“The year is 2020 CE. We say CE, Common Era, now thanks to the Alliance. They’ve mandated that it should be said that way in order to respect other cultures and reduce the religiousness of common speech or some other nonsense. Ever notice that the only cultures we ever seem to be respecting is either the damn Euros or some little backwards third-rate hellhole of the week? There ain’t ever talk of American culture or protecting our feelings. No, we’re the big bad Americans; we need to be reined in and controlled and all this, soon as they finish exporting their culture over ours. Our old-fashioned American democracy has been eroded away with socialism, fascism, communism, and monarchy, and us common folk got the short end of the stick. The Alliance, they’ve outlived their purpose, and now they think they can control everything and fix it all. Now they’ve done something we can’t forgive them for. The Alliance, they think they can make people better. That they can come in with secularism, science, and social workers and they can change who a person is, and that doing so is the right thing to do. I don’t hold to that. You can’t fix people, they either fix themselves or they don’t ever get fixed. Hell, who are you to say they’re broken anyway? What gives you the right? Just who the hell do you think we are?”
-Thomas Reynolds, at the 2020 founding of the Patriots.
Back from the brink
During the Second Soviet Civil War, the destruction of the port city of Riga with chemical weapons was thought to be the opening stages of a massive worldwide nuclear World War Three.
Fortunately, the world stopped most of the fighting, and stepped away from the brink. Sanity slowly returned; humanity could stop holding their breath and let a sigh of relief escape as they realized that mushroom clouds would not be blooming anytime soon.
After the war, the United Nations, long thought to be a useless global mediator, was slowly replaced by a true “One World Order,” the Western Alliance, which in turn would be the forerunner of the Terran Alliance, in an effort to prevent another “wasted generation.” There was some disagreement on that point.
Even though the best and brightest of the United States of (North) America were involved in designing and encouraging the formation of the Alliance, the USA’s business community was generally approving of the Alliance (even though it alone accounted for a full third of Terra’s GDP and had an economy twice the size of the next contender, China), the populace as a whole was nationalistic, independent-minded, and generally felt that compromising their political, economic, and military superiority was not worth whatever nebulous benefits that would emerge by joining it. President [REDACTED], believing the business community, felt that it was in the best interests of the USA to have a leading voice in the Alliance, and so gladly joined the Alliance. The rumor that the Western Alliance threatened to boycott the USA if they didn’t join the Alliance is a sheer impossibility, as any basic student of economics could attest. The reverse, that the USA would boycott the Alliance, which would cause a major global financial crisis, which in turn would be the catalyst for a new global war in which the USA would end up annihilated, is much more plausible.
After the USA joined Western Alliance in 2015, many groups arose in opposition. The organization known as the PATRIOTS was the largest; its founders were Paula Anderson, Thomas Reynolds, Ingrid Owens, and Thomas Stillman. The Terran Alliance Planetary Intelligence Directorate (TAPID) saw the PATRIOTS (correctly) as a serious guerrilla/terrorist threat, and did everything they could to neutralize their influence, mostly by framing and assassinating their membership.
They refused to go quietly into the night.
On the last public appearance of the founders, April 5, 2063, they urged their followers to go into an underground cell-based structure to keep the flame alive, as the “Sons And Daughters Of Liberty.” The TAPID immediately took the opportunity to raid the meeting, successfully managing to assassinate the founders. It was also a distraction for a plot the founders themselves had conceived. Simultaneously, elements of the old USA’s army, most of them belonging to the 222nd Army Battalion, raided Area 51, which had been forced open by the Alliance, and either destroyed or made off with countless experimental weapons schematics and prototypes.
Into the Black
After the Area 51 raid, the TAPID went after the SADOL and similarly-minded groups with renewed fervor. The first “Internal Member Review” of the Terran Alliance in 2065 saw over four million people dead, but the media was controlled to such an extent that the general population was in the dark about these events. Consequently, the majority of the movement on Terra evaporated, leaving a hardened, fanatical core behind. Despite this setback, the movement remained strong offworld, as they formed a sizeable percentage of the Belter population. While many of them were content to remain where they were, a growing number of them, mostly of the younger generation, wanted to outright escape from the Terran Alliance, instead of staying under their control, even if it was nominal.
As a result, they began to stockpile their resources so they could be prepared for when faster-than-light travel was perfected. Paradoxically, they also spent much of their efforts trying to sabotage FTL research as they figured that the more time they had to prepare for the exodus, the further they could run and the more people they could bring.
After the success of the Deimos Project and the subsequent journey of the TAS Pathfinder, the diaspora began. The SADOL, unlike many of the fringe groups who managed to cobble together enough money to obtain a jumpship and head out to form their own utopia, had several jumpships, a voluntary crew, and significant financial and political backing.
Doran Routhe, a senator in the Terran Alliance Parliament, had long been a secret member of the SADOL, using his various connections to shield his membership. Using the old boys network found in many higher learning institutions, he was able to get many other influential, underground SADOL members to pool their salaries, which a century earlier could have rivaled the GDP of many a third world country, and get many SADOL members in Alliance custody released to him. He managed to convince the senate to fund an expedition to found a penal colony on the planet that had been designated New Dallas, convincing them that this would be the easiest way to get rid of those neobarbarian troublemakers, and more importantly, obtain for them vast hordes of minerals and other resources that lay outside the Solar System.
Meanwhile, the SADOL began recruiting for their mission, taking advantage of the considerable number of recently discharged Alliance soldiers and spacers unhappy with the restrictions the Alliance placed on them. Eventually, they managed to recruit about 200,000 eager colonists…even though they had no idea where they were going.
Consequences of Actions
On March 15, 2128, the fleet Routhe had managed to assemble, consisting of the science vessel TAS Enterprise and the twelve colony ships John Henry, Reagan, Kansas City, Laredo, Freedom, Independence, Liberty, Challenger, Endeavour, Harriet Tubman, Defiance, and Marshall, undocked from the Sol nadir jump-station, and left, leaving behind a sleeper program in its computers. When they didn’t appear over New Dallas as plotted in their flight plan, the Alliance wrote them off as a misfortunate accident, and castigated Routhe for his failure, causing him to resign in disgrace and go into seclusion on New Earth. The following month, the program activated and sent a message directly addressed to the TAPID. Upon reviewing its contents, the TAPID knew that they had to prevent similar escapades from occurring. When they found out that the Bolivar Foundation was of similar minds to the SADOL, it was easy for the Alliance powers-that-be to order a tragic accident, which would be combined with a massive propaganda campaign to allow the Colonization Procedure Referendum to be passed, which would both slow colonization and keep it near Terra.
While it is true the SADOL fleet had no clear destination in mind when they left, they chose the direction they would travel in by assigning a direction to each suit in a deck of cards and drawing a card at random. Before they left, Captain John Garland of the Enterprise chose a club, and so they went west. The fleet remained in space for a little over three years, and eventually reached a distance of one thousand light-years from Terra, before they ran into the Twilight Nebula. A month of surveying found that while it would take too long to go around, it would be difficult, but not impossible for the fleet to pass through the dangerous Scylla passage. Amazingly, the ships came through with minor damage, with the exception of the Independence, which ended up with crippled KF drives when they reached the system on the other side. Fortunately, the system was found to have a single habitable planet, and on July 4, 2131 (after finding it was safe for them), the colonists set foot on Columbia.