History of the Pilgrim War
(Excerpts from The Student's Encyclopedia, 123rd Edition, HarperCollins, Bonn, TERRA, 2653)
The first major interstellar military conflict, the Pilgrim War was fought between forces of the Terran Confederation and the colonial Pilgrim Alliance from 2631 to 2635, beginning with the Battle of Titan and ending with the fall of Peron. The Pilgrim Alliance surrendered unconditionally on 2629.334, after which all Alliance worlds were absorbed into the Terran Confederation.
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The Pilgrim Alliance
The Pilgrim Alliance was the first organized effort by humanity to colonize other solar systems. Between 2311 and 2588 they colonized 12 systems in Sol and Vega sectors, using hopper-drive “sloships.” Radical religious separatists, the Pilgrims believed that they were the “elect” of humanity, with the exclusive divine right to live outside the Sol system. In 2635 a Pilgrim fleet attacked the Terran Confederation Port of Titan starbase in an attempt to cripple Confed colonization efforts. Over the next four years the resulting conflict brought about the end of the Alliance. In 2635 the Pilgrim Alliance was formally dissolved, and all extant Pilgrim worlds were brought into the Confederation as protectorate colonies.
The historical roots of the Pilgrim Alliance lie in the solar expansion of the 22nd century and the ecocatastrophe of the 23rd. In 2167 the United Nations established Olympia Station, the first permanent human settlement on another planet. Supported by space stations on Phobos and Luna, the Olympia colony became the primary staging area for humanity's migration to the outer planets of the Sol system. By 2215 the U.N. had established further permanent colonies on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, placed research facilities on the satellites of Uranus and Neptune, and landed on Pluto. In that same timespan Terra became ever increasingly reliant on the outer planets for heavy industrial metals.
In 2219 the first of the Great Pandemics appeared. After the loss of Luna Station, the outer planets sealed themselves off entirely from earth. The rules were simple―for the duration of the medical emergency, no one from Terra could travel beyond the Legrange transit stations. Any colonist who chose to return to Terra could not return to space until such time as the quarantine was lifted.
It was possible for the outer planets to seal themselves off, because by this time the colonies were virtually self-sustaining. Oxygen and water could be obtained from the rings of Saturn and the ice caps of the larger outer moons, while mineral resources were prolific on Mars and the asteroid belt, with the resources of the outer moons held in reserve. More exotic compounds were being siphoned from the outer atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn.
Terra, struggling against the ever rising tide of disease and famine, became increasingly reliant on the mineral wealth of the outer planets to sustain the remnants of its faltering production infrastructure. With fossil fuels virtually exhausted and the biosphere turning ever more hostile, Terra became completely dependent on the outer planets for fuel and the raw materials for self contained hydroponic systems that provided. Terra's only safe food supply.
These imports were dropped impersonally down Terra's gravity well, with no physical contact between Terra and her colonies. At first, Terra could trade data and cultural resources for these raw materials. However, the colonies became more self-sufficient and their indigenous culture continued to evolve, while Terra's data and cultural industries fell prey to the general economic and social chaos. The colonies were faced with an ever-increasing demand from Terra, but ever-diminishing expectations for fair payment. Meanwhile, on Terra, popular resentment was growing against the rich, healthy, and aloof extraterrestrials.
The Final Exodus
The emergent culture of the outer planets was ripe for new and radical philosophies. The most successful of these new worldviews arose from the writings of Ivar Chu McDaniel (2257-2311?), an organic chemist and lay- preacher assigned to the Neptune research base.
While stationed on Neptune, in 2294, McDaniel began to experience ecstatic visions. He believed that in these visions he experienced direct communion with the Divine, receiving prophetic revelations. He wrote of his experiences to friends on Mars, who encouraged him to collect and publish his insights.
McDaniel claimed that he had been chosen to receive his visions because he was a spiritually receptive individual located at the very fringe of human settlement of Sol system. McDaniel taught that the prophesied apocalypse had occurred, but divine judgment was confined to Terra itself. Those humans who had migrated to other worlds constituted an “Elect,” destined for physical and spiritual salvation and protection. However, because of the pervasive corruption of Terra, the divine presence could not fully empower the Elect as long as they remained in the Sol system. To complete their salvation, the Elect must undertake the “Final Exodus,” leaving Sol system entirely to seek spiritual and genetic perfection among the stars. In McDaniel's mystical cosmography, Terra was Hell, the universe at large was Heaven, and the remainder of Sol system constituted a sort of Limbo where the chosen remnant could prepare itself.
McDaniel's views gained momentum in 2304, with the discovery of the Morvan Drive (popularly known as the “hopper” drive), which allowed interstellar distances to be covered in a matter of months or years, rather than generations. By 2309 the Outer Planets Policy Council was firmly in the control of the McDanielites. In 2311 the first Morvan Colony ship was launched. Bound for the Sirius system, it contained 1200 colonists, including Ivar Chu McDaniel. The ship never arrived at its destination―orthodox pilgrim theology teaches that McDaniel and his crew were translated directly to a higher plane of existence, from which McDaniel continues to spiritually direct his followers.
Subsequent sloship efforts,were successful, however, to a degree that modern historians find frankly amazing. Missions to Alpha and Proxima Centauri, Cygnus and a second Sirius mission all arrived at their destinations and successfully established self sustaining settlements. By 2350 regular trade routes were being established between Titan and the Centauri colonies. It was during this time that the McDanielists began to refer to those who took passage on the colony ships as “Pilgrims.”
As the interstellar colonies grew, Sol system continued to send out new sloships. It was the sacred duty of all McDanielists to emigrate, and only devout Pilgrims were permitted to participate in the exploration and colonization program. By the end of the 24th century the Exodus was complete all McDanielists had abandoned the Sol system. The effort depleted the Sol system colonies― outer planet populations in 2400 were less than a quarter of what they'd been a century before. Occasionally a semicovert trading mission from Sirius or Alpha Centauri would arrive at Mars or Titan, but little news would be exchanged.
Some time before 2450, the administrative center of the Pilgrim Alliance was established on Beacon, with the spiritual authority headquartered on McDaniel's World. From there, the Pilgrims began to push into the Vega sector.
Meanwhile, back on Terra, the ecocatastrophe had finally played itself out, and humanity began to reestablish its social order. In 2423 the quarantine of Earth was formally lifted and Earth began to once more interact with the rest of the Sol system. While the mineral resources of the outer planets were absolutely essential to the rebuilding of the Terrestrial industrial base, throughout most of the 25th century Solar humanity had little leisure to devote to exploration or pure research.
Nonetheless, the Pilgrims noted with some alarm that Terrestrials were once more venturing beyond the orbit of their own moon. In 2462 a heavily armed Pilgrim sloship entered orbit around Luna, demanding a meeting with Terra's leaders. The result of the following summit was the Treaty of Luna, which established Pilgrim title to all habitable worlds within 50 years sloship travel of Terra. Terra agreed to forsake all sloship exploration of other systems, and the Pilgrims agreed to a policy of strict non interference with Sol system affairs. A few, strictly limited trade agreements were also arrived at.
(lt is believed that sometime around 2500 the Pilgrims discovered the propulsion system that would come to be known as the Akwende, or "jump" drive. However, this development was kept secret from Terra.)
So matters stood for more than a century, until Terra's discovery of the Akwende Drive in 2588. A new breed of humanity began to reach out beyond its own star. Losses of exploratory missions were high far higher than for the early Pilgrim expeditions but 26th century Terra had the wealth and population to easily absorb the losses. Terrestrial explorations respected Pilgrim space, but jump routes were soon established that reached beyond the Pilgrim sphere. Sol began to establish colonies of its own, leaving Vega sector to the Pilgrims but expanding out towards Hawking and Gemini sectors. The Pilgrim alliance vigorously protested this expansion as a violation of the Treaty of Luna, but the newly christened Terran Confederation took the stance that the Luna accords only prohibited sloship colonization and direct encroachment on Pilgrim space, neither of which described Confed's current policy.
In 2615 a militant faction seized political and religious control of the Pilgrim Alliance. To this day, most Confed citizens remain bewildered by the intense Pilgrim hostility towards Terra. It must be understood that, to Pilgrims, Terrestrial humanity was divinely cursed by definition (in fact, although the leadership knew better, many Pilgrim colonists had been led to believe that humanity was completely extinct in the Sol system). That anyone other than the Elect (Pilgrims) should venture beyond the orbit of Pluto was at best blasphemous and at worst diabolic. On a more pragmatic note, the Pilgrim leadership was suddenly faced with having to share a galaxy which they had hitherto regarded as their personal domain.
The Pilgrim War
The Pilgrim leadership decided to cut off Terrestrial incursion at the source. At the time, all jump-capable ships were being built and launched from the Port of Titan space station. The Pilgrims assembled a jump-capable battle fleet and mounted a massive assault on the Port of Titan.
Evidence suggests that the Pilgrims expected to destroy Titan in a quick, surgical assault, then move on to a major show of force against Earth itself before returning to Beacon. On 2631.244, the fleet jumped into the Sol system. The Pilgrims planned for a overwhelming assault on a primitive and unprepared foe.
Instead, the Pilgrims discovered Confed to be strong, rich and ready for trouble. After three days of intense fighting around Saturn, the Pilgrims were repulsed with the Port of Titan station still intact. Believing they had proven their point, Confed offered a renewed round of negotiations with the Alliance. This offer was ignored.
The Pilgrims began an aggressive guerrilla action into Confed space, attacking colony worlds and disrupting shipping. On 2632.017, Pilgrim forces destroyed the Confed military outpost at Celeste, along with a mining colony on that world. One day later, Confed formally declared war against the Alliance.
Confed adopted a defensive posture and mobilized its industrial resources into a full war footing, while the Alliance, encouraged by early successes, continued its offensive against the more remote colonies. Confed colonials on worlds occupied by Pilgrim forces were placed under harsh and oppressive conditions. Mass executions were common, and millions were pressed into slave labor. While colonies still under Confed control were aggressively defended, little effort was expended to liberate occupied worlds. This was misinterpreted by Pilgrim leaders as a sign of weakness.
Instead, Confed was concentrating its resources on assembling a massive invasion force in the Sol system. Confed strategy was to not be drawn into an expensive and drawn-out hit-and-run battle with the Alliance, but instead to mount a coordinated invasion targeted on the center of Pilgrim power. On 2633.235, the Grand Fleet was launched. Over the course of the next five months Centauri, Sirius, Cygnus, Frase, and Bradshaw fell in rapid succession. Faced with mounting expenses and devastating losses, the increasingly desperate Pilgrims staked everything on an all-or-nothing defense of the agricultural colony of Peron, in the Luyten system. The siege of Peron held for seven months, while each side mounted increasingly brutal sorties and counter offensives, each trying to find some crack in the other's defenses.
In the end, it was the Confed industrial machine and the resource wealth of the Sol system that carried the day. On 2634.288 the remnants of the Confed Grand Fleet were reinforced by a new strike force almost half again the size of the original. Peron's defenders were overwhelmed in two weeks of brutal fighting, and when the Confed joint fleets jumped into Beacon system on 2634.359, they were met with an offer of surrender. The Pilgrims offered to immediately stand down their military and dissolve the Alliance government in return for guarantees of the safety of Pilgrim civilians, and certain limited rights to autonomy for non-military Pilgrim worlds, particularly McDaniel, the spiritual center of the Pilgrim religion. After six weeks of negotiation, peace accords were signed at Cygnus on 2635.049, at which time the Pilgrim Alliance officially ceased to exist.
Post-War Pilgrim Remnants
Since the treaty, many former Pilgrims have been re-integrated into Confed society, either as individuals or on a system-wide basis. At this writing, three systems and five colonial enclaves remain semi-autonomous, with severely limited contact with the rest of the Confederation (although they remain subject to CSF observation and inspection against renewed military activity). Shortly after the surrender, the order went out from McDaniel that all remaining Pilgrims were to refrain from any space travel, as a collective penance for the war or, more specifically, for losing the war. Consequently, all practicing Pilgrims have applied for conscientious objector status in the Kilrathi conflict, and all Pilgrim colonies remain officially neutral. So far, even the loss of two Pilgrim systems to Kilrathi aggression, and ongoing Kilrathi incursions into former Pilgrim space, have done nothing to shake the order's neutrality.