The Phluusu Imperium, or Great Empire of Phluusu, was a vast interstellar politico-economic power that spanned a significant portion of Omega Centauri's core systems. Extending nearly 1.5 light years in diameter, the Empire encompassed some 1,767 inhabited stellar systems, and over 2,385 inhabited worlds. The collapse of the Imperium has been subject to much historical study.
Following the supernova in the 40,000s BND which destroyed the earliest human settlements in the habitable sphere of worlds in Omega Centauri, technologically advanced civilization emerged again on numerous systems during the 2,000s BND. Primitive radio cross-transmissions allowed the various cultures to acknowledge their mutual existence, although trade and commerce was nonexistent. In 2,167 BND, however, technicians in X'xyi developed the technique of antimatter generation, revolutionizing energy production; several worlds quickly followed suit, and by 1,900 BND, virtually the entire system had access to this form of energy production, and there was limited interstellar traffic between worlds. The cost of energy production fell by a factor of 500, allowing for the practical construction of high-energy neutral beams to drive spacecraft. Most of the Trans-stellar travel consisted, at this point, of exploration, and very limited direct commerce, as there was not yet an organized transportation infrastructure in place.
Over the succeeding millenia, as antimatter technology continued to develop, interstellar travel became cheaper, as energy use approached 500 kilowatts per capita across the worlds; by 1,600 BND, the many planets experienced a developing interstellar culture. It was at this point that the planet of Phluusu, which had developed positron technology to the pinnacle of advancement, annexed eight neighboring stellar systems as tributaries, offering to build up vast infrastructure in the form of space-transit beam generators, if member worlds agreed to pay tariffs on interstellar commerce, and respect a few basic laws propagated by Phluusu. Ultimately, although the investment in constructing and maintaining the interstellar infrastructure was high for Phluusu, over the long term, the tariffs as a result of the thriving commerce more than compensated for the original investment; member worlds, although they did have to pay tariffs, nonetheless experienced prosperity, with the ability to access the vast transportation infrastructure. Phluusu peacefully annexed dozens of additional star systems over the centuries, forming a rich Empire; the power generally followed a policy of utilizing its industrial resources and technical expertise to invest in building interstellar networks, and reaping the profits from inter-world tariffs over the long term. By 1,300 BND, however, a number of member worlds refused the continue paying tariffs to the rulers on Phluusu, nonetheless commandeering Imperial Trade Commission-owned space infrastructure for their own use; crushing the opposition, Imperial rulers proceeded to expand militarily to distant space, annexing thousands of worlds by 1,000 BND over the course of the Annexation Wars. Although the five centuries succeeding 1,000 BND are commonly referred to as the Peace of Phluusu, statistically speaking, at least five planets of the over 2,000 under Imperial rule were in a state of insurrection at any given time.
Technology and Economics
The discovery of cheap antimatter production, utilizing parallel universes as a source of positrons, revolutionized energy production throughout the worlds surrounding Phluusu in the 10,000s BND. Much like the digital revolution which came before it, which led to an exponential increase in the availability of information, the advent of antimatter power allowed for an exponential increase in the consumption of energy, ultimately culminating in the generation of 500 kilowatts per capita. Energy prices fell by a factor of 500 following the introduction and distribution of positron generator technology. However, although having access to vast amounts of energy, Phluusu did not have access to unlimited resources; the raw materials incorporated into technological components and devices were still limited in quantity, and no technology could create these materials out of nothing. With the cost of energy being small, most of the cost in infrastructure was due to the costs of obtaining limited raw materials (especially rare elements incorporated into superconductors, lasers, and sophisticated systems), as well as the labor costs due to the human technical expertise needed to design, maintain, and operate complex technological systems. Much of the energy consumption was directed towards operating extensive robotics systems, and planetary transportation (including personal drone craft and VacTrain networks).
Antimatter drives functioned by drawing positrons from parallel universes, utilizing an interaction with a fifth fundamental force to access alternate realities. After the positrons would be annihilated in a controlled setting, the gamma rays produced would generate a vast quantity of electrical energy, through the use of sophisticated photovoltaics, and the power output would drive a neutral particle beam. A spacecraft would use a "mag sail" to re-ionize the beam particles, with the beam's momentum imparted on the kinetic energy of the craft. A typical 1,000-tonne cargo liner required an 80 gigawatt beam, and was capable of a sustained acceleration of 1 m/s^2, and therefore required up to 5 years to traverse the distance from Phluusu to the farthest territories. During the early stages of interstellar exploration, mag-sails would be reconfigured during a voyage to allow for deceleration; following Phluusu's buildup of infrastructure, however, a separate beam at the destination would be utilized to decelerate the craft. Interstellar trade became the foundation of society, as different planets offered different local raw materials and technological expertise that afforded specialized production of particular goods. For example, X'xyi offered a strong industrial production of certain robotics systems, whilst Zyti offered production of laser components utilized in orbital energy distribution; a strong commerce emerged between both for mutual economic benefit. Although interstellar travel cost nearly 1,000,000 Phli per tonne (largely due to Imperial tariffs), the average value of the goods exchanged was 5,000 Phli per kg, and thus the commerce offered great reward.
Government and Administration
The Phluusu government exerted relatively little control over member worlds, as long as they agreed to pay tariffs on interstellar trade. The Emperor had control over the construction and maintenance of cross-planetary transportation routes and shipping lines, as well as laws and regulations regarding interstellar commerce, but held little authority of much else. Imperial surplus profits, after spending on trade subsidies and the military was accounted for, went to public programs on the Capital. Indeed, over 17% of Phluusu's GDP was a result of transfer payments and tax revenue from across the Empire.
The Emperor served as leader of the Imperium. He held nearly absolute power over large-scale policy, including the expansion and operation of major trade routes, the Imperial tax rates, commercial laws and regulations, and surplus spending on the Capital (including industrial subsidies, sponsoring the arts and sciences, and ensuring education and medical care for citizenry). He was also commander-in-chief of the Military. The purpose of the High Council, consisting of 1,000 of Phluusu's most powerful political leaders, was to advise the Emperor on policy decisions; while by no means beholden to the Council, a wise Emperor would heed their advice. With a 98% vote, the Council could overturn an Emperor's decision, or establish its own policy at the behest of the Emperor. With a 99% vote, the Council could impeach an Emperor.
The members of the Council were appointed by the Electorate, an elite group of roughly 25 million of Phluusu's citizens. There were only two stipulations for participation in politics: that a voter could only be a citizen of the Capital, and that each vote cast cost 10 million Phli. In practice, then, the only individuals who could afford to participate in elections were the wealthiest industrialists, inventors, innovators, scientists, and artists. Every fifty years, or upon the death, resignation, or impeachment of a current Emperor, the Council would elect the Board of Appointers, fifty individuals who themselves would directly vote for the new Emperor.
The Imperium was divided into fourty Provinces, with an average population of 620 billion each. Each Province was presided upon by an Imperator, appointed directly by the Emperor himself for an 11-year term. Serving in the Provincial capital, Imperators oversaw similar policies as the Emperor, but on a smaller scale; each was provided with wealth and Industrial resources from the Imperial Treasury, and was requested a certain tax revenue each year. Imperators would typically use the resources provided by the Treasury to construct and maintain interstellar trading routes, taxing the resultant commerce and sending the revenue back to the Treasury. Imperators also coordinated Provincial-scale military policy, able to redeploy troops throughout the Province to respond quickly to a crisis or insurrection, and also were responsible for maintaining diplomacy with the Provincial capital. Each Imperator appointed Ambassadors, usually chosen from among the population of the Provincial capital, to oversee planetary Imperial policy and the many worlds of the Province; each Province contained typically 50-70 planets.
Imperial power was present on planets in the form of bureaucratic offices and embassies, overseen by the local Ambassador. The Imperial Space Force held complete supremacy over planetary orbits, securing the vital interstellar transportation infrastructure. Nonetheless, individual planets did maintain armed forces, on the surface, independent from Imperial control; indeed, the Planetary Guard on many worlds outnumbered the stationed Imperial troops by a factor of 2:1.