Threshold, (/'ðrɛʃhoɹld/ or θrɛʃhoʊld), or formally the Meritocracy of the Threshold, is a superpower with 16 star systems, within which are a total of 21 highly populated planets and moons. The nation also claims an additional thirty uninhabited but terraformable or otherwise habitable planets and their associated moons. Its capital city of Threshold encompasses much of the homeworld of Pharthan (/fa:rθæn/ or farθa:n). Bordered by the Intersystem Alliance and the large People's Coalition, with whom it holds a tense peace, out of necessity for survival, the star nation was once prime real estate during the early days of galactic expansion towards resource-rich worlds.
United originally in fear of other large star nations Thresholders are often fiercely loyal to their nationality, value great effort, have little accommodation for senseless complaining, or at least put little stock in it, and are a no-nonsense people. They are often considered to be humorless, putting them at the butt of many jokes galaxy-wide; this misconception is often based on Thresholders finding little pleasure in jokes and pranks they consider "childish," and often possess more dry humor or wit.
Table of Contents
The name of “The Threshold” to describe the region as a “doorway” to new mineral-rich worlds was earliest recorded in usage in 2654 when the Sunderland-Belvoir system terminus was first discovered, leading early settlers further up-arm proximal to the galactic core. The Pharthan system proved to be ore-rich both in planetary and asteroid deposits. With only one terminus, the system was also easily defended, leading to early government establishment and general system control.
Threshold is made up of four regions, further broken down into nine prefectures. While each continent of each planet may differ wildly from the one just across the ocean, Thresholder worlds tend to follow similar codes and cultures, even across multiple star systems.
The Cruxrealm was originally named for the religious peoples that settled the space but originally became synonymous with “Core Worlds” within the Threshold. These were the first worlds to rebel against the Alliance, and are some of the most advanced. Their culture is largely British, American, and Israeli in origin. Cruxrealm Spheres of influence include Belvoir, Pharthan, and New Haifa.
The Cruxrealm borders the Alliance to the North and is enclosed by Pathfinder's Fringe and Shin-Kansai on the other sides.
New Haifa Prefecture
Pharthan & Petrichor
New Haifa & New Templar
The newest of the regions, Shin-Kansai was once its own star nation. Following the War of the First Dominion, it freely joined a firm mutual alliance with the Threshold and eventually voted to become a part of the nation. It donates a large amount of Japanese influence to the Thresholder culture, which has been incorporated seamlessly into the greater Thresholder culture. Shin-Kansai is made up of the Odawara and Himeji spheres of influence.
Shin-Kansai borders the Coalition to the West and the Alliance to the North.
Odawara Belt & Shin-Onagawa
The Pathfinder’s Fringe world joined the Cruxrealm by proxy. Otherwise cut off from all major alliances, and less developed than the core worlds, the Pathfinder’s Fringe felt they had no choice but to follow suit. Some of the greatest dissidents in Thresholder foreign policy come from the Pathfinder’s Fringe, particularly the Selenese people, who revel in the idea of a democratic government and are viewed as highly liberal by other regions of the nation. Pathfinder’s Fringe spheres include Homestead and Selene.
Pathfinder's Fringe Worlds
Traditional people, those in the Stonehonor region tend to be of European and North American descent. Stonehonor maintains a culture highly in support of the military and is very conservative in values, and joined the Neverwar rebellion of free will but did so later than the Cruxrealms. Even so, they played a major part in ensuring that the Threshold Rebellion succeeded, though they were large proponents of turning the Neverwar hot. Stonehonor spheres include Steelwind and Wolvchester.
Stonehonor played a major role in the later Threshold Civil War, having been a major proponent of President Mohr.
Stonehonor borders the Alliance to the west.
Valaskaf & Tyson
The Threshold began as a series of worlds colonized under the waning days of the Deep Seed Project. Many of the individuals who ruled the systems when during the Reunion Period were grandchildren of those who had initially left Earth and the Core Worlds, and so we're very welcoming of the Intersystem Alliance rule in the 2770s. Tensions rose over time as the Pharthan and Himeji systems were left to their own devices when dealing with piracy, which often meant requiring average merchantmen to take up arms. Even the forward-deployed naval forces, many of whom were Thresholders by birth, felt alienated by their parent Alliance due to trickling resources as the Coalition of Independent Systems began gaining strength, effectively cutting off ease of travel between the sections of the Alliance through tariffs and levies. Eventually successful and growing to be regional powers Himeji and Pharthan, – the first through determination, efficiency, and economic strength characteristic of its Japanese heritage, the second through its economic powerhouse of a mining sector and like-minded work-ethic citizenry – the two systems formed close ties in trade with the Belvoir system under their mutual protection by necessity, with the decision to protect the remote Selene and New Haifa systems in remembrance of their own alienation by a higher military power’s negligence.
The Never War
The five regions eventually renounced their ties to the Intersystem Alliance peacefully in 2891 but were unable to convince the Kingdom of Sunderland, with which they had a close trading partnership, to join their cause. The event, a highly tense period between the Alliance and Threshold, was dubbed the “Never War,” as, for a period of several years, both Alliance and Threshold peoples and political hawks cried out for military action to resolve the conflict, to include the formation of full militias and small privateer and corsair fleets. Both sides pestered each other to no end, but no engagements occurred except a few violent riots, which mostly left only Thresholders dead. Bordering Alliance sectors did note an increase in pirate activity, but no Thresholder group claimed responsibility for these actions.
Though reluctant to give up valuable space, resources, and manpower with new foes popping up all around them, the larger group conceded. Eventually, as Wolvchester seceded and Steelwind announced its intentions to follow, the Alliance Government realized there was no point in continuing the tense cold war. In 2895 the Alliance recognized the sovereignty of the Republic of the Threshold. This left a discrepancy in the history books as to when the nation was formed; Threshold books state 2891, while Alliance official records declare 2895.
The peaceable separation was quite beneficial for Threshold because shortly after Alliance military forces vacated the system, Coalition-backed pirates and privateers began raiding, with the intent of weakening the nation for a Coalition takeover. These raids were quickly rebuffed by the new Threshold military who rebuffed the attacks and instigated retaliatory strikes of their own. These border disputes incited Coalition claims that Threshold was “overstepping their bounds,” in what worlds they claimed sovereignty over. Coalition leadership had not anticipated a well-trained fighting-force from such a new star-nation; indeed, many of the Threshold Navy sailors and Admirals had originally been in service to the Alliance Navy during the split, and so were well prepared. Despite the Coalition pining for the Alliance government to “rein in their dog,” to force Thresholders to give up newly conquered systems, the Alliance made no such deal, wishing to wash their hands of the entire arch of space.
Following these incursions, Thresholders turned to their former almost-enemies, the Alliance, and began purchasing outdated, yet still intimidating equipment to bolster their military. In trade, they promised to allow peaceable patrols of Threshold space by Alliance forces and opened trade, beginning a new friendship.
A century later, Alliance Forces were allowed to refurbish, refit, and occupy a Naval-Station in orbit over New Haifa that had gone abandoned since the succession, marking the beginning of a prolonged and welcome Alliance-military presence in Threshold space, though a shadow of what it once used to be. By the time all those who had nearly fought in the Never War had passed on, the tensions had been long forgotten between the two nations; more a joke than a point of debate or fisticuffs.
The War of the First Dominion
Main Article - The War of the First Dominion
A small but violent uprising originated on the planet of Selene in 2991 over lack of trade and believed unfair taxation for funding expensive projects centered around “The Big Three” regions of Pharthan, Belvoir, and Himeji, where the majority of the population was centered. As well, a great deal of focus was placed on fighting the beginnings of the terrorist group that would later become the Second Dominion. In initial talks, the Threshold government was originally willing to negotiate terms, or even allow independence.
Following a major, violent riot in the capital city of New Haifa, which the government suspected but never confirmed to be started by local pirates, military intervention caused a boil-over. New Haifa was rapidly quelled as Threshold supporters held the majority, but the revolution on Selene and its many nearby moons continued. With little physical land to hold as a military strategic asset and the promise of new trade routes and dedicated military outposts for protection, most in the rebellion were satisfied and returned to the fold. A final, small skirmish in orbit of the uninhabited Selenese moon of Quartz between Threshold Navy and rebellion-armed merchants ended the revolution, with the merchants surrendering after the loss of their flagship, the Laissez-Faire.
President Macon Mohr was largely blamed for the unrest. Mohr had been considered a “popularity vote,” as the government of the time was a Democratic-Republic following Alliance government style; although the majority of people did not want Mohr as a president, they viewed him as a better option than his opponent, Senator Abebey Breden, who was viewed as far too liberal and socialist. The vote favored Mohr, who was a staunch supporter of reparations from the still-living citizens of the former Andras Dominion, instigators of the War of the First Dominion which was still prevalent in the minds of many Thresholders. This economic downturn in the former Dominion spheres ultimately led to a greater division in the nation, and Threshold was unable to keep control of the systems Laterus and Gael while so many civil and federal lawsuits slowly stripped their people of resources.
The Threshold Civil War
Emboldened by the Selenese Uprising and emblazoned by partiality and divisive rhetoric, the regional systems of Laterus and Gael, formerly of the Andras Dominion, rebelled in 2992, declaring their independence. The Threshold Navy and Marines were dispatched quickly, but forces initially in the area were surprisingly repelled and required reinforcements. For years, military advisors of the Coalition of Independent Systems had been training subversives in the regions, creating a far more effective fighting force using tactics for which the Thresholders were not prepared. Much of the regional Threshold Navy and Sentinel was wracked with subversive traitors originating from the affected regions. The most fanatical began disabling equipment and murdering their fellow service members, while many others simply abandoned their posts, crippling the fighting effectiveness of every unit in the area.
By the time the Threshold military recovered, Coalition Naval forces had entered the area and secured the Lateran termini and began skirmishing with Threshold forces, trading blows with no decisive victor. With much of the region in full rebellion, Threshold decided to respect the apparently unilateral decision to secede on the condition that all military equipment made by Threshold, and all citizens and their property be allowed to evacuate. While the rebels openly relented, Threshold Intelligence Forces continued to discover and covertly evacuate people and AI for the next twenty years, though the Coalition denied that they had held anyone against their will.
The economic loss and loss of life were laid upon the shoulders of President Macon Mohr, who was ever more being shown as incompetent. The Senate called a vote of “no confidence,” with an overwhelming majority, and military leaders declared a temporary martial law, gathering with the heads of the Senate to ratify a new constitution in 2999, thus disbanding the previous Republic of the Threshold and forming the Meritocracy of the Threshold as it is known today.
In subsequent years the political and cultural shift focused on electing leaders more for evidence of prowess in making decisions rather than prowess in campaigning for election, and the nation was reformed as a technocracy, largely neutering politicians who had no expertise outside of politics.
Main Article: Government of the Threshold
The government is considered a Federal Parliamentary Technocratic-Republic; officials are elected by the people but must be first screened by the House of Merit. Candidates for office must be honest, lawful, and intelligent, and may be required to adhere to certain Foci to attain certain roles. It is preferred for candidates to have some degree of personal achievement. A higher-education degree is required, or a voted upon proof of intelligence or applicable skill by the House of Merit of their governing region.
The current constitution by which the government is described is markedly different from the previous Republic of the Threshold government.
Main Article: Threshold Armed Forces
The Threshold Military consists of roughly 3.9 Billion Active Duty members and 9.6 Billion Reservists, as well as 200 Million Allied Mercenary forces. It is comprised of the independent Special Warfare Units as well as five branches, the Threshold Navy, Threshold Marine Corps, Threshold Sentinels, Threshold Expeditionary Corps, and Threshold Commonwealth Guard.
The Meritocracy of the Threshold considers the Intersystem Alliance, the star-nation from which it was birthed, to be an ally. Though tensions were high soon after declaring independence, the generations since have forgotten their differences to the point of forming a loose Mutual-Defense pact due to the common opposition of the Coalition. Trade has resumed in force between the two, and regular military forces “patrol” each others’ space, making port in planets near each others’ borders to promote friendship, and the Alliance's 7th Fleet calls many joint-bases and space stations within Threshold space their home.
Unlike many nations, Threshold holds many mercenary groups in high regard, as it often hires them for combat. Threshold often fears itself outgunned and undermanned in relation to less-than-kind neighbors and its numerous pirate problems. Provided the mercenary groups prove themselves to be of good repute, they are nearly held in the same regard as active-duty military forces, and several heroes from these groups have been used as propaganda points to attest to the strength of the nation.
The Isharans and Thresholders frequently engage in the trade of unique hand-made goods and spices and are usually amicable. Politically the Threshold and Isharan Eisharate have few contentions against one another.
Thresholder citizens often look down upon the Isharans for having second-class citizens and consider their space to be unsafe for the sake of unsanctioned bloodsports and trafficking, while in return the Isharans consider the Thresholders hypocrites for outright exiling those that the Threshold deems unsuited for citizenship. In reality, both these cases are far rarer than is commonly believed.
While many Thresholder companies are not above selling foodstuffs to a nation with whom Threshold has tense relations, little military-equipment trade goes on between the People’s Coalition and the Threshold, and for good reason: Coalition forces, throughout history, have been notorious for aggravating and testing Threshold claims to planetary bodies. At only a few points have actual disputes escalated to violence, but the government interactions between the nations are often less than amicable, though neither nation wants to be the one to start a conflict.
Holy Empyrean See
Sharing a small physical border and the Fechan-Steelwind Corridor, this corridor and border are rather heavily patrolled and armed compared to most borders. Neither nation are particularly fond of one other due to numerous cultural and political tensions.
Thresholders tend to disdain the Solenic missionaries that cross into Steelwind, as no Thresholder missionaries are legally allowed to do likewise into Fechan; this is seen as hypocritical and many Thresholder politicians have pushed to have the religion banned as a dangerous cult, as most view it an attempt at cultural dominance by an expanding theocratic empire. Nationality-based profiling is legal in the Threshold and unanimously exercised on all ships exiting the Fechan-Steelwind Termini.
Both nations exercise retaliatory tariffs, long thought to be started by the Threshold in response to political outrage at Empyrean practices, making trade between the two nations infrequent. Indeed, the Fechan-Steelwind Corridor is one of the most sparsely traveled termini.
Smuggling rings between Mystlight and Thyke of Threshold, Ragoño in the Empyrean See, and Baolei and Yan’an of the Lianhua Sovereignty have capitalized upon the infrequent trade and high tariffs. While the Threshold government does monitor and put down many smuggling rings, they have been criticized for lack of zeal in hunting them down. Political minority groups and hardline conservatives in the government often criticize leaders for only punishing smugglers who make too much noise or are adamantly pro-Empyrean and letting others go free if they assist Thresholder missionaries and anti-Empyrean dissidents into the See.
Though the Threshold may not be above utilizing less-scrupulous corsairs to do dirty work now and then, Threshold usually takes a firm stance against piracy. Publicly the Threshold is vehemently against piracy, though it often turns a blind eye to pirates who know how to lie low and stay away from Threshold assets and plague Coalition or other nations with whom Threshold views negatively.
The Threshold has a capitalist mixed economy fueled by abundant mineral resources and Industrial production, with additions in electronics assisting growth.
The overall Threshold sector of space started as many did; prospect mining. Several of the regions, like the Pharthan system, were quite lucrative in this. Pharthan and Belvoir combined functioned well as a self-contained supply-and-production unit and set the stage for economic success and eventual control of much of the region. Water- and gas mining have also recently taken off as terraforming technology has gained near core worlds, providing necessary materials to fund these expensive projects; to date, two full gas giants have been reduced in mass to such a significant degree as to have required reclassification of the planets.
Threshold developed its largest industry – shipbuilding – out of initially being a frontier-ship construction hub for the Alliance before it split from its parent nation, and necessity out of defense against both piracy and the threatening stance of surrounding nations.
Several water-rich worlds have developed prevalent rice, algae, seaweed, and fishing industries, acting as a “bread-basket” for much of the region and supplying much of the Japanese pallet staples. Though the Systems Alliance and Coalition governments are not considered allies of the Threshold, many companies still choose to do business, especially in regards to selling foodstuffs, to the planets of these nations.
Local trade is commonly conducted over two-point instantaneous travel loci known as termini, forming several series of termini corridors and trade routes, such as Honor’s Road and the Cruxway. Between those planets and termini-worlds that are not connected, there are numerous FTL trade routes utilizing planets are waypoints. Notable among these are the “Pioneer’s Trail,” “Path of Progress,” and “Dawnspine.”
In the last two hundred years, Halcyon Industries has led Thresholder trade in exports of equipment and ships – both civil and military. Much of the region still functions well in the mining sector due to gravitational advantage; moving heavy minerals and water inward towards the Galactic Core, receiving massless digital funds and expensive luxury goods in return.
Due to its heavy ship-building and frontier-related industries, the Threshold is forced to import processed metals quite often, as it often uses them more than they are mined. Thresholders are also rather beholden to Alliance culture and import clothing, styles, and entertainment.
Due to the heavy Japanese descendant population, a good number of goods are imported from Nihonedo.
As with most galactic-distal nations, the Threshold is rich in hydrogen and other light elements natural to proto-systems. As such, it has an abundance of fuels and water, which it readily exports to galactic-central planets. Though not as prevalent as galactic-central systems, Threshold is still very much a frontier world and has a great number of minerals in the form of asteroid belts in the stages of forming new planets or recently exploded stars.
It is also quite common for Threshold to export ships and large equipment, due to its success in the industry.
Science and Technology
Since its inception as a starnation, Threshold has made a massive push to employ foreign technology experts and education domestic experts to ensure a self-sufficient technology base to keep up with other star nations. Threshold has made great strides in the miniaturization of gravity-control components, innovations in Zero Point Energy control and energy production, and has been at the forefront of starship development both for warfare and exploratory purposes.
With its position on the edge of colonized space, Threshold has maintained humanity’s spread throughout the stars and continues to research and colonize new worlds, a realm in which little true new technology has been made as of late as much of the science is relatively known; Threshold continues to try to push the envelope in this field and has the goal of discovering and colonizing one new Earthlike world per Sol-Year.
The Threshold openly accepts technomancy, going so far as to administer the STAR Score tests at multiple times throughout primary and secondary schooling via the TVAB (Technological Vocational Aptitude Battery) Tests to gauge a person’s level of technomantic potential and shifts in their scores. The goal of this is to promote technomancy at an early age to allow all who wish to pursue technomancy to shape their life decisions around it at an early age, as technomantic rigs are often quite expensive.
Those who cannot afford rigs may have them provided vocationally through government programs, whereupon the individual must work via contract for the meritocratic government. At the end of this period, a rig may be granted based on the terms of the contract. All implants are provided regardless of contract, but unless signing up for additional years, a rig of equal or lesser value to their vocational rig may not be granted upon the end of the contractual period. Each of these contracts is different, so individuals must weigh the contract length against the potential outcome of walking away from the job with a rig.
Many choose the shortest contract length, as this grants skill in the field, allowing them to work for a company that can likewise provide a rig, or they may work for a guild. The most prominent of these is the Threshold-based Valtori Guild.
Nanomancy is fortunately rampant in the Threshold, thanks to the promotion of the Valtori Guild, who pioneered the art form. Nanomancy rigs are by far the cheapest and most advanced in Threshold, more than anywhere else in the galaxy. As such, most who wish to delve into Nanomancy can do so out of pocket.
The largest nationalities in the Threshold are North American (American, Canadian), European (British, German), Middle Eastern (Israeli), and Asian (Japanese, Taiwan-Chinese).
Main Article: Culture of the Threshold
While being a varied society owing to its origins to the Alliance‘s diverse spreading of culture throughout the stars, some traits have being to develop and coalesce within Threshold space. A hardworking, prideful, intellect-driven society, Thresholders tend to work hard and play hard, yet have a sense of “fun” that is often considered muted or reserved to other societies, owing to a general sense of propriety.