The Interim Coalition of Governance are the humans in Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Sequence novel Exultant. The human-supremacist Interim Coalition of Governance has conquered almost the whole Milky Way — all but the alien Xeelee concentrated at the galactic core around a supermassive black hole called Chandra. The mysterious Xeelee are far more advanced but less numerous than the humans, and the war has been at a stalemate for three millennia even though the entire Coalition has been directed toward the war effort and ten billion humans die at the front every year. In a war fought with faster-than-light technology (equivalent to time travel), each side has foreknowledge of the other's actions and can develop counter-measures to plans before they are made.
While recovering from a brutal occupation by the Qax that enforced stagnation and flirted with extinction, Humanity adopted an extremely xenophobic imperative that aimed to ensure the future of the species (known as the Druz Doctrines after its founder, Hama Druz). Eventually Humanity again began to expand into the galaxy, wiping out an uncounted other species during their advance. Eventually Humans became the second most advanced and widespread race in the galaxy, second only to the Xeelee. Humans had no knowledge of the Photino-Xeelee war or even what was at stake, making the Xeelee actions interpreted as being sinister. Building the Ring had the appearance of being destructive on a galactic scale because its larger purpose was not understood until the very far future, and many smaller Xeelee projects, such as changing the orbit of Callisto to preserve the bacteria living in the ice, lacked an obvious explanation. Though there were several orders of magnitude fewer Xeelee than humans known to be in the Galaxy, their high degree of technical advancement made them a formidable enemy.
Through a bitter war of attrition, Humans eventually contained the Xeelee within the Galactic Core where the battle lines stagnated for at least three thousand years. Both humans and the Xeelee gained strategic intelligence through time travel by constructing Closed Timelike Curves, further contributing to the stagnation. Human casualties were estimated to exceed more than 10 billion per year and more than 30 trillion over the course of the assault. The imperative commitment to total war also stagnated human physical and intellectual evolution. The Druz Doctrines did not encourage exploration or research and there was little new development. Further, very little effort was directed toward projects that did not have an immediate and conspicuous benefit to maintaining the massive logistics tail necessary to continue the assault.
Pirius is a fighter pilot stationed at the front. When a battle turns to disaster for the Coalition forces, he disobeys suicide orders to stand and fight, choosing instead to risk survival. In a desperate gamble to outrun a pursuing Xeelee, Pirius captures a Xeelee fighter for the first time in history. Returning to base via FTL travel, he arrives two years previous to the battle, when his younger self is still a cadet. Rather than being lauded as a hero, both instances of Pirius are court-marshalled for disobeying orders.
Commissary Nilis of the Office of Technological Archival and Control, part of the Commission for Historical Truth, defends both the older Pirius (whom he calls "Pirius Blue") and the younger one ("Pirius Red") but loses the trial. Pirius Blue is sent to a penal unit at the front as a foot soldier, and Pirius Red is remanded to the custody of Commissary Nilis, who has plans for the fruits of Pirius Blue's battlefield victory. Using the Xeelee fighter and the innovative tactics that saved Pirius Blue, he starts to plan an unheard of assault on the Xeelee's primary stronghold at Chandra itself.
While Nilis and his new team struggle to confront ossified government and military institutions, they try to understand and to develop new and sometimes alien technologies: FTL computers, a gravastar shield to protect them from FTL foreknowledge, and a black hole gun, capable of disrupting a supermassive black hole's event horizon. Meanwhile, in the course of his new duties to Commissary Nilis, Pirius Red is practically taken on a tour of the Solar system and some of the Coalition's most scandalous secrets, rife with references to events from previous books in the Xeelee sequence.
As Nilis's project nears completion, it transpires that the Chandra black hole is home to not only the Xeelee, but a host of other organisms, many of which are based on exotic physics and non-baryonic matter. Regardless, the assault on the black hole continues despite protestations from Nilis. After a brutal fight to reach the surface of the black hole, the team commence their assault, causing the Xeelee to abandon it (and the rest of the Milky Way galaxy) to prevent humanity from harming the black hole's inhabitants.
Eventually the Humans developed a means of hiding their actions from the Xeelee by making movable pocket universes that had no causal relationship to the universe as a whole, thereby eliminating any advantage of moving information into the past with time travel. Humans further developed a time-travel based computer that allowed humans arbitrary computer power to out-think the Xeelee by analyzing tactical problems (giving the pilot tactical information to defeat Xeelee maneuvers) and a dual black-hole cannon that would fire two singularities to merge at a known distance away, releasing enormous gravity waves in the process. Knowing that the ecology around the event horizon and the creatures that live within it would be damaged or destroyed if humans continued to batter the event horizon of the supermassive black hole, the Xeelee withdrew from the Milky Way within minutes after the humans scored the first successful hit.
No longer having the Xeelee as a unifying threat, humanity fragmented into multiple governments over the next several hundred years. The doctrinal stagnation collapsed and Humanity advanced technologically over the next 100,000 years. Humanity then unified again to begin directly attacking Xeelee concentration in the greater supercluster of galaxies across the local group. Humans proved only a slight annoyance or distraction to the Xeelee.
The human Interim Coalition of Governance (“the Coalition”) follows what are known as the Druz Doctrines (named for Hama Druz, an early leader following the Qax Occupation, c. 6000 AD or so), whose primary article of faith is that “a brief life burns brightly”: Most of the human soldiers who fight the Xeelee are children, no older than 16. In fact, the Coalition discourages the notion of heroism or fame, since such concepts are counter to the goal of a united humanity.
However, depending on where in the galaxy the Coalition is based, the Doctrines are relaxed in nature, such as on Pluto, where the scientists recreated a colony of Silver Ghosts. The principle ideal behind the Doctrines is that there is no past or future, only now. As such, the soldiers of the Coalition are taught not to think about tomorrow, but only about what they have to do at that moment in time. However, due to the lax attitude towards the Doctrines elsewhere in the Coalition, history is studied for ways that the Coalition could defeat the Xeelee and secure Human dominance over the Milky Way.
However, many humans do not seek victory against the Xeelee, because the entirety of the Coalition is built around it. Should the war cease, the Coalition would most likely fall, as it did when the Xeelee left the Milky Way. Humanity split into a number of warring factions and the Coalition ceased to exist.
The Grand Conclave is the ruling council of the Interim Coalition of Governance. The Grand Conclave has a number of Commissionaries at all times, who represent the various Ministries and Councils that make up the bureaucratic side of the Coalition. The various ministries all report to a single Grand Conclave member, such as the Plenipotentiary of Total War. The Grand Conclave is composed of twelve representatives of Humanity.
The Commission of Historical Truth is the scientific office of the Coalition. It is their job to ensure that that any new methods of increasing effectiveness of the war are explored, as well as documenting various tactics and possible futures for the military. The Commission also makes use of the Library of Futures to document and record all known possible futures for the Green Army and Navy. There are various academies across the Coalition dedicated to various projects, such as the cultivation of food, to the Silver Ghost colony on Pluto.
The War Cabinet is a subcommittee in the Coalition, dedicated to the sole purpose of the war effort against the Xeelee. It responds directly to the Plenipotentiary of Total War.
The Conurbation Councils are the ruling bodies of the various cities across Earth’s surface. It is the Conurbation Councils that deal with housing and the various administrative tasks of running the various cities.
The Ministry of Economic Warfare is responsible for all available technology and projects that lead to a more effective form of warfare, such as the improvement of nanomachine-based food production. It also ensures the complete dedication of all of the Coalition’s resources to the war effort.
The Ministry of Supply is responsible for the supply ships and various other materials needed for the war effort against the Xeelee, making sure that all materials needed are supplied to the correct locations.
The Ministry of Production is the body responsible for ensuring the production of all weaponry, ships and technology necessary for the war against the Xeelee. From ships to monopole cannons, this Ministry ensures that there is plentiful supply for the Green Army and the Navy.
The Ministry of Public Enlightenment is the Coalition’s propaganda and media section. It is their job to ensure the distribution of Doctrinal advice and law to all aspects of the public in the Interim Coalition of Governance.
The Ministry of Psychological Warfare is responsible for any wartime projects of the Coalition dedicated to psychological warfare against alien races. This naturally has no effect on the Xeelee.
The Guild of Engineers is the primary manufacturing arm of the Coalition. It is their job to ensure the production of weapons and the construct of projects to aid the Coalition in its war effort. It was formed during the early years of the Assimilation.
The Guild of Navigators is the mapmaker of the Coalition. It is their task to ensure that ships around the galaxy are aware of their destinations and their journey routes.
The Guild of Communicators is responsible for the broadcasting of all official channels in the Coalition and is also responsible for ensuring fast and effective communication between any of it’s citizens.
The Benefactors are the medical service of the Coalition. They provide free hospitals for the civilians of the galaxy and provide dole handouts to poorer citizens.
The Surveyors of Revenues are a banking and financial branch of the Coalition, serving to preserve the Coalition’s economy of war.
The Auditor General’s Office is responsible for any accounts of Coalition citizens and the personal banking of each member of the Coalition.
The Green Army is responsible for all ground based offensives against the Xeelee. From recovering factories from enemy forces, to the extermination of other alien races, the Green Army operates a vast infantry based army, complete with aerial support and artillery. The Green Army commands vast birthing crèches to ensure a steady supply of infantry man, as well as taking on new recruits from the Navy and the Guardians. An elite unit of the Green Army is the Guard. These are the most senior and experienced of the Green Army and they fulfill the role of officers in the Green Army. A lesser unit of the Army is the Service Corps. They fill the role of support staff, with medical roles and other assorted jobs as well. Green Army units are called Platoons and are normally made up of ten infantry men of various roles, such as heavy weapons or medical.
The Navy is at the forefront of the Offensive against the Xeelee. The Navy operates almost all ships in Coalition space, aside from a number owned by the Green Army. The main offensive unit of the Navy against the Xeelee is the Strike Arm, a naval unit operating Greenships against Xeelee Nighfighters and assisting Rocks along the Front. The navy also makes use of other ships, such as supply ships and corvettes outside of the Front, to transport supplies and personnel to and from the Front. Squadrons are the principle unit of the Navy, often consisting of ten ships at a time, whose role it is to support the Rocks as they enter Xeelee territory.
The Guardians are the police force of the Coalition, making use of robots and other various technologies to protect Coalition interests. They also supply guards and security to the various Ministries, as well as ensuring that there are no human dissidents looking to cause the Coalition problems.
The Office of Doctrinal Responsibility is the Coalition’s ideological police force, tasked with ensuring that the Druz Doctrines are enforced throughout human controlled space. It has agents throughout the galaxy and is always assigned to frontline units.
The Army and Navy make use of Child Soldiers, many of whom are grown in vats at the Front. Each of these children are taught the Druz Doctrines to an almost cellular level, ensuring loyalty to the cause and every single one of them is trained to kill a variety of aliens in the most efficient way possible. Every Child Soldier is sent into battle when they are ready, often with special augmentations to suit their job. Child Soldiers are more or less similar to modern teenagers, aside from the fact that they are artificially grown and become fertile at a much younger age. Also, twins and triplets are far more common amongst the Child Soldiers, as they are grown in clutches of hundreds at a time. As a result of this fast rate of growth and life, the Coalition looses over 10 billion Child Soldiers a year to the Xeelee. More senior Children are cast into the role of trainers and sergeants, often as a result of their ability to survive missions, whilst millions of others have died.
The Archive also plays host to a vast number of species of human, all of whom fulfil the needs of the Archive, as if it were an enormous hive of insects. This form of humanity is known as a Coalescence, the utmost heresy of the Druz Doctrines. However, the Coalition allows its continued existence to ensure the further workings of the Archive.
- Archivists are the keepers of the Secret Coalition Archive in Olympus Mons on Mars. They are traditionally found only in the secret Archives and have little to do with the outside galaxy, aside from their work. Archivists are typically similar to Child Soldiers, as they are much younger than the basic human; however, they also age a lot faster. This was put in place by the Coalition, so that any forbidden knowledge known by a Archivist is lost along with the Archivist at their death.
- The Breeders are the matriarchs of the Archive and of all other Coalescences in the Coalition. They are always found deep inside the Archive, floating in vats of milky liquid, attended to by Midwifes. They are eternally pregnant and they are of all ages, from young girls to elderly women.
- The Drones are basic workers of the Archive, fulfilling the roles of workers in an ant colony. They ensure the continued efficiency of the Archive and the processing of information and data.
- Midwifes are a form of human whose job it is the ensure the safety and well being of the breeders and by extent, the future of the Archive. They are typically naked, with round shoulders.
- The Runners are the messengers of the Archive, having the capacity to run at incredibly fast speeds. They are capable of running for longer and faster periods of time than average humans, contributing to their low lifespan.
- The Mechanics are responsible for maintaining the structure of the Archive, attending to any technology or equipment that needs repairing and mining out new areas of the Archive, to increase the Coalescent in size. They typically have long legs to allow them to reach tall places and reach distances faster, without killing themselves via running.
- Parasites are humans who typically enter the Archive and life off of it, like their namesake. They also take on the role of certain workers in the Archive, however, they never actually work, only feed.
Earth is the centre of the Coalition and contains the most basic form of Human, the most common in the galaxy. Quite a number of Basic Humans are fat and are not all that dissimilar to modern humans. The only difference between modern humans and Coalition humans is philosophy and the fact that the entirety of Earth conforms to the Coalition and imagination is not always welcome.
Jasofts/Pharaohs are collaborators of the Qax during the Qax Occupation of Earth, millennia before the War with the Xeelee. Anti-aging technology was available to almost every human before the Occupation. However, it was almost lost when the Qax invaded. The few humans that were allowed access to immortality helped the Qax in their Occupation efforts. During the age of the Coalition, they also provided a leadership role, advising the Coalition in the war against the Xeelee.
Raouls are a special breed of human that’s leads the rest of humanity in its Third Expansion. Raouls have the outer skin of a Silver Ghost grafted to theirs, as well as internal parasites known as Squeem to help them communicate with other Raouls at interstellar distances. Raouls are seen as necessary by the Grand Conclave, but any other citizen finds them appalling and un-doctrinal.
A lot of Coalition technology is either stolen or taken from alien species in the past. An example of this would be the nanoswarms that skim over the surface of Earth and other planets, and harvest the dirt to turn into food. These are the product of Qax nanotechnology. Another example is the Snowflakes that hover above Earth and numerous other planets and are used to keep an eye on the Front and to warn Earth should the Xeelee break through the line. Snowflakes were created by the Snowmen early in their history and taken from them when the Coalition wiped them out.
A principle example of Human technology is the various ships they use in the conflict against the Xeelee along the front. All human ships are FTL enabled and possess the ability to move at superluminal speeds, capable of crossing half of the galaxy in two weeks with regular stops. Coalition ships of both the Navy and the Green Army were capable of effectively becoming a time machine in the process of FTL travel.
A more crucial form of technology that the Coalition seems to have developed for itself is the Virtual. These virtual constructs perform a wide variety of tasks, from simple warnings to a form of advertisement. Virtuals are also used as a form of interstellar real-time communication, being visually indistinguishable from the living person. Politeness in the usage of Virtuals dictates that the person in communication with the recipient must dress and act as if they were actually present with their host. A more advanced form of Virtual is the Avatar. These programs form the personality of someone in the Coalition, often performing tasks, such as monitoring experiments or fulfilling the life of the person in question whilst they are absent. Avatars have access to a full suite of utilities to ensure their life resembles a normal one as possible, often with Virtual meals and other accessories. However, Avatars are aware of what they are and have the ability to summon the necessary tools they require at any given moment, however they refrain from doing so.
Skinsuits are used by all Humans operating in the Core and along the Front, as it helps to protect its occupants from extreme gravity situations and to place the soldier into a cocoon, should they be injured in battle. The Coalition also makes use of megastructures, such as the Bridge, an enormous construct that connects the Moon to the Earth, allowing for the easy transportation of materials and personnel. They also greatly increase the strength of their wearer in almost any atmosphere.
Phase Space/ Configuration Space Maps are maps of the Milky Way Galaxy or of the Universe, created via the research of a jasoft known as Reth Cana. The Maps make use of reality dust to allow humans to enter them, like a miniature universe, where a single speck of reality dust represents a moment in time. Configuration Space also functions as a form of Archive, where hundreds of Jasofts fled to during the Assimilation. Configuration Space holds the most ancient secrets on mankind and it is located on Callisto.
The Coalition also makes use of technology of its own design, such as the birthing crèches along the Front, which generate the Children needed for the war with the Xeelee. They also make use of a number of ships of their own design, as well as weaponry, such as laser guns. The main weaponry used by Humanity includes:
- The monopole cannon, these cannons fire a space-time distortion that is sufficiently powerful to damage and destroy Xeelee constructs. These weapons are deployed on Rocks, Greenships and even on standard ships used by the Coalition outside of the Front. Monopole cannons are also used for shell fire on Rocks and other ground based engagements, whilst Army troops can also use a ground surface-to-surface version, similar to a RPG in modern militaries.
- The starbreaker, a handheld weapon that can destroy stars. Its unknown if the starbreakers humans use are actual Xeelee-constructed starbreakers or human built replicas. Starbreakers are also utilised by Ground troops of the Green Army, as well as weapons on Greenships.
- Laserguns are utilised by Green Army ground forces and is the standard issue rifle for all Infantry Platoons.
Project Prime Radiant is Commissioner Nilis’s project to attack the Xeelee in the centre of the Milky Way. Based around the three problems experienced when facing the Xeelee in combat, such as Closed Timelike Curves and being subject to the pressures of fighting in a Black Hole, Project Prime Radiant offered three solutions.
- CTC processor, basically a time travelling computer, the processor can take as much time as it needs to find the correct solution to a problem and then send that answer into the past. This was developed on Luna by Terec.
- Gravastar shielding which basically creates a pocket universe that a ship can hide in without emitting any radiation. This is developed via technology generated by a colony of Silver Ghosts, recreated by the Coalition to study their technology.
- The Black Hole Cannon which can shoot a black hole at a target.
Rocks are gigantic asteroids from the centre of the Milky Way, used by the Green Army in their offensives against the Xeelee. Rocks consist of multitudes of layers, from the outer layer, where trenches line the Rocks, to the innermost caverns, containing the precious cargo of the Monopole cannon, which is used to destroy Sugar Lumps and other various Xeelee constructs. Other layers include vast recreational and living quarters, as well as a number of Monopole emplacements. Rocks also form the basis for ground warfare against the Xeelee, with larger Rocks becoming Factory Worlds.
Greenships are the basic ships used by the Navy in their offensives against the Xeelee. They consist of a single pod at the back of the craft, in which a number of vital systems are located, including the weaponry, such as monopole cannons, FTL drives and two smaller sublight drives. From the front of Greenships, extend three spars containing the pilot, the navigator and the engineer. This is so that if the Greenship loses two spars, the last can still fulfil all parameters of the mission.
Troop Transports are cylindrical craft that are very simple in design. They are the primary form of craft used by the Green Army, used to move new recruits and infantry men from Rock to Rock. They are often used to transport Platoons of Children onto the front lines of the war against the Xeelee, with the capacity to hold two platoons of ten men each.
Corvettes are vast craft utilised by the Navy to transport people to various places in the galaxy. Corvettes are fast craft, capable of a multitude of jumps, before having to refuel at a servicing station. The Navy operates these ships outside of the Front to transport Commissioners from various locations, as well as vital staff and soldiers to a number of places in a system, or an entire arm of the Milky Way.
Factory Worlds are vast planets used by the Coalition to generate the materials and weaponry used by the Green Army and Navy along the Front.
The Coalition makes use of races for various technological reasons, mainly races they have conquered and annihilated, aside from a few generated by cloning or other methods.
The Spline are a race of sentient space-faring creatures. They are typically described as fleshy spheres, encrusted with a variety of pods and orifices. The various pods contain sensory organs, weapons emplacements and other equipment, while the orifices allow for the ingress and egress of smaller ships. In the internal timeline of Baxter's work, the Spline evolved on a watery planet as giant, whale-like creatures. Spline technology advanced to the point where they were able to plate their organic hides with materials capable of withstanding outer space. The Spline then moved into the galaxy as living ships for hire. Humanity first encountered the Spline during the Qax occupation of the solar system, as Spline vessels were the primary mode of Qax transport. Following the collapse of the Qax occupation, humans entered into the same sort of arrangement as the Qax had with the Spline. As the human war with the Xeelee wore on, humans employed techniques to seize control of the Spline, suppressing the conscious control heretofore exercised by the creatures.
The Squeem are a race of group minded aquatic beings, or "fishes", as referred by the humans. They are the first extrasolar intelligence contacted by mankind in the Xeelee series, and by the time of that contact, they occupy the solar system and enslave the human race. The Squeem are not especially intelligent or advanced, and resort to stolen technology from the Xeelee, for instance, the hyperdrive. Far later, during the events of "In the Un-Black" and Exultant, advanced and high-ranking humans have Squeem embedded in their own bodies to provide a means of instantaneous communications. This appears weird and disturbing to other humans.
The Silver Ghosts were a species that had the unfortunate position of being the first contact after the Qax occupation, the era of the Third Expansion. Although the Ghosts were largely benevolent explorers, concerned more with science and experimentation than conquest, they were met with unease. In part this was due to their track record of reckless experimentation with forbidden technologies, though Man's own prejudice towards unfamiliar aliens was prominent. The Ghosts were most unique in appearance, being large floating spheres of silvery chrome. The Ghosts came from a world devastated by a supernova early in their history; despite being abandoned to the cold of space ("the Heat Sink" as they called it), the Ghosts survived. Initially they were allies of Man, although they were never truly trusted by the humanity that had been twice dominated and nearly destroyed by aliens. The Ghosts were often associated with forbidden experiments, as they frequently toyed with the laws of nature to advance their own knowledge. Examples of this would be the Planck-Zero AI, a disastrous experiment thought destroyed in a black hole but later revived for the dark-matter soliton star test; the hyperdrive designed to cross the visible universe to explore the distant lithium-3 event and the quagma ark; the gravity-wave weapon used during the war with Man; and the altered stars that affected the stability of matter, used as fortresses during their war for survival. Despite the efforts of ambassadors such as Jack Raoul, the Ghosts eventually became an enemy of the Interim Coalition and were eventually hunted to extinction. This happened despite the fact that the Ghosts were never aggressive; indeed, the first contact between the two species saw a Silver Ghost sacrifice itself to save a stranded human astronaut. Even so, a paranoid humanity saw the Ghosts as a threat and sought to wipe them out, leaving behind only the useful pieces of their technology—even the silvery skins that the Ghosts used to protect their fragile inner bodies. Although the Ghosts are commonly thought extinct by the time of Exultant, a faction of Man has revived the species on the remote Port Sol in the outer solar system. Although these Ghosts are completely detached from their earlier culture, they resemble the originals in many ways. The Ghosts remain tragic figures in the relentless Third Expansion and Assimilation Era, examples of humanity driven to unprecedented anger and drive to conquer. The fate of the Ghosts is revealed in one of Baxter's standalone stories. Pursued into extinction by Man, the Ghosts slip into a different universe created or chosen by the Xeelee as a gift for them, a universe of mathematical perfection that would please the Ghost mind.