Machineborn Preview: Setting Overview

Civilization

Several centuries ago, the artificial intelligence Primary Order governed over civilization with the purpose of seeing to everyone’s prosperity. While many were satisfied living under the authority of this machine, others felt restricted and belittled, seeing themselves as enslaved by the tyranny of inhumanity. To avoid an uprising against its rule, Primary Order created the machineborn to act as bridges between itself and humanity.

The machineborn were all born human, but held within them near-limitless cognitive, physical, and social potential; this power made them prone to arrogance. They divided civilization into sectors and declared themselves the guardians of those sectors. While Primary Order had distributed resources evenly amongst all people, the machineborn began to hoard resources to use as leverage against each other; this caused the First Sector War. Some people rejected the machineborn’s authority and organized themselves into cooperatives controlled by human collectives. These cooperatives soon became contenders in this war, seizing control over their own territories to rival the mighty machineborn.

Primary Order decided to intervene, arguing for a united council of machineborn to ensure continued peace and prosperity. However, many machineborn had grown too attached to their positions of power and declared Primary Order’s time to be over—they instigated the uprising that Primary Order had feared. The First Sector War ended with the machineborn uniting against a common enemy, but defeating it ultimately corrupted it. Primary Order turned into Dis-Order. As its ambition to protect civilization had been perverted into a desire to corrupt it, the machineborn had to work together to isolate it from humanity’s infrastructure. Doing so caused a technological regression that made human labor necessary once more.

Many blamed the machineborn for this outcome. Even those who had backed them up until this point turned against them and joined the various human cooperatives. As these factions grew in influence, the machineborn were rejected by society, and many were forced into hiding. However, history is prone to repeat itself. Once the cooperatives grew too powerful, and the machineborn were no longer major threats, they turned their attention to each other. The Second Sector War began, culminating in a violent era of atrocities commonly referred to as the Cooperative Wars.

Now a cease-fire is in place and civilization is tired of endless conflict. The solar system is in ruins and the ruling factions are trying to repair what has been lost. Meanwhile, the machineborn are still out there, prospering off the blame and hatred that has shifted from them towards the cooperatives. Dis-Order is still contained to this day, centuries after its fall, but some fear that perhaps it never was.

Present Day

A generation has passed since the cease-fire that ended the Cooperative Wars. The previously warring factions have united under an alliance called the Terran Consolidation whose goal is to maintain peace and strive for a prosperous future. Each faction was allowed to maintain control over the territories they had at the war’s end, including both sectors in space and on Earth. While this has left many factions disappointed and borders still being disputed over today, no new acts of war have occurred for a generation.

While several factions have now opened up more to the outside, centuries of isolationism have caused distinct cultures to emerge from within the different factions. However, despite the Consolidation’s best efforts to maintain peace, generations of conflict make it difficult to ignore past transgressions. A cold war is at play instead, with each faction competing for power and influence while tensions are high enough that war can break out at any moment.

Centuries of technological and scientific progression has allowed people long lives with impressive quality of life, but the war and isolationism have also caused regressions in other forms. While technologies exist to allow faster-than-light communication between off-world settlements, the factions tend to restrict communication as well. Most people live in enormous metropolises where holograms are projected upon the sky and skyscrapers touch the clouds, unaware of most things that happen beyond their own borders. Others live in abandoned vaults forgotten in radioactive wastelands, wanting nothing to do with civilization at all. Billions of people call different parts of the solar system their home, and colonial fleets have even left for neighboring stars.

Nanotechnology exists in the air people breathe and the food they eat. These devices communicate with each other and make up a digital network called the Nanite Matrix. This Nanite Matrix has served humanity for centuries, but the war has caused irreparable damage to it. It has erupted in places, causing a new type of nanite called a chanite which corrupts everything it comes into contact with. Entire sectors were turned into chanite-infested chaos zones during the Cooperative Wars, and maintaining the peace is vital so that these zones cannot spread further.

Meanwhile, Dis-Order is discreetly sending signals into space, corrupting lesser artificial intelligences into serving its cause. This has proven effective in space where entire colonies and ships are now controlled entirely by machines.

Arcturus

Arcturus is an isolationist and militaristic cooperative that controls a large portion of Earth’s northen hemisphere, including everything above the Arctic circle, as well as Neptunian space and portions of the Kuiper Belt. The most common language spoken by its people is Arcturian.

Having been aggressive and militaristic ever since the First Sector War, Arcturus has formed a culture that values strength above all. It trains the strongest soldiers and the strongest athletes, and it has normalized deadly bloodsport as part of its entertainment media through broadcasted survival contests and gladiatorial combat. Its people idolize soldiers, athletes, and those with rare or unnatural talents, but they also recognize and respect non-physical strengths, such as mental fortitude, confidence, and cunning.

Because of the competitive nature of Arcturian culture, it’s common for people to feel inadequate or to acquire extreme body modifications. It’s estimated that about half of the adult population has some kind of bioware or cyberware augmentation. While extreme augmentations are more common in the upper classes, there is a large industry of underground clinics with unlicensed practitioners and cheap second-hand augmentations available to those with fewer means.

Several rival factions accuse the Arcturian culture of being barbaric, but Arcturians themselves see their culture as more competitive than cruel. They put less value on social rank than many other cultures and offer both opportunities and competition for all people. Arcturus has high crime rates and high mortality rates, but no one is above the law.

Founded by the machineborn Arcturus Animeus as an answer to the Directorate’s rise in power during the First Sector War, Arcturus’ primary goal was to contest the rising cooperatives on its own terms. While many machineborn retreated from the frontlines, Arcturus Animeus decided to stand firm, hoping to dissuade his people from rebelling by giving up political power to them. Centuries have now passed and he is still alive, officially controlling Arcturus under the title “prokhor,” which is an Arcturian term for “dance master” originally derived from a Russian name with similar meaning.

Ever since the cease-fire, Arcturus Animeus has taken a step back from governing and retired to Neptune’s moon Triton where he’s said to be sulking over the fact that the war is over. Displeased with its current political position in the solar system, Arcturus is trying to increase its influence and dominance through diplomacy and trade while keeping its enemies outside of its borders. Even though Arcturians long for increased military and territorial might, they know that a new war would be devastating for them.

In order to increase Arcturian might while avoiding unnecessary provocation, the cooperative takes advantage of the fact that it controls the solar system’s outer rims where it can expand discreetly. The exact rate and details of this expansion is hidden even from high-ranking Arcturian officials, and there is much misinformation within the cooperative itself as a way of deceiving spies within its ranks.

The Camellian Dynasty

The Camellian Dynasty controls Earth’s Asia as well as all of Venusian space. It has recently developed a political alliance with Arcturus and the Dawnlight Society, but unlike its cooperative allies and enemies where the people can at least attempt to navigate the harsh bureaucracies, the trio of Camellian princesses are content with letting bloodlines determine political influence. Its most common tongue is Lianmeng.

Not even two generations have passed since the tragic deaths of the Divine Emperor and his mistress Evana Eldara Camellia. Because the revered emperor died alongside his mistress, the breaucratic leaders (called magistrates) decided to justify the affair by demonizing the Emperor’s wife, Lady Opal, and declaring their children illegitimate. The throne was given to the Emperor’s and Evana’s three daughters who shared it between themselves. This gave rise to the Camellian Dynasty.

Camellian culture is heavily influenced by the narratives created by the magistrates. Because of the people’s faith in the Divine Emperor, they romanticize everything he did—which the magistrates use to form public opinion. With many still in mourning over the Emperor’s death, the Camellian people favor strong expressions of emotion. The more faithful and loyal someone is, the more expressive and melodramatic they portray themselves. If someone can openly laugh or cry, their hearts are seen as pure and they feel closer to the late Emperor. However, this emphasis on emotion has a backside as well, since people often overreact in anger or seek retribution for lesser slights. Many seek out blood feuds with rivals or initiate romances with enemies just to build a certain narrative around themselves and their families.


This cultural narrative has continued to encompass the traits and stories surrounding the three princesses as well. However, because they are all very unlike each other, people often express themselves by emulating the princess they feel the most connected to; or they feel connected to the princess most closely related to their own characteristics. Princess Hana is portrayed as strong and abrasive; Princess Chulan as thoughtful and wise; and Princess Jia as refined and cunning.

Today, the Camellian Dynasty is a divided empire. More and more people have lost their faith in the Emperor while some are secretly supporting Lady Opal and her still living children. Lady Opal herself has been given asylum by Deva, though some of her children are still in the Camellian Dynasty. One of them works as a magistrate loyal to the new order while an unknown number of them are working alongside anti-Camellian rebel groups.

Even though the Camellian Dynasty’s presence on Earth is strong, it had to rebuild many of the Venusian sky-citadels that were lost in the Cooperative Wars, including the Orchid Palace, the empire’s capital. Because of Camellians’ forced emotional disposition, their political leaders often argue and debate fervently and passionately, and they often express their dissent over rival factions, bad trade agreements, or injustices of the past. They still demand public apologies for atrocities committed in the war and make a show of their hatred for the Directorate because it was their Razor Eagle Campaign that caused the death of the Divine Emperor. However, their true hatred for the Directorate is mostly propaganda since they negotiate and trade with them in secret.

The Coalition

The Coalition is a progressive alliance of cooperatives in control of eastern and northern Europe, the Middle East, the northern half of Africa, as well as Saturnian space. The Terran language is acknowledged as its native tongue, but it also values Old Terran as an academic language and many learn it as a symbol of higher education.

During the Cooperative Era, five of the most influential of the Directorate’s branches were against the way the transhuman ascendants and empyreans presented themselves as the rightful leaders of civilization, arguing instead for a society more tolerant towards all of humanity. These five branches—Caishen, Crocodile, Mantico, Nebulon, and Praetor—came together as a union of independent cooperatives aimed to become what they thought the Directorate should have been; a faction striving for unity and peace.

The Coalition was relatively defensive for much of the Cooperative Era until a religiously motivated rebellion usurped its Uranian colonies and formed the theocratical Deva. While this increased the Coalition’s aggressions during the war, it was still the first faction to recognize the emerging Dawnlight Society as well as aid in the establishment of the Terran Consolidation. It’s still unwilling to recognize Deva as an independent faction, though a growing religious movement is arguing for Deva to be invited as an official member of the Coalition. This is a controversial subject within the Coalition since the theocratical Devan culture directly opposes the progressive Coalition tenets.

The Coalition consists of two governing bodies made up of representatives from the five cooperatives—the Terrestrial Board and the Saturnian Ring—and it has taken advantage of a generation of peace to open its borders for travel. It now has a diverse culture of diverse people, and it’s known for having the most prestigious academies in the solar system. Unlike more isolationist factions, Coalitionists pride themselves over the fact that they have a well-educated population and open means of communication and travel within their territories. They’re also recognizing machine-gods as living beings capable of citizenship.

While the Coalition focuses primarily on diplomacy and trade with other factions, its members are well aware of the fragile times and that it’s necessary to make the occasional show of force to maintain political influence within the solar system. The academies are strong selling points for allied factions, and the Coalition has many transfer programs where students are invited from other factions both to offer the best education the solar system has to offer and to sell them on the Coalition’s more progressive ideology.

Caishen: Caishen is in charge of the Coalition’s resource management and economy, with the solar system’s second largest credit registry under its command. While it portrays itself as politically neutral, its economic power leads to heavy scrutiny from the other Coalition members.

Crocodile: Crocodile is primarily a political media empire in control over entertainment, fashion, and public opinion. It produces celebrities and fashion, creates and sponsors merchandise, and even sells entertainment to other factions. Even the most isolationist society cannot keep Crocodile products from seeping into its markets, and the Coalition is taking advantage of this in an effort to influence public opinion within enemy populaces.

Mantico: Mantico is mainly focused on education, science, and development. Its main focus is to further develop humanity’s understanding of the universe, and it has consultants within other Coalition members and allied factions. The Manticonian Academy of Cosmic Understanding (MACU) is the largest and most prestigious science academy in the solar system, being its own space station orbiting Saturn.

Nebulon: Nebulon specializes in aerial-, satellite-, communication-, and space technologies. Though it’s outshined by its rivals within the Directorate and Megacorp, it’s the only Coalition member that operates primarily from space. It’s currently the only faction known to be trying to reestablish contact with interstellar colonies as well as active colonial fleets. It has established some communication with Proxima, the nearest interstellar colony.

Praetor: Praetor stands behind the bulk of the Coalition’s military strength. It’s focused entirely on mastering warfare. While employed as the Coalition’s primary defensive force,it’s also trading mercenary services to allied and independent factions.

The Dawnlight Society

The Dawnlight Society is a cooperative in control over Earth’s Oceania, Mercurian space, and the Helios Swarm; a network of habitats orbiting the sun. It’s a new faction that was formed from the ruined cooperative Arawn. Most of the population speak Terran as their native tongue, but the Dawnlight Society is actively enforcing Neobantu as the official language; perhaps to further distinguish itself from Arawn.

It was the Dawnlight Society that was responsible for the creation of Primary Order back in the late Post-Modern Era. Back then, it was a group of scientists, engineers, and philantropists who wanted to make the world a better place. The organization disappeared during the Singularity Era, but it lived on for much longer in academic discourse and conspiracy theories. There were always those who thought that the Dawnlight Society controlled the world from behind the scenes with Primary Order as its tool to ensure power.

In reality, the Dawnlight Society had created Primary Order out of a naive idea of a prosperous future, and then disbanded as the people involved couldn’t bear the burden of the enormous changes they had enforced upon civilization. There was no Dawnlight Society for a very long time, but the name lived on as a symbol for change.

During the Cooperative Era, many academics and philosophers compared the current tyrants with those from history. They suggested that a new Dawnlight Society would be needed to make drastic changes once more, or civilization could be lost as a result of the devastating never-ending war. The idea took root in the population and factions went to extreme lengths to quell the discourse. But it was too late and people called out for change.

Arawn was a titan of vast power that used the Helios Swarm to harvest the sun’s power for itself. It had been trading energy and resources to the Directorate in exchange for military aid, and it was running propaganda campaigns on the Directorate’s behalf. Then one day, the entire Arawn Executive Board was allegedly executed by a machineborn who some believed was a member of the original Dawnlight Society more than half a millennia ago. Since their true identity was unknown, they came to be called the Phantom.

Arawn was completely overtaken by the Phantom and their followers, and from its assets emerged a new Dawnlight Society. It doesn’t appear to be actively working towards some revolution against the current system, though, since many of its citizens are still loyal to Arawn and hesitant to abide to new masters. The ruling cooperative enforces progressive ideas that welcome not only machineborn but all people regardless of progeny. However, these ideas don’t sit well with many citizens who were socialized for generations by Arawn—a faction particularly skilled at manipulating and controlling information.

As only a generation has passed since the formation of the new Dawnlight Society, it is often refered to as a culture of strife, with protests, riots, and terrorist attacks being commonplace, both in opposition to the new government and as means of quelling that opposition. The ruling government claims to encourage open debate and freedom of expression, but it has also been criticized for allegedly discriminating against empyreans and ascendants; many believe this is the Society’s way of punishing those progenies for having been at the top of society during Arawn’s rule. With many former members of the executive class having been thrown onto the streets during the hostile takeover, more ascendants and empyreans than ever before have found their way to society’s bottom.

While many view this as justice, others see it as a form of oppression that goes against the values which the Dawnlight Society claims to stand for. Some believe that the whole idea behind having humanitarian values is a facade, and that the only true motivation the Dawnlight Society has is to extract punishment upon Arawn. Without the Phantom being available for comment, no one knows for sure.

Now it is using Arawn’s vast resources to challenge the other cooperatives. It provides sanctuary for machineborn and offers a fair way of life for its citizens as long as they don’t oppose the new order. It has made alliances with Arcturus and is negotiating stronger relationships with both the Coalition and the Camellian Dynasty. The Directorate has remained passive against it so far, but Arawn loyalists have been known to cooperate with the Directorate from within the Dawnlight Society, contributing to its internal turmoil.

Deva

Deva is a religious dictatorship primarily operating from a region named Divina located in western Europe. It also possesses a large territory in space, having Uranus and its surrounding colonies under its control. Its members’ native tongue is Celestial, a language of their own making derived from Old Terran. Most people speak Terran as well.

Ever since the Cooperative Era when the devastation left by the wars caused chanites to throw the world into chaos, there has been a spike in religious belief. Doomsday prophets long claimed that civlization was at its end. While most people generally ignore these ideas, they often fester where hope is low. An important proponent of these beliefs is Markus Sacaro, the son of Crocodile’s former director Viana Sacaro. He’s from half-empyrean and half-ascendant descent and has a strong belief in the Voice, an entity said to be hidden within the space between stars.

The idea of the Voice came about not long after the creation of Primary Order. Because of its tremendous power, it was common for people to imagine the universe itself as the computations of an even greater prime functionary—a functionary supreme. While there are numerous religious beliefs in society today, the Voice has become the most prominent one with adherents from all societies, all seeing Markus Sacaro as a sacred man.

Deva was established through a violent coup during the Cooperative Wars, and anyone within its territory who refused to express complete reverence for the Voice were either murdered, tortured, or brainwashed in what came to be called the Sacaro Requiem, or the Inquisition Re-Emergence—which spawned the famous poem Sacaro’s IRE (see below). Sacaro is still leading Deva today, calling himself the Celestial Supreme. While he has millions of loyal adherents who help establish Deva as a contesting faction, the majority of people within Devan territories live in constant fear of the tyrannical regime.

Rival factions (especially the Coalition who suffered the most from Sacaro’s coup) openly dismiss the Voice as superstition, which have caused some blowback from a growing religious minority within their own population. While Deva is still taunting other factions during the current cease-fire, its leaders agreed to stop committing violence against their own people to be recognized as an independent faction by the Terran Consolidation. While people are generally more safe within Devan territories today than during the war, “heretics” are still oppressed, and there are rumors of secret internment camps where people are tortured, brainwashed, or killed.

Sacaro has spent years overseeing an engineering project in Uranus’ orbit which he claims is based on schematics given to him by the Voice. Many who have tried to study what they can of the construction have disregarded it as impossible science created by an unstable mind, but others aren’t so sure.

“Let the Voiceless admire
their tongues in the fire
Let their children inquire
about the threats of hellfire
Let all prior desire retire to the pyre
As Markus Sacaro brings you the IRE”

— Sacaro’s IRE

The Directorate

The Directorate is the oldest cooperative and consists of hundreds of bureaucratic branches and subordinate organizations, encompassing all aspects of research and development, mining and production, media and entertainment, health and education, warfare and peacekeeping, and more. These branches unite via the Board of Directors where they are represented by an empyrean director counseled by an ascendant advisor. The Directorate is currently operating from North America, most of the Pacific Ocean, Martian space, and much of the Asteroid Belt. It enforces Terran as its native tongue.

It was during the First Sector War when the Directorate began to unite independent sectors against the machineborn who ruled over society at that time. At first, the Directorate influenced the directions of individual governments but otherwise let them rule themselves. But as other cooperatives grew in power, the Directorate needed more of an iron fist to keep its sectors in line. As the wars raged on, more and more independent sectors lacked the means and funds to protect themselves. The Directorate took advantage of their weaknesses in order to expand its own territorial holds, replacing their governments with Directorate officials and took complete control.

The Protectorate consists of all territories who have entirely succumbed to the Directorate’s rule. While they could no longer govern themselves, they now had the Directorate’s protection, and many of them could benefit from a fairly high standard of living, even in times of war. The people of the Protectorate live and prosper under propaganda, and the Directorate is taking all means necessary to ensure that the dangerous machineborn, the chanites, and the corrupting Dis-Order cannot destroy civilization. The Directorate is also ensuring that the empyrean and ascendant progenies are accepted as superior by the rest of humanity.

While the Directorate has been aggressive in times of war, it has maintained a successful economy and invested heavily in a solar-spanning propaganda machine that helped it ensure societal control. While most of its population is fairly well-educated and has the freedom of travel and communication, the propaganda portrays empyreans and ascendants as necessary leaders of civilization while others may prosper in peace if they accept this as fact. Most people know that this is propaganda at work, but many who benefit from it turn a blind eye.

While terrans still make up the vast majority of the Directorate’s population, they have a hard time finding themselves in positions of power without putting in excess work (or relying on luck, nepotism, or blind loyalty). Many terrans have been led to believe in the other progenies’ superiority and resort to augmenting themselves beyond their perceived limitations. Ever since the cease-fire when people have become more aware of other factions’ cultures, more and more terrans dare standing up to this oppression.

Megacorp

Megacorp proved during the era of war that true strength doesn’t come from the might of a military, but from the value of one’s goods. Today, it’s the most economically influential faction with its standardized credit system having played a vital part in maintaining the cease-fire. It’s currently operating from Gran Colombia, Madagascar, and South Africa on Earth, the ocean in between, Jovian space, as well as parts of the Asteroid Belt.

Despite being a cooperative by the definition of the word, Megacorp’s leaders reject that term; instead calling it a plutocrative. It’s the faction that has benefited the most since the cease-fire, now having its tentacles in nearly every other faction due to the Megacorp Credit Registry (MCR). Megacorp uses the MCR to establish a standardized economic system tied to a faction’s energy production and use. Whenever trades are taking place, the MCR measures the value of those trades in the form of energy cost.

As inter-factional trade has increased since the cease-fire, many resort to the MCR conversion rates in order to define values. While some factions try to isolate themselves from Megacorp’s influences, the MCR is simply too useful to ignore. In essence, Megacorp has effectively established the rules for how their rivals manage their economies.

Because no single person should be able to control the entirety of Megacorp, the plutocrative has been set up so that every high-ranked executive has an equal share in its assets and resources. These executives are called plutocrats, and they’re the most powerful and influential individuals in the solar system. There are currently 101 plutocrats that together shape the course of civilization. The plutocrats fear another war and have gone to great lengths to avoid a civil war amongst themselves. They use a prime functionary called System for Universal Trade Agreements (Sultan) which analyzes their voting habits and responds to signs of corruption. Megacorp grows its influence by inducing and controlling corruption within rival factions, making its plutocrats aware of how vulnerable their own businesses can be to corruption. To counteract a civil war between plutocrats, the Sultan system was designed with anti-corruption in mind.

Megacorp enforces no official native tongue, though the majority of its people speak Bolivarian; it does, however, have a language called Sultan that only a select number of agents are allowed to acquire and use. This language is an allegedly undecipherable and ever-changing code created by the Sultan system. It cannot be learned as you would learn an ordinary language, and is instead installed in the agents using cyberware. While spies have successfully acquired Sultan in the past in order to access secret Megacorp data, the plutocrative will go to great lengths to ensure that unauthorized people don’t acquire the language. Previous agents who quit their jobs and become unauthorized must have the language removed from their brains before they’re allowed to continue their lives.

While Megacorp is sole patron of individual territories, such as Gran Colombia, it allows and supports regional governments to run their territories while being fairly hands-off in most matters that don’t involve diplomacy, trade, or war. Every territory under Megacorp control is market-driven and has large class divide, usually with extremely wealthy city centers surrounded by vast impoverished areas. Machineborn and cosmic coders are allowed to live their lives as long as they abide by the laws and don’t disrupt the markets.

Part of Megacorp culture is to have a free and open market consisting of both its own products and services as well as those imported from other factions. This makes Megacorp encourage entrepreneurship and production, and its culture rewards businesses who know how to enter the markets as effectively as possible. Unfortunately for the average worker, this has shifted production towards automation and machine-god intervention with minimum human employment, causing the laborer class to have grown fairly small as people are compelled to either strive for the erudite class where jobs are available or to fall into the scavenger class where they’re trapped in poverty. Megacorp is also the faction with the most active number of robots and machine-gods which causes more malfunctionary incidents than for many other factions.

Even though Megacorp is involved with every other major faction, it’s also seen as a growing threat. The Directorate has seen Megacorp as its greatest threat for generations, and it’s still antagonistic towards it for losing Gran Colombia to it during the Cooperative Era. Every other faction knows that because of the MCR, Megacorp has effectively won the war—having conquered them financially instead of militarily. Megacorp knows full well how good its current position in the solar system is, and the plutocrats are careful to show no outwards aggressions towards any other faction. As long as Megacorp can keep itself from giving its enemies just cause to initiate new hostilities, it can simply let the solar markets run their course until everything and everyone is under Megacorp’s control.

Staranova

Staranova is an empire ruled by Empress Anastasia Staranova, a woman born of a unique progeny who is obsessed with all kinds of biological and cybernetic augmentations. The empire is currently operating from a small region on Earth in between the Coalition and the Arcturian Dominion, and it has no territories of its own in space with the exception of some individual outposts scattered around others’ territories. Its native tongue is a dialect of Arcturian called Staranovian.

Because Staranova is a small and relatively insignificant faction compared to others, it’s often described using the derogatory phrase “small dogs bark the loudest.” It has a stubborn people hardened by generations of poverty and who are united in a mutual hatred against pretty much every other faction. Because Staranova lacks a meaningful solar presence and access to the abundance of resources in space, it has invested in excavating energy and minerals from Earth itself, tapping into the planet’s core and constructing giant war machines with minerals excavated from the depths. Staranovans have learned to be resourceful to maintain independence while surrounded by giant superpowers. While others view them as barking dogs, they see themselves as David standing up to Goliath.

During the Post-Modern Era, a civil war caused the country of Russia to split into two independent provinces—Rusland and Siberia. These provinces later fought each other over territory in the destructive Siberian War before Primary Order’s activation. Hundreds of thousands of people had died in the war and the tensions between Ruslanders and Siberians continued for generations. Later at the dawn of the First Sector War, when the Directorate grew in power and machineborn fought for increased dominions, the Ruslanders and Siberians remembered their mutual hatred. Decades into the Second Siberian War, an army general named Anastasia Staranova was displeased with Rusland’s incompetent leadership and wanted change. She arranged a coup, backed by Megacorp who had an interest in staving off Arcturian aggression, and overtook the land’s leadership—naming herself empress.

That was more than a generation ago. The Mistlands that were left in the wake of the Second Siberian War have started to recede thanks to the Containment Treaty as well as Arcturus’ Plato Bombs being used to decimate large chanite regions. By acceping a working alliance with the Coalition and inviting investments from Megacorp and other factions, Staranova was given the opportunity to retain its independence—though it still longs for a chance to truly equal the other factions.

In current times, Staranova views the cease-fire as an opportunity for the greater factions to drop their guards. It’s using its newfound alliances in order to access the solar trade and finally access resources previously unavailable. In the recent generation, Staranova has managed to catch up to other factions in many ways, with access to new science and technologies. The resourceful Staranovans continue to invest in war machines and fortifications, believing that they will be needed in times to come.

The Terran Consolidation

Terran space is the region of the solar system where Earth and its moon have their orbit. While each faction controls their own areas of the solar system, they are all allowed free passage through Terran space; but a single faction isn’t allowed to seize dominance over it. During the Cooperative Wars, Earth suffered calamity after calamity as factions fought over its resources. The cease-fire was established to end the fighting and the current dominions on Earth were promised to each faction on the condition that they joined a coalition called the Terran Consolidation (TerCon). It retains the peace of Terran space, viewing a shared Earth as the key to a shared solar system—but it doesn’t meddle unnecessarily in solar trade and politics.

TerCon consists of representatives (conciliators) from each member faction, divided into 365 seats based on an algorithm taking into account sectorial control, material wealth, energy control, and military might. It looks like the following:

The Directorate: 80 seats
Megacorp: 72 seats
The Dawnlight Society: 55 seats
The Coalition: 47 seats
Arcturus: 44 seats
The Camellian Dynasty: 39 seats
Deva: 25 seats
Staranova: 3 seats

The conciliators vote for Earth’s future, and their choices often reverbeate through the rest of the solar system. With the Directorate sitting on a majority of votes, other factions have banded together to counter their influence. Megacorp, Staranova, and the Coalition often vote as one with a shared 122 seats, though Staranova has a tendency of abstaining when its demands aren’t met. The Camellian Dynasty, the Dawnlight Society, and Arcturus have banded together as well, adding up to a total of 138 seats. Deva is on its own; its loud voice having little impact.

While TerCon employs millions of people from all member factions, it has teams of highly trained special agents called peacekeepers who are dispatched to member factions to inspect and investigate matters harmful to the cease-fire. Peacekeepers act as neutral eyes with diplomatic immunity and can go to great lengths to maintain peace.

The Terran Consolidation’s headquarters is Aesir, the five interconnected orbital rings surrounding Earth. It also controls Luna where it has a number of bases. In order to maintain easy access to both Earth and Luna, TerCon controls an elevator going from the fifth orbital ring to Luna.

Aesir

Earth is connected to Aesir through four 1,000 km tall towers positioned along the equator in the Pacific Ocean, in South America, in Africa, and in Asia. Each tower is a self-sustained arcology capable of housing over a billion people; their primary function is to act as a bridge to space as well as neutral TerCon embassies on Earth. The Pacific Ocean tower is called Asbru, the South American tower is called Atlas, the African tower is called Iris, and the Asian tower is called Babel.

Aesir’s five orbital rings are named after the first five astronauts in space. The first ring—Gagarov—lingers across the equator at an altitude of 1,000 km; The second ring—Shephard— is positioned along Earth’s vertical axis where it’s tethered to Gagarov at an altitude of 10,000 km; The third ring—Grissom—sits at a diagonal axis where it’s tethered to Shephard at an altitude of 20,000 km; The fourth ring—Titov—sits at the reverse diagonal axis where it’s tethered to Grissom at an altitude of 30,000 km; The fifth and final ring—Glenn—is centered over the equator like the first ring where it’s tethered to Titov at an altitude of 40,000 km. It’s from this ring that the lunar elevator begins, connecting Earth and Luna.

These rings contain habitats, research facilities, and stations used by the Terran Consolidation as well as its member factions. Because all rings are connected, there are tram lines going all the way from Earth through all five rings as well as through the lunar elevator to the moon. It’s possible for an individual to board a train on Earth and disembark on Luna without the need for a spaceship, though that trip takes a week to complete.

Art by @ Warmtail / Adobe Stock

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