2997 Progress in the Reconquista of Sol.
Reshumana, the alliance for the liberation of the Solar system from the Dellian rule, gets its first base at Saturn. Resources for activities in the Solar system which had to be transported over interstellar distances until recently, can now be procured locally. This is an important step for humanity in their fight to retake the home system.
-- 2967, 30 years earlier
A man is walking down the ramp onto the dock of the Titan terminal. He is tall, athletic, and charismatic. As yet, he is a nobody. No one knows him. But that's about to change. He's a Dellian, and he's going to rise in the Dellian hierarchy. That's what he was made for. He has a multitasking consciousness, accelerated nerves, association boosters, the Dellian version of the ninja upgrade, and genetically engineered genius-level skills in the field of memetics. In other words, he is very convincing. He knows how to prevail and he will prevail. It will take him 20 years to reach the top of the Dellian hierarchy at Saturn. Then he will become Satirax, the protector of Saturn. He thinks he comes from the Dellian capital, the floating habitats of Venus. But this is an implanted memory. In fact, he originates from a secret project of the memetic defense service of Valerius.
The fact that Satirax, the Dellian protector of Saturn, leases a base to humans seems like a miracle. But this lease is the result of religious and economic developments in the outer system that put Satirax under financial pressure. And it is the result of a long running secret operation.
Handing a base to the Human Reconquista threatens the Dellian dominance in the Solar system. Satirax is aware of this risk, as are all the other protectorates in the system including his superior, the Protector of Sol at Venus. However, the control of their own sphere of power is more important for any protector than the rather abstract Dellian dominance in the entire system.
The compensation for Satirax includes technical support for his ageing infrastructure and one third of all raw materials mined by Reshumana operations. The Protector of Saturn needs this deal urgently because his protectorate is in economic troubles. The machinery taken over after the conquest is now a good 200 years old and poorly maintained. Equipment looted at the height of the techno-barbarian wave is even over 300 years old. Although autofabs and repair swarms can run technology for a long time, wear and tear are becoming ever more noticeable. At the same time, the population is in decline. There are not enough skilled workers among the human slaves to maintain all the equipment manually or at least to keep the maintenance bots running. The decline of the economy has also reduced the volume of interplanetary trade between the outer and the inner system. Luxury goods from the inner system are not affordable to Saturn anymore.
Saturn's difficulties are compounded by a religiously motivated embargo by the other outer protectorates. Around the year 2990, Satirax and his court had converted from Special Uthoism to General Uthoism. The teachings of General Uthoism are considered sacrilege by the followers of Special Uthoism. From the point of view of Special Uthoism, the General ones are worse than infidels, because they not only ignore the teachings of Uthoism, they supposedly even sabotage them.
At the core of Uthoism (Hindi, "to rise") is the idea that life is a mandate of the universe to strive for the highest happiness. By attaining the perfect state of happiness, the individual can leave their worldly shell and become a transcendent being in harmony with the universe.
Citizens in prosperous civilizations – and basically all rich people in technologically advanced societies – are essentially immortal. They can live very long lives in biological bodies, later with artificial organs and technical replacements, and finally as uploads in android bodies or in simulations. Death is rather uncommon. This fact diminishes the appeal of religions promising eternal life or rebirth after death. Instead, many religions tend to aim for a particularly remarkable end after a long and well lived life. This is also the case for Uthoism, where believers intend to become one with the universe at the peak of happiness. In practice, there is often biochemical help at play to achieve the desired transcendent state.
Orthodox Uthoists rejecting artificial aids try to achieve happiness through their social status and the power that comes with it. As a result, they strive for the highest levels of Dellian hierarchy. In Orthodox Special Uthoism only the best and most powerful reach the highest state. Orthodox Uthoists are obsessed with power and utterly ruthless, believing that happiness is a zero-sum game. Others must lose for them to win. They believe that only a few individuals can reach the transcendent state. And since happiness and wealth are regarded as two sides of the same coin, the powerful have the best chance to achieve their religious goals. In turn, they assume for themselves a greater entitlement to happiness and transcendence. Conversely, since lower ranks and slaves have basically no chance to achieve transcendence through power, they are even denied basic happiness and modest well-being.
General Uthoism, on the other hand, does not regard happiness as the result of worldly success. According to them any sophont can aspire to transcendence, even slaves, although their path is obviously longer and harder. Followers of General Uthoism are hated and persecuted by the Specials, since the Specials believe that the Generals reduce their own chance of transcendence by allowing too many "Unworthy Ones" to follow "The Path".
Among Dellians, Special Uthoism is the dominant belief. Many Specials strive to improve their own chances by preventing others from happiness. Human slaves in particular, as well as low Dellian ranks, are treated poorly or even mistreated in order to make Their Path more difficult. Each level of the Dellian hierarchy tries to oppress the subordinate level. Even many slaves have adopted Uthoism or they at least act accordingly to avoid attracting negative attention. As a result, the practice of mistreating subordinates extends into the ranks of slaves making Uthoism not only a religion, but also an efficient instrument of oppression.
By converting to General Uthoism, Satirax betrays Uthoism from the perspective of the Dellian majority. Under Satirax's rule, all sophonts are allowed to follow The Path. For Orthodox Uthoists, this reduces their chance of transcendence. They therefore fight against Generals like Satirax. For this reason, many protectors of the outer system are supporting a trade embargo against the Saturn protectorate. They are trying to bring down Satirax in order to install an Orthodox Uthoist as protector of Saturn.
In his desperation, Satirax opens his protectorate to Reshumana by allowing humans to establish a base in his domain. An important step in the centuries long effort to reconquer the Solar system.
-- 2987, 10 years earlier
A woman is walking down the ramp. She is beautiful, stunningly beautiful, not to humans, but to Dellians. To Dellians, she is a goddess. She is intelligent, attentive, entertaining, reserved, sometimes lively and wild. She is the personified Dellian ideal of beauty. Her personality is the result of 200 years of optimization, of simulations, tests, and iterations.
The original genetic template is based on millennia of natural selection in the palaces of Dellia, long before Dellian warriors boarded Interian starships to conquer the sector. The gene line was then additionally prepared for her mission, in the laboratories of HR-Technologies on Valerius. Advanced solar genetics was applied to Dellian biology. The gene line – its Dellian name means Andromeda, our neighboring galaxy – had long been an ideal for their species. On Valerius, she received additional empathy boosters, intelligence upgrades and the genetic programming to love her mission. She was trained with the most advanced methods and grew on challenges set according to plan into a confident character.
An important part of her life has always been the belief in happiness for all beings. She was raised to believe that all people should have a chance to rise and become one with the universe, in other words: a mild form of General Uthoism. She is the product of a long series of tweaks, in the gene template and in the formative experiences of her youth. She is perfect, perfectly made. Perfectly made for one person: the protector of Saturn. She is the gift of a Marui merchant prince to the ruler of the Saturn system. Her mission: to convince Satirax of the true faith.
Valerius was repeatedly hit by techno-barbarian raids early on. The attackers came with automatic weapon systems stolen from Interian imperial depots. The defenses of Valerius did not stand a chance. That's why some people thought that it was necessary to change the approach. Unable to compete with the enemy's technology, Valerius has been trying to find ways to exploit weaknesses in the starship crews. And some projects concentrated on their leaders.
The Spartacus Project intended to harness advanced solar genetic technology for the alien biology, especially for Dellians and other species from the Badlands. The project developed gene templates for optimized individuals. Not everyone on Valerius was convinced that giving the Dellians perfect leaders was a good idea. But when you know something well enough to perfect it, then you also know its weak points. And the products of the Spartacus Project have one specific weakness: a genetically encoded affection for Andromedas.