With cries of "Sic Semper Tyrannis", nearly a quarter of the United Empire's worlds have seceded to form their own nation. They call themselves the Pilgrims. The Empire interpreted this secession as treason, and the overwhelming might of the loyalist fleet has fallen on the Pilgrims. Although the situation is militarily hopeless, you have a secret communique from the Sophon that could end the war. Get to the Pilgrim Council.
Sometimes the core FTL mechanics do a fantastic job of simulating the chaos of a civil war. Gauss guns are a special kind of coil gun; it took the United Empire years of research to progress from sled-based rail accelerators, through sledless monorail accelerators, to helical accelerators (coilguns) and on to Gauss guns and other weapons far more exotic.