2204 Discovery of the Tetrachromatic Brain Areas

Neuroscientists discover that most people can process four basic colors in their brain instead of only known three. The ability to distinguish four primary colors is known from many animals. It is called tetrachromatic vision. Full tetrachromatic vision requires four types of receptors and the appropriate processing capability in the brain. It seems that humans lost one of the four receptor types, the one in the close UV band, in the course of evolution while the brain's processing capability only went dormant.

In fact, some people still have residues of the fourth receptor on the X chromosome. However, the signals are only processed correctly by very few people. While the receptors are missing, the processing brain areas are still present even in most unmodified humans. However, they can be activated by neuroimplants, so that close UV can now be seen as new color, called "brisk". This leads to a much richer color sensation.

Most people already use augmented reality through bio-electronic implants. The AI of the implants overlays virtual objects and supports their users with context information. Meme-filters and child-comps also modify the vision to hide what people do not want to see or should not see.

All these virtual augmentation displays now also employ the fourth basic color.

Just ten years later, the new color "brisk" – and all its mixed colors with blue, green, and red – are an integral part of everyday life.

2205 The Palladian League: A New Era of Corporate Nationhood in Space

The early 23rd century witnesses a series of seismic shifts across the political landscape of the Solar system: the rise of corporate sovereignty and territorial claims across space.

Lingering shadows of the lunar penal colony uprising of 2197 provide a stark reminder of the potential chaos and devastation following the independence bids of off-world colonies. The revolt involved prisoners taking control of crucial facilities, including shuttles, communication systems, and a mass driver. This uprising eventually escalated to a declaration of independence from Earth, which was quelled forcefully despite the rebels resorting to nuclear extortion.

These memories are still fresh as the asteroid base Vortex Prime, located in the belt, boldly declares its independence in 2205. The governments ready to maintain their dominance and drawing lessons from the past rebellion deploy the Space Patrol, a measure that proves logistically challenging due to the vast distance separating Earth from the asteroid belt. While the penal colony uprising on the moon was only a light second and one day travel time away, the effort to get to the belt is much greater and more time consuming.

At this point, Vortex Prime is a highly developed asteroid base. It operates a wide variety of mining scouts ranging from a myriad of small automated analytics drones to massive industrial extraction and processing vessels. Interestingly, a significant number of these units are equipped with explosives intended for prospecting and mining purposes. These range from mass impactors and chemical explosive packages to nuclear devices. Some of these create minor detonations churning up material for spectral analysis from a distance. Larger charges are used for asteroid excavation, to fuse rubble piles into solid shells, or to break off large fragments from massive, solid asteroids. Considering such mining equipment includes remote delivery mechanisms, this hardware is essentially a fleet of nuclear missiles ready for deployment. And due to the long travel time Vortex Prime has ample time to disperse its forces, making it impossible for the Space Patrol to neutralize them. This leads to a prolonged standoff that is finally resolved by negotiations.

The peaceful settlement despite Earth's determination to suppress the independence movement can be largely attributed to Callie Yuen. A veteran diplomat and charismatic leader, Yuen often steps into the limelight to alleviate escalating tensions. She believes in a peaceful coexistence between Earth and the self-governing off-world entities for the age of independence to truly prosper.

In 2208, Vortex Prime achieves a significant milestone as Earth's governments grant the base partial autonomy, giving Vortex Prime sovereignty over all activities taking place outside of Mars's orbit. This event is transformative, signifying a major shift in Earth's approach to handling off-world operations.

The situation further escalates in 2210 when Ryugu Outpost and Helios One Solar Power also declare their independence, emboldened by the example set by Vortex Prime. Both entities are vital cogs in the interplanetary economy diverting concentrated beams of solar power through the solar system. Their enormous solar mirror arrays have the potential to be a devastating force if misused, creating a tense stand-off as Earth governments are forced to recognize their independence rather than risk open conflict.

By 2212, the era of station and base independence kicks into high gear. Quite surprisingly Vortex Prime claims sovereignty over a segment of the asteroid belt. This area spans a 5-degree arc around their base, extending 20 million kilometers both inward and outward from their orbit. Orthogonally to the ecliptic the claim is somewhat ambiguous, but it is understood that it covers all orbits that cross the region described by the arc segment and the distance from the sun. Despite the ambiguity concerning intersecting orbits, Vortex Prime's claim is generally accepted.

Vortex Prime's audacious claim of an exclusive economic zone serves as a catalyst, triggering a cascade of independence declarations. Various entities, motivated by this precedent, rush to stake their claim over portions of the asteroid belt or other resource-rich regions, seeking to secure their slice of the expanding interplanetary economic pie, each with their unique business models lending them the economic strength necessary to sustain their newfound status:

  • Terra Nova Station is a significant player in the interplanetary transit sector. With its commercial hubs connecting various orbital routes by matter streams, the station provides an essential service to vessels traversing the solar system.
  • Serenity Haven operates a vast fleet of asteroid mining ships capitalizing on the solar system's abundant resources.
  • Shangri-La Complex steps into independence with a different angle. A center of technological innovation and research, its patents and cutting-edge developments fuel a significant portion of the solar system's tech industry. Shangri-La, founded by the Indus Valley Federation is the only state operated entity claiming independence this early.
  • The Kalpana Chawla Center is known for its advanced biomedical research specializing in 0G-adaptations using nanite-therapy and synthetic biology. With the independence movement, not only does their primary hub secure autonomy, but an extensive network of offices and medical treatment facilities scattered across the inner solar system also collectively achieve sovereign status making Kalpana Chawla the first distributed corporate nation.
  • Avalon is an intricate network of communication relays and data servers. The backbone of interplanetary connectivity, its services are vital and yield significant revenues. Furthermore, Avalon is a repository of countless secrets belonging to political and economic entities. This wealth of sensitive information furnishes Avalon with a potent, non-violent bargaining chip during negotiations.
  • Curie-Da Vinci Technology is specialized in high-tech manufacturing producing everything between micro-drones and large-scale space habitats. Its products are critical to many other interplanetary ventures.
  • Polaris Pathway Transit Hub is an indispensable player in interplanetary logistics. In addition to providing the bulk of resources for construction of the ultra-long baseline gravity detector, it's in-flight refuelling matter stream network dominates a large segment of the outer asteroid belt.
  • Jade Rabbit Matter Stream Co. and Stellar Silk Road are both covering a full 8th of the belt with their unique drone-based matter stream services made of thousands of mobile streaming hubs.
  • Crucible Shipbuilding is a premier construction network for interplanetary vessels covering the entire value chain from mining, meta-material fabrication, component-production, to the construction of ships and station modules.

These space stations, asteroid bases, and corporate conglomerates play a vital role in the orbital economy. Although legally under the jurisdiction of various Earth nations, they are self-governed by their owners and operators. Their internal security is maintained by dedicated departments or external service providers. Earth's governments do not oppose this wave of declarations of independence. For all major nations, space is of strategic importance and most rely on the services of these companies for their space operations. It is also beneficial that many of the space companies now declaring independence are subsidiaries and affiliates of Earth-based conglomerates. These global companies wield significant influence over Earth's governments, and they are now leveraging their power to stake claims in space.

On Earth, a large portion of the oceans is divided among nations and peoples, and in the open seas, companies and private individuals have long been building stateless artificial islands. However, in space, global corporations now see an opportunity to stake their claims while some are merely compelled to act before others beat them to it. Given the dominance of private companies in space, the march towards independence across the Solar system may have been inevitable, but it's unlikely it would have transpired so rapidly and smoothly without the shrewd efforts of Alexander "Apollo" Ivanov, the head of Helios One Solar Power.

Born in 2162 close to the Moscow radiation zone, Alexander Ivanov was a bright child in an impoverished family. After his bot-mechanic father's death, his mother struggled to make ends meet, often working double shifts as a cleaning swarm-pusher to provide for her two children. Alexander's auto-tutor reported on his brilliance. This won him a scholarship with cybernetic edu-upgrades and individual lessons at the University of Landskrona, supported by Elysium Industries, a top telecom company.

Alexander joined Elysium after graduating, quickly ascending to Head of Research and Development. There, he earned the nickname "Apollo" for his numerous breakthroughs in solar-powered communication drone swarms. Despite his success, Alexander harbored a grander vision: harnessing the Sun's power to transform the Solar system's energy supply. He persuaded Elysium's board to pivot towards solar energy production in close solar orbit. Under Alexander's leadership, Elysium became Helios One Solar Power, revolutionizing interplanetary energy logistics with solar mirror arrays, providing sustainable power to distant outposts and energy intensive industrial operations. This move was a significant gamble, but it paid off as the demand for beamed solar energy skyrocketed, establishing Helios One as major player in the interplanetary economy.

Then in 2210, taking a page out of the Vortex Prime playbook, Alexander declared Helios One Solar Power's independence as a sovereign nation. Although Vortex Prime had established a precedent, there was no certainty that Earth's nations would acknowledge this newfound independence or refrain from retaliatory action. Recognizing this, Ivanov had already allied with other prominent interplanetary service providers years prior, forming a league of autonomous space stations and asteroid bases. The birthplace of this league was Pallas, the headquarters of Vortex Prime.

When Vortex Prime stakes their territorial claim two years later, Alexander's Helios One quickly follows suit with a claim to a sector of the sun's close orbit. These dual territorial declarations initiated the wave of independence in 2212. Numerous economically independent stations desired sovereignty, eager to stake their own territorial claims rapidly. While Vortex Prime could be viewed as an isolated incident, Helios One's declaration of independence and subsequent claim to a portion of the sun's orbit made it evident to everyone that the scramble for interplanetary territories had begun.

In reality, Alexander Ivanov of Helios One had masterminded and orchestrated this entire sequence of events over an extended period. Each move was a calculated escalation of the previous one, with the aim of peacefully transitioning from a solar system of space stations governed by various nations to one divided amongst sovereign corporations, while successfully bypassing resistance from Earth's governments.

As the 23rd century unfolds, a new solar system order emerges: a network of advanced, economically autonomous bases and space stations. They represent the backbone of the interplanetary economy. The vast majority is owned by global giga-corporations, gaining independence from Earth's governments by securing sovereign rights in outer space.

Helios One stands literally as a beacon of the emerging system of interplanetary corporate nation states with Alexander "Apollo" Ivanov as the founding father of the Palladian League, an interplanetary alliance that would dominate the Solar system's political landscape for the coming century. Callie Yuen, the negotiator from Vortex Prime, plays a pivotal role as the Palladian League's inaugural president.