Factions

One would have thought a cataclysmic event such as the Fall would bring the surviving elements of transhumanity closer together, jointly dedicating themselves to the repopulation of the solar system and continued prosperity. Instead, the remoteness and physical isolation of transhuman colonies and habitats stretched across the solar system, as well as the effects emerging technologies have had on transhuman economies and social lives, have promoted the evolution of a wide spectrum of philosophies, agendas, and political models.

Gang Night Cartel

When affiliation to one of the many multi-ethnic habitats replaced the concepts of ethnicity and nationality, cultural heritage and traditions faded with them into history. Several pre-Fall ethnic syndicates formed a careful alliance of necessity at first, but uploading and morphing soon after tore down any remaining social codes or racial prejudice. Progressive in both entrepreneurial and criminal vision, the Night Cartel emerged from the remnants of Earth’s underworld syndicates, merging the best qualities of each.

The Night Cartel holds legitimate hypercorp status in certain habitats while clearly working outside the law in more law-abiding or less corrupt regimes. The Night Cartel is involved in a number of traditional crime outlets: racketeering, extortion, kidnapping, pod slavery, and prostitution. They have also adapted well to the latest technological developments and compete with the triads in the electronic stimulant, drug, and nanofab piracy markets. Like the triads, the Night Cartel sometimes operates though legitimate hypercorp fronts.

Hypercorp Nimbus

Nimbus produces key components for mesh infrastructure, from spime microradio and sensor systems to ectos, servers, and laser links. Nimbus also dominates the network of farcaster links throughout the system, due to several breakthroughs in this technology (some claim that Nimbus purchased these advances from the Factors). Rumors that Nimbus controls a secret Pandora gate or that they engage in illicit ego-smuggling (or even that they are secretly transferring stolen egos to experimental exoplanet colonies) regularly circulate through the mesh but remain unconfirmed.

Gang Nine Lives

This widespread network of soul-traders specializes in acquiring, trading, and trafficking transhumans. Their primary market lies in ego-trading: stealing backups, forknapping, kidnapping and forced uploading, and so on. Nine Lives are known to run illegal infomorph-slave colonies as well as organize pit fights using a variety of physical bodies (biomorphs, synthmorphs, animals) loaded with all manner of consciousnesses (transhuman, AI, animal, etc). Only the truly desperate look towards the syndicate to be smuggled out of a habitat or hypercorporate indenture. Their ruthlessness in acquiring egos has earned them a fearful reputation among the transhuman population as well as in infomorph societies.

Hypercorp Omnicor

A descendant of the pre-Fall megacorporate giant Monolith Industries, Omnicor specializes in the fields of nanotech design and fabrication, chemical refining, alternative fuel, and antimatter research. Omnicor managed to secure research-oriented key assets from its twin rival Starware in a violent conflict during the Fall, leading to an ongoing enmity that might be better termed a corporate war. Despite its progressive technological outlook, Omnicor retains a conservative corporate structure with strict internal regulations and controls as a defense against Starware’s repeated infiltration and sabotage attempts. Among the hypercorp’s major assets are an antimatter research facility orbiting Mercury.

Gang Pax Familae

Though similar to the Night Cartel in that Pax Familae holds legal of ces and outposts in several habitats while working underground in others, the difference between the two syndicates couldn’t be bigger. The entire Pax Familae organization goes back to one person, Claudia Ambelina, the syndicate’s founder and matriarch. Relying excessively on cloning and forking technologies, each individual member of the syndicate is a descendant or variant of Claudia. Biomorphs are cloned from Claudia’s original genetics or sexually produced offspring (thanks to sex-switching biomods), while egos are forks. All members are utterly loyal to Claudia (since they all are Claudia) and show their family af liation with pride and arrogance. Individually, each remains slightly but notably different, though all are calculating and ambitious. Regular reassimilation of forks and XP updates are used to keep each variant aware of each of the other’s activities—once you’ve met one version of Claudia, the others will know you.

Pax Familae engages in a wide assortment of legal, dubious, and illegal operations, each tailored to the needs of the particular habitat in question. Common projects include venture capital manipulation, reputation network gaming, nancial consultation, info brokerage, stock manipulation, banking fraud, and loan sharking.

Gang Pirates

Most pirates attack automated cargo ships and longrange supply convoys, with the occasional raid on an asteroid mining station, research outpost, or brinker habitat. On rare occasions they have been known to attack commercial cruisers to rob the wealthy or kidnap socialites. Many pirates take advantage of scum eets as cover, trading with them and using their limited maintenance capabilities. Quite a few also make sideline pro ts as smugglers and/or free traders, often utilizing connections to one of the crime syndicates or political outcasts.

Political Bloc Planetary Consortium

Evolving from an alliance of hypercorp interests into transhumanity’s most powerful body politic, the Planetary Consortium today controls several habitat clusters throughout the inner system, primarily in and around Mars, Luna, and Earth orbit. The impressive space station Progress is the official seat of government and has become the symbol of the Consortium’s influence and power, even though few congress or council meets take place in the flesh.

The Consortium applies basic democratic principles supported by a real-time voting system for all registered citizens. The congress and executive bodies feature a rotating cast of hyperelite politicos, gerontocrats, socialites, and even media icons. It’s a known fact that despite this political façade of a democratic republic, the members of the secretive Hypercorp Council are the true powers behind the Consortium. These hypercorps are major proponents of the transitional economy, the interdiction of Earth, and expansion beyond the gates.

Aside from economic interests, the Consortium advocates the imperative of eugenics as social responsibility and for transhumanity to reclaim its former strength and prosperity—a campaign sometimes accused of euphemizing discrimination against unmodified humans, indentured infomorphs, uplifts, and the clanking masses.

Ideology Preservationists

Preservationists are environmentalists who call for a no-impact, hands-off approach when it comes to inhabiting new worlds. They are extremely protective of naturally intact biospheres that might have any semblance of life, no matter how microbial, hoping to keep them from despoilment or contamination. In addition to opposing terraforming and expansion through the Pandora gates, they are often opposed to fusion and antimatter power.

Organization Project Ozma

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Organization Promethians

A prominent topic among conspiracy theorists is the existence of a group of seed AIs calling themselves Prometheans. Rumors of these entities predated the Fall and occasionally are up as some new evidence comes to light, though such evidence is almost always discredited soon after. According to some theories, the Prometheans predated the TITANs and may even have been responsible for bringing the TITANs into existence. Others postulate that the Prometheans were a TITAN splinter faction that broke off and attempted to counteract the TITANs activities during the Fall. Still others whisper that the Prometheans are not of transhuman origin at all and are actually a digital alien mindform that found Earth and now actively interferes with transhuman affairs. Whether the Prometheans are hostile, friendly, or indifferent remains a matter of much conjecture and contention. Prominent organizations like the Planetary Consortium discount such rumors or otherwise remain silent.

Ideology Reclaimers

The Reclaimers pursue one ultimate goal—the reclamation of Earth as transhumanity’s primary habitat. In addition to calling for the quarantine of Earth to be lifted, they engage in scientific research and running virtual simulations on how to best cleanse and reclaim their contaminated and polluted planet. Despite the interdiction to enter Earth’s atmosphere, the reclaimers are suspected of sponsoring perilous and high-risk ventures onto the planet’s surface to gather scientific data or even to establish terraforming colonies.

Hypercorp Skineasthesia

As the leading designer of biomorphs, Skineasthesia enjoys system-wide popularity and respect for its sophisticated products, especially high-end customized models. Best known for its breakthroughs in genetic engineering and enhancements, the hypercorp’s interest in sophisticated combat morphs or stylized pleasure pods are lesser-known facts and often sold through a network of seemingly unaffiliated shell corporations or local distributors. Skinaesthesia emphasizes environmental adaptations and useful cybernetic enhancements, increasing transhumanity’s chances for survival and further prosperity. Experimental morphs are sometimes offered to desperate infugees for field testing.

Hypercorp Skinthetic

Skinthetic is also a lead designer of morphs, but with a much sleazier reputation and not just because of their anarcho-capitalist roots. Specializing in extensive and often radical biomodifications, the hypercorp pushes the envelope in exotic pod and biomorph designs under the mantle of morphological freedom. Bioconservatives have condemned the corporation’s business practices and ethics and have even leveled accusations that Skinthetic is experimenting with xenogenetic materials acquired from the Factors. Skinthetic’s cavalier attitude actually makes them popular in many parts of the outer system, and they are know as the biotech corp to go to if you want something weird.

Ideology Socialites

Uploading and resleeving effectively grant immortality to those who can afford it. This has created a shift among the exclusive rich and economic elites of the inner system, whether they be the heads of hypercorps, old Earth dynasties, or other displanted oligarchs. The top ranks of the wealthy and influential need never fear death, allowing them to plan for the long-term. Some of these were among the first to acquire longevity treatments when they became available on Earth and are now approaching two centuries in age.

Where once these power brokers would have passed their riches on to their family and descendants, however, their heirs now face a situation where they have morethan-comfortable lives and access to massive fortunes, but no chance that they will ever control those fortunes or rise to the levels of their elders. Even the nouveau rich who become wealthy on their own often find themselves excluded from this influential club—at least until they put in a good fifty years.

Rich and bored, with no responsibilities but the solar system at their reach, a new culture of elite socialites has risen. These glitterati indulge in eccentric lifestyles and excessive parties, covered by the media in all its super cial and polished glory. Private habitats and ships, lavish soirees, armies of servants, and the ability to buy almost anything or anyone leads to all sorts of interesting adventures. Naturally, these socialites form into constantly shifting cliques and webs of allegiances, complete with affairs, scandals, intrigue, and backbiting.

Hypercorp Somatex

Somatek is a leader in the art and science of uplifting animal species, pioneering several major breakthroughs in cognitive enhancement and genetic modification. The hypercorp also engages in extensive animal pharming—producing and extracting pharmaceuticals from transgenic critters—and markets numerous products and services related to smart animals and chimerical creatures. Despite the educational and training programs it offers to uplifts and the fact that much of its workforce consists of uplifts, Somatek is controversial among mercurials who disapprove of their methods (which often involve strict controls on uplift reproduction), the lack of input uplifts are given in their modi cations and development, and the focus on anthropocentric mind-sets “enforced” on uplifts.

Hypercorp Starware

Another remnant of the pre-Fall megacorp Monolith Industries (like Omnicor), Starware is a leading manufacturer of robotics, spacecraft fusion drives, satellites, and entire pre-fab habitats. Despite its nancial success and resources, Starware’s ongoing blood feud with Omnicor denies both corporations full membership privileges in the Planetary Consortium. Starware makes heavy use of AI workers in robotic shells, having suffered a few too many labor disputes with disgruntled Lunar workers. In fact Starware grows increasingly unpopular with its Lunar neighbors and has been forced to bring in extra security due to frequent sabotage attempts. Recent negotiations with the Factors have spurred theories that Starware might be acquiring Factor aid for building a lighthugger starship.

Ideology Technocreationists

Technocreationists believe that the destruction of Earth was a sign from God, showing transhumanity the error of its ways. They believe that through technological advancement and social engineering, transhumanity will achieve co-existence with its diverse self as well as with extraterrestrial intelligences, thereby finding new purpose and, eventually, enlightenment. Attracted by the similarities to the brahman of Hinduism, the highest cosmic spiritual being, technocreationists enjoy a steady in ux of converted hindus.

Hypercorp Terragenesis

Built from the remains of several pre-Fall South African and Southeast Asian corporations who engaged in geoengineering projects and sought to relieve Earth’s ecological crises, TerraGenesis’s expertise is in developing sustainable biospheres and eco-systems via aggressive industrialized terraforming. TerraGenesis is different in that it is a worker-owned cooperative, with workplace councils in local offices and an elected cooperative congress handling management. It maintains several habitats on Mars and a small number of research stations in orbit around Earth, collecting data for simulations of Earth revitalization projects. The latter initiative is strongly supported—and possibly financed—by prominent reclaimers. TerraGenesis’s work on Mars, however, is often targeted by preservationist saboteurs. Thanks to their possession of the Vulcanoid Gate (p. 88), the cooperative has a growing presence on various exoplanets that are ripe for terraforming or geoengineering.

Political Bloc Tharsis League

A loose coalition of the planet’s major independent settlements, the League’s elected members form a committee representing the population in matters concerning or affecting the majority of its habitats and settlements. Prominent debates revolve around the scientific approach of the ongoing terraforming process as well as trade and taxation restrictions initiated by the Planetary Consortium and its member hypercorps. The League’s committee is rarely united in its agenda and opinion and tensions are increasingly on the rise. The cities with strong hypercorp ties are accused of dominating council affairs, manipulating matters behind the scenes, failing to do anything about the TITAN Quarantine Zone (p. 94), and selling out Martian interests to the hypercorps and the Planetary Consortium (of which many are also part). In response, the non-Consortium cities are condemned for advocating anti-hypercorp initiatives, passively blocking terraforming measures, and for maintaining ties to the Barsoomians—the Martian underclass resistance living in the desolate and unstable outskirts.

Gang Triads

The only major Earth syndicate to survive the Fall almost unscathed, the triads dominate the solar system’s underworld by their sheer membership size and a history of centuries of economic and political in uence. Having evolved into legit enterprises and small economic consortiums already before the Fall, the triads followed the masses of Chinese workers into space, gaining a foothold during the early years of colonization. After the Fall, they used their in uence to spread to numerous habitats, taking advantage of the disparities in wealth and restrictive refugee policies to create ourishing gray and black market enterprises. Part of their success lies in their continued use of ethnic Chinese social cues to ensure their insularity.

Though numerous small triad outfits exist, each claiming a particular station or region, there are four large triad groups worthy of mention. Each of these wields enough in uence to engage in system-wide criminal activities. Traditionally they operate through small to medium-sized gangs local to a specific habitat or use their legal outfits as a font for their endeavours.