The Basic Story
In the late 22d century, Mankind has begun the colonization of deep space. Great progress has been made in science and medicine, but political conflict and armed struggles remain the greatest drivers in technological advancement. With Earth's resources depleted and a population grown beyond the planet's ability to sustain, the future survival of man relies on the development and control of colony worlds.
Several major and a number of minor colonial powers have extended their presence through the Sol system and to the nearest stars. The colonies are sources of minerals, raw materials, food and living space. They define the power and wealth of many Earth governments and are guarded against rival colonial powers and movements for independence.
The largest of the superpowers is the Chinese Consortium; a military and economic giant that dominates the Sol System and has a major presence among the deep space colonies. Following the Consortium in size and influence are the United States and the European Union. These three super-powers dominate deep space. Russia, India and a number of smaller colonial powers such as the United Kingdom have established themselves as well.
The Chinese Consortium and European Union made considerable advancement into space when the United States, Russia and India were ravaged in the devastating War of Desperation against the Islamic Pact from 2067-2070. What ultimately saved the US economy and re-established its role as a superpower was the development of the first practical faster-than-light drive system in 2089. This allowed the US to assume the lead in interstellar exploration and gain a head-start in deep space colonization until the technology became public in 2095.
Even with faster-than-light drive technology the distances between the colonies are vast, with travel and communication requiring weeks of time. Colonies and deep-space shipping lanes are vulnerable to pirates or military action. Many colonies chafe under the rule of distant Earth governments and independence movements have erupted on more than one occasion into armed insurrection.
To protect these vital economic interests, the colonial powers field a considerable military presence throughout their colonies and regularly maintain patrols for faster reaction times along shipping lanes and to far-flung colonies. To date, direct armed conflicts between the major colonial powers have been limited in number and largely regulated to minor skirmishes and a few large scale actions on individual worlds. The threat of the "cold war" becoming hot at any given time remains a constant presence, however, and the situation is often pushed to the brink by embargos, blockades, and proxy wars through the support of colonial freedom fighters and privateers.