The End of the United Authority and the Birth of the Union of Colonies
War can forge a people into a unified force, strengthening and tempering them in the fires of conflict.
The war with the Skraldar practically destroyed the United Authority.
Powerful intergalactic corporations gained incredible economic power and political influence through war profiteering. The war against the aliens required such logistical and material feats that the United Authority gave the arms contractors a virtually free hand over planets that hosted factories and shipyards important to the war effort. Entire planetary populations were relegated to corporate serfdom, for all intents and purposes.
Once the war with the Skraldar ended, industrial, mining, and outlying worlds were crushed by the change in the economic climate. The planets (scornfully dubbed "the Colonies" by the corporate and political elite of the Authority) had supplied the vast bulk of the Authority's Legionnaires and workforce. With the end of the conflict, most of the conscripted Legionnaires were dismissed. The veterans returned home scarred both inside and out, if they survived to return at all. When the lucky few did make it home, they found their families shattered by brutal work regimes. In the Colonies, people did not ask if their neighbor had a family member who died in the war--they asked how many their neighbors had lost. As the munition plants shuttered and the shipyards fell silent, veterans and their broken families faced starvation due to rampant unemployment. Never in human history had the rich been richer, and the lower classes were as wracked by privation as the poorest of the poor from the days before ERB travel.
As often happens during the darkest days of history, people found solace in faith. The iron boot heel of the Authority had nearly strangled the life out of political dissidence and religion as social phenomena, but the conditions faced by the lower classes prompted a resurgence of both.
In 436 AD (Age of the Diaspora), the population of the Aurora system began mass protests. The System Governor responded by sending in detachments of the Authority's Security Force. As the shock troops began cracking down on the protesters, the situation escalated dramatically. The protesters were obstinate and determined, and standard crowd dispersal tactics failed to quell the angry mobs. Refusing to back down, the System Governor gave the order to use live fire weaponry. As the Security Force began to fire into the crowds, some particularly savvy protesters commandeered some of the planet's propaganda apparatus, documenting and broadcasting the conflict. Faced with images of armored troopers gunning down civilians, the planet erupted into open revolt. Aurora II had been a widely known mining world. Acting with the speed of the desperate, the protesters broke into the closed industrial facilities. Seizing mining equipment, explosives, and vehicles capable of carving through solid rock, the downtrodden of Aurora II changed from protesters into revolutionaries. Within days the vastly outnumbered Security Forces had been slain or recruited by the rebels, and the System Governor was taken prisoner.
The Authority could not let such actions go unanswered. Calling up some of their reserve legions, the Authority quickly dispatched a fleet to deal with the Aurora system issue. As the ships neared the renegade planet the revolutionaries bombarded them with scenes of the fighting--videos of Security Forces stepping over the bodies of emaciated children, of tanks rolling over old men who refused to move. In response, slightly more than half of the fleet--largely comprised of people just like the rebels, whose families faced the same problems--mutinied. After some fierce internal fighting, the surviving legionnaires and ships of the fleet joined the revolutionaries, and the Colony of Aurora declared independence from the United Authority.
With the success of the Aurora Secession seen as a beacon of hope, rebellions among the so called "colonies" began to erupt across Authority space. The Colony of Aurora sent out envoys and advisers to the downtrodden of other worlds and helped them plan their own revolutions. In the ensuing decades, countless worlds declared their independence from the United Authority, vowing instead to mutually support the freedom of one another in an Union of Colonies.
Next chapter - The Regulatory Corporation rise