I’m using the name “The Third Imperium”–because who doesn’t love the name Third Imperium! I love the idea of layers of civilization rising and falling.
But my setting has nothing to do with GDW’s Official Traveller Universe.
Instead, we get this:
FROM THE ASHES
A thousand years ago the Long Night fell, leaving many worlds in ruins. Many worlds survived as well, but did so without the ability of space travel or communication with other worlds.
Tales of the Old Empire remained, bolstered by ancient cities and space stations floating in the sky over head and seen at night.
But for the most part survival took precedence. Over time the artifacts of the past—those few that remained—became an unnoticed part of landscapes across a dozen worlds.
The world of Bavraa, however, though crippled by the Long Night, never stopped thinking and dreaming about the past glories of the Old Empire. The nobles houses of the Bavraa worked tirelessly to repair its fallen technology and reclaim the glories of previous generations.
Bavraa began a renaissance of the Old Empire 200 years when it began construction of its own Jump Drives.
Merchants and diplomats traveled to nearby worlds, announcing the rebirth of the Old Empire (or The Empire). In the time since it has expanded its reach, heading out across the Bavraa Subsection.
The nobles of Bavraa do not see themselves as starting a new Empire, but rather that they are building a seamless continuation of the Second Imperium. Or, as it is often called, The Old Empire.
THE OLD EMPIRE (BAVRAA)
Bavraa culture demands loyalty to the bloodlines going back to the Old Empire. Social status along genetic lines is a given and noble houses are intertwined in both family and loyalty. (Proper mates from outside the royal families are sometimes brought into the fold to ensure healthy gene pools—often without consent.)
The Bavraa noble houses are certain that they, and all the people of Bavraa, are the true heirs of the Old Empire and rulers of the worlds around them. And currently they are the only source of any interstellar technology in the region.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE THIRD IMPERIUM
One hundred years ago the first scouts arrived from the Third Imperium. The scouts kept their distance, stunned to find several worlds had survived the Long Night and were rebuilding their interstellar technology independant of the Third Imperium. Fifty years later the first envoys from the Third Imperium made contact with the leaders of various worlds.
Some contacts went better than others.
The ruling houses of Bavraa declared as one that all worlds for twenty parsecs around Bavraa were off limits to all Imperial ships and troops. Any ships or troops bearing the Imperial Sunburst within those boundaries would be seen as declarations of war.
A NOBLE HOUSE OF THE THIRD IMPERIUM ON DAVRAS
The native T’Kenkar of Davras, which had weathered their ice world’s hostile environment with ease and helped protect millions of humans over the centuries of the Long Night, invited the Third Imperium to establish a base on their world. They did this even though Davris falls within the boundaries Barvaa declared off-limits for the Third Imperium.
Most people believe the T’Kenkar did this to slow the advance of the Bavraa noble houses in their efforts to rule the subsection. But others note that the T’Kenkar are alien and mysterious and might have reasons no one can quite understand.
Emperor Gildun of the Third Imperium accepted this offer and awarded House Djaout a charter to establish a starport and trading base on the ice world.
Conflict—both hot and cold—broke out between Bavraa and Davras immediately. Duke Djaout keeps his troops on Davras. And no ships bearing the Imperial Sunburst are allowed to ply the space lanes. Instead, House Djaout keeps a low profile, using subsidized merchants and private contractors to carry out acts of espionage, trade, piracy, and covert war.
House Djaout has kept a low profile within the cluster, sponsoring ships that sail without the Imperial Sun and keeping his troops on Davras. Bavraa cannot–yet–prevent all trade and commerce between nearby worlds and the “Thirders” (as citizens of the Imperium are called). Over the past three decades more travellers and ships have arrived in Old Empire from beyond the Dead Worlds.
They are outsiders, sometimes welcome and sometimes not. The rules are not always clear as to where Thirders fit into the social fabric in the Old Empire–and so danger arrives without warning on occasion. All of them know it is better to hide any symbols from the Third Imperium, and ships are repainted to remove markings of Third Imperium culture.
Such travellers work as merchants and soldiers of fortune as they make their way through the stars and across the worlds Bavraa hopes to rule one day.
But this does not mean the tension between Bavraa and the Third Imperium does not get hot. A year ago a ship activated its Jump Drive while docked at the B-Class starport House Djaout had built, causing a terrible explosion that shattered the starport and killed hundreds of people. The damage knocked the starport down to a C-class rating and it is now being rebuilt. No one claimed responsibility for the attack (if it was an attack), and while most people assume it was the work of House Itzcoatl of Bavraa, Duke Djaout has declared he has no proof to determine who was responsible and is still seeking leads. The noble houses of Bavraa offered to send aid. The duke refused it.
House Djaout has been tasked with destabilizing and delaying the efforts of Bavraa to unify the worlds around it under its rule. The Third Imperium is playing a long game. A full invasion would leave their home forces depleted and their troops months away. Instead, they want to build slowly, cripple the growth of the Old Empire where they can, and keep expanding at their own pace back home.
The noble houses of Bavraa, led by House Itzcoatl, know the Third Imperium is far away. They do not want to be so overt that they draw the attention and military might of their distant neighbor. If the noble houses of Bavraa can let the conflict remain calm and low key for enough time, they believe they can build a defense that will keep the Third Imperium at bay when they finally arrive in force.
And so piracy is sanctioned by both sides. Cover operations are always underway. Each side tries to curry favor and win the friendship of worlds within the subsection.