Friends of a Solar Empire
In 3439 APD, the Gryphus Republic commenced an unprecedented and illegal increase in its military spending. After ignoring multiple warnings from the Trade Order Council, the following letter, written by the Chairman of the Council, was sent to President Ansgar and read over the broadcast network.
[I]Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, we lived on the homeworld, Earth. Records tell of a great war between the mightiest of nations, which left their soils barren and bathed with radiation, killing all. Our ancestors barely managed to escape the same fate. We call this event the First Calamity, and it took many generations for us to recover.
When we deemed our wounds sufficiently healed, we turned to space. We call these times the Forgotten Era, since not much knowledge of them survived. We longed to reach across the stars, but the enormity of space confined us better than any barrier. The closest of stars took many years to reach; merely moving within our solar system was an ordeal.
For many years, we sat within Einstein's Cage, rattling its bars.
And then, a miracle, born of blood and toil: the Phase Drive. It was a dangerous thing, crude and primitive compared to what we have today. But with it, we were finally free of the cage.
And so, we spread. Slowly, at first, but every year brought innovations and resources, and every year we spread at a faster rate; every year our numbers swelled and swelled. We called this the Era of Expansion, a glorious age of progress and peace.
However, these days soon ended. We splintered into our petty empires and arrogant republics. Citizens turned into soldiers, factories spat out arms and munitions, shipyards were lit with a thousand torches crafting countless battleships.
And so began the Endless War. It would last fifteen hundred years, more in some places.
From the fires of strife, a great force was created, with Earth itself as its capital: the Federation of the Stars. They set of to unite mankind under a single banner, as it had been long ago.
They were successful. Only bitter remnants of their foes remained at their borders when peace was signed. From there came the Second Expansion, a technological leap forward that tripled our reach. The first version of the Broadcast network came to be, and we discovered the counter gravity field in that time.
And what a time it was! Of peace, of prosperity, of scientific progress!
…And of terrible deeds.
Purpose turned to fanaticism, suspicions turned to paranoia and authority and vigilance tuned into tyranny and oppression. The heroic Federation turned corrupt as time passed. Worlds were ruled over with an iron grip. Civilians were monitored, inconformity was ground to dust. Children were indoctrinated with beliefs. All this, for the sake of peace eternal. On Earth and many other worlds, experiments were carried out, with the purpose of reforming the human race.
Project Paradise; the search for the next stage in human evolution.
Satisfied with their results, the commenced the systematic extermination of the human race. A genophage was released onto planets in their domain. The human population dwindled, unable to reproduce, and was gradually replaced by the New Men and Women of the Federation. Brain uploading was offered to those with the connections and money to afford it. Records of everything before the Phase Drive were thoroughly destroyed.
Within a few generations, the human population had become a minority within Federation territory. With their dominance clear, the Federation declared an ultimatum against the remaining independent states.
They could surrender, and let their population be supplanted peacefully. Or they could resist and be slaughtered.
Word of the atrocities committed by the Federation had leaked to the leaders of the independent states. They were appalled, they were horrified. They met in secret, to discuss the Federation's downfall. Rebels were sponsored, arms were smuggled, but they could not act openly, lest they fall to the superior Navy of the Federation.
With the ultimatum, they were forced to action. After one final meeting, they sent their answer to the Federation.
Through space, our entire species rose up as one. Citizens became soldiers, factories were commandeered and repurposed into making arms and ammunition, shipyards were lit by a million torches crafting countless battleships. Two hundred petty empires and proud republics cast their differences aside and joined forces. Scurrying rebels and pirates turned their gust towards more worthy targets.
The Federation of the Stars sought to unite mankind, and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
War raged. It was terrible, it was horrific, it was bloody beyond words.
And it was [b]glorious[/b].
During those first years, the Federation's superiority was undeniable. Yet, despite being outgunned and outmatched we never gave up hope of victory. For every kilometer of space, the Federation was forced to pay in blood. Every planet resisted with the force of a million heroes. Ships fought to their bitter end, crews firing even though they were doomed. Every second was a precious thing, which gave us a chance to bridge the technological gap. Every month the line lasted brought new ships with which to resist.
Systems fell, worlds burned, space was filled with debris. People died, some alone, others in pain, and others still in heroics unsung. Widows cried for their husbands and wives, children waited for the parent that would never return.
The Federation had grossly underestimated the resistance they would encounter. Their New Men, intended for an age of peace and harmony could not be bred fast enough to replace their losses. The technological gap proved to be much shorter than they had anticipated, and our increasing numbers soon made it irrelevant. The war dragged on, and the Great Senate on Earth soon found the unthinkable happening:
They, the successors to barbaric, stupid Man, were [b]loosing [/b].
The scientists of the Federation worked like madmen to correct the problem, to find a solution to their demise. Labs produced ever more horrible weapons and technology, before being silenced and abandoned when vengeful and angry human fleets came into range.
Desperate, the Federation recalled their entire Navy towards Earth. The solar system and its surroundings were fortified, huge swathes of the population conscripted. The largest fleets in history sat poised to clash into each other.
The Battle for the Solar System took 50 years, and more than 7 billion souls. Mars was left without an atmosphere. Titan's crust was shattered. The Moon became scarred and unrecognizable. In the end, the Federation of the Stars chose to turn their most powerful and horrific weaponry on Earth itself. The homeworld died, leaving nothing but a dry, scorched, poisoned husk. We call this the Second Calamity, and it haunts us to this day.
Even though they had been victorious, it was with shame that the allied fleet left the place where mankind had once began.
Warships were scrapped, weapons smelted. Soldiers dropped their weapons and uniforms, praying that they'd never have to use them again. Asylums were filled by those driven mad by the bloodshed. Cemeteries were filled with the dead, and those they had left behind. We established the Trade Order, a confederation built on economy, business and diplomacy, not force and violence. We dictated the laws that govern us to this day, swearing to never take up arms as we once did.
And so, I beg of you, to reconsider your course of action. You have dismissed our warnings. You see that we are peaceful, and have called humans an easy prey, but remember that we are peaceful by our own choosing, not because of some innate desire. We know war better than your people ever could, not even in their most horrible nightmares, and it is unwise to make us remember this fact. If you choose to not comply with the laws we put in place for your own protection, then I suggest preparing yourself for a reprisal [b]beyond what you could ever hope to imagine.[/b]
I await your response.
With regards, Antony Beketovk, Chairman of the Trade Order Council.[/i]
(From: The Technocracy Magazine 30/7/3581)
What are flight goggles? For some, they are irreplaceable and invaluable gadgets, and it's a wonder that anything at all could be done before they were invented. For others, especially in those "traditionalistic" circles, they are an affront against all things with wings, and we'd be better off without them. Then again, those traditionalistic types seem to regard everything more complicated than a plow as a crime against Celestia (despite the fact that the Princess has a mail account), so you can take that last opinion with a bit of salt.
Anyways, what are flight goggles? Simply put, they're a pair of goggles –obviously- with a Heads-up display integrated into them. This HUD can display a great deal of things, which vary depending on model and manufacturer. The most basic models have, at the very least, a speedometer, an altimeter, a radiobeacon receiver, and a compass –although most pegasi and gryphons prefer to use their own, natural compass -. Intermediate models add relative bearing displays, digital magnification, light amplification, and other odds and ends. The more expensive models, on the other hand, can have anything from night vision, to infrared imaging, to shape-shifting lenses.
Obviously, the main market for flight goggles is pegasi and gryphons, although they've also proven quite popular amongst hovercycle owners, stratojumpers, and changelings.
Now, for the top ten flight goggles available in the sector market…
Posted by: Unregistered Member:
I think the opinion of Traditionalists should be taken with a bit more than just a grain of salt. That is, if you can find any of those fine ponies still able to fly, or even render a coherent opinion. The sky is full of fast and hard things nowadays. Things that will come off a lot better than someone of flesh and bones if you bump clouds with one in midair. Things that won't see a traditionalist in time since they refuse to wear those 'affronts', or have those same 'Crimes against Celestia' warn them of an overtaking aircar. They save lives ponies. I have to chase down too many young idiots convinced their wings make them immortal already to add the actively stupid to my list.
-Lightning Chaser, Police Officer
In some places of Trader Space, it is customary that criminals sentenced to heavy punishment, such as death, exile, Cryocontainment, or Cognizant Cryocontainment, be allowed to have their last words preserved before the sentence is carried out.
The following are the last words of Professor Almond Wading, employee of the Horizon Corporation, before being interred in Cognizant Cryocontainment in the Alphaz Maximum Security prision.
Loading audio file…
There are sounds of scruffling, of a chair being dragged over a metal floor. There is the sound of someone breathing heavily, almost hyperventilating.
"Anything you would like to say?" says a voice, male, flat. As if this is something that he has done a great many times.
"A whole fracking lot, actually." Says another voice, rougher, older and much more emotional.
The speaker shifts around in his chair. "Where should I begin?" he muses, "How about the one question your damn Directorate never bothered to ask:"
"Why the frack did I sign up with a bunch of delusional apes? Why should I, a Celestia-damned unicorn, participate in a project aimed at creating slaves out of ponies? Hmm?"
"Well, it was because it was necessary," he continues, "because those imbeciles had unwittingly stumbled upon the very future of my species. I allowed them to use my talents to suit their greed so that I could get access to the resources I needed to pursue my real goal. There were so many prototype phases that it was trivial to divert funds and material without anyone noticing."
There is silence for a moment, as he was reorganizing his thoughts so that he can present them more clearly.
"I remember," he starts again, more level-headed this time, "someone once telling me that the reason the humans reached space before us was because we had been cuddled, while they had to constantly out-do themselves to survive. They were right, we'd been under the wings of the Princess since time immemorial, to the point that any previous regime is talked about like a myth and legend. While humanity was constantly at each other's throats for their entire existence, we had our benevolent ruler to guide us and unite us."
There is a dark chuckle, "And, in the end, look at who ended uplifting who. Was it the harmonious, united people of Equestria led by their wise, benevolent ruler? No, it was a bunch of apes led by a group of cutthroat, squabbling and naïve despots guided by greed and profit, who couldn't even keep their planet intact!"
"Watch your tongue." The first voice hisses, with a sudden rage.
The second voice snorts. "I'm about to be sent into an isolation chamber that will leave my consciousness a mushy paste. I'll say whatever I want to say!"
There is silence for another moment.
"Anyways," the second voice continues, "Looking over at this… injustice, I had a revelation. As we are, we could not possibly hope to compete with the humans. 'Even with the power of the Princesses,' I told myself, 'we'd always be second best. A very distant second best, at that.'"
"And that's when it hit me: 'Even with the power of the Princesses'… What if we had alicorns outside the royal lines, with power to match Celestia herself? What if we didn't have to contend with only wings or a horn?"
"Ponykind, as it is now, is no match to humanity. So I decided to make ponykind capable of matching them. I decided to give us the power of the Goddess herself. It would start with a hooffull of them, just enough to have genetic variety. They'd be set loose, mate, bear children who would retain the alicorn characteristics, and multiply amongst the population. In a few generations, we'd have superequines everywhere, and no one would have known where it came from."
There is an annoyed grunt. "Of course, you had to barge in. Three decades of work, gone! Just like that! The first embryo had barely started to mature when your hired brutes smashed it into the ground!"
There is a momentary pause, as he collects his bearings.
"Just one last thing." He says, breathing deeply, "If I am the only one to walk this path, then I'm a blue goat. Eventually, someday in the future, somepony else will come to my conclusions, and complete my work. It's only a matter of time, and I hope I maintain enough sanity when that happens to be able to enjoy it."
"Anything else?" the first voice asks.
"Yes," the second replies, "I… I'll walk myself there." He gulps, "Goodbye."
Audio file end.