Ostensibly an undivided federation without internal political subdivisions, but actual power divided among planetary oligarchs and their handpicked legislatures. Presided over by a governor and a bicameral legislature.
Enterprise Federation comprises all of the Imperial culture worlds of Darrian plus Ator (Spinward Marches 0729), and all Imperial worlds in Sword Worlds subsector and the former Border Worlds, all worlds of Lunion subsector (Spinward Marches K) except for Arba (Spinward Marches 1721) and Rabwhar (Spinward Marches 1822), all worlds in Five Sisters subsector, all worlds of the coreward portion of Plankwell subsector attached by the Spinward Main plus all worlds spinward of Collace (Spinward Marches 1237), and a small number of worlds in coreward Glisten: DeGroat (Spinward Marches 1731), Mithras (Spinward Marches 1932), Centry (Spinward Marches 2132), Marastan (Spinward Marches 2231), Crout (Spinward Marches 2232) and Bicornn (Spinward Marches 2331). Petitions to add worlds from occupied sections of Urnian and Menorial subsectors are still under consideration by the Commonwealth Legislature.
The majority are an eclectic mix of Imperial, Sword World and Darrian humans of varying ethnic descent. Zhodani minorities are present only in Lunion and Glisten Subsectors. "Darrian" Aslan are found in some parts of Five Sisters, Sword Worlds and Plankwell. Imperial-culture Vargr dominate Walston (Spinward Marches 1232). Droyne are found on Andor (Spinward Marches 0236), Candory (Spinward Marches 0336), and Ucella (Spinward Marches 0532) in Five Sisters, and Spirelle (Spinward Marches 1927). Humans seeded by the Ancients are found on Lothlorien (Spinward Marches 0140), Galadriel (Spinward Marches 0240) and Tondoul (Spinward Marches 0739) in Five Sisters. Descendants of a Pre-Maghiz Darrian community reside on Saxe (Spinward Marches 0231), and those descended from the Solomani Turkish survivors of an Itzin Fleet vessel that crashed before the Darrian contact are found on Prince Edward (Spinward Marches 0834).
Minor alien races include the Mewey of their namesake world in Five Sisters Mewey (Spinward Marches 0838), the "Shriekers" of Shvreeyiyi (Spinward Marches 1031), the Otarri of Faldor (Spinward Marches 1131), and primitive precontact races on Penkwhar and Gorram in Lunion Subsector
Earliest colonization of Enterprise occurred with the Droyne and transplanted humans around -300,000. The Droyne worlds in this region suffered less damage than others in the Spinward Marches, creating endless hypothetical speculation among modern day scholars. Humans from the Itzin Fleet travelled through the region around -1510; their descendants and the Darrians would colonize a small number of worlds in Plankwell and Sword Worlds subsectors. Sword World colonists traveled through the region a few centuries afterwards, and eventually settled several worlds.
Third Imperium Era
Earliest exploration by the Third Imperium Scout Service came around IY 40. Settlements were established very quickly within Lunion subsector, though conflicts and tensions with the Zhodani and Sword Worlders impeded movement to spinward until after the Third Frontier War.
For a settled area, the region tended to attract persons and groups seeking free market conditions without onerous regulation or scrutiny. Many worlds like Lunion and Strouden, and Caladbolg (Spinward Marches 1329) were dominated or even purchased outright by Imperial Megacorps like Ling-Standard Products and SuSAG. Lunion subsector became the business hub of the Marches, with many branches reaching out into frontier worlds of Plankwell (then known as District 268) and Five Sisters. Despite being well settled, conflicts and tensions between the corps led to numerous trade wars, and mercenaries and privateers often went freelance as marauders or reavers after being discharged from service. Endemic piracy led to the Freebooter Wars (IY 355 to 376) in parts of Lunion subsector, and later to preemptive strikes against raider bases in Plankwell and Five Sisters during the Third and Fourth Frontier Wars. Smuggling was rife, as was corporate crime. The massive sums invested by the corps into infrastructure and local services managed to deflect the worst extent of popular outrage.
Its proximity to the Sword Worlds and the Zhodani-allied Avalar Consulate made the region a target during the Frontier Wars. In the first few wars this was mainly initiated by the Sword Worlders, though during the Fourth War Zhodani and Avalar privateers harried shipping in Five Sisters. During the Third and Fifth Wars, Sword World fleets conquered several worlds in Lunion subsector, including a major victory over Imperial forces in the early stages of the latter war. Their fortunes reversed at the end of each war, and the aftermath of the Fifth War saw the creation of the Border Worlds as a buffer state between the Imperium and the Sword Worlders. The attempted Landgrab of 1132 instigated larger Regency intervention, and most of the Sword Worlds were occupied to keep them from mischief.
During the Regency period, corporations grew tired of stifling markets, high inflation and what they perceived as unfair regulation of their activities. Several large corporations created multinational "minotaurs" or companies of deviating or zigzagging ownership in an effort to stymie or contravene the Quarantine and Regency Law. Most of these were simply smuggling cartels attempting to evade stringent customs checks initiated after the Rape of Trin. Others were actually working against the Regency itself, supporting reactionary elements that objected to Norris' reforms. Lunion and Strouden became a hotbed of corporate intrigue and strife, as the sinuous lines of ownership often converged upon or intertwined with the "legitimate" business affairs of the various corporations. Politically the governors of these subsectors were apt to look the other way, either out of tacit support for the politics of the various cartels, or for a price. One of the worst offenders was Lemat Arthurian, the governor of Lunion subsector who ascended into the Regent post after Caranda's untimely death.
Though Arthurian was a capable politician, his political ascendancy came from covert alliances with many reactionary and corporate parties. Though not a reactionary in his own politics, he felt that Norris and his heirs had unduly restrained the Regency from attaining its true destiny with the Quarantine and democratic reforms. He saw himself as a modern day Moses, leading his people from the desert of exile to reclaim their rightful Imperium. As a charismatic junior member of the Regency Senate he had helped orchestrate the failed Referendum of 1196 on the topic of reopening the outrim frontier to resettlement and development. During the Zhodani Exodus he adroitly played upon atavistic fears of Marchers to compel the Senate to reopen the frontier anyway. The bloody outcome of the Tong War, Corridor's ramshackle condition and recontact with the Vilani disappointed these ambitions, and he shifted his considerable power and influence towards a military confrontation with the wobbly Zhodani Consulate instead. Elected to the governorship of Lunion in NE 12 (IY 1212) as a highly respected conservative politician, he was elected to the Regent post on an interim basis after Caranda's assassination in NE 19 (IY 1219), and on a formal basis during Reyna's minority in NE 21.
The outcome of his ruinous policies was an unnecessary war with the Consulate that ended in the ascendancy of the fanatical Dawn Heralder cult whose rise it was supposed to forestall. The Regency military was routed, and driven back from Zhodani space and the intervening frontier. A large Dawn Heralder force attacked the "heretical" Darrians and the "animal" Sword Worlders, cutting a huge swath through their unprepared military forces. Regency occupation units in the occupied Sword Worlds were decimated, and the long denuded defenses in Lunion subsector collapsed after a spirited defense by local forces. In Five Sisters and Plankwell, the Zhodani offensive was undermined by the Regency fleet under Admiral Gheurigz Augarrudon, the "Sister's Lap Dog", who was a brilliant strategist and fearless commander. Augarrudon's Nemesis fleet harried Zhodani supply convoys, cutting across all of their supply lines leading into the Marches. A Zhodani force was sent to eliminate his bases, but his forces cut them off and pinned them down for two years, and by that time raiding units from Metropolitan space had taken up the slack.
Guerrilla resistance on several worlds in Lunion slowed down the offensive into the Great Race, and the Dawn Heralders used genocidal tactics on Lunion and several other worlds in an attempt to break this resistance and compel the staggered Regency to surrender. But the excessive killing of civilians fired popular resolve, and led to the disposal of Arthurian a few months later. The new Commonwealth defeated the massive twin offensives into Rhylanor and Mora subsectors, and counterattacked into Lunion. At Lunion, Strouden and Persephone (SM 2228) the Zhodani fleets and garrisons were isolated and annihilated, giving the Commonwealth forces the momentum to win the war. But the massive damage to the subsector, and to Sword Worlds and Five Sisters meant that the victors were unusually generous to the survivors. These were permitted to establish themselves as a liberal, free market economy to support their reconstruction.
The peoples of the Enterprise Federation are pure free market libertarians. They do not brook the conservative cultures of the Stronghold or the Islands Federation, preferring to keep themselves unfettered of unnecessary regulation and taxation. This puts them somewhat at odds with these other federations, though in actuality the Speculators maintain a less intense version of the Commonwealth social contract. In many ways they resemble the Highwaymen of Corridor sector; but whereas those act as borderline outlaws when confronted with hidebound laws or arbitrary authority, Speculators are more apt to isolate themselves within the wild and woolly worlds they inhabit. If their persecutors persist in interfering, they'll pull up stakes and gallop to some other world or area with more privacy. Specs, for all of their perceived aloofness and nonconforming ways, generally respect people and (usually) opt for peaceful solutions.
Property ownership is the means by which status and success are measured. Monetary wealth is less important, as credit is very easy to come by. The quality of ownership is measured instead, along with the openness and generosity in giving back to the community. But as a Solomani writer once observed: "Behind every great fortune there is a great crime." These aren't goody two shoe persons, but influential and possessing great panache and passion. Because of the liberal terms offered for rebuilding, the Specs adopted whatever persons could demonstrate like minded resolve or agreement with their vision. This included more than a few organized crime figures from neighboring regions to spinward, from the notorious cartel known as the Enterprise. While generally honest, local society has adopted many of the cartel's customs and jargon for divvying up power and assigning position. When a person is said to "be in for life" it means that they've reached an unassailable position of power and influence. In imitation of its dubious underworld progenitor, committees of powerful entrepreneurs and businessmen dominate the highest rungs of society. Low level businessmen can start anywhere without interference, but their economic and political advancement depends upon their ability to influence and sway other committee persons in promoting or sponsoring their activities. Advancement can be either competitive or cooperative, and is strictly limited in mayhem by the laws and customs stipulated by the federation government. It is not uncommon for committees to be swallowed or absorbed by their rivals, or supplanted by upstarts, but mainly through peaceful means.
To police and protect these thriving business communities, the militias and former Public Safety organizations act as buffers between them and the outside universe. Weapon ownership is mandatory upon some worlds, and nearly all Enterprise worlds have extensive gun ownership, either privately or in well regulated militia forces. Few of these are strictly uniformed police, and most law enforcement is paramilitary or military. Their primary objective is to create palisades around the community and business ventures, defusing conflict and disarming hostile forces serving the less scrupulous businessmen, and forcibly expelling the worst behaved. The demeanor of these services are dictated by local law and customs, and they can run to extremes: on some worlds, particularly Adabicci (Spinward Marches 1824) they fiercely protect the business class, running down labor agitators and dissidents. On Strouden they're fiercely socialistic, strictly enforcing labor laws and protecting unions. On Caladbolg the soldiers are sepoys directly employed by the companies; on Wonstar (Spinward Marches 0538) and Tarsus (Spinward Marches 1138) they are drawn directly from the citizenry and fiercely protect local business from offworld encroachment. On Bicornn they protect the public from a voracious alien predator known as the Kravn. On Persephone they've broken down into warring factions heavily armed with Zhodani weapons salvaged from wartime battlefields and stockpiles.
Personally, Speculators favoritism towards nonconformity and "doing things their way" means that family ties are more broad than deep. Like their Highwaymen allies, they like multiple marriages, mostly of the contractual kind, that bind them less than traditional romantic dalliances. Stringent local marriage customs tend to encourage this footloose and free polyamory. The less bolder children tend to be raised conventionally, while the most talented and determined can find themselves entering apprenticeship in a trade, profession or business as young as thirteen or fourteen years. Many of these are even encouraged to travel extensively, either normally or on the massive Nomad Fleets that stage out of Monoceros Federation. Education stresses practicalities rather than more speculative endeavors, with stress upon turning out hardheaded professionals who are eminently employable. Most Speculators are bilingual, and many are familiar with local alien cultures. Their honorable deportment makes alliances with Aslan clans and local K'kree herds common and desirable.
Whenever it is possible, the locals purchase the best technology their money can buy. Particularly popular are advanced nanotech and pseudopsionic "portable offices" that create a virtual rendering of a persons workplace, and which record the actions and work of their owners, executing their labor through powerful data networks. Robots are popular too, particularly advanced TL-15 expert bots manufactured on Lunion and Strouden. Guns and other martial accessories are worn prominently by locals, whether they're in the militias or not. Law levels regarding gun ownership is an average of three levels less than indicated, though military grade hardware is strictly verboten outside of the militia lagers, a regulation that is obediently observed by everyone. A significant percentage of persons do not have permanent offices, and many work out of starships or space portable modules, the better to move around with to greener pastures.
Worlds of Enterprise Federation
Because of the insistence upon business, garish 3-D advertising and cluttered skylines are a common feature of Free Enterprise worlds. At night cities are lit as if on fire from a huge inferno, and ambient light pollution is noticeable from several, even tens of, orbits away. The roadsteads are littered with advertising buoys and greasepainted orbital shuttles and workboats. Highports are prominent, and many cases are sovereign governments in their own right. The cities are filled with Gothamesque architecture of massive skyscrapers and towering arcologies. Most of these are heavily self-contained, with farms and other supporting infrastructure ringing out from the central inhabited areas. Suburbs are rare to nonexistent, with populations either very concentrated in civic areas or dispersed far and wide among sleepy farming communities. The wealthy tend to live in unusually cramped quarters, reflecting the oftentimes precarious perch of power in this subsector.
Accommodations are comfortable and affordable. Travellers are warmly welcomed, though beyond the Startowns the number of offworlder friendly taverns and dives drops off to nothing. Offworlders are often invited into private homes for accommodation in the smallest of communities, and Specs pride themselves on their hospitality. The PSAs and other militias tend to give people baleful eye, but generally remain in the background to intervene only when trouble is either imminent or projectiles are flying. The Brotherhood is similarly restrained, preferring surveillance over more intrusive methods. Local laws are more involved than in Monoceros or Corridor, and the law is strictly honest on most worlds. Certain kinds of deviancy, particularly neurotic or mildly antisocial behavior is tolerated and even condoned. However it is important that travellers regard property lines when journeying: like Aslan worlds, most things are owned by various persons, and uninvited guests are not tolerated in many businesses or compounds. Some smartasses try to get around this by using the Aslan thumbs up ritual of pleading entry: THIS DOES NOT WORK! This is an old joke no longer considered funny, and local magistrates reward such gall with heavier fines and some form of public humiliation.