The Factions of Ironclad
In the aftermath of the last Great War, rather than consolidate the defeated into a single empire, the winning side chose to create a massive political institution. Theoretically, it would be based on the cooperation of all intelligent space-faring beings. Many sovereign states initially opposed this transition, but eventually the Council was finally formed, with a primary goal of bringing an end to all wars and promising prosperity for everyone. Its goal was a virtuous one, even though it is one that remains to be realized. This new Council was imperfect and forged by as much injustice and inequity as with truth and moral fiber. The stronger societies never wanted to support the weak and there were inequalities abound. The Council’s frontier worlds suffered the most, as they were underdeveloped, received little to no support, and were overburdened by high taxation by the local warlords and politicians.
One of the founding pillars of the Council was its military strength as it was decreed that all members would either cede control of their military and naval forces to Council military administration or contribute financially in strengthening the Council’s own military power. Only by combining these forces was the Council able to match the Firstborn’s power. The Council’s Navy overshadowed all others. The Council’s birth, in turn, created a series of problems that still remain unresolved and form a barrier to the peace that the Council strived so hard to attain.
As a political institution, scholars consider it to be in its infancy and relatively unstable as petty squabbles between the richer and poorer worlds rarely find a middle ground. It is rumored that the Council has degenerated to the point of being controlled by an elite few that hold the strong majority of Council votes via extortion, influence, or outright bribery.
Despite heavy military control, the Federation began to blossom. Once the primary goal of survival had been met, sovereignty and rapid expansion quickly followed. As it had been on Earth, colonialism stepped to the forefront as Gaia Nova expanded as quickly as possible, colonizing nearby planets and exploiting their resources at will. If not for a war with the Firstborn, the scope of humanity’s dominion would certainly have been broader. The war was devastation and the wounds that humanity suffered in the humiliating defeat at the hands of the unstoppable Firstborn war machine lingered and festered throughout the Federation. Their pride injured by such an overwhelming loss, it wasn’t long before voices in the GNF Navy clamored for revenge. These voices were stifled by those asking for peace as Gaia Nova’s entry to the Intergalactic Council gave new hope to its rebuilding economy. Humanity rapidly rebounded and with careful and methodical planning managed to reestablish itself, overcoming its previous losses.
Shortly after gaining membership to the Intergalactic Council, the Federation leadership began assessing its opponents on the galactic chessboard. Clandestine Federation sources detected a weakness in the Cartel’s leadership, which seemed easily exploitable. With some well-spent resources and careful machinations, they managed to stage a coup, replacing the head of the Cartel with their own easily-manipulated puppet. The primary idea behind this infiltration was to funnel funds from Cartel coffers, though maintaining secrecy was of prime importance to avoid another unnecessary war. These funds proved to be invaluable to a weakened Federation that was still recovering. Because of the siphoned funds, infrastructure improvements and weapons manufacture were all significantly sped up. Galactic conflict was an inevitability, despite the enforced Intergalactic Council ceasefire, and the Federation wanted to be prepared. For some, the improved growth due to the stolen Cartel funds was not fast enough and greed for faster development compromised the installed puppet’s cover, opening the opportunity for a rising warlord to seize Cartel leadership. After deposing the Federation-supported traitor, relations between the Federation and the Cartel once again to a turn to that of deadly enemies.
The Firstborn’s introverted nature limited their relations with other species to their interactions via ambassadors. With an unparalleled military strength, their fearsome, high-powered Mechs inspired dread among their enemies. Their society was comprised of rigid and diverse castes, of which the only one known outside their sovereign space was the military caste.
So overwhelming was the Firstborn military strength, that only by combining the power of all of the other Council members, could the Firstborn navy be outmatched. Maintaining such a strong military has created a cold war climate between the Firstborn and many other Council members. The Formation War, as contemporary historians came to call it, led to the formation of the Council. During this conflict, the Firstborn maintained neutrality at first, but as soon as one side had the advantage, they joined them. After the war was over, the Firstborn firmly opposed the Council’s formation and their compulsory participation, but after long debate and negotiation, they reluctantly agreed, with political analysts claiming that the Firstborn were somehow strongarmed into accepting. Afterwards, the Firstborn withdrew into seclusion, keeping interplanetary contact to the barest minimum.
Humanity’s introduction to the Council’s broader sphere of influence had a significant impact on the galaxy as a whole. The encroachment of Gaia Nova and their unscrupulous and rampant use of terraforming technology radically changed the planets they colonized. As a whole, the Council was against such sweeping planet-wide transformations but decided against any immediate action towards the fledgling species. The Firstborn, however, were not as tolerant and viewed the terraforming as blatant environmental destruction. They conducted a surprise military campaign against the Federation, purging several human colonies before the Federation managed to mount a counterattack. Despite the Federation’s zeal, they were unable to match the Firstborn war machine and just as they were about to be brought to their knees, the Council surprisingly intervened, with the Firstborn accusing the Council of being very lenient towards the humans. All hostilities ceased, a non-aggression treaty was enforced and – to the Firstborn’s dismay – humanity was given a seat in the Council.
Even now, the Firstborn diligently work to undermine the Federation and there are perpetual calls in their hierarchy for immediate military action against the Federation, despite the fact that such action would be contrary to the Council’s will.
It didn’t take long for a separatist movement to form following the signing of the Treaty. Despite its farcical banner of freedom, civil rights, and sovereign independence, the revolutionaries took up arms. The Council would not allow such an upheaval to go unanswered, so they began a galactic campaign with the sole intention of drenching the galaxy in separatist blood. Facing the overwhelming might of the Council, the resistance fighters had to retreat and hide, radically altering their strategy against such a powerful adversary. Navigating the cosmic storms, the resistance took a guerilla tactics, looting and damaging Council supply lines, playing a constant game of cat-and-mouse as they harassed their trade routes. As the separatist forces were particularly adept at navigating the lethal, cosmic anomalies, it became less and less profitable for the Council to exhaust any further resources in trying to eliminate them.
The Council was forced to make the humiliating decision to withdraw the bulk of its forces from the frontier planets and dispatch them to ward off a new pirate threat. It had barely managed to restrict the Cartel’s activities in just a few systems. Changing their methods from hunting down the rebels to enforcing an embargo on the core Cartel worlds, they felt that they could bring the situation more under their control. This embargo created financial tremors throughout the Cartel, as the demand for raw materials and resources was enormous throughout the galaxy. If they did not adapt, the Cartel would not be able to survive. With their primary revenue streams embargoed, the separatists resorted to illegal activities (smuggling contraband, illegal substances, etc.) in order to finance their continued armed struggle.
The Cartel’s crafty hit-and-run tactics using frontier worlds as bases for their operations made them a difficult target for the Council’s Navy. With the addition of Gaia Nova to the intergalactic equation, the landscape had begun to change. Cartel leadership fell into the hands of a very capable human, a puppet of the Gaia Nova Federation. The new leadership started to funnel a major portion of its funds to the Federation, thereby indirectly financing its military needs. Under this new administration, the Cartel plunged further into underground activities, expanding the range of its illegal endeavors to more lucrative crimes. This short-lived era did not last long as a new powerful Cartel figure, the warlord Amaryllis, appeared. Under her leadership, the Cartel was immediately reverted to its original identity in hopes of reforming the revolution. The Cartel severed all ties with the Federation, rooted out any Federation agents within its hierarchy, and restored the organization to what it had been, one of freedom fighters.
There was no field that was safe from the Corporation’s expansion – military, agriculture, science, etc. Their interest in the scientific markets, specifically research and development, was of particular note as it garnered the Corporation additional revenue streams from new technologies. It was established as the absolute power in the intergalactic defense industry when certain Corporation warship designs proved extremely effective in repelling Cartel incursions into the frontier sectors. In light of the Corporation’s increasing power, the Intergalactic Council ceded a number of privileges to them, which aided their rapid expansionism to the point that economic experts argued that the Corporation’s activities dangerously pushed the limits of becoming a full-fledged monopoly.
Although the Corporation’s activities abided by Council legislation on the surface, their leadership didn’t hesitate to delve into illegal methods to increase its power. These illicit activities were kept as discreet as possible as the Corporation didn’t want to openly antagonize the Council and possibly subject themselves to sanctions. Operating with the use of a private military company (PMC), the Corporation limited their direct association with many of these criminal activities.