"Stars as a sea."

Not to be confused with the Laniakea Expedition.

Laniakea is Earth's second superpower, only rivalled in size and scope by the USRE. Its population numbers two billion, spread across the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, California, Eastern China, Japan and South-East Asia. In the image of the USRE, however, it cannot be considered as a unified nationstate -- it is even more ethnically, linguistically and spiritually diverse than its continental counterpart.

The Laniakean identity -- if it even exists -- is extremely composite. Laniakea's official languages are Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Indonesian, Hawaiian (both pidgin and original), Samoan and English; in practice, it's expected from a Laniakean citizen to speak at least one "continental" language (usually Mandarin or English) and at least one "oceanic" language (overwhelmingly Japanese or a Malayo-Polynesian tongue). Most of Laniakea's population centres are several weeks away from each other, and if it wasn't for the mandatory two years of state service, most denizens of the Pacific nation would spend their entire life in their home province. Sociological studies have shown that Laniakeans, in average, put their regional identity first, and their pacifican identity a distant second. In that regard, they are not dissimilar from USRE denizens. Two centuries of pan-pacific integration cannot erase the fact that, in the post-industrial era, a Chinese woman from Hong Kong and a Hawai'an man living with his family in Kiribati have little in common, aside from the flag over their local prefectorate.

Which brings a question: why does Laniakea even exist?

Despite the idealistic propaganda of the self-proclaimed "largest democracy in human history", the state of Laniakea is an unplanned outgrowth of the Low Age, and more specifically of the pan-pacific seafaring communes that emerged in the mid-Low Age, as part of an attempt at reviving the trade networks of old, between a still powerful China, and the technological treasure troves of California. However, low energy densities and hyper-dynamic storm systems forced the seafarers to revert to the Polynesian model of ocean travel, hopping from island to island instead of crossing the Pacific in one go. Within a century, a complex network of commercial and cultural lines coalesced across the Pacific, sustained by an emergent political entity born out of reciprocal exchange between continental and island regions. Laniakea had come into being, but it would take until the very late Low Age for the network to become an interconnected democracy. In present-day, this network is largely unchanged; even in the interstellar age, the Earth remains wounded and low-energy; the lack of cargo aircraft and the prevalence of large hurricanes in the Pacific -- that sometimes degenerate into hypercanes -- makes island-hopping the safest route through the ocean, which in turn sustains Laniakea as a polity. Many Laniakean traditions stem from the rites of Low Age sailors, like the yearly exchange of gifts between island regions.

Modern Laniakea is divided into administrative regions with a large degree of political autonomy, not unlike USRE states, with the large-scale coordination entities -- and the Earth's largest cybersyn nodes -- centralized in Manila, Hawai'i and Osaka. The historical origin of Laniakea as an exchange network has led to a peculiar state organisation, where economic integration is vastly more developed than political integration, with large pan-pacific cooperatives handling most of the productive and logistical functions of the state. Service in these cooperatives is the main venue for the two-year state service.

Over the past fifty years, Laniakea has expanded towards the solar system and, in stark contrast with the USRE, maintains many off-world asteroid stations, as well as an extrasolar planet, Okean, a thousand lightyears away, which enjoys a quasi-independent status.

Laniakea logo created by Lazare Viennot.

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