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In both the mind of the general public and academia alike, the history of Terrans in space can be put into two categories: 2072 to 2174 and after, or as it is often called “pre- and post-Actium”.
Actium Station was the furthest outpost humanity had established by late 2174. 53 lightyears away from the Sol system, Actium Station had been established by Prometheus fourteen months prior, alongside Gannick Station four lightyears away. They were designed as relay stations to observe and monitor local space. Colonization efforts had already been confined to a small sector around Earth at the time. And while colonization had already happened at an alarming rate for isolationists and security analysts alike, Gannick and Actium Stations were established to mark the outer reaches of Terran influence. Rich in minerals and natural resources, as well as inhabitable planets, the systems were already ear-marked for the second wave of colonization and the Stations built to facilitate peaceful trade and diplomatic exchange with local species. Also designed as Naval outposts, both stations had a number of gunboat squadrons and two Spacefleet cruisers on station. Smaller and slower than Prometheus, the still packed an equal punch and served as force multipliers for the already heavily armed stations. Then, late in November 2174, the attacks came. Actium Station was the first to feel the brunt force of the attack. A force of several battlecruisers destroyed the outpost, then moved on to Gannick. The inner colonies and Earth did not hear about the attacks until December when the force came to attack the colony in the Epsilon Eridani system. Smaller than Proxima Centauri, it was still the most heavily populated system with close to ten thousand settlers, most of them freshly arrived from colony ships within the previous three months. Once again a colony was destroyed. The final tally: three Terran outposts destroyed in as many weeks, eleven thousand dead, five stations destroyed, three Naval flotillas nuked with one ship of the opposing force destroyed. Then the attackers vanished back into the opposite direction.
Prometheus was recalled from the first Terran visit to the Vaude home system to help with the relief effort. It was then that Terran hubris was first tested. As Captain Connors wrote into her ship’s log after the dispatch boat had reached Prometheus only hours before:
We might as well have called this the Icarus Project, because we just got burned. Too fast. Too cocky. Foolish.
Without falling back to see the history of Terran exploration reduced to a Prometheus narrative, this was the moment that historians and contemporary cultural observers alike, began changing their minds on the reckless starship captain, who was often called “luck for brains Connors” by the isolationist-friendly Earth News Now and expansionist-friendly Voice of the Colonies webvid channels alike.
As my colleague Commander Hobbs noted in her 2184 habilitation: We often forget this in a world too interested in a post-Actium world, but Connors was not the most beloved person pre-Actium. Sure, she had commanded a successful mission in the last two-and-a-half years, but there were already talks of recalling Prometheus for a refit and replacing Connors, maybe with her first officer Arroway. So clearly there were some voices, both in the public and the government, who were not too happy with her performance. It’s really just masked by the meteoric expansion wave of the years and, frankly, blind luck that Connors got another shot at legendary status. Morbid as it sounds, Actium was her lucky break.