Lore of Yore
Histories of the known universe... and beyond
It has been claimed that the British Empire runs on tea, and without it the cosmic kingdoms united under the Union Flag would be so much unconstituted dust. The claim is not without merit.
The early days of empirical expansion were dominated by the tea trade. Many of the boundary buoys seeded along the star-ways of the nascent Empire were used to guide char ships and tea trawlers along safe routes to the next viable port of custom. Over time char trails such as the Braganza Trade Route and the Shennong Ribbon have become the primary thorough-fares for spacecraft of all forms and means.
Piracy looms as a constant danger along the char routes—but brigands such as the Vulture Hawks and Blooming Lotus of Twelve Suns are reportedly the least of a Tea Ambassador's troubles; stories of cosmic dragons swallowing a tea trawler whole make some think twice about attempting to deliver their Royal Flush along the uncertain Roji Route.
Nonetheless, those who delve into the tea business invariably prosper. The Yellers Wholesale Tea Dealers were famed for bringing the tea trade to the American cosmic colonies, and the Painswick Association fought to open routes into the colossal Vemodalen Obscurity. The Mother's Brown Tea Conglomerate enjoys great success during the Victorian era, sweeping many of its competitors under the rug with an aggressively-plied trade in many signature blends such as Beggar's Pillow, Rambunctious Hen and Mother's Blessing. Rumours of back-alley dealings and the dubious usage of slave labour have quickly been deemed improper by the Prefects, and Mother Brown is now one of the wealthiest businesswomen in the British Empire.
For those citizens of the cosmos who enjoy the taste of coffee over tea, there is very little help or sympathy. The rumours that bands of rogue Tea Ambassadors go around knocking the kneecaps off anyone who asks for a pot of caffeine are also dismissed as scurrilous talk.
After all, the tea trade is a serious business; empires have been built on less.
Annabell Tinker ran away from home at the age of eight, and explored as fast and as far as she could. She did not become renowned on the cosmic stage until the ripe age of sixty-seven, when Tinker's Travelling Makerspace began production of a series of board games which became among the most popular ever made.
The rules and regulations to Tinker's game were so infamously complicated that even the finest of friends and loving families resorted to acts of supreme violence just to claim victory. Such was the brilliance of the design, any player became overwhelmed by an obsessive sense of competition, foul play, and addiction.
The governments of the cosmos pursued a joint search for and legal case against the game's manufacturers for inciting crimes against sentience. However, the executives of Tinker's Travelling Makerspace successfully argued that any blame lay with the original author—which proved convenient, as Annabell Tinker remains missing, presumed....
As a postscript to her remarkable invention, Tinker's game became banned on most civilised worlds in its original, raw format, and "safe to play" versions were distributed on court order. Possession of an unedited game was punishable by ten years in prison and one finkle swathing. Running an illegal gaming parlour would have a sentient's knees removed. Dealing in the game quickly became a death sentence, which naturally led to a boom in illegal trade on the black market.
Annabell Tinker, if she still resides within the known universe, would surely be proud.
The bountiful Diamond Mines of Saturn are one of the Wonders of the Cosmos, ringing the sixth planet in a marvel of architecture and engineering. During the Industrial Revolution, cosmonautical miners undertook the incredible task of connecting each of Saturn's ring particles into a single network of habitable tunnels; as of the present day, the Saturn Mining Company maintains a colossal operation that spans the entire planetary ring.
Although expansive, the enterprise only gained traction in the wider Space Empire after a mining team led by Peter Gaskett discovered volanium in the Colombo Gap. Six months later, during an excavation on the planet's surface, diamond shards were discovered embedded into the rock; the Laplace Institute confirmed these shards had rained down from the rings above, and soon enough further mining operations unearthed diamond deposits in orbit.
This led to a surge in tourism, and the so-called Diamond Mines of Saturn became a popular destination for holiday-makers and honeymooners. Currently the Overseer, Puccint Spick, has vetoed all civilian travel to the central mining facility after an incident in the Bessel Gap which saw the loss of his Cassini Division. Other dangers included cases of diamond blight contracted by miners, and reports of crystalline spiders living within the glittering deposits, ready to burst out from their ore cocoons upon unsuspecting diggers.
There have even been reports of something far larger, and even more hellish, rampaging through the tunnels—but on these outlandish rumours the Overseer has remained firmly silent....
With the advent of the Cosmic Age, it was inevitable that the Empire of Great Britain would expand not only across the seas but along the breadth of galaxies.
Some of England's finest minds turned towards the notion of space flight; with the Renaissance came the first pioneers to breach the blue skies of Britain and travel outward into the vast indigo beyond. Elsewhere, manned flights were tested by the Chinese, and in Florence a young artist came forth with an idea for a "Cosmic Screw" which could carry cosmonauts far beyond the Sun. In time, this so-called Universal Genius would write his Codex on the Flight of Starcraft years before the Pioneers took to the stars. Others, such as Nicolaus Copernicus, were somewhat late to the party.
As England's kingdom and star territories became united under the Great British Space Empire, other nation-states raced to the stars to continue epoch-long feuds and wars. The First French Cosmic Republic built commands and bastilles throughout the Fifteen Galaxies, but could not compete with Britain's imperial expansion. England seeded the stars with boundary buoys to demark its territory—and to ensure the tea routes ran smoothly, even in the black depths of space.
These were the high days of Empire, when Britain's morning drumbeat resounded throughout the Realm and Star Territories, circling the very centre of the universe with the unbroken strain of England's martial power. The Empire took what planets it willed, and brought the manifold peoples of the cosmos into the British way.
Until Vorgak 3.
The Royal Space Docks sprawl across the muddy face of London, a meshwork of girders and supports for the grand spacecraft of the Navy. From here, ships of the Royal Fleet launch into the vast cosmic empire beyond the blue.
Expansion is Britain's byword, and these days all berths are occupied—especially the bay at the end of the dock. That one is occupied more than most.
Nobody goes near it. It's a death trap. Haunted. Just plain filthy. The vessel itself must have started life sleek and speedy, a sports yacht of the skies, but time and sheltering vagrants have left it dilapidated and infested. A small hamlet of vagabonds resides on one wing.
They say some mad professor built it in a drunken fit. That the craft is as likely to implode as take to the sky. That the good ship will never fly again. There's an allotment in the dorsal turbine.
You'd have to be mad, desperate, or deluded beyond measure to approach the ship at the end of the dock. Let alone board it.
Histories of the known universe... and beyond