One by one the ships exited the gate from Alpha Centauri into a new system that they had not yet named, escaping an invasion of the free bases of the Kuiper Belt and a war that had now raged for decades. The group was only loosely aligned, there being multiple people who had sought to take overall command, with no agreement except that there were now four groups of people who were part of the large armada that now assembled in this new land. Immediately, to those who had powerful sensors and understood what was going on, there was a huge degree of chatter about the large number of portals in this place. While the system had a pleasing enough sun and what looked like at least four planets that would easily settle many billions of people each on super-earths that already looked to have vegetation of the scans could be believed, what was most remarkable was the sheer amount of portals that the system had, indicating that this system was at the base of some sort of massive system of high-speed travel across the galaxy. This discovery, as might be imagined, caused a great deal of conversation to develop and the leader of the group called for a conference on his flagship.
At first sight, Emperor _________ I was not what one would expect from the leader of a large flotilla of ships. Unlike some of the other potential leaders of this fleet who were now about to discuss what to do in light of what had been seen, he had not come from a long line of leaders. In fact, his family line had been somewhat obscure until a couple of generations ago, when his grandfather had been fortunate enough to rise from the ranks of a humble flight lieutenant upon having discovered the portal through which they had recently gone. Indeed, it was his personal and advance knowledge of this route and this place which had accounted for much of the power that the family had acquired over the past few generations, after having been obscure refugees from earth during the time of the persecution of the twenty-first century that had led them to abandon earth to seek a safer home among the stars. This history was relatable to the people in the ships, who were all more or less in the same situation. Thus the Emperor, despite his noble title, represented a certain populist strain in t hat his family had earned their power through deeds and he could be expected to look out for the interests of the common people. Those who had different ideals in mind, obviously, were not as keen to place themselves under his rule, but were still awed by the natural sense of command the young emperor had.
“I would like to keep this meeting relatively short,” the emperor said to the men who were assembled in the conference room of his flagship. “It is obvious that the presence of numerous gates here drastically complicates our efforts to settle here and offers a way that we can work together in a fashion that does not require my ruling over anyone who would rather be ruled in another way.” Thus alluding to the divisions of power, he made his offer. “I propose that the scanning of these gates go on as soon as possible so that we may know which areas are the best for settlement. Since we cannot allow the government of earth to take over this area, it is obvious that we will need to be as united and as strong as possible and be fruitful and multiply and fill the empty space that exists wherever we can reach it.” To this the others nodded their assent. Two of the other groups of people involved came from traditionalist Catholic backgrounds and could be relied upon to do their duty and raise up large and fruitful families to settle planets and to populate this area of space beyond the ability of the people of earth to take it over.
What do you propose we do, then, about the dozen or so gates that can be reached from here? Here the Count Braganza spoke on behalf of his Portuguese-speaking people who made a sizable contingent of about a fifth of the armada. “Well, you are the second biggest part of this group,” the young emperor said, and I believe it would be good if the second choice of system goes to you for you and your people to settle under your rule. I believe our first choice will be to settle in this system, but I believe it will be important for all of us to cooperate together in the defense of these portals, so that anything coming from earth that would attack us would meet a very deadly end.” With this the others present grimly nodded, seeing the wisdom and moderation in what he said. At this point, the noble gentleman from Liechtenstein spoke up, “And I suppose you will allow me the third choice of which gate to use to settle my people in a land that will bring the Holy Roman Empire to the stars without interference?” “I do indeed,” said the emperor solemnly. At this point the young man who had not spoken to this point piped up. “I do not wish to ask too much and I did not wish to compete for overall leadership of this large armada, but I represent people who have no imperial ambitions, merely enough space to be left alone to ourselves.” “And you will have that, so long as you are willing to support the common defense of these gates from attack. “That will not be any difficulty,” he replied.
At this, the emperor nodded to one of his advisers, and a discussion then followed about the building of a massive base at the point where the armada now stood, with docks for shipping, and with each of the groups with their own sovereign space in the larger cooperative whole, able to approve ships for entrance into the gates to their areas. This was acceptable to the leaders, who saw again that the young emperor wished to provide for the common defense of all and their well-being but did not desire to control everything, and so everyone appeared on the best of terms, and a compact between all four of their peoples followed, to be signed and then brought to each of their respective groups. At this, everyone rose from the table and before leaving, the emperor had it in mind to do something that had perhaps never been done before, and he leaned his forehead against each of the other leaders for a few minutes and bid them a fond farewell. After they left, he called for those who were captains of the various ships in his part of the armada to discuss the treaty and its terms and to make plans about where to go next, and while waiting for them to come he sat by himself and thought for a while about what had happened. He could still feel the struggle that was going on around Pluto and other planets, so he knew that the fleets from earth would likely be delayed a while before reaching Alpha Centauri. He hoped they would have enough time to protect the settlements here and to build up a force that would be capable of defending themselves, and if necessary counterattacking and making sure that earth’s troubles would not follow them here if it could be helped.
It did not take long for his trusted captains and advisers to come and look over the treaty that had been agreed to. This was not a surprise, because the terms had been agreed to before. As it happens, the Emperor had an advantage over the others because of his knowledge of the area, including the knowledge that there were other gates. He had discussed this with the captains as they figured that once the other groups knew that there were other gates that they would want self-government rather than to be ruled under a coalition government where he was in charge. “You really had their number, didn’t you,” spoke the Norwegian captain of his flagship. “I suppose I did.” “Do you think this will be acceptable to them?” I do. Now that everyone sees all the gates everywhere, they know that if the earth forces take control of this area that nowhere in the galaxy will be safe, and so they will be motivated to defend this area. And there is enough of the galaxy that we can all be free and not have to fight each other over dominance, even if I think we will end up being the largest of the groups and increase that all the further once we settle this and other systems.
“All of the these gates being here suggests a problem, though.” “Indeed, someone had to make these gates, and that someone may not be happy that we’re around using them.” There was a bit of nervous fidgeting in the conference room. “I’m aware of that as an issue, but I think that we should explore and use these gates as best as we can and seek to understand them, maybe even learn how to build some of them ourselves. And if we find the beings who made these gates, I am sure we will have some explaining to do, but so will they. And let us hope that the conversation goes as peacefully, if it happens, as did the one we just had.” The others nodded their heads in agreement. “There’s no need for us to catastrophize before things happen. It may be that we will need to have a conversation with a very advanced galactic empire, but such an empire built a gate only a few years worth of flying from us, so they may be preparing for us just like we are preparing for them. That is, of course, if we end up finding them at all. They may not be around, or may not want to be found, and if that is the case there is no use worrying for nothing, though being prepared to show gratitude for the gates that they left for our use would not be out of order.”
“Ay,” was the general consensus to this, as the captains figured that there were enough problems. “What do we do next?” asked his Norwegian flagship captain. “First, we wait to see that the treaty is acceptable to the other parties. At that point we will leave behind some builders to start working on the base here to defend ourselves and this system while the rest of us move towards the planets. Once we are close to the inhabitable planets, I will propose that we split up to settle different planets with more or less homogeneous groups of people with various staples, based on the climate present on the planets, of course, and we will work out questions of self-government as we build new settlements and prepare to massively increase our population generation over generation to a point where we will be able to start colonizing other worlds. We will likely want to use the starbase we are building here as a base for further exploration and settlement, so we will need some people who are prepared to do scout work while the rest engage in putting down roots.
“Do you think we’re going to have enough time to build up strength here?” asked one caution captain. “I hope so,” was the imperial reply. “Right now our people want a safe place of their own, but I do not think it will take very long before our people see the possibilities of this place as the base for a massive empire. Look at what happened to the United States, for example, or for other colonial areas, like even Russia, which before too long massively expanded their borders and sought control over distant lands. The refugee, once he has found a home, quickly wants to expand into the empty space that is all around him, and his children and grandchildren forget that they were refugees if they ever remembered in the first place. Our people may not be born imperialists, but they will become imperialists soon enough, and the fact that the gate itself can only accommodate one ship at a time will make it possible for us to build up enough forces to defend ourselves, if necessary, and maybe even to counterattack. Let’s hope so, at least.” He said, after a brief pause, to widespread agreement as they waited for the treaty to be agreed to, which he did not think would take very long at all.