Orbital League / Cislunar Alliance
The Orbital League
In 2135 (166 AT), Homo Superior run habitats in Old Earth orbit banded together and formed the Orbital League. Initially, the Orbital League was a loose coalition of space stations meant to shelter Homo Superiors from the regulations of national governments and provide mutual assistance in what was still the novel experience of living in space. In the beginning, very few of the Earth nation-states recognized the League as a distinct polity. However, over the next several decades the League grew in size and clout and began slowly establishing relations with the terrestrial powers. The League increasingly took on the trappings of a sovereign entity though membership in the United Nations proved elusive. Historians generally consider the Orbital League to be the first true non-planet based Terragen state. In 2179 (210 AT), Choi Chan-Yeol was elected to the position of League President and began a tireless campaign to add new members and holdings not only in orbit but also in the burgeoning underwater habitats of Earth's oceans, the Lunar surface settlements, and certain near-earth asteroids. As technology and orbital infrastructure improved so too did the habitats, expanding from simple stations with rotating sections to ever larger Stanford Tori, Bernal Spheres, and early versions of O'Neill Cylinders. The Orbital League dedicated a new capital, Ofelos Habitat at Earth-Luna L1, in 2198 (229 AT).
The Cislunar Alliance
In 2244 (275 AT) a new constitutional charter was adopted that transformed the Orbital League into the Cislunar Alliance. The reasons for the change, especially regarding the polity's name, are not universally agreed upon by historians. The most likely cause was that the inclusion of many new non-Homo Superior groups and the desire for greater political recognition necessitated the need to reform. Despite its name, the Alliance operated beyond the cislunar volume and throughout the Inner Solar System. Although Homo Superiors continued to dominate most leadership positions, the rebranding appears to have been effective with the Alliance swiftly securing a seat on the Council for the Peaceful Coordination and Development of the Inner Solar System, better known as the Inner Council. The Alliance leveraged its new position by imposing a high export tariff on Helium-3 for the Outer Solar System in 2278 (309 AT). This started a long running rivalry with the Jovian League and later, the Gengineer Republic.
Over the next two centuries, the Alliance continued to admit new members near Earth and Luna as well as expand its holdings as far afield as Mercury and the main asteroid belt. Along with many other projects, the Alliance constructed a wide array of artificial biomes in orbit. Some of these were designed to replicate extinct Old Earth flora and fauna, such as Mesozoic Orbital which housed one of the system's largest dinosaur parks. The Alliance completed the first large-scale paired rotating O'Neill cylinders, Gemini Complex, at Earth/Luna L4 in 2370 (401 AT). A year after the Council of Earth outlawed destructive uploading in 2404 (435 AT), the Alliance followed suit, preferring to extend life spans through longevity gene mods rather than mechanical or virtual means. Though the Alliance is thought to have never engaged in a major war during its existence, it did possess one of the system's more capable fleets. An historic example of this military capability were the strikes on alleged terrorist bases harbored by the Juno Confederacy in 2456 (487 AT).
In the decades preceding the Technocalypse the Cislunar Alliance continued to develop. A popular tourist destination and important population center prior was Liyaka Station, an O'Neill cylinder built in geostationary orbit between the Freedom and Mzabibu space elevators in Africa and funded in a joint venture with the terrestrial powers of the League of the Americas and Australasia and the Federated States of Africa. Completed circa 2475 (506 AT), the habitat developed into a center of innovation in DNI-mediated experiences and VR immersion. After the resulting economic and population boom, the hab grew to have a population of over 4 million, attracting many who wished to see firsthand the ornate, glittering cityscape curving overhead. Other tourist draws included the many award-winning Americo-Congolese fusion restaurants and the zero-G sports complex at the habitat's center. The Alliance was also a crucial link in the nascent beamrider network, operating a number of terminals including at the important Venus L4 node.
As with much of Solsys, the Technocalypse ravaged the Alliance. In 2534 (565 AT), technoplagues crippled the antimatter and helium-3 mining industries, creating a massive system-wide energy and transport crisis. This is generally marked as the start of the Alliance's disintegration. The Alliance broke up slowly over the course of several decades until, after a disastrous participation during the Last War, it was officially dissolved in 2599 (630 AT). Several of its successor states would join the Bracelet Band or the various Trust Networks.
Some contemporary critics denounced the Orbital League as a mere tax heaven for genetically modified elites, as many of its citizens held dual citizenship and only resided periodically in League territory. However, over time the Orbital League developed its own eclectic identity, a unique blend of Old Earth cultures coupled with a messianic zeal for genetic advancement. Linguistically, dozens of languages were spoken throughout the League and prevalence was heavily dependent on the particular habitat. Official League business was conducted in proto-Anglish, still known as English at the time. Freedom of religion was guaranteed throughout the League, but society was largely secular with the majority of citizens believed to have been non-religious. While politically dominated by Homo Superiors, the League demonstrated what some political scientists term "strategic toleration" making League territory a desired refuge for artists, visionaries, and inventors seeking to escape the stifling restrictions of many places on Earth. Some of these, such as bio-sculptor Astra Sultana (2177-2330/208-361 AT), became famous throughout the system. The Cislunar Alliance would continue this trend and further diversify, adding an increasing array of tweaks, vecs, and provolve clades which helped give the Alliance one of the largest and most cosmopolitan groupings of cultures in Solsys, believed to number close to 400 million sophonts in its last decades. The Alliance was a chief proponent for the use of the Tranquility Calendar, which had gained wide adoption by the end of the fourth century AT.
Historians often disagree on the specifics of the internal politics of the Orbtial League and Cislunar Alliance, in part because the polities' political organization appears to have shifted considerably over their existence. Further complicating matters is that many of the sources come from critics on Earth or in the Outer Solar System and may not accurately reflect the historic reality. Many historians and political scientists, though by no means all, have classified the polities as benign modosphont-run oligarchies masked behind a democratic veneer. Disagreements continue over how centralized the League and Alliance were, their relative influence in Interplanetary Age Solsys, and the level of civil rights enjoyed by non-human modosophonts.
In addition to the important role that the Orbital League and Cislunar Alliance played in the Interplanetary Age, they are most remembered today as the first true non-terrestrial independent polities. In the Current Era, when the vast majority of embodied modosophonts live in orbital habitats these states serve, in a way, as one of their earliest historical forerunners. Some historians claim that memetic traces can still be found, with a number of organizations having adopted the names "orbital league" and "cis-alliance" over the millennia. Scores of virch recreations of varying degrees of historical accuracy continue to exist in the Inner Sphere alone, with arguably the best known being Orbitals Infinitum run by the S2 entity the Freefall Commissar around New Java.
Text by MacGregor
Initially published on 30 April 2023.