So, after a conversation recently with another aspiring author, I feel the need to get my Zodiac Team science fiction story idea back out there. So, here's a question. Would you read it? I'd like to know, so please comment. This is a background piece, establishing the context for the book...
The dawning era of spaceflight is well-documented, mainly because it took so long. The 99 years between humans walking on their own planet’s natural satellite and stepping onto the surface of a neighbouring planet was filled with many false starts. Subsequently, the development of inter-planetary and inter-stellar travel was rapid.
Shortly after the Mars visitation in 2068, the human race received incontrovertible evidence that they were not alone in the universe, making contact with the first of the xenoraces, the Vichin, just three years later. The Vichin brought with them the new physics, including the expansion model of the universe, which enables rapid corespace travel over massive universe-layer distances. Within ten years of reaching Mars, human engineers and physicists had built their own versions of Vichin density-matrices and had begin exploring neighbouring systems, forming diplomatic relationships with neighbouring races.
The new Earth-based hegemony included the rapid colonisation of uninhabited planets in what was subsequently called the first diaspora. This came to an abrupt halt in 2091 when the Palloshan Empire declared war on the colonies of Earth, and attacked and destroyed the nearest colony to recognised Palloshan territory, the water-world Oceanica. Several other human colonies, including HuVee, Terralis and Vista, were conquered, with more than 1 billion human inhabitants enslaved. The human prime system also came under attack, with outposts on Titan and Ganymede bombarded and the artificial township and space-dock Trans-Lunar the focus of a failed invasion.
Earth’s first space war turned on three fronts. Firstly, the failure of the Palloshan invasion into humanity’s home solar system, meant the successful defence of Trans-Lunar becoming a rallying point in the war and showed that the Palloshan could be beaten. Secondly, the technological development of Velocity and Vector Matching (VelVem), which meant that Earth-built spaceships could attack Palloshan spaceships within core-space – something that had never been done before and the Palloshan had no defence for. And, thirdly, the establishment of a pan-species alliance that saw human forces aid three other occupied races – the hectapode Repobohre and the insect-like sister-races of the Glyadduu and Klailaxuu – to emancipate themselves from the Palloshan, as well as persuading the Vichin to enter the war; the first time the Vichin had engaged in warfare for over 30 galactic years (approximately 44,000 human years).
The war was mainly fought ship-to-ship, with most of the Palloshan space navy destroyed in transit by human VelVem attack squadrons. The human forces never launched a planetary invasion, preferring instead to engage in hit and run commando-style attacks against key installations, including several on the sacred homeworld of the Palloshan, Pallo Prime. Before the war, the Palloshan had proudly boasted that no alien had ever set foot on their planet. This changed as several key military and industrial sites were targeted for insertion and destruction. The final commando raid on Pallo Prime switched to targeting a civilian site, the historic birthing temple regarded as the source of the Palloshan race, which was dynamited from inside by the most famous of several semi-autonomous commando units, the Zodiac Team.
With most of its fearsome navy reduced to ash in corespace, and commando raids on Pallo Prime now threatening key social, religious and cultural sites, the Palloshan presented an armistice agreement. It was the first time the Palloshan had ever had to sue for peace and the main outcomes of the were regarded as humiliating in the extreme for the Palloshan ruling elite.
There were dramatic limitations on the Palloshan Empire, with several territories and key space routes surrendered to other races. The armistice gave autonomy and reparations to the Repobohre, Glyadduu and Klailaxuu and significant reparations to the Vichin and the human colonies that were destroyed or occupied. The Palloshan were also forced to sign non-aggression treaties with the victorious races, with non-compliance to be treated as an act of war. This significantly limited where the Palloshan could move or station spacecraft even within their own borders.
As the armistice negotiations slowly unfolded, the Unity government of Earth and the Colonies (UEC) realised there was a danger of extremist elements among the Palloshan high command deciding to reignite the space war rather than lose any more prestige. The UEC therefore offered to recycle most of its larger battleships, including the ten massive weapons platforms that served as AI-enhanced mobile bases for its commando units. There were good economic reasons for UEC decommissioning most of its naval units, they were no longer needed and were expensive to maintain and run.
Unfortunately, at the main decommissioning ceremony, one of the commando teams absconded with mobile base number 8. The team in question were the most decorated and celebrated commando team, the Zodiac Team.
A number of reasons have been postulated for the team’s defection. The attack on the Palloshan birthing temple remained a major source of contention in the armistice agreements, and the team may have been worried that they would be tried for a cultural war-crime. One of the team helped develop the weapons platform and the independent ship-functioning AI nano-cultures that helped the huge vessels run on a minimum number of crew. This emotional attachment may have prevented that crew member from relinquishing the ship. Equally, there may have been a residual feeling of distrust towards the Palloshan in the team, who then decided to keep their weapons platform functioning in case hostilities broke out again.
The absconding team were tried with desertion in their absence and were officially declared enemies of the UEC. However, the versatility of their mobile base and their military and strategic prowess meant their services were frequently in demand in the more remote human colonies and in territories beyond official human control, or controlled by xenoraces.
These are the tales of the Zodiac Team.