The High Imperium
Majority Species - Baseline Human
Secondary Species - Enhanced Human (Limited to the noble Houses and their retainers.)
Genetically modified Castes (Infantry and Engineer Castes)
Foundation - 3412 (Extant 1,500 years prior to the Long Dark, unknown period of time spent in transit. Current calendar date - ???)
Primary Language - High Trade Tongue
Secondary Languages - Old Imperial (Used amongst the noble Houses, mostly unknown amongst the general populace.)
As established on the fleet before realspace transit back into the galaxy, the interim Imperial government runs on a replica of the original Senate back on Taros. Day-to day matters are run by individual Houses, of which there are approximately twenty or so, with the combined Senate making decisions only on limited matters affecting the entirety of the Imperium, and even these declarations may be less than binding on all Houses.
Originally noble families from the heart of the Old Imperium, when the flotilla found itself stranded in the FTL tunnel, many of the representatives of houses on the fleet were killed in the initial jump or driven mad by the insanity lurking beyond the viewport. Following the traditions of the old Senate, new families were raised up from amongst the command crews, and these houses now rule this fragmented and broken imitation of what once was. However, just like their forebears, the houses often quarrel with each other over the smallest of issues, gladly taking any opportunity to take their opposition down a peg. (Or twelve)
One of the two ruling houses of the Old Imperium, the fact that House Vakorian survived the Long Dark intact and (mostly) sane is nothing short of a miracle. Members of this house are naturally more combative than normal and generally reign over the military sphere, with the title of Fleet Admiral traditionally going to the Head of House.
One of the two ruling houses of the Old Imperium, House Vos managed to weather the voyage with rather more success than most of their compatriots/rivals and is generally held to be responsible for diplomacy and economics. The actual execution of their duties has been less than stellar, however, as the fleet-wide economy and trade network has mostly been abandoned and left to fend for itself.
Back in the heart of the Imperium, House Enarius maintained and operated the massive Celestial Mechanics shipyards, acting as the beating heart of the Imperium’s war machine. They’ve mostly carried the role over onto the fleet, being responsible for maintenance and for dreaming up new and impressive ways of murdering other sentient beings for the glory of the Imperium.
The Minor Houses
While these houses are not without their power, it tends to be fairly limited in scope, and does not extend much beyond that house’s particular group of ships.
Even for the highest nobles, life on the fleet is far from what many planet-dwellers would call luxurious, but they generally have it better than most of their subjects. The average crew member, though, tends to live in the most basic of conditions with little left over for leisure or extravagance. Part of this is due to a natural limit on resources and part of this is the result of previous conflicts between Houses having reduced the total amount of resources available to the fleet.
The noble Houses, or dreftallech as they refer to themselves, are organized on a roughly clan-based structure in the shape of a matriarchy. The head of House (Tajauk, plural Tajauken) is usually appointed by consensus, with the various Heads occasionally deigning to cooperate towards a common goal when there’s absolutely no way around it. Males, while not kept as second-class citizens, naturally have less interaction in overall society and tend to be fairly reclusive as a rule.
Diplomacy is extraordinarily important to the Houses, since a fight between two or more dreft can often result in extreme damage and possibly even hull breaches. Of equal importance however, is maintaining a facade of indifference to these things. That is, the art of diplomacy without actually appearing to be engaging in it. The elder of the Tajauk can defuse a potential fight without the participants having even realized they were about to start exchanging plasma bolts instead of words.
For the average baseline humans that make up the vast majority of the Fleet’s population, life continues in a rhythm that would be familiar to any inhabitant in hundreds of galaxies. They live, they laugh, they cry, and they bicker. Social ranking is ordered mostly by the profession of the person in question with high priority jobs like piloting and maintenance valued above the rest. Another factor is also the location of the individual’s quarters. The closer you are to the nobles, the more prestigious your place.
The state of the Imperium’s internal economy can best be described as “interesting”. What little trade exist between the Houses is done primarily in data, as something that can easily be proliferated and yet still has value assigned to it by the general populace. Overall, this means that objects can be measured for their given value in “bytes” of data. This as opposed to other societies that may use precious gems or metals for their economy where in the fleet, these things may be used to repair systems or build new things.
House Relations and Economy
While the Houses do engage in trades of materials and information, most of the trade done between the houses is in something far more precious: breeding and genetics. One of the most valuable bargaining tools a house has is its own genetic material. This can then be sold to another house for something else. The product of these trades are more often than not, is placed in cold storage rather than brought to term. As a consequence, there are several hundred thousand embryos just waiting for planetfall to be developed...
Dawn and Dusk
While there exists plenty of documentation about the Imperium’s origins prior to the Long Dark, most of those who survived the transit couldn’t care less about their ancestors and their odd, illogical wars and hatreds. When simply continuing to exist means spitting in the face of Entropy itself, then few have any care for the confusing and tangled shadows of the past.
Into the Black
The origins of the Fleet are inextricably tied with the Imperial Civil War and the esoteric and nightmarish devices known as Reality Editors. When the Old Imperium erupted in cataclysmic conflict between House Vos and House Vakorian over control of the colossal Star Forge, some took the chance to flee towards the outer rim of the galaxy with all they could carry. At the conclusion of the war, the two houses had agreed to share power amiably and a large armada was assembled to pursue them as a joint undertaking and show of mutual support.
Somewhere in the unexplored reaches at the edge of the Spiral, the runaways fought something. None of the analysts on the Fleet who survived the following events were ever sure what they encountered, but all signs pointed to a Hegemony task force, and that, along with the following events, was more than enough to ensure that the Hegemony lived in infamy and curses forever more. A shock wave that could only have been generated by an Editor or something akin to it seized the pursuing fleet and flung it into hyperspace, with severe damage to the ships and thousands of crew killed by some unexplainable means.
The Long Dark
Trapped in a vast hyperspace tunnel with only the resources they’d brought with them in the form of their ships, the survivors scrambled to salvage what they could, scrapping nonessential systems to patch hull breaches and keep life support running. Those who were too injured to recover without the now useless medbays were placed into cryopods that were being made by the hundreds of thousands against the hope of emergence in some far off future. Piecemeal repairs and half measures continued without any reliable count of days and months, the work eventually being passed down to a new generation of ship-born. Nobody is quite sure who made the first breakthrough with nanotechnology, but it proved to be the Fleet’s salvation. It allowed them to cease clinging to the broken scraps of their parents and to repair and to even dream and plan for the day or emergence.
Advances in nanotech came hard and fast, with the tech eventually metastasizing throughout their society and leading to the rise of the dreftallech Houses. With the rise of the Houses, the technological progress eventually progressed beyond what could be done in the Fleet’s limited environment and the Houses began dedicating themselves wholeheartedly to the endeavor of ending the Dark, even if they had to break reality to do it.
It was also during this time that the veneration of the Sun came to overtake the Circled Star as the common people lost the last of their threadbare faith in the Star’s promise of dominion. On the other hand, the Sun gave no absolute promises beside deliverance from the Dark and the opportunity to reforge themselves outside of the limited cage they had known for generations.
Out of the Dark
And then the prophesied day came. People of all professions and castes came to the observation decks in their millions, drawn by something beyond understanding. In their high and far-flung towers jutting up from the hulls, the dreft looked up once more with hope that they had long forgotten. And as the veil parted at long last, all bowed low and gave praise and veneration to the Maker of All in the light of an alien sun...
The Imperium holds a full alliance with the New Hegemony. ( @yobeefjerky)
The Imperium is currently at war with the Second German Space Reich (@boombox313 )
The Imperium is currently at war with the Illateri Sovereignty (@RedAndCosmoteer)