The Concordance

25 Jan

Humanity’s Golden Age began in the year 2078, when a deep-space exploration mission beyond Pluto discovered the first Gate. The Gates, alien technology of unknown origin, provided access to thousands upon thousands of Earth-like worlds, allowing humanity to spread across the stars. Thousands of worlds were settled from Earth, many founded by nationalist, commercial, religious or other groups. Some became powerful within the expanding frontier, others deliberately attempted to turn their backs on the stars. And some, marginally habitable, were populated by genies – genetically-engineered humans designed for life on hostile worlds.

No one knew who had built the Gates, or why. The first alien race to be discovered by humankind was even more primitive than humanity. A handful of others, including star travellers who had found and accessed the Gate network for themselves, were just as mystified as humanity. The Gates seemed likely to remain a mystery for the end of time.

In 3045, disaster struck. The Gate network closed down. All attempts to reactive the network failed, leaving countless thousands of worlds cut off from the rest of the galaxy. Some collapsed back into barbarism. Others managed to thrive despite losing their export markets. But all were isolated. Humanity seemed doomed to fall back on primitive STL colony ships; even interstellar radio contact took years to reach the nearest inhabited worlds. Trillions of lives were lost, or ruined, by the closing of the Gate network. And no one ever found out why.

One such isolated world was Concord, founded two hundred years ago by social engineers who believed that they could create the ideal world for technological expansion. Concord was designed as a raving meritocracy, where hard work and success would be rewarded with political and social power. The system was designed to allow men of ability to rise to the top, culminating in the office of Tyrant. He would have the power of life and death over Concord, but his office would be hedged about by restrictions intended to prevent a monster from rising to power. The collapse of the Gate network gave the serving Tyrant unrestricted power. In the short term, Concord avoided much of the anarchy that consumed other worlds; in the long term, this posed a disaster. The seventh Tyrant was eventually overthrown and exiled into interplanetary space by rebels, who altered the system.

Instead of a single Tyrant, there would be two Consuls, who would share ultimate authority. They would be elected by the Citizen population (see below) and supervised by the Senate, who would also be elected into office. In theory, they possessed the same ultimate power as the former Tyrants, but in practice they were restricted by the Senate and the Tribunes. They also served a single five-year term in office and were banned from returning to political power afterwards.

Citizens on Concord became Citizens through three different procedures. They could be born to a Citizen, effectively inheriting their position; they could serve in the Legions for twenty years, earning their Citizenship – or, finally, they could perform a worthy deed for Concord. The latter was originally intended as a way to reward scientists and others who might otherwise be unwilling to earn citizenship, but it would later become linked to local rulers outside the Concord. They could become citizens in exchange for selling out their planets.

Two hundred years after the Gate network closed down, scientists on Concord discovered a way to travel faster-than-light without using the Gates. This allowed Concord to start expanding, eventually setting itself the goal of uniting all human worlds into a single union – the Concordance. The non-Concord humans would not be automatically granted citizenship within the Concordance; they would have to earn it, just as newcomers had always had to earn it (at least according to official dogma). What this meant, in practice, was that Citizens were effectively an aristocracy; the local Legions would support them, which meant that natives often became prisoners on their own planets. It was quite possible for the locals to earn citizenship themselves, but the system tended to ensure that the new Citizens were rarely permitted to return to their homeworlds. Instead, they would be settled on a newly-discovered world and become aristocrats there.

The system was further weighted in favour of Concord-natives by rules that stated that all votes had to be cast in person. It was rare for non-Concord Citizens to take time off their duties to travel to Concord to vote, which meant in practice that Concord ran the Concordance to suit itself. There was also a certain level of official discrimination against newly-minted Citizens, although the children of such Citizens were accepted into the Concordance without question. They were also encouraged to marry other Citizens.

Hyperspace travel imposed limitations on warfare which were poorly understood at the start of Concord’s expansion. Starships, possessing no form of force field defences, were vulnerable to being targeted by planetary defence centres (PDCs) located on the surface of the targeted world. When a world possessed a modern tech base and the defences to go with it, the Legions found themselves having to take the world by storm. They would be launched from starships in shuttlecraft – along with a host of decoys and planetary bombardment weapons – and flown down to the surface as quickly as possible, where they would attempt to form a beachhead and destroy the nearest PDCs. Such assaults were always very casualty-intensive for the Legions. In the event of the world not possessing any planetary defence systems, the starships would simply assume orbit and bombard the world into submission.

The Legions serve as the Concordance’s enforcers. They are separated into the Citizen Force, formed from Citizens who have volunteered for service, and the Auxiliaries, who have volunteered for service in the hopes of receiving their own citizenship. Officially, there is no difference between the two sections, but in practice the Citizen Force tends to receive the best equipment, the most daring missions (military service is the key to a political career on Concord, the more spectacular the better), and its officers have automatic seniority over the Auxiliaries. The Auxiliaries tend to find themselves launching the follow-up assaults and providing occupation forces for newly-occupied worlds.

Each Legion has an official strength of 10’000 soldiers. They are broken down into Cohorts (1000 soldiers), Centuries (100 soldiers) and Maniples (10 soldiers), although the precise division tends to vary from legion to legion. They are commanded by a Legatus (General). Each Century is commanded by a Centurion; Maniples are commanded by Decurions. Seniority is decided by time in grade, although Citizen-born officers automatically outrank non-Citizen officers. There are also a number of long-serving Sergeants who have held their positions for years. Smart junior officers know to listen to them. Mustangs are common among the Legions, with a certain amount of social cachet being attached to officers who served their time as Sergeants before applying for promotion.

Training in the Legions is harsh, brutally so. It isn’t uncommon for recruits to be killed during live-fire exercises, or worked to death by their Drill Sergeants. Those who pass the final tests are assigned to a Legion and generally expected to serve their entire service within the same unit (transfers are rare, but they do happen.)

Each Legion is assigned a specific base that serves as its primary R&R facility. Legionaries are forbidden to marry, but the rule is generally ignored (not least because it provides additional settlers for newly-discovered worlds) and each base is surrounded by small settlements of wives and children. The Legions generally provide a certain degree of protection to such families, even if their Legionnaire dies on active service. It is a point of honour to take care of their families afterwards.

The Concordance Navy has primary responsibility for transporting the Legions, maintaining their supply lines and scouting for new worlds to invade or settle. It is a purely Citizen force, although a number of newly-minted Citizens have found places within its ranks.

Two thousand years after it began its expansion, the Concordance is reaching the limits of pre-hyperdrive settled space. It has become alarmingly corrupt. The votes of the newer Citizens are being increasingly marginalised while the Senate is dominated by families that have effectively become aristocrats. There is growing discontent on thousands of worlds, often only held in check by the presence of one or more Legions keeping the peace. The Legions themselves are being pressured by serving as the mailed fist of the Senate. Many are openly wondering what they’re doing serving the Concordance while their families are often being reduced to poverty. It doesn’t look good for the future.

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One Response to “The Concordance”

  1. The Deposed King January 26, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Quite good.

    I might have been a bit more slavish with following the roman template. But thinking about it that tendency might have been a big mistake. Your system needs to have its unique bits and pieces. The sorts of quirks and diversions that make it a unique creation.

    I like it.

    The Deposed King

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