A brief overview of the Warfleet Universe
At 17:35 GMT on October 18th, 2090, the experimental starship Magellan made the first translation from realspace to jumpspace. The vessel travelled from Lunar orbit until it was forced back into realspace several thousand astronomical units outside the edges of the solar system. Travel time was less than five minutes.
This success was the result of nearly ten years of research into matter-anti-matter reactions within a planetary gravity well. When a jumpspace drive reached a predetermined harmonic resonance it became possible for a ship to translate into jumpspace.
The ability for humans to travel interstellar distances at relatively faster than light speed united the nations of Earth in a way nobody thought possible. Within a decade of the Magellan?s historic flight the major powers on Earth created the Earth Expeditionary Directorate -an international public-private partnership charged with galactic exploration. The first ventures into hyperspace were rushed, and humanity did not have a firm grasp of FTL mechanics and the relationships between realspace and hyperspace resulting in several high-profile accidents (including the loss of the Britannia, the first commercial civilian starship). Despite these setbacks the EED quickly discovered it could travel a dozen lightyears from the Sol system relatively safely.
By 2128, after an extremely aggressive push by the EED, colonies had been established in Proxima, Tolliman, Barnard?s Star, and Abraxus (over the next century, Barnard?s Star and Abraxus would become two of the most heavily populated systems outside of Sol). The colonies had access to abundant resources in demand in Sol, but were not themselves self-sufficient. Thus trade between Earth and it?s daughter colonies became commonplace. Colonization was driven by two main factors: Extensive overpopulation of Earth and the Sol system and the associated ecological damage, and the need for raw materials to support the explosion in consumerism over the previous century. The rapid push and logistical difficulties of colonization made it an incredibly expensive venture. This was offset by the even higher profit margins for any corporations willing to front the funds to run a mining operation across interstellar distances. The responsibility for regulating all matters associated with spaceflight fell within the jurisdiction of the EED, giving the organization immense clout, financial and political power on Earth. Within two decades it?s importance had surpassed that of every state government.
Many of the elements used in the construction of starships -and specifically the construction of efficient hyperdrive coils- were proving to be extremely rare, forcing the exploration and prospecting of even more worlds and asteroid belts to keep up with the increasing demand. Finding a rich source of practically any important resource was a sure ticket to near unlimited wealth for a company.
In 2135 prospectors from the Deep Space Mining Guild set out on an expedition from Capella to the Talitha Borealis system, and discovered within the most resource-rich star system known. This spurred an unprecedented industrial expansion in the outer colonies (which by 2180 included five star systems lying between 13 and 18 lightyears from Sol). Talitha Borealis also gave the outer colonies significant leverage against the rule of the EED.
In the years leading up to 2150 the outer colonial governments were getting increasingly dissatisfied with the EED and its trade policies. The EED recognized the precarious position it was in and did not want to risk losing its lifeline to valuable resources (and a not insignificant amount of corporate wealth). With the backing of several of the largest trade cartels on Earth the EED reformed itself into a new government better designed to handle the politics on dozens of colonies spread across numerous star systems. The new government -named the United Colonial Overwatch- was run centrally from Earth and was as much of a corporate institution as it was a political body. Earth was unwilling to give up control of its colonies -and their resources. Despite increasing dissatisfaction among the outer colonies with the UCO, they were able to leverage their resource advantage to mitigate the most heavy-handed of the UCO?s new control policies.
An expedition led by Samura Mining Conglomerate in 2182 found the answer to the UCO?s disadvantageous position in the Groombridge 34 system. While not as rich as Talithia Borealis, the proximity of Groombridge (3.5 light years) meant the system fell well within the UCO?s core influence and was adequate enough to convince the UCO leadership to re-exert their control over the outer colonies. As a precaution in 2189 the UCO began construction of the first true, purpose-built space warships, and by 2295 pirate attacks on convoys were becoming so commonplace the UCO was forced to take action. Whether or not these ?pirates? were indeed bandits, agents of competing corporations, or groups sponsored by the governments of the outer colonies has never been established. All three are considered likely.
The outer colonies, confident in their bargaining position, originally paid little attention to the UCO fleet buildup. The aggressive and often ruthless anti-piracy actions of the UCO in 2196 and 2197 shocked the outer colonial governments. Capella and Aldebaran were the first systems to declare independence, soon followed by Talitha Borealis and Wasat. The rebellion also enjoyed the indirect support of the Deep Space Mining Guild, which by 2200 had grown to be quite a power in its own right.
With the declaration of independence from Aldebaran and Talitha Borealis and the loss of the DSMG?s shipping hubs in Capella the inner colonies suffered a near 45% drop in the supply of cheap raw materials. The central powers of the UCO -Sol, Barnard?s Star, Abraxus, and Tau Ceti- created the Earth Expeditionary Force to force the outer colonies back under UCO control. The EEF launched a two-prong siege on Capella and Aldebaran from the Rana system. After a two month siege the EEF warfleets easily swept aside the meager defense platforms and system pickets at Capella -which were intended for protection against raiders and were no match for dedicated warships- and stormed the capital city orbiting Capella 6 with shock-troops. Without access to the industrial facilities at Capella or Aldebaran and their freighters being forcibly turned away or impounded at Rana the Talitha Borealis system was forced to surrender within three months or face starvation. What history now refers to as the Resource War ended 155 days after the first warfleets left Rana. Under the threat of force the UCO once again had control of the vital resources from the outer colonies.
The brutal and heavy-handed treatment by the UCO military left the people of Capella and Aldebaran demoralized and defeated. The unrest in the decades that followed saw a dramatic increase in the number of pirate and independent militia attacks on convoys to and from the inner colonies. A heavy crackdown by the EEF in the outer colonies in 2249 resulted in a reduction of these attacks, but was unsuccessful in eliminating them entirely. Attacks on shipping travelling between Rana and UCO core worlds -and within the UCO itself- gradually increased and soon the EEF found its warships patrolling the home systems more than the outer colonies.
The expansion to distant star systems like Sheratan and the Hyades Cluster forced the outer colonies to construct their own police navies to deal with raiders in their own territories. The effectiveness of the outer colonial anti-piracy operations and the resulting support they received from several powerful shipping cartels forced the EEF to tolerate the military buildup of the outer colonies. Individually, the system navies of the outer colonies were not a threat to the UCO, but the vast amount of territory covered by the outer colonies meant the EEF truly had no idea of the immense size of the combined military power of the colonial navies.
In 2261 the first expedition sponsored by the DSMG arrived in the Alnitak system by way of Betelgeuse. Two years later gas mining began in the nearby Flame nebula, providing the outer colonies with resources previously only available from the UCO by way of Nel and Helix nebula.
Early in 2272 the systems of Capella, Alpha Aurigae, Talithia Borealis, Aldebaran, and Wasat signed a mutual economic-arms agreement pact, and with the support of the majority of the outer colonial corporate conglomerates and the Deep Space Mining Guild once again declared independence under the banner of the Capellan Alliance. The EEF was quick to respond, but was not prepared for the prolonged war they were being forced into.
As it had in the Resource War of 2200 the EEF battleplan relied on a quick, decisive attack from Rana on the Alliance capital systems. When the first EEF warships arrived at Rana to prepare for their attack on the outer colonies they were shocked to find Capellan warships waiting for them as they translated into realspace. The UCO commanders further underestimated the skill of their Alliance counterparts and were totally unprepared for the effectiveness of the sleek, modern Alliance warships. The majority of the UCO fleet was destroyed or captured and only a few escorts managed to evade Alliance scouts long enough to jump back to the UCO core systems.
While the UCO possessed significantly more warships overall, the EEF lacked the organizational and logistical structures required to support prolonged operations over large areas of space. The Alliance navies had perfected these methods over decades of anti-piracy operations, as their territory -while numbering fewer systems than the UCO- was spread out over significant distance. Alliance captains were accustomed to operating for prolonged periods, coordinating with units many lightyears away and without logistical support.
The Alliance relied on these strengths greatly during the war. The UCO?s initial failure at Rana meant they lost the initiative right from the start, and Rana became a central focus point during the war that would change hands several times over the next seven years. The UCO managed to take control of the system for the two years of 2274-2276 and launched several incursions into Alliance space. As the Alliance fleets could not stand toe-to-toe with their EEF counterparts, they relied on a commerce war focussing on damaging the long EEF supply lines from Rana to their forward positions near Sheratan, Capella and Aldebaran. Sheratan was technically a neutral territory but was nonetheless exploited by both the UCO and Capellan Alliance for military purposes during the war.
In early 2277 Rana once again fell into Alliance control and the UCO was unable to reclaim the system. Over the next two years the Alliance military strategy relied on destroying what was now a very long and very fragile unsupported logistical train from the UCO to Capellan territory. Without the abundant resources from the outer colonies and with the loss of support of the DSMG and other powerful shipping cartels at the start of the war the UCO found it increasingly difficult to replace lost shipping, and the ability to construct new warships and merchant ships began to dwindle rapidly.
As 2279 drew to a close the resource problems within the UCO were becoming critical. The UCO was forced to sue for peace. The outer colonies had won their independence.
During the 7 year war piracy once again became ramped. Pirate factions and private militias became more powerful with the capture or theft of navy combat vessels, and both the newly independent colonies and the EEF dedicated more effort to dealing with this threat.
In 2281 the Capellan Alliance officially incorporated themselves as a unified systems Government and went through great lengths to eliminate any lingering political influences from the UCO. Renegotiation of trade treaties has not boded well for the Overwatch, and they found themselves on the receiving end of the same heavy-handed trade policies they forced after the Resource War. Shipping and mining companies within the Capellan sphere of influence were all too willing to take advantage of the deliberate price inflation for their own profits. Resources the UCO previously had near unfettered access to were now costing them -in some cases- 100 times what they had been paying before the war. If able the UCO would have gladly continued the war to being the colonies back under their control.
Presently, in mid-2282, incursions by UCO ships into Alliance space are frequent. While fleet battles are rare, skirmishes between patrol groups take place frequently. The peace is tenuous and many contemporary analysts declare that the war did not truly end, but merely replaced by a low-intensity border war. Open hostilities continue and both sides walk a fine line between harassing the other and sparking a full blown war. Even more common are armed conflicts with the numerous pirate and raider bands that grew powerful during the seven-year War of Independence and are now a significant menace to civilian shipping, UCO and Alliance alike. Sitting between them are numerous mega-corporations playing both sides for the largest profits. Escalation of hostilities in the near future is considered likely, and the warfleets may once again be called upon.