Saturday, October 10, 2020

A Story About Space Politics

Mac Rebisz

 

So this is a bit of a writing exercise. I'm taking a story (you can clearly see which one), stripping it down to its most basic beats, and then revising it according to stronger internal logic instead of genre convention. No goal in sight, just seeing where I end up.

It has been brought to you by Legend of the Galactic Heroes, which you should watch.

Where We Begin

The planet is not Earth, but is like Earth. The solar system it is located in is not ours.

A rapid period of expansion into the solar system comes to an end as technocratic colonies move to split from control of the [Homeworld].

The resulting years of brutal war exhausts both factions, petering out into occasional flareups, then a stalemate, then loss of contact. the war is never officially concluded.

The resultant economic catastrophe and erosion of human rights on the [Homeworld] paves the way for the rise of fascism, which took the form of the [Tyranny], which has either invaded or browbeaten other nations into submission.

A generation passes. The [Tyranny] remains the sole superpower on the planet, a position enforced by the threat of complete destruction at the hands of their [Orbital Weapons Platform] 

The Story

The [Class Traitor], heir of a venerable homeworld nation-state & member of the organized resistance movement, must fake their own death and go into hiding as [Tyranny] forces raid their family holdings on the (correct) belief that intelligence has passed to the resistance through the family.

**

After falling in with resistance cells, [Class Traitor] is drawn into a plan to sneak onto and either control or destroy the [Orbital Platform].

**

The plan succeeds at hijacking a transport vessel and securing the [Orbital Platform], despite the [Class Traitor]'s homeland being bombed into during the operation.

** 

In retaliation, the [Tyranny] plants their forces amidst civilian populations in a massive crackdown lead by the [Chief of Secret Police]. The [Tyrant] goes underground. Violence on the surface escalates.

**

After seizure of the [Orbital Platform] and declaration of war, fighting and crackdowns break out all over [Homeworld]. Previously undeclared factions announce allegiance to [Class Traitor's] cause. Other partisan groups, dismissive of this unified front as not thinking beyond the political structures that created the [Tyranny] in the first place, remain out in the cold, taking advantage of the chaos.

**

[Class Traitor] appoints an inner circle for formalize and centralize the revolutionary government. Despite the wave of new allies, more forces and advantageous territory are needed to sustain it long-term. A plan is drafted: capture of the long-abandoned pre-[Tyranny] moon colony. A scouting mission is sent out from the [Orbital Station].

**

[Class Traitor] is approached by a potential ally, a major corporonation, that is willing to switch sides and provide the revolutionary forces access to the full resources of a world power, in exchange for a marriage between [Class Traitor] and the [Scion] of that [Corporate House]. While the downside to this is obvious to all [Class Traitor] accepts, but not without immediately activating whatever counterintelligence they have to spare to figure out a way to neuter the [House]'s influence in the future.

**

Meanwhile on the moon, the scouting mission finds that the habitats are in salvageable condition, and with sufficient re-supply could be brought up to self-sustaining in potentially a few months. The primary wrinkle is one singular habitat, separate from the rest, that is very, very, very thoroughly sealed. They do not try breaking it open.

**

The wedding between [Class Traitor] and the [Scion] is carried out remotely. The [Scion] is a fool, looking at the rebellion primarily as a merchandising and investment opportunity. The [House] in turn launches a surprise attack against [Tyranny] forces, which blindsides them enough to get a small fleet of supply ships safely to orbit with resources and people for the [Orbital Station] and the moon. The [Scion] is among them. First contact between them is awkward. Most of the revolutionaries sent to orbit head onwards to the moon colony.

**

[Class Traitor] can lead from the [Orbital Station] for now, but it is not sustainable. Something must disrupt the [Tyranny]'s war machine.

**

The [House] leads the ground campaign against the [Tyranny]. Refugees and supporters flee en masse to its territory, public and international opinion is in its favor. Already, the partnership between the [House] and the [Revolutionary Government] looks to be shifting lopsidedly in the [House]'s favor. [Class Traitor] and the [Scion] have returned to the surface to help with the ground war.

**

A [Tyranny] military official, the [Brazen General], declares that the [Tyrant] has been dead for months now, that the orders the military has received in the [Tyrant]'s name are illegitimate, and that the [Tyrant's Right Hand] is both incompetent and part of the cover-up (In truth, the [Right Hand] had no idea). They assume direct control over the military and lead a brutal scorched-earth counter-attack against the [House].

**

Partisans bomb a primary office of [Tyranny] military org in retaliation, successfully killing the [Surveillance Chief]. The [House] goes public with a condemnation of the attack, against [Class Traitor] guidance and wishes, attempting to soften the blow the [Brazen General] has given them.

**

[Right Hand] has gone silent (they are actually busy reviving the [Tyranny's] mothballed space fleet.)

**

[Brazen General] blames the [House] for funding partisan groups and uses this as justification to use WMDs against the [House]. There is a catastrophic loss of most of the [House] military forces and immense loss of civilian life. The [Right Hand] emerges from hiding with a partial space fleet and, in a suprise attack, is able to bring down the [Orbital Station]. The [House] surrenders. [Class Traitor] is considered dead. The [Scion] goes into hiding.

**

The revolutionaries stranded on the moon elect a new [leader]. Seeing that the surface situation is fucked beyond repair, and that the moon base still does not have enough supplies to be truly self-sufficient, [Moon Leader] declares a new government on the moon, separate from the revolutionary government that just went down in flames.

**

The [Tyranny]'s two current leaders

The [Scion]'s parent is executed, the [House] is dissolved, and all its holdings are seized by the [Tyranny] and reallocated. Surviving revolutionaries fall to existing partisan groups, flee to minor nations, are caught and killed, or fade into obscurity.

**

Minor Timeskip, during which the Moon colony begins reaching out to the [Colonies] for aid.

**

With the [Orbital Station] destroyed, the [Tyranny]'s fleet has unrestricted access to [Homeworld]'s orbital space. While this would normally lead a straight shot to destroying the enclave on the moon, the careful balance of power between the [Right Hand] and the [Brazen General] dissolves as word leaks out that the [Tyrant] was well and truly dead, and has been for over a year. It's time for everyone's favorite game, Succession Crisis!

Claimants and potential claimants include

  • [Right Hand] has general, but waning, popularity, as well as a direct connection to the previous tyrant. They are not directly competing for the position, nor are they well-suited for such specific leadership.
  • [Brazen General] has the support of the military and the populace, but their skills outside of military leadership are yet to be properly tested.   
  • [Head of the Inner Council] is stable and has the actual bureaucracy and administrative knowledge to run the [Tyranny], but is also bland and generally unpleasant, barely any public support..
  • [Surrogate-Born] is, if they are to be believed, the only heir by blood of the Tyrant. They are dismissed by the other factions for their youth, lack of experience and dissolute ways. They are smarter than they let on and have some support, but have little in the way of actual resources.
  • [The Heresiarch] has no official backing or resource base, but is riding on a wave of heterodox religious fervor among the common folk, promising deliverance from the chaos of the times.

 **

Meanwhile, the organized rebellion on the ground has more or less dissolved. Partisan groups are still active and fighting, but there is no unified front to them. The [Scion], having gone to ground disguised as a low-noble clerk in a corporation, is part of a team excavating a second vault, similar to that on the moon (though they don't know that)

** 

Meanwhile, a band of partisans is plotting to assassinate the head of the relocation committee and break open one of the major concentration camps and fleeing across the border to safer territory. The [Class traitor] is among them, injured and no longer in a leadership position.

** 

On the moon, the [Colonial Commissary] arrives to meet with [Moon Leader].

End note

This is as far as the experiment has gone and I'm pretty pleased with it for what it is. But! I want to hear your thoughts on it - things you liked, things I missed, things that need more detail,potential places the story threads could go. I feel like the first major act is done and that we are in the setup of the second, and I have no idea what might come afterwards.

3 comments:

  1. Everyone needs to stop complaining about other space operas and just make their own, it's better for everyone.

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  2. I am a random internet person who has been lured from Lurkdom by this post. This form of storytelling gets my imagination running. As for places it might go, I will keep my thoughts brief:

    -The [Vault's] contents should change the whole game, and the contents of both [Vaults] should be somehow linked. The most interesting answer I can offer is that Pre-Tyranny scientists were working on a device/spacecraft/phenomena to cause/accelerate Kessler Syndrome as a WMD-style deterrent. This is likely a prototype of what became the [Orbital Platform]. The potential for harm is obvious, but it would also completely shred the [Tyranny] Fleet...
    -The [Surrogate Born] is an incredibly interesting character. Are they willing to cut a deal with resistance forces if it means accumulating power? Do they want to rule the [Tyranny], or simply rule?
    -[The Heresiarch] is a wild card. In my mind, they either have no idea what they're doing or where they're going, or they completely believe their own doctrine of faith in a dangerous way. Their death may make them a Martyr.
    -I want to know more about the Inner Circle of the Rebellion. One of them likely goes on to become [Moon Leader], but other members may be important characters in the future.
    -I wonder if the [Colonies] are as sympathetic to the rebel cause as we've been lead to believe, or if their technocratic ways are found, too late, to be just as dangerous as the [Tyranny] they overthrow. Perhaps cultural (or technological) drift has created an strange distance between the two groups. In any case, they may not be the good guys.
    -The [Scion] gets a lot of fantastic character growth, as does the [Class traitor]. The [Class traitor] believes in the cause of freedom, yet winds up injured and discouraged in their mission to overthrow the [Tyranny]. The [Scion] started off as a fool and had their [House] destroyed, waking them up to how serious this really is. Whatever they find in the [Vault] could plant the seeds of hope that both of them desperately need.
    -The primary goals of the second "act" would be unveiling the [Vault] contents, rekindling the fighting spirit of the main characters, and perhaps reuniting them, all while the Succession crisis tears the [Tyranny] further apart as all five actors scrabble for control.

    Thank you for conducting this experiment. I am equally curious about what happens next.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming out of lurkdom! This is an excellent batch of ideas, and definitely the sort of thing that gets act 2 wheels turning.

      Delete