Chronicles of Orion's Arm
A Brief History Of The Universe
Humanity finally left their planet in the mid 2000s, spending a century expanding into their solar system before it was possible to create artificial wormholes and navigate to the stars. Much of this development was due to corporate efforts in an attempt to monetize colonies on other worlds, such as Titan’s methane plants and Mars’ shipyards. High-velocity ion drives made early exploration take weeks instead of years, and more than once Earth nearly destroyed itself due to wars created by the upheaval of nations over economic changes brought about by colonial possessions. By the end of the ‘Era of the Solar System,’ over twenty of the original nations of the 21st century had placed some form of colonial possession somewhere in the solar system, though not all the colonies survived, and several of the countries re-formed as well.
So when discoveries of the 21st century (begun with the discovery of plasma ‘escaping’ from a black hole in 2015) led to Einstein’s theory being revised (and FTL “wormhole” drive invented) in the 22nd, humanity was given a diversion from trying to kill each other by over two dozen nations and corporations beginning mankind’s race to the stars. The 23rd gave birth to the ‘Corporate Years,’ as nations and global corporations became one, and corporate take-overs frequently meant you could be a citizen of one state one day, and a resident of a new country the next. Countries, corporations, and cultures blended so fast at the speed of cyber that by the dawn of the 24th, the world had largely combined into a single global state run by many corporations with a seat in the government in the Geneva-Lyon-Turin metroplex.
By then, economies of scale made it so that even individuals with means could fund colonial enterprises without the government being involved. Many did, whether from a desire to break free of the homeworld government, to get a fresh start, or simply out of a romanticized desire for exploration. Many of these disappeared, but several were rediscovered years later as their own stellar or interstellar governments. The further the diaspora spread from Earth, the more difficult it became to maintain a single rule over all of humanity. The government reverted to a corporate subsidized aristocratic rule, complete with a return to a single hierarchy based around an Emperor and vassals in order to maintain rule over so many disparate colonies. The colonial era of the 1600s had returned nearly a millennium later.
The Terran Union expanded outward from there, colonizing world after world, star after star. Many colonies were little more than rocky, barely habitable mining colonies to send raw materials back to Sol, but others were tolerable for farming, and even large-scale habitation. After many years, production moved away from Sol as well, finally rendering the homeworld a satellite of the Union.
There was a schism; a civil war; colonization extended out faster than the empire could keep up. In addition to two human empires, there became many independent worlds and small clusters as well. Humaniti eventually ran into alien intelligence as well, most not as developed as humaniti, a few about as advanced. Several had their own empires as well. Expansion slowed as humaniti conflicted with the alien empires it ran up against. The smaller races were absorbed; the larger, after years of conflict, borders were negotiated between them. A millennium later, and the great expansion had just about ended.