What fictional world would be complete without an equally fictional backstory to how it came to be in its current state?
In the universe
Darnika is home to approximately 620 million humans descended from an original settler population of approximately 15.000.
Settled circa 11.000 BCE, the small colony was quickly cut off from Earth by the Kessari ‘salting the earth’, but was never discovered. Modern equipment broke down within years, as the colony was far from self-sufficient (with the exception of the most basic of necessities). Still, the population hung on and stagnated for several decades, with disease, hunger and simple accidents being the major cause of death.
These early Darnikans tried to preserve as much of their knowledge as they could for coming generations, but ultimately it was only partially successful – more and more knowledge was lost as people died off and struggled to survive day to day.
Darnika fell back into a dark age, and the population split into smaller groups, scattering across the main continent. Many reverted to a tribal society. Warfare between tribes was common. Different belief systems emerged over time – some pantheistic, others based on ancestor worship and a then already long forgotten ancestry.
Most higher knowledge was lost to the ages as priorities continually shifted more towards survival. Agriculture was a major exception, and remained on a relatively sophisticated level compared to Earth. This phase lasted only a few hundred years, but near the end of it, around 9.900 BCE, population finally stabilized at around 100.000 individuals and started a gradual increase.
The Age of Barbary
The time that followed is now being called the Age of Barbary, and lasted for nearly 6.000 years. It is marked by a repeated population boom-bust cycle. The first peak was in about 8.000 BCE at around 3 million people, before a series of unusually cold years (now thought to be caused by massive volcanism) resulting in widespread famine, as well as extensive and brutal warfare, forced a population collapse back to about 1.5 million living individuals. It took nearly two thousand years to recover to ´the former peak.
Around 5.500 BCE the first iron tools and weapons appeared on a wide scale – and simultaneously another marked increase in warfare caused another small population collapse, though not quite as pronounced as the first one. This time the population bounced back quickly, and advances in agriculture and husbandry at the same time made the perfect recipe for a population boom up to 50 million within 1.000 years – beyond which the growth leveled off once more, again in part to disease and unfavourable climate conditions, and incessant low level warfare between the various tribes, kingdoms, fiefdoms and similar societal structures.
The Age of Barbary lasted until around 3.500 BCE
The Age of rediscovery and exploration
Around this time, things calmed down considerably on Darnika. The climate turned more favourable, reducing the need to raid and harass the direct neighbours less and less. Over a period of two centuries the various small protostates grew in population and affluence, and with increasing interaction between them grew closer together, until only seven major kingdoms remained with a total population of 180 million.
All-out warfare was a rare occurrence in this atmosphere of affluence, though border skirmishes and small incursions persisted throughout the Age. Disease was the major killer during these days.
Technological development also started to gain momentum during this time thanks to the larger population, which meant people could finally specialise in their trades. Steel started to supplant simpler iron tools and weapons, and leisure turned to curiosity, which was turned outwards and at their own past, trying to answer where they came from and where they would go.
The northern continent was discovered around 2.800 BCE and settled shortly after.
Around 2.500 BCE an intrepid adventurer stumbled across something long lost: the original colony site. The foundations of most buildings had long since crumbled, but he gained access to an underground facility which had remained remarkably intact over the past seven milennia, save for some cave-ins. The discovery sent shockwaves through Darnikan societies and renewed the interest in the past, soaring to new heights.
By 2.000 BCE the technological development accelerated, as did population growth, now standing at 330 million. Despite their discoveries at the ancient colony site, little fact could be pieced together, and what was, quickly was dismissed as myth of an overly imaginative people. Still, it didn’t explain the highly advanced, yet weathered, metalworks and construction evident in the ruins.
Around 1.100 BCE industrialization was in full progress, but the diplomatic climate between the remaining nations turned increasingly hostile. Especially the two largest nations – Nereia, occupying much of the southeast main continent, and Phero, located at the coast of the inner sea dividing the main continent – were increasingly at odds with each other. Several small proxy wars were fought between the two powers, both sides accusing the other of treachery and manipulation, yet denying direct involvement in the numerous wars. No side dared to declare open war yet.
In 1.072 BCE, Nereias old and frail king died and was replaced by Weriko – up until then a guardsman and military advisor. Weriko was a hardliner and had earlier called for repeated military action against Phero and its allies. However, much to the surprise, and growing suspicion, of the other states, Nereias newest ruler turned out to be a pragmatist with a far worse bark than bite. Diplomatic envoys soothed worries about a more aggressive Nereia, and for a time tensions seemed to ebb.
Weriko had other plans. In the shadows he started to plan for his future, and continued what he had set in motion in his advisor days – a covert buildup of force and a highly trained population. His eyes were set on one goal: to bring the states of Darnika under his direct control.
In 1.050 BCE the unification war broke out.
A new Space Age and the rebirth of Darnika
Despite all secrecy, a massive military build-up like Nereias’ did not go unnoticed by the other states. In spite of the reassuring words from the embassies and envoys, Phero prepared for what it perceived an inevitable war. Growing increasingly alarmed by the growing gap between the words and actions of Nereia, Phero and two satellite states initiated a preemptive strike on several locations within Nereia.
Weriko, caught unaware by the swift move of his enemies, immediately called for a full mobilization. But Phero had underestimated the actual progress of Nereia quite severely, and was quickly put on the defensive. Several clever counterstrikes all but halted the Pheroni advance, and less than twelve intense weeks of combat later, the well-trained Nereian forces made significant gains within enemy territory and soon controlled 60% of the main continent. Things looked grim for Phero, but Weriko had made one critical mistake: his forces were now overextended and vulnerable. Both sides entered a phase of consolidation, which lasted almost a year, dotted by raids and skirmishes along the entire front line. Within three years, both Phero and Nereia were essentially back to where they started.
Military technology advanced rapidly, and the smaller states, sometimes enticed by grand promises, other times by coups or bribes, frequently switched sides in the conflict. But the big picture amounted to little more than a perpetual stalemate.
Much like the First World War on Earth, industrial scale weapons production and modern weaponry met with increasingly outdated military tactics, and resulted in major bloodshed on all involved parties. The war continued to rage for nearly sixteen more years, some times more intensely than others, with repeatedly shifting alliances and no real ground gained on either side. The western continent was randomly rediscovered during the war.
The unification war finally ended in 1.031 BCE when Phero launched an all-or-nothing assault on Nereia – a desperate gamble designed to lop off the leadership of this war. All its hopes hinged on their newest secret weapon. While rockets of varying sizes had been used to devastating effect for over ten years, none could match the destructive power of their newest invention: a rocket-mounted nuclear warhead. Nereian forces struggled to control and halt the Pheroni fast advance, but the strike team achieved their goal: Phero came within thirty kilometres of the Nereian capital and launched the missile. Though short-ranged and unwieldy, it delivered a 350 kiloton warhead over a major population center. Nearly half a million people died instantly in the blast, and another million subsequently suffered and died in the aftermath from radiation exposure and injuries sustained due to the attack.
This single act instantly stopped almost all combat dead in its tracks, and a truce was called within a week. The sheer shock of destruction on this scale was indescribable. When news spread throughout the continent of what had transpired, riots erupted globally in an already war-weary population which had suffered through shortages and – including the bombing – seventy-three million dead, or nearly 20% of the global population at the time.
Disgruntled veterans soon joined the chorus, the most outspoken ones directly involved in the attack on Nereias capital, and the warring governments finally caved to the pressure in 1.028 BCE, sitting down at one table for the first time in living memory. This resulted in an uneasy peace. Truthfully, the only thing that all of them could agree upon was the creation of an agency to control nuclear power, providing checks and balances so that no one nation would have an advantage over the others and preventing the use of nuclear weapons against human targets.
The energy of the peoples turned inward after this experience, focusing on rebuilding a world that was far better than any of them had experienced. All this manic energy soon turned towards the skies, and barely fifteen years after the war ended each nation had its own small space program going.
The first objects to orbit Darnika were launched in 1.005 BCE, and by 1.001 BCE a number of probes and satellites had arrived or crashed on both moons of Darnika (at circa 100.000km/200.000km distant).
In 998 BCE the first crewed flight reached orbit, and within fifteen further years, humans had landed on both Darnikan moons.
The unified Darnika
The coming century saw more and more involvement of the nuclear agency as the world grew more connected. The first step towards unification was, oddly enough, not caused by any earthly need, but the agencys’ desire to keep space travel tightly controlled. A true global space agency was founded and all space travel – which by the end of the century was turning increasingly routine – folded under one banner.
This agency has existed continuously until modern times, sometimes changing name, but almost uninterrupted for the three thousand years. Technological development was forced, and the Darnikans penetrated deeper and deeper into their solar system, beginning to utilize the resources there and gaining a more sophisticated understanding of space travel.
It only seemed natural that more and more governmental responsibilities were scooped up by the agency, and by 600 BCE, Darnika was one truly unified world, after the last of the small northern nations agreed to a common government.
Around 100 CE, Darnikan population had peaked at around 1.2 billion. Environmental decline and, again, a drastic climatic change, caused the population to dwindle to around 600 million over the next 1600 years before stabilizing around that value. Around 1.800 CE major ‘green’ efforts were put into place, gradually replacing old, polluting technologies with more modern, clean(er) and efficient ones.
Today, Darnika is home to 620 million people, centred on the capital city of Zhakane, which 920.000 Darnikans call its home – with another million or two working in or in the vicinity of the city.
An extensive high-speed vacuum train network based on magnetic levitation connects every major population centre, with smaller regional population centres served by less dense and speedy monorail networks. Air travel is not as common and mainly limited to connections between the largest of cities (as there is not much of a time difference between flight and train anyway).
Space travel is an everyday occurrence now, and many Darnikans make a living in the various stations and shipyards around the Thelion system, often staying there for extended periods of time before returning to home soil.
Power production today is a mix of fusion power (though the challenges of maintaining a vacuum chamber makes those power sources more suited for space travel), nuclear power (mostly based on Thorium isotopes) and, in sunnier areas, solar molten salt reactors.
Darnikans tend to eschew wind and hydro power (the former for its low output and unpredictability of the wind, the latter because of the regular flooding caused by the extensive rainfalls in the wet season), even though they may be used locally.