The Endless War was part nationalist struggle, part dynastic crisis and part ideological civil war that waged from 2383 and ending with the last surrender of anti-Coalition forces in 2501. The Endless War was born from the conflict between the American and German aristocracies of the late American Empire, culminating in a dynastic crisis over the Imperial throne. Further adding to the conflict were the radical ideological organizations that fed off the discontent of the post-Collapse Imperial population such as the communists, the democrats and a formerly weak hypernationalist organization called the National Conservative Party.
After the Collapse, the American and German governments had trouble coordinating resources to colonize and rebuild in the Columbia System. Many local governments ignored the red tape out of necessity, and on the local level the American and German governments were effectively united. The same could not be said on the higher levels of government, as the two nations competed with one another. These conflicts created mistrust and fanned the flames of national rivalry created during the pre-Collapse era.
The extremely harsh conditions of rapid interstellar expansion caused massive opposition to the Imperial government. The Imperial welfare system was buckling under a “baby boom,” which was ironically encouraged by the Empire in an attempt to quickly colonize worlds, restore Imperial populations and allow it to face off against any survivors of the Collapse. The Imperial military was thinly spread out and many outer systems were attacked by xenos or warlords left over from the Collapse, and the military itself was filled with national and inter-service rivalry. Nationalist sentiments were enflamed as groups competed for resources, aided by the absorption of former Soviet worlds and the rise of a strong Slavic nationalist movement. The economy was in shambles, with interstellar trade slow and unreliable. Many Imperial systems resorted to creating their own governments, currencies and defense forces and were effectively independent until Imperial forces arrived to take them by force.
Given this national malaise, many groups arose proposing mass change, such as the communists, anarchists, libertarians, democrats and nationalists of all flavors. Most of these groups blamed the Imperial government for being unable to do anything about the many crises that plagued the Empire. The communists were officially banned and many efforts were made to suppress it, even by fellow dissenting organizations. When the Soviet Union arose, it sent overt aid to the communists, sparking the centuries-long rivalry between the Coalition and Conseil. Nationalist groups were encouraged by German and American politicians and were enraged by their belief that Emperor Nicholas was attempting to aid their rivals at their expense; Americans criticized Nicholas II for being “aristocratic” and “Europeanized” while the Germans blamed him for keeping the status quo of American political domination. Fighting between groups such as the German National Front and the American National Conservative Party was just as brutal as their fights against the police and other political organizations such as the communists.
However, the leaders of the two empires remained committed to alliance in the face of trying times, knowing that war between the two would result in mutual destruction. The emperors of the two countries worked hard to prevent their subordinates from tearing apart the alliance. This alliance culminated in the arranged marriage between Nicholas Jackson, son of American emperor Steven II and Princess Anne of the German Empire, in 2311. The two empires were united in personal union under their son, Nicholas II, but the two governments were technically separate. Nicholas II was a moderate who took his responsibility as the first German-American emperor seriously. Believing history would be written by how well he handles his quickly deteriorating empire, Nicholas always balanced the interests of his German and American subordinates so neither would feel marginalized, cut out or otherwise offended. Nicholas II also harbored liberal sentiments, believing that a more confederated “empire with a human face” would give people more power over themselves instead of fighting over it in Columbia Prime.
It was clear that America was dominant in the new Imperial political relationship, to the point that the Germans were effectively an ethnic minority in an American state. In order to prevent rivalry from this disproportionate distribution of power, Nicholas II attempted to take more power from Congress and the Reichstag, causing massive opposition from both organizations. Both fanatically resisted Nicholas’ attempts to subvert their authority, using whatever powers they had left to block any and all political action and prolonging the Empire’s decline. This soon got the better of Nicholas, who dissolved the two bodies and held them hostage on Columbia Prime from 2381 to 2385. The “Columbian Captivity” was foreseen by the politicians, who planned accordingly. They had purged their local systems’ defense forces of Imperial loyalists and were given orders to strike against Imperial installations in case they were kidnapped, killed or otherwise prevented from exercising their power. Many German aristocrats had already chosen Gustav II, King of Prussia, as their new Kaiser and crowned him on 2383 in Breslau. The coronation was interrupted by Imperial authorities, sparking the Endless War.
At first, Nicholas II attempted to negotiate with the “Kaiserites,” but the Germans refused to negotiate until the Reichstag, but not Congress, was released from captivity. American groups threatened to oppose the Empire if such an action were to take place and demanded the opposite occur. As Imperial authorities were driven from the Breslau system, the situation became tenser. After the last retreat of Imperial forces in 2385 he agreed to end the Columbian Captivity for both the Reichstag and Congress. The Kaiserites refused the old terms and demanded more from Nicholas II: his abdication, full removal of the German Empire from any union with the United States and 50% of all government resources. Naturally, the emperor refused and the Kaiserites declared the reformation of the German Empire. Desperate for support, Nicholas II negotiated with American nationalist organizations. The Americans were just as stubborn as their German counterparts, demanding that the German national identity be abolished and Nicholas II deny his German roots and that any nationalist forces remain under independent command. The emperor was, at first, reluctant but as Kaiserite forces took more and more systems, Nicholas II eventually conceded. In 2391, the American nationalist groups were included into the Imperial Army, but only on paper, and given military training and weapons. This would end German success in the Endless War, but it is a decision that Nicholas II would soon regret.
With the inclusion of nationalist American organizations into the Imperial Army, Imperial forces triumphed over the Kaiserites. The Kaiserite stronghold of Wittenau was taken by the turn of the 25th century and the German aristocracy was destroyed almost completely. The Fall of Wittenau marks the first mass use of orbital drop pods in warfare; while the technology was conceptualized around the time of the Collapse, it was never truly implemented until the Imperial fleet used drop pods to quickly disable enemy defensive batteries. With the Fall of Wittenau, the first phase of the Endless War ended. It is immortalized in many wartime and post-war works of art, such as the popular Coalition song Down from the Inky Black. While pockets of Kaiserite resistance remained, they were leaderless raiding parties that wouldn’t become relevant again.
For the time, it seemed that the Empire would endure. Already, Nicholas II implemented many reforms, such as restoring the House of Representatives as a democratically-elected body representing the people of the Empire (the Senate and the judicial and executive branches remained under his control), restored the office of the Presidency as separate from the Imperial throne, and political parties aside from the National Union Party were allowed. Times were still chaotic, as the American nationalists the Imperial government aligned with began to demand more and more. As the de facto representatives of Imperial rule on many far-flung systems, these organizations could afford to make demands or threaten secession and the resumption of major hostilities. Because of weak Imperial rule and the strangeness of democracy, the newly legalized parties frequently fought each other on the streets. American nationalists, most prominently the Patriot Front, gained control of the House of Representatives and continued to push legislation calling for the creation of a “pure” American Empire by banning German, enforcing the State Church as the only legal religious body and banning all non-nationalist political parties.
Causing more problems is that many American aristocrats began to despise their Emperor for these reforms and plotted against them, sometimes with the aid of nationalist political parties. The most prominent of these was the Colonel Augustus White, kingpin of the Lindbergh system. A descendant of the White dynasty that ruled the United States in the mid-21st century and an ardent reactionary, he wished to restore the American Empire to its true glory: the days before the Collapse. He aligned himself with the Patriot Front against Nicholas II. He also gained opposition from the small, but vocal National Conservative Party: a hypernationalist organization with a republican streak that wished to go even further to the days of the Old Republic and true democracy. Known for their violence in the streets and fanatical devotion to old democratic ideals, the National Conservatives painted themselves as the true inheritors of the American nation and warriors of freedom. While a nationalist organization that viewed German influence as an “aristocratic cancer”, they often refused to work with the more authoritarian nationalists and were labeled as “communists” by their opponents. While they were small, they were viewed favorably by Nicholas II who appointed Fitzhugh Compton as the first National Conservative President.
In response to the Emperor’s passage of anti-discrimination laws against Germans, the aging Nicholas II was shot by a Patriot Front fanatic in 2405. Although Nicholas II lingered on enough to ensure the laws were passed before dying two days later. His oldest son, Marcus, took the throne and immediately banned the Patriot Front and hunted down their allies. Marcus was inspired by his father and wished to continue the process of liberalization, but the death of his father destroyed any thoughts of political reconciliation with the Patriot Front and their allies. Lindbergh and many neighboring systems immediately seceded and proclaimed the American Empire with Augustus White as emperor, beginning the second phase of the Endless War. The American nationalist movement tore itself apart, with the Emperor Marcus and the American Majority Party leading the loyalists and the Patriot Front leading the nationalists. This time the remaining Kaiserites threw their lot in with the loyalists, furious about Patriot Front crimes against German populations.
The second phase was defined by the racially-motivated brutality exhibited by the nationalists. Entire German-speaking populations were marched off to “depopulation centers;” children were exempt from the killing, instead having their tongues cut out if they speak one word of German. During this period, the National Conservatives became more moderate in their views of the Germans and defended them against nationalist armies. Famously, an entire National Conservative division sacrificed itself to hold off nationalist forces in order to allow German refugees to escape. The National Conservatives would later create the idea of a new “American” identity that clearly mixed in German influence.
From the beginning, the “restored” American Empire had no chance, being outnumbered and outproduced by the more industrialized loyalist systems. The nationalists crumbled under waves of loyalist tanks and infantry. Unlike the first phase, which saw more planetside action, the nationalist worlds were brought down from orbit by loyalist fleets. The second phase produced many heroes among the loyalists, such as General Cartwright Schuster, a former Kaiserite general who later ordered the incendiary of Lindbergh III. In 2416, the restored Empire surrendered and their leaders were summarily executed in Columbia Prime for treason.
The post-war government under Emperor Marcus continued liberal reforms, to the point that the entirety of Congress became democratically elected and the President gained more and more power from the throne. A new constitution, based on old documents such as the Magna Carta and the United States Constitution, limited the powers of the throne and guaranteed the right to free speech and press. As the economy recovered from the war, prosperity soared among all social classes. The horrific crimes of the nationalists blunted nationalist influence in the post-war government. Emperor Marcus frequently expressed optimism for the future, believing by the 25th century would be the greatest since the Collapse. He would be proven wrong.
Democratic reform in the Empire was progressing swimmingly. There was talk of turning the President into an elected office and further restrictions on the Imperial throne. The Imperial military, which expanded during the first and second phases of the Endless War, began to explore the old systems in order to bring them into the Imperial fold. Projections were made indicating that Imperial rule could be extended over the entire galaxy, uniting humanity and preventing another Collapse.
A key turning point of Imperial history occurred in 2441 when Emperor Marcus called a reformation of the line of succession to not discriminate between German and American families. During genetic testing of the entire royal family and what remained of the aristocracy in order to determine the new lines of succession, a test showed that Princess Emily was not the daughter of Emperor Marcus. Concluding that the Empress had cheated on him, he shut himself off from all human contact for days. He then brutally murdered the Empress and his children before committing suicide. During the autopsy, it was determined that the initial genetic test was faulty.
The Empire erupted into conflict over who would succeed Emperor Marcus. The new succession laws would let the Grand Duke Erich, who married into the American royal family, take the throne, while the old laws gave the throne to the highest-ranking American in the highest-ranking American family: General of the Army Benjamin Carter. Since only the emperor could pass succession laws, this gave General Carter the throne according to the legalistic argument, but it was clear that Emperor Marcus wanted the succession laws revised and favored the reform-minded Grand Duke to the moderate nationalist General Carter. The highly divergent views of the two contenders for the throne politicized the conflict, deadlocking the House of Representatives. The National Conservative Party, by now a majority party, split between the “moderates” and the “conservatives,” the former favoring transition into full democracy with a powerless emperor and the latter favoring the status quo. For a while, the conflict was peaceful, but when General Carter seized the Imperial throne by deploying the military to Columbia Prime. During the coronation, protests between radical and conservative groups on the world broke out into violence and the military moved in to side with the conservatives.
While people believed this third phase would end quickly, a fourth of the Imperial military defected to the moderates. They were aided by German nationalists, democrats and leftists, which had grown in power since the reforms. Unlike the first or second phases, this third phase was primarily a guerilla war with no defined front. Atrocities were frequently committed by both sides and innocent civilians were caught in the crossfire. Many worlds untouched by the first or second phases now went up in flames. The economy collapsed as billions were killed and the infrastructure built up during the reform era was torn down by weapons of mass destruction. Both sides radicalized, with the conservatives edging closer to traditional American authoritarianism and a few republican and outright communist factions breaking off from the moderates to oppose both monarchist groups. It was during this era that Marcus Allen, the son of a factory manager named after an emperor he would grow to despise, penned On Society, State and Economy, the document that would define the modern National Conservative Party’s ideology.
The third phase would last from 2442 to 2475, the longest phase in the Endless War. Ultimately, it was the conservatives that triumphed, for they were more able to hold onto the more populated worlds and sacrificed the less important ones to the moderates, in the meanwhile ensuring they were stable and prosperous as the moderate-held worlds were constantly harassed by the numerically-superior conservatives. General Carter died before the end of this phase and his son, David, would gain the throne and sweep away many of the reforms made under Emperor Marcus' rule, justifying this as an emergency wartime necessity. The Imperial system returned to what it was around the days of Nicholas II, but the military was far more powerful. Democracy was waning in the Empire, but it was not yet dead. That would only happen during the fourth and phase of the war.
The third phase of the Endless War ushered in an era of poverty and political instability. Many anti-government militias still existed and Imperial rule was frequently challenged by these groups. With the restoration of the Soviet Union near the Inner Sphere, many former Imperial systems were taken over by communists. The Imperial military, converted into a state security force, was largely unable to resist these communist assaults. The ineptitude of the Imperial military, combined with the destroyed economy, caused dissatisfaction with Columbia Prime. The people looked for a solution and a radical faction of the National Conservative Party had an answer.
The radicals had one primary thesis: the Empire had failed and it was time to start over. Although their means were ultimately reactionary, restoring the pre-Collapse Empire, it called for the overthrow of the current Empire. A renewed America, united and utilizing the strengths of the ethnic groups it had absorbed, can begin to fight Western civilization’s true foe: communism. On Society, State and Economy became a bestseller and were smuggled around when the Empire banned their sale. The National Conservative Party became increasingly radical to accommodate its voter base and to prevent other radical parties from taking power away from it. The strongest supporters of the National Conservatives were the military, industrial leaders and those living in the shadow of the Soviet Union. By 2480 the National Conservative Party was controlled by the radicals and its ideology was officially reformed to meet this. As the National Conservatives became more vocal in their opposition of the Emperor, they were banned and had their leaders arrested in 2482. In response, nearly half of the Imperial military refused to obey Columbia Prime’s orders until the party was re-legalized. The Emperor responded with force, beginning the final phase of the Endless War.
The heaviest fighting in this final phase was conducted around the Columbia system. While the neighboring systems quickly fell to the National Conservatives, the Columbia system itself was fervently defended by the loyalists. Oceans of blood were spilled over even the airless rocks of the outer systems and billions in the populated worlds died during the long sieges. Columbia IV switched sides about eight times during the final phase. Loyalist forces beyond the Columbia system were defeated quickly by the National Conservatives, but National Conservative forces turned their attention to the communist worlds and retook them for the Empire. This brought the National Conservatives into conflict with the Soviet Union, which sent a small expeditionary force to fight over these worlds (the Soviets were beginning to disintegrate themselves and needed a majority of their forces at home). While this fighting was not as intense as that against the loyalists, the message was clear to National Conservative ideologues: the American nation cannot coexist with communism and America must forever dedicate itself to communism’s complete eradication.
Columbia Prime fell in 2489. The superior industrial might and strategic skill of National Conservative forces allowed them to triumph over those of the Emperor. The Emperor committing suicide below the Imperial Palace before National Conservative forces could capture him. The day after his suicide, National Conservative forces waved the cog and star banner above the ruins of the Imperial Palace. Chairman Dennis Schneider, a former Imperial Colonel who ascended through the Party ranks during the war, proclaimed the formation of the Coalition of Western Republics before National Conservative forces a week after Columbia Prime’s fall. Naturally, Schneider would become the new President of the United States and the first Supreme Director of the Coalition.
But the war was not over. The new Coalition was still full of anti-National Conservative forces and, most importantly, besieged by the communist foe. Schneider called for all former Imperial forces, and any who wish to prevent communism from taking over the galaxy, to pledge loyalty to the cog and star. Faced with defeat and execution otherwise, many devoted themselves to the Coalition. The new Coalition expanded its rule throughout the old Empire and, in some areas, beyond. Al though a few puppet states, those wise enough to accept the Coalition’s offers of surrender, existed, most worlds were directly integrated. The Soviet expeditionary force was hounded out and destroyed; no mercy was afforded to Soviet troops and they were all executed in mass events for all the Coalition to see. Those worlds that submitted to Soviet rule were treated harshly, both in war and peace. After the orbital bombardment stopped, billions were marched into crematoriums. Unlike the old Empire, the Coalition was willing to reduce its own worlds into airless rocks if that means eradicating disloyalty. The message was clear: the new Coalition would not be as weak as the Empire. It would enforce its rule with extreme prejudice and all have much to fear from it.
As 2499 became 2500, a mass rally was held over the rebuilt Columbia Prime. The defeated banners of the Coalition’s enemies were marched before rivers of prisoners. The new Coalition military, in all of its magnificence, was showcased. Thousands of tanks rolled and hundreds of thousands of men marched in lock step through the streets before Supreme Director Schneider. Cog and star banners were draped over the skyscrapers and nearly a million people crowded around shouting “Our Union Forever,” “America Prevails” and other slogans as they saluted and waved flags. The victories of the years before were displayed on massive screens and holograms. At the climax of the rally, the enemies of the state were executed before Schneider and a cheering crowd. It was on this day that Schneider proudly declared that the Coalition will last for ten thousand years.
The final anti-Coalition forces, Kaiserites that managed to escape Imperial custody, surrendered in 2501. Massive parties, all mandatory, were held throughout the Coalition’s worlds. There was no longer any doubt. The American nation was restored. The so-called Endless War was over. The Coalition was here to stay.