The Far Lookers were a notable organized civilian group associated with the Taurian Concordat, dedicated to expansion, colonization and exploration.
The beginnings of the group known as the Far Lookers began with a noble in the Taurian Concordat court named Aramis Dunn. At some point in the late Thirtieth century Dunn argued that the future of humanity - and the Concordat - lay in expansion through exploration and colonization, an idea that spawned a new social movement that attracted a wide number of supporters and members, including members of House Calderon. The initial response was a mix of voyages of exploration and colonization efforts funded privately, but over the decades since Dunn first spoke the movement became a powerful social and political entity within the Concordat. By the mid-Thirty-first century more than thirty groups had come together to form a movement known collectively as the Far Lookers, despite each group having its own goals and methods. Some groups or factions of the Far Lookers were larger or more significant than others, with the most prominent being the Arcologists, Explorers, Inheritors, Settlers, and - following closer contact with the Magistracy of Canopus in the middle of the Thirty-first century - the Adaptors.
Fourth Succession War
Collectively, Far Lookers were noted for taking a long view of events - a trait that was essential, given that they were generally engaged in pursuits measured in generations and lifetimes, rather than the short term. The radical changes within the Concordat during the Thirty-first century had a profound impact on the Far Lookers, and ushered in the transformation of a disparate social movement of various groups into an organization with significant levels of power and influence as well as a great deal of internal cohesion. Perhaps the single greatest catalyst for the changes lay in the Fourth Succession War, which the Taurian Concordat wasn't directly involved in, but which saw an increasingly paranoid Protector Thomas Calderon plough increasing amounts of national effort into defenses against an invasion from the Federated Suns that would never materialize. In doing so, he caused shortfalls in construction materials vital to elements of the Far Lookers, while the Taurian Defense Force requisitioned JumpShips and DropShips belonging to the Far Lookers to act as auxiliary transports for the military.
Loren MacKenzie, a leader within the Far Lookers and an auditor within the Ministry of Trade and Colonization, responded to the effects of Thomas Calderon's paranoia in a number of ways. Firstly, she established a trust fund into which money could be siphoned from various government departments, a trust fund she could keep hidden from casual discovery because of her position as an auditor. Loren's beliefs lay with the Inheritors faction of the Far Lookers, but she persuaded the other groups to nominate candidates to form the Far Lookers Council, which would have the responsibility of overseeing use of the clandestine trust fund and more tightly coordinate the various Far Looker activities.
The Far Lookers had benefited as an organization from the general government tax breaks established for colonization efforts in 3035 by members of the Calderon family, but Thomas Calderon abolished these. Despite the loss of the tax breaks, members of the Far Looker movement were scattered throughout the Taurian government, riddling the government departments with individuals who managed to siphon billions of C-bills worth of funding from the government into the trust fund. The trust fund allowed the Far Lookers to continue colonization efforts and to hire ships from the Free Worlds League to continue their exploration efforts; the Arcologists - a prominent Far Looker faction that worked to construct arcologies within Concordat systems - used the trust fund to stockpile material that allowed them to begin constructing a new habitat in the Mithron system, named the Dunn habitat.
The Far Lookers' wide-scale theft of funds from the government was finally discovered in 3037, when Thomas Calderon launched an investigation to determine why efforts to scale up production of high-tech weapons and Ferro-fibrous armor had failed. Thomas' reaction was furious; he had the entire Ministry of Trade and Commerce arrested, and if his wife hadn't intervened, would have had all of those arrested shot. As it was, the widespread misappropriation of funds had put back efforts to mass produce advanced weaponry by decades, and many members of the Ministry were given long prison sentences, including MacKenzie. The Concordat Constabulary made extensive efforts to try and recover the money and materials the Far Lookers had misappropriated, but with minimal success.
Thomas' harsh treatment of the Far Lookers' members within the Ministry of Trade and Commerce cost him the little popular support he had within the organization - something which had largely been given due to the Calderon name. Relations soured further when in 3049 Thomas put the TDF on full alert and began conscripting increasing numbers of civilians to construct planetary fortifications to resist the Armed Forces of the Federated Suns' invasion he was convinced would arrive at any moment. While the economy might have survived the disruption caused by Thomas, the widespread misappropriation of funds and resources by the Far Lookers had the unintended consequence of weakening the national infrastructure enough to tip the balance, and the Concordat economy plunged into a recession, and the pervasive influence the Far Lookers had on Taurian society, while understated, was enough to play a factor in the events that saw Thomas removed from office in 3055.
Clan Invasion Era
Protector Jeffrey Calderon made changes immediately upon taking office; he stood the TDF down from their wartime footing, repealed the civilian conscriptions put in place by his father, and ended the restrictions on new colonization. He then stunned the population of the Concordat - including the Far Lookers - with his announcement of a treaty with the Magistracy of Canopus and the intention to launch the new joint colonization efforts that founded the New Colony Region. Jeffrey's announcement divided the Far Lookers; while the organization as a whole welcomed the opportunity to accelerate their efforts to found and grow new colonies, many were disenchanted with the Calderon family and others were discontent that these new colony worlds announced by Jeffrey wouldn't be founded by the Concordat alone. These tensions, together with access to the more advanced medical resources of the Magistracy led to the formation of the Adaptors, a new faction within the Far Lookers that sought to use cybernetic adaptation to allow colonies to be founded on marginal worlds, rather than having to wait centuries for terraforming efforts to render worlds habitable.
Jeffrey's tragic death prevented him from undoing all of the damage his father had inflicted on the Concordat, and led the Far Lookers to distance themselves from both the Protector and the Calderon family. When Grover Shraplen was chosen to be the new Protector, he courted the Far Looker movement as a means of shoring up his political base and making his potentially unpopular policies more palatable to the public; in exchange for expanding the measures introduced by Jeffrey that supported the Far Lookers' aims, the Far Lookers dampened public objections to the Trinity Alliance. Shraplen's behavior towards the Far Lookers went some way to healing the rift between the office of Protector and the organization, until the rapid chain of events that led to the New Colony Region declaring itself a new independent nation named the Fronc Reaches, and the secession of a number of worlds to form the new Calderon Protectorate in support of Erik Martens-Calderon's claim to the Protectorship.
The Far Looker Council had been left reeling by the secession of the Protectorate worlds; almost every world the Far Lookers had established colonies on was now part of an independent, rival state, with the prospect of civil war looming large over them all. While some elements of the Far Lookers argued in favor of Shraplen's proposed military action to reclaim the defecting worlds, others argued vehemently against military action for fear of the damage it would inflict on the infrastructure vital to the survival of these newly-settled worlds. The defining voice within the Far Lookers proved to be Jacob Mallory, a prominent member of the Explorers faction, who urged the Far Lookers to remember both their origins and the need for a long view. Mallory's views proved justified when Shraplen's reaction to the arrival of the Fighting Urukhai and his subsequent invasion of the Federated Suns focused the Protector's attention on the Pleiades Cluster and military operations. The lack of attention from Shraplen allowed the Far Lookers to negotiate settlements with the government of the Protectorate, launch a new wave of exploration efforts and redouble their efforts to found new colonies and build new arcologies.
The Far Lookers movement embraces a number of disparate groups; following the establishment of the Far Lookers Council, the degree of influence each group was able to exert within the Council depended upon the size of that particular group, although political horse-trading between factions was common. While the Far Lookers movement was generally understated, it was also pervasive within Taurian Society, with many Taurian citizens being casual members of one or more faction. The active colonization and exploration efforts conducted by the Far Lookers were generally conducted by a smaller, dedicated core of Far Lookers, and casual members generally gained access to the more dedicated part of the organization through invitation; invitees commonly had ties via family or friends to already-active members. The most prominent factions within the Far Lookers were:
- Arcologists: The Arcologists were the major faction within the Far Lookers least driven to expand beyond the borders of the Concordat. The Arcologists largely abandoned the hunt for new worlds, in favor of fully exploiting the systems the Concordat already controlled by constructing space habitats. Drawing on the Concordat's expertise in zero-g construction and closed environments, the Arcologists were possibly the preeminent builds of space habits within the Inner Sphere. The Arcologists were governed internally by a conclave formed from the various habitat commanders, each of whom wielded a degree of influence proportionate to the population of the habitat they were responsible for. The main focus of efforts by the Arcologists were the Burton, Mithron, Renfield and Sterope systems, all of which were within the Hyades Cluster - a region well-known for heavy meteorite activity. The most successful of the Arcologists' habitats were the Knossos asteroid habitat, located in the Renfield system, and the giant Sparta Habitat located at Burton's L5 point. While the Arcologists' habitat construction projects were monumentally expensive, the Arcologists were able to subsidize their work by hiring out teams of zero-g construction workers. The Arcologists worked closely with the Explorers, using their habitats to provide rest and resupply points and safe havens for Explorer teams that wouldn't attract attention from the government. After escaping imprisonment during the chaos surrounding Thomas Calderon's fall from power, Loren MacKenzie assumed command of the Athens habitat, an Arcologist habitat in the Renfield system. The single greatest secret kept by the Arcologists was that the Sparta habitat had been constructed around a compact Kearny-Fuchida core that had been salvaged from the derelict wreck of a Star League era battleship, with the intention of enabling Sparta to jump as a last-ditch method of defense - a defense that had never been tested, leaving the question of whether Sparta could even survive the attempt. The Arcologists didn't support Shraplen's efforts to recapture the Pleiades Cluster, considering it a waste of resources, and took the opportunity to divert a number of TDF weapons shipments, using the pilfered material to improve the defenses of their habitats and increase their internal security forces with troops equipped with battle armor and armed construction exoskeletons, while also hiring mercenary aerospace units.
- Explorers: The faction that traditionally had the closest ties to House Calderon, the Explorers were dedicated to exploring new worlds and charting new star systems. Members of House Calderon often served on an Explorers expedition crew at one time or another, and the bequests from survivors of the expeditions - as well as legacies from those who vanished - allowed the Explorers to obtain and maintain a flotilla of JumpShips and DropShips, although there were rumors that the Explorers also funded their efforts through piracy. After the founding of the Calderon Protectorate the Explorers provided assistance to the new state; using their expeditions as a cover, the Explorers moved supplies, weapons, cargo and passengers into the Protectorate, an activity made substantially easier when the TDF diverted all its attention to the war with the Federated Suns. After Jeffrey Calderon released the conscripted Far Looker JumpShips, the Explorers sold seven of their oldest JumpShips to the Word of Blake and used the funds from the sale to purchase three new JumpShips from manufacturers in the Free Worlds League. The Explorers were also responsible for making Loren MacKenzie's escape from prison possible. Seniority within the Explorers was based on experience; while any member able to provide the funds and personnel could petition for access to Explorer assets for an expedition, success bred success, and those with a proven record tended to enjoy the greatest priority for access. In 3067 the three most prominent members of the Explorers were Jacob Mallory, Jane DuKirk and Sigmund Amunsen.
- Inheritors: The Inheritors ultimately broke away from the Far Lookers, due to their impatience with the long timelines involved in exploration and colonization. The Inheritors firmly believed that the age of the Inner Sphere was over by the mid-Thirty-first century, and that the human race was on the verge of a catastrophe that would see the enlightened peoples of the Periphery picking up the pieces. According to the Inheritors, this would see the population of the Periphery repopulating the Inner Sphere with a new, better social order.
- Settlers: Passionate in the belief that only territorial expansion could keep the Concordat strong and alive, the Settlers were the Far Looker faction most dedicated to colonizing new worlds. They were also dependent on funding from wealthy backers, and were the primary beneficiaries of the tax breaks and legislation members of House Calderon had enacted to benefit colonization efforts. Most colonization efforts were failures, but those that succeeded and reached a particular size were incorporated into the Concordat. The Settlers also launched a number of terraforming projects, but each would take centuries to deliver any results. The Settlers were originally organized along similar lines to the Arcologists, with the elected leader of each colony commanding influence proportionate to the population of that colony, but the formation of the Fronc Reaches and the Calderon Protectorate created raging arguments within the Settlers over whether the separatist worlds should continue to be represented in Settler conclaves. As of 3067, this was still unresolved, and a triumvirate consisting of Sonja Couvert, Edward Franks and Timothy Blain was guiding the Settlers. The Settlers also had a secret, however; unknown to the other Far Looker factions - and most of the Settlers - Timothy Blain was head of a rogue faction within the Settlers responsible for covering up the fact that a number of the "failed" colonies he had been project director for hadn't actually failed. Instead, these colonies were kept as secret operations to exploit the resources there. None of the worlds were garden worlds, but each offered rich resources. The world of Milton Keynes was particularly noteworthy; whilst the world was a hellish environment to live on, it was a rich source of germanium. Blain's faction were responsible for acquiring a working population of slave labor to use on Milton Keynes, seized from merchant shipping and lightly defended Federated Suns worlds. Blain's faction didn't stop there; working with technology from the Adaptors, the rogue Settlers were modifying the enslaved workforce to increase their efficiency as workers.
- Adaptors: the newest of the five major factions within the Far Lookers, the Adaptors were a breakaway faction from the Settlers. The source of the break lay in the attitudes towards radical colonization techniques; those who remained with the Settlers believed in seeking habitable environments or terraforming near-habitable worlds, while those who became the Adaptors believed in integrating into the environments via prosthetic adaptation, something that became possible when the Concordat gained access to Canopian medical technology. Although unproven, there were rumors of unwilling "volunteers" being seized by the Adaptors, modified against their will and dumped into one of the small Adaptor colonies. The Adaptors were more likely than any other Far Looker group to recruit from the general Concordat population, and were always searching for new volunteers. The Adaptors were known for travelling in pairs to canvass public areas, making door-to-door calls in the search for recruits. While the rumors of forced modification were unproven, the Adaptors were treated warily by the Concordat population.
- Interstellar Players, pp. 97–98: "The Far Lookers"
- Interstellar Players, p. 98: "A New Era"
- Interstellar Players, pp. 98–99: "Winters of Discontent"
- Interstellar Players, p. 99: "Changing Times"
- Interstellar Players, p. 99: "Building a Better Tomorrow"
- Interstellar Players, p. 100: "Gamemaster's Section"