Culture - Edictus

It is surprising how quickly the youth forget their elders. Before there was ever a Pax Edictus to shatter, or an Edictus at all, there was a great and terrible calamity. The Homeworld was lost, and with too few survivors for the manner of loss to be recorded. The Diaspora huddled around a handful of stars, braving half-terraformed planets with technology we would call terrifyingly incapable today. The fundamentals of the grand economy, the system that since time immemorial has allowed humanity to prosper and profit beyond their station, were destroyed. The arrival of the Patron changed all of that. We cared little whether he was a god given flesh or a human granted biological immortality by some pre-Diaspora technology. His steady hand was an unheard-of boon to stability. Upon his back the Common Index was revived, pieced together from part data scrap and part myth. It prospered, and as all markets do it demanded fresh sources of resources both physical and fiscal. Asteroids and moons had been stripped bare, then filled to the brim with citizens, in the new found Edictus’ growth. Industries demanded new sources of super-rare metals, dissidents demanded faraway places to live, and mature capital funds demanded novel ventures to invest in. With the Patron and the major industries both leaning on the project, rapid progress was made into self-replicating starships that could redirect water ice comets, generate greenhouse gases, and set up orbital infrastructure before copying themselves and setting off for two more star systems. The Machines sailed across the known galaxy in their blind obedience, promising to turn barren rocks to habitable worlds and one-time material investments into massive dividends. When their work was completed, the Patron immediately banned both self-replicating robotics and self-improving algorithms. The Edictus as a general rule despised regulation, but the far-sighted saw the value in ensuring our fragile system of growth could not be undone by cold steel or dead eyes. The kill signal was sent continuously for decades in the hope that, even if a Machine was deaf and mute in a superluminal transit, they would hear it and disassemble at the next star. Rumors persisted that not all Machines were caught and destroyed, but all but a few dedicated naysayers were too busy flocking to new paradises. Entities both private and public eagerly funded every colony expedition, secure in the knowledge that at least for a hundred lightyears in any direction there were habitable worlds to tame. These centuries of unparalleled growth were to be of ultimate detriment. As research into high technology began to climb back towards the wonders of our forgotten Homeworld, colonists began to prefer exploring their own minds through sophisticated virtual reality networks. Planetary bond markets stagnated, and soon it was difficult to get a citizen to set foot on a virgin world in the same star system as they. As this crisis of expansion loomed, the Speculative Securities Index began life as a low-risk fund to make modest profits betting on the success of the infamously tenacious Grand Fleets. The concept became wildly popular, and though only meant to buy stock in the performance of legitimate government forces a large black market emerged allowing investors to wager on the success of slavers, revolutionaries, and other unsavories. This Nonstate Actor Speculation was declared illegal with heavy punishment, but the damage was done. Enticed by the concept of turning a profit while fighting for their cause, entire star systems rose up in rebellion. The fortunes of the Kantus rose with the price of their stock, and the Grand Fleets were strained to the breaking point. The SSI prices for Grand Squadrons of the Fleet each bottomed out with the disappearance of the Patron, but the markets held themselves together in part by the rising prices of the Kantus and Arthran in their place. Investors and industries flowed around the legal difficulties of the Devolution, happy to sell to both sides. As the remnants of the Edictus reformed themselves into a democracy, their new defenders also learned to profit from violence. The coalescing of the Arthran caused the Grand Fleet to become a shell of its former self, populated by dole-seekers and unskilled citizens unsuitable for defending anything. A long tradition of gray-market private mercenaries went legitimate, becoming Contractors in the service of various Senators and Administrators. Now, when not assassinating political rivals or fighting off insurrection, they compete in the gladiatorial games organized by the SSI to build a network of sponsorships and a loyal fan base. The Contractors perhaps embody the spirit of the New Edictus above all else. Will you join them? -Director Miranda Nethun, The Patron and the Markets: A Parable of Dual Influence


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