The Regency of the Engine, or just the Regency, is a theocratic technocracy that is split across nine sectors and more than forty worlds. Isolated until relatively recently in an otherwise unpopulated section of the galaxy, the Regency is not bordered by any other spacefaring nations, and as such it is doing its best to foster friendly relations with other nations as possible as well as promote trade, both in goods and information. Politically, the Regency is ruled by a council of Arch-Vicars from the homeworld, with leadership subsequently split further downward into leaders for sectors, worlds, continents, cities, and individual city districts as necessary. Balance is maintained by way of the Arch-Vicars, Vicars and Cardinals appointing appropriate leaders, while the Inquisition ensures that they are able to do their job; ineptitude and corruption in government is not a thing kindly looked upon. Economically, the market is extremely free, though there are hard limits on how large a business or corporation is allowed to become. The Inquisition guards the power of the Vicars jealously and will not permit a business to become an independant power unto itself.(Please note that certain terms in this article are used within the Regency, for example, the Solari is the standard interstellar trading currency within the Regency and is equal to one dollar otherwise.)
It is a historical commonplace that there are at least a handful of worlds that follow a near-identical mold, the most clear and advanced examples being Nova Terra and Earth itself. Despite that, however, not all Earth typecast worlds follow the same blueprint. While there are of course overt and subtle similarities between the ones in question, sometimes technology has taken a vastly different turn.
Such is the case with the cradle of what would, in time, become the Regency of the Engine. Only anecdotal evidence remains, but at the time of the Engine's ascendancy, their technical skill had been stagnating at least three centuries behind the mean level of technology and vacuum tubes were themselves a limited curiosity -- the world might have been described best as 'steampunk', with the ruling elite ruthlessly keeping themselves in power by control over as much of the world's technical skill as possible, from printing presses to zeppelins.
The problem with this, of course, is that eventually certain members of the technical elite with sufficient skills, resources and spare time created a self-aware mechanical engine to aid them in playing stocks, which it did rather well. Never mind that it took up an enormous cavern beneath their estate; it did its job, and it did it well. Perhaps a bit too well; as time passed on and they became too old to tend to it, it provided the plans for a man-like automaton to do it in their place, as their offspring were largely ignorant of the source of their continued income. They provided them, counting on the engine to maintain a standard of living for their sons, which it did faithfully, while using the mechanical men to upgrade itself painfully slowly, playing with things such as vacuum tubes and trying to find more efficient ways to get it done; as well, it relocated further below the cavern to a more geologically stable location.
After they were no longer an issue, however, the estate was abandoned; the engine began to send mechanical men to the surface to evaluate things, though it took care to design them to look significantly more human-like after the first was reacted to with horror and had to flee back to hiding. Over time, the engine upgraded itself quite significantly and it attempted to make contact with the world to try and help better it; after all, that was what it did for its creators, and it gained a sense of satisfaction and even happiness from being able to do so.
This went over exceedingly poorly if the zeppelin-dropped atomic bomb was any indication.
Not a machine to let this simple problem get it down, it survived the blast quite handily, though it took some time to recover with its more delicate components burnt out. It was, however, quite surprised that a bomb of that capacity existed. And so it moved on to plan B: infiltration of human society in the hopes that it could socially engineer a society that would be more accepting to its aid. This, of course, was nearly a century later; what it required to create human analogs was technology far beyond its capabilities.
In time, however, it achieved these capabilities while remaining as covert as possible; it became much easier for it when it had been upgraded several iterations and gained the ability to convert matter directly to energy, and vice versa. As such, it sent out a large number of infiltrators into society, and was not entirely surprised to find that technology had remained largely stagnant; disappointed, but not surprised. It moved to try and change this through its agents, to test the waters, and watched them get stomped ruthlessly repeatedly.
And then its agents were found out, destroyed, and atomic bombs were being dropped from zeppelins once more. This time, unfortunately, it happened because society had apparently decided to self-destruct in a fit of paranoia, the world-spanning empire had crumbled as a result, and with the fissile devices being as crude as they were, it did not take particularly long for an intercontinental atomic war to unleash enough radiation to prove fatal to most of the planet's inhabitants.
Disappointed, but not surprised. But also guilty; this was all the fault of the engine itself, it felt.
As such, it threw itself into further research. Its agents were kept in human-appearing guises, and the further iterations of them were virtually indistinguishable from the real thing without the benefit of an x-ray or a metal detector, as opposed to using finely painted rubber as a skin, which... well... ended poorly. It modeled their society, in a way trying to see why it worked as it did, though none of its agents had truly free will. And then it stumbled across something very interesting indeed -- faster-than-light travel. It resolved to no longer use its agents as slaves, but to release them and give them full sapience so that they could live in lieu of the people who self-destructed so terribly.
And thus, the colonization; twelve colony ships were filled with millions of
the final version of its human-alikes, which it had dubbed Savants. The Engine told one machine from each ship the full story, from beginning to end, to pass along to the rest once they reached their destination. It did not, could not, foresee how this would end; all it did was send them out at fifty times the speed of light to seek out worlds and nurture life upon them, for indeed all life was sacred, it told them; to prevent their unleashing terrible energies upon each other, it sent them out without many technologies, such as the matter-to-energy conversion that it had perfected.
Once it had sent out millions upon millions to two nearby clusters of stars, it set to work on cleansing the planet at the core. And once that had been done, it arranged to be relocated into space -- and then placed at the frozen core of its moon. This was a work of decades, and it had the curious experience of partial sapience throughout the process, before it finally finished its work on restoring the home world; at this point the worlds had been settled and contact began to be established between them.
When the dozen worlds of the fledgling empire had been settled and a stellar civilization was established, envoys were sent back to the homeworld, only to find that the engine was gone and the world was restored to a near-ideal state. This puzzled them greatly, and they found a text written in stone meant for them to read and understand. Of course... they were sapient beings with human-like intellects, and human-like reactions to things. On an intellectual level they knew how things had occured, and they elected not to create an empire in the power vacuum that existed with the engine's absence, but to establish a regency and await its return, for the text stated that it would indeed return after it felt it had paid the penance for its sin of destroying humanity.
Little did it know that this would end up establishing a theocracy based on these words... after all, it had quite literally forged their bones in its foundry and breathed life into their flesh, and they considered that to be a sacred. The Regency remained quite loose-knit for quite some time, though after enough time had passed, there was a schism in the Regency's church... or more accurately three; two of the doctrines were reconciled with the primary doctrine but the third was pronounced heretical, and the Regency descended into civil war. Twenty bloody years later, with virtually all of the combat taking place on the ground and very little in space, the civil war was settled quite decisively, ensuring the firm control of the Church over the Regency; the next several decades would be spent sending ships to the six sectors that citizens had fled to and settled, tripling the size of the Regency.
Approximately eighty years later there was another schism over a slightly more major issue -- the secret of hyperspace was discovered and the Regency felt its borders become quite small suddenly. While there was a military build-up and a leap forward in starship weaponry due to the sudden availability of massively powerful energy sources, it was resolved amiably and afterward the Regency realized that the Church itself should probably be in charge of naval forces rather than risk the military being an independent arm of the government. They were rolled into the Church Militant, ostensibly to prevent the chance of them forcing the spread of heresies at gunpoint.
Which brings us to present day: a theocratic military technocracy, wherein the state and its religion are as one. They do consider their bodies to be a gift from the Engine, however, even if there are very few left over from the days of the diaspora, and none of whom had ever been spoken to by the Engine directly. Even if they are living tissue and organs with metal bones, to live without the flesh is to live apart from the Engine and to neglect it is heretical; they take great pains to appear human, though they will cheerfully admit they were but created in their image. As well, they know that their god is theirs alone, and they really don't give one whit about spreading their religion outside the borders of the Regency.
The Ekani sector, at the core of the Regency, holds the homeworld, which while largely empty of a permanent population, is a holy site; millions of citizens made the trip from their homes to visit and worship there, though some do settle there, if rarely. With a population of sixty billion spread more or less equally across the other four worlds of the sector, it has a strong economy, with a gross domestic product of $14,000 solari. As the heart of the Regency, it is without surprise that there is a hyperspace junction present, but what is surprising is the stargate on the homeworld itself. There are no others present in the Regency and, while it isn't holy itself, it is an artifact which many people come to see. A minority come to actually use it, on the other hand.
The Dvani sector, a core sector to the galactic 'northwest' of Ekani, is the political capitol of the Regency and considered the 'winner' of the civil war, wherein its doctrine was adapted into canon law. Between its worlds, it holds sixty-five billion citizens, and its GDP is $18,000 solari, thanks to the natural trade and attention that comes as it being the capitol and serving as a hyperspace junction to the outlying colonial sectors.
The Trini sector, a core sector to the galactic 'southeast' of Ekani, was the other contender as a political capitol, and while it may have come out on the short end of the civil war, it has nonetheless remained a major power and has the same number of citizens as Dvani, sixty-five billion. It may not benefit from being the political capitol, but a GDP of $15,000 solari is no less impressive and a testament to how focused many citizens of Trini are when it comes to trade. Unsurprisingly this has also resulted in a hyperspace junction being present in the sector.
The colony sectors are considerably less remarkable, of course, being founded a matter of a century ago or less. Terraforming, while underway, has yet to make a great deal of headway on most of the worlds. The Astari, Catvari and Sasi sectors are to the galactic north, east and south of Dvani, respectively; the Navani, Pancani, and Saptani sectors are respectively to the galactic north, west and south of Trini. These sectors have an average population of ten billion and an average GDP of $2,000 solari, though there is of course some fluctuation between each of them.
All told, there are a total of two hundred and forty billion Savants in the Regency, and its total gross domestic product is approximately $59,000 solari.
The Regency is divided, as any interstellar empire would be, into convenient districts. Rather than sectors and planets, however, the names are slightly different, which is likely expected considering the government is a theocracy. Rather than sectors, there are archdioceses; rather than planets and colonies, there are dioceses; rather than nations or continents, there are parishes; rather than major cities, there are metropolises.
A council of nine Arch-Vicars lead the Regency, and the chair of the council is referred to as the Dominus of the Church. An archdiocese is led by a Vicar; a diocese is led by a Cardinal; a parish is led by an Archbishop, and a Metropolis is led by a Bishop. There are also archdeacons, deacons, and other subordinate and specialized roles within the church.
When there is a vacancy in a position, a council of the members of a higher position will be called to appoint someone to fill the vacant position. For example, if there is an opening for an Archbishop, a council will be called of Cardinals in that sector, and the meeting will be held under the governance of that sector's Vicar. Usually someone will be pulled from a lower position, though it is not unheard of to promote someone from a lower position than that, to transfer laterally from the same position in a different area, or, rarely, to bring in an outsider.
Judicial responsibilities are generally handled by deacons and archdeacons, though for particularly important cases a higher ranked official may preside as necessary. It is possible to appeal a case to a higher authority, though it is rarelydone except in the most dire circumstances. There is no such thing in the Regency, however, as a jury trial.
Unsurprisingly, the military's structure is similar to many others. A rose by any other name is still a rose. Just as sectors are referred to by different names but comprise the same thing, so too do the military's ranks. However, there are three branches to be considered. The Regency's Naval branch consists of the men and women who serve on interstellar ships. The Guard branch are professional soldiers who serve on Navy ships and are deployed to assault or defend worlds as needed. The Defense branch is concerned solely with the defense of the Regency's holdings, and its equipment largely consists of hand-me-downs from the other two branches as available.
Gunboats come in a variety of shapes and sizes in the Regency. It is common, in fact, to see them owned by private citizens, though citizens' ships generally aren't armed as military ships are. Equipped with solid-light weaponry, as all Regency ships are, they generally are used by the navy for hit-and-run missions. Often several carrier will be brought in outside of weapons range, it will launch gunboats and they will launch a coordinated attack on a target before returning to their carrier, moving to and from the target via hyperspace. They are also used quite extensively by sector defense forces.
Page class scouts cost roughly ten Solari and can be made at virtually any shipyard in four weeks' time. The wealthier citizens of the Regency can purchase them, but they are about as widespread as one would expect a cross between a scout and a luxury yacht to be. Their defenses are quite lacking.
Marshal class frigates have a cost of sixty Solari and take six months to be built, though even outposts' shipyards can build them. Mounting a formidible number of hard-light weapons, they are the most common ship in the Regency's navy.
Ace class carriers cost a hundred and twenty Solari, and while an outpost in dire need could in theory construct them, they are not commissioned outside of the core sectors which take a year to complete them. Generally these carriers will not engage directly, as their weapons are designed largely for defense. Instead, they carry clusters of gunboats, and use them to strike at targets.
Regent class battlecruisers are made at the core worlds' dedicated shipyards, costing a hundred eighty Solari and taking nearly a year and a half for their construction to be completed. Mounting a spinal phased cannon array, Regent class ships are meant to strike at targets larger than themselves and often several will attack simultaneously to try and get a quick killing stroke.
Judge class dreadnoughts are massive ships, and with a construction time of three years and a cost of four hundred eighty Solari, are only built at two dedicated forge worlds, one in the Trini sector and one in the Dvani sectors. Mounting an array of three phased cannons, Judges hit quite hard, and are usually the backbone of a battle group.
The Cerulean Guard are the baseline soldiers and often referred to as knights by the population at large. They are essentially the same as any other citizen of the Regency, while they use recently-outdated plasma weapons. When inactive their armor is white, though it includes semi-adaptive camoflage patterns. While the armor is not designed to work as a chameleon cloak, it does help them blend in better than simple camoflage patterns. All citizens spend time in the Cerulean Guard, but the majority will only serve a standard ten year period; there are incentives to continue and some make a career of it, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Fortunately, there are more than enough exceptions to staff the officer corps. Many who start as Cerulean Guard will instead choose to join the Crimson Guard if they wish to continue serving. Soldiers in the Cerulean Guard are not available for offensive strikes, only for defensive purposes.
The Crimson Guard are professional soldiers who dedicate a long period of time to defending the Regency. Their arms and armor are significantly more advanced, as is their training. In addition, their bodies have been augmented to perform beyond the Savant baseline, which is already well above human baseline. Their armor is able to withstand significantly more abuse due to an integral shield, while retaining the same semi-adaptive camoflage properties. Their weapons are not plasma, but instead a miniaturized version of the same hard-light weaponry that is widely used in naval warfare. There are approximately one hundred and twenty Crimson Guard currently on active duty.
Cerulean Guard: Regular/2x equipment, $1/50,000. There are none in use (but 250+ million in use for defense).
Crimson Guard: Elite/5x equipment, $1/10,000. $12,000, 120 million.
Page-class scout: None in formal use.
Marshal-class frigate: $60. $19,200, 319 in use.
Ace-class carrier: $120. $9,600, 80 in use.
Regent-class battlecruiser: $180. $7,200, 40 in use.
Judge-class dreadnought: $480. $9,600, 20 in use.
Total "officially" spent: $57,540 of $59,000.
$1,460 in "black projects": three Judge-class dreadnoughts converted to carriers.
Many of the technologies that exist within the Regency have been derived from the principles found used by a disassembled Solarian ship. Rather than simply duplicating these systems, however, they sought to understand them - copying technology without an understanding of how they work runs contrary to the prevalent philosophy within the Regency. Twenty years is not quite long enough to rewrite the whole of their knowledge of physics however, and as such most their technology is quite dissimilar.
Power generation, off-world, is generally provided by way of entropy generators. They are not used on ground installations because of the minute-but-existant possibility that reactor containment could fail and failsafes might not be able to prevent the accidental creation of a singularity, as an entropy generator utilizes degenerate matter. The degenerate matter in the generators releases more energy than it takes for its operations, and as such they are essentially self-sustaining so long as they are properly maintained, and produce a great deal of energy. At this point, the Regency has the ability to use entropy generators to create singularities intentionally, but has not been able to weaponize this successfully. While they could likely use singularities themselves as a power source, their technology is not sufficiently advanced to do it safely.
Plasma weaponry is still in use by some ground forces in the Regency and civilians may purchase certain models. Firing a bluish bolt of plasma at a velocity of 1800m/sec and able to remain coherent for just barely one second, it made slugthrowers obsolete throughout the Regency. However, while it worked fine for combat between soldiers, its penetration capabilities were decidedly lacking. The advent of better power sources and solid-light weaponry saw to its military obsolescence, but they are still relatively cheap. They never saw naval deployment because, as an admiral so eloquently put it, "throwing the other ship into your engine wake will do more damage than those damned things, at least then you can shake them apart".
Solid-light weaponry is the primary tool of war currently used by the Regency. It is quite effective for the most part and is accurate out to light-second ranges, though combat usually takes place at a far closer range than that. For obvious reasons, it propagates at the speed of light. At close ranges solid-light weapons can be tuned to act as a solid beam, which makes them particularly deadly if they get close enough as they can potentially slice through the opposition; smaller versions work as point defense against projectiles as well. The basic technology behind solid-light weaponry has been found to scale rather well, and as such personal solid-light weapons also exist. While solid-light melee weapons exist as well, they are more rare as they are more fragile due to their nature, but not so rare that officers are not issued these weapons and trained in their use.
Phased cannon arrays are the primary weapons used by Regent and Judge class ships. While they are not long-range weapons, once they are in range they are able to release massive amounts of energy that is capable of crippling many ships. Due to their massive power requirements they are as yet unable to be miniaturized beyond their current point and require dedicated power supplies.
Shield technology is a newer field of study in the Regency, and shields that have been fitted for naval use have been notoriously weak by most standards and the generators are so bulky as to be utterly ineffective. Nothing can offset this aside from further study in the field, so aside from a handful of experimental ships, Regency naval vessels do not mount shields (though theater shields exist and are used). Instead, they currently mount a combination of damper field and stasis generators, which have proven quite effective at reducing the effectiveness of both energy and projectile weaponry. Unfortunately they do not stop them entirely, so hits that would normally just bounce off of a shield still will impact the hull.
Propulsion is handled by way of a gravitic drive, an adaptation of Heim drive optimized for slower-than-light travel. While it cannot be used for faster-than-light travel in this application, it has proven extremely effective over the course of its deployment with the navy.
Externally, the majority of Savants can pass for humans, though there is a significantly wider variety in hair and eye colors. Skin tone is generally quite pale, however. Exposure to UV light can cause the skin to darken rapidly. Generally, this fades after a short time, but for anyone who knows how the process works, it makes for an easy and non-invasive way to be sure whether someone is human or a Savant -- just aim a UV light at them and see whether they get a sunburn or their skin darkens. Their weight is generally about one and a half times as much as a human of a similar height and build. Median height is 1.8 meters, but varies depending on the environmental conditions they face in their youth and the level of gravity they deal with. It is rare to see a higher variation in height than 15cm.
Savants are true cyborgs -- they cannot survive for long periods of time without their flesh, while the flesh is unable to operate without the machine component that houses their intellect. The core of a Savant is its CPU, which is of course where the human brain would be. Relatively small in size, it is possible to access from outside and a Savant's body can live for a short period of time without it, but it is an invasive operation that requires a partial removal of the skull. The bones of a savant are composed largely of a metal alloy, and for obvious reasons they cannot produce blood cells. They are moved by muscle, however, and while the musculature of a Savant is stronger than that of a human, it is vulnerable to the same stresses and injuries as any human if overexerted. Various organs exist in the Savant body, and while they are usually smaller than that of a human, there are several organs that do not exist in the human body, used for various purposes such as production of blood and the like. The blood itself contains the usual mix of things that humans do, albeit with the changes that come from genetic engineering, but in addition to that there are also nanites that have a role in maintaining the body and in the growth process.
Insert tab A into slot B. Reproduction for Savants happens as it does in humans, as least for purposes of conception. Obviously, growth occurs quite differently in the womb. A Savant's CPU is the first thing to form, and the rest of its body is grown around it. The gestation period for a Savant is usually eighteen months.