One of the first worlds settled in the Eire Subsector and still of significant importance, Derry in recent centuries has become overwhelmed by tension between the system’s different human populations. Intractable disputes over political allegiances, ethnolinguistic communities, and attitudes towards human biological diversity and evolution may yet produce catastrophe.
The first inhabitants of the Derry system were travellers from Earth, distant descendants of the crew of the ESA generation starship Niall Noigiallach. Funded by the European Union member-state of Ireland, the Niall Noigiallach was–like the other generation starships of its class–modelled on the three vehicles of the European Space Agency Long-range Colony Mission launched in the mid-21st century. Carrying two thousand passengers and ten thousand embryos, the Niall Noigiallach was launched in 2089 with the goal of establishing an Irish colony world hundreds of parsecs to rimward of Sol, in a cluster on the fringes of the Local Arm.
Unlike many other Terran generation starships of that era, the Niall Noigiallach survived to reach its destination, in 4688 CE decelerating into orbit of the most clement garden world in the Dublin binary system (0706 Eire). The mainworld of Baile Átha Cliath and its ancillary worlds were colonized successfully, implementing the long-dead social planners’ design to create a distinctly Irish interstellar-capable society. Completely isolated from their home system and its interstellar civilization, by the 49th century CE the Dublin system supported a thriving civilization capable of mounting secondary colonization and expeditionary missions of its own.
Among the first launched was to the Feabhal system four parsecs away, where an unusual double planet had been detected during deceleration by the Niall Noigiallach, orbiting in the life zone of a young BY Draconis star. On arrival, the Bréanainn V expedition determined that the scans by the founding generation starship were accurate. Six planetary bodies orbited the K5 star Feabhal, four rocky planets and two gas giants. Two rocky planets shared the second orbit, 0.49 AU from the primary, one a high-gravity waterworld with an ammonia-water ocean, the other a desert world larger than Mars in the Sol system with some glaciated seas, both orbiting a common centre of gravity in a bit under two months. Although the system was only fifty million years old and the Feabhal system’s worlds were geologically unstable, both worlds in the life zone–Doire and An Ghealach, in Galanglic “Derry” and “The Moon” did support basic microbial life, while the planets and smaller world of the system were rich in mineral resources. In the end, the Dublin government chose to concentrate its colonization efforts on more Earth-like worlds such as An Baile Meánach (Ballymena), Béal Feirste (Belfast), Corcaigh (Cork), and Gaillimh (Galway), where fully-fledged daughter civilizations could be settled, but the worlds of the Ferbhal system did receive more than their fair share of research settlements, whether floating on the oceans of Doire or anchored on the sea floor, or on the dryer surface of its moon.
Dublin and its interstellar community were brought roughly into distant contact with Sol and its interstellar community in 5346-49 CE, when the prosperous but technologically backwards subsector was conquered by Solomani migrant fleets fleeing instability in the Banners and Ahriman Sectors and attracted to a promising human civilization free from the instability of home. Equipped with jump drive and otherwise vastly more advanced than the worlds of the “Eire” subsector–Baile Átha Cliath itself was only tech level A and most other worlds substantally behind, while the Solomani were at tech level C–the migrants were easily able to overwhelm the peaceful subsector. The proclamation of the Empire of the New Marches in 5351 established a fully-united interstellar state for the first time in the sector’s history.
The coreward worlds of the subsector were soon overwhelmed by Solomani migrants, the world of Béal Feirste becoming the Solomani’s new homeworld in the subsector, while a Solomani military elite established itself elsewhere. In the more than three millennia since the departure of the Niall Noigiallach, the people of the Eire subsector had come to diverge strongly from the Solomani norm, knowledge of the English ancestral to the Galanglic spoken by the Solomani literally becoming academic to people who spoke only one dialect or another of Irish, with the natives knowing nothing and caring even less of what had happened to their ultimate homeworld and its people since their departure. The biology of the humans of the Eire subsector, too, had come to diverge sharply from the Solomani norm, the genetic engineering that had adapted the settlers of Dublin to life on a low-gravity world with a thin atmosphere and an unusual number of allergens creating a variant human race. Various of the secondary colonization missions brought Dublin colonists to new worlds with unique conditions meriting further engineering. In all, the Empire of the New Marches identified three broad classifications of subsector natives which would each count as separate variant human races. As elsewhere, the biologically and culturally distinctive subjects of an aggressive empire were treated badly, often exploited as labour on many of the secondary systems (like Derry’s) opened up by the Empire’s superior technological base
By the end of the 55th century, internal squabbles in the Empire’s governing classes along with a native resurgence on Dublin and the worlds to rimward led to the Empire’s collapse. Solomani retreated to the coreward quarter of the Eire Subsector, where they founded a Solomani-supremacist Empire of Man centered on the world now known to its Solomani majority as Belfast. After some disorder, in 5599 CE the freed worlds united in their Republic, the Poblacht, governed once again from Dublin but now possessing a technological base capable of standing up to their nearest neighbours. Tensions between the Empire of Man and the Poblacht persisted, as irredentists in the Poblacht lay claim to the worlds in the Empire of Man taken by the Solomani, particularly worlds which retained native majorities of population like Doire. Full-fledged war is distant, as neither polity feels strong enough to invade the other, but cross-border terrorism is becoming distressingly common.
Derry and Derry Beta
Doire/Derry Prime is a hostile world, nearly sixteen thousand kilometres in diameter and with a surface gravity of 1.24g and surface temperatures below freezing. The world’s original settlements were located on equatorial seamounts located beneath the surface of the water-ammonia ocean, protected from the storms of the surface below the microbial mats that initially prompted settlement. The Empire of Man sharply accelerated settlement, sponsoring the migration of tens of millions of people from across the subsector to new habitats anchored on the bottom of the cold oceans devoted to the mining of the world’s rich mineral deposits. Life in the undersea arcologies is almost universally grim, with an ill-functioning panopticon state trying to keep track of a quietly hostile native population. Terraforming has been occasionally proposed by rejected: no plausible schema for terraforming could change the atmosphere or reduce the overwhelming oceans to create a more tolerable world.
An Ghealach/Derry Beta is, while still non-habitable, considerably closer to the Solomani (and Dublin) norms, with a gravity half that of Terra, a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere, and small glaciated water seas on the equator. The world has frequently been proposed as a target for terraforming, and millions of Solomani migrants have settled in the equatorial arcologies. Life for the Solomani of Derry Beta is better than for the natives of the system’s mainworld, with a higher level of technology and a more responsive civil-service goverment in a less unforgiving planetary environment. Many of the Empire of Man’s industrial combines have set up their spinward regional headquarters out of Derry Beta. Recent terrorist outrages have caused an atmosphere of panic to envelop affected arcologies, however.
240 million people live in the system known as Ferbhal to the subsector’s natives and “Derry” to the Empire of Man, making it the second system in the Empire of Man by population and fourth system in the entire Eire Subsector. Of these 160 million live on Doire/Derry Prime (CABA89C-5), 85 million live on An Ghealach/Derry Beta (C43178C-7), and the remainder live in settlements on various other bodies–smaller rocky planets, moons of the gas giants, and habitats built on and out of asteroids and icy bodies. The system has a very complicated population mixture. 56% of its population is of “native” ancestry and belongs to one of the subsector’s three native variant races, whether the original Dublin race (10% of the native population), the native Derry race (85%, adapted for high gravity and low-slung but with denser musculature than even the Solomani norm), or the low-gravity-adapted “floaters” who live in the system’s planetary belts. An Ghealach is known as “Derry Beta” to its overwhelmingly Solomani population.
“The Struggle” (“An Streachailt”) is the term used by members of all four of Derry’s human races, in both their major languages, to refer to the terrorist conflict rooted in the desire of most of the native population’s desire for the transfer of the Feabhal system to the Poblacht, on the grounds of its majority-native population and its history. Literally dozens of different terrorist movements, many operating with covert support from within the Poblacht’s governing institutions but all with substantial support from the Feabhal system’s native populations, operate within the system, operating campaigns of assassinations and bombings against the Empire of Man and prominent Solomani individuals. Already, this has led to the designation of the system as an Amber Zone by subsector travellers’ agencies.
On current trends, the Struggle will come to an end only after the conclusion of war between the Empire of Man and the Poblacht. The Empire is unwlling to concede any worlds or systems to the Poblacht, even systems like An Srath Bán/Strabane (0503 Eire) and Inis Ceithleann/Eniskillen (0504 Eire) with overwhelmingly native populations, out of a combination of racist contempt for the variant humans of the Eire Subsector and a legitimate fear that any territorial concessions will ultimately lead to the Poblacht’s destruction of the Empire and the Solomani of the subsector. The idea of abandoning Derry is a complete non-starter, since apart from the system’s considerable economic importance the ninety million Solomani of the system–many descended from refugees from the worlds of the Poblacht–simply cannot be abandoned. The idea of keeping An Ghealach for the Empire while conceding the rest of the system of the Poblacht is just as impossible. If the Empire can continue to consolidate its strength, perhaps drawing support from other Solomani civilizations within reach, it might be able to hold on; if not, the continuing modernization of the Poblacht will leave the Empire mortally vulnerable within a generation. A downwards spiral of violence has begun in the Derry system, and where it might end no one will know.