The Expedition was conceived around 2115AD, during the opening stages of the First Interstellar War. It had the primary aim of preserving Terran beliefs, culture, and society should the homeworld fall to the Vilani. It was financed and run by business interests, wealthy altruists, cultural and intellectual foundations, the Terran military, and by a number of government agencies and departments.
Over the course of three decades, at facilities located among the empty systems to rimward of Terra, the Expedition was assembled and prepared. It was highly secretive in order to counter any information leaking back to the Vilani. However, its shadowy nature brought it other unwelcome attention and the project narrowly avoided compromise or sequestration on a number of occasions. The Expedition launched at the end of 2147AD, just as the Vilani began the final Destruction of Terra.
At the end of the 21st century various groups on Terra had become increasingly concerned about their long-term chances of surviving contact with the Vilani Imperium. The general consensus was that Terra's goose was well and truly cooked. The vast and powerful Imperium, they reasoned, would soon overwhelm tiny Terra and smother any trace of its culture and independence.
It was decided that a contingency plan was required.
This plan was codenamed the Expedition, and was overseen by a shadowy organisation known as the Committee. Its remit was the continuance of Terran culture in a distant part of the galaxy should the homeworld fall. The project received broad support from various Terran governments, the military, the industrial sector, and from private individuals.
The Expedition was conceived under the aegis of the UNSCA during the Terrans' frantic drive for technological advancement during the first decades of the 22nd century. It was born in an atmosphere of paranoia, and from its very beginning it was wrapped in dense veils of secrecy.
The Expedition created a network of bases, outposts, production plants, research facilities and storage depots deep within the unexplored regions of space lying to rimward of Terra. The furthest of these outposts lay within the coreward regions of Holowon Sector.
Gradually, over years and decades, the Committee covertly gathered personnel, ships, and vast amounts of resources, stockpiling everything necessary to found a new Earth. The project continued unabated during the formation of the Terran Confederation and the Second Interstellar War. However, its vast budget and secret nature began to draw attention.
It almost failed before it had begun when it was revealed that many of its major ships were acquired through dubious processes. Among them were large military vessels, including armored cruisers, heavy transports and fleet tankers. These vessels had been in critically short supply during the recent War; and news of a stockpile that had sat idle during the desperate fighting was not well received.
Frantic political machinations and maneuvering (including bribery, threats, and worse) prevented the immediate dissolution of the Committee and the sequestration of the Expeditions assets. However, most of Expedition’s assets were dispersed among the barren systems to rimward of Sol and would have been difficult to physically seize.
The Third Interstellar War
The Third Interstellar War broke out in 2144. Terran naval losses were disastrous and it became increasingly likely that the authorities, desperate to bolster the Terran war effort, would sequestrate all of the assets of the Expedition. Desperate high-level stalling, deliberate misinformation, and a host of political dirty tricks prevented this outcome. The war continued to go badly and the Vilani drove into the heart of Terran territory.
As these tumultuous events unfolded, they confirmed to the Committee their worst fears of the imminent fall of Earth. The Expedition was as ready as was possible – nearly a third of a century of planning and preparation had seen to that. In second half of 2147AD Terra itself was besieged by the Vilani and was bombarded from orbit with nuclear devices.
As the first bombs fell the decision was taken to launch.
Fast couriers, waiting in hidden facilities deep in the Sol system, were dispatched. They fled to rimward, to the secret facilities housing the Expedition, carrying the orders to launch.
In the last days of 2147AD the waiting Expedition received the devastating news that Terra had fallen. With no fanfares and frantic haste it set off to rimward. It quickly became known as the Last Armada: the final remnants of an independent Terra.
From this point the details are somewhat vague. Most records were destroyed during "Cutting the Ties" – not a great deal of information survives from the period. Much of what is known comes from the Zelig Journal.
The Armada was organised into separate flotillas, each of which followed parallel routes. Each flotilla was organised around a core of armoured transports, with an escort of heavy cruisers and other armed warships. Each flotilla was accompanied by independent squadrons made up of support craft such as scouts and tankers. All of the vessels of the Last Armada were long-range vessels.