Finders & Keepers
Union of Allied Planets
The Union of Allied Planets or Universal Alliance is the central government and law-enforcement organization of the Verse. In its present form, it came about after the Core worlds fought a civil war against the Independent Planets that wanted to break away from Alliance jurisdiction. The war raged for nearly six years. However, by 2511 the Alliance had prevailed, and an armistice was signed.
Form of Government
The UAP is governed by a Parliament, the exact nature of which is unknown, and there may be at least a titular monarch, as Serenity’s captain, Malcolm Reynolds has said “I’d like to be king of all Londinium”.
Londinium is the formal seat of government, home to Parliament and the Prime Minister. While every planet (at least within the Core) is allowed to organize its own affairs on a planetary level, system-wide policy is set by the Parliament. The planet of Sihnon is home to the headquarters of the trade associations and guilds in the system. The most powerful of these have their academies here.
Most people of the Alliance are allowed a say in their government. Anyone can stand for a seat in the Parliament and be voted in by the home folk. But the money required to run a campaign generally prevents the common man from ever winning a governmental position. To raise the necessary funds, one must make deals with businesses, guilds, and private interest groups. As to voting, only those who are “full citizens of the Alliance” actually get a vote. Folk who fought in or supported the Independents are not considered “full citizens.” (After all, if they couldn’t be trusted to fight for the right side, how could they be trusted to vote for the right candidate?) Thus only candidates who support the Alliance are ever elected. That law is due to expire after ten years, though there are some on the Core worlds who are pushing for it to be extended.
Individual worlds are governed by planetary Governors or Magistrates. Prefects are also incorporated into the system of governance. The Alliance has given guidelines on how such a person is elected, but out of respect for the sovereignty of each world policies vary from place to place. Some Core worlds are fairly ruled by honest folk. On others, local political machines or long-standing family dynasties rule.
The dominant culture in the Alliance was a melding of those of the People’s Republic of China and United States which occurred over the course of the long voyage from Earth-that-Was, though other cultures, such as Muslims and Native Americans are also part of the social fabric. As a result, most people in the ’Verse are equally adept in speaking both English and Mandarin and mix words from the two languages in normal conversation.
There are elements of feudal culture incorporated into society, as many of Companion Inara Serra’s customers are referred to as Lords. Both slavery and indentured servitude are either legal, or tacitly overlooked by the authorities.
After Earth’s natural resources were used up, mankind abandoned the planet (which now exists in myth and legend as “Earth-That-Was”), and moved out into the stars, while holding onto the tenets of culture and civilization, carrying with it those things both material and spiritual that tied it to their ancestral world.
Relatively little is known of the early history of the Alliance.
At the Battle of Serenity Valley (the last major battle in the Unification War), both the Alliance and the Browncoats suffered heavy casualties. Survivors from both sides were stranded on the battlefield until the Alliance was able to send a fleet of medical transports to rescue them.
The day that the civil war ended is known as “Unification Day” and is celebrated as a holiday throughout the system. Alliance supporters like to drink a toast to Unification Day and enthusiastically encourage others to join in the festivities.
The strength of the Alliance military ensures that the Alliance remains in control. Though currently stretched quite thin, the military is still impressive. Massive cruisers the size of small cities patrol space, keeping a watch for smugglers, illegal salvage operations and pirates. No one in the system is willing to take on an Alliance cruiser, which has enough firepower to atomize most other spacecraft.
The men and women who serve in the military are well-trained, disciplined, and are issued state-of-the-art firearms and body armor. However, like any other immense organization, the military has its share of blackguards, idiots, and scoundrels who can be bribed, bluffed, or fooled. And, yes, the occasional soldier might fall asleep on guard duty. But don’t count on it. Most troopers in the Alliance military are dedicated, smart, and know every trick in the book.
The Alliance military tends to ride to the rescue only when the big guns are needed. For the more mundane crimes, the local sheriffs, Interpol, and the Feds are the folk to call.
Just about every town on every planet and moon has some form of local law. In many cases, the law is a man with a tin star looking to keep everyone else in town honest. In others, the law is a bunch of brigands who go around breaking kneecaps on orders from the local governor or magistrate. Whatever form the local law takes, they tend to deal with petty theft and hooligans. When something major comes along – like the assassination of a governor or the kidnapping of a powerful Guild leader – the locals call in either Interpol or the Federal Marshals.
Interpol (Interplanetary Police) deals with criminals who have fled the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, as well as crimes committed in areas that are outside local control, though still under Alliance control. (In other words, just about everywhere.) Interpol generally deals more with tracking suspects and investigating interplanetary crime than direct enforcement. The enforcement of federal law and the pursuit of criminals across interplanetary borders falls under the jurisdiction of Federal Marshals.
Federal Marshals (or simply, ‘Feds’) track down wanted criminals and/or bring to trial those who fail to answer a summons. Some Feds are righteous enforcers of the peace, but there are a few who are more bounty hunter than law enforcer and will go after anyone if the money’s good enough. Since they have to travel a far piece to do their jobs, the Feds have a great deal of autonomy. Feds work alone or in teams. They are provided with excellent ships and equipment, though some choose to work undercover if they are on the trail of particularly dangerous (or lucrative) fugitives.