Ok my first attempt at a narrative for a Very British Conquest of Space
An education based on the British moral superiority and the greatness of the Empire helped create a bread of daring and certainly unorthodox explorers and adventurers. The achievements of these very British heroes went largely unsung yet their exploits formed the basis for the British conquest of space
In 1878 the outpost of British Honduras faced the menace of Spanish incursions and its small garrison was deployed to patrol the rainforest in anticipation of attack. What they found was far worse- the very monsters of Mr Wells' fantasy fiction here have their roots in fact. An encounter with hostile aliens did take place during the autumn of that year. Though not immune to the power of the Martini-Henry the aliens certainly had the upper hand. But in fact neither side could endure the hand dealt them by nature for long. Both sides were stricken by malaria and other jungle diseases. Despite their advanced technology the aliens seemed ill prepared and had no defence against these strains of disease. The last few aliens were soon overcome and surrounded by the up most security dispatched to London. Only one survived the journey. Britain had prevailed in its first contact with aliens and had inherited quite a legacy of new technology. It was assumed that tales of creatures in South American jungles would only disturb the population and so the first of many cover ups began. The setbacks in both South Africa and Afghanistan provided the perfect cover to account for missing servicemen, which in turn helped galvanise the press in supporting the wars of the empire. While the remains of the garrison found itself on extended stay in Honduras
Victoria's most senior Ministers gathered a group of notable and trustworthy scientists and having bound then with strict vows of secrecy they were allowed full access to the Alien treasure. Progress was swift and by the mid 1880's revolutionary systems of propellant and communication were being developed
This was not the only British success. Exploration of the Nile valley yielded more information concerning ancient advanced technology. The discovery of both carved text and papyri presented new and strange ideas that prior to the Honduras incident may well have been disregarded as myth and legend.
Luck or providence certainly seemed to favour Victoria's reign. In 1885 a Royal Navy vessel was driven of course during a storm in the South Atlantic. As the storm cleared and the ship tried to resume its course it chanced upon an island not appearing on any chart. There were no obvious beaches and a volcano seemed to dominate the island's glacial landscape. Two years later a survey team with an experimental a submersible were sent to investigate the island as a possible source of raw materials and minerals. Having breached the cliff face via an underwater cavern the submersible emerged on the shore of an ancient and technologically advanced civilisation. The inhabitants were hospitable but weary of outsiders and eager to maintain their seclusion. As such the crew of the submersible were allowed freedom of the Island's interior but were thwarted in every attempt to leave. Once again the forces of nature played their part as influenza, incubated amongst the crew spread to the islanders with disastrous results. Within six months with no immunity, the Island population was gone, once again leaving the British Empire the heir of a technological trove.
The only set back to Imperial progress came in the autumn of 1888. The Queen's son Prince Albert Victor had become fascinated by the captured Alien. Unaware that the creature had some close telepathic abilities. As the Prince observed the investigations of the Alien ,little did he realise he was giving information as well as collecting it. The painful surgical procedures made the lost creature increasingly desperate, a moment of lax security afforded a chance of escape. Driven now by a blood lust for revenge on his captors he searched for suitable victims. Unable to reach the Prince or the scientists , the creature settled for those identified by the Prince's thoughts of local acquaintances. So began a legendary reign of terror that haunted the East end of London in late 1888. Aping his captors the creature struck with surgical precision until cornered and shot down trying to escape. Once again the media was manipulated to provide the cover story.
Despite this unfortunate incident the Queen and her Ministers continued to support the secret scientific programme. The first fruit came in 1900 when the first Human space flight took place. Leaving from Ascension Island, the craft completed an orbit of the Earth and safely gliding to the surface. The Scientists had discovered the Aliens had used such craft for short hops to naturally occurring holes or Eyes in space that allowed rapid journeys between distant galaxies. Amongst the South Atlantic finds was a rudimentary guide to the locations of 'Eyes' in our solar system
The original plan was a phased development, visiting and establishing forward bases on the Moon and then Mars. But Victoria fearing her reign was nearing its end wanted public recognition of a last great exploit and ordered an expedition through the nearest Eye in space. 12 giant ships were built in sections throughout the Empire and transported to Ascension where they were put together under great secrecy. Most of the accompanying personnel below bridge crew had no idea where the ships were heading. Victoria's Armada packed with equipment for exploration, conquest and colonisation, cleared the Earth without incident. Then having signaled their approach to the Eye all contact was lost.
The disaster was again covered up, this time with the help of the Boer War. Victoria died frustrated and her successors Edward and George had little interest in the Pandora's box of secrets, at least until 1916. Then following two years of slaughter in Europe something was needed to break the deadlock. George turned to Victoria's surviving scientists and let them loose. Their hurried efforts produced the tank, but as the war ended so did the Royal patronage. As the post war economic problems began this most secret of government departments was scaled down and eventually axed.
The advances in technology were lost for a generation and it was only after the Civil Wars that a new body-the Ministry for Exploration and Technical Development emerged during the reign of the new Monarch Richard IV. The country was facing a massive task of rebuilding, at a time when most of the major nations were at war. Within the Empire too there were strains as Nationalist movements continued to agitate for independence. The government realised new resources must be developed if Britain was to rebuild her greatness.. but where? A think tank was established during which researchers stumbled on the files concerning Victoria's space exploration. Eventually the archives and stores of artifacts were located and a new ministry born.
1950 saw the first landing on the moon and work commenced on a British orbiting platform. The 50's were a golden age of exploration, along with the establishment of colonies on the Moon and Mars, and mining operations on the outer planets. The 'Eye' was successfully navigated in 1959 and expeditions followed in 1960. On the other side the original expedition had arrived in a meteor storm and the surviving ships made landfall on the closest inhabitable planets. Scattered groups lacking the resources for rebuilding their ships, had carved out there own colonies. Eventually using alien technology some of the groups had tried to contact Earth, but with the Ministry shut down there was no way for these signals to be received, the colonists contented themselves with establishing their own vision of Britain on the areas of the planets they controlled.
A strange mix of Victorian and alien technology flourished under the 5 suns of the system.
The 60's saw the descendents of the first explorers and their alien subjects visiting earth. London became a swinging if somewhat decadent space port and hub for the new empire. But space was still the playground of the privileged few and its benefits were still not reaching the masses. Several general strikes crippled Britain and forced on the government a review of priorities. Space budgets were slashed leaving 1950's ships running into the 80's and the finance reallocated to health, social housing and reviving struggling Earth based industries.
This was the chance Britain's potential rivals had been waiting for. Emerging from the long Soviet War, Germany dominated the union of European states. Beyond the new German living space of Poland and the Ukraine, a client Imperial Russian State was created as a buffer against a future resurgent Soviet Union. Emerging late from her own crisis the United States had sent arms to the Soviets in a bid to maintain a balance of power. A costly mistake, as an experimental German Jet force blitzed the industry of the East Coast and Mexico was bullied into a German alliance. Within months conventional German forces and V4's were stationed on the Rio Grande. Japan helped herself to the Pacific and Britain drove the Soviets out of Alaska only to retain it for themselves while moving the Canadian border south of the Great Lakes
The two Russian powers both virtually bankrupt and neither willing to loose face embarked on a space programme in 1972. Germany and Japan backed by the resources of their Empires were equally keen. By 1975 all four had reached the moon and by 1980 Mars.
In 1979 a reactionary British government came to power in Britain and talk of the British Empire in space was very much on the agenda. The growth of the Space fleet and the encouragement of private expeditions through trading companies boosted the economy. But at a price, much of the old industries that had been heavily subsidised collapsed leaving huge numbers out of work with the only option to retrain in new technology. There were few training places for those without education qualifications, especially for the over 40's. A growing underclass dwelled in the Victorian substructure of gleaming new cities built for the upwardly mobile. Many were trapped in low pay, decreasing benefits or a rising tide of petty crime. While there was enough security and Police to keep the lid on things this was fine for the Government, but longer term solutions were required and a policy of Colonial resettlement began. Volunteers or those urged to volunteer were given a plot of land and basic materials to start a new life beyond the Eye on one of the developing planets.
By 1985 the British Empire had developed in our Solar system and beyond the Eye. Britain had the largest Human military Space fleet and a considerable merchant arm. Britain could also boast the largest number of Colonies and settlers, however Britain's earth rivals were not content and now wanted access to the Eye.