This is based off of written works of the Blue Planet team, but has not been approved by them and is not necessarily BP canon.
The Isolation is the Sol system's colloquial term for the time between the Lucifer cataclysm at the end of the Great War and the arrival of the GTVA 14th Battlegroup. During this fifty-year period, Sol was cut off from the rest of the subspace gate network, effectively isolating the system from the rest of interstellar space.
A Farewell To Arms
At the time of the Lucifer cataclysm, the Sol system's economy was unprepared for peace. While Sol's infrastructure was bigger than the rest of the GTA combined, that infrastucture had been on a full-tilt war footing for almost 15 years. 60% of Sol's population was involved in the massive military-industrial complex that existed at the time, either enlisted in the GTA's armed forces or employed by one of Sol's many defense contractors. The biggest defense contractor, Han-Ronald, by itself employed 15% of Sol's population, either directly or through subsidiaries. Meanwhile, 30% of Sol's Gross System Product was directed toward providing the colonies with ships, power generators, shelter, consumer goods, and other supplies.
When the Sol-Delta Serpentis node collapsed, Sol lost both means of sustaining her economic expansion, and the demand shock that followed was devastating. Dependent on massive levels of government funding to remain solvent, the defense industry imploded as contractors laid off millions of workers to keep afloat. Within a year, with the war economy in a shambles and cut off from colonial trade, most major corporations were in a tailspin to bankruptcy. As they fell, they took with them their subsidiaries, smaller partners, and suppliers. By the end of 2336, billions of people among the GTA's three remaining planetary members -- Earth, Mars, and Jupiter -- were unemployed, and became restless as their plight worsened.
Fifteen years of full-scale war had taken their toll on the civilian populace. To better direct the production of goods for the military, the GTA had established an authoritarian command economy during the middle years of the Terran-Vasudan War. The GTA enacted strict controls on wages and prices, a low cap on the production of "luxury items", and a rationing of staple resources not seen by humans since Earth's Second World War. As long as the GTA provided its citizens with what it needed to survive, it was able to stem the unrest caused by such policies. In the face of total economic collapse, these policies would prove to be the GTA's undoing.
The Collapse of the GTA
The GTA's response to the floundering of its biggest civilian partners was twofold. First, it bailed out or nationalized the failing corporations and tried to restore them to stability, if not profitability. Second, it put their newly acquired corporations to work on a massive government project -- in this case, Project Bifrost, an attempt to open the Sol-Delta Serpentis subspace node. For months, subspace physicists from the GTA's nationalized conglomerates scrutinized sensor logs of the Lucifer's destruction and the subsequent node collapse, looking for ways to restore the system's connection to subspace. In the spring of 2338, the GTA's experts concluded that reopening the node was not possible with Sol's current technology. Project Bifrost was shuttered, and the GTA redoubled their bailout efforts, nationalizing entire sectors of the economy.
The GTA's focus on Project Bifrost had dire consequences for its off-Earth holdings. Money that had been used to maintain habitats on Mars and the moons of Jupiter was instead being used to fund the project or bail out Earth-based corporations. As maintenance budgets were slashed, shortcuts had to be taken to keep the habitats livable. While Martian habitats were relatively well-off due to their partially terraformed home planet and culture of self-sufficiency, Jovian habitats lived on a razor's edge, often sacrificing citizens to maintain the integrity of the habitat for the rest of the populace. The hardest hit were the habitats beyond Jupiter, which often received no supplies at all, causing a permanent humanitarian crisis at the edge of the solar system. In most of Sol's non-Terran colonies, the crumbling infrastructure soon gave way to famine, disease, and environmental disaster.
As conditions worsened, tensions erupted into strikes, riots, and other forms of civil unrest. The GTA's response was predictable; martial law was declared throughout Sol, and troops were dispatched to Mars and the Jovian system to restore order. But it swiftly became evident that the GTA military, after 15 years of ship-to-ship combat and naval boarding actions, was ill-prepared for the massive groundside police actions required to keep the peace. The marine detachments of the 1st Fleet were overwhelmed as entire nations rebelled against GTA rule, and funding for additional troops dried up in favor of attempts to stabilize the economy.
The failure of Project Bifrost, the ongoing economic catastrophe, and the peacekeeping misadventures of the 1st Fleet produced a sea change in the perception of the GTA by its citizens. Less than five years before, the GTA was seen as the force that united humanity across the universe; now, it was seen as the chains dragging it down to the abyss, and this was reflected in the movements that sprung up in 2338. The loss of countless lives and valuble infrastructure in the Jovian system was blamed on the GTA's overregulation, and citizens agitated to break with the GTA and establish an autonomous free-trade zone. The worker's unions of Mars felt helpless in the face of the planet's decaying ecosystem, a process that they felt the GTA's incompetence accelerated. Their movement, branded "eco-Marxism", aimed to seize the means of production from the GTA and put it in the hands of local worker's councils, whose guiding philosophy would be to provide for the people and the environment.
Ultimately, the death blow to the GTA would come from Earth herself, where there emerged a class of oligarchs not seen since the early 21st century -- the product of both the GTA's bailout program and massive profiteering. By exploiting regulatory loopholes designed to streamline war production and the GTA's feeble enforcement power, the oligarchs and their corporate empires grew explosively in resources, and gained influence at every level of government at the expense of the Alliance. In 2339, they would seize control outright.
That summer, a previously unknown species of rice pathogen was discovered in Cambodia. Ultimately, it made its way to China, where 70% of the rice crops were lost, causing massive famine throughout Asia. As millions faced starvation, the GTA ordered a planetwide rationing of food while it scrambled to divert food to the affected regions. However, many local governments, ignoring Alliance directives, did very little to prevent oligarchs from hoarding large amounts of food -- either to sell at grossly inflated prices or for use themselves. This led to widespread and vicious food riots in Asia and India. The GTA was trapped -- either they spent valuable resources to put down the food riots, thus protecting a tiny minority at the expense of the majority, or they let the riots burn themselves out, and risk an overthrow of their leadership in the region. While considering these options, they ran out of time; the oligarchs in the region declared that the GTA's lack of effective response to the "Rice Crisis", as it became known, was the final proof of its total incompetence to govern, and urged the people to join them in revolt. National governments throughout Asia were toppled, and the GTA's power base all but destroyed.
The revolts following the Rice Crisis sealed the Alliance's fate in the 2339 elections for the Galactic Terran Assembly. Pro-GTA factions, bearing the blame for the economy, the state of the military and colonies, and the Rice Crisis, suffered devastating defeats at the hands of oligarch-aligned parties and populist movements. In the end, this new faction controlled roughly 80% of the seats in the Assembly, and the GTA had almost no support at all. With the change of power came a mandate for Earth to take control of her own affairs away from the corrupt Alliance it was shackled to, and the first vote of the new Assembly was to do exactly that.
On March 29th, 2240, the fifth anniversary of the destruction of the Lucifer, Earth declared her withdrawal from the Titan Accords, her secession from the GTA, and an end to the state of planetary emergency enacted twenty years before. Mars and Jupiter were quick to follow suit, reinstating the Martian Concordia and the Jovian Systems Republic largely along the lines they had envisioned.
After the abandonment of the Titan Accords, the GTA still existed in Sol; however, its authority was limited to the land on Earth it owned through the companies it had nationalized. Even then, the GTA was ill-equipped to manage what it had purchased, due to its lack of political control and its evaporating finances caused by its radically shrunken tax base. Faced with insolvency and eager to cut expenses, the GTA started a re-privatization program, selling off its assets wholesale in order to continue operations. Most of these assets were bought up at drastically reduced prices by the oligarchs the GTA had previously made rich, and it still wasn't enough. In the winter of 2342, the GTD Washington, once the flagship of the GTA 1st Fleet, was sold to a Jovian scrap dealer; the rest of 1st Fleet had been disposed of earlier in the year, as the GTA lacked the funding to fuel them.
By 2343, the GTA was virtually defunct, with a few squadrons of Valkyrie fighters to its name, patrolling the skies of rural China and India, lacking the authority or the means to do much of anything else.
A Means of Restoration
As the GTA faded into irrelevance, Sol was in dire straits. Six weeks after the Terran Assembly -- now only representing Earth and Luna -- declared an end to the wartime state of emergency imposed by the GTA, it declared a peacetime emergency due to its continuing economic crisis. Earth's national governments struggled to provide for their large populations after years of the GTA's mismanagement, and deprioritized interplanetary trade. This, in turn, impoverished the Jovians, who were dependent on trade with Earth. Meanwhile, the Martians were critically short of experts to maintain their fragile ecosystem. Sol was in the midst of economic congestive failure.
The new political landscape following the elections of 2339 had caused a buzz of discussion about the future of Earth. Many concluded that the end of GTA rule signified a rebirth of democracy and an economic golden age for humanity. However, a loose collective of philosophers, historians, educators, scientists, and spiritual leaders voiced their concern about the new political order. These people were alumni of the GTA's Human Future Project. Established in 2330 to "foster the next wave of human leadership and innovation", the Human Future Project was part symposium and part think tank. It pushed the envelope of human research on many levels with breakthroughs in linguistics, scientific modeling, psychosociology, logistical distribution, and many other fields. While most of these innovations were directed to serve the war effort, some had large impacts on civilian life as well.
This collective recognized that while the oligarchs who had taken control in the wake of the revolts professed a love of freedom and democracy, their actions after the uprising and after the election were more consistent with a disdain for it. What else would be born from this disdain, however, was less clear. Recruiting computer scientists formerly employed by Han-Ronald's simulations division, they constructed a predictive model of the sociopolitical situation in Sol.
The results, delivered two months later, were frightening. Within a decade, the oligarchs would have complete control over the Terran Assembly and the national governments of Earth and Luna. Most of the programs in place to restore Earth's infrastructure would be curtailed, as would most regular spaceflights to Mars and the Jovian system, to enrich the oligarchs further. As Earth's infrastructure broke down from lack of maintenance, billions of people would die, decimating the labor force and skill sets available and making any hope of recovery impossible. On Earth, human civilization would backslide and enter a Dark Age; in the rest of the system, it would simply cease to exist.
Galvanized by the report's bleak outlook, these Human Future alumni formed the Restoration Project in 2340, and set to work to prevent the coming darkness. Unable to stand for important offices due to a lack of corporate sponsorship, the Project went grassroots, recruiting humanitarians, aid workers, and spiritual leaders to its cause, and running for local offices, which were not highly contested. By 2341, the RP had gained a foothold in some of the most strife-ridden areas on Earth, and started setting up homeless shelters, food kitchens, and trade schools, most of them converted from abandoned munitions plants or GTA barracks. During the GTA's fire sale, they acquired, for a very low price, most of Han-Ronald's computer archives, including its cutting-edge tactical simulators and the computers to run them. These simulators were soon adapted to make models of social and economic growth, and they were deployed in areas where the RP had power. In areas where they didn't, they made microinvestments to local businesses with potential based on advice from the simulators. In many areas, the simulation program was successful; where it wasn't, the data was shared and the model refined.
The Outcomes Doctrine
In May 2343, the Restoration Project began its next phase. Members of the Project met in Hong Kong to produce a statement of their principles and ultimate goals. The document produced was called the Outcomes Doctrine, and its summary was the following:
- Above All Else: It is our solemn belief that no human shall be unable to achieve her full potential, and it is toward this end we pledge ourselves.
- Politically: We strive to maximize free speech, minimize government power, and work behind the scenes through the gradual adjustment of social and economic trends. In the long run, we seek to unite mankind, end armed conflict, and develop new technologies that will allow a return to the stars.
- Economically: We intend to use sophisticated models to regulate and maximize the output of the free market, through subtle controls rather than by regulation or intervention.
- Socially: We wish to promote understanding, open-mindedness, and peace; to eliminate physical and mental illness through scientific treatment; and to establish the equality of all human beings. Finally, we stand to promote individual moral autonomy and freedom.
- Philosphically: We seek to move mankind towards a state of enlightenment, where human beings will function as a coordinated, competitive/cooperative system in which each individual human is actualized to maximize his or her own output. We believe that every person should have the means, the drive, and the hope to make him or herself better.
- Spiritually: We believe that all faiths should be allowed to coexist peacefully.
It was a very idealistic document, especially during a time when megacorporations controlled 90% of the Terran Assembly. Most oligarchs dismissed it as nonsense. But to many in the underclasses, it was a refreshing viewpoint compared to the GTA's grim predictions during the Great War and the contempt of the oligarchs after the collapse. Coupled with the success of their modeling efforts, it was enough to give people a sense of hope they had not had in years. By November, the Restoration Project had gathered enough petitions to be recognized as a political party in the Assembly.
Much of the following year was spent organizing local party structures, refining and evangelizing their predictive models, and making inroads in other regions. Sub-Saharan and southern Africa were the next regions to see the RP's presence; some local groups used the name "Ubuntu Party", after an African political party organized along similar lines. Central and southeast Asia were soon to follow. In the elections of 2344, to the surprise of everyone, the RP gained 68% of the seats in the Assembly. The vision of hope that the Restoration Project had given a crushed generation had given them the means to put that vision into practice.
The Rise of Ubuntu
In the months following the RP's political victory, the tempo of their exploits increased significantly. Their supermajority in the Terran Assembly gave them the opportunity to implement global policies that would speed recovery along. While implementation dragged in some areas -- the oligarchs held fast to their fiefdoms -- they further accelerated the recovery in areas where the RP had greater influence. Investment in clean energy, mass transportation projects, and just-in-time manufacturing facilities for consumer goods increased mobility and demand. Asian countries were experiencing a new economic Golden Age, and Africa was well on its way. Meanwhile, projects in Australia and the Americas began to pay dividends.
In the midst of all this came a revelation that would reshape the Restoration Project's mission and, with it, the future of Sol.
Martin Mandho was a Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Lagos. An alumnus of the Human Future Project and a former high-ranking analyst for Galactic Terran Intelligence, he had kept informed about the development of the Restoration Project. In 2342, he allowed himself to be drafted as an RP Assemblyman for the Federation of African States after a paper he published on neo-consensus decision making went viral on local email lists. His star in the RP rose quickly, becoming their Shadow Secretary for Home Affairs in 2343. The RP's success in the 2344 elections cemented his position in the Cabinet of the Earth government.
Just before taking office as Home Secretary, he had a very intense dream. At first, he dismissed it, but the dream persisted, night after night. Medical help proved fruitless; there seemed to be no physical or mental cause of the recurring dreams, and no similar condition was on record. Scouring the planetary network was equally fruitless. Finally, in January 2345, he sought advice from a fellow Cabinet member who was also a priest, and found out that she had the same dream. Galvanized by progress, in February he went into closed retreat outside Kolkata with some of the RP's top-ranking spiritual leaders. What he found out there pushed him to seek an unlikely group of people.
Of the sixteen fighters sent to destroy the SD Lucifer, only a handful survived -- all of the Vasudan Epsilon Wing (called the "Epsilon Four" in modern parlance), and the GTA's Beta Two, Alpha Three, and Alpha One. All surviving pilots were thoroughly debriefed on their arrival to Earth. The reports were presumed lost in the wake of the GTA's collapse; however, Mandho found copies in databases the RP acquired from the GTA. The reports claimed that Alpha One and the Epsilon Four had reported visions similar to his dreams. Mandho resolved to find them, but this would prove difficult; Alpha 1 resigned his commission not long after returning to Earth, and the Vasudans declined to enter GTA service. In light of the economic crisis gripping Sol, the GTA considered tracking the whereabouts of five ex-fighter pilots less important. Nor could Mandho find them through their Terran comrades; Beta Two and Alpha Three were killed in 2338 on a peacekeeping mission over Europa.
Eventually, through his intelligence contacts and a bit of guesswork, Mandho found the Epsilon Four in an enclave in the deserts of Egypt. An email with a description of his experiences piqued the Vasudans' interest, and they agreed to a meeting, to which Alpha One would also be invited. In April 2345, Alpha One and Mandho arrived at the Epsilon Four's residence, and they discussed the visions they had received. In addition, Mandho relayed the accounts he heard from others. Mandho put all of the pieces together, and saw what was to come. And the human race needed to be ready.
Two days after the conclusion of his visit with the Lucifer Five, Mandho returned to Kolkata, to report his discoveries to his confederates in the RP leadership. From there, all of the pieces were revealed -- the patterns underlying their shared visions, the storm that loomed on the horizon, and how to navigate the human race through it. Meeting in secret over the next three months, the group that was to become the Council of Elders formulated a plan to shepherd the RP and the rest of Sol toward a new way of life -- a philosophy free of suffering and oppression; a data-driven market economy without the human exploitation practiced on Earth since the concept of an economy took root; and the means to ensure the survival of humanity in the face of the Shivans through a new investment in science and research.
Over the next 18 months, the Elders set to work. Spiritual leaders met with their congregations, politicians met with RP leaders, and experts and technocrats started making the case for the Elders' proposals to the public. As it happened, many in the RP's sphere of influence were highly receptive to the proposals. For the Restoration Project, it represented the natural extension of their work to date in restoring Earth to prosperity and freedom, and their impressive victory in a few short years made it very open to trying a new and sustainable way forward for all of Sol. Scientists and engineers as well as the working class found the logical basis of the Elders' proposals intriguing; after the ideology-based "science" of the oligarchs made a complete mess of things, an evidence-based approach to conducting the economy and new investment in R&D was very welcome indeed. For others of a more spiritual bent, the philosophies behind the Elders' proposal were both familiar -- they were loosely based on a combination of Buddhist, Hindu, and various Afro-Asian animist philosophies -- and novel in being a promotion of the individual, rejecting dogmatism and hierarchical thinking.
Decades later, social scientists hypothesized another reason the Elders were so successful in converting the RP to its way of thinking. The people of Earth had faced 25 years of war and hardship, being threatened first with destruction -- or at least subjugation -- at the hands of the Vasudans, then utter destruction at the hands of the Shivans, then the collapse of modern civilization and subjugation at the hands of the oligarchs. Three times they had looked oblivion in the eye, and this caused a profound change in the Terrans' collective psyche. Many of these experts, including those in the GTVA, likened it to a collective near-death experience, after which the people of Earth, much like the individual who experiences one, became happier, kinder, more spiritual, and more charitable. They argue that these changes were evident in the wide unpopularity of the oligarchs in the wake of the Rice Revolt, though the need to survive overrode the desire to act on them.
Nevertheless, by 2347, the Elders had succeeded in their goal. The previous December, they called for a referendum on enacting their plan to transform the RP along the lines they had envisioned. That referendum passed the following March. The Restoration Project was renamed the Ubuntu Party (after some of their regional parties), the Elders thinking that a "more fitting" name. The Party was reorganized to align with the Elders' goals, the Elders themselves forming a Council to act as a long-term steering committee. Finally, the Ubuntu Party declared its intention to reestablish a system-wide government on a more federal structure (as opposed to the GTA's parliamentary structure).
The rise of Ubuntu on Earth, despite difficulties in the Global North; the reluctance, then finally the accession, of Mars and Jupiter to Ubuntu; the rise of the UEF; the rise of the Gaian Effort; Calder and the Third Fleet's taking of the Gefs' Eris Base; and the reestablishment of contact with the outside.