Tales of the Solar Patrol: Class of 2058
Enemies of Earth
The Red Hive
In 1973, the mining shaft at New Plymouth, originally built to extract ores and ice deposits, began turning up something extraordinary. Some quirk of Luna – the low gravity, the composition of the ground, the constant bombardment of cosmic rays without an atmospheric filter, something – had caused Luna to produce diamonds of incomparable quality. They were generally larger and less flawed than Earth diamonds, but that was not the end of it. Lunar diamonds contain odd internal refractive structures that produce a slight but noticeable glow when exposed to sunlight or full-spectrum artificial light. Every shade of the spectrum is represented, and some have claimed (falsely) that “no two lunar diamonds are precisely the same color.”
This discovery set off a mad rush for wealth. Thousands sold everything they had to buy converted planes, modified diving suits, and airtight inflatable domes (with solar-powered air recyclers), and took off in search of wealth. The very lucky few actually struck a diamond node and grew rich. A slightly less lucky minority never found diamonds but survived the experience. The unlucky majority died or suffered permanent injuries.
Over a few years, the mining camps consolidated into more permanent colonies, and some prospectors began hunting more reliable, if less glamorous, ores – iron, tungsten, copper, and so on. Because it was easier to mine ore locally than to ship it up from Earth, Luna began to attract settlers seeking something other than pretty rocks. By the time the Mars War ended, as Earth became more and more peaceful, with the United Nations/Earth League gaining more traction and old national borders and ideologies fading, there were many who felt out of place in this brave, new, improved world. Religious fundamentalists, political ideologues, racial separatists and supremacists, ultra-nationalists, and many other square pegs felt that putting as much distance between them and an increasingly homogenous Earth would be best for all parties. Luna became part Gold-Rush California, part Ellis Island, and part Botany Bay. The ability to simply place a dome anywhere, set up hydroponics, and live in peaceful isolation, far from one’s neighbors, made the ad-hoc system work. The Earth League maintained control over the major colonies and settlements, and it appointed judges and sheriffs to keep the general peace between the outer domes. Thinking, at the time, that a “safety valve” of this sort could help prevent the growth of powerful dissident movements that could undermine the nascent planetary government, the Earth League adopted a laissez-faire attitude toward what became known as “the Outer Settlements,” referring to their physical distance from the larger, more formal colony domes and their philosophical distance from mainstream Earth opinions and values.
Unfortunately, the Earth League had miscalculated. The isolation of the Outer Settlements did not put an end to reactionary forces – it gave them a chance to organize and grow. A generation raised almost completely out of contact with Earth and mainstream values grew more fanatical and violent. Over time, the broad diversity of opinions found in the Outer Settlements began to narrow. The saner of the original settlers decided to live in places like New Plymouth or Yeager, and they found ways to fit their personal values in with the larger goals of a united and peaceful humanity. Others, though, became progressively more hardened against the Earth League and all it stood for. Cobbling together a philosophy from bits and pieces of Marx, Nietzsche, and ultra-fundamentalist sects, they dreamed of a world of perfect order and harmony, without dissension, compromise, or ecumenicism, a world where there was a place for everyone – and everyone knew his place. (The fact their own existence was due to the Earth League’s belief in tolerance and freedom was twisted into proof of the folly of such ideals – what kind of lunatic would let enemies live free and undisturbed?)
With agents in place throughout the Lunar colonies and in key locales on Earth, the Red Hive initiated a series of strikes and raids in 2020, capturing Yeager Dome (and its vital shipyards) and sending a rain of hyperbombs against London, where the Earth League was headquartered. With the Yeager fleet at their disposal, they swarmed the other major domes of Luna and seized control of the great cities of New Plymouth and Lunovgrad. Their demands were simple: Cede full control of Luna to the Hive.
The next two months were brutal. The Earth League, hampered by the fact the population of Luna were de facto hostages, could not respond with full force. The Hive had no such compunction. It took time for the Earth League to plan, organize, and implement a series of strikes on the domes that would take out the Hive’s leadership and armament with a minimum of civilian casualties.
In the end, the remnants of the Hive seized a few dozen ships and fled for the outer reaches of the System, passing beyond Jupiter and, some would say, out of history.
The Mind Masters
Scientists believe that only the Mind Masters are native to Mars. It is uncertain where the other races came from. Some posit a connection to the Jovian Overlord, as humans live on the moons of Jupiter as well.
Others speculate that the Mind Masters took the humans in the distant past, or that an unknown human civilization achieved space travel millennia ago. The Hajuur also have no record of how they came to Mars, but they have no related or ancestral species on the planet.
The Mind Masters are little more than gargantuan jelly-encased brains suspended in a life-support medium dwelling inside a metal shell adorned with grasping tentacles. They live in great iron fortresses scattered around the world, with individuals constantly flying to various cities and outposts to check on the status of their domain. They do not seem to have ambitions of conquest, but they likewise do not relinquish even the meanest portion of the world they do control.
They are capricious and cruel in the extreme. They enjoy experimenting on their subjects, though there seems to be no end goal other than the cataloguing of the degrees of pain an individual can endure. They demand obedience but do not reward it; the most loyal and subservient Vithaani can be plucked for “experimentation” as easily as the most rebellious. Disobedience means certain death; obedience merely adds a slim chance for a reprieve.
The Mind Masters seem to possess great technology – their armored globes are but one example – but the Martian peoples enjoy little of this; they live an agrarian lifestyle using simple tools of wood and bronze.
The Mind Masters, in their natural forms, resemble mansized transparent jellyfish or octopi, with six long, slender tentacles. Their immense brains are clearly visible through the gelatinous goo of their bodies. They are, however, rarely seen in this form, preferring to interact with the world entirely from within their iron spheres.
Where wealth can be earned, those who prefer to take it can be found. While the first of the Belt pirates, the infamous and romanticized Baron Black, got his start in the late 2020s, the “golden age” of Belt Piracy began in the 2030s and continues to this day. With stealthy ships, hidden bases, and spies in every mining consortium and shipping company, pirate fleets can strike suddenly along all the trade routes from the Belt back to Venus, loot and pillage, then vanish back into the ether. Pirate havens in the Trojan asteroids give them places to sell or spend their spoils. They rarely ask and never care who is doing the buying.
While pirates prefer to raid transport craft full of ore, a few target the Belt miners themselves. Each asteroid cluster maintains a network of sensors and radio beacons to detect incoming raiders, and they issue an automated alert to all the nearby rocks if a dangerous-seeming ship is spotted. The local miners, farmers, and merchants respond to the signal by launching their craft, with mining laser-drills converted to short-range but powerful weapons and Solar War surplus atomic guns hastily ducttaped to the larger ships as the principal armament.
The Overlord of Jupiter
The very phrase “the Overlord Of Jupiter” is enough to terrify. Mysterious, implacable, and alien, he rules four worlds with a literal iron fist, and he came close to adding Earth to his collection of planets. Even now, beaten and contained, he is seen as the greatest threat to peace in the system. But who is he? Nobody knows.
All that can be determined is that he came to Io “in a furious storm of fire” an indeterminately long time ago…some scholars estimate it might be 10,000 or even 100,000 years. That he came from outside the Solar System is certain, but from what world, or even what galaxy, none can say but him…and he is not talking. He is humanoid in shape and size, but he has never been seen without his suit of dull ebon armor. His gauntlets contain powerful lasers, and his look…can kill. Earthers visiting him for early diplomatic missions, before his true nature was known, were the first to see what one wag called his “look of disdain” – a devastatingly powerful burst of energy that can destroy an armored man in an instant.
He lusts for power and surrounds himself with beauty. The bleak iron fortress that glowers down upon the Scab of Io is packed with art of all sorts, culled from around the four moons and, recently, from Earth (mostly stolen by pirates). He loves music and dance as well, and he can play the part of the charming host perfectly – it took him but a few days to learn enough Earth culture and language to be able to host a formal dinner to perfection.
Despite the vast armies at his command, and his retinue of elite Callistan guards, he enjoys personal combat. While he can use a small atomic blaster to great effect, his preferred weapon is his infamous monomolecular blade, a sword that he always carries.
Some have commented that, to the Overlord, all of the war and terror he causes is but a twisted game; he often ignores the simple and efficient course of action for the complex and dramatic. It seems as if he is acting a part for an unseen audience, playing a role. The death and suffering that follows in his wake is all too real, and for all his flourishes, games, and seeming blunders, he can kill quickly and efficiently whenever he decides the play is over.
The Children of the Overlord
Despite never being seen outside of his armor, the Overlord has presented many individuals as his “children.” Male and female in almost equal numbers, all those that have been seen are in their late teens to late 20s, perfectly humanoid in appearance, uniformly attractive, and utterly power-mad. They are assigned to oversee rebellious provinces, lead a fleet in a surprise assault, or rule a section of a moon for a limited span. All claim they seek their father’s favor and will someday rule in his stead; most share his predilection for overly elaborate plans, and many followers die horribly when such plans go awry.
The exact nature of such “children” is unknown. Some speculate they are artificial beings or clones; others that they are adopted from the elite of the humanoids of the moons; and still others that they are, indeed, the genetic offspring of the Overlord and Jovian women. The truth may never be known, and the Overlord has planted clues supporting all three theories.