Sword of the Stars - GURPS
Sol Force is an administrative body which extends its canopy over an extended empire of Human-dominated systems and worlds. It is divided into several different branches of service, and controls a huge range of military, scientific and civil affairs.
The largest divisions of the organization are its Civil Service Corps, Diplomatic Corps, Research and Development Corps, Intelligence Corps, and Military Corps. The military arm of Sol Force is further divided into Vacuum Forces and Ground Forces, which provide protection, support and labour to all other branches when necessary.
Citizens of Sol Force and the “Human” empire do not have to be Human beings. Civilians of many other races can co-exist with Humans and live peaceful lives on Human-controlled worlds, so long as they can tolerate terraforming which favours Human biology. However, the “Imperial Population” of the Human empire—the men and women who man the fleets and hold important posts in Sol Force and its territories—are all Human beings. Non-Human applicants are not permitted to join Sol Force itself.
The official motto of Sol Force is “Per Ardua Ad Astra”, “Through Hardship, the Stars”. The unofficial motto of Humans in space is “Repensum est Canicula”: “Payback is a Bitch”.
The leader of Sol Force is known as the Director. When you play Sword of the Stars 2 as “Humans”, you will assume this role.
The institution has humble origins. It began its life as a minor appendage of the United Consortia governments on the Human home world, Terra. Originally, the mandate of Sol Force was simply to keep watch on the Sol system. Sol Force consisted of a linked series of launchpads, telescopes and monitoring stations on Terra and in near orbit. These sites were maintained to prevent Terra from being threatened by asteroid strikes and similar disasters, to collect information about the cosmos and solar system, and to service orbiting satellites which were useful for scientific research, communications and commerce.
For over a century, Sol Force remained a minor service agency with limited staff and funding. In 2381, however, astronomer and astrophysicist Solomon Blasky was appointed the Director of Sol Force.
Solomon Blasky was born in 2353 in the Europa Consortium of Terra, the son of the famous industrialist and statesman Isidore Blasky and his first wife, mathematician Claudel Ryan. Nothing is known of his early childhood except that his parents divorced amicably in 2360.
The elder Blasky re-married to the Han author and poetess Liang Xuan in 2363, and Liang brought with her an infant son by a previous marriage. At the age of two, the boy was formally adopted by his new father under the name Blasky Yao-Hsiang. The two Blasky children, although not related by blood, were raised as brothers in every respect, and spent their childhood years shuttling freely between households maintained by the Isidore Blasky and Claudel Ryan, who had also re-married.
Both boys were steeped in mathematics and sciences in the home of Ryan and her third husband, physicist Raymond Rydberg, and both eventually chose to pursue a career in sciences as a result. From the Blasky household, the influence of the parents was split. Young Solomon seems to have inherited an aptitude for politics and political maneuvering. His younger brother shared his mother’s religious and political convictions, and was a passionately devoted Utilitarian throughout his adult life.
The family was torn by political strife in the late 2370’s and early 2380’s, when a rebellious Yao-Hsiang chose to join his mother and millions of other Utilitarians in a series of hunger strikes to protest the policies of the Europan and African Consortia governments. Angered by his son’s behavior, Isidore Blasky reputedly had his younger son banned by the Europan Academy of Sciences. The younger Blasky was forced to support himself by manual labor until 2383, when his elder brother finally persuaded him to join Sol Force.
Solomon Blasky, who had joined Sol Force in 2373 to serve as an astronaut and astronomer, had remained in his father’s good graces over the years and was able to become Director in 2381. After hiring his brother Yao-Hsiang and a team of like-minded individuals, he launched the Sol Prima program of research.
According to the paperwork submitted to oversight committees on Terra, the purpose of the Sol Prima Research Project was “to monitor Sol to determine the cause of the recent sunspot activity and solar flares which have recently shut down communications repeatedly on Terra by disrupting our network of orbital satellites”.
In reality, the solar activity had not disturbed the satellites and telescopes significantly. Solomon Blasky had arranged for “equipment failure” of ground-based telescopes and the disruption of the orbiting satellites under his personal control. The “flares” were proposed as an explanation in order to garner the necessary funding for an expensive and ambitious campaign of research in theoretical astrophysics. Gathering a team of gifted and like-minded individuals, he gave his brother Blasky Yao-Hsiang all the money and man-power necessary to design, build and launch the first Node-sensing array. The Sol Prima mission was launched on October 5, 2393.
Blasky Yao-Hsiang had proposed the existence of Node Space as early as 2379, in a Master’s Thesis submitted to the Europa Institute. With his Sol Prima array, he hoped to prove the existence of this “subspace dimension” by opening a small Node portal while in the sharply curving slope of Sol’s enormous gravity well.
The first experiment with the Sol Prima probe succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. One of the station’s hardened research pods had been fitted with his ring-shaped scanning array. The pod was launched from the station with Blasky aboard to operate the controls, while the rest of the station’s 18-man crew eagerly monitored their screens.
The moment that Blasky’s scan was initiated, however, the tiny research craft disappeared from view, and was no longer detectable by any means available to the Sol Prima monitoring station. Fearing that their team leader had suffered a catastrophic equipment failure or lost power, the station quickly dispatched a rescue team to search for the ship and the precious scanning array, hoping to recover the man and his equipment before a decaying orbit could drop both into the sun’s corona.
After several minutes of frantic scan-and-search, the Sol Prima science vessel received a feeble signal from Blasky’s pod. The scientist’s calm voice was heard from a distance of over 800 million kilometers. In less than ten seconds, he had been miraculously transported from a close orbit of Sol to a close orbit around the nearby gas giant Jupiter.
For the next two hours, as his team of solar scientists desperately attempted to find some means of reaching and rescuing their comrade, Blasky made a series of burst transmissions to the nearby Storm Watch probe in Jupiter’s orbit. The full-length recording of these transmissions is still played to first-year students of Node mechanics, and can be a highly emotional experience for those who have never heard them before.
As Blasky’s probe slowly descended into Jupiter’s atmosphere, the scientist gave a highly detailed account of his experience in Node Space, describing the gravitational “current” which seemed to pull him away from Sol’s orbit with blinding speed. He expressed his regret in having expended so much fuel fighting this astounding gravimetric pull, and speculated that his pod might have traveled much further had he not engaged thrust to fight the current within the “starstream”.
When Blasky could add no further detail to his description of Node Space, he calculated the volume of fuel he had expended in resisting the gravitational flux, and the distance and direction he had traveled. His tentative conclusion was that the force acting upon his ship had been the gravitational pull of the nearby star Wolf 359. Later experiments in subspace travel supported this hypothesis, as Wolf 359 was the nearest node in Sol’s subspace chain, but in recent years it has been suggested that Blasky may also have entered a micro-Node between Sol and Jupiter.
After carefully re-checking his data, including the level of energy he had used to initiate his solar scan, Blasky ejected his data core with the ship’s tracking beacon attached. He died several minutes later in the crushing depths of Jupiter’s liquid hydrogen sea. The amazing discovery and tragic death of this remarkable scientist became the planet-wide impetus for a return to manned space exploration. Solomon Blasky argued passionately in the months immediately following the accident that the budget cuts which had forced Sol Force to place only an unmanned probe in Jupiter’s orbit, rather than a manned research facility, had cost his brother his life.
With the discovery of the Node Drive, the Consortia governments agreed to cooperate in a large-scale effort to develop Faster-Than-Light ships for exploration and possible colonization of nearby star systems. The resources of several governments were pooled to fund Sol Force further, and allow the Sol Prima team to build the first interstellar space ship. Christened the Nova Maria, the ship made several successful experimental Node jumps to and from nearby star systems before the first deep space colony was planned in the Epsilon star system.
As the Nova Maria boarded its passengers for launch, intent on the first adventure of space colonization for the human species, tragedy struck. A Hiver nesting fleet led by the rogue Princess Obsidian Crown arrived in the Sol system. The planetary defenses of Terra were negligible and easily brushed aside by superior Hiver firepower. Solomon Blasky was killed aboard the Nova Maria in the first Hiver salvo, within moments of contact. Obsidian Crown then turned Her weapons on Terra, and bombarded the major population centers from orbit for over a day, causing massive devastation and catastrophic loss of life.
After nearly 36 hours of struggle, the curators of the planet’s former ICBM arsenal finally managed to reactivate their remaining stock of ancient missiles, which had been stored for decommission in the silos of the North American and Asian continents. A total of 3,000 fission and fusion bombs were launched at the descending Hiver fleet, destroying its full complement of destroyers and causing serious damage to its dreadnaught.
Thereafter, the remains of Obsidian Crown’s fleet left orbit and limped away into the neighboring systems.
Prior the launch of the Nova Maria, Solomon Blasky had appointed Ashilde Falke as co-Director of Sol Force, as he needed an assistant to manage its domestic operations. With his death, Falke assumed full control over the organization and its infrastructure. In the days following the Hiver attack, she appealed to the Consortia governments for the funds to build a new generation of armed Node Ships. Their mandate would be to hunt down the surviving dreadnaught and support vessels of the Hiver fleet and destroy them before they could return to attack Terra and its people once more.
The Consortia willingly agreed, and the people of Terra raised no protest when funds were diverted from reconstruction and relief efforts. The Human race was eager for revenge. At the same time, however, the colonial effort had not been forgotten. Although she would not stint the budget for armed destroyers and the development of the first armed Node cruisers, Ashilde Falke also believed passionately in Human expansion, and began building Colony ships to transport as many healthy and capable Humans away from Terra as she could. She considered it foolhardy not to colonize as many star systems as possible. To have the entire Human species living on a single world was a virtual guarantee of extinction.
Within two years Sol Force had developed its first fleet of Node warships and had made contact with the Hivers in a number of nearby systems. In 2412, Obsidian Crown and her surviving children were killed in the Battle of Mjolnir. With no knowledge of Hiver languages and culture, however, the Human race had no way of realizing that the Hivers were not a politically unified species. They continued to wage war against all Hiver clans, although nearly every new clan they found was completely unaware of the existence of the Human race until they were attacked.
The Hiver War continued to rage for decades as the number of Human-occupied worlds increased. By 2415, humankind had also made First Contact with the Tarka and the Liir. Despite early diplomatic efforts made by Tarka visitors in 2416, the Hiver War had expanded to a Hiver-Tarka War by 2417, and the battles would continue until 2436, when Ashilde Falke was killed in a coup and the Directorate was taken over by former Ground Forces Legate Edward Alton MacKenzie.
The first known encounter between Sol Force and the Zuul Horde occurred at Spica colony in 2413. All Human inhabitants of the planet disappeared en masse from their colony in a single day. The incident was blamed for over two decades on the Hivers, but when the Hiver Armistice was signed in 2436, the signatory empires began to share information more freely, and it was clear that a previously unknown race had been committing hit-and-run attacks in that region of space for nearly a century.
The earliest recorded attack by space-faring Zuul took place on the Tarka world of Ka’Saak in 2350. Hiver worlds were then attacked in 2362 and 2390. The attack on Spica in 2413 was followed by a flurry of attacks on worlds of all known races: Ku’Van was struck in 2415, Ko’Rorkor in 2416, Xheketch’is in 2417, and although data on Liir colonies is not available, it seemed likely that they suffered losses as well.
The first Zuul cruiser fleets were encountered in 2438, when Horde forces attacked and destroyed the SFS Nanjing in orbit around the planet Avalon. The first Zuul ship captured intact with live prisoners was taken at the Battle of the Jade Mirror later that year, which signaled the official start of the Zuul War.
The dates of the conflict are typically given as 2438-2462, when Zuul activity in the region ceased, but these dates are provisional. To this day, the Zuul have neither declared war nor declared the cessation of hostilities. Although the war was deemed “over” by the other combatants when the last contact with Zuul forces faded from recent memory, there was no guarantee that the Zuul race had been rendered extinct, nor that they were ready to give up on their predatory agenda.
Hostilities between the Zuul and the Human race were renewed on January 10, 2508, when Horde forces invaded the Sol system to hijack the newly built Human flagship, the S.F.S. Leviathan.