Being a deliberately fractured society, the chelti factions divide chelti space between themselves and fight for control of territory and resources. Although in the case of the Major factions warfare is more a way of staying sharp than intended destruction. Among smaller factions warfare and raiding are not uncommon and pirate bands often roam the frontier.
The Chelti are not a monoculture and there is no unified chelti government. There are however, three major factions which have a gentleman's agreement between themselves. Each faction has found over time that they compliment the others weaknesses, and while they fight viciously against each other they do abide by three major rules and a series of unspoken lesser ones.
Each Chelti 'faction' has its own distinct culture, and they are, roughly, less nations and more cultural blocs. The factions consist of a series of client states or sub-factions, and are organized according to their own personal ideologies. Because of this structure their territories are fairly patchwork and inconsistent, often formed of a byzantine nature of alliances. Because of their lack of unification, each faction has a certain amount of infighting and internal turmoil as well. A large number of factions are unaligned, but they are too poor to have a serious space program or a large empire.
Each chelti sub-faction and member state pays dues to the central government of their faction in exchange for the protection it provides. There are three major factions, and uncountably many minor ones.
The closer to the mother planet, the less chaos will be tolerated
While not accepting complete stability, chelti are not adverse to it completely, and nuclear fail-safes back up the need for care on the mother planet. As such, both formal and informal agreements have been struck as to what level of conflict is acceptable within spheres around the mother planet. Seasonal traditions may temporarily change some of these, but bloc-level violence is not tolerated close to the Seloca by the Major factions.
Whenever threatened by a lesser faction who is breaking the guidelines, fall upon it together
Because of the unique state of war and peace within the chelti reaches many parties are more interested in maintaining the balance of power in neighboring regions, making them keep their eyes on each other rather than being tempted to attempt conquest of a weaker neighbor. However, sometimes gentle coercion is not enough, and coalition taskforces will be sent in using allied, even if only temporarily so, forces to suppress the region and enforce new regimes more open to their agendas.
Do not interfere with ships bringing supplies to the motherland
Because of the economic pains suffered by the homeworld, any faction with a stake on its well-being will retaliate swiftly and harshly against any attempt to threaten it by others of their own kind. The continuous trickle of the large, skeleton crewed barges from their pipelines are a lifeline in the starved economy.
Being a race seemingly at continual war with itself at different times, it has become a complex and ever evolving set of sub-states that might seem alien and nuanced to other species. Typically conflicts closer to the chelti homeworld will not escalate as high as they might out in the far reaches. Occasionally some conflicts are seasonal traditions and are often politically restrained.
|True Peace||A scarce state of affairs in the reaches. While there may be no official treaties or alliances involved there exists an understanding between the parties.|
|False Peace||A more typical peaceful state than True Peace, typically any combat is done through clandestine or covert means.|
|Strained Peace||In this state both may be stubbornly refusing to go to war without casus belli. Covert activity may become more malevolent and aggressive.|
|Unwar||When conflict seems certain but all parties are waiting for the other to look at them in just the right way on a particularly bad day. More overt actions are taken, such as leading herd animals into the enemy minefields, stealing supply trucks and other unfriendly but non war-provoking acts.|
|Minor Conflict||Often this state comes about as all sides on a conflict begin to run out of supplies, often while attempting to ramp up their production from peace-time levels if conflict is sudden and hasn't been prepared for.|
|Limited Conflict||War with strict, quantifiable objectives and set resources and use of strictly sufficent force to achieve those objectives. Forces involved in these conflicts are often small, although these can quickly set the stage for further escalation.|
|Scalable War||An often strange state of affairs, all parties may be fighting without seeking a fatal blow. Often when none have the desire or resources to defeat the others or may be lacking a clear war objective.|
|Total War||Both parties seek to utterly destroy the other in unrestrained action. Extremely destructive weapons may be deployed, despite interfactional disapproval.|
The Major factions all hold major territories on the chelti homeworld, as well as being the drive for much of chelti space exploration. These factions were usually among the first or successful Resource Wars nations, and grew exponentially in comparison to their neighbors until they met each other. Because of the competitive and long standing nature of their conflict, and some of the bizarre circumstances like Hibani Station, many factions trade weapons they produce with other factions on temporary alliances or peace treaties, or just plain copyright violations.
The Nationals are a strong, powerful faction and outsiders can mistakenly assume that they are the most powerful of the factions due to their cohesion. A largely autocratic state that grew immensely wealthy during the Space Wars, and has continued to move outwards and upwards. The incoming materials from the colonies has invigorated the economy and opened up new industries both on the home world, and in the colonies. Nationals believe in strong central governments and have a great deal of pride in their race and their nation.
The capital city on the homeworld is Ostara, and it controls a long but somewhat narrow territory from the Northern Reaches almost to the Equator. They dominate a large portion of the closer systems to the mother planet, where their corporate intrigue and byzantine court politics allow them to bloodlessly conquer especially profitable colonies. Money is power, and all people are mesmerized by it's scent.
They value the richness in life. Their luxury foods are often decadent, and served warm, melting in the mouth. Their music is orchestral and equally rich. Most of the luxury goods they make are engraved, carved, or painted with subtle and intricate patterns that are frequently many layers deep. Even a commoner's food plate may have a simple geometric design painted on it, perhaps by the owners themselves. Most nationals can perform one at least one art or craft, and do so to enliven their own lives. Their architecture reflects this richness as well, with their love of large multi-use rooms in which dances and drum festivals are frequently held, and small concealed dedicated usage ones hidden behind false panels, walls, or in whatever kitty-corners they can be fitted into.
They are a faction of merchants, traders, and artisans. They also have the smallest standing army of the three major factions, as they are more focused on selling to the colonies of the other two than on starting their own colonies. They have a tendency to possess more women then men, as their often bloodless methods do not allow males to gain much battle honor, but do allow women and heirs to collect much hereditary wealth.
Their most impressive contribution to chelti society, in their minds, are their masterwork arts and crafts which they feel bring cheer to what would otherwise be a life of grim survival and their solid infrastructure which will continue to serve and improve the lives of their children and children's children down the line.
The Societals are an insular faction, and at first glance appear to be uninterested in dealing with the other two. The Societals believe in government via a consensus and administration via computer. They dominate the middling distance worlds where they rule the information webs, and fight shadow wars across the dark of space. A carefully stated word here, or there, a malfunction there… these are the levers that move worlds
Being a highly digitized society with many citizens being Netrunners, many citizens spend their lives almost on two planes of reality, interacting with other Societals within the network. Playing games and competing. Supervising robots and other automated equipment that does dreary, physical, tasks.
Parsimonious and frugal in their physical lives, their structures have a tenancy to look fragile, and to be built using the minimum of resources. Their food often is bland and nearly tasteless so as to not distract one from the simulated world, and their art is largely digital in nature.
The Societals are a faction of researchers, hackers, cyborgs and engineers. Their colonies spring up wherever there's an interesting phenomenon to study, or a cheap energy supply such as a bright star. On more ordinary worlds they like to let their more primitive brethren set up the colonies, then pluck them once they develop a durable communication network.
While cybernetics are still regarded questionably by the other factions, the societal have embraced their cybernetic brethren wholeheartedly. Also their male/female balance is the closest to par of the three major factions as there is plenty of administrative jobs for their women, and glory and competition for their menfolk.
Their most important contribution to Chelti society they would feel is their communications network, without which life would be short without anyone to call for help, and their technology which allows the Chelti to extract evermore perilous resources to feed the maw of their people.
The Communals are a chaotic faction, and at first glance appear to be weak. Nonetheless they are the faction that controls the most space, and the faction with the largest populace. The communal government is an oligarchic hegemony ruled by a lose confederation of the member-states who wield the most power, honor, and strength. When they cannot decide which nations that is, they form multiple governments for a time. They dominate large stretches of the far reaches and they put foot on every world from the most hostile to the most serene. Power is power, and honor is indisputable.
In civil war, outside war, or 'peace' they are always fighting and challenging one another. Their music, dancing, and food consists of whatever they feel like playing and whatever they happen to find. Their goods are built solidly and quickly and painted brightly though hastily. They have few cities and many outposts. Groups of scavengers who set down, mine as much as they can get easily, then move on to strip the next asteroid or planet. Companies of mercenaries selling their swords to the highest bidder. Their lives are vicarious, forceful, and short.
The Communals are a faction of warriors, pioneers, and anarchists. They are vivacious and hungry. They have a very large faction and their colonies spring up like fungus on every planet, only to drift away like dandelion seeds when conditions become too harsh, or the exploitable resources are gone. Their raiders and privateers crash against any faction foolhardy enough to set foot in the far reaches. They are the first wave, and when their colonies stabilize and when mature members of the other factions slowly trickle in they leave, preferring to be big fish in small ponds to being medium-sized fish in big ponds.
They have a distinct gender imbalance towards males, as disenfranchised or frustrated unheired sons of the other factions temporarily join theirs in order to acquire glory before rejoining their home faction, hopefully with improved mating prospects. Most of them simply die, however, with their glories remembered only by those who witnessed them.
They feel that their most important contribution to Chelti culture is the life they bring to it, their willingness to take risks and spread the seeds of the chelti far and wide, and their impregnable fortress cities that they construct on the most promising worlds, to protect those colonies from the ravages of war.
Minor factions often inhabit the outer regions of space, huddling in nooks and crannies around various systems or on small sections of the home world. These factions are more inclined to raiding and tend to be formed of disillusioned minorities. These factions some times tend to be slightly more democratic than lager factions. While there are uncountably many minor factions, there are some loose groupings and types they fall into.
This faction lives in the harsh, cold, equatorial desert eking out a sometimes meager existence. They have rejected the gift of technology given by the alien 'guests', seeing them as evil, demons and horrors. They are, however, not too frightened to turn the alien weapons against the hands that bore them. Raids against the Crashsite are semi-regular. Sometimes they get off the mother planet, by hijacking or stowing away on ships. Tradition is power, and all who do not abide by it live in a mad fever dream, as they fall off the underbelly of the world.
They live with a harsh, firm, conviction to live life the way it should be lived. Their food is simple, their music is passed from parent to child. They practice the skills that they have hard won from their craftsmen scientists. They prefer to mend and pass their goods to the next generation over building new ones. Their architecture is tried and true.
They are a faction of Tribesmen, and of the ghosts of Chelti's past. Stoic and unchanging, they raise their claws in anger against those who do not understand when they encroach on the Conservationists' land. Their message and spirituality reach more ears and touch more hearts then they would credit, and so, despite the nascence factor of their frequent skirmishes and raids on nearby settlements, and aided by the lack of worth of the land they occupy, they are generally left untouched.
They feel that they are chelti culture, and that they are the ones responsible for its maintenance, against all costs.
Sometimes Chelti go bad, and stop fighting for the survival of the collective. Instead they care only for the survival of the self. These are the pirates, for whom “What I want” and “What I get” had better damn well be one and the same.
They rarely build stakes for their descendants, and often try to take women by force (For the pirates are more frequently male than female). These outcasts and criminals will strike at all unwary enough to wave a prize near them. Some of the more clever ones manage to carve out their own small fleets of salvaged and stolen ships.
They will sometimes return to the light, contracting out as 'legal' privateers. However even the redeemed pirates tend to keep their nasty streaks.
All too often only distinguished from the former brand of chelti by legality, mercenaries as a profession almost died out prior to the Crash, after which the sudden demand for qualified soldiery, and the clandestine needs of larger factions caused a large resurgence in demand. Some of these groups have become so large they have set up their own bases of operations out in the frontier, storing their equipment and training recruits in the harsh environs.
Not all chelti care enough about ideals to sell their nation over into one of the three empire factions. These traditional nations didn't reject the alien gift as the conversationalists did, they simply rejected the conglomeration attempts of their fellow chelti. Most of these nations own a good amount of relatively productive land on their planet, but have very few, if any, space holdings.
They tend to stay out of the way of the greater conglomerates, squabbling among themselves. Sometimes one is absorbed by the main factions, or one breaks away from them, or one decides it's powerful enough to drive one of the big three groups off the planet, then finds out it's not powerful enough to fight all three at once.
They tend to hold to local cultural traditions, often out of a need to distinguish themselves from their 'sellout brethren'. In some cases this requires manufacturing local traditions from whole cloth.
These factions are generally only a few settlements in size, often occupying inhospitable regions of space, or harvesting resources that large factions haven't tapped. They may only a handful of clans in strength, and make their living on the outskirts of chelti politics. Most of these factions make their living through trade with traveling merchants and others.
Sometimes their ideals just don't match any of the primary three. Sometimes they simply decide that they're tired of paying taxes and they can take care of themselves, thank you very much. These small empires rarely span more then a few colonies, and typically don't even have any land on the mother-planet herself.
Props to Blind_Gardener for assistance on this page.