It is the year fifty of the New Calendar, dated from the Revolution – the middle twenty-third century according to the old way of counting time. During the twenty-first century, Earth's nations coalesced, first into supranational power blocs, later into the 'Federated Nations', an alliance that theoretically held together for almost a hundred and fifty years, democracy rapidly turning into oligarchy, the 'Hundred Families', leading political, business and in a few occasions former dynastic houses taking the lead, as well as the bulk of the wealth. They launched humanity into the stars, settling worlds scattered all over local space, often involved in Byzantine politics against each other.
All that finally changed. The ordinary people grew poorer, more and more liberties were stripped, and at last, the people were pushed too far and a series of violent riots turned into a wide-scale uprising, which liberated Earth in less than two months – most of the remnant military forces switching sides, either at the beginning of the revolt or as soon as they realized who was going to win. That left the Federated Nations fleeing into space, and led to the construction of the Starcruisers, sixteen custom warships, arrayed against the old national space forces, all loyal to the Federates, fighting in a three-year civil war.
It was a stalemate, at best. Many of the colonies rebelled, and the military force was not present to suppress them, forcing the forces of the Federated Nations to withdraw, pulling to the frontier, to uncharted space. Hundreds of thousands fled Earth to the new colonies, those who feared reprisals as a new generation of Robespierres rose up, corrupting the new regime right from the beginning, though initially these acts of terror were limited. Finally, a ceasefire took effect, the Federated Nations became the Confederation of Stars, led by the Exilarchy, a collection of surviving political and military leaders, a self-appointed council that governs the Confederation to this day.
The Revolutionary leaders declared the Terrestrial People's Republic, and free elections were held for the first time in centuries. This state didn't last for long. Earth was the priority, not the colonies, and they were ignored and suppressed in a bid to keep the Terran population content. Gradually, it became clear that the freedoms that had been promised would not materialize outside cislunar space, and the result was the Uprising, a terrorist revolt that wracked Known Space for three years, finally suppressed when the rebel fleet was corned by the Republic at Ross 154.
Then came the Purge. The leadership of the Republic, fearing further revolt, arrested and killed millions, as many thrown into political prisons, more shipped to the outer colonies to replace those killed in the fighting, and the concept of free elections was locked down, the wealth of humanity increasingly absorbed by an ever-harsher security and surveillance regime. Even on Earth, rumblings began to rise about the tyranny of the leaders of the Republic, and the surviving rebels withdrew into the shadows.
Twenty years have passed, an in a bar on Titan, the rebels are about to launch a Second Revolution, pinning their hopes on a broken-down space commander and a long-lost starcruiser...Polaris...