From the Drop pod 9 website:
The story of Heavy Gear begins in the year 6132, or TN 1933 in the local calendar. The scene is Terra Nova, a far away planet settled by humanity in the 52nd century. More than three hundred years ago, a political crisis on Earth precipitated the collapse of the Human Concordat, the organization which had governed humanity since 4503. Terra Nova was suddenly left to fend for itself.
Since that fateful day, the people of this new world have adapted to the characteristics of their new home planet and evolved into several distinct societies. Life on Terra Nova centers around the city-states, immense fortified cities that extend their power over the surrounding countryside. Most of these city-states banded together to form the seven nations, called leagues, that dominate Terra Nova's political scene. In turn, these leagues have allied (not always willingly) to form two super-nations, called confederations, each one dominating one hemisphere of planet. Only the gigantic equatorial desert known as the Badlands escapes their influence.
Over the past four thousand years, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. However, unpleasant historical circumstances, including an Ice Age on Earth and centuries of religious strife, have limited the rate at which humanity's tools evolved. In addition, centuries of slow paced interstellar colonization have shown people that complex hi-tech equipment tends to break down over time. Thus, Terranovans prefer simple devices, resorting to high technology only when it is considerably more advantageous.
Since the collapse of the Human Concordat at the end of the 58th century, Terra Nova has had little contact with its sister colonies or with Earth. Interstellar travel is possible using the few aging Gateships left in orbit around Terra Nova, but neither confederation can justify the enormous expense of maintaining the ancient vessels. It is therefore a lack of interest and finances, and not technology, that isolates Terra Nova.
As our story opens, Terra Nova is still recovering from the War of the Alliance, wherein they repelled a surprise invasion attempt by a newly unified and highly imperialist Earth. Sixteen years ago, a New Earth Commonwealth fleet entered the Terranovan orbit in an attempt to reclaim their old colony. At the time, Terra Nova's two confederations were on the brink of a world war. When faced with a common adversary, the two confederations allied to fight off their old colonial masters. After three and a half years of bitter conflict, the Earth invasion force, now short on supplies and reinforcements, conceded defeat and left the system.
Victory was short-lived, however. Now, after a decade of détente following the war, the power brokers of Terra Nova are restless once again. The ever-present border wars between the two superpowers are escalating at an alarming rate. Politicians and generals are feeding the public inflammatory rhetoric. Rumors of hidden nuclear arsenals being mobilized spread like wildfire. The inhabitants of the planet hold their breaths as the two political juggernauts lock horns with each other once again. No one seems to know or care what is happening to the rest of the human worlds -- an oversight that might have devastating consequences in the future...