The Club is a cabal of highly influential figures who have been manipulating the course of human development for centuries. They claim to be acting in humanity's best interests, shepherding the species through crises to ensure that as many survive as possible, but countless people have died as unwitting pawns in their inscrutable plans. Exposing The Club and their latest conspiracy, a far-reaching plan to prepare for an invasion by the Thargoids, was the final act of Kahina Tijani Loren.
While the past goals and manipulations of The Club are unknown, by the 3300's their primary objective is to prepare humanity for an imminent invasion by the Thargoids. Following the war between the Thargoids and the Intergalactic Naval Reserve Arm, which ended in an apparent victory for INRA due to the deployment of the mycoid weapon, The Club suppressed as much information on the Thargoids as possible, reducing them to the status of a myth in the eyes of the public over the following decades. The reason for the secrecy was to prevent a mass-panic throughout the Core Systems over the true scale of the threat the Thargoids posed.
The Club had learned that two distinct "dynasties" of the Thargoids, the Oresrians and Klaxians, had become involved in a civil war. At some point, the Klaxians had gained the upper hand, forcing the Oresrians into a slow, continuous retreat across the galaxy, a retreat which would take them directly through human space. The Oresrians intended to use human civilization as a "bullet shield" to occupy the Klaxians' attention while they escaped further into the galaxy, a scenario which posed a potentially apocalyptic threat to the whole of humanity. To ensure the survival of as many humans as possible through the impending crisis, The Club has been working to strengthen humanity's military capabilities and prepare contingencies in case the Core Systems were completely overrun.
In 3270, The Club funded a secret exploration initiative called Project Dynasty to chart Earth-like worlds beyond the Core Systems in three regions: the Formidine Rift, Hawking's Gap, and the Scutum-Sagittarii Conflux. At the time, Frame Shift Drive-technology did not yet exist and Hyperspace travel took hours, and Auto Field-Maintenance Units were expensive experimental devices. Consequently, little exploration had been attempted outside the Core Systems and these three regions were entirely uncharted; the journey to the Formidine Rift alone would take a full six months, not including the return trip.
The Club funded the construction of The Zurara, a state-of-the-art Megaship designed specifically for long-term exploration and equipped with the latest AFMUs, and also prepared a number of Anacondas. Their mission was to locate viable Earth-like worlds in their target areas, and mark them with beacons to serve as waypoints when the Thargoids invaded the Core Systems and humanity needed a safe haven. To ensure absolute secrecy for as long as possible, the Project Dynasty expeditions were never intended to return after they had completed their objectives. In the case of The Zurara, it was sabotaged and stranded in the Formidine Rift with no power by sleeper agents who had been conditioned to sacrifice themselves. The project's other ships presumably met similar fates.
Frame Shift Drives
In the course of the INRA-Thargoid war, a number of Thargoid ships were captured by the Galactic Cooperative, and later fell into the possession of the Alliance in the years after GalCop collapsed. By the 3270's, the Alliance was able to reverse-engineer Thargoid technology to produce the single most consequential hyperdrive innovation in centuries: the Frame Shift Drive, which reduced travel times in hyperspace from hours to mere seconds. Due to the machinations of The Club, however, the Alliance did not leverage FSD technology to gain superiority over the Federation and Empire; instead, the tech fell into the hands of Sirius Corporation, which monopolized it and revealed it to the public by 3290. FSDs were made widely available beginning in 3297, opening the floodgates for human exploration and expansion, and by 3300 all registered ships had been upgraded with this new technology. As a result of Sirius Corporation's evenhanded distribution of FSD tech to all powers and factions, a shift in the galaxy's balance of power was avoided and the status quo was preserved.
Because The Club could not control the movements of independent pilots, they had to arrange for the quiet elimination of many of them. Explorers would be enticed by fabricated enigmas and false lucrative leads, and lured deep into the void where they would meet their demise, presumably in arranged ambushes or by wandering into inescapable travel hazards. While some of these explorers may have perished on their own for any number of reasons in the uncharted regions of the galaxy, The Club is responsible for at least a portion of the disappearances.
Rise of the Engineers
The Engineers, reclusive mechanics, scientists, and tinkerers with private fortunes in the trillions who offer to modify the ships of independent pilots, were a creation of The Club. Since most ship modifications were either illegal since they could outperform comparable military-spec ships, or so experimental that their quality and safety could not be guaranteed by regulatory agencies, The Club encouraged the rise of the Engineers to circumvent those barriers and prepare as many ships as possible for the coming Thargoid invasion. While one Engineer, namely Bill Turner, is aware of The Club and serves as a willing co-conspirator, it is unknown if this is true for all Engineers.
Sirius Corp. takeover of MetaDrive
MetaDrive was a company founded to pursue new drive technologies. In secret, it had obtained a Thargoid ship drive and was reverse-engineering it to create technology that would conceal Frame Shift Drive wakes, which would allow ships to pass through territories undetected. The Club arranged for MetaDrive's board of directors to be bribed or coerced into selling out to Sirius Corporation, which maintained a monopoly on other drive technologies; MetaDrive's chairman, Femi Dakarai, was opposed to the acquisition and was quietly assassinated, with his death publicly attributed to illness. MetaDrive's research was given to Bill Turner, an Engineer and Club operative, to complete. Turner would later claim to have founded MetaDrive himself and to be working against The Club in order to gain the trust of Kahina Tijani Loren and her allies, who he needed to acquire a vast quantity of Meta-Alloys from Darnielle's Progress in Maia so he could finish the wake suppression project.
Dissolution of the London Treaty
The London Treaty regulated the number of capital ships that the Federation and Empire could build and maintain in their fleets, and acted as a safeguard against a potential arms race or devastating war between the superpowers. To improve humanity's military capability in preparation for the Thargoid invasion, The Club arranged for the London Treaty to be dissolved in 3302. Fleet Admiral Denton Patreus was manipulated into expanding the construction of Majestic Class Interdictors, in violation of the treaty. The Federation was therefore obliged to expand its own fleet of Farragut Battle Cruisers to match the Empire, triggering an arms race. By April 3303, The Club believed that humanity's combined military forces were as prepared as they could be for the coming crisis, but were still uncertain if their efforts were enough.
Although preserving the secrecy of The Club was often a challenge in the face of the curiosity and stubbornness of the growing legions of independent pilots, this has not stopped The Club from using those pilots to further their objectives in various ways:
- To supplement Project Dynasty as well as obtain data for various other projects, The Club either instigated or took advantage of the practice of paying explorers for their exploration data through Universal Cartographics.
- The CQC Championship was established through The Club's machinations to search for humanity's best combat pilots. Bounty hunters were also monitored for this purpose, and the best bounty hunters carefully tracked.
- Community Goals and their generous payouts are frequently used to temporarily bait the bulk of independent pilots away from areas of space where sensitive operations related to The Club are taking place.
- The Club arranged for the Canonn Interstellar Research Group to devote itself to studying the ruins of the Guardians, even providing tailor-made clues as bait. This was done to keep the Canonn and opportunistic pilots focused away from the Pleiades Nebula for as long as possible, forestalling any direct contact with the Thargoids until January 5, 3303, when the first Thargoid Interceptor was finally encountered.
The Club's current set of leaders consist of a mix of individuals who would be instantly recognizable to anyone and others who are completely unremarkable; nonetheless, their identities are unknown apart from their genders and the spheres of human civilization that they manage. The Club's leaders have no hierarchy and consider each other equals.
- "Infrastructure" (male) - Guides the general expansion and development of human civilization.
- "Finance" (female) - Manages major corporate activities, especially those of Sirius Corporation and Wreaken Construction.
- "Exo" (male) - Monitors exploration and human development outside the Core Systems.
- "Personnel" (female) - Manipulates key individuals, such as statesmen and celebrities, to take desired actions.
- "Society" (male) - Decides how the media will portray certain events to sway public opinion.
The Club relies on numerous agents and allies to carry out their agenda. While not everyone working to further The Club's interests are aware of who they are serving, The Club occasionally reveals themselves to and directly communicates with certain associates.