A joint UCS/Skean AI Project built the first true machine intelligence against a background of predictions of future Geist war. In 2755, work began to upgrade Port McKinley's defence platforms. Emperor Ishimori relocated to Hiroshi and, as tension rose around the Abyssal Void, was elevated to Imperial Warlord. Kochevnik and Zuìzhōng form an uneasy truce.
Silvio Ferraro, granted La Sancta Sedes full sovereign rights over Oceanus, Rōmulus's moon. Renaming it Civitas Vaticana, they distanced themselves from Ferraro's fascists. A new deal was worked out to rejig Geist war debts.
As the sixth decade opened, Akatsu invaded Liao and Boxer in the Qing system. Heinemann barely won the Geist Premiership but Kaiser's SSP won the Geist elections. Popular revulsion for fascism grew across the Skean Empire as a terrorist act gave Kaiser the Geist Democratic Authority. Kaiser allied with Amiga even as they herded N'Chari into Zeltlager Arbeit and both Geist and Akatsu stormed from the Federation of Empires. Ostarra welcomed the Geist, as Kaiser proclaimed his empire would last ten thousand years.
In 2780, as the Geist began to rearm massively, Saxonia trebled the size of its Imperial Fleet, the Akatsu overran Zuìzhōng and the Federation of Empires applied sanctions against the Geist and Valentia. Two years later, the UCS and Skean trialled the first drone fighters but decided that AIs were not ready for frontline roles. Vaughn II took the throne after the death of Empress Henriette but renounced it for UCS social climber Evelyn Reynolds. Saxonia launched the first of her Defence
class carriers as Woodward demonstrated his revolutionary ultra-plasma engine.
In 2785, as Empress Augusta was formally crowned, Kaiser and Ferraro called for more living space.
Silvio Ferraro, leader of the new Valentian Communists, cleared his new government of all but loyal members of his party. The Geist, their economy declining dangerously, accepted a new deal on their war debts.
Within two years, the rising Geist Fascist leader, Gustav Kaiser, published his book, "Our Glorious Combat" which struck a deep chord with many ordinary Geist. The Skean started building a new naval base at Temasek in the Qing system.
In one of the most significant developments in computing a joint UCS and Skean AI Project, led by Gabriel O'Reilly, built its first true machine intelligence. Gabriel said many of his ideas had come about through video conversations with a woman he knew only as Rachel but, though most believed he was simply modest, those in authority suspected "Rachel" to be connected to The Society.
Though the new AI was the size of a small city block, it worked superbly and was judged to demonstrate true self-awareness along with the intelligence level estimated as that of a four-year-old. A third assassination attempt on Ferraro was made as the Federation of Empires voted to readmit the Geist to their number. As the Skean alliance continued its gradual deterioration, ex-foreign minister Charmaine Barclay, granting major concessions to many wavering Skean allies, organised negotiations which resulted in an agreement to stay together in the form of an Imperial Republic that broadly accepted the Saxon Monarch as a non-ruling figurehead. A specific benefit of the negotiations involved the sharing of information as a result of which a pattern of Kochevnik promoted disruptive behaviour was uncovered.
In 2753, Kochevnik diplomats were ordered to leave Saxon space on charges of spying and the Kochevnik responded by executing thirty people they claimed were Skean spies. The Skean government protested though no admission was made that any of those executed were Skean citizens or employees.
In the Akatsu system, Emperor Ishimori relocated his palace from Higuchi to Hiroshi.
A Skean general, noting the rapidly rising Geist population amongst other factors, predicted further war with the Geist within fifty years and the Zuìzhōng government, which had distanced itself from its earlier close relationship, ordered Kochevnik diplomats out, again under suspicions of spying.
In 2755, under Clifton Foss, one of the UCS's youngest Colonels, asteroids for McKinley's replacement defence platforms were selected and work began to move them into position and upgrade them to suit McKinley's purposes. Plans were made to retire ODP-MCKIN-01, move it to a position opposite Port McKinley in the Haikili Division and replace it with ODP-MCKIN-02 & 03. The plan called for the retired platform to be used as a Ship's Graveyard although a university based in Motion City, Enterprise was granted permissions to put a cosmological research station there.
Yelena Chernakov, the new Kochevnik leader, exiled key members of her opposition and, whilst tensions mounted in Kochevnik-Zuìzhōng border space, the Zuìzhōng warlord Hwang Shung brought his nation's civil war to an end with the fall of Suiren on Taiping in the Qing system.
As the decade drew to a close, tensions around the Abyssal Void once again began to increase and Ishimori was crowned Imperial Warlord Emperor of Akatsu. Wary of events in Akatsu, Kochevnik and Zuìzhōng put aside their differences and an uneasy truce was declared between them.
Silvio Ferraro, attempting to broker a peace between Valentia and La Sancta Sedes, a leading religious movement, granted the influential Christians full sovereign rights over Oceanus, a moon orbiting Rōmulus in the Pollux system. La Sancta Sedes renamed Oceanus to Civitas Vaticana. Ferraro claimed ninety-nine percent of the electorate vote whilst neglecting to comment on external observations that the elections appeared rigged. The Skean, UCS and Pax worked out a new deal to rejig Geist war debts.
While the Kochevnik continued the ideological purge of their own peoples, Shung was challenged by his own warlords. Communist attacks on N'Chari traders and communities shadowed their elections but still, they came a close second. The LaVie withdrew from Rēnos in the Neu Thuringen system as, viewing the violence as a symptom of economic depression, the UCS called for a delay on Geist war debts in the Federation of Empires.
Despite Ferraro's earlier granted of sovereignty over Civitas Vaticana, La Sancta Sedes' leader, Savant Calvi III, distanced his organisation from the Fascists. The Akatsu started to move their troops to Liao in the Ainu system but a UCS peace call in the Federation of Empires brought their action, temporarily, to a halt.
Tired of the lack of agreement in the Federation of Empires, the Akatsu moved to capture Boxer in the Qing system and set up an Akatsu puppet state. In Pax space, Franz Heinemann barely beat Kaiser in the Geist Premier elections whilst the Stellar Sozialistischen Partei (SSP) won the Geist Imperial Elections. In the same turbulent week, the LaVie President was assassinated and Helvan backed banks suspended Geist debts.
In 2766, Kaiser gained the Geist Democratic Authority by the back door as an Earthquake Bomb destroyed the Geist Congress for which Dakari Communist, Lubev, was speedily tried and executed. By this time Geist N'Chari and Reformists had begun to live in fear as the SSP passed a law allowing Kaiser to rule supreme and N'Chari to be hounded from office. Across the Skean empire, popular revulsion of Fascism grew as the SSP started banning books, symbolically burning paper ones as they restricted electronic ones by other means. They also banned opposition parties and began to carry out sterilisation of "imperfect" Geist. Kaiser signed a pact with the Amigans and, as Geist N'Chari were herded into Zeltlager Arbeit, the Geist stormed from the Federation of Empires for which Kaiser won Geist public confidence. N'Chari artists started to flee Geist territory whilst the Skean admitted that negotiated weapons cutbacks were a failure and began to boost their forces. The Akatsu, claiming the Federation of Empires was interfering in their affairs, followed the Geist from the Federation of Empires.
Two years later, in the Skean heartland, Saxon Communists called for a modern dictatorship. At the same time, an Ostarran uprising in the Donau Republik system was crushed and Kaiser considered options to annexe the nation. They were welcomed and, moving closer to the Geist, Ostarra appointed Heidi Foerster as their new "administrator".
The Akatsu appointed a puppet Emperor on Liao in the Ainu system and warned other nations, "Hands off Zuìzhōng". The SSP introduced the "Democratic Forum" a judgement panel requiring three judges and five SSP lay members whilst Kaiser had thousands of "Old School" SSP executed including one of his earliest Stellar Socialist colleagues, Meshaw. Talks between Kaiser and Ferraro were favourable for both leaders as Heinrich Kraskof was appointed head of the "Ausländer Verwaltung Konzept" (AVK). Heinemann died, leaving Kaiser supreme and it was proclaimed that "Kaiser's Empire would last ten thousand years". In an effort to match the strength of other nations the Saxon Imperial Fleet boosted its fighter capability by one hundred and fifty squadrons whilst, in Zuìzhōng, Lu-H'sing Kang began "The Pilgrimage" to save his shattered nation.
Miners and their families on Cassel, Melun and Ypres III, LaVie worlds bordering post-Amaranthine Geist space, voted for reunification with Geist. Valentia made a deal with the LaVie over Menelik in the Zagwe system and within a few months Valentian stormtroopers had created a beachhead on Menelik, the invasion being the first real test of the Federation of Empires.
The Geist began to rearm on a massive scale and the Skean, in particular, Saxonia, increased their military spending to counter. The Federation of Empires condemned the Geist for their warlike stance and Saxonia trebled the size of its Imperial Fleet. Akatsu finally won in Zuìzhōng, its puppet administration losing Shung much of his political and military influence as they backed a Suiren breakaway state.
Amid heightening tensions, the Skean reluctantly signed an accord with the Geist to allow the latter to rebuild their naval fleets, infuriating the LaVie. The Federation of Empires started to apply sanctions to the Geist and Valentia as Kaiser banned Geist-N'Chari marriage and the N'Chari, deprived of Geist citizenship, were banned from public life.
Kang's pilgrimage ended in 2781, as they reached Shangtzi on Nian in the Qing system and started to set up a Kochevnik style state... over a million followers had died en route. As Empress Henriette celebrated her Golden Jubilee the first drone fighters, remotely controlled by massive banks of quantum computers, were trialled in another joint Saxon/UCS venture.
Several prominent cybernetics scientists had joined O'Reilly's AI project, the new additions benefitting his team particularly in their ability to reduce the size of the new AIs and engineer them closer to usable size for independently mobile units. The new AIs were now cubes less than eighty centimetres on a side but further reduction were still necessary and the project was some way from producing the AI-based weapons platform the military wanted. AI control of the drones, in particular, aerial platforms, remained significantly inferior to human control.
In 2782, Vaughn II took the throne following the unexpected death of Empress Henriette and Saxonia, along with much of the Skean Republic, joined together in a spontaneous show of public mourning.
The joint Skean/UCS AI fighter project started to launch their first prototypes; though still slower in terms of response times than skilled human pilots, the fighters were faster, more powerful and capable of more extreme manoeuvring. Ultimately, however, it was decided that, pending testing and further development, the AIs were not yet fit for frontline roles.
A year later, as Valentia secured her position on conquered Menelik, Fari and N'Chari clashed in Shalim on Ka'aba in the Akkadia system and units of the Skean Imperial Fleet based at Arwad assisted the N'Chari.
A Maxwellian journalist from Braeriach attempted to assassinate the new Saxon Monarch and, though unrelated, Vaughn II renounced the throne for UCS social climber Evelyn Reynolds. Empress Augusta succeeded him.
In Zuìzhōng space, despite an initial refusal, Shung agreed to an alliance with Kang to defend against the Akatsu. Saxonia launched Imperial Defence
, the lead ship of the six hundred metre Defence
class carriers, whilst Floyd Woodward demonstrated the first of a series of revolutionary ultra-plasma engines.
The Geist Superliner GZ Franz Heinemann
, with its innovative super-ion/plasma hybrid engines, exploded in orbit around Ganymede just before it docked with the orbital transfer station for Crockett. At a massive demonstration on Kaiser Welt in the Volks Platz system, Kaiser and Ferraro called for more living space at the same time as Dakari cruiser bombers targeted the Geist battleship, SS Kaiser
. Akatsu cruisers bombarded Boxer in the Qing system.
Midway through the seventh decade, on New Albion, Empress Augusta was formally crowned, replacing Vaughn II. At the same time, the Saxon government revealed details of a proposed N'Chari state on Ka'aba but, to calm the fears of other factions, agreed to limit N'Chari immigration to specific areas on the planet.