It is not always necessary to be a part of a larger Sephirotic empire or meta-empire. Many smaller polities exist, in the borders between the larger hyperpowers. These small states guarantee the same sentient rights and adhere to the same standards of civilization as their larger brethren.
Such polities are sovereign states, ruled by sapient or transapient governments. It may be as small as a single individual (a so-called Sovereignty of One) or as large as a vast interstellar empire. It may be a democracy, a theocracy, an autocracy, an anarchy, an aiocracy, a panocracy, an aristocracy, a plutocracy, a meritocracy, or any other of the innumerable forms of government found throughout the civilized galaxy. But whatever the form of government, there will be sapient or transapient sentients at the head, whether the entire populace (as in extreme democracy) or a single autocrat (as in extreme monocracy). These beings then decide the foreign, economic, military, educational, legal, industrial, cultural, entertainment, and ideological stance of the polity as a whole.
The number and diversity of such polities in the galaxy is as great as the number and diversity of clades, cultures, and memetic-complexes. There are estimated to be almost a trillion polities incorporated in the Civilized Galaxy, only a tiny proportion of which are heavily memed, angelnetted, and governed aicracies in which the Archailects have established their hold securely and with no fear of defection or subversion. A much larger number consists of the many nominally aligned or neutral worlds, habitats, and polities, with populations ranging from the thousands to (in a few cases) the billions. Far larger again, and making up the vast majority of sovereign states, is the huge number of Sovereignties of Ones and of micropolities with only a few dozen or a few hundred citizens. Especially in the case of trader empires — like the FAS and the Orion Federation — there are, in addition to the large and powerful core of central federated worlds and superpolities, millions of relativistic ship-states, each trader vessel being a sovereign nation unto itself. Individually these traders have very little power. Collectively they are a force to be reckoned with. Almost all empires also have to contend with — in the less regulated and developed regions — the phenomenon of individual, family, and clan homesteaders declaring their own little piece of rock or ice a sovereign nation. Finally there are the Free Zones, polities that specifically swear allegiance to no Archailect or, in the case of the NoCoZo, to an archailect so abstract that some doubt whether it even exists at all!
Because of the tendency of individual, family, clan, and small clade and subculture sapients and powers to declare autonomy, the AI empires have no choice but to rule by memetic and noetic principles. If their religion, ideology, philosophy, esoteric, spirituality, and toposophy, is attractive enough, then the homesteaders, nomads, colonists, and traders will automatically align with them, as the most reasonable and beneficial option. If their memetic is weak, and their noetic does not promise much, then they will find these innumerable small polities defecting to the opposition or remaining independent.
The intrigues and stratagems required to keep these smaller polities happy and aligned with one or another of the Sephirotics, or even with a more minor local god, can at times be so convoluted that many sapients — and even many transapients — choose simply to ignore them. For them it is enough that they get a good deal from a local god or hyperturing, that they be allowed to trade in information, creativity, and materials, or if they choose, to not trade, and to express their ideology and lifestyle without interference. When pirates or barbarian raiders or blights come their way, these small polities are quick to cry for help to the big powers. Sometimes, in the interests of encouraging diversity, the big powers and AIs will protect the small polities from such dangers without asking for anything obvious in return. For them, simply nurturing of diversity is apparently motivation enough.
Albireo Confluence - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Association of some 2000 distinct superbright and transapient polities in and around Albireo. The Confluence also extends through Known Net and Star Gate relays and links to a large number of local and distant systems. Historically it has expanded outwards primarily through the old and the current Cygexba wormhole /stargate nexus, but it has also established its sphere of influence along other wormhole axes. Economically and memetically it dominates the Albireo Sector.
Alpha Centauri - Text by Steve Bowers and John M. Dollan Colonised by Von Neumann Machines (neumanns) in the Solsys Era; these self-replicating machines were designed to be self-evolving and independent, and rejected any further human contact once they arrived. This led to the loss of the resource-rich Alpha Centauri system.
Betelgeuse Umma - Text by M. Alan Kazlev A Empires age offshoot of the Umma Shell that settled in the solward Betelgeuse volume, the Betelgeuse Ummaites drifted progressively away from the rest of the Shell, becoming unrecognisable as Umma (apart from a few cultural and religious quirks) by the middle Integration period. Currently they are one of several dozen primary cultures that make up the volume.
Capellan Federation - Text by M. Alan Kazlev One of a number of small empires to develop following the break-up of the ComEmp, the Capellan Federation has been luckier than most, continuing to the present time.
Carina Cycler Union - Text by Liam Jones A development/exploration based beamrider polity in the Carina Rush, commonly described as a combination of the Deeper Covenant and Cygexpa.
Crystal Star Domain - Text by James Ramsey Outer Volumes region founded by and under the sole rule of the S5 archailect Crystal Star. Clades created by Crystal Star are predominantly biont, and music is an integral part of their cultures and languages.
Disarchy - Text by Anders Sandberg Influential polity in the Crucis Corridor, on the frontier between the Negentropy Alliance and the NoCoZo.
Far Edge Civilisation, The - Text by Espen Antonsen Small formerly isolationist polity founded by a single transapient individual, an upload of a cyborg who began as a baseline human in the interplanetary Age.
Free Sophic Polities - Text by M. Alan Kazlev An association of polities and their regulating transapients that first emerged along the NoCoZo - Sophic League border during the later ComEmp and Re-Evaluation periods, as a result of increasing relativistic intermingling between the adjacent sephirotics.
Friedmen - Text by Anders Sandberg NoCoZo inspired autonomy in the outer Cygexba regions. The Friedmen refuse to accept the political authority of any surrounding polity. From their traditionalist archanarchistic point of view governments and states do not exist other than as abstractions, and the world is an entire autonomous zone with some misguided and dangerous groups attempting to control it. Due to their refusal to submit to these abstractions and their shared memetic in creative disobedience, they have become very unpopular among the local ruling systems.
Iceberg Cultures - Text by Anders Sandberg Cultures whose importance, size or power is not readily apparent to a given group of observers. For instance for most human nearbaseline observers the Silicon Generation, the Dry Empire and the Backgrounders were iceberg cultures, especially earlier in their histories.
NoCoNeg - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg Colloquial and semi-humorous term for former NoCoZo systems conquered by the Negentropy Alliance during the Version War. During the early ComEmp period they caused a lot of discomfort to the Negentropy Alliance by their constant harping for less centralism and more freedom. In the end the Negentropist regional administrations allowed them sweeping liberalizations and generous trade tariffs. Although nominally a part of the Alliance they cannot be relied upon in sensitive situations, and in recent centuries have become more of a semi-autonomous empire of their own.
Orbital (political unit) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Originally, a nation state or city state based on habitats in orbit around Old Earth. Over the course of the Interplanetary Age the term came to be used for any such state in Solsys. By early First Federation times the term Orbital was used more broadly for any independent or semi-independent state based on a hab in orbit around a planet.
Peregrinate, The - Text by Anders Sandberg Distributed pseudo-polity of unknown origin, consisting of individuals claiming allegiance to the Peregrinate and being under the protection of the Peregrin, an unknown AI god protecting them through adornments similar to the Solarian pilgrimage jewelery.
R'Foxxans, The - Text by AI Vin A polity of superbright symbiont bioborgs that emerged from a mix of the various nearbaseline humans that colonized the ACAF-37274637-8633 system in the Sagittarius Sector.
Restored Ambi Limis, The - Text by Anders Sandberg A number of worlds in the Perseus Rift, centered around Khan, that once were part of Ambi Limis and are trying to reclaim their former glory. Politically they are too far away and too economically weak to be interesting, and instead act as a kind of buffer state between the Dominion and Metasoft.
Triumvirate, The - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Not a true empire, but a unified ontology and meta-polity. It was created by a multi-clade group of local administration godlets and superbright and po clades as a synthesis of the Negentropy Alliance, MPA, and Fomalhaut Acquisition Society in the wake of the Version War, and spanned a large swathe of middle regions MPA and Negentropy Alliance border worlds.
Ulysses Network - Text by Anders Sandberg One of the major Perseus Rift volumes; a local power that has gradually developed to rival the power of the Dominion in the Rift. It began as the Ulysses Prefecture found itself isolated but with a functional wormhole nexus of its own. It began to spread, gaining trade and political importance (especially as a bridge to the Perseus Arm). Over the last few thousand years the Dominion has several times attempted to subdue the Network, with limited success. At present, the Network finds itself in a precarious position due to the nearness of the Amalgamation and the PADO.
Utochishte System - Text by Domagoj K Colony on the periphery of Terragen Space which was isolated for more than a thousand years and developed a complex and idiosyncratic culture. This resulted in the creation of an extensive virtual world, divided into millions of mini-universes.
VanGuard Alliance - Text by Darren Ryding Former theocracy ruled by the mad godling VanGuard; now a close ally of the Toh Chi Lok-Nar.