploration, turmoil, discovery, and warfare. If the Judgment War had not erupted, and the Great Enemy had physically torn down nearly all of humanity's creations, it may very well have lasted for numerous centuries more.
In the 23rd century, humanity had managed to build civilizations either upon or in orbit of most planets in the Sol system, as well as countless independent space stations scattered through the Asteroid Belt or around smaller planetoids on the periphery. Every planet, though essentially unified in its own sphere, was in a state of perpetual tension or outright warfare with other worlds and principalities. It was a level of conflict in humanity not seen since the pre-Revelation wars of the 21st century.
As distrust and conflict continued to escalate, a growing movement arose across all the assorted human powers, a movement disgusted with the constant fighting, and seeking a return to the wisdom and unity granted by the Revelation. A number of individuals found themselves caught up at the center of pivotal events, and the movement found itself suddenly gaining legitimacy when the commander and crew of the ENS Constitution, the flagship of Earth's navy, sided with the Allied movement.
Although it took years of negotiation, impassioned speeches across the system, and more than a few battles (indeed, not everyone who started the journey finished it), in time the Allied movement gained so much momentum that eventually every world, every colony, every station, elected to embrace peace and the idea of a unified mankind. It took still more years of negotiating, haggling, and decision-making, but, in time, the Solar Alliance was born. The conflicts that were now laid to rest were collectively called the War of the Red Hand, a symbolic name of humanity's hands being utterly stained with blood.
Those individuals leading the movement, who became known as the Founders, saw the distances between worlds, and the diversity of experiences being had in a massive variety of environments, led to a disconnect of perspective and understanding, as well as situations that would naturally breed conflict. A policy that worked for Earth might be a terrible idea for the Jovian moons, and a lack of understanding of the differences in needs between those environments, were fertile ground for discontent and anger.
Under the Solar Alliance, worlds and territories retained vast degrees of autonomy, each allowed to handle local matters as they best saw fit. The Alliance was responsible only for those matters that affected the whole of humanity, including fostering the exchange of culture and ideas between member worlds to better promote understanding. Each world contributed to the greater whole and the idea of mankind becoming more than the sum of its parts.
Into the Unknown
At the dawn of the Alliance, it was still confined to the Sol system. Assorted forms of faster-than-light travel to facilitate humans leaving for other stars had been theorized and developed to various degrees, but there was always some critical issue that prevented it from becoming reality.
With the newfound unity the Alliance brought, resources and ingenuity could be combined like never before. Earther inventiveness mixed with Martian expertise, Jovian labor, and Saturnine resources led to the first fully-functional ship capable of FTL travel barely a few decades after the end of the conflicts. It was a public relations victory for the Alliance, who was still seen as an unproven experiment by many who could remember the War. The first vessel set course for Proxima Centauri, and returned a few months later with a wealth of images, videos, and new information. Seeing what a unified humanity could accomplish, the Solar Alliance was truly cemented as the central governing body of the species.
From there, warp drives were mass-produced and humans flocked by the thousands, then eventually millions, to new stars. The principles upon which the Solar Alliance was founded became more important than ever. There was no way any human government could reign over the people the way they used to in the old days. Space was simply too vast to watch every corner and enforce a hundred thousand different laws. Any newly formed colony was given the same choice: join the Alliance and gain access to its resources as long as contributions of some kind were made to the whole of humanity, or don't and be left to their own devices. Most accepted immediately, relying on the support, technology, resources, even common currency the Alliance provided. Some chose to remain independent, and the Alliance left them alone, neither hurting nor helping them in any way. They had no interest in forcing anyone to join, because they knew that would only cause unrest.
The Solar Era
The first hundred worlds were easily charted. More than a few ships hurled themselves into the void beyond, never to be seen again, or not until decades, or even centuries, later, when a probe would discover an already-established world of humanity.
The majority of stars around Sol didn't carry worlds that could support human life. As the Alliance continued to grow, the distances between those worlds that could began to grow. The Alliance realized, to truly harness the potential of the galaxy, humanity's inherent weaknesses needed to be overcome.
Initially, this was conceived through technological means. However, after the disaster that led to the destruction of the colony on Spero and the deaths of millions, such measures were abandoned, or even outlawed in the case of nano-technology. The idea was then struck upon to alter humanity itself on a fundamental level. The human genome had long since been fully mapped out, and the genes responsible for all manner of congenital diseases, birth defects, and other such things had been identified. Limited amounts of therapy to neutralize these genes had become standard medical practice.
What was envisioned, however, was something far beyond simply treating genetic disorders. It would take nearly two centuries, and cost the lives of thousands of volunteers, but the means to drastically alter and improve the human genome in nearly every single way was eventually unlocked.
It would take centuries more to propagate the changes to the bulk of humanity. In a rare change from its normal stance, even worlds outside the Alliance were offered the gene-altering treatments for free. The benefits to all were far too vast. Most accepted, but of course a minority stubbornly refused, even in the face of overwhelming evidence at how much better those who had accepted the changes had become. In time, all but a handful of worlds accepted the changes.
Every organ, every cell, was more efficient. Mental aptitudes were vastly greater, and scientific advancement accelerated to a breathtaking pace. Humans could survive in environments that would have killed them a century ago. It was as if the true potential of mankind had finally been fully unlocked. The Solar Era had truly begun.
Less Than Perfect
During the transition period, it had become an old adage by opponents of the genetic changes, “Superior talent breeds superior ambition,” implying that it wouldn't only be the positive aspects of humanity that would find themselves amplified. To an extent, they were right.
Individuals with aspirations beyond the moral limits of regular society would find like minds to gather with, forming their own colonies, or convincing entire worlds in some cases to follow them. Most of the time, they either destroyed themselves with reckless experimentation or faded into obscurity, accomplishing little to nothing. Those few who did succeed, however, often drew undue attention, and the worst examples, mad scientists who created genetic abominations or developed weapons of unfathomable destruction, were actively hunted down and destroyed by the Alliance in one of the few examples of its interference in outside matters. In time, genetic engineering that went beyond mere enhancement, that might alter the “divine form” of man, was outlawed entirely.
Aside from unchecked scientific ambition, there were also those who had vast economic ambitions. Some corporations were large enough to span multiple worlds, but competition was fierce enough, and societal pressure against excess accumulation of wealth strong enough, that they were typically kept in check. The governments of individual worlds, however, was another story.
Centered around the world of Valhul, its ruling political party, facing impending losses, began to establish a series of support and entitlement programs aimed at increasing the standard of living for all its citizens. The move worked, keeping the party in power. Over the following decades, the scope of Valhul's government grew exponentially, and through a combination of cultural and economic influence, it even gained direct control over many nearby worlds. At this time, the Alliance did nothing, as there was no bloodshed involved in these acquisitions, and human rights were being respected.
Tensions began when the Valhullen Hegemony, the ruling entity that controlled the growing number of worlds, started to demand resources directly from the Alliance. Its extensive support programs, as well as a bureaucracy that was magnitudes larger than that of the entire Alliance despite having a fraction as many worlds, were such a massive economic sink that the Hegemony had to continually absorb new worlds and resources to sustain the program. When the Alliance rebuffed the demands and suggested the Hegemony scale back its costs instead, Valhul and all the worlds that it controlled withdrew from the Alliance. Nearly a hundred planets, a fifth of the Alliance, was no longer part of the galactic community.
As was its tendency, the Alliance made no move to stop the Hegemony's withdrawal, and merely all but closed its borders, shutting down most trade routes. Of course, trade still occurred through the private sector, but with the Alliance's currency no longer accepted in the Hegemony, and vice versa, it grew increasingly difficult to get by for private traders, and eventually things began to dry up. Tensions continued to mount as the Hegemony seemed to grow increasingly desperate for the additional resources the Alliance had, especially as the flow of new worlds had slowed to a trickle, and gaps in what products were readily available across the Hegemony became clear.
The triggering event for war was the detonation of a bomb which annihilated the capital of Nova Roma, an important Alliance world near the border. The Alliance blamed the Hegemony, who in turn accused the Alliance of engaging in a false-flag operation. Certainly, the world and the surrounding areas were thrown into chaos following the sudden loss of so many leading political figures. It was not until after the war that it was discovered the attack was in fact instigated by a black-market warlord who had been supplying arms to forces on both sides.
Whatever the true cause, the next several decades saw warfare on a scale humanity had never experienced before. Conflicts had erupted between individual systems before, but to have hundreds of worlds involved was unheard of. The Alliance military, used to engaging in little more than police actions, was initially caught off-guard by the ferocity of the Hegemony forces. The Hegemony knew they would always be outnumbered, and so attempted to compensate with both technological superiority and boldness of action.
Ultimately, it was not enough. Quickly learning and adapting, the Alliance outmaneuvered and overwhelmed the Hegemony, eventually bringing about its destruction. Tens of billions had died, and over a dozen worlds had been utterly scoured of life, by the end of the conflict. It seemed superior talent also bred superior violence.
Recovery and Ascension
For decades, centuries even, humanity was shaken. The principles the Solar Alliance were founded on had been tested like never before in its thousand years of life. Even after the war was concluded, its military remained twice the size it was prior. A wariness, indeed even a vague paranoia, settled upon humanity. A century after the war ended, there were still billions alive who remembered its horrors, and most went out of their way to ensure such a thing wouldn't happen again. Even so, the Alliance began to take a more proactive role in ensuring cultural and economic balance between its worlds, actively suppressing the conditions that led to the rise of the Hegemony.
In time, of course, the scars began to heal. Life, as it always did, went on. As passing generations turned horror into memory, then memory into story, then story into legend, humanity began to look towards the future once more. By now, the Alliance laid claim to nearly a thousand worlds, a number that was growing rapidly every year. Humanity numbered over a trillion at this point, with thousands of distinct cultures. The advent of the foldspace drive in the 36th century, replacing warp travel, reduced the travel time between neighboring systems from days to mere hours.
The explosion of travel, commerce, and cultural exchange heralded a golden age unlike anything the Alliance had ever experienced before. Exploration of the galaxy also accelerated, now that distant worlds were easier to reach than ever. Within a couple centuries, the borders of the Alliance doubled in volume, spanning over five hundred light years in diameter. It was still a speck compared to the vast majesty of the entire galaxy, but it was the mightiest government humanity had ever built.
By the dawn of the 41st century, the Alliance spread across well over two thousand worlds, with hundreds of thousands of others charted and explored. Earth had remained the political and spiritual heart of civilization, although the vast majority of humans would never see it. No major wars had been fought in centuries (though countless minor ones had broken out), and it seemed as if nothing could stop the ascension of humanity.
Questions were still asked, however, about the lack of other sentient life in the galaxy. Numerous mathematical models had been devised over the centuries, revised and updated as new findings were made. Simpler lifeforms had been found on numerous worlds, and there were a few vague pieces of evidence of past sentient life, but nothing conclusive had been found, even after almost two millennia of searching. The only hope humanity wasn't alone was that there was still the vast majority of the galaxy that lay unexplored.
Had humanity known at that time what lay beyond in the unknown, they might not have wished so hard to find something.
The Judgement War
In 4001, while most of the Alliance was still celebrating the dawn of a new millennium, observatories and monitoring posts on the edge of known space began to detect unusual energy signatures emanating from deep space, in the general direction of the galactic center. The energy bore no resemblance to anything previously encountered by man, and knowledge of the discovery was swiftly suppressed by the Alliance until the nature of the source could be ascertained.
An exploratory fleet, led by the SAS Constitution, was dispatched to the source, which was located deep in the void, well outside any star system. The fleet of twenty ships arrived at what appeared to be a massive tear in space itself, and ships of unknown design were emerging from it.
At first elation spread through the fleet at the prospect of having finally met another sentient species, but it quickly gave way to unease. The ships were made of elements and compounds almost entirely unfamiliar to the humans. Those who looked at the spatial anomaly from which the ships were emerging for too long would begin to report headaches and even hallucinations. Something about the nature of the ships was unsettling, not least of which was the fact that they seemed to be primarily biological in nature.
Though they expected little success at communication, the fleet attempted to hail the alien vessels by all means possible. The response from the aliens was unrelenting violence. Three ships were destroyed in the opening salvoes, as the fleet had approached without weapons or shields powered up, in an attempt at a non-aggressive stance. Swiftly moving to battle stations, the surviving Alliance vessels attempted to rally and withdraw. The alien attack continued, overwhelming the defenses of the human ships and destroying them. A few were even assaulted directly and boarded by smaller vessels disgorging creatures onto their decks. What little communication was had with those ships were nothing but the screams of dying crew and distorted images of nightmarish horrors of teeth and claws.
The only saving grace for the humans was that the alien vessels were uncoordinated, even seemingly disoriented in some way, as if they were operating in an environment they were completely unused to. Five of the original twenty vessels, including the Constitution, were able to escape. They had destroyed a dozen of the alien vessels in the fighting, but several times that number remained, and still more were coming through the anomaly.
This would be considered the opening battle of the Judgment War.
Damnation and Salvation
At first, the danger posed by the aliens who would come to be known as the Great Enemy was considered minimal. Knowledge of their existence was suppressed until the threat could be properly assessed and contained. Unfortunately, the reprisal fleets sent to attack the anomaly were annihilated in their entirety. What little information could be retrieved from the attacks revealed the Great Enemy wasn't simply mounting an incursion into our reality, it was a full-scale invasion.
Military resources were discretely reassigned to the areas around the anomaly in the hopes of containing whatever threat the Great Enemy might prove. These measures were wholly inadequate. Smaller, isolated colonies who happened to be located near the anomaly were attacked and destroyed, but knowledge of such events was still suppressed to prevent panic. When the heavily populated world of Mirathol was wiped out six years after the discovery of the anomaly, enough survivors escaped to make a cover-up impossible. At this point, the Alliance was forced to admit it was being invaded by an outside alien power.
Societal reaction to the confirmed existence of sentient alien life, after all these centuries, was as diverse as it was volatile. Some argued the Great Enemy clearly had nothing but hostile intent and should be eliminated at once. Others proclaimed it was a misunderstanding and that a peaceful solution could be worked out. Extremist adherents to both views departed in equal measure, whether to attack to communicate with the aliens. All were destroyed or went missing.
As years turned to decades, more and more worlds were attacked, often with devastating results. Military development began to accelerate in response, but every year more worlds were reduced to ash. Still, at first, the Alliance seemed convinced this invasion was little more than a menace, and that they simply had to destroy enough Enemy resources to bring the conflict to an end. The Siege of Rydenock changed that view.
The second century of the Judgment War saw a massive escalation of hostilities between both sides, with the Solar Alliance engaging in total warfare against the Great Enemy, who seemed unhindered by even the fiercest resistance. Even as more powerful entities appeared within human space, and were subsequently defeated in many cases, the invasion continued at a breathtaking pace. Hundreds of battles of apocalyptic scale occurred, with billions of casualties on both sides. The Battle of Polaris, the Fall of Sirius, the Liberation of Pollux, these were but a few of the countless struggles of humanity in the face of annihilation.
By the third century of the war, it had turned to a battle of desperate survival for humanity. Over half its worlds had been scoured of life, and more were falling every year. Earth had remained untouched thus far, but it was assumed to only be a matter of time until the cradle of civilization was attacked. And, as quickly as the Great Enemy had torn through Alliance space with all its resistance, it could only be imagined how many other parts of the galaxy had been consumed without struggle.
As the extinction of mankind seemed to be growing increasingly inevitable, colony fleets were launched into the deep void, hoping to plant the seeds of humanity in parts of the galaxy as yet untouched by the Great Enemy, to keep something of the species alive. Many failed to reach their destinations, or found them already destroyed. Meanwhile, the Alliance engaged in increasingly desperate tactics to defeat, or even simply slow, the relentless advance of the Great Enemy. Entire systems were destroyed as suns were forcibly turned nova, committing one of the greatest sacrileges possible in the name of survival.
Finally, just as the fourth century of the war was dawning, hope appeared. Scout ships utilizing the most advanced stealth technology possible returned from the other side of the portals, from another universe of almost pure darkness and evil. They had been sent through to the other side in the hopes of finding something, anything that could give the Alliance an advantage. Decades were spent wandering this dark dimension, and most of those who had gone in went mad during the journey, but a few stubborn survivors managed to return. And what they had learned would save not only humanity, but the galaxy as a whole.
Within the dark dimension of the Great Enemy was something resembling our galaxy, but twisted into an eldritch configuration where entire planetoids were arranged in patterns that focused energy on incalculable scales to breach the barriers between realities. There was a weakness, however. The entire configuration was anchored by a single object, covered in crystalline structures thousands of miles long. If this anchor were destroyed, it would disrupt the pattern and likely seal the portals.
After much debate, a mission was organized to do just this. Over a thousand ships, nearly the entire remaining military might of the Solar Alliance, was sent to destroy the anchor. They succeeded through a month-long protracted battle, but barely a dozen ships returned moments before the portal collapsed. The flow of endless reinforcements for the Great Enemy was finally halted, although there was barely anyone left to celebrate. Only sixty-seven worlds remained under Alliance control, its military strength was nearly exhausted, and there were still untold numbers of the creatures out in the galaxy. It was hoped they might discorporate en masse after the connection to their home universe was cut off, but this proved to be a vain hope as more worlds continued to come under attack. However, the rate of attack swiftly dropped.
In 4305, a year after the portals were sealed, the death knell was seemingly struck for the Solar Alliance. The Sol system had finally been invaded by a fleet of hundreds of Great Enemy vessels. All available military forces were ordered to defend the homeworld, although some refused to leave other worlds completely undefended. Soon after the muster order was sent out, all contact with Sol was lost. Anyone who went to investigate never returned.
By 4306, when Delta Gamma 421 was attacked, nothing had been heard from Sol, still. After nearly two thousand years, it seemed likely the Solar Alliance had finally fallen.