Within the realm of sci-fi/fantasy, there is a well-used concept that has been used to inspire, terrify, and provoke strong emotions in both the audience and the characters within the story. That concept has the enemy at the gates of the final fortress and that all hope lays within the walls of that fortress to prevent the end of civilization as we know it. This concept is know as "the last bastion" and it has been seen in the Lord of the Rings as Minas Tirith, Helm's Deep, the hidden city of Gondolin, city of Atlantis in Stargate Atlantis, and in the Last City in Destiny. In this installment of What We Will Fight Over, FWS will be exploring the sci-fi/fantasy examples of the last bastion as well as real-world examples. We will also be exploring if we will fight over this and why it is such a compelling narratives for audiences and creators.
What is the Concept of the "Last Bastion"?
Why is the Last Bastion Concept so Popular in Sci-Fi/Fantasy?
Will We Fight for the Last Bastion of Human?
The Last Bastion and Science Fiction
One variation that I did not use due to the amount of those in media is the Last Man On Earth trope.
The Last City from Destiny
For me, one of the best examples of the Last Bastion concept is the Last City from the Destiny universe and it is also one of the examples I am the most familiar with given my extensive Destiny addiction. Originally, The City was established as a refugee camp after The Collapse of the Golden Age directly under The Traveler. These refugees gathered under the Traveler for protection with the destruction of the off-world endo-Sol colonies and the major Terran cities. It was here, likely Pokhara, Nepal, that the last city of humanity rose like a phoenix. The protection of the Last City came from the newly formed Guardians, armed citizens, the massive walls, and the Traveler. This Camelot-like setting serves as a hub for Guardian operations, production of materials for the war, a last home for humanity, and a place for economic activity. There are those that still live outside the wall of the Last City in small communities, but there is nothing like the Last City in all of the Sol System. It is, the last remnant of the civilization that was before the Collapse and it is but an echo of the Golden Age cities and society. Like all good last bastion fortresses, the wolves are always at the door and there have been several major battles and invasion of the Last City, including the Red Legion. It is uncertain the future of the Last City with the coming invasion after the Witch Queen.
The XMC-10-284 Andromeda Ascendant from Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda
After the end of the original Star Trek series in 1969 and until the movie-era of Trek, Gene Roddenberry was a man in need of work. He penned a number of scripts and some where made into pilots. Two of the pilots made in the 1970s were Planet Earth and Genesis II with both borrowing from the same concept and primary character’s name: Dylan Hunt. While neither were picked up for on-going TV shows, the concept was resurrected for a 3rd time for the Tribune Entertainment sci-fi TV show Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda that ran from 2000-2005. In that show, Cpt. Hunt commands the High Guard XMC-10-284 Andromeda Ascendant warship of the Systems Commonwealth and one of the most advanced warships in the three galaxies. When the Nietzscheans launch a coup against the Systems Commonwealth for giving away some their territory to the Magog, the Andromeda was thrown into the event horizon of a black hole. 303 years later, the Andromeda Ascendant is located by treasure hunters. In this era, the Systems Commonwealth has fallen and three galaxies are controlled by various factions Pre-Fall High Guard ships are rare and very valuable. After these pirates decide to join Dylan and the Andromeda, he launches a mission to form a new System Commonwealth. This makes the nearly 400 year old Dylan and the Andromeda the Last Bastion of the old Systems Commonwealth and High Guard.
The Ark from Brink
The Minas Tirith of Gondor and Helm's Deep from The Lord of the Rings
The Last City of Humanity Zion from The Matrix Franchise
Fort Tarsis from Anthem
The Kushan Mothership from Homeworld
Jacinto in from the Gears of War Franchise
The Civilian Fleet and the BSG-75 from Battlestar Galactica
The "Arks" from the Classic Doctor Who Universe
The Ring Installations from HALO
The City of Atlantis from the Stargate Universe
The Ancients of the Stargate Franchise lore were humans that they developed the stargate network that is the main device of the franchise. In their very long history, the Ancients developed space flight capable city that was originally on Earth between 5-10 million years ago. When a plague swept through the Milky Way, the Ancients took Atlantis to a world called Lantea in the Pegasus Dwarf Irregular Galaxy that lays some 3 million lightyears away from the Milky Way. There, the Ancients seeded life among the stars and found a deadly hostile species…the Wraith. The Lantean-Wraith War lasted for a century and when the Wraith gained the upper hand, all but Lantea world was left of their empire. For some time, the shield of the city kept the Wraith out until the Ancients knew that the war was over. They sank the city in the deepest of oceans, their last bastion taken from them. History repeated itself, as the Atlantis Expedition had to hold out against a Wraith bombardment until the Daedalus can arrive.
The SDF-1 After the Holocaust
In 1999, the alien battle fortress known as the SDF-1 was sent by its master, Zor, to an unimportant primitive world known as Earth, it altered the history of the human race for all time. When the Zentraedi fleet under Commander Breetai finally located the SDF-1 in 2009, he attempted to retake the battle fortress by invading the Macross Island city. To lead the alien force away from the Earth, the SDF-1 attempted a hyperspace jump to lunar orbit…and they ended up near Plato with the entire Macross Island, the surrounding ocean, the city, and the 70,000 civilians. For months, the crew and civilians onboard the massive SDF-1 reconstructed the city within the “legs” of the battle fortress. When the Zentraedi recovery fleet was polluted by the human culture, Supreme Commander Dolza ordered the entire Zentraedi fleet to attack Earth and wipe out humanity. The SDF-1, the Grand Cannon, and the Breetai fleet were the defenders of Terra. When the battle was over and the 1st Robotech War ended, the Earth was scarred, and billions of humans were dead…this was the Zentraedi Holocaust. After this, the SDF-1 crashed in a crater and thus, this was the founding place of last bastion of humanity on the Earth…New Macross City.
The Gas Giant Fergusson Fortress Moons from Dynamo Joe
First Comics was a Chicago-based comic publisher that would only last a few years. Yet, despite this, First Comics would, in 1984 would published Doug Rice's love letter to Japanese Mecha culture with Dynamo Joe. This military sci-fi comic would have a unsteady publishing history with limited series, specials, appearances in other comics, and then a full series centered on the Alliance Dynamo CLASS-III mecha suite named "Joe" during the Orion War. I grew up with this comic and to me, it is the best Military Science Fiction comic of all time. It is a pity that the full series was unable to unfold as Doug Rice designed and First Comics cut years out of the series to publish a "completed" story and wrap up the Orion War in less than 20 issues. In 1991, First Comics was no more. In the Dynamo Joe story, the Alliance of the 35th century banded three galactic civilizations: The Terrans, the Imperials, and the Tavitans to defeat a organic-technology using enemy from beyond the Milky Way. The mission of this enemy was unclear, but they were on a beeline to the homeworlds of the humans and the Tavitans: Terra and Londree. To slowdown the enemy and allow for rebuilding of the Alliance fleets after the Rim Battle Massacre, General Sergel Ippolitov fortified the eight moons of the gas giant Fergusson. For three years, these moon forts prevented the enemy from advancing deeper in Alliance space...then as the Dynamo Joe opened, the last bastion of the Fergusson forts, Fergusson 8, was being invaded.
The Embryo Colonization Plan "B" from Interstellar
In the mind-bending 2014 film, we see the human race one the verge of starvation with the last foodstuffs crop, corn, being newly infected by the Blight. Using the newly discovered artificial wormhole near Saturn, the NASA interstellar explorer vessel Endurance goes to scout out for a Earth-like atmospheric standard world for colonization. One of the backup plans, “B”, is to seed the atmospheric standard world with 5,000 frozen specially selected embryos for a population bomb. The new exo-solar colony would be populated with the very best of humanity and they would be completely separate from the dying Earth. The people of Earth would be left to die as the future of human, its last bastion, would be on this new world. In the film, Dr. Brand took the Endurance and setup her Plan B colony on Wolf Edmunds’ Planet with the robot CASE and soon to be, Cooper as well.
Power Base & Eden II from Captain Power and the Soldiers of Tomorrow
The Oil Refinery Compound from Road Warrior
The Mars Base from Genesis Climber MOSPEDA
Little Houston Lunar Base from The Terminator NOW Comics series
The Babylon 5 Station
The EDF Space Battleship Yamato from the Space Cruiser Yamato Franchise
The UNSC World of Reach
One of the most important colonies in the whole of the UNSC is the military colony of Reach in the Epsilon Eridani system, some 10.5 Lightyears from Sol. By the time of the Human-Covenant War, Reach was center for UNSC fleet operations, the SPARTAN-II Program, key ONI operational centers and black sites, along with having the largest off-world colony in terms of population. While Earth was the mother to the human race, Reach was becoming the symbol of humans as a spacefaring race…that was until the Covenant attacked Reach in 2552. When the battle for Reach was made public, it shook the UNSC to its core. Here was the key military location outside of the Sol System and it was under attack from a massive alien force. If Reach fell then nothing was left to stand between the alien invaders and Earth. Reach was the last bastion, the fortress among the stars for human.
The Nexus from Mass Effect Andromeda
The Terra Nova Settlement from Terra Nova
In this bold, but under-cooked very expensive FOX TV show, Terra Nova, we see Earth’s distance past as a solution to the issues of the 22nd century. In 2149, the ability to time travel had been discovered by accident via a portal back millions of years. This appeared to be a solution to the environmental collapse and the overpopulation of the 22nd century. Throughout the only season of the show, there was a series of migration waves from the 22nd century Hope Plaza complex to the Terra Nova settlement, some 85 million years in the past. The last bastion for humanity was the Terra Nova settlement designed to be in harmony with the local environment and serve as a focal point for colonization of those selected to be colonists. With the cancellation of the series, I guess will never find out what happened.
Next Time on FWS...