Dominian Imperial Military

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The Imperial standard.

For an expansionist state such as the Empire of Dominia a strong military is of the highest concern, as is the sprawling military-industrial complex that supports it. The Dominian Imperial Military is thus consistently lavished with funds, equipment, and training as a result of its critical nature, which has made it into one of the most-experienced fighting forces in the contemporary Orion Spur. Yet there is one aspect of its nature cannot be changed no matter how much money is thrown at it: the fact that the vast majority of its least senior personnel — from enlisted soldiers guarding occupied Fisanduh, to the ground crews that maintain the supersonic aircraft favored by typically noble pilots, to the crewmen of the Imperial Navy’s ships — are Ma’zals.

While those that supervise these Ma’zals as officers are generally Secondaries or Primaries, the ones below them almost always outnumber them. This seeming contradiction — that the instrument of conquest, and thus the creation of Ma’zals, itself is made up of those conquered — has long seemed puzzling from the outside, yet the Empire has shown that it is able to make the contradiction seemingly sensible, against all reasonable odds. The answer to this puzzle lies in the Empire’s taxation policy: the Mo’ri’zal.

The often-high Mo’ri’zals that Ma’zals incur simply due to being born as a Ma’zal motivates many to pursue a career in the Imperial Military, which often is the only way that many Ma’zals and their families will be free of debts incurred for the privilege of being born in the Empire. Some join for other reasons — many from Novi Jadran in particular join out of a sense of duty to those they perceive as their betters, and often rise higher than their Ma’zal counterparts — but the majority are motivated by their Mo’ri’zal, and the better lives they will live after they are rid of it. The sheer number of willing volunteers that sign up to serve in the Imperial Military has ensured that the Empire has not had a draft since the War of Moroz, a fact that it often dangles tauntingly over the head of the conscription-heavy Elyran Armed Forces.

The Primaries, Secondaries, and Ma’zals of the Imperial Military are divided into three major branches: the Imperial Army, His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet, and the Imperial Flying Corps.

The Imperial Army

L'Honneur Accorde la Victoire

The dark red standard of House Strelitz, the great house that dominates the Imperial Army.

The oldest and largest of the Empire’s branches is the Imperial Army, which was first formed by the Imperial Alliance — the predecessor of the modern Empire — in the years leading up to the War of Moroz. This makes it older than the Empire itself, though constant reforms and modernizations have ensured that it bears little resemblance to the force that once became stuck in a mountainous quagmire when it had to fight the Confederated States of Fisanduh’s Army. House Strelitz is the unquestioned master of the Imperial Army, but their conservative nature — and sense of duty — have ensured that the Army is unfailingly loyal to the Emperor, though some more conservative members of it are rumored to disdain the apparently liberal and reformist heir apparent, Crown Princess Priscilla Keeser.

The Imperial Army has perhaps the most practical experience out of any comparable force in the Orion Spur due to the Empire’s seemingly unending conquests, which are providing it with ample opportunities to cut its teeth in open warfare and counterinsurgency operations. Its large size and multitude of active combat operations have given the Imperial Army a massive need for officers, regardless of their origins. Though it remains heavily stratified it is— despite the conservative leanings of House Strelitz — not unheard of for a Ma’zal to become an officer, though those that rise to such ranks are typically from Novi Jadran. While a Ma’zal is capable of rising to the officer ranks, ranks above non-commissioned officers consist almost entirely of Secondaries and Primaries, and a majority of these officers are a part of or affiliated with House Strelitz. Noble officers of the House can be found at a variety of ranks ranging from platoon officers to general staff, and families of the House consider it a point of pride to have a relative serving as an officer involved in active combat. To many Strelitz no location is better suited to the honing of martial pride than an active battlefield, where the path to glory so often originates.

While the Imperial Army is primarily a human organisation it does have some aliens within its ranks, primarily unathi from or affiliated with House Kazhkz and its Han’san faction. These unathi are formed into their own species-based units commanded by human, and often Strelitz-affiliated, officers that are attached to Imperial battalions as assault infantry. These “unathi regiments,” as they are typically known are highly prized by Imperial Army commanders, who often deploy them to the most dangerous areas of an assault.

The common soldiers of the Imperial Army are most typically deployed on the Imperial Frontier, where they are responsible for much of the fighting and dying that takes place when a planet does not immediately surrender to the Empire when His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet arrives in the system in force. One of the most recent notable invasions carried out by the Imperial Army was the invasion and pacification of Sun Reach, a planet located in a system with rich deposits of Helium-3. While the conquest took barely two months the Imperial Army has since found itself in a protracted war against insurgents on the planet, and has resorted to using more and more severe methods to pacify the population. While much of the Imperial Army’s combat operations are carried out against similar unconventional forces, it has engaged many conventional forces: primarily the militias and limited armed forces of colonies the Empire conquers. In these scenarios it almost always has an overwhelming advantage, and has yet to face a serious defeat on the open battlefield as a result. Imperial Army forces are also involved in what they term as “peacekeeping operations,” in Fisanduh alongside the Imperial Flying Corps, where they have been involved in an ongoing asymmetrical conflict for decades.

Compared to its major regional rival, the Elyran Armed Forces, the Imperial Army is significantly more experienced but has begun to lag behind in technological parity as the Elyran military has reformed. The equipment demands that result from its large size and multitude of conflicts have given the Imperial Army a preference for equipment that has been proven to work effectively. Unlike the glamorous clothing associated with Moroz’s nobility, the typical Army regular’s uniform and armor consists of dull earthen tones designed to blend in with the environment. The most common rifle used by Imperial Army troops is the MPR-24/5 (Moroz Pattern Rifle, Year of 2624, fifth modification), a 40 year old rifle that has been continuously upgraded and modified since its inception as ballistic weaponry, in the eyes of Army command, is both more reliable and easier to train Ma’zals with. As a result energy weaponry is generally kept within special units consisting of more trusted Ma’zals, such as those from Novi Jadran, and the Army’s primarily-Morozian special forces.

The special forces of the Imperial Army are known as His Majesty's Special Operations Group, or simply as “the Group.” The Group is primarily recruited from the Empire’s core worlds and Novi Jadran, and is divided into two wings: geneboosted and non-geneboosted. The geneboosted wing is the older and more prestigious branch, dating back to the end of the War of Moroz and the Strelitz troops used to decisively end it. This wing consists entirely of geneboosted Primaries and is often regarded as the most prestigious unit of the Army. The non-geneboosted wing is primarily recruited from Novi Jadran (though Lyodii and Secondaries often find their way into it) and, despite their lesser prestige, is responsible for the majority of the Imperial Army’s special operations due to its larger size and greater flexibility. Commandos from the non-geneboosted wing can be found throughout the Empire, but are most often associated with long-range expeditions into Fisanduh to destroy 3F arms factories. These long-range patrols are often equipped with non-Dominian weaponry in the name of plausible deniability, and to avoid any diplomatic consequences.

Standards of living of the soldiers of the Imperial Army vary depending on both their rank and their social class of origin, though the meritocratic nature of its recruitment and organisation has ensured that these social class gaps – at least those in common ranks, such as the enlisted and lower-ranked officers – are not egregious. The general staff of the Imperial Army goes to great lengths to ensure that Ma’zals within it are treated well and have a better standard of living while in the Army than many had on their planets, which ensures that it always has a steady stream of willing volunteers signing up to serve. While life is often difficult in the Imperial Army, its personnel – from the greenest Ma’zal recruits just sent to Moroz for basic training to its Primary general staff – can count on the Army not abandoning them to die, or to go hungry in the cold.

His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet

Soit Gagner Soit Mourir

The white-and-grey standard of House Zhao, the great house that dominates the Imperial Fleet.

While the junior of the Imperial Army in terms of age — being founded in the final years of the War of Moroz — His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet (often shortened to “HIMF,” or simply the “Imperial Fleet,”) is no less important, with many arguing that it is far more important to Dominia’s imperial ambitions than its planetbound counterpart. Vast funds and countless factories are devoted to the purpose of ensuring that the Imperial Fleet is strong enough to counter any threats to the Empire; whether they be pirates, unathi savages, frontiersmen, or Elyrans — the main regional rival of the Empire. Much of the Imperial Fleet’s equipment is produced by Zavodskoi Interstellar in collaboration with House Zhao and House Caladius: the Zhaos provide the industry and many of the crews, while the Caladius provide the funding required. While the traditionally more liberal House Zhao is the unquestioned master of the Imperial Fleet, the Fleet itself is a more conservative organization that is steeped in traditions and shaped by its sense of unwavering duty towards the Emperor. Many naval officers in the Fleet belong to often-exclusive officer’s societies that exclude most Ma’zals on principal, and officers outside these societies can find their promotions denied or otherwise stymied. Imperial Fleet vessels can be identified by the prefix HIMFS (His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet Ship).

While it is smaller than many of its human counterparts — having only 15 fleets with mere hundreds of ships in each — the Imperial Fleet is perhaps the most experienced of the Orion Spur’s human fleets, having fought a variety of pitched battles and border skirmishes in the course of the Empire’s steady outwards expansion over the course of the last century. The experience gained during the course of these conquests has shaped the Fleet’s doctrine of “decisive battle,” in which the entire Dominian force moves as one in a massive show of force in an attempt to make the planet capitulate without serious resistance. Many frontier worlds, which often only have a paltry sum of combat-ready vessels, have surrendered upon witnessing the fully assembled strength of an Imperial fleet.

The pride of the Empire’s fleets is the HIMFS Carmen Cygni, the current flagship of Grand Admiral Huiling Zhao, the master of the Imperial Fleet, and the command vessel of the Empire’s First Fleet. Originally launched in 2445 and recently modernized in collaboration with Zavodskoi Interstellar in 2464, the Carmen Cygni is regarded as a symbol of national pride, and has never been bested upon the field of combat. To serve aboard it in any function – even at the lowest level – is to bring immense pride to one’s family name, and thousands of hopeful naval personnel apply to serve on the vessel every year. Though it primarily relies upon tried-and-true Helium-3 engines, the Carmen Cygni is one of the few ships in the Imperial Fleet capable of bluespace jumps. In theory, should the Emperor desire to visit the Republic of Biesel, he would be borne to it on the Imperial Fleet’s flagship.

While the Imperial Army is prone to the occasional non-Jadranic Ma’zal officer out of sheer necessity, the Imperial Fleet is not the same. To be a naval officer is a great honor for many, and it is a right reserved for a select few: Primaries, Secondaries, and notable Novi Jadranic Ma’zals, which the Imperial Fleet views as “honorary Morozians,” for all practical intents and purposes. The highest ranks of the fleet are dominated by the Empire’s nobility, and none come from outside of House Zhao. Unathi in particular are looked down upon in the Imperial Fleet and rarely rise above the lowest ranks, with many believing that House Zhao’s intense distaste for their piratical backgrounds is the reason behind this. Those unathi that do opt to fight for the Empire in the vast reaches of the Orion Spur often avoid the Imperial Fleet entirely, instead opting to serve as privateers. These privateers, which are often crewed exclusively by unathi, are often viewed in a poor light by House Zhao and the Fleet.

When compared to its major regional rivals, the Elyran Navy and Coalition of Colonies, the Imperial Fleet maintains a technological edge on both and a numerical advantage on the Elyran Navy. However, a direct comparison to the Coalition is difficult due to its dispersed strength and varying development. While a Himean or Xanusanii fleet may be as strong as their Dominian counterparts, there are many worlds in the Coalition that cannot hope to stand against an Imperial fleet on their own. Imperial Fleet vessels rely overwhelmingly on large-scale ballistic armaments and tend to be large and heavily-armored in order to have more space for well-protected gun turrets. Fleet crews are constantly drilled in order to achieve the best accuracy possible, and little attention is paid to strategies such as ramming in order to board. Dominian vessels are generally slower than their Elyran counterparts as they use Helium-3 powered warp engines rather than phoron-based thrusters. With the shortage worsening every day, it seems that their vessels will be made with He3 engines for the foreseeable future.

Each Imperial Navy vessel is assigned a complement of Imperial Marines for the purpose of repelling boarding parties or any boarding missions the ship itself may have to carry out. Clad in white-and-red prejoroub and Jinxiang-pattern suits, these well-trained infantry are primarily recruited from non-geneboosted Primaries and Secondaries. To have a child serve in the Imperial Marines is a badge of honor for many families, due to the prestige of the Fleet and the Imperial Marines’ reputation for bravery.

Unlike its planetary counterpart, the living standards of the Imperial Fleet are very much divided along lines of social class and rank. Enlisted personnel live in tight, cramped quarters designed to use space as efficiently as possible while their officer counterparts – which are generally nobles – live in comfortable (and for some, opulent) chambers that are most often private, or at least only contain one to two other persons in the case of junior officers. The Ma’zals of the Imperial Fleet often chafe under these conditions, and as a result the Fleet has a smaller amount of “careerist” enlisted (those that have decided to live their life in service of the Imperial military) than the Imperial Army. Despite the clear class divisions in the Imperial Fleet many Ma’zals still opt to serve in it, as a naval career – and the skills learned in it – can provide immense material benefits for a Ma’zal family.

The Imperial Flying Corps

Nous Protégeons et Vengeons

For as long as mankind has walked, he has dreamt of flight. Though not the youngest of the Imperial Military’s branches, the Imperial Flying Corps (often called the “IFC,” or simply “Flying Corps,”) it is by far the smallest, having only a fraction of the personnel that the Imperial Army and Imperial Fleet have under arms. Yet despite this small size it exerts a significant amount of influence due to who tends to join the IFC’s ranks of pilot officers: unlike any other branch in the Imperial Military the IFC’s combat troops are often drawn from the Empire’s nobility, with less prestigious positions (such as ground crews and bomber crews) made up of Secondaries and Ma’zals. To be a fighter pilot — the most prestigious position in the IFC — means that one is, in almost every scenario, also a Primary. As a result of how many nobles fill its officer ranks, no single great house dominates the IFC. As with its naval counterpart many officer pilots in the IFC belong to exclusive societies that exclude Ma’zals on principle, with some of these societies excluding Secondaries as well.

The Imperial Flying Corps is seconded to both the Imperial Army and His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet, and provides the both with the majority of their fighter, bomber, and support aircraft. This has led to an often-awkward relationship between the IFC and its attached branch, as many officers in the Fleet and Army come from non-noble backgrounds and, in the eyes of noble-born IFC pilots, are socially inferior to their IFC counterparts. Attempts to integrate the IFC into either the Imperial Army or Fleet instead of having this dual structure have consistently failed due to the Corps’ influence, which stretches up to the Emperor’s throne via the Chief Commissioner for Imperial Aviation, Annaliese Strelitz.

To be a pilot of the IFC means many things depending upon what aircraft one is placed in charge of, or what air wing one is assigned to serve in. The fighter wings of the Flying Corps are the most prestigious of the entire force; viewed as knights of the skies, the stereotypical Dominian fighter pilot is a (non-geneboosted) Primary capable of taking down any threat to the Empire, whether in the void of space or the skies above Fisanduh or Sun Reach, before retiring to the polite society of their officer’s clubs. In reality, a significant minority of non-noble fighter pilots — primarily Secondaries with the occasional Ma’zal — also serve as IFC fighter pilots, and are often passed up for opportunities in favor of their noble counterparts.

For pilots not in the Corps’ fighter wings life is much less glamorous. Bomber crews — which log more flight hours than any other category in the IFC — do much of the work of supporting the Imperial Army’s offensives and counter-insurgency operations, and gain none of the prestige of their fighter-flying noble counterparts. Those that crew the IFC’s supersonic bombers are, as a result of this lack of prestige, a mix of Secondaries and Ma’zals. These men and women are beloved by the Imperial Army and often hated by the residents of recently-occupied planets, which view them as the source of many of their woes. Those that fly ground attack craft, the most dangerous duty in the Flying Corps, are almost always Ma’zals, and suffer from much of the same issues as their bomber counterparts.

The ground crews of the IFC and those in it that fly what the Corps broadly calls “utility” craft — transport planes and such — are almost always Ma’zals. In the highly-stratified Flying Corps, itself a microcosm of the Empire’s broader society, the Ma’zal works for the Primary’s benefit. Behind every Primary sitting in his cockpit, ready to bring home prestige and accolades to his family, there is a team of Ma’zals: they load the missiles, fuel the fighters, and a dozen other things. But they receive none of the credit, none of the prestige, and none of the attention. Thus goes the nature of the Empire of Dominia, and thus shall it always continue unless the Goddess Herself intervenes.

As one might expect, the living standards of the Imperial Flying Corps are starkly divided along lines of class and rank. The Primaries that serve in it live luxurious, glamorous lives and have many amenities, with most Primaries of the IFC having their own chauffeurs and housing themselves in the finest available accommodations. On the other hand the Secondaries and Ma’zals of the IFC must make do with barracks – often in muddy environments, due to the amounts of earth that must be moved to create an effective airfield – or simple canvas tents. Few Ma’zals, or Secondaries, opt to make a career out of service in the Flying Corps, with many instead transferring out to the Imperial Army or Imperial Fleet. The Flying Corps has, thus far, not cared to address this issue, as many of its high-ranking officers simply view non-nobility as entirely beneath notice.