Thus it came to pass.
There was a world we called Earth and over it flew a flag with red and white stripes and a blue field of white stars. And that flag was the flag of America. And America was beautiful and great. She stood first among all other nations and peoples of Earth, a Shining City on a Hill under the grace and watchful eye of Fed.
In the Three Hundred and Twenty-second Year of America’s Liberty, what all other nations called the year Two Thousand and Ninety-Eight, America developed the nearly magical device known as the jump drive. They went out into the Universe and found an empire of the aliens known as Vilani.
They fought bravely against them, but were defeated, returning to America wounded but not slain. In the peace that followed, there came many attacks on America from the other peoples of Earth. She was beset by the Librals and the Commies and Atheists who flew to her soil from around the world. The United Nations of Forners demanded that America cease to be America. They said she should give up her President and her treasures and worst of all, her guns.
Most Americans sold out. Even the President and Congress went along, but not everyone agreed with this plan. There were many who felt that Holy America should remain America and the Forners should leave it alone. There were riots and clashes in the streets. Those who sought to merge America with the world were called Unionists and those who fought to keep her free were called Patriots. A war seemed inevitable.
Ultimately, it was the Cheney Foundation that made the arrangement that saved the Liberty of the Patriots and yet kept the peace. They set forth a bold proposal. They would use the new jump drives and a ship made from a hollowed-out asteroid to take the majority of the Patriots and leave to found America anew on an alien world. It took two years to outfit the ship and to prepare the hundred thousand sleeping colonists. In the Three Hundred and Forty-eighth Year, and on the very last day of America’s Liberty, the True Patriots launched to the stars aboard New America. In her cargo hold she carried the Declaration of Independence and one of the original copies of the Constitution to act as beacons of hope in the dark night.
For two years they wandered the stars, seeking a new Land of the Free. They found many worlds, but none were suitable for so many and they did not wish to split up. And then, when they were three hundred light years from Earth, a chance collision with a meteoroid caused an explosion and a misjump. New America emerged two weeks later in a completely unfamiliar place. But Fed smiled upon his Patriots and the ship’s sensors detected a star system barely within range. They turned off even the lights to conserve power and the colony ship cruised toward the only habitable world orbiting that star, taking six months to cross the gulf. There was barely enough fuel remaining to maintain life support as the colonists were ferried down to the planet. New America remained in orbit, a man-made moon clearly visible from the surface of their new home.
The world they had landed on was pleasant, slightly smaller and wetter than Earth but with a comfortable temperature and compatible native life. There were only two small continents and a dozen archipelagos but for 100,000 people, this was plenty of space. This seemed to be the home they were looking for, but instead of naming the world after their blessed America they decided to name it Saint Washington after her greatest hero.
The generations that followed learned of the greatness that had been America, of the perfidy of the Librals and Forners, of the salvation of the jump drive and of the arduous journey through the veil of black. They learned this, but they forgot many other things.
-New America, the Vessel of Freedom
Liberty Press 5609
The Age of the Na-Sa
Based on recovered artifacts from New America the first landing on Washington has been dated to July 4th, 2127. It’s not known if they chose to land on July 4th or if it happened by accident. All formal records after that kept on electronic media failed to survive as did any written records if the colonists even made any. No hard original sources exist for the next seven hundred years.
The Patriots had not attracted many scientists and engineers. After thirty years there were few remaining who could remember how to repair machines, even if parts were available. Fusion power was replaced by solar power until that broke down and was replaced by fossil fuels. But Washington did not have a biosphere as old as Earth’s, so those ran out within a century. They forgot how to build computers, how to make plastics and thus how to build spacecraft. The shuttles that had brought them down from New America were stripped of all their useful technological parts within one generation, and the knowledge to rebuild or repair them did not exist.
After two hundred years the tales of America and the small moon the Patriots had left orbiting in the sky above became myths and fables. Only those who knew the myths could recite them, and only they still held the remnants of technology and remembered how it was used. They were the scholars and the engineers of the old world and they were known by the word on the suits that they wore, the Na-Sa.
No specific date can be given for the founding of the Na-Sa religion. The first mention of the Na-Sa as a separate class comes from an engraving on a stone pedestal.
**On this spot with the blessing of the Grand Reverend of the Na-Sa the township of Peoria was founded this Seventeenth day of October, 2433. May Almighty Fed smile upon our undertaking this day.
It is not well-documented if the Na-Sa were actually operating a government by this time but it is clear that by the beginning of the 30th Century there were at least some places on the planet that were in complete control of the Priesthood and this may have been one of the proximate causes of the conflicts taking place around the planet at this time. While everyone seems to have held similar religious beliefs, the supremacy of the Na-Sa as a specific overclass was unpopular to many. This situation culminated in the Century War (3200-3304) when the Na-Sa declared a crusade of evangelism across the planet.
The Na-Sa held to beliefs that technology was sacred, but delving too far into scientific research was sacrilegious. Science was connected with Libralism and Commienism and this belief system held across Washington for nearly two thousand years. Exceptions were granted only for innovations with a proven necessity. The Century War, for example, necessitated the use of wide-scale propaganda and mass-production of communications materials, thus the Na-Sa allowed the printing press to be reinvented. This means that where documents survived there are finally primary sources appearing in the historical record again. They were still limited by power availability, so the war was fought with bows and swords and mostly on foot.
At the end of the Century War, the Na-Sa appear to have controlled the entire planet. They established a government they called the Holy Republic of St. Washington and operated it according to their Consticreed.
**We the believers in the United Faiths, in order to form a perfecter rite, applaud justice, insure tranquillity of the spirit, provide for defense of belief, promote the welfare of our fellows, and secure the blessings of LIBERTY on ourselves and our children, do ordain and establish this Consticreed for the United Faiths of Saint Washington.
-Overture to the Consticreed
The victory of the Na-Sa deepened an already dark age. Washington was stuck in a technological hole, unable to advance without permission of the Na-Sa and even when permission was given, the basics of science had to be re-learned. With no more fossil fuels there was no source of power available beyond burning biomass and human muscle and these were insufficient to bring about the basic improvements of tech level four.
During this time anyone who developed a new technology did so in secret. They came to be known as “Basement Men”. They would reinvent artifacts or duplicate broken ones. The priesthood knew that these people existed, but did not spend a lot of time rooting them out. Technology kept in a basement was all right as far as they were concerned. It was the unrestricted spread of technology that they didn’t like. They would allow petitioners to request the right to make an innovation, but these had to be carefully worded to make it appear that the petitioner had not been doing any experimenting. Even drawing up basic plans without permission was considered anathema; discovery would mean arrest and excommunication which was effectively a death sentence. These laws made it easy to dispose of a Basement Man who stepped over the line.
Finally an innovation was permitted in solar power which allowed gradual improvements. It was still nine hundred years until the Na-Sa would permit the development of radio which pushed the tech Level to five in 4620.
The Reinvention of Space Travel
Washington would probably still be at tech level five but for one event. Nearly two hundred years after the development of radio, hundreds of Basement Men detected an anomalous signal from space at the same time. They were not aware of this at the time, but a robotic Thrantix probe had entered the Washington system. (To date, nobody is sure if this was happenstance or if they had detected signals coming from Washington from about ten light years away that had induced them to send the probe to investigate. The Thrantix won’t discuss the issue and since it was over five hundred years until the two species met, it’s possible they don’t even remember sending the probe.)
The Na-Sa became concerned that this was an indication of a threat from an extraplanetary intelligence, possibly the legendary Vilani. Their conservative dogmas got shelved and hundreds of scientists came out of their basements to work on new programs and technology with the goal of limited spaceflight to source the signals. They made their first launch only seven years later, but it took another forty years to reinvent computers that would allow them to land on New America, Washington’s only satellite.
The first astronauts to land confirmed that it was a colony ship. This was at first hailed as proof that the holy writ was accurate. Man had indeed come to Washington by means of a grand vessel sent forth from Earth by the Na-Sa thousands of years before. They scheduled more launches to further confirm their religious beliefs.
But a generation later, trouble began within the religion. Washington had sent more than a hundred expeditions that had returned with all sorts of artifacts, mostly firearms, which they had found in the corridors of the colony ship. Technological items provoked a tremendous amount of interest, of course, but once the difficulties of decoding the computer storage media were solved, a new problem developed. Archaeologists started digging through the recovered records and started to find major differences between the Na-Sa’s historical record and that shown by the recovered artifacts. The Na-Sa suppressed this at first, but public interest in what exactly had been brought down proved impossible to quell.
By 4935 when Washington had established a permanent base on New America the original Constitution had been recovered, as had the Bible and assorted other documents that had been the precursors of Na-Sa belief. Within that generation the Na-Sa faith began to schism into several slightly different belief systems. These were both regional and class-based. As a result, many of the conservative ways of the Na-Sa were put aside and innovation continued at a steady pace.
The Colonial Period
It was around the late 4900s when scientists began studying New America’s jump drive in an attempt to construct a copy. They failed, as did multiple generations of them afterwards. They lacked basic theories of physics which had been lost and had to be relearned. It took over three hundred years and the development of reactionless thrusters for the jump breakthrough to be made. By that time Washington was already well within tech level eleven in every other respect. Sublight ships had already been to Quincy and reported back that a habitable world had been found there.
By the time the jump drive was redeveloped in 5321, things had reached a boiling point among the different denominations and cultures on Washington and the world was heavily overpopulated. Civil wars had broken out in various places on the world and the government had fallen many times.
A substantial number of people had already moved to orbital cities to escape heathens or persecutors and complete departure seemed like the best idea to most of them. They scouted worlds for the first few years. A scout mission contacted the Thrantix and determined they were not a threat. A small colony expedition landed on Quincy but was not very successful at first. Larger colony ships were needed and everyone who wanted to leave started building their own. Ten years after the first jump, the first colony ships were ready. Quincy, Adams, and Jeferson were first. Laweesyana, Kalifornia and Newyork were settled a few years later.
By 5345 there were twenty colonies. By 5350, Kalifornia and Colarado had sent out colony ships of their own. Some succeeded and some failed. Notably, the government of Washington never tried to retain control of the colonies, considering them to be independent from the moment they entered jumpspace. The Na-Sa did try to retain authority over the souls of those who departed, however. All the colonial churches paid at least some lip service to being in Federal Communion with the Holy Capitol on Saint Washington. All of them set up representative democracies modeled on the recovered Constitution from New America but they each had different interpretations of certain parts.
Separation resolved most of the conflict, and the period came to be known as the Colonial Peace. This is misleading because it was during this period that the Tillians were wiped out by Newyork, but no significant human wars took place. The peace lasted for about a hundred years until the First Regional War broke out in 5428.