2587 Time of the Alien Wars

Aliens battle for the Solar system. Whoever controls the Sol system receives humanity's tribute. Their weapons far surpassing those of humanity, humans can only watch.

The Saturn moon, Epimetheus, the main base of the Artu Domain in the Sol system, is under attack. Humans observe kinetic assaults, explosions, and swarms of mechs. Ships from interstellar space enter the Saturn system at high speeds. They transport pods with oversized engines. These pods decelerate sharply within hours to a zero-intercept with Epimetheus and release drone swarms attacking the moon. Other small Saturn moons see additional military forces intervening. The battles soon encompass the entire Saturn ring system both attackers and defenders deploying high-tech weapons, with capabilities far beyond what humanity can produce.

It is unclear if those mechs are drones, bots with sapient AI, or shells with uploads. The parties involved in the conflict are equally mysterious. Obviously, the Artu Domain is fighting other aliens. But whether these are internal or external enemies remains unknown. As far as humans know, the Artu Domain is the dominant power in the interstellar vicinity. But apparently, it is not unchallenged.

The initial wave of battles lasts several weeks. Then, a pause ensues. The Artu Domain orders the reconstruction of damaged facilities. A few months later, new forces arrive, and the battles resume. The involved factions are indistinguishable all parties using similar technology without any markings. Battles flare up repeatedly. The struggle seems to be for control of the tribute system and its interplanetary infrastructure.

The humans of the Solar system are mere spectators. Occasionally, human vehicles and settlements get caught in the crossfire. In such cases the unknown adversaries do not show any consideration.

Solar news agencies extensively report on these events. But this is risky, as battles often expand suddenly moving their focus. Frequently, observation ships and drones from news services find themselves caught between rapidly shifting fronts. The warring parties show no regard for uninvolved Solar vehicles and facilities. The interplanetary economy is repeatedly affected. The battles, varying in intensity, span over 25 years. Half of the interplanetary population eventually finds themselves in the midst of the Alien Wars. Over time, there are approximately 30 million casualties among the bios and uploads of the Solar humanity, with only 1.5 million being final.

Occasionally foreign forces also occupy human facilities like civilian cargo terminals, orbital resource storages, and industrial fab arrays. Resistance by humans and their military forces proves to be futile. Sometimes, the foreign forces suddenly withdraw when attacked. In other instances, they defend themselves very effectively or even counterattack with devastating consequences for human militaries and civilian infrastructure.

All these foreign forces seem to be fully mechanized. Humans rarely see any bio-sophonts. Command units with bio-sophonts, mechs with upload crews, and semi-autonomous drones look almost identical. However, they can sometimes be distinguished by their performance parameters and behavior. Based on statistical analysis of tactical behavior, communication patterns, and reaction times, it is believed that those foreign troops are commanded by few bio-sophonts in mech-shells that are intermixed with accelerated uploads, who in turn control vast numbers of semi-autonomous drones.

Over the subsequent 13 years, facilities undergo repeated damage and destruction. The tribute system and its transport capacities are primarily affected. The freight terminals of Epimetheus are contested a total of 25 times. Eight times they are completely destroyed having to be rebuilt. Most of the reconstruction is undertaken by interplanetary economic enterprises as part of the tribute system. Overall, it's estimated that a third of all tributes are channeled into infrastructure construction and restoration, primarily benefiting the interplanetary sector of the Solar economy. This effectively acts as a substantial subsidy for the interplanetary economy, with Earth shouldering most of the expenses.

Many people on Earth are very unhappy with the situation. It has been only 20 years since the System War ended with expansionist states prevailing over neo-socialists. Centuries earlier, in the 24th century, the Earth Union had chosen isolation, recognizing that interplanetary endeavors would drain Earth's resources rather than support the home planet. In a bid to prioritize environmental restoration and a sustainable economy Earth's politics had separated the planet from the orbital economy. The measures proved effective as, after centuries of environmental degradation, Earth began its recovery a century later. However, before this healing process could conclude, expansionist groups on Earth and interplanetary communities united, forcefully terminating Earth's isolation through the System War, a catastrophic civil conflict that led to Earth's reintegration with the broader Solar community.

Earth's initial self-imposed isolation had been precisely to sidestep the role of being the primary financier for interplanetary growth without reaping its benefits. Now, the dire predictions of Earth's neo-socialists are coming true. Under the looming threat of the Artu Domain, Earth is once again compelled to financially support the Solar economy, funding the interplanetary expansion that depletes Earth's resources without any tangible returns. Earth's neo-socialists that had disappeared into obscurity after the loss of the System War gain new strength reigniting old tensions between expansionists and new-socialist environmentalists leading to multiple wars among Union member states on earth. These wars are a consequence of the tribute system entirely being fought between humans on earth.

In space however it's the aliens doing the fighting among themselves. While those battles frequently erupt in planetary orbits, the planets' surfaces remain largely unscathed. For Earth's inhabitants, tales of explosions, destruction, and losses in far-flung regions of the Solar system seem as distant as news of disasters on other continents. For Earth's citizens, these events appear in the news as isolated episodes, bearing little relevance to their daily lives. Earths new wave of civil wars are much more serious for the billions on earth.

The only exception is a huge explosion in the South Atlantic which leads to a devastating tsunami on the coast of Patagonia. The city of Montevideo is completely swept away. The mouth of the Rio del la Plata focuses the floods, causing a 30-meter-high water wall in Buenos Aires. In Rio de Janeiro, the wave is still 10 meters high. All of South America's coasts are heavily devastated and historical Buenos Aires is gone forever.

This catastrophic event is believed to be an accident, not a targeted strike. In fact, a heavy carrier, approaching at 50 kilometers per second, lost control and crashed into Earth. The tsunami was triggered by the kinetic impact and an antimatter explosion after containment loss with a 500-megaton equivalent, the largest explosion ever recorded.

After the tsunami disaster on New Year's Day 2601, the battles in space cease for eight years.

As is later revealed, Earth was deliberately spared in all combat actions to not violate the "imperial convention for the protection of category 19 peoples". The South Pacific incident was in fact a negligent violation of those imperial regulations.

At the time humanity was unaware of both the Interian Empire and Kisor as a regional center. Humans only knew the Artu Domain, which claimed to be the regional power. But the Artu Domain was just a fiction to coerce humanity into accepting the tribute system without much resistance.

The true interstellar power is not the Artu Domain but the Interian Empire, with the Kisor Twin planets overseeing the local sector on the empire's behalf. The alien factions warring in the Solar system, being subjects of the Empire themselves, largely operate within the Empire's legal boundaries. From the Empire's viewpoint, the establishment of the Artu Domain and its tribute system for the entire Sol system, including Earth, verges on overreach. But the closest imperial authorities on Kisor are far away, and the Empire's typically lenient interpretation of its rules permits the Artu Domain's extortionate practices. The Empire condones theft, extortion, and collateral damage in systems inhabited by unregistered species, provided "innocent civilian sophonts largely remain unscathed". But the South Pacific incident crosses a red line. Following this catastrophe, the alien factions dread potential scrutiny by Kisoran inspectors, which could uncover additional transgressions.

It is not uncommon for advanced cultures to exploit unregistered species. Representatives of these advanced societies often appropriate the assets of defenseless civilizations. The Empire cannot maintain a presence everywhere and the Artu Domain's facade as an interstellar authority at least ensures the tribute system operates smoothly, inflicting minimal harm on the Sol system's indigenous humans. One might even argue that humans, having not actively resisted the Artu Domain, contribute willingly.

On the other hand, the Artu Domain's claim of being the dominant interstellar power is presumptuous. The fact that the Artu Domain is a fluctuating alliance of groups with questionable integrity does not help its case. In the eyes of Kisor's imperial officials, the Artu Domain is a conglomerate of buccaneers, mercenaries, and pirates. They are allowed to operate as long as they stay under the radar and don't jeopardize the Empire's interests.

So. the Artu Domain's desire to remain inconspicuous is the main reason why they only extract a minor fraction of the solar gross social product. From the Empire's perspective, the Sol system's economy is primitive and marginal. The tribute system claims merely a few percent of it. While these tributes feel substantial to humanity, they are negligible for established interstellar powers. Although the Artu Domain's actions are technically against the rules, the Empire turns a blind eye. Nevertheless, the Artu Domain tries to steer clear of confrontations with imperial authorities.

But this becomes difficult when there are significant civilian casualties. An explosion of 500 megatons on the surface of a densely populated planet clearly has genocidal potential. The imperial authorities of Kisor are especially sensitive to acts of genocide involving weapons of mass destruction on planetary surfaces, even if those affected are only indigenous humans in a distant, backward, unregistered star system like Sol.

Consequently, the alien factions reach a consensus on a moratorium, halting hostilities and agreeing on the division of the tribute system's proceeds.

This arrangement remains concealed from humanity. To humans, the Alien Wars seem like an uncontrollable force of nature. They are powerless against them and do not understand what is happening. No one knows when and where the aliens' battles will occur.

Nevertheless, attempts are made to use statistical methods to anticipate potential threats. The most accurate predictions come from models that depict a multitude of minor players with fleeting alliances. These models suggest alliances typically last three weeks unchanged, while dominant factions can uphold their supremacy for roughly four months before another shifting alliance assumes control.

Much later it is later revealed that the statistical models were remarkably accurate. In fact, a multitude of Artu clans vied for dominance within the Sol system. The f96427 clan that originally established the Artu Domain managed to hold its ground for a few years. However, in 2585, f96427.11 (f96427 after 11 power shifts within the clan) had to share its claim with an alliance of several other clans called a5713 by later human xenologists. This alliance, with its ever-shifting membership ranging from a5713.1 to a5713.45, faced challenges from and defended against factions like a2003 and f8563, only to eventually yield to another group, a301.

The events are later reconstructed by historians from Artu. It is not until 250 years later that humans learn these details, thanks to the release of the documentation The Barbarians of Sol by the media clan u54273 in 2826.