The Free Colonies


The Free Colonies are a collective of independent colony worlds that lie mostly between Terran Protectorate and Xintrin Merchant Guild territory. They are composed of six main human-dominated worlds and a couple dozen small colonies that consider themselves free of their “parent” civilization. They generally work together, though they often compete for resources and there is no formal pact between them.

This was, at one time, the Great Frontier of human space. On one side is the Terran Protectorate, one side is the edge of the Merchant Guild’s holdings, and on another border sits the Empire of Many Suns, but since it abuts the Orion Expanse, the great empty space between the Orion and Sagittarius arms of the Milky Way Galaxy, it’s often viewed as the backwater region of space, with little room for long-term expansion. The settling period occurred just before the first war, and lasted for a short-time afterward. Then the colonies declared independence, having suffered economically during the war and after the Protectorate established the Terminus Line and banned colonization near the Sea of Dead Stars.

Many scholars and explorers are pulling their hair out over the apparent disinterest in the far-flung star systems bordering (and drifting into) the expanse. These are VERY OLD systems. Many, many of them are red dwarf or brown dwarf stars which are virtually undetectable to anything but intense astronomical surveys. Some estimate that the number of star systems on the border of the expanse, and in the first 100 light years, to be triple the official estimate by the Protectorate. In fact, only about 70% of the star systems in the Free Colonies territory have been explored. Almost all of the unexplored systems are near the Terminus Line. And even many of the explored systems have never been properly surveyed.

The Sea of Dead Stars, beyond the Terminus Line has old stars that often house old, forgotten planets. Some of them are habitable. Some of them used to be habitable. Some of them once harbored life…and some still do. The Starfarers and Novaslayers have a keen interest in this region, particularly in stars further out into the emptiness of the expanse. The Starfarers urge the colonists, explorers and the Protectorate not to venture too far out into the Expanse, and to be cautious on those ancient, dead worlds. When asked why, the Starfarers have only responded that, “there are things out there sleeping that should remain asleep.”

That’s good enough for the Protectorate, which turned its attention totally away from the region. Interestingly enough, Old Earth lies just within the region considered the beginning of the Expanse.

Little of that affects the Free Colonies however. Occasionally someone finds an interesting Deep Time Artifact, or some interesting ruins are discovered. But, with the exception of maybe a short increase in ship traffic from interested explorers, they are not affected. They are mostly interested in fostering their image as a trade zone between the Xintrin Merchant Guild and the Terran Protectorate and some other minor alien species in what remains of the Empire of Many Suns. They are a free trade zone, with little restrictions on what one can buy or sell. Each colony has different laws and rules. All struggle financially and tend to be a bit like the Wild West back on Old Earth. Justice often comes at the business end of a laser rifle, and one’s ability to hold land can frequently be judged by their ability to kill anyone who tries to take it from them.

The six major colonies are strung out between the Protectorate and the Guild, with lots of minor colony worlds and moons scattered about. Bifrost is considered the “capitol” world of the independent colonies, although there really is no such thing. Hephaestus is a religious commune with major mining and high-quality production facilities. Pirate-laden New Tortuga lies closest to the Xintrin territory, and has a diverse population comprised of numerous different species, and its demographics fluctuate wildly from year to year. The other three include Harvest and Einswold, both primarily farming worlds, and Gorgon-3, a moon where the entire population lives underground in tunnels originally carved out of the rock by a long-dead race.

This is also the heart of pirating activity between both empires. The Xintrin insist on selling anything to anyone who can afford it. To them, this is the epitome of fairness in trade policy, and something no other government has ever been able to dissuade them from. Guns, armed vessels and many illicit goods flow from Guildspace into the colonies; many of it bought by free-roaming pirate fleets that prey on the very same trade ships that bring them their own supplies. Some Xintrin manufacturers even cater to them, with independent shipyards having gone as far as building pirate ships to successful captains’ specifications.

Now, with the war heating up, even more illicit goods are flowing through the area. It has even gotten the attention of independent traders from Arkhon space, who seek to capitalize on what they hope will be a flood of goods and displaced wealth when the Empire smashes the Protectorate and sends humanity scattering. Of course, it’s occurred to a few of them that things might go the other way, in which case the frontier worlds are as good a place as any to set down some new roots.

Most in the Free Colonies believe that whatever the result of the war, they have little to fear. If the Protectorate falls, there’s only one way for humanity to go, and that’s into Xintrin territory, through the colonies. They’ll have plenty of warning if that happens. Still, most humans in the Free Colonies support the Protectorate against the Arkhon Empire. Some have even gone back into Protectorate territory and signed up for the Stellar Navy or Colonial Marines. However, officially, the Free Colonies are neutral in the conflict and are doing their best to stay neutral.

Either way, it is likely to push the colonies to grow and prosper a bit more, with some growing pains like increased piracy and political intrigue. This will also bring a bit more attention to the Expanse, especially after the war, which may not be a good thing for the galaxy…


Law and Order


Most law is maintained on the main Free Colony worlds by local constables and police forces, but there has to be law maintained between the varied Free Colony Worlds. This duty is given primarily to the Guardsman Interstellar Security Service; a paramilitary group that contracts with each planet to maintain law and order. They only ask that they are allowed to do their job with as little government interference as possible. Guardsmen often work alone, like Magistrates in the Protectorate. The Guardsmen are part bounty hunter, part police man, part spy and part special forces. In many cases, a guardsman will keep his or her identity secret unless absolutely necessary. The Guardsmen require planets given them extraordinary policing powers and exemption from many local laws. Most own a small space ship or travel with a group of allies and wander from planet-to-planet, looking for trouble in the making and carrying out justice. Several have been recruited into the Starfarers, particularly individuals who have followed the source of troubles within the colonies out into the Expanse.


Military protection, and the securing of shipping lanes, is in the hands of each colony’s own defense fleet. The human-dominated worlds have a collection of ships from the first war, including Stalwart-Class Heavy Cruisers, Arrow Interceptors, and first-generation Holstein pinnaces. There are also numerous armed civilian ships and some Xintrin light combat vessels scattered within the Free Colony defense fleets. The closer one gets to Xintrin territory, the more Xintrin Guild protection the trade routes have. There are also several independent fleets, who rent their services in hunting down pirates and protecting routes, and, occasionally, even serving as a battle fleet for the rare between-colony skirmishes. The largest conflict was about 10 years ago between Bifrost and New Tortuga, when Bifrost tried to end the colony’s role as a pirate haven. Bifrost was repulsed by a combined pirate fleet, and tensions between the two worlds have never relaxed. Bifrost has the largest standing fleet in the Frontier.


More detailed information about places and people of interest can be found below (under construction)


Major Planets of the Free Colonies



New Tortuga