Part of a series about the Stellar Alliance.
The Alliance started when four species – Minervans, Nommos, Rephaim, and Terans – joined together in 2467 to found an interstellar government. In the 26th century the Stellar Alliance spanned over three hundred worlds. Its decentralized yet unified government, its advanced technology, and its ideals have irrevocably changed this quadrant of the galaxy.
The Solar Alliance
In the twenty-fourth century the Earth Commonwealth, the Republic of Mars, and the Union of Outer Planets put their differences aside to form the Solar Alliance. This required a great deal of work to harmonize three legal systems. This new alliance guaranteed the rights of parahumans, genetically enhanced sapient animals (“uplifts”), and artificial general intelligences (“Synthetics”). The Outer Planets shared their technologies to synthesize food which abolished hunger on Earth, Earth shared its biological diversity to enhance the life support of Outer Planets colonies, and Mars shared its terraforming expertise to improve the environments of Earth and the Outer Planets.
Also during this time period the Alliance (formerly Martian) Space Exploration Agency broke the Warp 2 barrier. Progress on speeds up to Warp 6 followed soon after. ASEA leveraged asteroid mining resources to build a new fleet of Alcubierre drive – warp drive – ships and established colonies around Alpha and Beta Centauri. This new fleet also encountered traces of alien civilizations, and eventually the aliens themselves.
Contact with Other Species
Of the many species discovered during this period, four would prove instrumental in establishing the Alliance.
The Minervans come from the planet Minerva1 in the Ran (Epsilon Eridani) system. Humanoids with blue-gray skin, the Minervans possessed technologies far ahead of the Solar Alliance. Many attribute their lack of an interstellar civilization (or empire) to their cautious yet competitive and perfectionist nature: seeing no benefit and many potential problems, they simply contented themselves with seeking civilizations that managed to outdo them in some area. Few did.
Using Minervan technology, the now Trans-Solar Alliance2 began developing the miracle that would define the Stellar Alliance: exotic particle technology.
The Rephaim or Rephaites3 come from the planet Phaëthon near Vega. Tall (2.5 to 3 m) and broad humanoids with golden skin, the Rephaim look and frequently act like Greek gods. Centuries ago they raided other planets for “tribute”, and then abandoned most of them.
Rephaitic star-charts allowed the Trans-Solar Alliance to explore and contact other worlds, including future members of the Stellar Alliance.
The Nommos come from the twin planets of Hauhet and Naunet around Sirius. An amphibious but distinctly fish-like species, the Nommos explored a great deal of the galaxy millennia ago. At that time they attempted to “enlighten” many of the civilizations they encountered (including, allegedly, Earth), but, disappointed with the results, they returned to the oceans of Naunet and the desert oases of Hauhet to collate all their data.
Nommos star-charts provided the Trans-Solar Alliance with a somewhat outdated map of nearly every star system in what would become Alliance Space. Using scientific data the Nommos never properly analyzed, Terran and Minervan scientists eventually perfected exotic particle technology.
The First, as they call themselves, are radially symmetrical creatures who allegedly conquered much of the galaxy millions if not billions of years ago. Among other things, they claim to have landed on primeval Earth and jump-started evolution. (Historians dispute their many tales of conquest, especially since no evidence of their presence remains on Earth.) What’s known is that they left numerous ruins across hundreds of worlds in the Nommos and Rephaitic catalogs. And then … they died out, or “devolved”, or changed.
The current “Dominion of the First” acts as a negative example: space-travelling cities full of pompous star-headed elders claiming to rule a galaxy that has hardly heard of them. Even their technologies sounded more like black magic, so the Solar Alliance contact team chose to leave them alone.
The “Taelian” Incident
Mere years before exotic particle research bore fruit, strange visitors arrived in the courtyard of the Earth Commonwealth Congress: the “Taelians”, who looked uncomfortably like the “Greys”4 of 20th and 21st century myth.
These “Taelians” promised to solve all Earth’s problems and usher in an age without want or turmoil … if the people of Earth would just follow them. While many long conflicts had finally wound down, Earth had yet to reach the post-scarcity eutopia of the modern age. Increasing numbers of Terrans fell for the “Taelian” spiel … while scientists, investigators, and extraterrestrial allies searched for the truth.
The Taelians were, in fact, puppets of a species known only as “The Outer Ones”. Their leaders had brain parasites that ensured their obedience to their unseen masters, and the rank and file – a tribe of Greys actually called the Cetani – simply followed the scam. With the plot exposed and the supposed leaders having died from their parasites, the people of Earth went through a crisis. The remaining Cetani settled on Mars.
The incident galvanized the huge population of Earth to rededicate themselves both to the Solar Alliance and to the ideals the Taelians had exploited. Meanwhile their leaders planned an even broader coalition: an interstellar coalition.
Formation of the Stellar Alliance
After several years the Trans-Solar Alliance presented the proposal for the Stellar Alliance as a fait accompli. The public mood of Earth, the sober judgement of the Martian Senate, and the collective will of the Outer Planets Union all supported this Alliance. The Minervans, Rephaim, and Nommos all signed the proposal on July 1, 2497.
Meanwhile Minervan, Nommos, and Terran technology combined to produce the first coherent exo-beams, capable of delivering conventional particles to a point in space without crossing the normal space in between. This property proved a boon to communications, fabricator technology, and weapon design.
The Stellar Alliance, despite its many successes, has encountered some as yet intractable problems.
Anti-spinward of Alliance Space lies the Draconian Empire. This warlike expansionist empire whose green-skinned warrior and noble elites preside over entire slave planets stands in direct opposition to Alliance goals and ideals. Attempts at finding common ground have only turned a shooting war into a cold war.
The Algolian Spacers, cyan-skinned nomads who have spread across much of Alliance space, include among their clans the most ruthless organized crime families since the bad old days of Old Earth and pre-warp Minerva.
The Yozarian Plutocracy poses more of an idealogical threat than a military or criminal one. Yozari, goblin-like humanoids, consider themselves bringers of civilization, by which they mean their hyper-capitalist lightly regulated free market system. About the only things illegal in their system are fraud – that’s a breach of contract – and violence or threats of violence – but they have people for that …
Rivals and Mysteries
Spinward of Alliance Space is a huge span of space once dominated by “the Confederation”. Whatever kept this system going has broken down; Confederation Space now consists of planetary fiefdoms ruled by decadent hereditary nobles. Preying on the remains are the bureaucratic, class-obsessesed Etanoi Republic, the technologically superior, economically imperialist, and culturally isolationist Transhuman Commonwealth, and the expansionist but so far cautious Kante Empire.
Rimward of Alliance Space is the Sohl-Sargent Expanse, a large volume thought to contain only gas and dust. Recently more sensitive instruments have detected a whole star cluster within the Expanse, previously unseen. Alliance Command would like to send at least one ship to investigate. As this region also borders the Draconian Empire, the Alliance Parliament is wary of turning the Expanse into a battleground.
The newly formed Alliance Peacekeeping Fleet has been agitating for more responsibility in patrolling Alliance Space. As yet the APF consists of heavily armed military ships crewed by military-trained soldiers. The ASEPF has therefore pushed back on these calls for more “peacekeeping” from these diplomatically untrained captains. Still, the ASEPF may soon get its long-standing wish and become just the Alliance Space Exploration Fleet …
Centuries after the Treaty of Cydonia established Synthetics as fully autonomous citizens and residents of the Alliance, a cybernetic anomaly threatens to undo their progress: a conventional computer that can pass the Turing-Chen Ranking Test5 at level 1. Some want the Turing-Chen tests updated. A consortium of robot manufacturers wants a license to sell TCR 1 Synthetics as “equipment”. Activists for Synthetics, including many Synthetics at TCR 1 and TCR 2, want something done. In response the anti-Synthetic terrorist group “Vengeance for Cydonia” threatens to do “something” …
Many have described the Alliance government as bureucratic, disjointed, overly idealistic, and woefully unprepared for war or invasion. Nevertheless it’s the largest known interstellar government and the one with the fewest internal problems, in part because it resists centralization and realpolitik.
The Alliance Charter recognizes three types of Alliance member worlds.
Allied Worlds have interests in common with the Alliance, but retain their own sovereign government and culture. Often Alliance authorities metaphorically hold their nose (and their criticisms) when dealing with loose allies, but they draw the line at slavery and legitimized mass murder.
Provisional Members fall into three categories:
Former colony worlds working toward independence.
Worlds that are in the process of implementing laws and social changes to align themselves with Alliance standards. This includes Alliance Basic Services, the abolition of caste and class systems, universal suffrage, and the Alliance’s famous “post-scarcity society”.
Worlds that refuse to implement one or more of said measures, but remain strategically or politically important to the Alliance. Idealists hope that such societies eventually mend their ways; realists keep them in the Alliance either for the benefits they provide or the risks of letting them fall to an enemy government.
Full Members participate fully in the Alliance’s “Great Society”.
Critics charge that the Alliance attempts to turn all planets into Earth, Mars, Minerva, Naunet, or Phaëthon. Alliance supporters respond that planets that want the benefits of the Alliance must abide by its rules, and that the Alliance will never support any culture that inflicts poverty, persistent inequality, or avoidable suffering and death on any of its members. Some have even argued that the Alliance’s exhaustive ethnological surveys primarily prevent the Alliance from supporting planets where an elite oppresses a permanent underclass … everything the Alliance stands against.
The President of the Alliance and the highest levels of the Alliance bureaucracy resides on a base in orbit around Ægir in the Ran system.
The Legislative Branch elects a new president every six years, or if they have previously impeached the prior president. The president oversees the labyrinth of bureaus which provide services to the citizens of all full Alliance member worlds, regulates interstellar trade and commerce, oversees the various interstellar fleets, maintains diplomatic ties with other interstellar governments and entities, runs the various intelligence services, and allegedly fields “black ops” teams to neutralize emerging threats (which the entire Alliance government denies). It’s a lot.
Funding for the whole government comes from contributions from member worlds. Full members contribute the most, in part because the Alliance’s “post-scarcity” technologies and social changes free up resources that other worlds lack. Other funding comes from income taxes for corporations and individuals with sufficient monetary income, mining operations using convict labor, and “investments” in less enlightened governments.
The Alliance Parliament and its throng of aides and bureaucrats live on a station above Phaëthon, home planet of the Rephaim.
Each world in the Alliance sends a delegations to the Parliament. Allied worlds may speak before the Parliament but may not vote. Provisional worlds may speak and vote, but their votes reflect only their “free” population according to surveys and a complex formula. Full member worlds may speak and vote, with their votes weighted by the size of their total population of sapients, including Synthetics.
The Alliance Charter does not mandate the size of delegations nor the method of choosing them, only that they carry bona fides from their official recognized government. A delegation may even divide its vote if it so chooses.
The Alliance High Court convenes on Hauhet, twin planet of the Nommo homeworld Naunet. It has four roles:
- As the court of last appeal for any court in the Alliance.
- As the court of record for any charges of corruption or gross negligence by officials of the Alliance government.
- As the court of record for treason, war crimes, and crimes against sapience by any citizen of the Alliance.
- As the court of pre-emptive review for all legislation enacted by Parliament.
This last duty once engendered some controversy, but in practice the Judicial Branch only issues advisory judgements on legislation it feels are overly broad, unenforceable, or against the Alliance Charter. The Parliament may then amend the legislation and vote on it again, or choose to leave it as is.
All starship fleets report to authorities within the Sol System, but for political and security reasons each fleet has a separate headquarters:
- The Fleet High Command of ASEPF – the “Alliance Fleet” – is in San Jose in the former state of California.
- Fleet Academy is located in Burroughs City, Mars.
- The Merchant Fleet headquarters is located in Commerce City, Ganymede.
- The newly created Peacekeeping Fleet has a top secret base somewhere in or near the orbit of Jupiter.
Local defense fleets have headquarters somewhere in their respective star systems. The Sol Fleet is currently split between Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
The Alliance Space Exploration and Peacekeeping Fleet
Often abbreviated as the “Alliance Fleet” or just “The Fleet”, ASEPF has a clear mandate: explore planets within Alliance and unclaimed space, make contact with new life forms and new civilizations, collect as much astrophysical, xenobiological, and xeno-ethnological data as possible, and resolve conflicts as peacefully as possible.
The combination of peaceful science missions and armed intervention requires a delicate balancing act. Critics often point out that the so-called “Explorer” class of starship has nearly as many weapons as other interstellar civilizations’ military ships.
For more about ASEPF, see “Fleets of the Alliance”.
The Merchant Fleet
To encourage commerce, the Alliance leases obsolete starships and newly constructed freighters to interstellar corporations large and small. The Alliance may suspend the lease if the ship’s crew has engaged in illegal or “antisocial” activity, including but not limited to smuggling, unlicensed bounty hunting, assassination, regime change, treason, destabilizing an Alliance planet, or contaminating a non-Alliance culture.
Many merchant crews, and most senior officers, come from the Alliance Fleet. That and the heavy financial and criminal penalties for misusing a leased ship ensures that corporations toe the Alliance line.
The Peacekeeping Fleet
Amidst calls to separate ASEPF’s exploration and peacekeeping duties, Fleet High Command has begun building dedicated warships: the Light Cruiser, the Heavy Cruiser, and the Battle Cruiser. All three designs maximize firepower and defenses at the expense of other capabilities of the Explorer, Science, and Support classes.
This decision has stirred even more controversy, and most such ships remain in the Sol System, the Ran System, and systems bordering the Draconian Empire. As it turns out, most Alliance worlds prefer ships captained by diplomats and negotiators.
Local Defense Fleets
Each Alliance planet is allowed its own fleet of starships and system ships to pursue its goals independent of the Alliance. That said, violating the terms of Alliance membership may lead to sanctions or even expulsion from the Alliance.
All Alliance planets maintain a fleet of ships to defend their system. Nearly all such ships are limited to Warp 0 or Warp 1. The bulk of their power goes to weapons, shields, remote sensors, and ECM/ECCM, so even a smaller and cheaper ship can take on a starship.
Or rather, the elihom come from their homeworld Mynrpha, which tin-eared, simple-minded humans call “Minervans” and Minerva respectively. ↩︎
A newly formed Centaurian Republic joined the Alliance as equal partners. ↩︎
Earth would later learn that “Greys” live on several worlds in the quadrant. According to their own myths, they were survivors of a vanished empire. The similarities in their ships – saucers or ellipsoids – suggest a common if unknown origin point. Despite their roughly humanoid appearance, Greys biologically resemble terrestrial reptiles or saurians. Some bloodlines are parthenogenic. Adults vary in height between 1.0 and 1.75 meters; most stand about 1.5 meters (roughly 5 feet). Despite the Earth name Grays vary in pigmentation from chalk white through a pale golden or yellow-green to a charcoal gray. Also despite 20th century legends they show no interest in human anatomy or procreation. ↩︎
Turing-Chen Rank categorizes artificial intelligence on a 0-3 scale. TCR 0 has specific intelligence but not sapience (“robots”), TCR 1 has sapience but limited general intelligence. Higher ranks have qualitatively more advanced intelligence. ↩︎