Shadows in the Void
The Celestial Empire
The Celestial Empire is the most successful human government in known space, a bastion of peace and tranquility in a dangerous and mysterious galaxy. Its ships, sleek, golden machines of incredible speed and armament dance through the stars, the envy of all but the best-equipped captains. It’s people, on the rare occasions that they are seen, and beautiful and charismatic, immediately securing the admiration and loyalty of those around them. They are the self-declared guardians of righteousness and virtue, and are one of the very few organizations in the galaxy that seek to do battle with evil for no other reason than that it exists.
However, their definition of evil is not always kind, particularly to those living on the fringes of known space. The Celestials reject compromise of any kind, and do not recognize the inherent compromise these unfortunates need to make to survive. A mother stealing bread to feed her children is still a criminal, and will be dealt with just as harshly as someone stealing for self enrichment. While there is a great deal of admiration for the Celestials in the galactic community, this intolerance leads to considerable emnity as well. Their occasional Expeditions are not forgotten either. Every once in a while the Empire will seek to eliminate a great evil and turn all its attention towards the annihilation of that foe. While on an Expedition they do not recognize the sovereignty of surrounding governments, the private property rights that the corporations hold so dear or the human rights of the people they must move through to reach their target. Almost everyone agrees with their goal and is happy to see the problem solved, but the cost is always high.
The Empire’s forefathers carved their territory out of the wilds along the Southern Rim, securing the space through a combination of brilliant diplomacy, sharp trade deals and incredible military might. It is arguably the safest place in the galaxy, if you belong there. That last part is the tricky bit. The Celestials are aggressively insular and citizenship is by invitation only. Those who are invited to join the Celestial Empire nearly always drop out of contact with the friends and loved ones as soon as they cross its borders, moving on to what is, hopefully, a better life.
Even this does nothing more but allow the new citizens a place on the very lowest tier of the totem pole. The Celestial Empire’s society is deeply segregated, with those who were admitted by invitation forming a massive underclass beneath the nobility. Very few have ever actually met a Celestial Noble, but tales of those few instances have spread far and wide. Pictures of genetic perfection, the Nobles seek the best samples of humanity and study them, picking out what pieces of their genetics, life experiences and character made them exceptional. They then take this knowledge and incorporate it into the next generation, continuing to push themselves toward perfection.
Occasionally, very occasionally, in instances of extreme uncertainty about the viability of a gene, one of the commoners is given the opportunity to have their child implanted with a potential Celestial Nobility modification. These few individuals, if they survive the radical genetic engineering, form a critical link between the Nobility and the commoners, diplomats within their own society.
The Empires military forces reflect the segregated nature of its society. Unlike the standardized system of CPG militaries organized in Corps, Divisions, Regiments etc.; the Celestial Empire organizes its military according to the Banner System". Military forces are organized into 20 Banner Fleets; 4 upper banner fleets, and 16 lower banner fleets. Relatives of Nobles, citizens of high caste, and citizens whose families have served loyally for more than 3 generations may be included in the upper banner fleets. These upper banners receive the latest technology and weaponry, and their duties include guarding the imperial capitol, spearheading expeditions, and conducting secret operations outside the empires borders.
Members of lower castes, citizens not born within the empire, and families who have been lowered in caste in disgrace are relegated to the lower banners. These banners usually have more fighting men in them, but are worse equipped than the upper banners. Their duties include protecting the borders of the empire from attack, and quelling civil unrest. The Celestial empire is divided into 16 military districts, which are named after the banner army tasked with guarding the district.
Despite the toll of their crusade, the internal pressures of their society and the negative reception their arrogance often gets them in the rest of the galaxy, the Celestial Empire continues to grow, evolve and expand. It has also been several decades since their last expedition, and whispers are beginning to flow about the Celestial Empire being on the move once again.