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The One Open Question in Politics

Imagine, for a second, a totally imaginary scenario: Consortium vs. Gaule in open conflict.

Who would win?

The answer is very obvious, even if we know next to nothing about the relative military strengths: Consortium wins, hands down.


Let me tell you why: Infrastructure.

If we look at certain infrastructures, it is very obvious that the Consortium controls all of the important aspects:

  • Travel/Transport: the Consortium controls all 5 currently accessible jump gates.
  • Water: Spirit of Botswana is under Consortium control. In case of necessity, Gaule could try to extract water from EstaciĆ³n de Amazon, but could only supply The Maid of Orleans with it; for every other station, it'd need jump gate access.
  • Food: the main producer is The Ghost of Mail, again a Consortium station.
  • Energy: we only have indirect data here through antimatter prices as ship fuel, but that indicates that the Consortium can sell antimatter about 5x as cheap as the cheapest Gaule source (Nouveau Limoges). This indicates that Gaule resells fuel it buys from the Consortium, or only has massively less efficient energy sources. Or maybe the Consortium heavily subsidises fuel on Tau Station. If it does so, it must have some very good reasons, and the economic resources to sustain that over the cycles I have observed this behavior.
  • Ships: the Consortium controls 3 out of 5 operational shipyards, the Gaule only one.

Given all these very clear advantages of the blue faction, we have to ask ourselves a very serious question:

Why hasn't the Consortium cut off the Gaule from its infrastructure, leaving them to die?

Or if not leaving them to die, then at the very least to assert their dominance, or to assimilate more Gaule stations over time (as happened to Yards of Gadani).

I have several hypotheses:

  • It's actually happening, but slow, in a "death by a thousand cuts" kind of way. Likely the blue don't want to provoke open military action, which would be costly for both sides. But victory is inevitable, and so there is no need for haste either.
  • The Gaule have one or more very powerful bargaining chips that I haven't considered yet. The warships that survived the Catastrophe at Maid of Orleans might have interesting databases, and I have no idea where in the galaxy Computer chips, stims and VIP packs are being produced.
  • Humanitarian reasons (but who am I kidding?)
  • There might be a fear that a dying Gaule administration could strike back with unpredicted strength, possibly through computer-based attacks, or from pre-Catastrophe weapons systems.

It could be a combination of several of these, or I could be missing something crucial.

What do you think, dear reader?


  1. Your theories are intriguing (I lean toward #1 or #4 myself), and both Xierumeng and Bob-Simpson have proposed fascinating and feasible alternatives. One additional possibility occurs to me:

    There are more than two factions in the 'verse.

    Even if the Consortium could somehow wipe out the Protectorate completely, and without significant retaliation (e.g., sabotaging the Jump Gates), it is difficult to imagine such extensive conflict not weakening the Consortium and substantially depleting its resources, both military and civilian. In contrast, it is not difficult to imagine, say, fleets of bloodthirsty Freebooters swooping in on defenseless Consy stations in systems all over the 'verse, ravaging everything (and everyone) they can and laying waste to everything else, leaving only smoldering wreckage in their wake.

    Every so often, while reading in my hotel room, I come across something called "The Art of War." A strange little nugget of insight! In Chapter VI, "Weak Points and Strong," the author says this:

    "The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points; and his forces being thus distributed in many directions, the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few.

    "For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.

    "Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us. ...

    "But if neither time nor place be known, then the left wing will be impotent to succor the right, the right equally impotent to succor the left, the van unable to relieve the rear, or the rear to support the van. How much more so if the furthest portions of the army are anything under a hundred LI apart, and even the nearest are separated by several LI!"

    I don't know what the frell a "LI" is,(1) but the point is nonetheless well taken. With already weakened Consy forces spread out over multiple systems, even a small enemy would have a tremendous advantage. Freebooters, Independents, even hypothetical aliens: we'd be sitting ducks.(2)

    1. Around half a klick, according to my CORETECHS,.

    2. Aside to Bob-Simpson: It's an animal, kinda like a chicken. I guess they were particularly easy to hit when they were just sitting still. Although you'd think all animals would be easier to hit when they're just sitting still...

  2. No wonder ducks didn't survive the Catastrophe.
    But if they are like chickens, then did they lay eggs?
    Did you mean geese?
    I know Ducks were farm animals in ancient China, where they built big walls and developed exotic life forms like the Shih Tzu (with it's trans-dimensional storage of its overly-long tongue). I'm not sure what they got from them though. The book showed them to be fairly small, perhaps a meal for one or two people.
    If the Chinese developed geese too, then they might also have some exotic abilities and the Gaule's capacity to chase wild geese represents superior military tactics and technology.
    I still don't think it compares to Robustic's superjumping-starkiller hypothesis.

  3. I heard somewhere that Geese flew in great arrows and defecated on everything. I think that's purty scary.

  4. LI are units of measurement. They are unstandardized and have been properly cast aside. I guess they are part of culture but they are impractical.