by Max Barry

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2

The Cult's Guard

Total personnel: 2.5e27
Mission: Defense of the Cult (officially); humanitarian relief efforts (in practice)

Service branches:

- The Cult Ground Guard: Army. Concerned with boots-on-the-ground warfare and humanitarian aid.
Personnel: 2.3e27
Infantry transport vehicles: 1.5e23
Infantry transport spacecraft: 1.2e25
Supply transport vehicles: 1.6e24
Supply transport spacecraft: 7.8e23
Tanks: 1.1e23
Mobile launcher vehicles: 4.7e23
Power armor suits: 2.0e26

Mostly concerned with civil defense and foreign aid, the Ground Guard also encompasses the operation of fighter and bomber air/spacecraft and planetside navy assets, though the latter is usually only resorted to on oceanic worlds. The Ground Guard makes heavy use of nonlethal weapons in the arsenal of its soldiers, but all are officially required to possess lethal weapons. Weapons consist of hypersonic magnetically-accelerated kinetic weapons (The mainstay type of weapon), dense-plasma weapons (effective at close range), laser and particle-beam heavy weapons (Mostly particle-beams; lasers are less powerful and usually only useful for very long-range attack), low-yield quarkium bombs (when you want a continent dead), and ubiquitous combat nanoswarms.

- The Natural Navy: Space navy. Also carries out coast guard and patrolling operations
Personnel: 2.0e26
Patrol ships: 1.3e24
Corvettes: 2.2e22
Battleships: 1.0e21
Carriers: 5.3e20

Named so not because it is natural, but simply its allegiance, the Cult's space navy is primarily concerned with space patrol operations and the transportation of the army. With ships in most cosmic civilizations often reaching multiple thousands of kilometers long, the Cult's actual combat ships are no different, and are often larger than the celestial bodies they fight around. Their munitions are primarily relativistic kinetic systems, particle-beam cannons, and gamma-ray laser (graser) canons optimized for long range. A single stray hit from a full-size ship is enough to destroy a planet's environment.

- Strategic Command Corps (SCC): Strategic weapons and covert operations. Plays with spies and launches WMDs.
Personnel: 6.3e14
Trained infiltration agents: 22,000,000
Trained cybersoldier agents / AIs: 3.3e9
Interstellar planet-class conversion-induction electropulse warheads: 3.3e12
Intergalactic galaxy-class conversion-induction Afterjam bombs: 10,000
||ansfig|| ||||n bo mb s: %^%& [SYSTEM CORRUPTED]

When dealing with other nations on unfriendly or nonexistent terms with the Cult, infiltration and covert ops are typically used to manipulate them into a favorable state. The agents of the SCC are given some of the best equipment the Cult can produce, and are all trained for at least two hundred thousand years. Their skill is greater even than that of the Deific Empires of the primary universe. Even a single one of them is more than able to bring an entire planet to its knees - even when protected with universal, AI-assisted security forces.

The Strategic Command is in charge of all weapons of mass destruction the Cult possesses, though all of them are meant to disable rather than destroy. There is a very complex system of authorization governing their use, and even their locations are secret and change often.

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Because pacifism is so deeply ingrained into its theology and value system, The Cult does not possess a true, serious military force. It does officially exist as the Cult's Guard, but it is strictly there as a token force akin to ancient Germany of Earth following the human First World War. The Cult relies heavily on diplomacy and assistance from its allies for its own serious protection to offset this. Its military is thus almost exclusively used in police roles, peacekeeping and psy-op missions, and disaster relief efforts.

The military is officially headed by the Highest Orator as Commander-in-Chief, but this is a mostly symbolic state. The vast majority of its operations is headed by a strategic body of generals and commanders known as the the Guard Command, headed by a Voxen, General Lilos. She has served for sixty million years across both the Cult and the Voxen Empire, which she left as a field commander following her conversion to the Naturist faith. She was promoted frequently for her excellent understanding of humanitarian crises and her uncanny ability to deal with them effectively, and has held the rank of General for fifty-five million years.

The Cult Guard consists of roughly 2.5e27, or 2,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 enlisted and volunteer personnel overall. This may seem like an impossible amount to a lesser-end civilization such as those bound to planetary bodies and single galaxies, but it is in fact absolutely nothing by comparison with most actual Universal and Inter-Universal polities, with an average of only 250,000 servicemembers in each star system where several hundred billion civilian inhabitants can exist. (By comparison, the Voxen Empire, one of the most powerful military powers historically, has around twenty billion servicemembers in each system on average at peacetime equilibrium.) The Guard also has in its service a small number of combat vehicles, though they are almost entirely infantry transports, scouting, and cargo hauling vehicles.

The Guard places a great deal of importance on its first aid and medical treatment personnel and facilities, and over one in ten of its personnel are dedicated medical officers. This fits in very well with its stated humanitarian and peacekeeping role.

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