Here’s the next in the series of articles I am writing to explain the various elements in the world of The Saga of Nine Rings. This article is about one of the largest and most important factions in the Sea of Spirits Galaxy: the Imperium.
The Imperium Siderum Et Caeli (The Empire of the Stars and Skies in old Dranastonic), or, simply, the Imperium, is an autocratic, totalitarian dictatorship and one of the major factions in the present-day Sea of Spirits Galaxy. Its territory covers roughly a quarter of the galaxy and is concentrated mainly in the Mobata Quadrant, (the upper right quarter when the galaxy is viewed from above). At present, the Imperium claims roughly one hundred and fifty thousand inhabited worlds although, due to its policies of exploration and expansion, this number rises on a regular basis. The official motto of the Imperium is: Ad Triumphum, Ad Progressus, Ad Vincere, meaning: To Triumph, To Persevere, To Conquer.
The culture and governance of the Imperium are based on those of the Ancient Dranastonic Empire, the ancient Haelqen empire that ruled much of the Human homeworld of Karasen many thousands of years ago. Autocratic in nature, it is led by a single ruler, known as the Imperator, who wields absolute power over its laws and people. The current, and only, Imperator is Nero, who has ruled over the Imperium unchallenged since its inception some thirty years ago.
The Imperium rose in the wake of the collapse of the Galactic Collective, the failed attempt at a free society after the defeat of the Chinchi Empire over a thousand years earlier. The events that would see the fall of the previous empire and the rise of the next would take place over centuries as the group calling itself the Order of the Dranast quietly infiltrated the government of the Collective and worked to undermine and weaken it from within. Their efforts culminated in a coup that brought the Collective to its knees and was followed shortly afterward by the formation of the Imperium in its place. The actions of the Order of the Dranast would also inadvertently result in the formation of the United Galactic Confederacy.
A racist society, in the Imperium, the Haelqen (light-skinned humans), and in particular, Tolevan Haelqen (Haelqen of North Halaq heritage), reign supreme over all other races and species who are treated as little more than dumb animals and savages meant only to serve their overlords. Straight Tolevan men enjoy the most freedom and privilege with almost all other classes of citizen possessing far fewer rights and liberties. Tolevan women have more rights than most other citizens but still possess far less freedom than their male counterparts. In addition to its racism and sexism, the Imperium is openly hostile towards homosexuality and religion with the exception of the quasi-religious order, the Imperial Circle of Worship.
The core values of the Imperium include strength, determination, personal honour, loyalty, respect and the complete devotion to the Imperator and worship of the Great Ones. Citizens of the Imperium are expected to be strong and unyielding in the face of all hardship and pain. Any sign of weakness carries with it huge dishonour, which, in itself, is a mark of shame. In the Imperium, honour and integrity are treated as sacred and any reproach, no matter how trivial, is regarded as an eternal stain on an individual’s character. Death is considered a favourable alternative to having one’s honour besmirched. After the government, the family is next most sacred institution. After their Imperator, every man and woman’s devotion is to their family. The Imperium teaches that a man will do anything for his family, including killing and dying, just as he would happily lay down his life for his Imperator and the Imperium. The final, and greatest value of the Imperium is devotion to the Imperator himself and the worship of the Great Ones. To his citizens, the Imperator is a god in human form. He led them out of the pit of darkness and despair that was the Collective and gave them everything and they repay him with their everlasting love and worship. The Great Ones are the former Imperators who ruled the ancient Dranastonic Empire many thousands of years ago. The Imperium worships them as gods and see their current Imperator as the vessel for their power and will.
The ultimate goal of the Imperium is to conquer the stars and bring everything under its control. The Imperium claims dominion over the entire galaxy and makes no effort to hides its intent to someday dominate the entire Sea of Spirits and beyond.
In real life, The Imperium is modelled heavily upon the Ancient Roman Empire and borrows many aspects of its politics, culture and aesthetics. I’ve always had a fascination with the Romans and chose to base the Imperium upon their society because I felt that the mixing of features from an ancient civilization with one that resides in a futuristic time and setting would create a more interesting and unique faction rather than just another generic evil galactic empire. As far as I know, there are no other stories that have done a futuristic Roman Empire in the exact manner that I have. I also liked the juxtapositions that have resulted from mixing the features of an antiquated society with a futuristic one, such as having a world with flying cars, holographic communication, interstellar travel and energy weapons where everyone goes around wearing togas.