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Historically, the greatest myopia of Humanity has been managing its space travel–most specifically travel through the Soup. The lesson of the Decline should have been that inefficient management of Soup travel leads inevitably to isolation. However, that lesson was conveniently forgotten during the peak of the Imperium. We are now left with that legacy as systems have again disappeared.

The Route Mapping Commission was established after the Society for Soup Sailing proved an ineffective volunteer organization. That Society’s goal was to maintain records of shipping between systems. By analyzing the trip computers of Soup-capable vessels, they hoped to detect when local Hop pollution began to constrict the shipping lane. Ideally, the Society would then recommend alternate routes and give that lane a chance to recover.

However, the Society was manipulated by powerful shipping interests. This caused the Society to tell smaller companies they had to take longer routes to avoid increasing pollution, while allowing the major shipping corporations to travel directly. This tactic only served to reduce the reputation of the Society so that nobody cared when they sent out legitimate warnings.

The Commission was decreed to abolish the Society and restore respectability to the science of forecasting hop pollution. The Commission immedately launched a comprehensive census of all Soup trip computers, and land-based route computers. The “Great Bonish Census” returned dire results. Although many independent shipping groups refused to provide information to the Imperium, information obtained revealled the chaos of the Soup as it had become. All routes showed critical signs of pollution. The Commission recommended a ten-year moratorium on all Soup travel.

That recommendation was carefully tailored by the Imperium. All independent soup travel was to be banned for fifteen years on pain of confiscation of the ship. Only ships bearing the Imperial stamp were to be permitted to travel, and their routes would be carefully managed by the Imperium. Some of the more efficient ships were condemned by the Imperium and rolled into what Durin Bonish hoped to become an Imperial Merchant Fleet. Naturally, this allowed the Imperium to control trade as ships were only given seals when the cargo was vetted by local officials. The Commission was charged with maintaining the bureaucracy.

Independent shippers refused to comply–sort of why we think of them as independents when one thinks about it. Hundreds of ships were either captured or destroyed as a result. Smuggling tightened and trade virtually collapsed. The bureaucratic effect of the Commission’s all-intrusive approach caused some worlds to become critically short of much needed supplies–especially when the Commission itself deemed that system was being overly-indulged with a given commodity.

Eventually, the Commission was reduced to the same role as the Society–that of predicting pollution and recommending route changes. However, it never gained the needed respect because of its affiliation with the Imperium and the attempt to centralize trade. Finally, it was sold to monoplistic interests.

References

Related Articles

  1. Imperium Edition Index
  2. Durin Bonish

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