About the History of the Firefly Universe
The history of the 'Verse as we know it begins around year 2500 with the terraformation of the core planets Londinium and Sihnon. People no longer have any sense or memory of Earth-That-Was, and in fact, they don't care much. All of that is in the past.
Over-population, depleted resources and devastated ecosystems made Earth-That-Was uninhabitable. This lead to the Exodus, which marks mankind's migration from Earth-That-Was into the 'Verse. Here the two prevailing civilisations - America and China - joined forces in finding a new home in a distant galaxy.
On the vast spaceships, the Arcs, which transported mankind from Earth-That-Was to the new world, cultural and political barriers began to erode during the generation it took to reach the chosen galaxy. Languages and customs were shared, resulting in particularly English and Mandarin becoming the two most prominent languages of the 'Verse.
Many would have expected to encounter alien lifeforms on the journey from Earth-That-Was to the new world. However, although the scanners traced atmospherical disruptions every now and then, it appears that mankind is alone in the 'Verse.
The Terraformation of the Core Planets ...
When mankind arrived at the chosen planetary system, all planets, stars and asteroids were uninhabitable. In order for humans and other lifeforms from Earth-That-Was to survive there, it was necessary to terraform this new habitat. The process began with the two largest and most central planets of the system. They were given the names Londinium and Sihnon, each representing the American and the Chinese superpowers.
The two core planets quickly grew to become the most developed societies of the new world. Today, Londinium and Sihnon are centres of commerce, politics, culture and religions from the old world. Life here is mostly a bed of roses full of abundance, social security and well-established law enforcement.
… and the Rim Planets
Although the new world was so vast that every human could have a home, resources were scarce. Those who didn't have enough connections, support or luck to settle on the core planets were either sent or ventured to the newly terraformed planets in the Outer Rim, hoping that the grass was greener there.
Today, the rim planets are home to a variety of people: the poor, the crazy, the (un)orthodox, and every now and then political refugees or criminals seeking asylum from those who hunt them.
The Alliance and the Unification War
Tensions between the core planets over the rights to resources and political power soon made it necessary to establish a parliamentary system: the Union of the Allied Planets - the Alliance.
Although the Alliance was established on an idealistic foundation, it also attracted those who saw their chance of becoming enormously powerful and influential. Rumours about secret labs where the Alliance experiemented with everything from humans bodies to chemical weapons quickly started to flourish. A strong military kept the citizens of the core planets safe and protected, while also ensuring that any critical voices were throttled and silenced.
In the eyes of the Alliance, the biggest threat to the highly developed societies and cultures of the core planets were those living outside of its system in the Outer Rim. The independence and lack of subordination of the inhabitants on the rim planets soon became a cover for the Alliance's interest in the vast amounts of resources on these planets that so far had been out of its reach. Hence, Alliance proclaimed that all planets in the 'Verse would become part of its programme for the sake and benefit of all citizens. But instead of quietly accepting the Alliance's annectation of their homes, the citizens on the rim planets rebelled.
Soon, the dispersed forces of the rim planets united under the name "the Independents", and were soon known as the "brown coats" thanks to the uniform's duster coat. And although the Alliance was by far superior in terms of numbers, technology and weapons, they were almost evenly matched by Independent men and women, who found their freedom worth fighting and dying for.
In 2511, after 5 long years, the war was brought to an end with its biggest battle at Serenity Valley on the rim planet Hera. The Independents surrendered reluctantly. After the capitulation, captured brown coats were released as a sign of the goodwill and generousity of the Alliance towards the now annexed rim planets.
Since the war was led in the Rim and never reached the core planets, many of the rim planets that were laid waste to are still in ruins today. Many are completely uninhabitable. Although some remained on their devastated home planets, many ventured elsewhere to find new homes and livelihoods - now within the Alliance's territory.
The Aftermath of the Unification War
On the surface, life has moved on after the war. But few have forgiven, and no one has forgotten. Sometimes an outcry against the Alliance is heard, like when the Reavers of Miranda were publicly revealed in 2518. Yet, despite the indignation and disgust many feel towards the Alliance, nobody has dared to publicly challenge it. The Alliance now rules over all planets in the 'Verse, but even despite all its greatness and power, governing such a wide-spread territory has proven a challenge.
The truth is that the Alliance still only has full control over the core planets, and although its eyes and ears reach even the most remote corners of the 'Verse, the flaws of the system are severe enough to allow slavery, smuggling and dirty money to flourish between the rim planets. And although the Alliance every now and then dispatches a rusty space shuttle and a morote deputy to remind people who's really in charge, there is every opportunity to make your own fortune by less travelled and non-Alliance-approved roads.
The Setting at Firefly: Take Me Out to the Black
The year is 2523, 5 years since the last time the Alliance flaunted its dirty laundry through the reveal of their Reaver-project on Miranda. The events on Miranda, which were eventually "solved" with the destruction of the planet, truly divided everybody, from the most low-life scavenger to the most faithful noble: some regard the revelation of the Reavers as proof of the Alliance's unscrupluous and cynical perspective on human lives; others dismiss it a media stunt constructed to put the Alliance in a bad light. Although it's been 5 years, the discussion is stirred up frequently enough for the Alliance to feel that its sovereignty and support are compromised.
In an attempt to regain its popularity, the Alliance decides to distribute pieces of land on the already terraformed planets that were abandoned after the Unification War. The price on land is so favourable that only an idiot could refuse. At the same time, selected nobles are promised political positions and power, which makes them rush towards the rim planets. Suddenly, gold fever is raging through the 'Verse.
We are on the verge of the known part og the 'Verse, on the small planet Clementine, on the very edge of the Rim. During the Unification War, Clementine was a strategic Alliance-pick-up point for resources and tech, and is therefore terraformed and partially urbanised with now old and derelict Alliance installations. Due to its location far away from the core planets, Clementine is hardly anyone's first choice. Therefore, the Alliance has further lowered the price on land, and Clementine now attracts a variety of settlers, merchants, noveau riche nobles who struggle to gain influence on the core planets while dreaming of political power, importance and potentially the title of Governor, and of course the gold diggers and space crews chasing adventures and quick money. Clementine is just waiting for you, sweet, ripe, juicy and ready for the taking!