Stellaris is a recently released sci-fi strategy game, developed by Paradox, in which you design a civilization - human or otherwise - and take to the stars, with a vast amount of different possible choices and pathways ahead of you.
In this AAR, I play an anarcho-communist faction, which in some obscene way has managed to unify Earth into a classless utopia, an "fully automated luxury communism"... or an attempt at one.
Note: I am playing Ironman Mode, so no saving and reloading, and no cheats.
The Stars Are Black
Prologue: The Final Frontier
"In the practice of mutual aid, which we can retrace to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support — not mutual struggle — has had the leading part. In its wide extension, even at the present time, we also see the best guarantee of a still loftier evolution of our race." - Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902).
It's New Year's Day, 2200. We picked just the right moment, for symbolic reasons. This whole space programme was rushed by the syndicate councils that volunteered to be part of the project, in fact. The factories have boomed day and night, the engineers laboured beyond dawn. They wanted a fresh beginning, after the last few years of hardship. I too have tired of this century.
The name is Yelena, and in the forty-eight years of my life so far I never thought I'd have the title "Secretary" attached to it. It was voted on electronically, I'm sure they tried their hardest to come up with a neutral term that didn't imply too high a position. De jure, I am only charged with imposing the popular will on our first foray into interstellar space, but in truth I am to be both head diplomat and commander-in-chief. Our system of democracy, carved in blood, is a beautiful one, but one that is hard to translate into direct orders on a ship bound for the solar system's edges and beyond.
I'll make do with what I can, for the good of all. The AI they've developed for me seems to agree. I'm sure I'll rue the day I activated him.
The world may seem a paradox, these days. The most advanced of technologies, merging with the ruins left behind by the war, and still-sprawling refugee camps. Maybe it'll be a relief for me to direct my thoughts away from the reconstruction projects down here on the surface, and outwards. I bled to make all this happen, yet I can't quite stomach the paperwork needed to see it all through.
Under my command, so far, is the FS Satyr, a small vessel choke-full of scientists of all breeds - physicists, biologists, astronomers, mathematicians, and so on. Even a few archaeologists, if you'll believe it. I'm not sure what they expect to find, out there in the vacuum of space, but they're all good comrades, all willing volunteers to the unknown. The ship's affairs are directed by an old friend, Samir. Seems he was elected by the rest of the crew to represent them. Haven't seen him since Damascus.
I also have the FS Typhoon, a construction vessel crewed mainly by a pack of Japanese engineers, and the oddly-named "1st Strike Force", consisting of three little corvettes all built in the Bavarian aeronautics plants. The Hussar, the Trident, and the Serpent. None of them have any combat experience, and nobody really knows how a fight would even go down in zero gravity. This isn't an insurgency, this is space, and they seem even more lost than most fresh recruits down on Earth. I've requested they be put under the command of Kazakov. We've never met 'the Cossack', but I've heard she's able.
We're in for the long haul, here. My mission is to first explore the rest of the solar system, building on previous generations of 'bourgeois nationalist' research, and then we move onwards. Some here on Earth, the freest thinkers, are calling for us to settle on new worlds, but that type of technology is still years away. It took us a long, long time just to develop the tool which we will use to leave the Sun's gravity well: The Azrael, more fantasy than reality. A wormhole generation.
Once this system is complete, its secrets discovered, we move out, onwards to the two closest stars: Alpha Centauri, and Barnard's Star. Then, who knows.
If only Einstein could see us now.
For decades, I was so certain of myself. Certain in our goals, in the revolution. I still am.
But the Galaxy... it's a big place. Bigger than you could ever imagine. And who can remain confident in the face of that?