In Earth year 5027 AD, a great uprising tore at the fabric of human civilization. Out-system colonies demanded political autonomy and fair compensation for vast quantities of raw material extracted from their natural resources. Union rebels on the Export-Planets blocked the up-loading of ore, water and oxygen to freighters in orbit above their planets.
Politicians in the The Republic of Human Planets called for peaceful settlement and sent a negotiating team to bring an end to this unrest.
Doctor Carmen Stein, the RHP’s top negotiator, made concessions to the Workers Union, but while she settled grievances in good faith, the Human Assembly voted in secret session to defend the Constitution by force against the anarchy threatening to divide the powerful human empire.
Armed only with tools of their trade, workers fought against the government police. A few planets fell to the law enforcers, but most evolved into violent stalemates with police unable to penetrate underground passages known only to the miners, and rebels lacking the firepower to expel their attackers.
Two months passed. Import-Planets, with their large concentrations of population, began to run out of water and oxygen. Scattered death-zones developed where poorer people could not afford their needs. Doctor Stein petitioned successfully for the government to abandon force and return to negotiations. Soon thereafter, the Export-Planets got their wished for autonomy.
The Workers Union set up a transitional government. Inexperienced in political leadership, the union officials soon became embroiled in rancor, unable to agree on governing policy. As chaos ensued, and production slowed to a halt, the death-zones returned on the Import-Planets.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
General Hiram Enby, head of the Human Defense Department, called on the Secretary of Defense, Johnson Cornwal.
“What are you doing about those rebels, Johnson?” General Enby closed the door for privacy.
“Don’t know, Hiram. We’ve got people dying, and there’s no way we can force those miners to do their jobs. We tried.”
“Why don’t you take over those planets? Put the rebels in jail?”
“And who’d mine the ore? Besides, our police already tried that and couldn’t bring them under control.”
“Let me do it.” The general did not waste words.
“We can’t send our military in there! These are our people. Killing them is not the answer.”
The general spoke with obvious contempt. “So, you politicians are content to argue amongst yourselves and let those miners kill thousands, maybe even millions, of innocent people. Well, I'm not!”
General Enby stood up and headed for the door.
“Hiram, it would take a decree of martial law to allow your forces to . . .”
The general spun around, “Johnson, you have three days to get that decree. There are people dying in our centers of population as we speak. I have already planned the invasion of all seventy-two Export-Planets and my forces are en route. I'm ending this crisis with, or without, that decree of martial law.”
“This is an outrage!” The Secretary of Defense stood toe-to-toe with General Enby. “I will have your appointment terminated if you persist with this action.”
The general ignored the threat. “As I said, you have three days to make this a legal action - or not. I don’t really give a damn. Innocent civilians are dying, while you politicians sit on your hands, whining. It’s time for results.”
General Enby slammed the door in the face of the Secretary without waiting for a reply.
The next day, Assembly leaders held a closed session. With somber faces, they emerged from their chamber after a very short meeting. The Assembly General approached a podium crowded with microphones and announced the imposition of martial law. He promised it would end as soon as possible, and explained that imminent economic collapse required such a drastic declaration.
After wiping out the militants in the rebel ranks, soldiers and surviving miners went to work processing ore. Supplies rose immediately, and the economy of the human empire stabilized. Within a week, new workers arrived to replace the soldiers.
General Enby received a hero’s welcome on Earth for saving the Empire and protecting millions of innocent lives from the death zones. He called a press conference one hour before the Assembly had scheduled for martial law to end.
“My fellow humans, I deeply regret that our military was forced to take arms against our own people. This action was necessary to bring an end to tyranny and anarchy threatening our way of life.”
The crowd of mostly military families attending his press conference shouted their approval.
“Government leaders failed us. They sat by while you suffered, in fact, while some of our people even died. They allowed our economy to teeter on the brink of collapse. They failed to protect our people and to defend our constitution. By their own inaction, they have forfeited the privilege to govern. As of this moment, I am dissolving the Assembly.”
Some in the crowd cheered. Others refrained.
“We, humans, have another problem that must also be addressed. Our population has outstripped the resources available to us. At full production, miners can produce a small surplus, but any significant disruption could bring back the death-zones. We cannot afford such a risk. From this moment forward, the Export-Planets are nationalized and essentials of life, such as water and oxygen, are declared to be rights of all our people. These vital commodities will be distributed equally to citizens and fully subsidized by government. Never again will any human be denied water or oxygen!”
This promise of government-provided essentials drew a rousing cheer.
“I'm afraid this nationalization only addresses fair distribution, but it will not assure our empire of adequate supply. We need more untapped natural resources, and for this reason, my fleet has been sent to annex three star systems on our borders that are only inhabited by sub-sentients. The ore-reserves on those planets contain enough raw material to increase our productivity by at least ten percent. Expansion of our Empire will continue until we have enough production to make sure every human has a lifetime reserve of water and oxygen!”
The crowd roared approval.
Thousands of light-years away, nearly a hundred human spaceships began neutron bombardment of a small planet containing large quantities of oxygen-producing ore . . . thus began the first seed leading to the Galaxy-wide Human War.