Quadrant Zero is the heart of the MAFC, centred around the world of New Mars, first colonised in secret in UC2909 by the Martian and Sirian Helices as a base for operations against the Solar Republic. New Mars became the main base for the rebellion in 2940-45, and a hub of arms production for the embryonic Martian Association of Free Colonies. It later became the capital of the MAFC following the failure of Old Mars to secede and the Treaty of Io. The New Mars Helix subsequently colonised several other worlds in Quadrant 0, including Vulkan and Lug, before the Asteel Secession took away the 'southern' half of the MAFC in Q0 and destroyed the world of Vulkan in a terrible mass-driving attack. The world of Vulkan remains an official war grave to this day.
Vikings and Prussians
The aftermath of the Great War of Liberation was a flow of ethnic Martians from the worlds of Old Mars and Sirius, lost to the Earth Empire and Sirian Socialist Republic respectively. It is estimated that over the subsequent 150 years over one billion people left these worlds and resettled in the MAFC. These migrations formed the basis of most of the Martian colonies in Q0, the so-called 'Viking Worlds'; Thor, Snorri, Freyr, Sturluson, Odin and Njord. The impulse for this came from the military tradition that the Martian Star Navy had invented for itself over the previous century. This was based on a synthesis of sundry codes, values and aspirations from successful warrior societies of the past, including medieval Japan, Enlightenment Prussia, and Dark Ages Scandinavia. The aim was to create a force with the discipline and efficiency of the Prussian Army, the ferocity of the Vikings, and the honour and self-sacrificing bravery of the Samurai. In the case of the so-called 'Viking Worlds' the rather self-conscious assertion of this 'Viking' identity led to an attempt to try and socially engineer a modern version of a 'Viking' society in order to provide suitable recruits for the MSN to re-take the lost worlds, much as an attempt to build societies along a 'Prussian' military model was responsible for the colonies of Teutonia, New Berlin and Frederick (after Frederick the Great). In all cases, while the synthesis of these hugely disparate and sometimes conflicting values within the context of the relatively small and highly controlled elite of the Martian professional military forces was largely successful, the complexity of spaceflight-era living defeated attempts to create entire societies along these lines. Nevertheless, even 200 years on some trace of the identities once forced (albeit in most cases willingly) upon the populations of these worlds still remains, and the 'Viking Worlds' have promoted an individualistic warrior culture and spirit of individual excellence and competition, and an expansionistic trade and conquest-based outlook, alongside a tradition of communal democracy and laisser-faire libertarianism, while the 'Prussian Worlds' tend to be more authoritarian and proscriptive.
The Martian Union
As the MAFC has expanded into other Quadrants, the limitations of the devolved, federal structure that was agreed at the New Mars Constitutional Congress of 2977 started to become evident. By comparison with the other major polities, the MAFC was much-more bottom-up rather than top-down. It grew organically, with no central planning as was the case in other polities. The vacuum caused by a lack of centralised direction from a divided Senate was filled by the Martian Star Navy, which consequently had what many felt was an undue influence on policy-making, leading to Mars' traditional belligerence in the pursuit of new colonies. As a counter to this, some attempt to create a greater centralisation of power has occurred among the worlds of Quardant 0. The worlds have agreed to pool sovereignty under the banner of the Martian Union. This state-within-a-state has effectively subsumed the old Quadrant 0 Regional Council, and has also come to control directly or indirectly nearly half of the seats in the Senate and is able to wield them as a block, bringing representatives from other regions onside via a combination of bribes and threats.
The Martian Union has a central unicameral legislature based on New Mars with seats elected every four years on a constituency basis by population across all of the planets of Q0. The chamber itself then elects a Supreme Councillor from among its number. Although Mars has a distrust of organised political parties, interest groupings within Q0 tend to coalesce around groups of members of the Council of the Martian Union. The largest tension in recent years has been between an insular view for Q0, and a more internationalist, external view. The previous administration, under the now widely discredited leadership of Supreme Councillor Pickles, tried to insulate the Martian Union from external events. As a result, the MAFC did not organise effectively against the Exterminator threat, and suffered both the worst recession and worst military disaster in its history. Since the return to power of the Central Democratic Party under the leadership of Supreme Councillor Charles L Harness, the MAFC has been run on the twin pillars of econmic strength at home, military strength abroad, and thisseems to have connected with the current mood within the Association. However, the tensions between the control of the MSN and Martian Union over MAFC politics and the autonomous impulses of the regions has been merely masked by these events, and still provides a faultline that runs through Martian politics, and the Colonial Growth Party made strong gains.