- It is an isolated polity and interstellar government.
- It is part of the farthest reaches of Charted Space.
|Solomani Preserve||Pre-Imperial||SolP||No standard code||None|
|Solomani Preserve||1st Survey (300)||Sp||2-ltr code||None|
|Solomani Preserve||2nd Survey (1065)||SoPr||4-ltr code||None|
Society & Culture: While the Preserve does not have nobility like the Third Imperium, it has more informal high society like any polity. Social mobility is somewhat easier.
Wider availability of natural anagathics from Anagathica is the most notable difference. While not everyone can (or wishes to) take advantage, many do; for the poor, accumulating enough income to afford this is a common lifelong goal. Pensions (most commonly in the form of managed investments) are the most common way to pay for anagathics. While starting anagathics after age 50 merely slows down age-related degradation (mid-20s or at most 30s is best if near-immortality is the goal), non-age-related reasons are the top causes of mortality, and anyone over 150 is assumed to be on anagathics. As of 1105, the oldest known citizen is 547 years old, though there are rumors of older people who have shed former identities - with name, face, and sometimes further changes - in order to distance themselves from past misdeeds. A popular legend is of a dedicated government servant, who was among the original crew of the Phoenix 2800, who "dies" every few centuries in order to absorb and resolve public anger at this or that necessary government action.
A typical life path is 18-22 years of education, 20-40 years of initial career, a retirement of typically no more than 4 years (if any significant time at all), then a series of 4-40 year additional careers. These extra careers turn out to be medically necessary: while the products of Anagathica can keep a body from aging, an idle mind eventually rots (not to mention the social isolation of doing nothing all day every day); if not corrected, this eventually causes body shutdown: the individual falls asleep as usual, but instead of the expected sleep cycle, neural activity reduces below a critical threshold and the heart stops. That said, with pensions paying for anagathics and other basic needs, these additional careers often take forms other than standard employment; the main "pay" is the life-sustaining mental stimulus of challenge and learning, and those individuals with the discipline to maintain these without employment find other options available. Even for those not on anagathics, three careers (or two particularly long and eventful careers) is the socially accepted minimum to be seen as having lived a full life.
Many governments in the Preserve take advantage of this by not paying elected officials, which effectively locks out most people under 60 from running for office. It is considered rude to point out that the resulting cultural stagnation mirrors the First Imperium far more closely than anything the Third Imperium ever imposed on Terra, though few in the Preserve have enough information about the Third Imperium to do so. Further, since many citizens with anagathics elect for implanted dispensers automatically doling out their life-sustaining drug (especially those who travel, and thus must be away from resupply for a while), many governments in the Preserve paint outsiders as ready to rip out these dispensers, killing their host, so as to make off with whatever amount of anagathic is in the dispenser at the time (typically 10,000 to 100,000 credits' worth in the Vargr Extents and beyond; the resulting term "mass murderer's megacredit" has come to refer to scenarios similar to the tragedy of the commons).
Proponents of the theory that humaniti needs external enemies to unite, note that the Preserve used the far-away Imperium as said "enemy" for thousands of years (until Virus introduced a closer threat), even during the Long Night when there was no Imperium. However, psychohistorians note the true "enemy" has long been all the barren but habitable systems around the Preserve, and what could happen there. Thus, the Preserve has been most stable during its eras of expansion when it was busy filling out this space: the Hatching to colonize worlds claimed many hundreds of years prior, and then the Reconstruction to reclaim them after the Empress Wave caused many to be abandoned. Even before the Hatching, keeping the populace busy filling out Havensmith (and somewhat Anagathica and Vapor) was an explicit objective of the government; the Hatching was triggered in part by running out of uninhabited frontier on these three worlds.
In many ways, even at the peaks of its power, the Preserve has tended to view itself as a growing colony rather than an established empire. It has only experienced stagnation on an occasional system-wide level, and has no institutional memory of how to deal with such conditions when they spread to several systems, let alone entire subsectors or beyond. This usually leads to the biggest cultural shocks for visitors from the Third Imperium, who are used to a higher degree of institutions that have long since ossified and ceased growing (though the Preserve is not entirely devoid of them).
The Solomani Preserve began as a colony on Havensmith, and from its founding through the time of the Galaxiad's authorship, has been the sole major polity in Thaku Fung Sector. Records of the colonial expedition are unusually well preserved; historians believe this is because the expedition was more dramatic than most, so its resulting use as an inspirational tale to later generations of colonists with little need of embellishment assisted in its preservation.
Lasting from -1690 through -1685, the manufactory ship Phoenix 2800 refurbished itself into a colony ship, and acquired colonists and more ships (such as the science ship Surfing Lighthouse), as it flew from Terra across the Second Imperium and Vargr Extents.
- Please see AAB article: Flight of the Phoenix 2800 for details. The Solomani Preserve officially began with the founding of Havensmith at the end of this.
Grand Survey of the Preserve
Upon arrival in -1685, almost all of the colonists were quite happy to swear off further jump travel for life. They had endured for years (even if the majority had done so in cold sleep), and had finally reached the rough paradise they had hoped for. The early years on Havensmith are familiar to anyone who has watched documentaries on colony setup, save for the lack of interstellar trade.
That said, some small part of the crew had adapted to a life in flight. The break started just before the fleet reached Havensmith: the crew of the Surfing Lighthouse elected to stay behind for a couple of weeks, ostensibly to survey the empty parsec (but actually to deploy and test a jump bridge seed they had been working on, see below). Once it arrived at Havensmith, the Surfing Lighthouse was pressed into work surveying the planet, but it was not really made for such a task. Colony management struck a deal with those who wished to fly on: once initial survey was complete and a basic starport set up, the colony would provide fuel and supplies for the science ship to survey nearby stars, ostensibly with a primary mission of making certain the colony really was all alone or to return with information about the neighbors.
Nobody was expecting to find natural anagathics two parsecs away. "Hold the jump", a common Preserve expression, stems from a science officer's exclamation upon finishing his initial analysis of interesting flora on Anagathica as the Surfing Lighthouse was heading toward the 100 diameter limit to jump out.
Jubliation and concern greeted their return with the news. Nobody seriously questioned the sudden need to colonize and develop the newly-christened Anagathica, but this was the first step toward becoming an interstellar polity. Further, there were already calls to set up a trading route back to the Vargr Extents, which the crew of the Surfing Lighthouse had anticipated. They revealed that they had previously secretly deployed the seed for an automated jump bridge (which would come to named VoidBridge 1), which would refuel any ship with the right codes (and destroy any approaching ship that did not transmit said codes). The seed needed a few years to set up fully, but a quick back-and-forth pair of jumps confirmed that everything was proceeding as planned.
Setting up a jump bridge was cheating and treason to the very point of the Preserve. On the other hand, had they not surveyed, Anagathica would have remained unknown for many centuries - and the colony was already proving unable to keep up a TL-12 manufacturing base, so the jump bridge to allow trading with the Vargr was looking to become a necessity. In the end, the crew was "sentenced" to their original mission, with an addition: establish defensible borders. They took this seriously, deploying further jump bridge seeds and surveying for colonizable spots in every system they felt worth claiming. They noted how the space they surveyed resembled a bird, and recommended names for the four subsectors that the Solomani Preserve adopted long before breaking out of the "egg" of Havensmith, Anagathica, and Vapor.
Once VoidBridge 1 was fully operational, occasional Jump-3 traders would follow the newly christened Cheaters' Route back to the Vargr Extents, taking precautions to make sure no Vargrs were able to trace their route back - but they need not have bothered. Relations grew frequent and friendly over time, until in -1648, the first Vargr trader was allowed to reach Havensmith (with human astrogators and engineers, who kept the codes for VoidBridge 1 off of the Vargr ships' computers, though this precaution was relaxed at some point in the -1500s).
It would take over nine centuries before serious colonization of Preserve space beyond Havensmith, Anagathica, and Vapor began. Entire anagathic-boosted generations lived and died knowing the systems of the Grand Survey might someday belong to their descendants - but not them, they had lifetimes of work to do in preparation. This was mainly due to a lack of population: Havensmith only had a few hundred thousand people at first, and was hard pressed just to maintain what few colony ships (generally TL-12) were not scrapped for parts, starting out with an effective TL-10 despite knowing TL-12 science. It took about 500 years to grow to millions of people and support TL-11, then another roughly 400 to grow to tens of millions and be able to manufacture TL-12 once more (though they still felt their industry was insufficient, as by then science had progressed to TL-13). This acceleration was enabled by the decision to start accepting Vargr immigrants; by the time the new wave of colonization began, there were enough that there was a popular proposal to set aside Bath as a mostly Vargr world.
Colonization of these systems - called the "Hatching", in reference to the Surfing Lighthouse report terming the Preserve's first three worlds the "egg" - was slow: taming new worlds is difficult and dangerous, and as in most of Charted Space, most people preferred to remain at home. It was not until 1 - ironically, just months after the Third Imperium was formally established, not that anyone knew it at the time - that the Preserve finally made contact with Bridgeholm, which the Surfing Lighthouse (in its final report to Havensmith) had requested no other Preserve ship visit until all the other worlds it had designated were settled, then took off to set up their own colony there. It was a mixture of honor and luck that saw every Preserve ship traveling near Bridgeholm honor that request for over 1,600 years. However, the embargo lasted about 300 more years than necessary: a widespread misperception had arisen that Bridgeholm was to be left alone forever, until a historian in 0 examined the preserved logs of the final report. Only then did the Preserve discover the Surfing Lighthouse had withheld information about the Preserve's neighbors.
Meeting the Yaskoydri
The Surfing Lighthouse had indeed stuck to its mission, surveying system after system and setting up jump bridge seeds to make an artificial main out of the whole thing (anticipating that cheap Jump-1 ships might be desired by certain merchants, and wanting to not let that cut off parts of the Preserve from each other), and had come to the conclusion that they really were alone when they had two systems - Talienda and Bridgeholm (not yet named at the time) - left to survey. The captain had just made this resigned pronunciation in his log when they broke out over Talienda and nearly crashed into a scout from the Yaskoydri Technocracy, which had been en route to Rzakki Sector for a near-ritual 100-year check on some survey beacons.
Fortunately, both ships' highest priorities were to establish communication, and both ships had Gvegh speakers - the Surfing Lighthouse from its earlier travels, the Yaskoydri ship from the Technocracy having monitored and decoded centuries-old radio broadcasts from rimward. After sorting out dialect differences, they began a frank and open exchange of information, the kind that give security-minded politicians and military officials nightmares.
This gave the scout confirmation of something the Technocracy had wrestled with for over 5,000 years: there was no sign of Yaskoydray, and while Droyne were known in Charted Space, the civilization the Yaskoydri had come to recontact was no longer extant. The treasure trove of information on legendary Terra, which the Ancients had told the Yaskoydri they were from, was quite appreciated as well. In exchange, the scout gave the Surfing Lighthouse technology and equipment to set up a colony despite their small population, and a promise that the scout's descendants would aid the Solomani Preserve once the Preserve was large enough to make use of said aid. The next year, after the crew of the Surfing Lighthouse had completed their survey and were setting up their colony on Bridgeholm, the Technocracy sent a follow-up expedition to help them set up and exchange further information.
Records of these contacts were left in the preserved hulk of the Surfing Lighthouse, in orbit around Bridgeholm. Of the colony itself there was little trace: cleared areas, agriculture abandoned centuries ago, and relics going up the technology level scale, the youngest that could be dated placed at around -590. As far as could be determined, Bridgeholm hit the Singularity and left with all sophontic life, as well as almost all its infrastructure. The cleansing appeared to be deliberate, the few remaining relics having been merely overlooked, leaving the Surfing Lighthouse to allow fulfillment of the ancestral promise but nothing further. After establishing a small archaeological colony to explore the planet for any further signs of the previous colony, the Preserve set up an expedition to the Yaskoydri Technocracy, commanded by a refurbished Surfing Lighthouse.
They were expected, their colonization progress having been monitored. Relations were amicable, and the Technocracy generally agreed with the plan of hiding beyond a "break" of uninhabited worlds. The Pirians had representatives at the meeting, and agreed to help implement the breaks before anyone asked. Thus began a 3-way cultural and technological exchange that would benefit all three polities, and their neighbors, for just over 1,000 years. Colonization of the "empty" systems between the three (spinward of the Preserve) was encouraged (setting up a trade route that, after the Empress Wave, would be reconstituted as the Spike-Rho Route), and accounted for most emigrants from the polities during this time. No Preserve emigrants are known to have gone trailing or coreward, and the only rimward emigrants went all the way over the break to the Vargr Extents. Cultural stability in the Preserve during this time was achieved in part by encouraging those displeased with the Preserve to emigrate.
This contact was momentous enough that the Preserve decided to rebase its calendar on this event. Purists argued for the year of contact to be "0", but popular sentiment had labeled it 1, so the 0 faction settled for 0 being the prelude to the expedition to Bridgeholm. By coincidence, this synchronized the Preserve calendar with that of the Third Imperium despite neither polity knowing of each other until hundreds of years later. That their year lengths are the same can be attributed to their common origin, and the same decision on each side to round down to a whole number of days to govern an interstellar polity.
The Preserve was even able to provide military assistance to the Technocracy around 250, when invaders from coreward overwhelmed Technocracy forces. The Preserve had experimented with Spinal Weapons Mounts before, but had no practical use for them; now they did. Archived designs for thus-equipped battleships were put into production and, more importantly, given to Technocracy and Domain shipyards, which between them were able to crank out enough material to repel the invaders. Afterward, the Preserve assisted the Technocracy in putting these ships into regular use - and then backed away, seeing more harm than help if it tried fielding its own ships that massive without someone worth pointing them at. That sort of war was sectors away to spinward, and the Preserve was happy to let it stay there. This opinion was reinforced after the colonization of Geokha; as was repeated in the Preserve's Senate many times, "If we build them, someone's going to use them, and then the Imperium will know we're here. We are safer without them."
Empress Wave and Reconstruction
Peace and prosperity were finally broken in 1043 when the Empress Wave arrived at Talienda. At first it was not clear what was going on: ships jumping in simply never returned. Eventually the Wave passed; ships were able to arrive, observe the lingering insanity, and leave with word of it.
Word spread quickly, and it was soon determined to be a psychic phenomenon. It was initially assumed to be a one-off event, until Aethrie and Summergust experienced the same in 1044, and word came that the Technocracy was having the same problem. Analysis of the affected words across a sector-plus-wide baseline revealed the nature of a traveling wave; by setting probes in Rzakki and Datsatl sectors, scientists were able to triangulate the source to somewhere around the ancient Yaskoydri homeworld near the galactic core. That was about as far as their analysis got; surviving the Wave was a far higher priority.
Many citizens were temporarily evacuated to rimward or coreward colonies on large ark ships while the Wave passed. Many more elected to wait in large vaults of low berths; unfortunately, these were often breached and the helpless inhabitants massacred by those who refused such measures, whether out of denial or due to fear sparked by heavy handed coercion to convince citizens to take to the vaults.
When the Wave finally passed, most of the Preserve's colonies were no longer viable - if anyone still remained at all. The ancient capital of Havensmith, with by far the highest population, also had the longest to prepare and observe what did not work, by lucky virtue of being the most rimward world in the Preserve. Aid had started being dispatched to affected worlds even before the Wave fully passed. The Cheaters' Route was suspended when the Wave passed over some part of it, but VoidBridge 1 only had simple robots and the other links did not have even that, so the Wave left no further lingering problems until it hit the Vargr Extents, the closest of which were well warned by Preserve traders. Unfortunately, word did not spread far from Kiden; if it had, much of the devastation could have been prevented.
Now all that remained was to rebuild, and so rebuild they did. Colonies that needed imports of technology or supplies were abandoned, their survivors relocated - with the exception of Anagathica, its crop too vital not to harvest, even though large swathes had been altered and were now useless. The Preserve refused to give up any worlds within its grip, and still officially claims the abandoned colonies, even if it imposes restrictions on visitors - generally recognized as equivalent to amber zones - to prevent looting and preserve the worlds for eventual recolonization.
This was the state of the Preserve when an Imperial scout with connections to the Travellers' Aid Society, following up on rumors, reached Kiden, followed the Cheaters' Route, and stumbled onto Havensmith. In the chaos of reconstruction, the scout managed to dock at the highport, obtain a complete sector map and historical database, and make it almost to the 100 planetary diameter jump limit before traffic control realized this was the long-feared recontact from Imperial space. No one was able to stop the scout from jumping with its prize, but when challenged, the scout sent back a historical database and sector maps showing the Preserve was in no danger of imminent invasion from the Third Imperium.
Reconstruction was still occurring when word of Virus reached the Preserve (fortunately not on an infected ship, and well ahead of the first vampire fleets). The Cheaters' Route proved a blessing, tripping up Virus ships that had learned of this means to cross the rift; VoidBridge 1 was turned into a fortress, quarantining communications from incoming ships until a canary detected no threat of infection. Thus was the Preserve spared the worst of the Collapse, though the Wave had done enough damage. Havensmith would subsequently be counted as a strong world, anchoring the renewed Preserve.
Major historical events timeline
- (-1690): Start of colony flight
- (-1685): End of colony flight, Havensmith established, VoidBridge 1 seeded
- (-1683): Anagathica and its natural anagathics discovered, colony established
- (-1682): Grand Survey, remaining VoidBridges seeded, Yaskoydri Technocracy contacted in secret, Bridgeholm colonized
- (-1500s): relaxation of restrictions against crossing Cheaters' Route; colonization of Vapor
- (-777 to -305): the Hatching (colonization of remaining Grand Survey systems except for Bridgeholm)
- (sometime between -590 and 1): original Bridgeholm colony hits Singularity and vanishes
- (1): Bridgeholm recontacted, formal contact with Yaskoydri Technocracy
- (503): Sales of anagathics to parties spinward restricted, amid fears the Tijian Khaganate has reverse-engineered them
- (1043): Empress Wave passes over Talienda
- (1057): Empress Wave passes over Havensmith
- (1103): IISS scout reaches Havensmith and gets away with maps
- (1134): Word of Virus reaches Preserve, VoidBridge 1 converted to fortress
Politics and diplomacy: 1105
Government and politics
Most laws are specific to a system or significant division thereof (such as a major city), but there are a number of Preserve-wide laws on subjects such as taxation and travel. Starship-related laws in particular tend to be Preserve-wide, for uniformity and to enforce Preserve authority. This has roughly the same effect as the Third Imperium's starport extraterritoriality policy: starships and their crews are largely exempt from local regulations so long as they stay near the starports and stick to approved traffic paths. Making sure cargo is locally legal is the job of those taking it out of the starport.
Preserve-wide governance is handled by a Senate of elected representatives, one per world. In some matters they have equal votes; in others they have votes based on their population, which effectively means the senator from Havensmith dominates, though by tradition this senator abstains from voting on matters of no importance to Havensmith. Worlds other than Havensmith sometimes chafe at its primacy, but the simple truth is that at any given time since the founding of Havensmith, it has had the vast majority of the Preserve's population. This is more true in the wake of the Empress Wave, with fewer senators to vote on things; the empty chairs of the abandoned colonies' missing senators is an oft-cited symbol of the damage the Wave left, and of the Preserve's resolve to someday reclaim those worlds.
As of 1105, the primary political division is whether to focus on rebuilding the surviving colonies, or to re-establish the infrastructure needed to support the abandoned colonies first. The former group has a majority of votes in the Senate even when Havensmith's senator abstains, to the despair of the substantial number of displaced citizens of abandoned worlds who fear they might never go home again. A secondary issue is the difficulty of keeping the surviving colonies loyal to the Preserve, which not infrequently amounts to bribes and exports from Havensmith to the rest of the Preserve (largely enabled by the VoidBridges and Anagathica) in exchange for loyalty and the few useful resources not native to Havensmith (such as lanthanum for jump drives); see the primary issue, and the surviving colonies now have less competitors to divide this among.
Military and intelligence
As there are no other nearby polities, the Solomani Preserve does not maintain a strong military. It has 100-ton scouts perform occasional patrols of Thaku Fung, in particular the Solomani Preserve Break Worlds that it insists remain uninhabited; any colonies it does find are ordered to leave, or razed via orbital bombardment if they fail to comply. It neither has nor sees need for capital ships; even commercial ships over a few thousand tons are rare.
Geokha is the closest thing to a threat the Preserve sees as of 1105, and the sole permitted colony among the "break" worlds. During its first incarnation, from 359 until the 1030s, the Preserve kept all traffic well away from that system and let the Third Imperium mistakenly believe it was the sole human presence in this sector. The second incarnation, lasting from 1104 through 1135, is treated much the same: traffic is kept away from nearby systems (essentially, anything trailing of the Preserve that is not on a direct route to or from Geokha), and contact (including much espionage, declared and undeclared) exchanged.
Most government ships are police, or privately owned construction or cargo ships on a government contract. The Preserve does maintain bases for its scouts, and two bases (at Havensmith and Dredgelund) to maintain and organize its police ships.
Anagathica hosts the closest the Preserve has to an organized ground military. The entire world is run and ruled for the benefit of the Preserve.
Technology & Trade: 1105
Technology Timeline: 1105
At any given time, the technology available on Havensmith has generally been the best technology available to the Preserve. There have been long periods where known science greatly exceeded the effective technology base that could be manufactured and sustained. A rough timeline of technological achievement is as follows:
- (-1685): Havensmith established, effective TL-10 (though maintaining TL-12 science). No lanthanum available in system (or Anagathica, though some deposits found in Vapor). Most colony ships broken up to provide initial colony infrastructure; lanthanum hoarded to construct smaller Jump-1 scouts and mining vessels.
- (-1100s): Havensmith reaches effective TL-11. Anagathica and Vapor soon follow, as they would for each subsequent increase through the 300s.
- (-700s): Havensmith reaches effective TL-12 (and TL-13 science), begins constructing colony ships, touching off the Hatching.
- (-300s): Havensmith reaches TL-13. Effective TL now less than one Technology Level behind science.
- (0s): After meeting the Yaskoydri, scientific exchanges boost Havensmith to TL-14.
- (300s): Havensmith reaches TL-15. Colonization of Geokha diverts resources from science to security, slowing progress to TL-16.
- (1000s): Empress Wave smashes through the Preserve before TL-16 could be achieved. Havensmith slides back to effective TL-12 (though maintaining archives of TL-15 science). Other Preserve worlds suffer as much or worse decline. Most worlds wind up depopulated entirely.
- (1130s): Word of Virus reaches Preserve. Havensmith recovers effective TL-13 in the resulting crash buildup to fortify VoidBridge 1.
Interstellar commerce: 1105
The first thing most outside traders notice about the Preserve, well before heading there, is the anagathics trade. See Anagathica for details.
The first thing an outside trader may notice upon arrival in pursuit of those riches is that fuel, ore, raw materials, crystals (gem and otherwise), and radioactives are cheap in the Preserve, thanks to the VoidBridges. They are not free (unless at the VoidBridges, and even then one needs government permission - typically paying a fee, which amounts to a reduced price because one is providing transport - to take much beside the fuel), and are a significant part of the Preserve's budget - with a bureaucracy protective but enabling of its profits. The two conflicting aspects are a recurring thread in Preserve history.
This causes a reduction in price for manufactured goods as well, with much of the price due to supply lines, creative labor, and manufacturing labor (the latter is usually outsourced to robotic factories for large production runs). Agricultural and other biological goods are "expensive" because their prices are not significantly reduced. There are tales of lumber being traded for steel beams at one ton for one ton; while most are exaggerated, the most extreme shortages of wood and oversupplies of steel have made this happen on occasion.
Worlds & Sectors (Astrography)
- Thaku Fung Sector
The capital of this polity is: