Unitary Alliance of Salthan Fyrds
- “Salthani! What is our profession!?”
- -Salthani mercenary officer presenting their platoon to a prospective patron
|Unitary Alliance of Salthan Fyrds
|Official Name Unitary Alliance of Salthan Fyrds
Colloquial Names: Salthan, The Fyrds, The War States, Fyrders, Mighty Fighty
Government Type: Stratocratic Defense Pact 
Population: 300 Billion Sophonts (mostly human-descended, large Rapala minority)
Economic Strength: Perpetual Wartime Economy
Military Strength: 300 Billion strong
Political Importance: Nemesis of the Unathi, Mercenary to everyone else
Salthan. Once a pristine jewel beyond the stars, a gardenworld of gardenworlds, before the despoilers came and tried to cow the proud people who had made it their home. With sword, with knife, with pistol, with fists, with everything they had they rose up and fought a long, gruesome occupation. And so they have won their freedom.
While somewhat romanticized a view (even before the Unathi came, Salthan was a difficult planet to adapt to), much of it rings true. The Fyrds had been abandoned, told to leave and then exploited. Now they stand on their own two feet, jealously protecting their freedom to do as they wish from everyone and putting every ounce of their hate towards the Hegemony, through which they continue a perpetual border conflict as a matter of honour and to keep them away from the rest of Humanity.
Salthan is the most culturally important planet to the Salthan Fyrds - for obvious reasons. It is the first planet that defied the Unathi, the first planet that was conquered, the first planet that led a rebellion against the occupation, and the first planet that had liberated itself when the Commonwealth finally responded with its full might.
The planet itself is a fetid jungle deathworld, brimming with many exotic diseases and ferocious predators and only having milder subtropical and temperate regions near the poles. Originally it was the most settled world of what became the Unitary Alliance, but today it is more than that: its jungles, its hills, its mountains, all put together into the most impenetrable fortress known to Humankind. Its orbit is a minefield of Kessler Syndrome from previous fleet battles, its soil and rock has been infested with tunnels, its valleys and riversides made into military bunkers and suborbital cannons - in short, to conquer Salthan would take an Empire.
Which is exactly what they are fighting.
Oriv is the center of the Rapala who have joined the Fyrds against their former masters, harboring the majority of their population within the Alliance. A world somewhat similar to their homeworld Uh’Zata, it was a former mining planet with quarries carving into its sweeping vistas and mountain ranges before being partially terraformed as the Fyrds gained their independence and removed the former suzerain Grayson Manufactories Ltd.
Here the Rapala have made their home and offer the Fyrds their service as pilots and sources of information. In fact, they are so committed to their new world that they have signed the Pact of Perpetual Vigilance and have organized their own Fyrd, making Uh’Oriv the first alien-majority planet to actually join the Unitary Alliance.
While not a Fyrd planet itself, Aquila is the major contact point between the Salthan Fyrds and the rest of Humanity. As a sort of entryway into the Fyrds due to its location it has become a veritable market of mercenaries, military services, and weapon sales, much frequented by Fyrd warriors in search of further training, equipment, and lucrative employment. The Commonwealth tacitly allows Aquila its status as a hub of exchange both into and out of the Fyrds, with even the system’s suzerain Hephaestus Industries having largely deregulated the local government to facilitate their trades, as it brings an influx of well-experienced instructors and enables some degree of soft influence upon the Commonwealth’s wayward subjects.
The political system is deceptively simple on paper for the Fyrds: each and every planet is its own independent polity who are vowed to devote themselves to the defense of themselves and everyone else in the Alliance. The only requirement is to organize a Fyrd. Fyrd is the organization of any and all inhabitants into a defensive army and complete mobilization plan. In theory, every planet within the Salthan Fyrd can be activated to cue the entire population to take up arms. In reality, they already do: every Salthani citizen is simultaneously a soldier, regardless of their home planet or profession - they all have been taught how to fight and continue to hone their skills with regular training exercises.
This overarching arrangement between systems reflects in their individual governments as well, with most systems turning out fairly uniform in organization despite being allowed freedom on how to achieve the status of Fyrd. Their political leaders are their military leaders, often anchored into their positions by their own respective constitutions once attained. Government positions are occupied by officers, and emergency services crewed by enlisted soldiers. Often, the highest ranking military officer represents the planet in the inter-system coordinating body of all the Fyrds known as the Allied Council.
The head of the Allied Council is traditionally the Supreme Marshall of Salthan itself, although it is voted upon by every other military officer on the Council - not that anyone has ever seen a reason to change this tradition. The Supreme Marshall exercises little official governing power, being simply the first of the first - but in practice their primary duty is to decide the strategic planning, troop movements and logistics of all Fyrds, bearing great respect for being still involved in the fight against the Unathi the most.
Species matters little for the Allied Council. Anyone who has been elevated by their Fyrd can sit on it, making it one of the two human factions where non-humans and synthetics are often seen presiding as executives.
The Salthan Fyrds are based around the titular Fyrd as previously mentioned which requires the planet to be fully mobilized in case of war. This means every asset is required to be devoted to the practice of warfare as needed and able; industry, agriculture, population, all are devoted toward the Military to some degree, and almost always in the asset’s full capacity. Needless to say, as they consider themselves in a perpetual state of war against the Unathi Hegemony, Fyrd planets maintain a near-constant state of highly militarized alert and are ordered along the lines of supporting and enabling as much power projection as possible.
It’s not unusual for several Fyrds to pool resources together and specialize in a specific branch of military operations, often in pairs of three. Where one Fyrd might train and equip a robust Navy, another focuses on ground operations such as armored vehicles and infantry, while the last handles the intense logistics of warfare. These Fyrds are often called Sisterhood Pacts and are the most common informal organization within Salthani space.
Planets that are not Fyrds themselves are called Donjons and are universally associated with a Fyrd. These planets are resource outposts or fledgling colonies not yet capable of mobilizing their entire population if need be. However, as soon as every citizen is under arms, they become Fyrds in their own right.
Sometimes the adage of history repeating itself rings true: where Prussia was an Army with a State, so too is the Unitary Alliance. With every single resource devoted to warfare, the Salthani military packs a punch far above what its economic and population numbers would suggest. Soldiers are universally well-trained, well-equipped, and single-mindedly dedicated to fulfilling tactical and strategic goals against any identified adversary. Needless to say, Salthani soldiers are the pride of the Unitary Alliance. Every one of them is a highly trained and valuable asset to commanders, which makes it all the more problematic for those same commanders when those same soldiers are quite willing to sacrifice themselves if the situation demands calculated losses.
Salthan soldiers are raised from birth surrounded by and trained in warfare. Alongside general education and technical secondary educations, they are extensively trained in physical education, unit tactics, and weapon handling as soon as they can walk and hold things. It is no wonder the Salthani say that everyone is a soldier and mean it: if push comes to shove and they are the only ones left standing, even the children and infirm will fight tooth to nail until the bitter end.
Salthani specialize in asymmetrical warfare and guerilla tactics, utilizing the terrain and previously established maneuvers to maximize power projection with as little risk as possible to themselves. This doctrine makes them exceptional at defensive battles, particularly when they have time to prepare. In an offensive posture and pushing into held enemy territory they fare slightly worse, and prolonged engagements that deny the Salthani time to properly “dig-in” and create their signature nightmarish defensive lines can quickly mount up unacceptable levels of attrition. To compensate for a lack of ability to consistently win the outright slugging matches Unathi commanders prefer, Fyrd doctrines employ atypical tactics centered around smaller units of specialist teams instead of large uniform platoons; even deep in enemy territory there is no safety to be found from the nightmarish guerilla warfare of the Fyrds.
Naturally, this gives the Salthani military a strange reputation: inside the Fyrds, they are just people, as anyone and everyone is a soldier at your side. Your neighbors, friends, lovers, and rivals are all under arms with you. To be a warrior is as natural as breathing.Outside the Fyrds, they are seen as masses of disturbingly effective, crazy guerilla fighters with a penchant for utter brutality.
The economy of the Salthan Fyrds is mostly dominated by nationalized industries which churn out war materiel and ration products for their own consumption - something like “money” or “economic stimulus” is unknown to the population internally. What needs to be made is made, what needs to be shipped is shipped, and what needs to be mined is mined, no questions asked. In a sense, it mimics a command economy of old where officers set requirements and allocate resources, a rather complex affair that often proves to be a logistical nightmare of military lingo, abbreviations, and classifications that an outsider would balk at.
However, this takes a toll on civilian comforts, though these are something far from the minds of most Salthani. A comfy pillow, a bar of chocolate, and other creature comforts are not specifically disallowed, but actually somewhat seen as luxuries to be earned. Many border economies in the Commonwealth are actually geared to export to the Fyrds and offer what they cannot make themselves, granting them a spot of simply being alive in a world of death and conflict. For this reason it is not uncommon for a Fyrd to organize detachments of their soldiers to be rented out to prospective patrons outside the Fyrds. This is often justified as live training exercises and field experience, but primarily brings in money, exotic equipment, and contacts with other military professionals for recruitment to the Fyrds. It’s easy to think of them as mercenary polity even though these “private” military contractors are immediately recalled in case of emergency and are ultimately still loyal Salthanis that outright refuse to attack their brothers-in-arms.
This and their absolute dogged loyalty to signed contracts make Salthani soldiers sought-out contract military assets, sometimes hired solely so they won’t fight in a theatre and to prevent any other participation of other Fyrd groups.
Culture and Society
It is not uncommon to hear that the Unitary Alliance lives in a world of paradox. Because they wish for freedom and independence so much, they have dedicated their entire society around hierarchies and discipline. Because they value the life of the Fyrds so much, they are willing to throw their own life away if circumstances demand it. Because they seek peace, they are in eternal war and preparedness. It’s not far from the truth to say that the Salthani are paranoid, aggressive and up-armed.
Indeed, their culture puts high value on martial virtues - discipline, expertise-at-arms, and tactical acumen are instilled as values from cradle to grave. Even when young and barely able to walk, the young are exposed to the precursors of military training. Children live in creches and barracks alongside their peers, with parents only playing a role as mentors and guidance. Schools are boot camps and education in one, physical education often replaced with gun drills and physical hazing to harden them up for the rigors of being a Salthani soldier. Rarely one does not make the cut, and if any prove to be truly incapable of meeting Salthan standards they are usually sent to the calmer, more peaceful peripheries with a short stipend and a well-intentioned, “Good luck out there.”
However, as they rather want to focus on the Unathi alone, Fyrds are outwardly rather benevolent to other alien species and even polities, though the Commonwealth certainly receives an icy relationship due to their shared past. Laconic and calm, Salthani don’t really bother with others as long they are not being bothered by those others adopting a “Live and Let Live” policy that extends to everyday life. If violence is not required, they would rather keep it that way. If violence becomes a necessity, they don’t hesitate to show their full force, even if it’s just friendly competition sports.
Salthani enmity to the Unathi cannot be understated. The average Salthani hates the Unathi with unreasonable fury and passion - there is nothing worse in life than a “lizard” still breathing. This is only marginally softened to civilian Unathi and exiles, regarding them with deep-set suspicion that they might be a spy or worse. However, outside the Fyrds, it’s not uncommon for them to settle this smoldering fury for simple antipathy and begrudging respect - as a society of paradox, they also admire the Unathi deep down for their martial prowess and similarly ruthless, but honorable conduct in battle.
As a society that puts prowess and survival in freedom over anything else, Salthani have adopted a strange sort of respect for powerful foes they slay over their life. They naturally seek out dangerous elements, criminals, and enemy soldiers to test their abilities and - if they prevail - take samples of their DNA to integrate into their own bodies. While not every Salthani does so, it is a cultural undercurrent very prevalent in their society to the point that the Unitary Alliance has actually regulated it by making it more sporting, only allowing approximately five percent of DNA to be integrated per kill. These individuals known as “Helix Warriors” often end up looking wildly customized and feral from the amounts of genejacking done, hunting the native animals of their home Fyrds or striking out into the stars to return with deep physical changes.
An outsider may think it ingenious to perform such genetic theft on their adversaries, as Unathi are widely known for their inherent physical prowess. The Unitary Alliance also considered this line of thought, promptly forbade the practice, and fostered a pervasive stigma against “becoming the enemy”. Any attempt to incorporate Unathi DNA is met with swift disciplinary action, while success is met with immediate exile. The most popular splices are descended from lizards, great cats, and wolves, with a variety of local predators or other megafauna providing traits not found elsewhere. Several attempts to incorporate Vox splices, but these consistently fail due to the species’ particularly incompatible biology.
Frankly, Salthani do not fare well without the structure and purpose of militarized life, and are often left traumatized by their experiences in their lives as perpetual soldiers. It is little wonder that expatriates often find it difficult to emotionally relax or open up to others, often needing extensive therapy to approach what other societies would consider well-adjusted. Although comparisons to cult deprogramming have been made, it is not far from the truth and shows that even with all their conditioning and circumstance, the Salthani are deep down still as human as the rest of them.
Problems and Troubles
The Salthan Fyrds are not a state built for sustainability. Unspoken, but widely acknowledged deep down, they are a spiraling polity on the brink - eventually their system of governance will collapse and all their efforts are spent to delay this catastrophe as long as possible.
The Forever War
Obviously the biggest problem of the Fyrds is their conflict with the Unathi Hegemony. Nighttime raids, skirmishes along contested borders, actions against outposts and forward operating camps - fighting is a constant undercurrent, soreness, and drain of resources. There is no end of conflict in sight, and the Salthani know, deep down, that they would be nothing without the conflict to define them. Victory would be as devastating as defeat at this point and solutions aren’t immediately apparent for generations who have been grown in endless conflict. The Forever War cannot remain as it is, but a drastic change of predicted outcomes in either direction could deal a heavy blow to the Unitary Alliance as a whole.
The Gristle Mill
A state of constant total war economy is unsustainable at best and grinding down civilian industries at worst. The Salthani have little to no industrial capacity for solely civilian applications and devices and prefer either dual applications or outright military applications. Consumer-grade vehicles, civilian tools, everything that is made for comfort and happiness are eschewed or relegated to import-level markets. This has the increased burden that everything with a maintenance cycle is shunned as well: there simply are no facilities or experts to support long-lasting upkeep of anything that is not purposefully designed to be incredibly rugged and resilient.
In short, the Salthani don’t live Spartan due to conviction but more out of necessity, stifling economic growth and sustainability, and feeding their other problems even more.
There can be no mistake: the Salthani, for all the Helix Warrior splicers and rigorous conditioning they go through, are still fundamentally human. They live, love, and suffer much the same way someone in the Commonwealth might, which is an issue when the population is constantly exposed to the horrors of war, forced to be ruthless and fight for their lives on a sometimes monthly basis. Post-traumatic stress disorder, physical and emotional exhaustion, and suicidal ideation all runrampant in every strata of society, something which is extensively ignored by just about every strata of society too.Nobody wants to admit to the “weakness” of wanting peace, of the tiredness of constant fighting. Pride keeps the Salthani going and pride will eventually be their downfall.
“Buzz off, we’re in this alone.”
While cordial to most polities that are not the Hegemony, the Salthan Fyrds struggle with keeping close allies at hand; most beneficial partnerships between the Skrell or the Commonwealth are pacts of convenience or mutual temporary benefit. They jealously guard their freedom from too-big power blocs who might exploit them as the mega-corporations did just after they have been abandoned by the Commonwealth. Longer pacts and alliances are a near impossibility and the lack of such agreements limits the ability to mitigate their total war economy’s exhaustion even further. All the while, many factions stoke the fires from behind the scenes by covertly feeding the Fyrds resources and information without the Unitary Alliance’s explicit knowledge.
Opinions on other Factions
“I’m doing my part, even if it will kill me. Nothing else matters.”
“Bastards just left us to die. Any Solarian can kiss my boot.”
“Who? Oh, the guys from Cygnus. Whatever, they pay well and are too afraid to bother me.”
“Weirdos, if you ask me. They’re too friendly and laugh when we offer mercenary services. But they help without any strings attached… I think.”
“I know they’re using us to keep the Hegemony busy. Whatever, let them.”
“Just another notch on my rifle.”
“They’re these cat people from the Rim, right? Yeah, we got some fighting in the Fyrds.”
“Kosaky sometimes deliver goods. Good people. Love a good fight too, and join the raids.”
“This is OUR fight and we won’t be their pawns. But I can appreciate a good deal for more ammo tins.”
“This is OUR fight and we won’t be involved in their schemes. But I can appreciate a good deal for more weapon cells.”
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