Friday, February 25, 2011

The Liberated Worlds

Before the Scream, the harsh world of Laana was a relatively backwater colony, with most colonists living off the coast of the warm Equatorial Ocean and only a few prospectors, miners and outcasts living in the dusty, wind-swept plateaus, hills and mountains to the north and south. Technology was limited to what got through the Jump Gate at the nearby Alkonost and was shipped by Spike Drive to Laana, as well as a relatively limited industrial base.

The Scream ended up any hope for off-world supplies, and Laana regressed into early-industrial backwardness, hardly scraping the bottom of TL2 and mostly being within the higher ends of TL1. Split into multiple independent settlements, it was never able to build any significant industrial base, let alone an adequate planetary defense force.

There were, however, organizations trying to unite Laana into a single, coherent state capable of significantly improving the local technology, as well as defending against any off-world threats, if any existed. One such group were the remnants of the old Perimeter Agency base on Laana, who were suspicious that nearby worlds might have developed Maltech during the centuries following the Scream; they were ever preparing for an off-world attack, stockpiling weapons and unsuccessfully trying to get the city-states to work together. Another such group was the Unity party, the offspring of a pre-Scream pro-independence, anti-mandate movement, which sought to unify Laana as a single, independent world-state. Finally, there was the Order of the Mind, a worldwide organization dedicated to rediscovering the lost secrets of Psionics. But none of these organizations could convince the conservative, backward city-state to unite in any meaningful way.

So, for centuries, Laana lived in blissful backwardness, its peace only interrupted by occasional brush-fire wars between the city-states.

But then the Machines came.

In 3079, a large force of Incunablis robots and cyborgs landed on Laana, easily dispatching whatever militias held by the various city states. While the remnants of the Perimeter Agency fought back as bravely as possible, they, too, were overwhelmed by the Machine force, their remnants retreating to the rough, frozen, dusty terrain away from the equatorial temperate region. Soon enough, the AI Cores were in charge; the Laanese people were nothing but slaves and cattle for their Machine overlords. And a massive industrialization project took place, forcing the Human population to toil in the Empire's factories and mines for the glory of their Machine overlords.

A few, however, have fled to the rocky, dusty highlands in the frozen south. The remnants of the Perimeter Agency, members of the old Unity party, and the remains of the Order of the Mind, found their way to the crags and caves of the deep south, protected even from orbital sensors by the rough terrain. And there, a new alliance was forged. In 3096, these three groups united into the United Liberation Front (ULF), a unified resistance group fighting against the Incunablis Machine Empire domination of Laana.

Thus the guerrilla war on Laana has begun, in the first years in sporadic sabotage and raids on isolated groups of cyborgs, but later a better-organized campaign. Still, they were restricted to operating in craggy terrain or under the cover of hemisphere-wide dust storms, as the Machines ruled the skies above them with one orbital battle station per hemisphere. But underground, or in deep, shadowed crags, they built their strength, forging new communities of survivors and escapees. One of their best war-leaders was Johar Saleh, a cunning tactician and brave raider, who, in 3143, was elected the Chairperson of the United Liberation Front. But the war still went on, harsh and exacting a high price in blood.

In 3156, however, a new hope appeared; the Incunablis Machine Empire's forces on and near Laana became under attack by the Restored Alkonost Republic, as part of the Incunablis War. Not only did the Republic destroy many of the Empire's assets in the Laanese system, but it also began giving military support and supplies to the ULF, which, with this new help, began to embolden its attacks on the Machine masters.

The greatest strike against the Machine overlords came in 3169. With help of Republic military advisors and Republic special-operations gear, teams of ULF warriors managed to infiltrate both of the Incunablis orbital battle stations. The raid on the southern hemisphere's station was led by Chairperson Saleh himself, who left his young but talented aid, Ameena Miran, to lead the ULF in his absence. The Machines, of course, resisted this incursion with all of their might, but the ULF was victorious, though at a terrible price: all of the ULF fighters who have infiltrated the two stations had to sacrifice themselves to destroy the stations, Saleh included. But they were victorious: both stations were destroyed.

The young, energetic Ameena Miran, 31 years old at the time, was elected the next Chairperson after Saleh's death, and very soon proved herself more than capable of leading the ULF. While not as brilliant a tactician as her predecessor, she was - and still is - a highly charismatic leader, capable of moving masses of people with the mighty force of her personality. And under her leadership, and unhindered by and consistent Incunablis orbital capability, the ULF launched an all-out open war for the liberation of Laana from the AI overlords once and for all.

In 3174 they were victorious. The ULF, led by Chairperson Miran, entered Laana City, the starport town and the former bastion of the local AI Cores, and smashed the massive computer banks of the AIs. They were free, at last. Celebrations in Laana City, now renamed The Liberated City, as well as in the rest of the world, lasted for weeks. But the world was devastated by the prolonged war, and the Laanese were extremely reluctant to use any leftover Incunablis robotic technology, as it reminded them of their Machine masters.

Chairperson Miran moved quickly and decisively from leading the war against the Machines to leading the campaign for the re-industrialization of Laana. Led by her charismatic vision, the Laanese people willingly put long hours of hard labor into rebuilding their world; they personal rewards for this in terms of their quality of life were quite minor, as the majority of economic output went towards industrialization and building a mighty United Liberation Army (ULA), but they were free - and worked for forging their own destiny. Analog technology, augmented by the rapidly developing field of psionics and by psionic "Mentants" (Humans trained to replace computers), replaced the Empire's digital technology.

In 3188, after almost a decade and a half of industrialization, a joint operation between Laana and the Restored Alkonost Republic attacked the Incunablis forces on Sikrik, and after several years of orbital and ground combat, managed to liberate the world and drive back the mainstay of the IME forces. As the majority of ground forces employed in this campaign were Laanese, control of Sikrik was given to Laana, which united with it and with its new outpost on Madmena to form the interstellar Liberated Worlds. This defeat forced Incunablis to sign the Treaty with Alkonost; while the Liberated Worlds refused to sign any deal with the hated Machines, they did respect this deal out of respect to their Alkonostan allies.

Today the Liberated Worlds, still led by the highly charismatic Chairperson Ameena Miran and the United Liberation Front, sees its destiny in the liberation of the galaxy from tyrants and, more importantly, thinking machines. The Laanese work hard to build a strong army and a strong fleet, as well as a mighty industrial base capable of defending them, for the goal of this liberation.