The Western Alliance
Capital: Washbalt Metroplex
The Western Alliance is a two-level federal republic consisting of the marginally separate but strongly allied nations of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Oceania (greater Australia). This commonwealth arrangement is unique among the superpowers. The Alliance also occupies Latin America and administers the area as a resource zone under the supervision of a military governor. The occupied territories are not represented in the Alliance Senate.
Though their governments are a sinkhole of incompetence, authoritarianism, and corruption, the states of the alliance remain, at least in theory, the most democratic on Earth. Superficially a republic, the Alliance is, in effect, an oligarchy controlled by an entrenched political class. Citizens have few freedoms, and speech, travel, and other activities are heavily monitored by the government.
The individual nations maintain their own separate military establishments, both on Earth and in space, though they are commanded by a unified Joint Chiefs of Staff organization and are frequently combined for operations.
The U.S. deep space ground forces consist primarily of the Marine Corps, which operates alongside the British Royal Marines and other Alliance offworld forces. British military organizations continue to carry the designation "Royal" despite the fact that the monarchy was eliminated during the Unification Wars.
The Western Alliance is one of the strongest superpowers, both on Earth and in space. Its terrestrial economy is perpetually bankrupt, and the government is highly dependent on the profitable exploitation of its colony worlds, which are allowed a significant level of independence as long as mandated production quotas are met.
The Mohammedan Caliphate
Though the jihad failed to achieve its goal of world domination, the forces of the Caliphate ended the Unification Wars in possession of a vast domain stretching from Western India to the Atlantic coast of Africa.
This vast theocracy is headed by the Caliph, who rules with absolute and unquestioned power. Below the Caliph are several levels of nobility exercising direct control over the larger population, which lives barely above the sustenance level and enjoys almost no comforts or freedoms. Citizens are encouraged to live a simple existence and to practice obedience to their lords and the state. Laws are restrictive, and violators are punished harshly.
The Caliphate’s colonies are organized according to a highly militarized feudal system. The local commanders are lords, and essentially “own” their colonies in return for providing resources and militia units for use on the frontier. By encouraging the use of private resources in colonization efforts, the Caliphate has established one of the largest interstellar empires.
The Caliphate military is capable and well-equipped. The frontline Janissaries are elite powered infantry trained from childhood to serve for life.
Central Asian Combine
Capital: Hong Kong
The Central Asian Combine is the descendant of the People’s Republic of China. When the Chinese economic "miracle" proved to be at least partly illusory and exports evaporated as the overall world economy collapsed, the nation exploded into revolution and chaos. The Peoples' Liberation Army crushed the dissenters and established a new government in partnership with remnants of the old regime. Senior generals and several leaders from the old government formed a ruling council, the decrees of which are strictly enforced by the military and internal security forces.
The Combine is less technologically advanced than the Western Alliance or the Pacific Rim Coalition and lacks the religious fervor of the Caliphate, but it has shown a willingness to expend enormous amounts of manpower to compensate. The pre-cursor power to the CAC stopped the Caliphate’s initial eastward expansion with massive human wave attacks, and the resulting 50-year war of attrition depopulated much of the Indian subcontinent.
In the years following the Unification Wars, the Combine and the Caliphate, initially bitter enemies, gradually became close allies. The two nations shared many enemies, and their interstellar holdings were complimentary, making cooperation expedient for both.
The CAC has a few elite units with training and equipment more or less equal to that of their Alliance and PRC foes, but the primary strength of the CAC military remains the ability and willingness to expend huge numbers of soldiers in battle.
The CAC has been very aggressive in its space exploration program, and has the third largest colonial empire, after the Alliance and the Caliphate.
Pacific Rim Coalition
The Pacific Rim Coalition was created as a counter to the strength of the CAC. Early in the Unification Wars the Chinese military invaded Taiwan, but they were decisively defeated by the Taiwanese army supported by U.S. and Japanese forces. A Chinese sponsored North Korean invasion of the south was also shattered with U.S. assistance.
When the U.S. economy collapsed, and American forces were compelled to withdraw to deal with threats at home and elsewhere, the local nations began to fear renewed attacks from the newly-formed CAC. The Pacific Rim Treaty of 2081 named Japan, United Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Greater Thailand as full members. Over the next 20 years, many other nations of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific were added, some by diplomacy and others by force. These new additions were admitted as subject areas, lacking the full rights of the founding members.
The PRC is a single-party government providing superficial voting rights to citizens, but in fact vesting almost all power in the hands of the party elite. Citizens enjoy a moderately high standard of living, though nothing approaching early 21st century norms. Speech is controlled, but not tightly, and legislative punishments are relatively moderate.
The PRC military has tried, and mostly failed, to revive the code of bushido and resurrect the samurai spirit in its troops. While some elite units do subscribe to a modified code of honor and refuse to surrender, or even survive, a defeat, most PRC formations simply consist of well-trained and equipped units of modern troops.
The PRC has the fourth largest collection of interstellar colonies, but is far behind the "big three" in both settled worlds and naval strength.
Europa Federalis consists of the territory of the former nations of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain. Europa is governed by three consuls, who are elected from a designated class of elites known as the Concordat. Although entry into the Concordat is theoretically open to any citizen, in reality the existing members control access. Cronyism and patronage is the only way to advance, and upward mobility is rare.
Europa Federalis is in the second tier of superpowers and is not a match for the Alliance, Caliphate, or CAC. Europa is the mortal enemy of the Central European League, and the two powers fought bitterly and unsuccessfully for total control of the continent during the Unification Wars. They have carried this enmity into space.
Europa has a relatively small collection of colonies. All colonization is done under strict government oversight, and existing colonies are subject to the heaviest bureaucratic burden of any of the powers. Inspectors, regulators, and political officers swarm over every colony world, suppressing economic activity and making Europa's settled worlds the least productive in human-occupied space.
Colonies are garrisoned by the Compagnies d’Etoile, well organized and equipped units of colonial regulars. The Compagnies are recruited on Earth, and volunteers receive grants of land or mining rights in exchange for a commitment to settle on the frontier after their ten year term of service.
The Compagnies are supported by Consular Guard units of powered infantry. Europa has also maintained the ancient French Foreign Legion, a small but highly effective frontier fighting force manned entirely by outcasts of other nations.
Central European League
The intensity of the Caliphate's attack in the early years of the Unification Wars was such that virtually all the nations of Europe were forced to join forces to hold back the onslaught. Once this southern front was stabilized, Europe was thrown into confusion as many of the old governments collapsed, their bloated and bankrupt bureaucracies no longer able to sustain themselves or deliver even basic civil services.
The coalescence of Europa Federalis from the Latin nations of Europe caused the Germanic and Slavic peoples to fear Gallic domination, and they looked to the shattered remnants of Federal Republic of Germany for leadership. The senior generals of the Heer, now fully in control of the German government, drafted a new constitution offering associate status to neighboring nations. The resulting Central European League ultimately came to encompass all of greater Germany, Poland, the Balkans, and parts of Belarus, the Ukraine, and Scandinavia.
The CEL is essentially a military dictatorship. The new Reichstag was comprised of 333 members, 200 nominated by the military and the rest elected by the component states. The Chancellor is chosen by the Reichstag, but the commander of the Heer has veto power over any Chancellor-elect, and to date none but senior generals have served.
The CEL is the only superpower to have a completely new, purpose-built capital city. With Berlin virtually destroyed by revolution and riots and occupied by millions of squatters and refugees, the CEL government commissioned the construction of a new city to be called Neu-Brandenburg. Though small by the standards of other capitals, it is the newest and most modern city in the world.
The CEL has a moderate, but very consolidated and organized interstellar empire. The frontier military forces of the CEL are spearheaded by elite panzergrenadier units of powered infantry.
The CEL remains a bitter enemy of Europa Federalis.
Capital: St. Petersburg
In the early stages of the Unification Wars it seemed as though the tattered remnants of the old Soviet Union would fall to the forces of the Caliphate. The invader was eventually defeated, as had happened so many times in the past, by the Russian winter combined with a desperate counteroffensive. The previously scattered remnants of the Russian, Georgian, and Ukranian armies, reinforced by a small but capable contingent of allied US forces struck back, and in a massive two-month battle they defeated the forces of the Caliph and turned them back.
The Russians and their allies never regained all of the territory lost to the Caliphate and were subsequently deprived of several Asian provinces by the CAC and the PRC. Nevertheless, with continued U.S. assistance and a humiliating but necessary treaty with the PRC, the situation was stabilized, and the newly formed Confederacy survived to emerge, however marginally, as one of the superpowers.
The CAC and the Caliphate had destroyed the emerging Indian superpower, but they fought each other to exhaustion over the spoils. The Russians, regrouped and reorganized, attacked south and reclaimed the former Soviet states in the area, then invaded Afghanistan and seized part of Pakistan. Establishing contact with the scattered and disorganized remnants of the Indian military, the revived Russian army drove south. Taking advantage of an opportunity, they offered the Indians a co-equal partnership and extended the Confederacy to include the re-claimed northern areas of India.
The Confederacy is ruled by three triumvirs, elected to staggered ten-year terms of office by the Oligarchs, the leaders of the large business combines that control the economy. The RIC is a relatively poor and technologically backward superpower, and the Russo-Indian military, other than a few elite strike units, is poorly equipped.
The Confederacy was struggling for its very survival when the other superpowers began sending expeditions through the newly discovered warp gates. By the time the RIC made it into space in significant force, many of the choke point systems were occupied, and the Russians were compelled to fight hard to assemble a small collection of colonies.
South American Empire
When the world economy began to collapse, the nations of South America suffered catastrophic depressions followed by mass starvation and revolution. Warfare erupted throughout the continent, as nations and shattered remnants of nations fought each other savagely for a dwindling pool of resources.
Eventually, a brilliant Venezuelan warlord named Gabriel de Santos conquered most of the northeastern portion of the continent. The formation of the Western Alliance, and the resulting increase in U.S. military power created a fear that South America would fall under Alliance domination. Fanning these fears, de Santos was able to unite about half of the continent under his rule, and he declared himself emperor. Several decades of war were required to subdue the rest of the South America.
The newly formed empire was in ruins and economically prostrate, and it was left to the conqueror's son, Gabriel II, to rebuild the shattered realm and attain true superpower status. By the time this reconstruction was sufficiently complete to support a program of space exploration, the other powers had sewn up all the lucrative systems. The SAE has the smallest collection of colonies, and this cluster has no known warp gates leading to unclaimed space. The empire cannot expand in space without taking someone else's real estate, and they lack sufficient force to do so alone. As a result, the SAE strategy has been to seek opportunities to align with stronger powers to attain its goals.
SAE space forces consist of quasi-irregulars supplemented by a very few elite Imperial Guard units. SAE worlds are owned and operated by major corporations, which field their own private armies. It is common for these forces to be hired out as mercenaries to any power that can pay and not unheard of for SAE troops to be fighting on both sides of a war.
Free Martian Confederation
Capital: Ares Metroplex
In the years just before the start of the Unification Wars, several small U.S. colonies were established on the surface of Mars, followed by similar settlements from China, Russia, Japan, and the U.K. While the nations of Earth fought decade after decade of increasingly savage and destructive war, these colonies survived, prospered, and grew.
Millions wished to escape from the cataclysm occurring on Earth, and the Martian colonies had their pick of immigrants. Consisting almost entirely of the highly skilled and educated, the Martian Exodus, as it was called, created somewhat of a "brain-drain" on Earth, but fueled the expansion and prosperity of the Mars colonies.
When the Treaty of Paris was signed and the nations of Earth again focused on space exploration, they found that the Martians, as they called themselves, felt they were independent of any Earth authority. They banded together into a loose confederation and demonstrated that Mars was quite capable of defending itself, possessing what was at the time the largest fleet of spacecraft of any nation.
While the population of Mars was tiny compared to that of the superpowers, it was almost entirely comprised of productive elements. Where the superpowers had crime ridden, poverty stricken, and useless cities, the Martians had a well ordered and highly educated society. Where the powers of Earth were devastated, exhausted by war, and plagued by crumbling infrastructure, Mars was a high-tech and productive society. The superpowers had no viable choice but to accept the Confederation as an independent power.
By far the smallest of the powers, the Confederation relies upon small, well-trained, and superbly equipped ground units to maintain its position in the interstellar race. The Confederation is the least expansionist of the powers, and while it dominates the moons and asteroids of the Sol system, it has a very small group of interstellar colonies. Mars rarely intervenes in the wars between the other powers, preferring to maintain a policy of armed neutrality.