The South Sector Bubble (2815)

Five years ago the most serious schism since the Secession Wars hit Pan-Humanic Space, and has given rise to a situation in which the Homeworlds are engaged in military campaigns against one another across the galaxy. The theatres for these wars are breakaway Tyrant colonies and independent worlds, for as yet, no power has dared violate the statutes of the Treaty of Vacillus that prevent the signatories attacking one another’s Homeworlds directly. The catalyst for bursting the South Sector Bubble came about with the collapse of the local economy on the Gateworld of Lakshmi. Lakshmi was a pleasure resort in the south of Draconis Alba, a world based entirely on servicing the fantasies of rich clients passing through that sector of the galaxy, near a large, magnitude 8 grav-well. In the uncertain times of the Age of Tyrants, such entertainments had become ever more fashionable, and many of the rich Gateworlds had heavily invested in the model, transforming their service industries and terraforming large areas of their colonies into Eden-like adventure playgrounds for the hyper-wealthy. “Bread and circuses,” sneered the people of Ironglass, a sentiment echoed by the less well-off majority of mankind. Nevertheless, these Xanadu-like planets were fuelling an economic boom across the galaxy, and Viridia pressed VASA to deregulate them further and further, lowering the tax burden and encouraging their spread. VASA was persuaded by the free-market arguments and complied.

Then came the crash in 2815. Trouble had been brewing under the surface of this enormously lucrative industry for a few years, and some economists said the pleasure planets were guilty of fiddling while the galaxy burned. Clients simply stopped coming to Lakshmi in sufficient numbers to prop up its lavish industry, partly because there was a small and finite group of wealthy clients and they’d seen it all before, and partly because trouble was brewing across the galaxy with Tyrants and brushfire wars, making markets skittish and depressing the galactic economy. As its economy collapsed, Lakshmi was forced to go cap in hand to the Tripartite Alliance to request aid. Viridia wanted to give Lakshmi and other planets like it an unconditional economic bailout. Ironglass refused point blank to help, and Prime also withdrew from the debate. VASA was left to determine a course of action, and it acted counter to what Viridia wished for the future of the galaxy. Rather than bail them out, The Protectorate took control of the failing planets. All had been independent Gateworlds, so VASA now had an even greater stranglehold on the galaxy’s trade network.

The Viridian Assembly could not stand for such a centralising coup, and aligned itself with deregulation and free market factions on the failing Gateworlds. It wasn’t long before they sent in the troops to prop up rebels fighting against the VASA takeover. This was a shock to the system throughout Pan-Humanic Space. VASA and Viridia were seen as the great balancers, each immensely wealthy and powerful in its own way, one with a central control agenda, the other with a laissez faire, free-market agenda. As long as those two powers remained in balance, there was a measure of security and extremes were tempered. But on Lakshmi and scores of failed luxury worlds like it, VASA and Viridia clashed militarily over economic ideology. In a Sec-Net interview, when asked to sum up the terrible mess, one wag from the Senate quipped, “It’s the stupid economy.”