The Factions of Humanity:
Many attribute the fall of the ECoH to sheer human greed or the unwillingness to cooperate with those of other cultures or views.
The true reason for it's inevitable decline is the simple fact that trying to unite several dozen worlds, all of them with different government structures and goals, is simply impossible.
Democratically governed worlds, for instance, had many more varied parties and opinions in their local government than they were allowed representatives on the ECoH Council.
Worlds governed by a Dictator (popularly appointed or otherwise) however had several representatives all espousing the views of a single individual.
It's obvious that the inhabitants of democratic worlds were therefore far less supportive of the ECoH than those of dictator-run worlds and this lead the dictator-run worlds to become much stronger within the council.
Then there were planets like Wayfarer, which did not have a government so much as it was lead simply by the Grandmaster of the Wayfarer's Guild and his advisory board, despite the Guild being inter-planetary.
In the end, the first faction to secede from the ECoH was the industrial world of Jarlsheim and it's allies.
After the fall of the ECoH, the following factions are the most important :
Leader: Harald Wulfslayer.
Government: Meritocratic Protectorate (formally, informally Jarlsheim is also referred to as a Vikingocracy)
In the year -1 NR (New Reckoning) the Jarlsheim industrial council, backed by the planetary government, led an expedition to system JEC43-α⌂ (Jarlsheim Exploratory Claim, number 43, site alpha), now known as Escher's Nightmare, where it discovered a larger deposit of Chaossence Ore than ever before discovered.
Larger even than the vast deposits surrounding Wayfarer.
This put Jarlsheim in a unique position to compete with the Guild for the production of Nimbus Drives, Cummulus Reactors and any other Chaossence-based technology.
Needless to say, the Wayfarer's Guild was not pleased and after the Grandmaster of the guild publicly demanded that Jarlsheim turn over all rights of ownership of Escher's Nightmare to the Guild, the Jarlsheim government responded promptly by evicting all occupants of the local Guild Academy and the attached Enclave and banishing them from Jarlsheim.
Several other worlds nearby, most of them allied with or dependant on Jarlsheim, followed this example, some of them going so far as to use brute force or lethal measures to get rid of what they saw as monopolistic vultures.
And because this act was illegal by ECoH law (after the significant part the Wayfarer's played in saving Humanity from the Imperator, they were rewarded with the right to start an Academy on any world that called itself member of the ECoH) it meant automatic secession from the Cooperation.
Fearing reprisal from the Guild for the violence visitted upon them, the lesser worlds in Jarlsheim's sphere of influence begged for protection and soon the Jarlsheim Protectorate was formed.
Today, the Jarlsheim Protectorate is a leading competitor in the spaceship, military technology and heavy industrial markets and it is well known for the quality of it's products.
On the other hand, because of it's history of aggression towards the Guild and a lack of forethought in what this would mean, Jarlsheim has been devoid of good knowledge regarding the piloting and navigation of spaceships.
The Protectorate's Helmsmen are amateurs compared to the Master Pilots of the Guild or the Jump Engineers of the Roser Insititute.
Militarily the Protectorate has very strong ground forces, including many elite forces such as the Raven Feeders, the Mubarizun, the Kami Kaze (orbital marines, definitely not suicide troops) and of course the Berserkers.
It's naval forces meanwhile are better equipped than trained and in any battle where they cannot simply overwhelm the enemy with superior numbers and firepower, they are unlikely to win or even survive.
Aside from Jarlsheim, the Protectorate is comprised of the worlds Al-Salahdin, 日本 新しい (New Nippon, basically 'Japan Newly Arisen'), Mudhole and Litr.
The Wayfarer's Guild:
Leader: Gnatius Cinnarus Borbo
Government: Democratic Guild
When a Jarlsheim expedition discovered Escher's Nightmare, the Wayfarer's Guild was thrown into chaos. The Guild's leadership up to that point had steadily been building up it's monopoly position as the only supply of capable pilots and proper FTL drives.
Now something had appeared that might shatter the monopoly and it fragmented the Guild's membership. Jarlsheim natives who were members of the Guild were torn between siding with the Guild or their home planet and reformists saw the shock to the Guild's inner echelon as a chance to finally push for the changes they wanted.
In order to try and force the Guild into unity, the Guildmaster at the time, Dénise Broucarde, delivered an ultimatum to Jarlsheim. The Reformists decried the decision and called for the abdication of the Grandmaster, then Jarlsheim gave it's reply be exiling all Guildmembers from Jarlsheim's Sphere of influence on pain of death and the Reformists changed their opinion instantly...
Before, the Reformists had only called for the Grandmaster's abdication, now they called for her execution.
And some say rightly so. One rash decision by an old fool afraid of losing her power condemned several hundred innocents (many children among them) to death, left thousands more homeless and completely cut the Guild off from the 'northern' part of the Human Sphere.
In the end though, Gnatius Borbo, the leader of the Reformists did not execute Broucarde. Instead she was turned over to Jarlsheim in an attempt to avoid all out war (successfully, one should add).
And with Gnatius' rise to Grandmaster the Guild changed it's modus operandi. Before it had been a shadowy organisation which attempted to gain power where ever it could through shady deals and unfair practice.
But Borbo opened the previously exclusive and expensive Academies to all who wanted to enter, opened Guild sponsored orphanages and turned the Guild into a democracy.
Possibly the biggest problem for the Guild as a whole after the secession of Jarlsheim was the loss of Jarlsheimi industrial support for Guild ships. But one world on the border between Jarlsheim space and the Guild's sphere proved a solution: Moira's Crossing, the gateway between Wayfarer and the 'northern' Human Sphere and a world nearly rivalling Jarlsheim in industrial capacity did the unexpected.
Though Moira's Crossing had long been an ally of Jarlsheim, it sided with the Guild in it's dispute with the Protectorate after the violence on Mudhole.
Militarily the Guild is not strong. It long lacked even the most basic infantry (beyond security details trained mostly in ship-to-ship boarding and defence) and most of it's ground strength comes from the remnants of an illicit project intended to emulate Roser Institute Chaossence users and merge it with the abilities of Calconites, in regular human soldiers.
The Wargods who resulted from this project are were freed, but many of them chose to stay with the Guild in order to protect it's new path and make sure the Guild stays on it.
The Guild Navy on the other hand is one of the strongest in the Human Sphere. With many ships, experienced crews and the best training in the known universe (this includes the non-human races) Guild-crewed ships can and have triumphed in fights against technologically equal fleets in which they were outnumbered five to one.
The main weakness of the Wayfarer's Guild, however, remains it's low numbers. While it still has Enclaves within the Axis, Roser Institute space and the Calconite Alliance, it only has two worlds that are genuinely Guild property: Wayfarer and Moira's Crossing.
Leader: Katarzyna Fibich
Government: Democratic Representative Council
The Axis gets it's name from one simple fact: It's two most important worlds are Earth, the home planet of all humans and Spindle, the exact middle of the Human Sphere.
As such the Axis is what all the Human Sphere revolves around.
Politically, though, the Axis is rather insignificant. It has little industry or valuable resources and few significant strategic locations.
It's most important assets therefore are it's high culture and ideal position for inter-faction trade.
The Axis is somewhat bitter however, over the severe loss of power it suffered as a result of the fall of the ECoH. Once, Earth was the official seat of Government of a vast interstellar Cooperation of worlds and Spindle was the centre of trade and travel for all corners of the Human Sphere. Now it's simply a convenient neutral ground and most factions bordering on each other trade with each other directly.
Militarily the Axis is rather a bit of a joke. In ECoH times, Earth was actually forbidden space for any military, for fear of a military coup, and most of Spindle's military was in service as a police force more so than a viable fighting force.
Though the Axis has recently begun the formation of a fleet, it relies mostly on stationary Customs Checkpoints along it's border to investigate and (if needed) fight off incoming ships.
One advantage that Axis forces do have is that a long history of law enforcement training and border patrols has left them exceptionally trained in non-lethal combat and dogfighting.
Earth, Spindle, Mars, Kismet and the Sol Doveyard (one of the few habitable spaceship graveyards) together make up the Axis.
The Roser Institute:
Government: Shadowy Organisation
At it's humble beginnings the Roser institute was no more than a research organisation aimed towards investigating the Aleatori, the Calconites and anything else that might be related to them.
Then the Institute discovered Chaossence. Or rather, they identified it and gave it a name.
Chaossence Ore, an amalgam of Chaossence and a metalic mineral, commonly Gold or Copper, had long been used in Nimbus Drives and Cummulus Reactors, but no one ever realized that this substance was in fact two seperate substances.
Realizing that Chaossence was a very useful substance, the Institute made several very significant discoveries (which I won't list here, because I'll make a separate article about Chaossence later) which eventually led to the discovery of Chaossence Users (also called Adepts).
With the discovery of Adepts and studying them came the realisation that these people could be very dangerous if not properly trained in the use of their abilities and so the Institute went on to train Adepts. At first only the most dangerously powerful Adepts were trained, but when it turned out they also made damn good field agents, the Rosers started recruiting anyone with higher than average 'Aptitude'.
At the same time, the Institute opened it's doors and membership to other species.
Eventually, the Roser Institute simply grew to the point that it couldn't pretend it wasn't a powerful political entity in and of itself.
And so when the ECoH fell, the Roser Institute became a faction.
Militarily, the Rosers are very powerful. While a man with a gun is limited in his destructive capabilities by the specifications of his weapon and his amount of ammo, an army of Adepts could, if they wanted to and didn't mind risking death in the process, tear a planet apart by merely focussing on it hard enough. Luckily, the Rosers are not large enough to have a whole army of Adepts.
Never the less, a squad of fully realized Adepts is capable enough to be a very large thorn in the side of even a fully equipped army.
Aside from this the Institute has it's famed 'Swordline', a small army of 'baseline'(normal for a human) Aptitude soldiers trained in Velarin Martial Arts and Hemiola tactics, able to use limited Chaossence techniques to boost their own physical prowess.
The Roser Navy, in as far as there is one, consists mostly of transports and many small single-person ships. On the other hand, Roser Jump Engineers are the only people in the entire Human Sphere capable of travelling faster than light without an actual engine. Provided the ship they're trying to move is small enough and the distance isn't too far.
The Rosers only have one world, Pallas Artemis, but it's agents are spread all across the Human Sphere, watching the other Factions and ensuring the safety of the Human race as the ECoH intended. The other Factions (with the exception of the higher ups in the Calconite Alliance) aren't aware of this though, they believe that the Rosers only train Adepts and then let them make their own way in the universe.
The Calconite Alliance:
Leader: Hessian Jaeger, Giulli Calco and Effigy Jaeger
Some time even the fall of the ECoH, a relatively young Vladracu called Hessian Jaeger discovered something that changed life for Calconites everywhere. The great originator of all Calconites, Giulli Calco, was still alive.
Saved from destruction by one of Ädelhart's most trusted lieutenants, Calco was at the centre of a plan to destroy Ädelhart once and for all.
After teaming up with Hessian Jaeger and his three compatriots Effigy, Captain Teach and Blay Bannock (A Vladracu Clone, a Space Pirate and a Hellfire Adept respectively), the five of them defeated Ädelhart and freed the Calconites from the Imperator's yoke.
Soon thereafter, not wanting to stir controversy in the ECoH, Calco, Jaeger and Effigy established a Calconite freestate on the former Imperatorial world and invited all free Calconites to join the Alliance in protecting Humanity together with the Rosers.
The true creation of the Alliance as it exists today, however, didn't come to pass until five years later, when the free AIs of Golem and the Colenar of Freeworld Human formally requested to join the Alliance, despite not being Calconite. The Triumvirate accepted under the condition that the Colenar Fébèngu and the AI Protego would be maid of honour and best man at the wedding of Hessian and Effigy.
The Alliance's Military is, beyond a doubt the strongest in all of the Human Sphere. With massive AI serving as vehicles, Calconites serving as troops and fifty Colenar serving as tactical WMDs, the only thing stopping the Alliance from steamrolling all over the rest of the Human Sphere and reinstating either the Imperatorium or the ECoH by force is their constant war with the Bhat.
The Alliance Navy is a bit more hampered, because at least half of the Alliance forces can't travel in Chaossence-driven ships without special protective suits, but with a combination of Colenar FTL drives and Golem's AI, the Alliance manages quite well.
Just as there are three Triumvirs, the Alliance also has three worlds: Freehold Human, Freehold Golem and Freehold Indepencia (formerly Ädelhart Prime).
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So Einstein was wrong when he said "God does not play dice". Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen. ~ Stephen Hawking