The Starmoth Initiative

"Space dissolves everything. Empires, nations, allegiances, routes, maps. In the expanses of the void, it seems that our destiny is to be mere wanderers, as opposed to the pioneers and colonists of the past."

--Rani Spengler.

"As above, so below."

--Motto of the Starmoth Initiative.

In the first decades of the interstellar age, space exploration was enthusiastic but messy. Unregistered ships bounced from planet to planet, landing and taking samples of alien life without much regard for contamination or cross-pollination. Swarms of Von Neumann probes surged through uncharted systems without warning nor coordination. Long-range exploration missions gathered mountains of data that would never be correctly classified, published or sorted. This newfound knowledge accumulated in private databanks, layers upon layers upon layers without rhyme or reason. Sometimes, even, exploration ships stumbled upon less than amicable things and were promptly destroyed, leaving but question marks in their wake.

The Starmoth Initiative was established as an attempt to solve this problem by coordinating human exploration efforts. The Initiative is a cooperative organisation financed by a mixture of government subsidies and communal donations. Its primary mission is to provide an organized framework for human exploration by creating and enforcing standards for data collection and sharing, ship ratings and scientific protocols. Its secondary mission is to maintain an independent exploration fleet operating at the edges of human space. The two activities are intertwined: the Initiative's field experience provides invaluable feedback to its administrative and procedural side. If a deep space traveller was to stumble upon a lone beacon around an unsettled star, there are good odds that it was set up by the Initiative as a reminder of its passage. The twenty-five Inyanga-class ships of the Starmoth Initiative have thus been the spearhead of many an attempt at crossing the uncharted void between galactic arms and will continue doing so for as long as the organisation exists.

In the eyes of the Starmoth Initiative, exploration is valuable in and of itself, both as a means to further humankind's understanding of the universe and as a way to create a sense of community on the fringes of civilisation. Though the Initiative will happily lend its data and feedback to settlers or private exploration parties, at its heart it is about creating a safe, regulated space for explorers. It operates relay stations in the void, edits guidelines for space travel and maintains (at a great cost) a deep space mail service. The organisation also funds deep space research, having among other things pioneered the Butterfly Engine, a long-range version of the Geometry Drive.

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