When coal is put under enough pressure it can turn into a diamond. This is at least how the Collective of Independent systems view itself. Ask those living in the UCS core worlds, or in the surrounding systems and a preferred description would be “rebellious miscreants.”
Discussion first started by high ranking officials of the Thorine Trading Hub about what life might be like if living under a loose coalition of systems as opposed to the rule of the UCS. This close to the core the full weight of UCS control was felt on a daily basis, to the point where it permeated everything.
It started with Andora Prime, Illustro and Severa. These three planets banded together, secretly stashed away money and began enlisting large armies to battle for independence. The First Independence War was a surprise to everyone. The newly formed Collective of Independent Systems had hoped to leverage themselves the rights to govern themselves with just the threat of war. The UCS called their bluff and conflict broke out. Systems rallied to the Collective, which helped bolster their numbers and position. Other colonies left alone by the UCS suddenly found themselves garrisoned, attacked by either faction and messed around with.
The war ended with an uneasy cease fire leading to a 50 year cold war. Utterly isolated from the galaxy at large, and surrounded by the UCS the Collective rebuilds, rearms, researches, and continues to enrich itself, all the while awaiting the inevitable recommencement of hostilities.