Though the vast majority of former Earthbound nations and polities have been integrated into the USRE or Laniakea one way or the other, there are a few notable exceptions -- a handful of countries that retained a form of independence through the Low Age. Lebanon is one of them. Left exhausted and battered by the thermal-industrial era, it became a trade hub during the early nomadic era of the Low Age. Lebanon slowly rose to become a multicultural regional power in the mid-Low Age, backing its trade-based soft power by the threat of nuclear fire -- it was one of the first polities to re-acquire nuclear weapons, through means best left for historians to assess. Finding itself in the occidental marches of what was yet to become the USRE, Lebanon managed to retain its independence through careful political manoeuvres and a hefty dose of thinly veiled nuclear threats. Playing the Moon Communes against the USRE, and later the Giants' Collective against Laniakea, Lebanon managed to remain relevant during the interplanetary age, despite being industrially and technologically outmatched by the superpowers. Through its close ties with the Moon, Lebanon was one of the first Earthbound polities to plant and harvest geometry crystal flowers and put them to actual use, thus becoming an unlikely interstellar power.
Modern Lebanon is one of the strangest Earthbound policies. While it is a multicultural social democracy, not unlike the average USRE Republic, it also possesses a much stronger national identity than its federalized counterparts. Whereas its demographics and economy are a mere fraction of what the USRE or Laniakea can output, it is not burdened by the need to (quite literally) carry the Earth on its shoulders. Lebanon is sometimes described as a "miniature superpower". It maintains an organized space military, a capacity for deep space expeditions, a space colonization program, various off-world stations and a trade fleet...all at a fraction of the scale the USRE or Laniakea operates on, but with the same goals and cohesion.
Many off-world polities have grown wary of Earthbound federations and their seemingly endless supply of people and resources that even nascent superpowers such as the Eloran Ekumen have no hope of matching. In this context, a nation such as Lebanon often appears as an interesting alternative for bilateral partnerships and joint ventures -- though it leverages the Earth's technology and facilities, it operates on a much smaller scale, more as an equal than a towering rival.
Illustration: own creation.
"All to Raven's Light."
The Algorab Expeditionary Corps is a semi-democratic polity that controls most of the Serene Sea. It has been created by Algorab with the specific goal of containing and countering the Sequence. Though it is technically a communal subsidiary of Algorab in practice it handles its own administration, supply lines and local economy. Its capital planet is Draugr. It is estimated that the Algorab Expeditionary Corps accounts for a total of fifty thousand military personnel with about one million people falling under its indirect jurisdiction. The Expeditionary Corps is governed by a council of civilian and military representatives that all come from the inner circle of Algorab. Its de facto leader is the vegetal AI known as Azches.
In theory, the Expeditionary Corps does not possess a military. In fact, it does not own anything: in legal terms, it is but a mere framework used for coordination. Its combat ships are manned by volunteers and are not officially registered as armed vessels. Its combat units are technically listed as scouting groups that can sometimes be armed. Its counterattacks against Sequence incursions are referred to as "aggressive sample recovery operations" carried out on behalf of Algorab. The cover is not subtle and there is a certain amount of self-defeating irony in the way the Expeditionary Corps frames its actions.
The Algorab Expeditionary Corps is a highly controversial polity. While its recent actions have prevented the Serene Sea conflict from escalating beyond the region many are arguing that the Expeditionary Corps is actively enforcing a policy of human supremacism by applying a xeno contact method that amounts to "shoot first and ask questions later." A criticism that Algorab addresses by stating that, precisely, the Sequence did shot first which is true but doesn't paint a complete picture of the situation. It completely forgets the fact that no one actually understands the Sequence and its intentions.
"Under the blue light."
The Irenian Enclave is a small independent polity located in the Pleiades nebula and formally attached to Communal Space. Born as a splinter of Laniakean settlements in the area the Irenian Enclave is a purely station-based polity with its capital located in Phi Clio Station. It is roughly forty years old and accounts for about five million people.
As a political power, it follows a structure that is rather common among smaller interstellar entities, with a constitutional framework uniting cooperative structures that may have slightly different governments. In the case of the Irenian Enclave, this constitutional framework is the Fundamental Law of Irenia. It is very similar to the Laniakean constitution but doesn't forbid private property entirely as it allows small family units to own means of productions. This change was implemented to adapt to the station-based nature of the Irenian Enclave where the basic social structure is made of three to five-person families. Though all stations under the Fundamental Law are democracies, they are not strictly identical in their political system.
Most of the population in the Irenian Enclave is made of genetically divergent humans with blue-tinted skin that can filter the heavy radiations from Pleiadian stars. Aside from station maintenance, the Irenian Enclave coordinates the local economy which is made of small family-owned workshops that often double as artistic communes. The hedonistic lifestyle of the Irenian community deploys its most creative aspects within this environment.
Surprisingly enough for such a small polity, the Irenian Enclaves have a well-developed presence in Communal Space, the Traverse and Mundis. Irenian workshops manufacture custom ships and space equipment to the specifications of foreign communes or even individuals. They never ask for money when trading as they only accept rare goods or artefacts. The Irenian Enclave maintains a surprisingly effective intelligence service that protects and authentifies these payments...and keeps an eye on potential clients.
"Flowers of the state."
The Smyrnian Flux State covers the eponymous settled region and is generally considered as an anarchist jurisdiction. This is utterly wrong.
There are many anarchist polities in settled space, be they independent powers or integrated within a federal polity such as the USRE or the Eloran Ekumen. They are very diverse in terms of organisation but none of them operates without rules. The Smyrnian Flux State does. It has no laws: only traditions.
Very few of the Smyrnian region powers are in fact anarchies. Most of them are somewhat centralized microstates with a few cooperatives and the odd dictatorship thrown in the mix. None of them has particularly good relationships with each other and they all have a rather similar size and economic power. The result is a chaotic state of things with thousands of unresolved conflicts for control that, by definition, cannot create definitive conclusions through regular means.
Enter the Smyrnian Flux State. It is not a government in the commonly accepted sense of the word: it does not provide any specific services or overarching structure. It is just a framework within which the multitude of conflicts in the regions can be solved without excessive bloodshed through the application and organisation of Flower Wars. A forum for flower pilots and diplomats, a theatre of war in the most literal sense. Flower Wars in the Smyrnian region happen constantly and are drawn-out, spectacular affairs the Flux State frames and organizes. Anarchies necessarily rely on cooperation and common trust. The Flux State of Smyrnia, in contrast, actively encourages conflict.
Many a superpower have considered the Flux State as easy prey in the past. Surely, a "state" based on organizing constant pretend wars is not hard to infiltrate and corrupt, right? Nevertheless, the Flux State has proven harder to crack than anticipated. The intricate web of alliances, traditions and ideas that enable the Flux State to exist give it unexpected resilience and consistency against all odds.
"Stars as a sea."
Not to be confused with the Laniakea Expedition.
Laniakea is Earth's second superpower alongside the USRE. It encompasses two billion inhabitants in the Pacific Ocean and its shores including southeast Asia, Earth's most populated region. Laniakea is somewhat of an oddity as it is a proper state and not a continental federation like the USRE or the Eloran Ekumen. The self-proclaimed biggest parliamentary democracy of all time also controls Okean, several thousand lightyears away from the Earth.
The centralized nature of Laniakea is rooted in pre-Low Age traditions though it is a much younger state than the USRE. The loose and federal nature of the USRE meant that it could exist even with limited means of communications in the mid-Low Age era. Laniakea, being a centralized democracy scattered all around the Pacific Ocean, had to wait for instant worldwide communication networks to be recreated at the very end of the Low Age. In present-day Laniakea is divided into regions that are only superficially similar to USRE Socialist Republics as they are purely administrative divisions without political autonomy. The real power in Laniakea resides in its three capitals: Manila, Kiribati and the underwater metropolis of Hawai'i.
Laniakea adopts the same kind of multiculturalism as the USRE, merging influences and traditions from the various cultures under its administration. However, Laniakea is wary of independent cooperatives and manages its continental economy through massive state-owned companies known as the Pillars. Allied with the existence of centralized ID systems this state of things makes the Laniakean polity somewhat more uniform than the USRE albeit it still displays a staggering amount of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Another difference with the USRE is that Laniakea is a two-headed state. The vast majority of its population is to be found on Earth but Laniakea also controls Okean and the eponymous settled region. The historical roots of this strange acquisition are to be found in Laniakea's maritime tradition which gave its colonists a notable headstart in settling and managing an ocean planet. Holding and controlling Okean puts Laniakea in a strange place. Its nature as a centralized state prevents Laniakea from considering Okean as a semi-independent place the way the USRE does with its distant settlements, however, the vast distances mean that direct rule is almost impossible. Okean thus exists in limbo, protected and supported by a state that lies thousands of lightyears away. A state that thus has what can be legally qualified as a colony, that is to say, an obscene oddity in the interstellar age.
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