The Islands Federation
Federation divided into six smaller "counties". Presided over by a general administrative council, with each county run by a governor, executive council and a bicameral legislature.
The Islands' six counties are scattered through the Commonwealth on a roughly core to rimward axis. Great Race County incorporates its namesake portion of the Spinward Main in both Mora and Star Lane subsectors. Pallique County incorporates the Pallique cluster in Mora subsector and the Barbary cluster in Star Lane subsector. Shroud County consists of the j-1 Hammer cluster surrounding Edenelt and Katarulu/Trin's Shroud (SM 2733 and 3032) and several Island culture worlds in Glisten subsector, notably Tirem, Ffudn and Bendor (SM 2233, 2334 and 2336). Reft Islands County includes all of the New and Old Islands subsectors (Reft J and K) and all worlds present in the Great Reft in Corridor, Deneb and Reft sectors. Verge County incorporates the Verge Connector worlds plus Turin subsector (Verge K). Vincennes County includes all worlds linked into the j-1 Vincennes cluster
Mostly Imperial culture Humans with scattered communities of Vargr, refugee Zhodani and Aslan. Other notable non-human populations include the Giukuli of Perez (Deneb 1221), the Shi'awei of Chaosheo (Deneb 0130), the Irdu of Ishirdu (Corridor 0338), the Droyne of Zamoran (Reft 2108) and the Orphee of their namesake world (Reft 1429).
Given the diversity of the counties that comprise the Island Federation, its main unified history only exists as far as its founding. It constituents banded together in the Commonwealth Senate and Assembly in NE 42 when it became clear that many smaller "island" states would exist de facto after the drawing up of the new Commonwealth's federal system. Too many of these would have less leverage politically than behemoths like Midway, Pretoria or the People's Republic. Vincennes and the worlds of Mora subsector were particularly unsettled by the possibility of their advanced technology worlds being dominated economically and politically, and they put aside decades of political acrimony in favor of a new federation linking them. Other federation governments objected to this new body, pointing out its lack of contiguous boundaries. But they forestalled a vote against it in favor of pointless political maneuvering, which allowed the Moran delegates to rally other delegates from leftover parts of the Commonwealth to their side. When the vote finally reached the voting floor, the new Federation included even more non-contiguous state delegates voting as a bloc, easily winning passage of official recognition.
Despite differences of history, ethnic origin and vast distances of space between them, the Islands Federation practices an unusually cohesive culture. Much of this stems from emigration from Mora and Vincennes subsectors into Reft sector during the darkest parts of the Crucible War. Reft sector became an attractive refuge for persons fleeing the Zhodani invasion, as did distant worlds in Corridor and Verge. These newcomers ended up in many cases staying on their adopted worlds, as their former homes were either damaged or given up to refugees from other war ravaged regions of the Marches. Many of these were professionals who were politically or professionally connected with the mainstream society of the Regency, and their presence was an economic and political godsend to the isolated worlds of Reft. Positions of political power were deliberately made open to them, and average professionals became virtual royalty upon many of these worlds. This greatly influenced local society along lines familiar to anyone from Mora and Vincennes.
Another touchstone was the similar mentalities of both the refugees and their new neighbors. Vincennes and most of the worlds in Mora and Trin's Shroud subsectors were heavily populated in spite of adverse conditions. This precariousness carried over into the social mentality of the refugees, and it agreed with the Rifters sense of isolated exceptionalism. Both sides were heavily dependent upon well-organized urban communities and advanced technology, though in many cases the Rifters had lost the latter because of the Collapse, and enthusiastically enjoined their new citizens to acquire and import the latest gadgets and technical knowhow from their former homeworlds and import them into the tech starved Rift. The new joint culture developed very quickly, and despite its seemingly unworkable political system, is virtually monolithic.
The cathedral of Islander society is the embassy or consulate. Given the power and organisation of Islander communities, and the too real tempation to cut a swath through everyone that opposes them, diplomacy and the discipline required to accomplish are important checks upon their ambitions. All this primarily because they are the most hedonistic people in the Commonwealth, and more brutal or direct methods create too many enemies to fight through to reach the creature comforts they seek. This does not mean that they are a pacifistic people, however. The most expansionistic of nations have the most need for diplomats to facilitate their rise to power. Though they do not have the flair for naked displays of material power of the Strongholders, or the Midwaymen penchance for relentless total war, in war and conflict the Islanders stress patience and effort before reaching for more draconian or drastic measures. They opt for contingency planning and behind the scenes manuevering, so that when war is joined, their campaigns unfold towards stunning victory with deceptive ease.
Where Midwaymen stress civic purpose and innovation, and the Khamaaka of Pretoria Federation stress fundamentals and ethics, these people stress ritualised process, elegance of actions, and stiff moderation. Their society demands an unusually high level of literacy. They are bibliophiles and careful scholars. The bureaucratic nature of their society depends upon educational attainment for status, and a university education only guarantees an entry level job in most corporate and government employment. Diplomacy and interstellar affairs are the most esteemed subjects, and individuals that are extensively travelled and effective with other cultures will advance very far in either private or public employment. Even laymen pursue linguistics, expertise in the arts and religion, and arcane scientific pursuits obsessively. Most of this education is partly practical for dealing with alien cultures, but the rest is mostly to give them something to talk about. Their love of conversations is evident by the long winded dialogues dominated by philosophical and artistic minutiae and jargon. People are judged according to their ability to demonstrate their educational level, and that usually includes the trendiest latest research.
Family and community are very important to these peoples, and they are almost smothering in their protectiveness and loyalty. The Islanders have inherited the matriarchal traditions of Mora, giving women and mothers a distinct advantage over men in regards to political power and decision-making. Childrearing is defined by strict discipline and high expectations, but is in many ways more leisurely due to its regimentation. This (s)mothering tendency extends to the entire culture as well: laws are strict and authoritarian, but civil liberties are rarely infringed and the culture is unusually permissive in some areas, as long as people do not impact the greater harmony of the community. Extended families are generally ruled by a designated matriarch, but her rule is generally dependent upon the support of "shadow mothers", co-matriarchs within the family that manipulate and control intrafamily politics from behind the scenes. In average families these women supervise younger family members, schooling them in self-interest. In wealthier families these women control protocol and finances, and frequently guide their less crafty peers and younger charges like chess pieces in disputes and negotiations.
Politically Islanders are pragmatists of the highest order. Like all Navigators their utilitarian educations give them an enormous labor market to cater towards. As such they can be incredible ideological chameleons, and can do enormous leaps of political flexibility or hypocrisy without a quiblle in mere seconds that would take the remainder of humanity years to perform and scarred with permanent angst, simply to land a cushy job with the rich and powerful. Though not given to any particular ideology, their preferrence for stability makes them quite conservative. They dislike entangling alliances, and in business opt for alliances of companies rather than centralised agglomeration. The entire existence of some upper class families seems to be one of angling for business arrangements that brings them the maximum profit possible, which means that they can be unprincipled mercenaries outside of their aristocratic trappings.
Worlds of Islands Federation
Island worlds are, regardless of their tech level, are showcases of material culture and comfort. Everywhere one goes, Islanders openly display their technological and material wealth, working them into the fabric of their communities. That means no shillyshalling about mediocre materials and machinery: their public and private systems, from transportation to housing to mere jewelry and accessories is always the best and most durable. Goods produced in the Islands are often luxury items themselves, built at the highest possible tolerances and standards from the best available materials with the best craftsmanship. This extends to intangibles like politics and urban organization as well.
The simplest Islander community is stringently built within a defined set of parameters, according to themes worked out by the inhabitants ahead of time, based upon the best information about local conditions. Everyone of their cities is built like a masterpiece. Their cities and towns are clean and well-maintained. Travellers will notice that even the starport tarmacs are "clean enough to eat off". Transportation and communication grids are well-organized and rationally designed. Their are few slums, and few pockets of overcrowding. Local geography and climate conditions are fully acknowledged and incorporated into local building codes. Their cities never breakdown, and are rarely the victims of natural disaster or bubbling social crises. Communities are required by law to accommodate outsiders and immigrants with temporary housing and jobs, though as in Sabinar loafers and parasites aren't long welcome here. Their attitudes towards native environments runs the gamut, but is generally more adaptive and respectful than anyone but the Khamaaka.
However, Islander worlds are generally more aloof than Sabinar or the Stronghold. Unless a person has a specific reason or purpose in mind for visiting, travellers will be disappointed, bored and frustrated. The natives generally don't advertise their business openly, and it takes some navigating through directories and a lot of networking to do anything beyond basic business. The patient traveller will find that this public prudishness is an integral part of their culture, but in many ways is also a facade for private vice. For a thriving private, even underground, culture exists behind closed doors. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone or threaten the greater society, and its kept strictly off of the carpet, Islanders will tolerate an enormous amount of more salacious activities, even regulating and taxing it for revenue. And anything, except when it blatantly violates the law, is available for a price. Life to an Islander is like an art auction: you pretty much know what you're getting, as long as you're willing to pay for it. This salaciousness is more evident upon lesser Islander worlds like Ffudn or Pallique than Mora or Vincennes, which limit these carnivals mainly to the sale of advanced technology for political reasons. The Reft Islands and Verge are the most unregulated in this regard, and in some cases the most dangerous.
No special careers
Tricolor flag, two flanking stripes of emerald (bright) green and a third middle stripe representing the county: white for for Shroud County, navy blue for Reft Islands County, gold for Vincennes County, Pewter (brass) for Great Race County, fluorescent orange for Verge County, and Sand (Tan) for Pallique County. Mercantile ships always display a hexagon on a sunburst, the color of the latter representing the home county.