Bertaeyn [/bəʁtaɛɲ], officially the Bertaeyn Federation is a federal authoritarian dominant-party republic. Considered to be a major regional power, it encompasses five spheres of influence. Located in the Western Reaches, it is surrounded by the Intersystem Alliance to its north, the Freehold Stratocracy to the northeast and the People’s Coalition to the southeast. The Federation is considered one of the most powerful and developed industrialized nations mainly because it has one of the strongest economies of all known star nations. This is due to its decentralized organization and, most importantly, to the fact that it benefits from a very large trade surplus; consequently the standard of living in the Federation is particularly high. Founded over 900 years ago, the Federation stood for centuries as a major power with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence. It slowly dwindled over the centuries before finally regaining its status amongst the galactic regional powers in recent decades.
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LE PROJET STIVELL
The history of the Bertaeyn Federation begins with the colonization of its capital world Ker Ys and neighboring star systems, as part of a cooperative endeavor between the Human Continuity Project (HCP) and the Eole Corporation, a heavy industries company with expertise in terraforming. The programme was called Le Projet Stivell or The Stivell Project – in honor of the Eole CEO and primary patron of the programme Arnaud Stivell – and a final draft of the project schedule was quickly approved by HCP; the immense financial resources available and terraforming experience made the Stivell Project a most favorable one. By the summer of 2511, the project was fully underway.
In just under three years, Eole’s Brittany-class colony ship was constructed and crewed and, in the spring of 2514, the Bretagne was launched into the vast expanse of space, heading into the galactic southwest as part of what would later come to be known as the second wave of the Deep Seed Project, a large portion of the Astrum Diaspora. Two years later, the colony ship made landfall on the garden world of Ker Ys. Priority was given to establishing communication with any nearby HCP worlds, but after months of attempts, Ker Ys’ efforts were met only with the hissing drone of cosmic white noise. Nearly a year after planetfall, the colony finally received a transmission from a planet called Tregon; both colonies were overjoyed and quickly set about traveling between the worlds and trading. In 2543, after only twenty-six years, Ker Ys and Tregon founded the original Bertaeyn Federation.
GOLDEN AGE OF ARHES
As the decades passed, Federation explorers made contact with more than a dozen worlds. The Federation enjoyed economic stability and growth, and established trade with all the worlds in what is now the Arhes Sector. Over the following centuries, trade flourished and Federation trading partners prospered. This attracted a number of worlds to join the Federation, which in turn strengthened both the economies and the defense forces of member worlds.
Expansion of the Federation continued, and eventually included worlds from the Temasek Sector and the Thule Sector; another century on, the Federation also encompassed the Anshan and Harmattan Sectors. As Bertaeyn’s membership swelled, so too did its collective merchant fleet and the national treasury. Many planets boasted tremendous wealth and the quality of life in Bertaeyn attracted many immigrants to Federation worlds. Trade was further expanded into the Coalition of Independent Systems, enriching Bertaeyn yet more. The achievement of high standards of education and healthcare, as well as the advanced civil liberties, economic competitiveness, and human development, marked the Federation as one of the most stable, prosperous, and peaceful star nations in the galaxy – a shining gem in humanity’s colonial crown.
DECLINE AND DEPRESSION
For more than six centuries, the Bertaeyn Federation maintained its place at the pinnacle of human prosperity. As the Federation population swelled, however, the burden of increasing social progamme demands slowly began to overtake the government’s ability to support them. By 3112, social spending in three broad categories – social security, education, and healthcare – grew from about 57% to nearly 73%, causing massive cutbacks to other areas such as agriculture, industry, and transportation. The defense forces were underfunded and suffered declines in repair and maintenance. As a consequence merchant fleets also experienced an increase in predation from pirates. As the budgets for Bertaeyn’s famously generous social programmes were scaled back, severely in many cases, the quality of lifestyle degraded. Though it remained quite high by galactic standards, the slow but inexorable backward slide from outstanding to mediocre disaffected successive generations. The gap between upper and middle classes widened dramatically over a period spanning more than a hundred years, from the late 3100s to 3309, when the Bertaenian Civil War finally erupted.
BERTAENIAN CIVIL WAR
As the 34th Century approached, the decline of the Federation’s relative wealth and social utopia had culminated in a general state of discontent among the populous. Decades of attempts to affect change through legislative and administrative means made very little impact and Bertaenians began to lose all hope. Cynicism took hold and local uprisings ranging from riots to insurrection increased the strain on Federation’s defense forces already stretched thin across the borders. Reserve units were activated to supplement those already in the field – an unpopular policy that only made clashes with civilians more volatile than they already were. A concerted last-ditch effort at negotiations between government and social institutions resulted in increasing frustration and hostility. More extreme elements took the opportunity to sow discord, using ever more violent methods to advance agendas. In response, the Federation forces put down all insurrectionist activity ever more ruthlessly.
Finally, in the winter of 3313, more than a dozen world governments across four sectors – and nearly the entirety of the Harmattan Sector – declared independence from the Federation all at once, as part of a coordinated operation. Elements of the Federation Defense Forces joined the rebellion, throwing local militaries into disarray and pitting officers against enlisted personnel, brother against sister. Martial law was immediately declared. The Federation government quickly marshaled together and hit back hard at the rebel worlds; the conflict was bloody and brutal. Millions of lives both military and civilian were lost within months.
In an effort to quell the civil war and restore a semblance of order in the Bertaenian region, the Intersystem Alliance unilaterally decided to intervene. Federation government forces encountered ISA fleets either supporting them or opposing them, depending on the situation at each world; in the Harmattan Sector, the ISA was decidedly in support of the rebels, leading to the eventual full independence of the sector. Nonetheless, the ISA’s intervention did manage to bring parties to the table in negotiation, with Alliance agents acting as self-appointed mediators. In many cases, desperate local governments accepted ISA-mediated armistices to stop the fighting and negotiate terms of peace. In the end, the Federation was left ragged and torn with an entire sector lost and a nearly depleted treasury. To add insult to injury, most Federation worlds were forced to accept ISA “advisors” and peacekeeping garrisons. In the spring of 3320, the civil war ended with a weary sigh.
AN UNEASY REPUBLIC
In the middle part of 3320, the reorganized Bertaeyn Republic held its first legislative assembly. The foremost topic of debate was the shattered economy and how to set about repairing it. Planetary governments were struggling to meet even basic social programmes, and simmering unrest threatened to boil over into uprising at any time. The era of the Republic has been described as one of continual anarchy, government corruption, rioting and pillage, assassinations, arbitrary imprisonment and economic persecution. It witnessed the inauguration of twenty-one presidents, fifty-three cabinet re-organizations and an average of one federal election every 28 months. The first government of the Republic lasted less than ten weeks and the longest-ruling government lasted little over three years.
The ISA ostensibly assisted with both civilian transport and merchant escort – however, Alliance ships enforced a de facto embargo in systems where ISA companies were in direct competition with Bertaenian ones. Republic worlds with insurrectionist activity were slapped with Alliance sanctions in the form of economic penalties. The federal budget suffered, social programmes dried up altogether, and the wealth and prosperity of Bertaeyn was a just distant and bittersweet memory. For the first time in centuries, poverty was widespread. By 3368, many blamed the government and considered ISA interference to spread all the way to the federal legislature. A distinct lack of trust in leadership, that large portions of the populous believed were puppets of the ISA, grew resentful and angry. The threat of rebellion once again loomed on the horizon.
RISE OF THE NEW FEDERATION
Bertaeyn’s public finances and the economy in general entered a critical phase, having been under imminent threat of default since at least the 3350s. The gap between the rich and poor widened to an intolerable level and in the waning months of 3374, a military coup led by Grand Marshal Benedane Turcotte overthrew the sitting government with an uncharacteristic – for Bertaeyn – lack of bloodshed. The coup was welcomed by most civilians on all the Republic worlds. At the time, the prevailing view in Bertaeyn was that political parties were elements of division and that parliamentarianism was in crisis. This led to general support, or at least tolerance, of an authoritarian regime. Turcotte did not remain in power long. His first act as President was to appoint a committee of senior Defense Force officers and task them with selecting a suitable president. The committee chose Olivier Arjamish.
Arjamish was a promising young politician and one of the few who was not considered corrupted or influenced by the ISA. He was sharp and intelligent, thoughtful and fervently patriotic; his distrust of the Alliance made him popular and, when selected by Turcotte’s committee, set about making immediate changes to the government. Arjamish declared the end of the Republic and the re-establishment of the Federation. He ruthlessly rooted out and eliminated all patronage positions, particularly those owing to Alliance influence, and appointed the executive cabinet. The cabinet selected candidates for the upper legislative house, now called the National Council. From the list of candidates, Arjamish appointed Councillors. The lower house, the Federal Parliament, was elected by the Bertaenian populace, though the candidates were also vetted and selected by Arjamish and the cabinet; Bertaenians could vote for a candidate, but Arjamish chose the candidates.
The result was an illiberal democracy, but a technocratic one. The Bertaenian government was now composed of competent and proven politicians who were, most importantly, not compromised by ties to the Alliance. Within ten years, Arjamish and the Bertaenian government had stabilized the economy, restored many social programmes, and began a marked and steady process of leading a revitalized Federation back into prosperity. Strongly distrustful of the Alliance, trade initially suffered, but expansion of trade into the Coalition mitigated much of the lost revenue from exports to Alliance worlds. Further, the resource and manufacturing industries were modernized and, with increased efficiency, were able to develop and broaden their scopes. New mining operations were established on both Federation worlds and system satellites. The military was reorganized and replenished; new starships and weapons were purchased from the Coalition or developed by domestic companies.
In 3385, the Bertaeyn federation offered its support to the regime that changed the Coalition of Independent Systems into the People’s Coalition. The relationship between Arjamish and Adler is somewhat complex.
THE COLD WAR
The relationship between the Bertaeyn Federation and the People’s Coalition is also multifarious. Trade is quite extensive and has been since before the rise of the Adler regime, but political and even military cooperation has developed between the two star nations – though the national agendas are quite disparate. As tensions have continued to rise with the Intersystem Alliance and its allies, Bertaeyn has been bracing for conflict.