Star*Drive: Visions of the Verge
The founders of the Borealis Republic would never have ventured into space had they realized how history would turn against them. Conceived as a return to notions of aristocracy and nobility, the nation has abandoned these ideas, leaving behind only ghostly shadows. Today, the Borealis Republic is a unique free society, comprised in equal parts of naturally conceived sentients and popular copies -clones.
During the early 22nd century, changes swept over Earth. New superpowers clashed, and new technologies radically changed humanity’s way of life. Extraterrestrials, the fraal, revealed not only their existence, but also the fact that they had been visiting Earth for millennia! Humanity prepared itself for fundamental, comprehensive alterations to its way of life-including a jump to the stars. Several of Earth’s nation-states spurned these transformations. Rejecting the radical populist ideas that swept Eurasia, these reactionary nations turned back the clock to a time that was, in their minds, better and simpler.
The Borealis Republic formed in 2154. The constitutional monarchy was one of the few successful returns from a democracy to a form of autocracy. The new state reestablished a noble class from its cultural leadership, tracing distant ties back to various noble houses of medieval Europe. Expatriates, tsarists, royalists, petty nobles, and imperialists of every stripe flocked to swear allegiance to the anachronistic new state. The Borealins adopted ancient and long-defunct ideals of public service, but, in essence, the new nobility ruled unchecked. Meanwhile, the state poured resources into the arts: drama, literature, and especially philosophy. While it formed from a reaction against the changes wracking humanity, the Republic was far from stagnant.
The new state owed its existence to the invention of the stardrive. Many states saw the Borealins as evidence of a tyrannical resurgence against democracies. Others mocked the absurdity of an aristocracy actually ruling a country in modern times. Under scrutiny and assault, the Borealis Republic took a step that ensured its survival. Investing heavily in stellar exploration, the Borealins relocated their capital to the planet Sapphire in 2243.
To the surprise of most of the other fledgling stellar nations, the Republic flourished in its first century. The sometimes rigid structure proved its worth on far-off colony worlds. The strong authority united the Borealis colonists and gave them the direction they needed to survive. Each planetary leader, typically a duke or a baron of the Republic, clung to the powers of a dictator. Of course, the nobility saw it as a point of personal pride that their colonies met with success. Ironically, the old structure encouraged the expansion of the Borealis Republic as well. Wealthy nobles’ sons and daughters each wanted to command a colony of their own, and they settled these areas with clones to pass on both their material and genetic inheritance. Since only the eldest would inherit, the younger siblings raced off to the edges of Borealin space to found a new planet for the Republic.
Indeed, many observers have noted that the Borealis Republic reached its geographical and political height before the First Galactic War. In 2291, eight years before the war began, revolution shook the Republic. The autocratic governors had grown complacent, and their experiments in cloning and population control had become unpopular. Moreover, the arts and education that the nobility had endorsed had trickled their way down. Most of that philosophy had little to say about a nation that did not acknowledge equality among men.
At first, the civil war looked as if it might end swiftly, with the Borealin revolutionaries carrying the day. After all, the nobility represented only about 5°/o of the population. But after the initial storm, the nobles became entrenched, refusing to submit to commoners. By now, the clone population had grown to half the Borealin population. The nobles were outraged that their own creations, often their genetic duplicates, were rebelling. This rage led them to take great risks and make great sacrifices to keep from losing what they had built.
In 2299, the First Galactic War broke out. Engulfed by their own problems, the Borealins
noble, revolutionary, and clone alike took little interest. The nobility didn’t want to encourage further revolutionary thought by breaking ties with Earth but, unable to form a common defense, the Republic found itself picked apart from many sides. The Rigunmor Star Consortium annexed more than 20% of the Republic’s systems during GW1.
The Republic’s civil war came to an end just before the conclusion of GW1. The revolutionaries held an unquestionable advantage; most believe that, given another decade, they would have defeated the nobles. Instead, a compromise was reached. In his last act as leader, King Carolev V of the Borealis Re- public granted nobility to all Borealins, natural and clone. Henceforth, all Borealins possessed at least the rank of Knight. The monarchy was dissolved, and a conclave of nobles took its place. In essence, the king’s decree formed a democracy.
The Second Galactic War
The Borealins wanted to stay out of GW2. Surrounded by stronger military and economic powers, the Borealin people had grown more and more inward-looking, preferring consideration of life’s essential questions to fighting over stars and planets. Discussion of ethics took precedence over plans for the coming war. Out of necessity, Borealis allied itself with the FreeSpace Alliance in 2372. Thanks to its Orion and Orlamu allies, the Borealis Republic exists today. Still, the Expansion Pentad claimed many systems of the Borealis Republic; most were later donated to the Galactic Concord to form Concord Sagittarius.
The Borealin focus on the arts and the nation’s loss of power in the galaxy represent a vicious circle. The more removed the Borealins have grown, the more that neighboring stellar nations have taken advantage of the situation. Most Borealins seem to prefer life in the ivory tower. Once, the clones performed all necessary (but tedious) physical labor. Today, all Borealins share in intellectual freedom. Borealin sculpture and drama remain the finest in the galaxy, even if others occasionally criticize it as too self-referential. Borealins admit that they are more interested in the immutables of existence than, for example, in the rising price of rhodium.
A dozen Colleges of Philosophy dominate the Borealis Republic, and every Borealin attends one of them as part of their higher education. It’s traditional to attend the school of one’s parents, but not required. Today, many younger sons and daughters attend a college of their choice. Recently the College of Justice Ethics has gained in popularity. Members of this college advocate a stronger devotion to keeping the peace and preserving liberty for all Borealins. Justices, as they are called, represent about half of those enlisted in the Borealin military.
The Borealins remain the best historians. While domestic politics interest most Borealins only so far as issues of ethics, morals, and proper etiquette are concerned, Borealins are avid explorers. New thoughts and discoveries are traded in the Borealis Republic much as weapons or metals are elsewhere. As a result, the libraries on Sapphire contain the best records of humanity outside of Earth itself. Indeed, the Borealin histories of humanity since it left the Sol system are probably superior to those of the Solar Union.
Sapphire itself resembles a planetary college. The philosophy academies debate in the larger cities, and the Conclave of Lords holds council in a sprawling clone-built palace in the mountains. Sapphire resembles an immaculate campus of beautiful lawns and landscapes. Libraries fill great volumes of space, and many of them still stock printed books in various languages. No one questions knowledge as the noblest pursuit.
During the Second Galactic War, the last outward vestiges of nobility fell away. Rather than Duke or Baron, today Borealins hold ranks based on academic standing. Most of the population still ranks as Student, with upper echelons gaining the titles of Lecturer, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Professor, and Dean. The Conclave of Lords ranks highest with its Philosophers and current Grand Philosopher, Justin Arimensis.
Compared to other stellar nations, the Borealis Republic is weak. Its military is growing but remains small. On the other hand, the Borealins possess a multitude of small interstellar craft and an unusually high proportion of drivesats. Interstellar communication and the exchange of information hold a high priority. Borealin diplomats are canny, if long-winded. The Borealin economy is healthy internally, but weak in the interstellar marketplace.
Playing A Borealin
Within Borealin space, farmers, shopkeepers, miners, and factory workers go about their business. Today half of the Borealin population comes into the world through a hospital cloning tank, the product of genetic mimicry. The Borealin reliance on cloning, while alarming to many stellar nations, hasn’t cast a significant influence over Borealin culture. Clones and naturals enjoy a completely equal status. And contrary to popular opinion, not every Borealin spends his or her days in the ivory tower of an academic college inventing arcane systems of reasoning. The Republic demands that its citizens fill all ranks of life. Nevertheless, the life of a Borealin is a life of intellect. Even as they go about their normal routines, Borealins are surrounded by study and contemplation, As the saying goes, scratch a Borealin and you uncover a philosopher.
Borealins are justly proud of their educational system. The first institutionalized classes begin at age three, and a general if superb scholarship continues until the student reaches age 16 and formal proficiency testing begins. After two more years of vocational batteries and apprenticing to a sampling of careers, Borealin Youths must select a College of Philosophy, which they join for life. Tradition holds that Borealins attend their parents’ college and eventually wed a member of their own college. In the last century, independent choice of college, once a rebellious gesture, has become an accepted practice. Most students stay familiar with current theories and discussion of their school, and as amateur philosophers, students are more likely to experiment with splinter schools and outside religions – usually the Humanity Reformation or 0Id Earth faiths.
At present, twelve colleges exist. In the past three centuries, the number has varied from as few as nine to as many as seventeen. Colleges often splinter or die, and new Colleges form as radical new ideas are introduced into the academic environment, spreading out from the Borealin capital of Sapphire. From oldest to youngest, the twelve active colleges are Unism, Virtue, Aestheticism, Neosolipsism, Deism-Unism, Utilitarianism, Platonism, NeoKantian, Exonihilism, Verant-Benn, High Rationalism, and Justice Ethics. Since their formation, the colleges have kept a healthy rivalry.