The Log of the Beowulf
The Civil War
The roots of the “recent unpleasantness” lie in the extremely rapid government-sponsored colonisation efforts of the 23rd century.
Although most colonial expeditions were organised by private individuals and corporations, this was often only practical with the aid of massive loans from UE government coffers. When the great recession of the late 23rd century hit, many colonial governments defaulted on their payments. Determined to collect on the debts, the UEG began to raise tariffs on incoming goods which, in turn, pushed up prices on Earth (reducing sales) and cut into the margins of the colonial shipping companies. Export tariffs on goods from Earth were also rising, biting into colonial budgets. By the 2330s, the tariffs were still in place, although the recession was long over, and the economic strains on many colonial administrations were beginning to show.
New Berlin was the first of the colonies to react, refusing to pay its tariffs and declaring its independence from the UEG in 2338. Tanstaafl and Erehwon followed suit and, within a year, the majority of the outer colonies had officially cut their ties, forming an Alliance of Free Worlds. UE institutions across the rim were rapidly nationalised and, at first, those staff loyal to Earth shipped out peacefully, but trouble broke out on Erehwon, where the local Patrol base unit to vacate its base. Erehwon is a rough world and was one of the worst affected by the tariffs and violence broke out almost immediately, resulting in the deaths of several patrolmen.
The troubles spread rapidly between the colonies and, before long, UE police units were involved in long and vicious firefights with heavily-armed locals. Finally, the rebels’ numbers told and the UE presence was virtually wiped out within the Alliance.
Earth’s reaction was slow; crippled by the recent economic problems and complacent in a universe where it had no external enemy, it maintained no armed forces beyond those needed to keep the peace. Still, it began to mobilise, designing and rapidly building warships and manning them with its huge population. Additional support in the form of raw materials and forward bases were provided by those colonies that remained loyal to Earth.
Interestingly, the Earthers considered the war to be a war of liberation rather than reconquest. In order to repay the governemtn loans, those corporations and individuals hoping to build colonies subjected their colonists to extremely harsh contracts, and with Earth’s living conditions worsening every day, most people agreed to the contracts without hesitation, assuming they had even read them. Common clauses included agreeing to buy all supplies from the corporation and the indentured servitude of several generations of the colonist’s descendants. This was spun as a form of slavery on the Earth news networks and so many soldiers believed this was a just war.
The initial elements of the Earth “Pacification” Force arrived in the Alliance in 2346, to face heavy resistance from armed freighters and other converted civilian vessels. Initially, Alliance forces were successful, driving the Earth vessels off with heavy casualties and allowing them to put their own purpose-built designs into the field. A series of set-piece fleet battles followed, often inconclusive, but, as time passed, it became clear that the rebels could not survive a war of attrition. A shift in tactics, from fleet operations to single vessel raids, began to deprive the Alliance fleet of its support bases and they were finally annihilated in a huge battle over New Berlin in 2350.
What happened next remains the most controversial event of the war. Admiral Chen of the EPF was aware that his forces remained vulnerable to attack from those elements outside the Alliance fleet and decided to make an example of the colony below. In a four-hour orgy of nuclear fire, the principle cities of the Alliance’s most heavily-populated world were obliterated. The organised part of the rebellion collapsed almost immediately and the leaders of the Alliance worlds rapidly signed peace treaties before being imprisoned for the good of the nation. Magnanimous in victory, Earth began to finance the reconstruction of the colonies – at bargain prices.
Many rebel units did not give up, launching raids from hidden bases, carrying out bomb attacks on UEG targets and generally disrupting reconstruction efforts. The pacification efforts took another 2 years before the war could truly be said to have ended. Even today, a small number of die-hards are continuing the war from beyond the borders of known space.
[This needs a lot more work!]