///From the author:this story is presented as if it were a section in a history textbook - a favorite narrative device of mine for these sorts of expositional pieces - and I intend it to reflect the basic foundational history of the Interplanetary Cooperative Administration (ICA), which is the main protagonist faction in The Spacers Saga. This allows for a deep dive into the backstory of the ICA with respect to our next book, The Erebus Effect, and an upcoming novel, The Petrichor Conspiracy. Look for them both here soon!
Second Sunrise Over Phoenix:
The day after Valentine’s Day, 2013, a meteor entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in southern Russia. Fifteen hundred people suffered injuries as a result of the airburst this created, and there were thirty million dollars in total damages. Sixteen hours later, a larger asteroid slid by the Earth, passing within thirty thousand kilometers of an impact that would have caused calamity.
This near catastrophe, however, was only the preamble to the greatest humanitarian crisis in recorded history. On the late afternoon of 25 June 2013, the asteroid 2062 Aten impacted just north of Phoenix, Arizona. The resulting fireball killed over two million people in the southwestern U.S., with millions more injured by secondary effects. The ensuing impact winter led to a period of cold which lasted more than two years, killing at least 700 thousand more people worldwide. All told, nearly three million people died across the globe, leading to an outpouring of humanitarian aid and support for the victims.
In spite of the horror of the so-called Phoenix Event, a new era of productivity emerged in the aftermath. Intensive studies of the debris ejected from 2062 Aten as it disintegrated found that the material had unique properties, making everything from fusion energy to room temperature superconductors seem close at hand. As the new Bureau of Special Investigations took up the task of managing this research, the tech giant Larsen Industries began to corner the market on new tech based upon its findings.
The 2020s were a dynamic and volatile time in world history. While there were certainly extreme highs, including the establishment of bases on the moon, there were also deep lows, such as the war between Russia and Ukraine and the conflict in Iran, which was sparked when longstanding unrest in neighboring Iraq spilled over the borders and inspired the U.S. and NATO to invade the country, leading to a twenty year-long occupation that became a major proxy conflict of the so-called New Cold War.
But even as these conflicts gripped the world, research into the fallout from the Phoenix Event continued apace. The covert Special Intelligence Directorate, formed in secret less than a year after Phoenix was destroyed with the stated goal of minimizing long-term damage from the Event and ensuring that the United States maintained its place of dominance in world affairs, headed up a program that aimed to establish American hegemony in space, by any means necessary. Launched in 2028, it was called Project Petrichor.
The first step in their plan was to trot David Larsen out with the revelation of fusion energy in August 2029, a disclosure commonly referred to as Larsen’s Gambit. The gambit paid off: within three years, the paradigm had shifted away from fossil fuels, with fusion the new dominant force in geopolitics.
What almost no one on Earth understood, including Larsen himself, was that this fusion technology had been made possible by the study of debris left over from 2062 Aten. The anomalous properties of this metal opened the door to commercial fusion, and made David Larsen the richest man on Earth. But their story was still very far from over. To understand why, we must take a trip from the Earth to the moon.
A Very Cold War:
Throughout the early 2040s, NATO began to station more and more of its elite space forces on and in orbit of the moon. The reason given was that China and the Shanghai Pact had been conducting a similar buildup in forces since at least 2036. In 2045, they passed the Mobilization Enabling Act to standardize force deployment, leading many to fear an eventual confrontation between the two superpowers.
What no one anticipated, indeed, what even the Special Intelligence Directorate did not predict, was the second Larsen disclosure of the 21st century. Charles Larsen, son of the late David Larsen and CEO of Larsen-Teigen Industries, learned the horrific truth of the Phoenix Event: that a secretive cabal of U.S. officials had learned of the special properties of 2062 Aten and launched a mission in the early 2000s to redirect it towards the Earth for the purpose of harvesting this uniquely useful material.
The fallout from this disclosure was swift and terrible. Riots broke out in a number of cities, both in the U.S. and around the world, as accusations of treachery and demands for recompense for the souls lost to the Phoenix Catastrophe spread around the world. Within only a year, the unrest had grown so powerful that a populist Senator named Janice Sandusky was able to win the election to U.S. President in a landslide.
What came next shocked even those who claimed to be unsurprised by the Phoenix Disclosure. Only a few months into her already controversial administration, President Sandusky was outed as a member of the neo-Nazi death cult called the Brotherhood of the Black Sun. This intensified the scandals already plaguing the United States, and led to the rapid escalation of tensions between NATO and the Shanghai Pact. Even though Sandusky was impeached and effectively sidelined by August, the damage had been done.
The Guns of October:
As the United States struggled with uncertain leadership following the Sandusky Scandal, China seized on the opportunity to claim dominion over Lunar resources by way of military action. It had long been suspected that America’s interest in the moon was due to the discovery of Phoenix Artifacts, and after the Phoenix Disclosure made this fact known, the Shanghai Pact drew plans to seize the lead in the race for these materials. In early October, they launched an attack on NATO positions at the lunar south pole.
Within hours of this first strike, both sides had mobilized their full strength in the Lunar sphere of influence, leading to a ground and orbital campaign which lasted approximately three weeks. There was constant fear, both in the opposing political leaderships and in the civilian populace, that this conflict would spill over into a terrestrial conflict. A conflict that would likely end with a nuclear exchange.
In the end, the war only ended thanks to backroom wheeling and dealing on the part of the same sorts of politicians whose activities had led it to begin in the first place. The new U.S. administration extended a peace offering to the Chinese, in the form of equal partnership in the fusion project which Phoenix Artifact research had initiated. Facing an ecological disaster of their own, the Chinese eventually agreed to this peace, and the conflict referred to as the Lunar War came to an end on 13 November 2049. Roughly twenty-three hundred military personnel died in the conflict, a small death toll that was felt all over the world.
Over the next few years, the nations involved and their affiliates met at the United Nations to conduct broad talks aimed at standardizing the new status quo in the wake of the War. The most major result of this peacemaking was the adoption of the Tyndall Treaty in December 2051, which established the Interplanetary Cooperative Administration to oversee affairs of governance and commerce beyond Earth.
This organization was founded with the intent of preserving peace and ensuring prosperity for all nations taking part in the exploration and development of space. Two years after it was established, the ICA Council passed the Nakhimov-Herrington Act, an enabling measure which provided a legal basis by which elements of participant nations’ space forces would be combined and reorganized into a new joint force, the Interplanetary Defense Corps, which would fulfill a peacekeeping and security role in Solar Space.
The decade after the adoption of the Tyndall Accords should have been marked by growth, given the framework put in place by the laws it made possible. The reality was more complicated: nations rushed into the gap opened by the deep space frontier, causing a new rise in geopolitical tensions.
Then, in October 2061, a scandal on Mars broke these tensions. The Scientific Advancement and Development Initiative, founded to oversee research bases on Mars, was rocked by an attempt to wipe out the staff at one of its outposts, which an investigation revealed was orchestrated by terrestrial business interests intending to carve up Mars to increase their own wealth. This controversy led to debates at the UN and in the ICA Council, which resulted in the passage of the Brookenden Act in 2062. This landmark Act remains the standard for interplanetary settlement and resource exploitation more than three hundred years later.