Great Lake Wasteland
The Empire of LaBelle or the LaBellean Empire, also simply known as the Empire or LaBelle, is an autocratic, ultra-reactionary nation and is as well most powerful faction around the Great Lake Wasteland. LaBelle is located in the northern part of Great Lake Wasteland and is said to contain most if not all of the former Canadian provinces of Quebec, New Foundland, the southeastern part of Ontario and boasts both a thriving economy and a strong, well-trained army. It has expanded mostly through the conquest of foreign factions, tribes and nations, which were then turned into provinces of the Empire.
The provinces are ruled by either Governors or Kings (in cases in which a king willingly surrenders, he retains his throne but is subject to the Emperor or just a vassal). The empire has expanded throughout the years, conquering new lands and going as far to the Troyt during the reign of Emperor Louis de Champlain.
After 92 years of almost continual expansion and little resistance except during Labellean-Amerio War and the Algonquin War, LaBelle faced major setback after losing ground during the Second Michigan War against the Confederation of Michigan. Following the defeat and the death of former Emperor Louis de Champlain, his son, the current Emperor Samuel de Champlain II instigated military and foreign policy reforms and is currently waging the Third Michigan War.
The LaBellean Empire is a Unitary executive monarchy. The executive branch is led by the Emperor of LaBelle, a hereditary sovereign ruler for life and is currently Emperor Samuel de Champlain II. Although Emperor has wide-ranging powers, the Grand Imperial Council (lead by a High Councilor) usually holds considerable power and governs day to day affairs of the Empire as well as advises the Emperor. Councilors are most often those who served or continue to serve in the military and can usually be selected from the LaBellean parliament.
The legislature of the LaBellean Empire is the LaBellean parliament, where representatives elected by LaBellean citizens approve the programs of the Imperial Council and provide a basic level of oversight. The legislature produces ‘advice papers’ for the various departments rather than bills, although it does also provide the recruitment pool for Imperial Councilors. The LaBellean Empire is from top to bottom infused with the ideology of ‘LaBellean constitutionalism’ which espouses complete loyalty to the Empire, its officials and to the LaBellean people. This is accompanied by the formidable apparatus of the modern police state: Ministry for State Security, one of the largest secret police forces within the post-nuclear world.
The Imperial Military is comprised of the various branches of the armed forces of the LaBellean Empire, such as the Imperial Army and Imperial Navy, as well as agencies such as Military Intelligence.
The Imperial Military forms the heart of LaBellean politico-military power and its’ officers can often be found directing many branches of the LaBellean government.
The Imperial military is in many ways fundamental to the identity of the nation. Several national holidays are implicitly tied to the history of the Imperial Military, and LaBellean culture is saturated (in adverts, films, books and television shows) with military adventures and propaganda that display LaBellean soldiers in a heroic light. A majority of LaBelleans opt for some form of military service during their lives. It is, in fact, almost a requirement if one wishes to become a citizen and as well to satisfy ambitions for high office in politics or business.
The Imperial Military is responsible for carrying out the Empire’s military operations across the wasteland. Ostensibly dedicated to maintaining law and order, Imperial Military forces have been called champions of peace and order or bringers of fear and oppression. Perhaps the most ubiquitously visible element is the Army of the Guardians of the Imperial Republic or simply called the Imperial Guard. These elite soldiers are the enforcers of Imperial order, often exercising a ‘shoot-first’ policy in frontier lands or areas in open rebellion and unrest.
Imperial soldiers and Guards are often utilized as the local police force for numerous regions, while off-duty personnel can frequent local venues and neighborhoods after signing out of their local garrison. The euphemism “off-base, recreation,” is used in the Imperial Military when referring to the visiting of various mistresses or bars by personnel, while out of consideration it was common for duty officers to ask no questions about such escapades. Members within the Imperial Army believe that those stationed furthest from the Quebec are believed to be of less importance to the New Order, causing many to resent deployments on remote regions such as the far north.
There remains within LaBelle a tiered citizenship structure with ‘LaBellean Citizens’ being at the top of the pile and solely comprised of those who have completed or remain involved in civic or military programs, regardless of gender identity, religion, race or sexual preference. The most common route to LaBellean Citizenship is the completion of some form of national service, eight years if you are foreign born and four years if you are born in LaBelle, either within the military or other recognized institution, but other paths exist. Beneath these are ‘Civilians’, a caste composed of those who have yet to undertake the service necessary to achieve one the higher grades, as well as those excluded for reasons of political, criminal or other offenses. (Most can regain citizenship by enlisting or re-enlisting for some kind of LaBellean service). The system is fluid, with some gaining and losing citizenship multiple times over the course of their life. An annulment of one’s LaBellean Citizenship is one of the most common sentences for minor crimes, with usually specific criteria assigned for its reinstatement. While losing one’s LaBellean Citizenship is viewed harshly, failing to re-apply for it is seen as the greatest failure to the LaBellean state.
There is also a small, marginalized section of society without any certification at all, as the certificate may be withdrawn by Imperial authorities should suspicion ever fall upon a person of undertaking “Un-LaBellean” activities. Examples include membership of republican or communist organizations, being a conscientious objector, owning copies of banned literature, and fraternizing with other “Un-LaBellean” persons. Non-certified “residents” are not counted for the purposes of electoral franchise, are withdrawn from social welfare programmes, have their wages docked and are banned from many careers. A lost certificate can rarely be recovered if withdrawn by the Imperial authorities. Judicial authorities do have hearings to consider whether a person has been wrongly struck off, but decisions in favor of the claimant are incredibly rare.
Education in LaBelle starts early in childhood, and continues until age sixteen. Throughout their education, children are taught their place within the society of the LaBellean Empire, and the duty they hold for its preservation and defense. Most young children are members of the LaBellean Youth, a government-run youth program that is subsidiary to the main educational structures.
Those who want to teach in the schools and academies must go through a rigorous screening process in order to determine a candidate’s suitability, with emphasis placed on a candidate’s civic service and youth involvement. A defining aspect of the LaBellean education system is its strictness, with corporal punishment being the main disciplinary style. All children must wear school uniforms approved by the state, and keep in top physical shape throughout their school careers. After a child goes through the education system, he/she may choose to enter the armed forces or go on to pursue a different career of imperial service for one to four years. Completing four years of service grants a certificate of accredited ‘LaBellean Citizenship’, allowing participation in LaBellean politics and opening considerable opportunities in life that would otherwise be closed. While four years of service is not mandatory, failure to meet this standard is seen as a failure of civic responsibility.
Members of nobility and the wealthy will generally send their child to the capital city of Quebec, which boasts a number of institutions, from buildings like the Library of Quebec, the largest known collection of both pre-war and post-war books to the University of LaBelle: a major center of learning that attracts young nobles from all over empire. The University is a relatively modern institution, whose liberal-minded professors have already clashed with religious conservatives over the content of their classes. This is likely to become a much larger issue in the future.
The LaBellean Youth is the primary youth organization within the LaBellean Empire. Its members undertake numerous activities including, sports, camping, hiking, domestic training and further schooling. Stories of imperial martyrs, imperial service and facts about LaBellean traditions are emphasized. Membership is not mandatory, but failure to complete the minimal requirements of the LaBellean Youth Organization is considered as failure on the part of the parents.
In the LaBellean Empire, social welfare is given a large priority. The system focuses on providing employment for citizens and ensuring a minimal living standard. Heavily focused on is the idea of a national LaBellean community. To aid in the fostering of a feeling of community, labour and entertainment experiences—from festivals, to vacation trips and traveling cinemas—are all a part of the “Strength through Joy” program which extends across the entire empire. Also crucial to the building of loyalty and comradeship is the National Labour Service and the LaBellean Youth Organization. Although welfare is free for all, the burden of financing much of the system comes from the docked pay of foreign residents, conquering foreign lands, and as well as higher taxes paid by those beneath the ‘LaBellean Citizen’ level.
Officially and legally, women within the LaBellean Empire are entitled to equal rights, and women can be found in all walks of life and in every career path. However, women are encouraged to leave the workplace at some point in their lives in order to create large families. Women receive various awards for giving birth to four, six, and eight or more children. Large families also receive subsidies to help with their utilities, school fees, and other household expenses.
The LaBellean Empire heavily promotes the concept of a national LaBellean community. Fundamental to this concept is the idea of breaking down tribalism, ethnic and religious divides and uniting peoples of all class divides to achieve a national purpose. As the LaBellean Empire continuously incorporates various nations and peoples, this concept has been expanded by stretching the definition of “LaBellean” to include members of every race and ethnic group that serve the empire faithfully. Loyalty to the regime, adherence to its laws and customs are defined as what constitutes a proper LaBellean, rather than one’s ethnic background or even first language. I
Art is particularly prized in LaBelle, and was once used as a way for people of the wasteland to escape the dreary and hostile land of the wasteland, but it is now used as a form of entertainment and expression.
LaBellean media, like the rest of LaBellean society, is centered around military and imperial service. Art considered to promote these ideals are heavily subsidized and promoted by the Imperial Chamber of Culture under the Imperial Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment.
However, under Samuel II’s rule, some of these restrictions on artistic expression on theater have been lifted, leading to a resurgence in popularity. The sphere of theater, and thus the goings-on in one of LaBelle’ most prestigious establishments, is a close reflection of the political climate of the country. Many a social scandal will even find itself immortalized as a play. Though most theatrical works reflect central themes of LaBellean culture, military and civic service, disdain towards “uncivilized savages” and reverence for Napolean the Great, a few striking contrasts can also be found.
While the majority of publishing houses, film production companies and other aspects of cultural life such as fine arts, music and theater are heavily influenced by the Chamber of Culture or it’s sub-chambers, no law exists explicitly prohibiting any form of expression or the content of any piece of media or art. However, those who participate in certain art forms or other content perceived to undermine the state are often stripped of their full citizenship should they possess it.
The Imperial Chamber of Sports (ICS) under the Imperial Ministry of Information and Public Enlightenment is the umbrella organization for sports in the empire. The aims of the promotion of sports in LaBelle included hardening the spirit of every LaBellean as well as making LaBellean citizens feel that they were part of a wider national purpose. One major part of the ICS’s ideas is the superiority of LaBellean sports skills. Out of all sports in the empire, football remains the most popular, with many LaBelleans partaking in community-organized events. Closely following football is robot-gladiator fights.