- Parent: Atlas
Albe During the Old Empire
A parched world with a breathable but dust-choked atmosphere, Albe made an unlikely candidate to become one of the most populated worlds in the sector when initially charted by a First Imperium flyby in ~-2600. Albe would remain little more than a footnote on astrographic charts until a mineral survey lead by Sergei Albe discovered commercially recoverable deposits of lanthanum in -2084. Albe’s discovery would be but the first of many, as the world which took his name contained approximately half of the commercially extractable lanthanum in the entire sector, as well as significant – if less gaudy – stores of other rare earth elements and industrial metals. Albe’s titanic mineral wealth was instrumental in financing the first wave of colonization into the Sindal Sector, and the world would garner itself a dukedom in the emergent Sindalian Empire as the rest of Charted Space fell into the Long Night. Albe became the Old Empire’s second-world, behind only Noricum itself in power and influence at the height of Sindal’s power.
But from such great heights might come great falls. While Albe was not one of the instigators of the Crisis of the Thirty-First Century – as the Dukes of Yggdrasil, Tobia, and Gazulin were – it certainly contributed to the ferocity of the Wars of Civicide and the civilizational collapse that ensued following their crescendo. Albe practiced a studious neutrality through the Crisis, gladly lending money to any faction willing to pay the demanded interest and turning a blind-eye as its shipyards were used to build warships-in-all-but-name in clear contravention of the Imperial Constitution. But when the flag of rebellion was raised in the Old Empire’s periphery, Albe once more remained studiously neutral, succeeding in avoiding the fighting that devastated much of the sector, as well as the orbital bombardment that awaited Sindalian loyalists who stood too fast.
Albe’s skillful avoidance of the worst of the destruction of the Old Empire, however, was to have terrible consequences. More than any other world in the Old Empire, Albe had been the benefit of comparative advantage: Trade was the world’s lifeblood, as it exported all manner of starfaring-related manufactures and goods to finance imports of all that it might need. Albean neutrality had kept its coffers full during the Wars of Civicide by guaranteeing continued access to it and its markets, but as the exigencies of total war faded and the true weight of the decimation of the Dpres, Sindal, and Tobia subsectors was felt, demand for Albean exports cratered and economic meltdown ensued. The buckling of the Albean economy, in turn, was the body blow to interstellar civilization that trigged its collapse and the onset of the Long Night to the sector, as Albe had been the great shipyard of Sindal.
The Onset of the Long Night
The coming of the Long Night to Albe is the one aspect of Sindalian history that most people in Charted Space can lay claim to knowing about. As told by blockbuster holovids like Gorluun’s Feast, a world of a hundred billion souls found itself confronted with an inability to import enough food and water to sustain the population, and descended into utter anarchy, where a kilo of human urine bought as much as a kilogram of platinum and roving gangs of cannibals feasted upon whoever they might catch. Such sensationalist tracts ignore readily discoverable historical facts, of course, like continuous local census data that show Albe never had more than a third of its alleged population or that finding sufficient towing ability to redirect enough stellar water sources to supply Albe would be trivially easy with its technological base. (To say nothing of the autobiography and personal papers of the last – and reigning – Duke of Albe, Gorluun III.) Little things like history have never done much to stop storytelling, after all.
What actually befell Albe with the coming of the Long Night was far less dramatic, but in its own way, worse than anarchy and cannibal gangs. Devastated by the collapse of the interstellar economy though it was, Albe still had the means by which to develop a full, mature planetary economy capable of supporting its gargantuan population with the onset of the Long Night. To do so, however, would require the conversion or demolition of much of its specialized shipbuilding plant to provide the tooling and capital to bring about an autarky. Doing so, however, also would guarantee that Albe would turn inward for the foreseeable future and that her still-considerable reservoirs of knowledge and capital would be cut-off from the rest of what remained of the interstellar community.
The decision on whether to “close” Albe was not an easy one: The Dukes of Albe were, after all, relatives by blood and marriage to the Star Dragon Emperors of Sindal and had just as credible a claim to the throne of the Old Empire as anyone now that Noricum had been blasted back to the Stone Age. And Albe’s resources were certainly such that she might stabilize and carve out some portion of what had been Sindal for herself, as some of the Duke’s entourage strenuously argued. Such was not to be the case, however, as before Gorluun III could make any decision, the bureaucracy mobilized and struck first to mount a palace coup to ensure Albe’s future lay in turning inward. Gorluun was given a disquieting choice: He could either authorize the bureaucracy to rule in his name for 99 years and recuse himself from any personal rule in government, or the military would mutiny, kill him, and keep going down the list of claimants until such time as someone will to accept such an arrangement was found. Gorluun, shocked by the brazenness of his own government, had no choice but authorize rule in his name under protest. Like any good aristocrat, he believed that this was merely a temporary setback and that, with time, he would be able to gather support to reverse it. The bureaucracy, demonstrating a surprising amount of Genre Savvy, had anticipated such too. And, to ensure that would never be a problem, he was forcibly put into suspended animation, to be woken every 99 years to reauthorize the bureaucracy’s continued rule of Albe, a process that continues to this day.
In More Modern Times
Following first contact with the Third Imperium in 248, Albe has slowly rejoined the community of the stars, as the markets of the Imperium animate the same basic economics that once made Albe the glittering jewel of the Old Empire. Fierce competition from established firms within Imperial space, as well as Drinaxi and Theevan yards, has guaranteed most of Albe’s participation in the construction trade has centered on jump-drive production. Not withstanding such, since the world fully joined the Third Imperium a half-century ago, the world’s benefitted for preferential contracting from the Imperial Navy to support the base at Realgar and the Imperial colonization initiative at Cordillon, which make its shipyards the fastest growing in the sector.