Valcarian Imperial Republic
The Valcarian Imperial Republic consists of hundreds of worlds caught in the iron grip of tyranny. Using overwhelming armies and vast navies, the Empire instituted a reign of terror among the disheartened and enslaved planets. No world, no system, no species is immune to the terrible machinations of the Imperial Order.
But the region was not always such a dark and foreboding place. Once there was a good and pure government on the world of Valcaria known as the Valcarian Republic. Into this utopia, however, there appeared unscrupulous individuals who thirsted for wealth, power, and domination. Slowly, cunningly, they destroyed the Republic from within, creating the evil and corrupt Empire.
An ambitious general named Altharra, proponent of a new order, declared himself Emperor and consolidated his power by disbanding the Directory. With the Directory dissolved, the Emperor gave his regional governors direct control and a free hand in administering their territories. From this point on, the empire would be ruled by fear.
The Republic Wanes
Valcaria was once a great republic of nations. Dozens of member countries were governed fairly and efficiently by the Directory. Inevitably, as the Valcarians reached out into their star system, and then further, the Republic found itself saddled with too massive a bureaucracy. It had grown too large, gotten too old, and corruption had set in.
A few unscrupulous, greedy directors had started the destructive chain reaction of malaise. They saw the first lingering problems as cracks in the system of government which could be exploited for personal gain. These people found that their colleagues were far too occupied by the day-to-day running of the Republic to monitor their activities adequately.
The corruption was too small to be noticed at first. But as the opportunities grew, so did the number of directors who were seduced by the lure of illegitimate power and wealth. These senators found an easy alliance with some of the mammoth corporate interests which constantly were on the lookout for easier ways to make a profit. A few arrogant, self-serving bureaucrats fell to seduction, and suddenly a virus was in the stars.
Every instance of stability, each uncertainty in government action, every wrinkle in directorial policy and procedure became a means to foster larger opportunities. Director turned on director, values eroded, trusts were broken, and fear gripped the Republic. What was once thought to be an immortal suddenly saw the approach of its own destruction, and the Republic was afraid.
Corruption and fear spread like a mutant disease, quickly reaching epidemic proportions without any visible cause. The Republic's troubles multiplied, and no one seemed to know what was happening, or why.
At last the Directory could no longer blind itself to the fact that the Republic was being devoured from within by those who had been entrusted with its care. During this time, the legitimate business of the Republic was neglected. Small, previously routine matters became insurmountable difficulties. Wars raged on, with the Republic slowly losing every battle. The government became remote, unfathomable, often a useless burden to dozens of the governed species. The Republic was disintegrating, and it appeared that no one could hold it together.
The Rise of Altharra
Altharra, an unassuming yet brilliant military leader, began his road to power during this time of social injustice and rampant corruption. He was often modest and, despite a record showing promise, appeared more interested in the success and well being of his troops than in a political career. His slow, methodical way seemed at odds with the mercurial shifts of power and agendas which were the reality of the collapsing Directory. But it was all a ruse, for Altharra was more than he appeared to be. Much more.
The disintegration of the Directory continued, exhausting the entire Republic. On the constituent worlds, civil unrest was now commonplace and crime blossomed. Some outer worlds threatened secession. Others pledged their loyalty through the media while doing what they pleased. The uncorrupt directors realized the danger to the Republic and all it stood for. The corrupt directors could see the need for stability, if only to preserve as much of the Republic as possible for future plundering. A void existed, and it demanded to be filled.
Altharra seized the moment. Altharra abandoned his armada in the Klossic Region, evaded the Vodran blockade, and returned to Valcaria almost alone. There he inserted himself into the plot to replace the Directory. The plot was supported by the military, many high-ranking government officials, and secretly the Directory. The takeover of the Directory was called the Coup of Vhros. Altharra assumed the role of Prime Director and, with the visible support of the military, effectively became a dictator.
The loyalist directors were encouraged that Altharra had not fallen in with the corrupt directors, and still had the Republic's best interests at heart, made obvious by his patriotism and military victories, while the fallen directors took heart from his apparent docility and lack of political experience. Each side believed Altharra would serve their needs. Each side could not have been more wrong.
The New Order
The new Prime Director exceeded everyone's expectations. In the midst of chaos, the previously underrated general began the wheels of government turning again after too long a delay. He proved to be an efficient leader, restoring many of the policies which had lapsed during the waning years. His power supplanted that of the Directory - in these policies only. But as the Directory turned a greater portion of its attention to its internecine struggle, more and more government functions were given over to Altharra.
The directors of each faction found themselves establishing political debts to Altharra. The Prime Director was the only being in the Republic who seemed capable of getting anything done. Altharra's power grew. An ever-greater number of worlds accepted the Prime Director as the voice of the Republic.
It was in this climate of trust that Altharra declared his new order and named himself Emperor. Skillfully evoking images of the glories of empires past, as well as promising to lead the Republic to a height unparalleled in galactic history, Altharra gained ultimate power without any real opposition. When the directors realized what had transpired, they were too weak from their own in fighting to mount an effective challenge. Those too vocal were silenced. Those considered dangerous were rendered harmless by whatever means were convenient. Darkness and tyranny spread slowly but continuously, entrenching itself across more and more worlds before anyone realized the danger.
The Empire was born.
Altharra promised to eradicate the corruption and social injustice of the previous government. Instead, he gave the people a program that's main goal was to subjugate as many planetary governments in the galaxy as possible for the personal benefit and glory of the Emperor. He reneged on his promises to the people and instituted a reign of terror and even greater social injustice. The Republic was consumed, and out of that rotted body rose the Empire.
The Structure of the Empire
The Empire is still growing. Policies of expansion established by the Republic were never rescinded, and exploration - and now conquest - continues. The Imperial Survey Corps (ISC), scientist and scouts charged with exploring the galaxy, has seen its funds cut sharply over the years. Still, a new system is being catalogued for the Empire every week by the understaffed ISC.
Most of the recently surveyed worlds have remained untouched by Imperial colonization. The Empire has little use for an expanding frontier. Frontier settlements offer greater freedom to Imperial citizens and stretch Imperial forces even further. That is not in the best interest of the Empire.
However, an ISC team occasionally turns up an inhabited world in the process of cataloguing. Inhabited worlds mean taxes and other valuable resources for the Empire. These worlds are initially offered a place in the New Order, provided they agree to fall in line with the will of the Emperor. If a world refuses or reneges on its oath of allegiance, then the Empire resorts to military conquest. Usually the threat implied by the massive Imperial war machine is enough to inspire unswerving fealty in even the most independent worlds.
All sentient inhabitants of the Empire - except rolfs - are considered citizens. Valcarians are considered full citizens, and any other species are second-class citizenry. Citizens are accorded certain rights under Imperial law, namely, the right to follow the precepts of the New Order fully and without question. Other rights include certain freedoms that in no way interfere with Imperial doctrines and goals.
Where in the empire a citizen is determines the amount of prohibitions and restrictions governing his or her daily life. All citizens are subject to the laws of the Empire, and all must pay some form of tribute. Laws vary from system to system, but the most uniform are the Imperial Revenue Codes. Under these laws, the burden of proof is upon the citizen to show that he had met all of his fiscal obligations to the Empire. Failure to provide adequate proof is considered an admission of guilt, penalties for which range from confiscation of goods to the increasingly common sentence of labor camp internment.