The formation and subsequent expansion of the Confederated Dimensional Alliance was not always met with equal praise and willing participation.
In fact it was rare that any contacted parallel instance didn’t immediately panic, scramble their forces and start drawing up defensive strategies. However, after weeks, months and years of delicate universal diplomacy, many were convinced by the Primes of the potential benefits and security that led ahead as neighbours within the CDA.
Nevertheless, Several loner galaxies outright rejected the Alliance’s proposals. They were either too busy conquering their own universes to even consider the involvement of hundreds of others, or anti-conglomerates on a galactic scale — afraid and increasingly hostile towards the idea of being a “cog” in a sprawling trans-dimensional machine. They had enough problems with politics in their own systems, all too familiar with the effects of “alliances” muscling in on the weaker nations with restrictions and regulations.
In 2069, (a year after the Primes’ achieved UME), in order to protect themselves from what they saw as an ever-increasing threat, 32 fringe parallels publicly distanced themselves from the rest of the Layers to form their own independent organisation. Their heavy mistrust of the enormous CDA had led them to grudgingly seek out and forge ties with similar minded and equally concerned instances, giving rise to the Outlier Republic.
The CDA had expected a probability of rejection to their efforts in contacting & inviting new universes to their growing alliance. Even so this aggressive, fearful opposition still took them by surprise. Further efforts to converse with the OR, even on a purely diplomatic level, were fraught with difficulty and unease. Not wishing to escalate the situation further, the Primes suggested to the Alliance that formal recognition of the OR and its members wishes of independence would help ease tensions between them. In the summer of 2070, a Poly-Universal Border Treaty was signed by both organisations. This would cement & establish the boundaries of the Republic, and an oath from both parties to not involve themselves in either’s affairs or territories. A delicate membrane of stability had been finally achieved.
Which would last just two years.
In 2072, under the direction of a newly appointed (and rather belligerent) council, the OR began an intrusive expansion drive, swallowing up some of the few remaining non-affiliated universes and convincing (read: coercing, threatening & manipulating) weaker members of the CDA to leave the all-seeing eye of the Alliance and become a fledgling asset… er, “welcome ally” to the Republic.
The CDA were simply unable to ignore such a breach of the Treaty they had been so willing to agree to. Departing members were pleaded with, but most continued to lie down with the Republic. A formal warning was issued to the council from the Alliance, ordering a halt to their hostile parallel takeovers, at the avoidance of re-active force. The OR charismatically played down their involvements in the decisions of their newest members, but in the same vein criticised & accused the CDA of instability from within.
“As the cracks begin to show, those desperate to leave the monopoly regime of the CDA will always be considered for associates of the Republic.”
This declaration would kick-start a party migration process that saw the OR grow to well over 150 parallel members by the end of the year. No longer were they a mere speck, but now a real sizeable entity that the CDA would have to respect, to treat with credibility.
Hostility between the two organisations reached fever pitch. Neither felt the other could be trusted, and countermeasures were needed for any potential threat of action. Within the Universal Layers, neighbouring instances belonging to opposing parties became militarised “buffer states”, acting as a front-line level of defence against each other. Sandwiched right between the middle of these states sat a Universal DMZ, an instance completely devoid of affiliation to either group. Refusing to fully side with anyone, it remained Impartial. Lawless. Ungoverned. Uninhibited.
Winters was well aware of Alpha 316. Behind a facade of being an unbiased neutral zone, it’s galaxies were home to outlaws, pirate colonies, slaver planets and black market systems. Whilst neither the CDA or OR would ever publicly admit it, both knowingly had member instances who were regular customers to a variety of its establishments. Hiring PMC’s for “off the books” covert operations, fresh hands for hazardous industries & the battlefields, or even the exchange of unregistered technology that for many instances would still be normally unobtainable.
It was a grey stain that blemished the rest of the universal system. In Eric’s mind, it existed purely to both serve and be fuelled by the conflicting behaviour of the CDA & the OR. He hated it.
And now he had to rescue Gerald from it. If he could even locate him.
There was only one port-gate entry into Alpha 316, a hub world named Hlafyr which then housed sub-gates to the rest of the instance. From the readings on Eric’s notebook, these “drifts” Gerald had been experiencing were throwing him across multiple parallels of the same location, on Earth Major where he’d been stationed for his latest mission. However, that had been a cushy deep-undercover job in a tidy office. This time it was going to be very different. This Earth Major was a draconian nightmare. Alongside its futuristic aesthetics, it was over-run with military police, supermax prisons and corrupt officials.
It was also the Outlier Republic’s most favourable rendition site.
As he phased through into Hlafyr’s arrival hub, bribing his way past the cut-throat border guards, Eric swallowed hard and made haste for the Lieutenant.