Star*Drive: Visions of the Verge
Neither the strongest nor the largest of the stellar nations, the Orion League is known as the most heterogeneous. Every ethnicity from Old Earth can find descendants in the League, and many have preserved their way of life unchanged. Meanwhile, space has produced dozens of new cultures in Orion space. Though the hundreds of worlds that comprise any stellar nation usually share general tendencies, the Orion League defies attempts at definition.
To trace the formation of the Orion League is to examine the foundation of dozens of separate states. In the first wave from the Sol system, hundreds of independent colonies established themselves by migrating toward the constellation of Orion. Some colonists were fleeing from trouble, and others sought a fresh start far from home. Of these system-states, more than half were subsidized by corporations or independently wealthy private individuals. The superpowers of Earth’s western hemisphere dispatched colonies of their own to the region.
By 2260, eighty-six distinct governments were functioning in Orion space. Most of Old Space had been explored and claimed by at least one of the fledgling states, and humanity was pushing past the borders of known space. About this time, the unchecked growth of the small nations halted. Several colonies failed or were absorbed into other nations. A few dashed directly, and others formed trading coalitions. Then the First Galactic War erupted, and everything changed.
The future Orions fought a disorganized and defensive war against the Terran Empire, against stellar nations such as the Orlamu Theocracy and Austrin-Ontis Unlimited, and against each other. Some colonies were destroyed, while others barely noticed the war. Natural selection whittled away at the independents in Orion space. Four centers of power developed: two founded by Earth nations, and two founded on economic alliances between neighboring systems.
After the war ended, the Nordic Independent State, Free Kyrena Society, and New Columbia were recognized as stellar nations. The fourth, the Orion Nation, was centered farther out from the Solar Union and the center of humanity. Ironically, it was the Orion Nation’s omission from the Treaty of Earth that led to the formation of the stellar nation known today. In terms of military strength alone, the Orion Nation could not have faced down any of the three powers. But given the Orion Nation’s position at the edge of colonized space, it held the key to expansion, and all three of the new stellar nations Would fight for that opportunity to expand.
Still, the nations were tired of war and needed time to re- build. Three years after signing the Treaty of Earth, the four nations met in conference about the Orion capital planet, Jaeger. The delegates were commissioned to iron out an agreement under which the nations could live together peacefully.
Seven months into the slow process, the focus of the meetings changed. Word arrived that Austrin-Ontis had refused to allow vessels passage through its Space. It was the first shot of an economic war. The delegates reacted as one, ordering a multinational force of Vessels to clear the way for merchant traffic. After a single skirmish, both sides backed down. Shortly thereafter, news came of yet another Thuldan raid into a neighbor’s space. The delegates joined together to boycott Thuldan goods, and officially censured the Empire. After nine other nations agreed to the boycott, the Thuldan emperor stopped the raids.
With these joint successes in mind, the delegates reconvened in 2317. These new meetings were no longer confined to discussions about internal peace and stability between neighbors. They looked outward at the stellar nations, shared information, and negotiated trading opportunities. All four leaders were now in regular attendance. The Jaeger Conference developed into a permanent forum.
The nations grew entangled until 2321, when Kathryn Brown, president of the Orion Nation, addressed the delegates. She spoke at great length about the advances that her nation had made in recent years, and lauded her citizens for their courage and resolve in the face of difficulty. The surprise came when she offered to dissolve her own nation and unite it with one of the other three nations. The Orion people would be assured representation in the Treaty of Earth, and a larger nation would stand a better chance in the coming war.
The delegates took her words to heart. Unfortunately, this unified nation would disturb the careful balance of power between nations. The delegates rejected her proposal. Instead, each national leader articulated the need for alliance, praised his citizens, and dissolved his nation. The Orion League was united. Jaeger was named the capital, and Brown was elected president Her first act was to commission a charter and a bill of rights. Freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly for all sentients was declared throughout Orion space. Ethnic and species discrimination was denounced. The Orion League grew, and aliens
especially the fraal flocked to its banner.
The Second Galactic War
The Orion League hurried to unify as the war opened in 2346, about a decade after Brown had retired from public life. When the war broke out, newly elected President Mischa Dobrescu had just taken office, and the Orion response was slowed as a result. Dobrescu concluded a non-aggression pact with the Orlamu Theocracy, and the Orions focused on Austrin-Ontis. The Orions buckled at first, but turned the tide by 2360. Then the Thuldans announced the formation of the Expansion Pentad.
Consultation with the Orlamu Theocracy and the Borealis Republic led to the creation of the FreeSpace Alliance. Meanwhile, another set of stellar nations formed the Profit alliance.
Concerned about Thuldan and VoidCorp advances, Brown established a ’gentleman’s agreement’ between the Profit confederation and the FreeSpace Alliance. Over the next few decades, the Orions supported the war efforts of the Borealins, Orlamus, and occasionally the Austrins. By 2401, the Expansion Pentad had been pushed back, and the agreement with Profit collapsed The war degenerated into three bitterly en- trenched alliances. 0nly the heroism and sacrifice of Warthen Hale brought Peace.
The nature of politics in Orion space keeps power decentralized. Individual worlds and systems are free to conduct their own business, as long as certain broad laws
including the Orion Charter are followed. Of course, each member system is taxed by the Orion government. The chief functions of the League are to maintain peace between its member systems, and to guard against foreign aggression. The League also sets fair trade practices, both internally and with other nations.
Each system elects representatives based on its population. The legislative house, called the House of Equals, meets in conference for three months every year on Jaeger. The House of Equals is also convened during national emergencies, such as in wartime -including throughout most of GW2. The representatives are a diverse body of professional politicians, colony leaders, and alien emissaries. To accomplish their individual objectives, House members must compromise and build coalitions among groups with widely divergent interests.
The League president guides the stellar nation. Every Orion world participates in the election of the chief executive, held every five years. The current president of the Orion League is Lora Trigard; in the 2504 election she is expected to face stiff opposition from Senator Bruce Hale, youngest son of the famous peacemaker, president Warthen Hale.
Orion military strength helped the League remain the leader of the FreeSpace Alliance during the war, even though the front lines of the war seldom touched Orion space. Although the League tapped every industry and individual to contribute to the war effort, the Orion military has always been formed from volunteers. Twelve fortress ships bear the Orion flag.
Twenty years after the war, the Orion economy is still recovering. After dashing over long stretches of human space to preserve Insight and the Borealis Republic, clashing with Austrin-Ontis, and donating resources to the Galactic Concord, the League finds itself at the end of its resources. A postwar economic recession cast a pall over the Orion League’s prosperity for more than a decade, and only now are signs of recovery emerging. Recently the Orions have planned new exploration, including rebuilding contact with the Orion Frontier.
Jaeger is one of few capital planets where visitors from foreign stellar nations and empires are welcome. Indeed, this tolerance is a source of pride for the Orion people. Founded on freedom and equality for all, the Orions accept dissidents and refugees no matter what their origin. While this leads to clashes with other nations, it also contributes to the League’s strength. Immigrants and refugees from VoidCorp, the Thuldan Empire, the Union of Sol, and the Orlamu Theocracy have all joined the Orions.
The League made its contribution of resources and personnel to the Concord quite willingly. Someday the Orion loyalty to the Concord may weaken, but today many Orions consider the Concord their own child.
Playing An Orion
Categorizing an Orion is like trapping a wild weren – frustrating at best. From its exploration centuries ago until today, tolerance and diversity have illuminated Orion space. While many states seek to bring unity out of sameness, the Orion League seems at times willing to sacrifice its own unification for the sake of preserving the individuality of its peoples. Evaluating the spectacular diversity of Earth, the Orions have gone further by adding free sentient races and humans adapted to every kind of world and environment to their national makeup.
While in general the Orions appear content, their own diversity keeps the society in a constant state of turmoil. Individual systems retain a great deal of autonomy, and economic conflicts among individual groups in the Orion League deter any attempt at firm organization. Other stellar nations often view the chaotic nature of politics in the Orion League as a weakness to be exploited. In times of crisis they have been proven wrong, as the shared ideals of the nation pull its disparate groups together.
For the most part, Orion patriotism squashes outside at- tempts at fomenting dissent and chaos. Of course, in the hundreds of stars that belong to the League, foreign ambassadors and envoys enjoy some success at manipulating local government, but these lobbying efforts rarely affect the League as a whole. Rather than close off their free society, the Orion attitude is to lead by example and to hope that more stellar nations will grow to grant the same freedoms.
Orion motives for the exploration of space are as varied as the Orions themselves. Some hear the call of distant worlds. Others see a profit to be made in the depths of space, trading new commodities and information. Finally, there is the call of the frontier, which almost all Orions seem to have in common. The borders of human space, the edges of the galactic arm, and the Verge summon Orions like a candle attracts moths.
Personal freedoms are taken for granted among the Orions. Orions traveling outside the League are often astonished at both the interference and the subsidies that foreign governments inflict on their citizens: licenses, high taxes, economic support, and denial of basic rights. Checks on the free practice of speech or religion are practically unheard of within the League. Even on colony worlds founded by a particular faith, religions tolerance prevails. More than two-thirds of all Orions claim a religious affiliation, and of these the Orlamist, Reformer, and Old Earth churches hold the lion’s share.