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Since GA has a very heavy military component, I thought I'd give a rundown of the various species militaries, followed by a rough chart of how they compare in different areas.

AGRATHI: The run-of the-mill Agrathi forces are... well, they're some of the worst in the galaxy. Pre-Union Agrath had an extremely martial society (I always thought of them as similar to Vikings) that very nearly destroyed itself after achieving nuclear technology, so like modern Germany and Japan the Agrathi Militia is considered a strictly defensive force in a pacifist culture. Unlike Japan and Germany (which are actually pretty powerful if they ever had reason to fight), the Agrathi Militia isn't too good at defending, either. As the name implies, the Militia is largely a force of poorly-trained citizen-soldiers who remain in service for only a few years at a time, famous in equal measure for trigger-happiness and terrible aim. There are actually a fairly large number of these cheaply equipped mooks, but with few experienced officers to lead them the result is an army of cannon fodder (there are more competent Agrathi troops, but they are few and far between). Their preferred Zerg-rush tactics are somewhat effective on the ground, but in space, where starships need large, organized crews with a great deal of specialized knowledge, the result is disastrous.

Then there's the Orders Militant: a small, borderline heretical sect of warrior-zealots that serve the Union as far and away the best special forces in the galaxy. Imagine Shaolin monks fused with Spartans, and add a bit of Taliban for good measure. Their training begins at 14 years old, and after only two years of intensive preparation, 90% of applicants wash out. By five years, the program has expelled the other 9.9%, but when they enter service at age 22 (roughly), even the Lhin Shocktroops think twice about taking them on. Seriously, these guys (mostly girls, actually, although males have been allowed in front-line service for about 150 years) are pretty much just action movies waiting to happen. Fortunately for everyone else, there are extremely few Militant to be had at any given time- at most two thousand in an interstellar empire home to well over 20 billion people*. Due to their numbers, zealots usually work alone, although they have no problem serving alongside other Militant or even regular Militia. Since the standard meme of such elite forces is that they "leave no man behind"**, I think I'll invert it: one of the more controversial tenents of the Orders' theology is that they are forbidden from moving the body of a fallen comrade except in extreme cases where it actually poses some risk to the mission.

TALOC: In keeping with their theme of brains over brawn, the Hegemony Guard is a small, very high-tech force that also serves as the Taloc exploratory and survey fleet. While their ground troops and special forces are themselves rather weak, their navy is actually fairly good, but their industrial base means they can't field too terribly many of their very sophisticated ships. Generally, both in space and on the ground, the Taloc are able to field a reasonably effective force by countering their cultural skittishness and lax physical training with enough battlefield gadgets to make the Engineer look like Colonel Ludd. It's an effective system: were the Taloc more numerous, they could probably take on the Indanna if not the Lhin. However, the Hegemony guard is one of the numerically smallest militaries in the galaxy, so like the Orders Militant they can't really project their power effectively.
Taloc cybersoldiers deserve some special mention here as well: while in most fighting forces cybers are at best seen as something "other" than ordinary troops and at worst outright reviled, in the Guard they are very much revered. Most of the Taloc military "brass" is composed of former cybers, and even the lowest-ranking ones are given broad discretion to experiment with new hacking techniques and even pure research in the field. I suppose their position would be best apologized to the way Star Trek treats ships' physicians: subordinate, but subject to a separate code of regulations and priorities that even their superiors can't overrule.

INDAN: The Indanna*** are not bad soldiers. They aren't great, but they're not horrible either. But that's not why they're the second biggest military power in the galaxy. No, the secret to the Indaneer's success is that they simply have access to titanic amounts of stuff. There's an old quote by Chakka line Prash, one of the great rebel commanders in the Periphery Wars: "I think it's by design that their bombs don't always explode. By morning they will have formed a layer so thick that none of us will be able to get out of our bunkers."
Like the Agrathi, the Indan military has a tendency to rely on Zerg-rush tactics to get the job done. Unlike the Agrathi, they know how to do it right: soldiers support one another with remarkable coordination and speed, making a horde of charging grunts nigh unstoppable. Their special forces are fast and extremely maneuverable, trading damage potential for stealth and a remarkable ability to survive in extremely hostile environments. This doesn't carry over quite so well in space, however: with its focus on large numbers of clunky ships, the Indian navy would best be described as subpar.

LHIN: The entire Lhin military has already been established as simply the best at everything. This gives me a bit of a problem because, as anyone who has read a Mary Sue story can tell you, making an entity the best at everything is a great way to deprive it of any actual depth. I refuse to allow that to happen to the Lhin forces.
To start with: all branches of the Lhin military have a very similar culture: when they're actually doing their jobs, they are extremely efficient, almost mechanistic in their precision, but once they're out of combat the National Fleet and National Army are actually one of the most
informal militaries in terms of protocol. They aren't exactly mildly military, but they do allow things like backtalk btween officers and direct subordinates that would be frowned upon in other armed forces.

Their technology and equipment are not quite as good as the Taloc's, but their real strengths are the sheer number and training of their soldiers- especially the Lhin Shocktroops. Individually they're tough enough to give the Orders Militant a bit of discomfort. And a standard squad includes ten.

HUMAN: The problem with TerraDynamics is not that it produces bad soldiers. If they're backed up against a wall, Humans can and will fight off hordes of Conclave, Lhin, zealots, or whatever else is thrown at them. The problem is motivation: "I'M ACCEPTING BRIBES!" is just not a very good battle cry.

Humans are over all the second-weakest military. Their regular ground forces and even the Terra Dynamics Marine Corps have a hard time keeping together under enemy fire, and unless given a lot of pushing otherwise will head directly away from anything big and/or scary. Their (our?) navy is a bit better, but still only average, due to its vast number of cheap ships and subnormal fighter corps. If the Humans ever found something to push them out of their cowardice and lax discipline, they would probbly be a fource to be reckoned with, but the fact is the Consortium simply does nopt have the stomach to fight.

It doesn't help that, as a for-profit organization, Terra Dynamics has a monetary incentive to buy the cheapest equipment it can for its regular forces- in a way, the Humans are a lot like the Taloc without their gadgets. There ARE more competant Human fighters- however, most of them are assassins or hitmen, whom the Consortium hires well outside of regular military.

And finally, the charts.

[ ] = Indan, [O] = Lhin, [X] = Agrathi, [A] = Human, [E] = Taloc


GOOD<[O]----------[ ]-------------------------------------[E]----------------[X]---------------[A]-------->BAD


GOOD<----------[O]--------[E]-----------[A]----------------------------[ ]--------------------------[X]--->BAD


GOOD<-[X]------[O]--------------------[ ]-----------------------------------[E]------[A]------------------>BAD


GOOD<-----[E]----------------[O]-------------------[A]--------------[ ]---------------------[X]----------->BAD


GOOD<--------[O]--------------[E][ ]------------------------------------[A]---[X]------------------------->BAD


GOOD<--[O]---------------------------------[ ]--------------[E]-------------[A]----[X]-------------------->BAD

*I just threw this number out there as a rough estimate. I have no idea whatsoever what a high standard of living, 300 years, partial birthrate control, and access to hundreds of new planets all combined would do to a planet of ~10 billion sapients.

** Well, leave no woman behind in this case... It's slowly sinking in to me how much a matriarchial society screws up English gammar.

***Yeah, yeah, I changed the plural. I think we will all agree that the new one is a lot better.

This article continues my Galactic Age scifi world-building project, which began with this [link] and the Thinking About Fantasy articles. Today, I cover the basics of the Galaxy's militaries.
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