Chapter 2: History and Background
Written by Dan Carlson
Few beings in the quadrant would have believed in 2150 that known space would be plunged into the most destructive interstellar conflict in known history only five years later. All involved groups were in periods of expansion and prosperity — only the Romulans themselves had any plans for war, but events did not develop in the way they had expected.
It is somewhat ironic that modern Human history begins with the Third World War (CE 2053-2054). The war was fought primarily with rockets with atomic warheads fired at major population centers and military targets. For several decades, tensions had been rising between the allied nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), comprising the nations of North and South America, Western Europe, and Oceania, and the Eastern Coalition (ECON), led by China, India, and Russia. The war started as a minor territorial dispute between the South Asian nation-states of India and Pakistan. But the war soon escalated into a nuclear holocaust that engulfed much of the world, and nearly returned Human civilization to a pre-industral age. The subsequent collapse of the global economy and the drastic environmental effects of the war devastated those nations which had escaped direct nuclear attack. The entire world soon descended into anarchy.
All this changed, quite suddenly, with Earth’s First Contact with extraterrestrials in 2063. Doctor Zefram Cochrane and his team of scientists had been working for more than fifteen years on theories of continuum distortion propulsion (CDP), to manipulate the fabric of space and allow supraluminal travel. These efforts succeeded in 2063, with the first manned flight of the Phoenix, a spacecraft lifted into orbit by an unused intercontinental ballistic missile.
In one of the greatest coincidences in galactic history, a Vulcan survey ship was passing through the Sol System at the exact same time. The Vulcans had surveyed Earth approximately two decades earlier, but had considered the indigenous pre-warp civilization too primitive for contact. However, when the survey team detected artificial subspace distortions near Earth, they realized that this “primitive” civilization had developed the capability for interstellar travel. The Vulcan ship altered course, landed, and made First Contact with Humanity on the evening of April 5, 2063.
The unexpected contact with extraterrestrials sent a shockwave through Human society, uniting the people in a way never thought possible. With the assistance of the Vulcans, Humanity gradually rebuilt the planet. Over the next fifty years, most forms of poverty and disease were eradicated, thanks to the marvelous technological advances provided by the Vulcans, and combined with a number of innovations developed by Humans. However, global recovery was uneven. As late as 2085, some areas of the planet remained in a state of near-anarchy, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, which had borne the brunt of the atomic holocaust. Not all of Humanity’s problems were solved at once.
The United Nations of Earth (UE) was founded in 2084 with the goal of forming a united planetary government, based on the principles of the old United Nations of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Although several nations refused to join (most notably Switzerland and Australia, which held out until 2142 and 2148, respectively), most of the planet was united by the beginning of the 22nd century.
As Earth gradually recovered from the war, Humanity came into a massive wave of expansion into the galaxy. The first permanent extraterrestrial colony was established in the Alpha Centauri system in 2078, followed by Tau Ceti in 2086. Eager to explore the stars, scores of starships were launched in an exuberant search for knowledge about the galaxy. New races were contacted — Andorians, Tellarites, Altairians, and Zakdorn. As the UE expanded its reach, it became a highly influential economic power, facilitating trade between most of the worlds of known space.
In less than one hundred years, the Humans grew from a struggling race on the brink of extinction into the known galaxy’s most powerful alliance. Expanding in all directions, continuously increasing their wealth of knowledge, the Humans appeared to have a bright future in store.
Even now, more than two centuries after the conclusion of the Earth-Romulan War, relatively little is known about Romulan history prior to the outbreak of that conflict.
What is known for certain is that the Romulans are an offshoot of the Vulcan culture, and that they left close to 2000 years ago. Vulcan records describe early colonization attempts, before the Peace of Surak took hold completely. (Contrary to popular belief, Vulcan did not become automatically pacifist, nor was nonviolence a strict rule — defensesive wars were common against those societies that had not yet adopted Surak’s teachings.) A wave of several dozen massive, sublight vessels departed from Vulcan and headed out into interstellar space. Some of the vessels only made it a short distance, settling relatively close to the Vulcan homeworld; these colonies were later re-absorbed into the Vulcan Confederation in the 1500’s, after Vulcans developed warp drive. A few other colonies, such as the ones on Dessica or Calder, failed and died out.
However, a handful of colony ships made it as much as thirty light-years away from Vulcan, and settled on a pair of class-M planets which the travelers named ch’Rihan and ch’Havran —literally translated “of the Declared” and “of the Travelers”, respectively —and later designated “Romulus” and “Remus” by Human explorers ignorant of their true names. Against all odds, the colonists managed to survive and flourish, establishing first a foothold and then an empire based on the two pristine worlds.
For the first millennium and a half, the Romulans (or more appropriately, the Rihannsu¹) spent the vast majority of their combined efforts in taming the Two Worlds to suit their needs, and gradually spreading to inhabit most of the surface of both planets. However, some colonies were also established in three nearby systems, so that by the early 22nd century, a loosely-held union called the Romulan Star Empire comprised a total of four star systems with six inhabited planets and a total of close to twelve billion citizens.
¹ For consistency, these articles will use the more common name “Romulans.”
Although the Romulans were a much more passionate culture than their Vulcan brothers, they were not (contrary to popular opinion) a decidedly warlike race prior to the early 22nd century. However, that changed after Romulans made first contact with another sentient species around 2119, when they encountered the Klingons for the first time. The Klingons had recently developed warp capabilities themselves and were beginning to expand their Empire beyond their own homeworld. As a result, the blatantly aggressive Klingon attitude was a poor match for the passionate and confident Romulan demeanor. However, although the Klingon and Romulan empires could be considered to be hostile to one another and frequent skirmishes took place in the region between their respective homeworlds, neither side then posessed the technology to wage a true interstellar war at that point in time.
The Romulan political scene began to change, however, in the early 2130’s. Traditionally, the Romulan “empire” was just a loosely-organized union of the two homeworlds and three major colonies of the Romulan settlers. Communication (and by extension political authority) was limited by the speeds of physical warp travel, because the Romulans did not develop subspace communications until the 2130’s. Once interstellar communications became practical, though, the central government on Romulus began attempting to assert greater and greater control over the outer colonies. This trend did not sit well with the people on the outer colonies, creating a good deal of internal friction that could lead to a Romulan civil war.
Thus, by the early 2140’s the Romulan Star Empire could be considered relatively weak and divided, torn by internal disagreements and socio-economically smaller than the vast union controlled by the United Nations of Earth.
On the Road to War
The Earth-Romulan conflict started, ironically, with an incident involving a Vulcan survey ship in orbit of the Romulan homeworld in 2143. The Vulcan Science Academy had sponsored numerous deep space survey missions for more than a century, since Vulcan first discovered warp drive in 2011. It was one of these missions, in fact, which contacted Earth in 2063.
In 2143 the scout ship T’sannu began a survey mission into the eastern galactic frontier beyond the Qualor and Tarod Systems. According to the mission plan, the crew was to survey the Tomed System, the Zeta Reticuli (Tranome Sar) System, the BD-69º177 (Romulus) System, the Alpha Mensae (Sotarek) System, and the Cheron System. The total mission duration was expected to be approximately 28 months.
Nothing is known about the T’sannu’s mission prior to entering the Romulan star system, since all data and records were lost when the ship was destroyed. In fact, the ultimate fate of the T’sannu was unknown until 2268, when Commander t’Rllaillieu described the Romulan perspective on the events leading up to the war, including an incident involving a Vulcan ship in the Romulan system.
According to the military archives provided by Vice-Proconsul M’ret, the T’sannu entered the Romulan star system on or about February 26, 2143. Upon detecting signs of habitation, the crew apparently chose to conduct discrete observations prior to making contact. It is not known whether the Vulcans on board realized just who they had found. The Romulans, on the other hand, knew exactly who these intruders were. Fearing that the T’sannu was an advance scout for a general invasion, a panicked Romulan commander ordered the Vulcan ship destroyed.
The Romulan reaction to the sudden appearance of their long-lost brothers
The Romulan reaction to this incident — people start to wonder what the Vulcans were doing there, the government and military brew this into a public panic. (Beginnings of reunification movement, too — how some people don’t believe the party line that the Vulcans are degenerate.) Leaders twist this panic into a military campaign to Vulcan, a “benevolent” reunification to “enlighten” their cousins about the success of the Travellers.
End the chapter with the Romulans on the warpath.