The military structure in the game Zero Sum Future.
The part of the Federation conceded to Mars at the conclusion of the Martian revolts is the Military Branch of the Federation. While for a long time a purposeless entity, the Military Branch is a key component to continued Federation Dominance.
While the Military branch contains many subsections, the largest and the most important is the Mars Carrier Command, which is used interchangeably with the Military Branch.
The MCC was originally created as an amalgamation of other Military institutions that survived the end of the revolts. Originally, it was created with the purpose of commissioning, building, crewing, and the coordinating of Carriers. After the last revision of the Deliverance Accords, the MCC is further empowered to regulate the mercantile Carriers with Military ones, and assign political officers to Carriers. Finally, the MCC trains and equips a standing army of the Federation – Troops from which political officers and “guaranteed crews” are drawn from. Military Carriers (such as the Olympus) are staffed exclusively by highly disciplined and loyal troopers.
MCC officers are chosen by the MCC. This causes the MCC to be fairly conservative with changing policy that can affect the lives of billions.
When the MCC determines that a new Carrier is necessary for the continued efficiency of the Fleet, they will take this request to the MCC Liaison on Earth. If approved, the MCC Liaison will then take the request to Budget and Funding, where funding is allocated to the project. After this point, the MCC will finalize designs and begin construction over Mars. If a batch of Warp drives has to be built to build the Carrier around, the MCC will further charter a solar-bound Carrier to build a batch of Warp Drive facilities in the Kuiper Belt. The MCC has always used the shipyards above Mars for Carrier construction, with the sole exception of Olympus.
After the Carrier construction is completed, the MCC then selects the crew and captain of the Carrier. This period of time can take quite a while, as the MCC is presented with a lot of political pressure from interests, both solar and extra solar, that want to influence to choosing of the crew. Usually, a majority of the crew will be selected from MCC personnel: both for their reliability, their loyalty to Mars, and as an incentive for their officers.
It is a reality of the warp drive that the only lines of communication between different settled systems (including the solar system) is the Carrier. It is also a reality of the Carrier that there will always exist less Carriers than there are demand – the cost of assembling a Carrier prohibit the mass production of these vessels. Thus, it is imperative for the Carriers to take an efficient route through the stars. All parties benefit: Colonies can periodic, predictable visits, Carriers maximize their cargo space to the benefit of their crews, and the Federation keeps the colonies within their political umbrella.
The MCC coordinates Carriers by prescribing routes to individual Carriers that are refreshed every time a Carrier arrives back to the Solar system. Carrier Captains are usually instructed that while the schedule cannot be enforced outside the Solar system, it is the most efficient one possible. The MCC will attempt to build in some redundancy in these schedules to give Captains some leeway to pursue matters that may come up during their run. After a Carrier arrives back in the Solar system, they are assigned a new schedule after informing the Internal Affairs Board of their financial activities.
The ability for the MCC to schedule Carriers is the primary means by which the MCC exerts influence over the Carrier Fleet. Captains would rather walk lockstep with the MCC than arrive in a system that is only recently visited by a rival Carrier. Doing so means that the Carrier will probably run empty, and the Federation will not hold themselves liable for the out-of-schedule movement of Carriers. The Captain, then, will be forced to answer to the crew why has to garnish their wages to keep his command going. This truth is obvious to every single Carrier Captain, and thus changing the itinerary of the Carrier is a right few Captains exercise.
By it's nature, the Federation cannot keep vigil over all of the colony worlds. This is simply the physical reality. Thus, Federal law enforcement gets laxer as you move further away from the Solar system. A far flung colony may get a Carrier visit every Terran year, leaving very little room for Federation oversight. Thus, further away colonies can get away with a legal system that is divergent than that of the larger Federation. If a private colony declares itself to be a monarchy with the owner of said colony as the monarch, it might take over a year for retribution to arrive, if at all.
However, as it was with the Fairweather colony, sometimes conditions are so bad for prospective colonies that the MCC is forced to step in. This task is relegated solely to the Olympus and other future Military Carriers – Carriers built for the explicit purpose of bringing rogue Carriers to heel and raze destitute colonies to ash.
The Olympus has an unchanging schedule – it patrols every known colony as periodically as possible. Because of her singular mission, she only carries Federal Inquiry teams – groups of civillian operatives that spend time on the surface, gathering intelligence, and observing the books. If they detect wrong-doing, the Olympus is also the home of a court of judges assigned by the Legislative Board.
If the Olympus finds questionable behavior, as determined by her Court, she may take several actions: She can arrest the administration in charge of the Colony, seize property, organize local elections, or bring recommendation to the Federation for financial penalties. Because all of these powers are granted by the Deliverance Accords that all colonies are signatory to, the Olympus may use any amount of military force to bring her objectives to conclusion.
The real power in the Federation, in fact, the whole of human civilization, lies with the Carriers. The Carriers, in turn, are in the hands of their crews. It could be said, then, that being assigned a command crew post by the MCC is one of the two ways for a modern individual to experience the power of a fiefdom.
Because each and every Carrier is independent of the Federation, legally speaking, while they are abroad, Carriers are highly independent operations. This independence comes with a cost, however – a Carrier that is under-performing might have a change of command crew, for instance.
Each Carrier has an account that is linked to the official business that the Carrier conducts. Whenever the Carrier purchases goods, fuel, rations or pays their crew wages, the account is expensed. Similarly, whenever the Carrier sells goods from one system to another, or performs a service such as transport immigrants or colony vessels, the Carrier gets a cut. This system exists so that continuous trade is encouraged by the Carrier Captains. If the account is depleted, the Carrier is forced into bankruptcy – while this is still a theoretical possibility, it means that Captains will be conservative when it comes to business decisions, which is for the benefit of the Federation.
Every Carrier eventually makes their way back to Earth, for a fresh schedule. While the crew are enjoying their home sun, the Carrier is brought under scrutiny, to avoid another Yamato incident. Their books are examined, to make sure that the transfers to and from their account are square. The private accounts of the command crew are subject to audit as well – it wouldn't be in the Federation's best interests if a Carrier captain decided to eliminate a potential rival administration by dropping debris from high orbit. If the books of the Carrier are founds to be acceptable, both branches of the Federation give the Carrier the leave for another run.
To prepare for another trade run, the Carrier's accounts are distributed: The crew may get a bonus, the Federation takes a portion, and the Carrier is given a new schedule from which they are expected to make profit for themselves and the Federation proper. Carrier captains will find their occupations rather cozy if the do as they are told.
However, Carriers have limitations: First and foremost, Carriers have to refuel. While Hydrogen can be stored in hyper dense tanks, feeding the frugal thirst of many Atomic Blenders aboard a modern Carrier mean that frequent fuel stops are necessary. Many colonies, in fact, make their wealth by selling hydrogen fuel to Carriers. Carriers regularly fuel at the Helios station complex around Jupiter in the Solar sytem, but it is not unknown for Carrier captains use a different fueling station within the colonies to save their account a little bit of money.
Carriers can also make or break a colony by refusing to buy goods that a particular colony might want to sell – Carriers can leverage the size of their cargo bays to buy goods at premium, below market prices. Colonies will accept these deals for the injection of capital, and so that they have leg up on competing administrations.
Let's suppose that a ne'er-do-well of a prominent family has come to an inordinate inheritance after his weird uncle passed away. This individual wishes to spend this money by establishing a private colony. This is a rather involved process.
First, the colony owner (henceforth referred to as the owner) must find a suitable location for this colony. Many private astronomy firms will offer this service, but, in the end, the data used for the eventual conclusion is provided and gathered by the Carriers of the MCC.
If a suitable location is found and the rights are purchased, the prospective owner then has to go the CID Company for the issuing of a Colony Bond under their name. The issuing of this bond will require a large amount of cajoling of the CID Company partners, and a large amount of political and real capital will have to be spent for the foundation right to a new colony. If this is accomplished, the prospective owner will then have to take the issued Colony Bond documentation to the MCC, who will assign a Carrier that will take the owner to their new colony.
The owner may, at this point, purchase hardware and advertise for the colony that he is founding. A seed round of immigrants could be found either in the private sector, or with Federation backing by way of the Solar Board. Delegates from other colonies could be approached to inquire if immigrants may be found outside the solar system. With the initial seed of the colony settled, the owner then decides whether or not they themselves will be new administrators – while most individual investors will prefer to go and attend to their colony in person, large, wealthy conglomerates will send reliable, proven representatives. With the administrative roles filled, the nascent colony departs aboard a Carrier designated by the MCC, and the real work begins.
In practice, because potentially habitable worlds are rare, and because 500 people alone is not enough to see quick enough return on most Colony Bonds, the Federation will send multiple administrations per system, letting the trials of setting up a nascent colony weed out the weak administrations from the good ones. A Carrier arriving in a system with a dozen independent known administrations may find the number thinned out to two or three, with mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies, and takeovers reducing the number of active private investors.