Background Notes: The Daybreak Empire

5 Mar

Written for a universe I’m currently designing ….

Background Notes: The Daybreak Empire

The Daybreak Empire was founded in Year One of the Imperial Era (2654AD), although it is not clear, even to the empire’s own researchers, how much preliminary planning went into founding the empire.

The official story is relatively simple.  The fleets of the Ceuta Alphan Kingdom, under the command of Grand Admiral Zachariah, encountered the fleets of the Saurian Republic at Daybreak, under the command of Lady Admiral Suleiman, both under orders to secure the system for their respective masters.  This backfired badly, however, when the two commanders – realising the operation was doomed to merely continue the fires of the Great Interstellar War – allied and turned on their homeworlds.  Commanding, as they did, a sizable percentage of both fleets, it was relatively simple to mount a coup and effectively take control of both interstellar powers.  This was surprisingly well-received by the majority of the populations, who had watched the chaos of the interstellar war lapping at their doors for years.  Daybreak, a previously unexploited planet that had appeared largely useless – hence the settlement rights being sold to a low-tech society prior to the war – became the effective capital of the joint empire.  Eventually, it leant its name to the newborn interstellar power. 

Precisely how much of that story is true is uncertain.  It seems logical to assume the two commanders had made contact shortly before they led their fleets to Daybreak, as – while they were both known to be extremely capable – it would have taken time to develop mutual trust before taking their homeworlds and founding a new empire.  Many – many – researchers have written books questioning the official narrative, arguing that the founders were either in cahoots from the start – well before the fateful encounter at Daybreak – or one somehow subverted the other.  Such researches are often quietly ignored.  The empire has no interest in questioning the story.

Regardless of the truth, it is clear that the two founders spent years labouring to put together a new form of government.  Both career military officers, both very aware that bureaucrats and elitists bore a considerable share of the blame for the crisis that eventually triggered the Great Interstellar War, they rested their government on military force.  Daybreak would be a democracy, but one with a very limited franchise open only to people who had served at least five years in the military.  Other citizens – non-voters – would have rights, but no share of the power.  The system was carefully designed to ensure that anyone who wanted to serve in the military had to be given a chance, thus making sure there was no way to demand the widening of the franchise.

Furthermore, for both ideological and practical purposes, the Daybreak Empire was an expansionist – even outright imperialist – power right from the start.  Believing that human disunity had led to the war, the founders determined to ensure there would be a central authority – theirs – that would have the power to keep the peace, largely through the application of military force.  This kicked off a wave of interstellar invasions and incorporations, the former often prompting independent worlds and systems to apply for membership within the empire.  The burden was not as heavy as one might assume.  The Daybreak Empire proved very good at leaving the locals to govern themselves, as long as they respected the empire’s role as interstellar arbiter and honoured the rules on trade, interplanetary relationships and interstellar conflicts. 

The following two hundred years saw the slow and steady development of a single imperial power covering a third of pre-war human space.  The empire has had issues – it brags it has lost battles, never wars – but it has done much good (as well as evil) for the local populations. 


The government of the empire is led by the Lord Admiral and Lord General, who are elected from the Senate and serve single five-year terms each.  (The Senate also elects the Lord Speaker, who serves as the formal Head of State, but is only allowed to cast a vote in the event of a tie).  The Senate, elected for life, is composed of officers who reached command rank within the military, although – as the voting base consists of current and formal military personnel – there is a certain check on officers more interested in their own careers than winning wars.  Senators also serve as judges, planetary governors and – fairly often – corporate CEOs.  Senatorial titles are not hereditary and the system works hard to discourage nepotism.

Below, Congress is directly elected for single five-year terms by the voters.  Congressmen can be drawn from the voting base (officers or enlisted), but they must be either retired or in the military reserve.  Congress has the final say on both legal matters (laws must have the support of at least 60% of Congress to pass) and senatorial oversight.  Congress has the right to impeach Senators, if they are believed to have acted poorly (precisely what constitutes poor behaviour is deliberately vague).

Planets within the empire fall into one of four separate categories.  Incorporated Worlds are effectively part of Daybreak itself, although they have smaller governments to handle local matters.  They elect representatives to the Imperial Government as well as their own planetary governments.  Dominions have local independence, complete with military forces and commercial empires; they have complete internal freedom as long as they don’t clash with the Daybreak Articles of Incorporation.  Colonies are ruled directly by Daybreak – in practice, by appointed governors; Settlements are founded and ruled by Daybreak, or at least under Daybreak’s supervision, but plans are in place for them to evolve into either Dominion or Incorporated roles. 

A planet’s status is determined by precisely how it enters the empire.  A planetary system with a united government is free to petition for membership at any time, allowing it to claim Dominion status.  (This does have the weakness that a badly-run planet will be left to run itself, if it joins the empire before it can be invaded.)  A planet that has to be forcibly brought into the empire, through direct invasion, will be classed as a colony as its government (in Daybreak’s eyes) chose poorly.  This is, it is generally conceded, a major weakness within the system.  It is designed to provide a considerable degree of economic and technological assistance to newly-occupied systems, but it also allows them to be exploited for decades before they rise to Dominion or Incorporated status.

Given the sheer size of unincorporated (i.e. independent) space, the empire occasionally makes local agreements with ‘rogue’ worlds and systems.  However, as a matter of principle, these agreements are never seen as anything other than temporary.  The empire claims to rule all of human space and insists, whatever the locals say about it, that it is in charge.


Daybreak – and the Incorporated Worlds – are constitutional republics with an intense focus on personal responsibility and the rule of law.  There is complete freedom of speech – although there are also strict libel/slander laws – and gun ownership is common (mandatory, for former military personnel).  Government is as local as possible, with government bureaucrats held to account by ‘voter courts’ that have the right to determine if the bureaucrat is engaging in government overreach.  All rights, save one, are universal; the right to vote and serve in government is earned through military service. 

The Dominions have their own governments, ranging from outright monocracies and theocracies to dictatorships and republics.  They are allowed to do whatever they like to their own citizens, but not to bar their citizens from leaving if they wish to go; the empire has a habit of headhunting particularly capable or innovative military officers or inventors to add to its own system. 


Upon enlisting in the military, a prospective recruit is given the choice between the army or the navy.  (Intelligence units traditionally recruit from within the senior services; technically, all Daybreakers are members of the planetary militia).  Once they chose, they are assigned to a specific branch within the service and sent for training.  Both of the services believe, quite firmly, that all personnel are soldiers or spacers first and practically all candidates are expected to work in an enlisted role before attempting to become officers.  (The only exception to this are officer cadets who attend the Daybreak Naval Academy, and even they are expected to have a degree of practical knowledge and experience before they are promoted).  Mustangs are strongly encouraged and it isn’t unknown for someone to start their career as a Third Class Missile Tech and end it as a Fleet Admiral. 

Military personnel are expected to be political aware, if not active.  It isn’t uncommon for a popular commanding officer to use his popularity amongst the men to make the leap into the Senate.  It’s also far from uncommon for an unpopular officer to be disgraced when his former subordinates refuse to support him, directly or indirectly, in a run for political office.   

Dominions are allowed to run their navies on whatever lines they like, although with the understanding that Daybreak officers are always senior to locals.  (This is bitterly resented, with reason).


Subjectively, Daybreakers claim their empire is a net good for the human race (and the galaxy as a whole).  It provides a framework for interstellar law and order while ensuring a diversity of thought and political systems that – they argue – allow people to find the system they consider most comfortable.  It cannot be denied that Daybreak has successfully prevented a major interstellar war, although it is also true that Daybreak has launched hundreds of military operations that are effectively local conflicts.

Objectively, the reality is somewhat different.  Daybreak does not intend to allow any completely independent states to exist.  When planets refuse to submit, or literally can’t submit, Daybreak imposes its own order, allowing its representatives to exploit the locals before they rise to take their place within the system.  It’s mission to reunite the galaxy is cover for the incorporation of worlds into its system, allowing its corporations access to markets – willing or not-  as part of a system that gives them an unfair advantage.  Daybreak is also very good at soaking up the cream of the talent, ensuring that it maintains an edge over the semi-independent dominions, and preventing them from building the forces to challenge the empire and demand better terms.

It is generally believed that, if there was a major challenge to the system, it would have trouble surviving …

3 Responses to “Background Notes: The Daybreak Empire”

  1. PhilippeO March 5, 2021 at 10:59 am #

    Eh, Heinlein-style military magic Empire ???

    Rather cliche, realistically military units that not fighting war deteriorate remarkably quickly, and military man no more immune to nepotism than civilians.

    On the other hand, no more unrealistic than Kingdom ruled by magic weapon or psychic animal.

  2. Les Barrie March 5, 2021 at 2:37 pm #

    Very starship trooper based,Heinlein would love it and all the P.C. fools and liberals would hate it,a certain sense of duty and loyalty is sadly lacking in our current self serving political class.

  3. Cathy Howat March 5, 2021 at 8:43 pm #

    Go for it!

    Get Outlook for Android


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