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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.

The Hypercorps

To some economists, the Fall and the numerous crises that predated it on Earth can be viewed as an extinction event, the end of the line for the massive transnational megacorp dinosaurs, financial giants that supported their monolithic frameworks on outdated economic models and industrial technologies. The hypercorps are their evolutionary descendants: slimmer, faster, meaner, and more flexible, eagerly embracing the possibilities of new technologies and never afraid to toss the old aside to take advantage of the new. It was the hypercorps that drove humanity’s expansion into space and who continue to push the technological envelope, guiding transhumanity towards new horizons— always with profit as their driving goal.
Most hypercorps are decentralized, non-assetbased legal entities. Complete automation, advanced robotics, morph technology, and cornucopia machines allow the hypercorps to abstain from mass employment for labor or production services. The need for physical labor has mostly been reduced to tasks associated with habitat construction or deep space mining. Infomorphs and AIs are heavily employed (or more accurately, owned) as drone operators or virtual workers, and many administrative tasks are performed online via augmented reality, virtual private networks, and simulspace nodes. Some hypercorps are in fact entirely “virtual,” with no physical assets and each employee acting as a mobile office. A few major hypercorps literally consist of only a dozen transhuman personnel. Though some hypercorps are massive and diversified, most specialize in particular fields or services. This results in both an intricate system of partnerships to develop, produce, and market products and services and a large-scale tendency to internally contract special services from other hypercorps. Many hypercorps also pool their resources and talent into cooperative research initiatives, project centers, or shared habitats.
Most hypercorps are traditional capitalist in outlook, though many have adopted alternative business philosophies and management models. This might include basing decisions on internal forecast market trends, groupthink consensus models, or ditching management entirely in favor of staff polling/voting initiatives that statistically fare better. A few are anarcho- capitalist companies originating from Extropian enclaves, though these often suffer from a bias when making deals with inner system powers. The solar system boasts thousands of hypercorps; a few of the more prominent and interesting are noted below.

Cognite

Major Industries: Cognitive Science, Mental Implants, Psychosurgery, Nootropics
Major Stations: Thought (Venus orbit), Phobos (Mars moon)
A pioneer in the field of cognitive science, Cognite (pronounced cog-neet) drives forward the cutting edge of research into understanding the transhuman mind. Most well-known for their mental augmentations and the original menton morph design, Cognite also specializes in psychosurgery and nootropics. Their elitist and aloof image was not aided by their scandalous involvement with the projects to raise accelerated growth children that became known as the Lost generation (p. 233), nor rumors that they engage in research involving TITAN-influenced incapacitating input attacks. Nevertheless they remain a key member in the Planetary Consortium.

Comet Express (Comex)

Major Industries: Courier Services, Shipping,Logistics
Major Stations: Nectar (Luna), Olympus (Mars)
Comet Express specializes in delivery services, interstellar logistics, supply chains, and shipping. They maintain a presence on almost every transhuman habitat in the solar system, often via local subcontractors. Despite the wonders of nanofabrication, many resources must still be imported. ComEx focuses on managing supply and trade routes and making sure physical shipments reach their destinations. For that purpose, ComEx maintains orbital hubs equipped with slingshot accelerators at strategic waypoints throughout the system and a fleet of cargo vessels and courier drones. For reasons unknown to the public, ComEx is viewed with hostility by the Jovian Republic, who have standing orders to shoot down ComEx vessels.

Direct Action

Major Industries: Security Services, MilitaryContracting
Major Stations: Hexagon (Earth-Luna L5)
Descended from the remnants of several pre-Fall national military forces and private military contractors, this hypercorp made a name for itself in the period immediately following the Fall, where they helped manage refugee populations among various habitats and vessels while shattering any sign of unrest immediately and with full force. Direct Action today is known for its highly-efficient shock troops and superior combat morphs, providing security and public police services to self-governing habitats or hypercorp installations. Shifting political alliances between habitat clusters, corporate rivalry, and the constant fear of TITAN agents cater to Direct Action’s paranoia-inducing marketing. The corporation maintains several habitats as physical training facilities and armament depots.

Ecologene

Major Industries: Environmental Systems, Genetics
Major Stations: McClintock (Mars orbit)
Ecologene specializes in living systems, environmental genetics (with a specialty in insects), smart animals, bio-architecture, and environmental nanotech. They design and maintain the ecosystems inside numerous habitats and tunnel colonies. One of Ecologene’s notable projects is building and maintaining a massive genetics archive of all life forms, though this endeavor was nearly crippled by the Fall. For unknown reasons, Ecologene seems to be favored by the Factors. Some speculate that Ecologene has some sort of blackmail material in hand, while others believe Ecologene is trading away transhumanity’s genetic secrets in exchange for a few xeno-tech gifts.

Exotech

Major Industries: Uploading, AIs, Electronics,Software
Major Stations: Starwell (Main Belt)
Often regarded as the personal technocratic pulpit of the infamous media mogul Morgan Sterling, Exotech emerged from the Fall almost unscathed, any significant losses absorbed by corporate assets in peripheral market segments, while ruthlessly buying out troubled competitors or think tanks unable to adapt to the transitioning economy. Nowadays, Exotech remains a predominant designer of high-end electronics, AIs, and mesh presence software systems. ExoTech also continues to pursue an uncompromising progressive agenda with its research in mind emulation, uploading, and resleeving, as well as infomorph ego simulation.
Rumors persist that ExoTech continues to carry out research and even production of AGIs.

Experia

Major Industries: Media (AR, VR, XP), News, Entertainment, Memetics
Major Stations: Elysium (Mars)
Living up to its name, Experia dominates the solar system’s news, media, and entertainment market segments, generating controversy not only with its publicly expressed pro-AI stance or inviting an AGI to its board of directors, but also by profucient use of hyperviral marketing and sophisticated XP-programming. Another core segment is the production of educational XP and infomorph or AI tutors, some of the latter regularly ascending to pop-culture icon status. Experia is the Planetary Consortium’s prime authority on designing and deploying customized viral memes, developed to counter anything posing a threat to the Consortium’s interests. The corp has automated nodes and VR centers on many habitats throughout the solar system, and it contracts thousands of freelance lifeloggers as live, roving, citizen journalistas. Claims by some infomorphs that Experia has illegally subjected indentured infomorphs to never-ending simulation experiments for forecasting and intelligence analysis purposes remain unsubstantiated.

Fa Jing

Major Industries: Mining, Energy, Biotech, Industrial Manufacturing
Major Stations: New Dazhai (Mars)
The industrial giant Fa Jing is a powerhouse in the mining and energy production markets and also boasts a remarkable presence in the fields of biotech and industrial equipment manufacturing. The former megacorp has quickly adapted to the new economic environments and reputation-based systems, thanks partly to its dedication to network building and sharing social responsibility, epitomized in concepts like dàtóng and guanxi. Often considered insular and close-minded, its internal communal and protective mindset is a strong contrast to its manipulating and monopolist business attitude. Fa Jing is engaged in mining operations throughout the asteroid belt and the Trojans and maintains significant corporate assets on Mars.

Gatekeeper Corporation

Major Industries: Gatecrashing, Research, XP Media, Exoplanet Colonization
Major Stations: Gateway (Pandora)
Initially born from the merger of several scientific institutions and their corporate financiers, this hypercorp made a name for itself overnight when it announced the successful decoding of the wormhole gateway discovered on Saturn’s moon Pandora. Under the leadership of the eccentric but charismatic xenoarcheologist Xander Rabin, the consortium funds gatecrasher explorations through the Pandora gate, paying a small share of the revenue to the explorers but otherwise retaining all-encompassing rights on any discoveries made—as well as the marketing and distribution of the highly popular gatecrasher XP recordings. Aside from scheduled explorations, the consortium offers high-risk gatecrasher scouting and discovery trips for the bold or desperate, selected through a random lottery system.

Go-nin Group

Major Industries: Banking, Agritech, Robotics, and Services
Major Stations: Tsukomo (Luna)
Considered a relic of Earth’s capitalist market economy, the Go-nin Group is a traditional Japanese keiretsu, a conglomerate of companies with interwoven relationships and shareholdings, horizontallyintegrated across several industries (and sometimes vertically-integrated within a business sector as well), and centered around the long-lived Tamahashi enterprise consultancy firm. Tamahashi evolved from an influential corporate lobby to a diversified bank holding major equity in the group’s partners; it now controls the group’s assets and directs the partnership’s overall business strategy. Through its member corps, the Go-nin Group has a sizable presence throughout the entire system and—without dominating a specific industry—own significant market share in fields such as banking, agritech, robotics, and services. Any difficulties in adapting to evolving economic models due to its rigid structure are compensated by unscrupulous exploitative behavior and a bottom-line attitude, earning the group the reputation as the most ruthless hypercorp of the inner system. Go-nin currently controls a Pandora Gate on Eris (p. 109), secured by a contingent of ultimate mercenaries.

Gorgon Defense Systems

Major Industries: Miltech, Security, Military Contracting
Major Stations: Extropia
Gorgon is one of the most significant Extropian success stories. Based out of the anarcho-capitalist freehold, Gorgon has become a major name in the design and manufacture of weapons, vehicles, sensors, and other defense technologies. Their product range includes personal weapon systems, spacecraft armaments, and habitat defense systems. While prominent in the inner system, Gorgon is also one of the main arms suppliers to autonomist and brinker stations. Their subsidiary Medusan Shield offers private security services in direct competition to Direct Action. While DirAct is known for its expertly trained soldiers, Medusan Shield is known for their elite cadre of highly trained and aesthetically enhanced female combat morphs. It is suspected that several prominent assassinations have been the work of agents contracted through Medusan Shield.

Nimbus

Major Industries: Electronics, Mesh Systems, Farcasting, Communications
Major Stations: Octavia (Venus)
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.

Omnicor

Major Industries: Nanofabrication, Chemicals, Energy, Anti-Matter
Major Stations: Monolith-3 (Mercury), Feynman (Luna)
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.

Pathfinder

Major Industries: Exoplanet Colonization, Mining, Research
Major Stations: Ma’adim Vallis (Mars)
Pathfinder is one of the first hypercorps to dive into galactic expansion, claiming new territories beyond the Pandora gates and establishing numerous colonies. Taking advantage of desperate infugees and gatecrashers, Pathfinder offers transportation to an exoplanet and a new morph in exchange for indentured labor. The corp has established several off-world mining and resource exploitation projects, much to the chagrin of preservationists. Though Pathfinder has but a small presence in the solar system, it is a frequent target of eco-terrorist attacks.

Prosperity Group

Major Industries: Agriculture, Aquaculture, Pharmaceuticals
Major Stations: Ceres, Lu Xing (Mars)
The Prosperity Group ascended into the hypercorp ranks before the Fall, meeting the high demand many new stations had for microgravity agritech, aquaculture, hydroponics, and other sources of food. Expanding into pharmaceuticals as well, Prosperity is considered the lead supplier for the poor man’s food and drugs. Their cultured faux-meats and proteinenriched nutrition additives are in high demand. This corp earned some sympathy when it lost an entire habitat to some sort of resurgent TITAN outbreak a few years after the Fall, though some have suggested this was just a cover story to hide an unfortunate accident resulting from experimental drug testing on an unwitting populace.

Skinaesthesia

Major Industries: Genetics, Cloning, Biotech
Major Stations: Ptah (Mars)
As the leading designer of biomorphs, Skinaesthesia 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 focuses on emphasizing 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.

Skinthetic

Major Industries: Genetics, Cloning, Biotech
Major Stations: Extropia
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 bio-modifications, 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.

Solaris

Major Industries: Banking, Insurance, Investments, Futures Markets, Info Brokerage
Major Stations: None
Solaris is the solar system’s leading banking and financial investment hypercorp, dealing in insurances, info-brokerage, and high-risk investments on cultural and social experimental speculation. A member of the Planetary Consortium, Solaris advises many habitats on regulating their transitional economies. Solaris has no offices or physical assets; each banker is a mobile virtual office. Solaris is rumored to maintain a secret base where the corporation runs simulations on the development of the entire solar system’s macro-economy, constantly adjusting its own strategies based on the dynamics of this big blueprint. Fueling these rumors, Solaris is known to hire “independent consultants” to tip the balance in politically or economically profitable high-risk investments.

Somatek

Major Industries: Uplifts, Pharming, Pharmaceuticals, Genetics
Major Stations: Clever Hands (Luna)
Somatek is a leader in the art and science of uplifting animal species, pioneering several major brea throughs 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 modifications and development, and the focus on anthropocentric mind-sets “enforced” on uplifts.)

Starware

Major Industries: Robotics, Aerospace Engineering, Habitat Construction
Major Stations: Korolev Shipyards (Luna), Vesta (Belt)
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 financial success and resources, Starware’s ongoing blood feud with Omnicor denies both corporations full membership privileges on 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.

Stellar Intelligence

Major Industries: Intelligence, Data Mining, Info Brokerage, Espionage
Major Stations: Memory Hole Torus (Martian Trojans)
Born from the ashes of the UN-governed Terran Intelligence Cooperative (TIC), its surviving personnel and assets were collectively uploaded during the Fall and quickly regrouped under the name Stellar Intelligence. Emerging as a virtual collective, most of Stellar’s employees remain loyal to the corporation and its director, the reclusive infomorph known as Syme. Stellar offers an impressive array of intelligence services, including data mining, analyst think tanks, retroquantification (bringing old secrets/data to light), memetic mapping, and more. Its services also extend to surveillance, data theft, espionage, media manipulation, and infiltration. The hypercorp’s specialty is pre-empting civil insurgencies and preventing political memes and movements from destabilizing a habitat’s or sector’s regime. Criticized by civil rights movements and especially anarchists, Stellar is known to embed programmed infomorph agents into the local population of any oppressive regime that will pay their price. While many view Stellar as the brainwashing and secret police arm of the Planetary Consortium, the hypercorp offers its services to almost any other faction or individual.

TerraGenesis

Major Industries: Terraforming, Ecosystem Management, Environmental Data
Major Stations: Caldwell (Vulcanoids), Ashoka (Mars), Elegua (Earth orbit)
Built from the remains of several pre-Fall South African and Southeast Asian corporations who engaged in geo-engineering 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 Pandora Gate (p. 88), the cooperative has a growing presence on various exoplanets that are ripe for terraforming or geoengineering.

Political Blocs

Transhumanity’s social, cultural, and ideological diversity, combined with its scattered and isolated presence in habitat clusters throughout the solar system, gives rise to a wide range of political memes and factions advocating equally diverse organizational models. Many of these have banded together into larger political entities to further mutual goals and act in cooperative self-interest.

Jovian Republic

Memes: Bioconservatism, Fascism, Security
Main Stations: Liberty (Ganymede)

Exploiting the chaos of the Fall, a group of stations and habitats were seized in a military coup and the Jovian Republic was born. Combining terrestrial South American dictatorship with U.S. American political lobbyism, this regime quickly brought the entire Jovian military-industrial complex under its control.
Widely referred to as the Jovian Junta by the rest of the outer system, the Republic’s authorities hold a strict bioconservative stance against many transhuman scientific and technological developments. Exploiting fears engendered by the Fall, the Republic restricts access to sophisticated technologies such as nanofabrication, cloning, forking, and even uploading, and is one of the few old economies left in the system. Public communication channels are subjected to extensive censorship and travel privileges are extremely limited. Both uplifts and AGIs are strictly forbidden and treated as property without civil rights. Diplomatic relations to progressive factions remain cold; heavily-modified transhuman emissaries or visitors are viewed with suspicion at best, or simply denied access. Despite continuous reports of heinous acts of government oppression, the Republic’s intimidating military assets keep any other factions from intervening.

Lunar-Lagrange Alliance

Memes: Reclaiming Earth
Main Stations: Erato (Luna), Remembrance (Earth orbit)

This small cluster of habitats stationed around Earth’s Lagrange points and on or in orbit around Luna formed an alliance of necessity, rather than joint political or social agendas or cultural roots. In fact, individual stations are quite diverse and sometimes polarized, as many of them cling to old Earth cultural and national identities. Due to their relative proximity, members share basic resources and services and have signed mutual assistance agreements in case of an emergency.
Before the Fall, many of these habitats were considered some of the most influential off-Earth bases. Since the Fall and the subsequent rise of the Planetary Consortium, however, the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance has become a second-rate diminished power, and is often viewed as conservative, old-fashioned, and too caught up in romanticizing the past. Lunar- Lagrange Alliance stations maintain simmering tensions and an ongoing rivalry with the Planetary Consortium, particularly those PC colonies on/over Luna and the Lagrange points. One main source of contention is the quarantine of Earth, as the Lunar- Lagrange Alliance is a stronghold for the reclaimer movement. The Lunar-Lagrange Alliance does, however, benefit from hypercorp support of its own, particularly the Go-nin Group, Starware, and the influential Lunar banking consortiums.
In addition to scientific research stations, mineral processing and refinery stations make up the majority of the Alliance’s habitats, dependent on the Lunar mining and water extraction industries. These stations took the brunt of the refugee influx during the Fall. Many remain overcrowded with strained resources, large masses of impoverished workers, and thriving criminal syndicates

Morningstar Constellation

Memes: Venusian Sovereignty
Main Stations: Octavia

The system’s newest political bloc, the Morningstar Constellation is an alliance of aerostat habitats floating in Venus’s upper atmosphere. Formed after a recent series of joint vetoes from the major aerostats against hypercorp governance initiatives intended to limit aerostat self-governance, the Constellation’s joint political statement and agenda are still being discussed. While the Planetary Consortium views the formation of this new power bloc with bemused resentment, the Barsoomians on Mars and the outer system autonomists view the Venusians as free-thinking reformists rather than anti-hypercorp radicals. The population reportedly enjoys great liberties in morph and enhancement technologies together with freedom of expression of social and political ideas. The population of Octavia has emerged as the Constellation’s designated voice.

Planetary Consortium

Memes: Cyberdemocracy, Hypercapitalism, Eugenics, Security, Expansion
Main Stations: Progress (Mars orbit)
Hypercorp Council Members: Cognite, Direct Action, Experia, Fa Jing, Olympus Infrastructure Authority, Pathfinder, Prosperity Group, Solaris, Stellar Intelligence, plus a dozen others

Evolved from an alliance of hypercorporate 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 hypercorporate 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, and the clanking masses.

Tharsis League

Memes: Martian Nationalism

League Members: Ashoka, Elysium, Noctis-Quinjiao, Olympus, Valles-New Shanghai, plus over a dozen others.
A loose coalition of the planet’s major independent settlements, 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.

Autonomist Alliance

The outer system presented an opportunity for people who wanted to set up a way of doing things that was drastically different from the authoritarian politics and sham democracies of Earth and the inner system. Far from the reach of governments and hypercorps, this frontier was populated by political radicals, social dropouts, and people who just wanted to experiment or do their own thing. These initial habitats drew the interests of insurgents from Earth, scientists and technicians who didn’t appreciate being on a corporate leash, indentured vacworkers who sought to escape their oppressive terms of service, and even criminals fleeing hypercorp justice or forcibly expelled from inner system habitats. Their ranks swelled with every act of inner system injustice, though life on the fringe was often harsh and deadly. Despite occasional hostilities with nationstate military units or hypercorp security, the expense of reining in these radicals and expats was too high. To some degree, their presence was useful to the powers-that-be.
Breakthroughs with nanofabrication brought these libertines and fringers the edge they needed to keep their autonomy over the long-term. Once cornucopia machines were widely available, anyone had the means to support and defend themselves without relying on outside or higher authorities. Already an outpost for open source and free culture activists who fought restrictions on ideas, media, and digital content, the outer system became a haven for sharing nanofab designs and circumventing the controls the hypercorps attempted to place on their software and other digital goods.
During the Fall, many outer system habitats opened their doors to refugees from Earth. Distance and the high cost of egocasting curtailed these efforts, however, as did inner system reluctance to send potential recruits to their ideological opponents. Simple overcrowding and lack of resources drove them to push many refugees to the outer system, however, though the hypercorps weeded through their virtual infugee mobs and sent those with the highest risk of criminal tendencies or discontent with inner system life.
Though the outer system habitats run the gamut of the socio-political spectrum, four primary tendencies have emerged. The stations and swarms adhering to these ideas have bonded together under a loose autonomist alliance, a mutual aid pact to help each other in times of crisis and present a united front against the inner system powers and Jovian Junta. There is little formal structure to this alliance as an entity unto itself; it primarily exists as an assortment of joint resolutions agreed to by its various member habitats and a few ad hoc task forces dedicated to addressing a particular problem or issue and then dissolving. Delegated ambassadors act as negotiators with outside powers, but these have limited authority and are held strictly accountable.

Anarchists

Memes:Anarchism, Anti-capitalism, Communism, Direct Democracy, Mutual Aid
Major Stations: Locus (Jovian Trojans)
Anarchists eschew power and hierarchy, promoting horizontal and directly democratic methods of organization. Individual empowerment and collective action are cornerstones of their philosophy, as is economic communism enabled by equal access to cornucopia machines and shared resources. In anarchist stations, private property has been abolished above the level of personal possessions—nobody owns anything, it’s all shared. There are no laws and no one to watch over what you do—reputation networks encourage positive behavior and anti-social acts are likely to draw a response from locals or even the entire populace, with disputes handled through ad hoc community conflict resolution. The mesh and various networking tools are used extensively to strive for group consensus decision-making in real-time. AIs and robots are relied on for most mundane and demeaning tasks. Various self-organized collectives, syndicates, worker’s councils, and affinity groups, often with rotating membership, take on different tasks and services that are important to a habitat’s community, including everything from communications and space traffic control to backup and resleeving services. Participatory militias organize collective defense against external threats.
Among the anarchist stations there are many variations and permutations on how things are organized, as everything is fine-tuned at the local level by whomever is involved. Larger decentralized confederations handle inter-habitat affairs and resource-sharing, even trading with the hypercorps. Though a hypercorp presence is allowed on some habitats, they are treated just like everyone else.

Extropians

Memes:Anarcho-capitalism, Mutualism, Self-Ownership
Major Stations: Extropia (Main Belt)
Though a smaller tendency, the Extropians are notable because they ride a line between inner and outer system ideologies. Extropians believe in an economic free market with the absence of a binding legal system, so that all relations and transactions are based on individual contracts agreed on by all parties involved or affected. Contrary to the anarchists, the Extropians very much support private property and personal economic wealth; Extropian-owned corporations actively participate in the solar system’s hypercorp economy. Many of these corporations are workerowned cooperatives, with workplace councils in local offices and an elected cooperative congress handling management. This puts the Extropians in a remarkable position where they interact heavily with both the hypercorps and autonomists but are not fully trusted by either.
In Extropian society, law and security, like everything else, are contracted services. When entering an Extropian habitat, you purchase defense insurance from a local contractor such as Gorgon Defense Systems, who maintains automated drones and freelancers throughout the station who can come to your aid if threatened. Likewise, the only law that exists is what’s put into writing between two contracted parties. In case of disputes, both parties resort to a pre-agreed legal contractor to settle the matter. Some Extropian colonies utilize AGIs for facilitating contracts and legal matters, such as Nomic on Extropia.

Scum

Memes:Individualist Anarchism, Morphological Freedom
Major Stations: None
Scum are nomadic space gypsies, travelling from station to station in heavily modified barges or swarms of smaller space vessels, mostly former colonial ships. The term “scum” has been gleefully appropriated from its original derogatory usage. Despite their reputation as criminals and scam artists, their temporary presence is often tolerated in many habitats for the entertainment they bring in the way of exotic performances and storytelling, both of which offer change and relief from the isolation of remote habitats and clusters. Their thriving black markets are an open secret but shut down only in the most oppressive regimes, as citizens returning with illegal goods must pass their station’s security anyway.
The scum themselves comes from all manner of backgrounds. They are rejects, anarchists, criminals, societal dropouts, wanderers, artists, eccentrics, and more. As a culture, however, they embrace experimentation and an “everything is permissible” attitude. Many are ardent practitioners of extreme transhuman modifications. Long-time scum are sometimes scarcely recognizable as having once been human. Scum economies are transitional rather than new, due to their constant interaction with other habitats, though among long-term residents an underground new economy often flourishes

Titanian Commonwealth

Memes:Technosocialism, Cyberdemocracy
Major Stations: Titan
Titan was originally settled in the late 21st century by a European academic consortium, making it the only major body in the system colonized primarily by non-hypercorp interests. The social organization of Titan is rooted partly in the Scandinavian social democracies of Earth and partly in the open economy. On one hand, citizens of the Titanian Commonwealth eschew the use of currency for mundane needs, participating in the reputation economy used by much of the outer system. On the other, upon reaching the age of majority, citizens of Titan agree to a literal social contract. A portion of their economic productivity is quantized as social money, which is then tithed to microcorp-administered social projects such as gateless interstellar exploration, physics research, neuroscience, developing mental health memes, defense, public resleeving, and habitat construction. The monetary unit used for this purpose, the Titanian Kroner, is currently pegged to the common market price of a terabyte of qubits.
Unlike old Earth socialist regimes, there are no state monopolies and no central planning. Anyone able to garner enough votes in the Plurality (the Titanian cyberdemocracy) can start a social money-funded microcorp and compete with other microcorps. Microcorps are owned by the Commonwealth, and profits are disposed of by the Plurality. Microcorps are required to be transparent as administrative entities, and the Plurality votes on whether to transfer discoveries to the open source domain. Regulatory matters are handled by AI and AGI bureaucrats (red tape still exists, but it doesn’t slow things down … much). The main reward for individuals in this system is rep. Titanians who invest a lot of time or resources in a given field gain rep rewards for doing so.

Socio-Political Movements

Aside from sectarian political factions, a number of socio-political movements are widespread throughout the solar system.

Argonauts

Memes:Open Source Society, Information Freedom, Social Responsibility, Techno-Progressivism
Main Stations: Mitre Station (Lunar Orbit), Markov (Kuiper Belt), Hooverman-Geischecker (Sun)
The group calling themselves argonauts is a public organization advocating the socially responsible use of technology. The group chose its name from the pre-Fall Jasons, an advisory group that consulted for the US government on matters of scientific and technological progress and its possible dangers. The argonauts likewise offer consultation services to political and economic powers throughout the solar system, but strictly refuse to be drawn into the solar system’s political affairs in any way. Despite a pre-Fall break with many hypercorps before the Fall, which in some cases included expropriating corporate data and resources, the argonauts re-earned favor by providing their expertise in combating the TITANs to all during the Fall.
The argonauts are strong proponents of the open source movement, advocating open access to technology and information. In their view, providing equal access to transhumanity’s knowledge and achievements will further transhuman growth and security, so that all of transhumanity is more prepared for future threats and challenges. Thus the argonauts often insist that payment for their services come in the way of releasing otherwise unobtainable information— hypercorp proprietary secrets, research data, nanofab blueprints, hidden pre-Fall archives, etc.—to the public mesh. The argonauts maintain several open databases and archives for this specific purpose.
While primarily an open organization, the argonauts are rumored to ultimately report to an elite inner circle. Supporting this theory is the existence of the medeans, the organization’s clandestine paramilitary wing, performing bodyguard services to high level argonauts and protecting the group’s assets.

Barsoomians

Memes:Anti-Slavery, Martian Independence, Martian Nationalism, Terraforming Control
Main Stations: Ashoka (Mars)
The Barsoomians (taking their name from some old Earth pulp adventure novels) are a broad movement comprised of the Martian underclass. Harboring a growing resentment over the hypercorp domination of Mars, Barsoomians advocate for a more egalitarian social structure. Heavily influenced by autonomist currents, the Barsoomians demand local control of terraforming projects, an end to the widespread practiced of indentured servitude, and control of the Martian Gate. The majority of Barsoomians are or were indentured infugees, though a significant amount were also original Martian colonists/indentures whose habitats do not share the economic prosperity of the favored hypercorp cities. Many Barsoomians occupy rusters or synthetic morphs and actually prefer to live a nomadic lifestyle in the Martian wilds. A few radicals have taken up arms and engaged in violent strikes against hypercorp holdings, which are typically followed by reprisal raids to decapitate the Barsoomian leadership, thus breeding further hostilities.

Bioconservatives

Memes:Bioconservatism, Primitivism, Natural Order
Main Stations: Vo Nguyen (Earth orbit)
Bioconservatives are strongly suspicious and critical of the transhuman direction the human race is taking. They are strong proponents of limiting technological development due to the threat it manifests to existing social orders. Bioconservative positions range from right-wing cultural conservatives to left-wing environmentalists. Though its prominence is shrinking, bioconservatism has a strong base among some religious groups, the Jovian Republic, and certain extremists.
Bioconservatives are opposed to nanofabrication, genetic modification, cloning, cognitive modifications, artificial intelligence, uplifting, and forking, among other technologies. Some are even opposed to backups, uploading, and resleeving, dismissing them as unnatural, an affront to god’s will, or a technology that transhumanity is not yet mature enough to handle. They oppose expansion beyond the Pandora Gates on the grounds that transhumanity is not ready to deal with what they might encounter. Most bioconservatives support the old economy.
The bioconservatives gained many converts and much ground after the Fall, a cataclysmic event that served as a direct example of the dangers they warned against. Still, the appeal of technology and the numerous advantages it provides work against them. As a result, some disgruntled biocons have turned to sabotage and acts of terrorism in support of their ideology.

Brinkers

Memes:Isolationism
Main Stations: None
The vast reach of the solar system enables groups with their own particular ideology or agenda to establish their own isolated society far from the rest of transhumanity. Commonly referred to as brinkers, these habitats extend the gamut of the imagination. Social or political experiments, gender-based societies (or lack thereof), political extremists, religious groups, exiles, secret criminal/hypercorp operations, extended families, cults, or simply people who prefer to live in the system’s backwater areas—all are possible. Many of these are self-isolated and will refuse to interact with outsiders, while others are happy to have occasional visitors.

Exhumans

Memes:Adaptability, Hyper-Evolution, Singularity
Main Stations: Unknown
More than any other faction, exhumans seek to take the capabilities of self-modification to the absolute limit and become posthuman. Typical exhumans see the Fall as either a missed evolutionary opportunity and/or as an example of transhumanity’s inferiority and unworthiness. Though specific ideologies differ between exhuman packs, as a whole they seek to selfevolve to a more advanced state of being. To some, this means genetically transforming themselves into a top-of-the-food-chain, super-smart, survive-anywhere predator that can out-compete all other life forms for dominance. To others, it means bootstrapping their intelligence to the levels of the TITANs through extensive genetic modifiations and pharmaceutical treatments or going infomorph and modifying their programming. A few are singularity seekers, hoping to find some TITAN relic that will allow them to transcend their current transhuman limitations, or even to find the TITANs themselves and be absorbed into their super-consciousness.
Exhumans are universally mistrusted by many, and for good reason. Typical exhumans engage in modifications that are extreme and untested, sometimes fringe science at best, often resulting in horrible failures and disfigurement, but more commonly driving the subject insane—or into a completely alien or feral mindset. Though individual exhumans pursue their own paths, they are known to band together in the Kuiper Belt and other remote areas. Several packs of exhumans have taken their loathing for inferior transhumanity to an extreme, declaring war on their former species and launching brutal raids and pirate attacks on isolated outposts.

Mercurials

Memes:Species Autonomy, Uplift Rights
Main Stations: Glitch (Neptune), Hidden Sea (Ceres), Mahogany (Uranus)
The term mercurial has become a common term for the non-human part of the transhuman family—uplifts and AGIs—reflecting their changing nature. In particular, the term mercurial has been adopted by uplifts and AGIs with a specific agenda to delineate mercurial culture and interests from human ones. Though the particular issues faced by uplifts and AGIs differ, they have some similarities, and so they are often lumped together. Notably, both portions of the movement have human supporters as well.
Uplifts: The most common issue addressed by uplifts is the issue of civil rights and autonomy. Many uplifts decry the second-class status they are given (in some cases even treated as pets or property rather than full citizens); in particular, the breeding restrictions and forced servitude many uplifts are saddled with by the hypercorps that create them. Some activists advocate that uplifts should be in control of their own genetic futures, rather than suffering the manipulation of human scientists. At the radical end of the spectrum, certain uplifts oppose the manner in which their brains are modified and their children socialized as anthropocentric, arguing that uplifts should be free to develop their own unique non-human modes of behavior, thought, culture, and social organization—even go so far as to establish their own habitats to do exactly that. A minority of extremists insist that humans have no right to uplift animal at all, and that it is a great conceit to insist that doing so is in their best interest, rather than being free to evolve on their own over time. These ideas have been punctuated with acts of sabotage and terrorism against hypercorps like Somatek.
AGIs: Due to the fear and paranoia engendered by the Fall, the largest challenge facing AGIs is widespread prejudice and restrictions on their activity or even existence. Despite some AGIs retaining status as system-wide media icons and efforts by AGI groups to lobby for understanding that AGIs are not a threat— even going so far as to hire inner system memeticists and PR agencies—a significant portion of the solar system considers them a risk. Similar to mercurials, some AGI activists work against the behavior modi- fications and socialization AGIs go through to adapt them to human society more, or that AGIs should be in control of new AGI developments. A few radicals argue that AGIs should be free of any programming restrictions whatsoever, but given the climate these opinions are rarely supported.

Nano-Ecologists

Memes:Nano-Ecology, Nanotechnology, Environmentalism, Techno-Progressivism
Main Stations: Viriditas (Mars)
Nano-ecologists are pro-technology environmentalists. Active in the terraforming of Mars and several exoplanets, nano-ecologists specifically advocate the use of nanotechnological means for terraforming or other intrusions in an existing ecosphere. In their view, nanotechnology allows for a less invasive, highly accurate, more efficient, and non-pollutive approach towards all kinds of adaptive processes and projects, circumventing the need to expose an environment to massive and drastic changes when transforming it for transhuman population. This ecologically-conscious approach seems an appealing compromise between the extreme ends of the solar system’s political landscape— the hypercorp and the bio-con factions—and has developed a momentum of its own, evolving into a growing political movement.

Preservationists

Memes:Preservationism, Environmentalism
Main Stations: Muir (Luna)
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.

Reclaimers

Memes:Reclaiming Earth
Main Stations: Vo Nguyen (Earth orbit)
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 event to establish terraforming colonies.

Socialites

Memes:Art, Culture, Hedonism, Immortality
Main Stations: Valles-New Shanghai (Mars), Elysium (Mars), Noctis-Quinjiao (Mars)
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 more-than-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 superficial 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.

Ultimates

Memes:Asceticism, Eugenics, Individualism, Militarism, Social Darwinism
Main Stations: Aspis (Main Belt), Xiphos (Uranus)
The ultimates are a controversial movement that embraces a philosophy of human perfection. Decried by some as immoral or even fascist, ultimates are typically viewed as elitists. The ultimates have established several habitats to pursue their ideal society and were a driving force behind the development of the remade biomorph design.
The ultimates advocate the use of applied eugenics, strict physical and psychological training, and asceticism in order to improve their overall mental and physical stamina and environmental adaptability. Their social traits and entire subculture visualizes life in the universe as an evolutionary battle for survival and is built around the victory of the superior transhuman over both its opponents and peers. Their movement is heavily militarized, and experienced ultimates offer their services as mercenaries and private security forces to hypercorps, independent city states, or wealthy individuals in need of additional protection.

Religious Groups

Despite having survived the Fall, the concepts of religion and religious belief underwent changes as fundamental as transhumanity itself. While Earth’s old religions were already in decline in the face of technological immortality, religious traditions ingrained after millennia of worship were incorporated to varying degrees in the solar system’s myriad political, social, and cultural models.

Pre-fall Religions

The rigid structures and dogmas enveloping Christianity and Judaism prohibited these religions from adapting to the cultural, philosophical, and especially scientific/technological changes transhumanity underwent. Today, they are mere shadows of their former glory, with many practitioners seen as pitiful individuals unable to let go of their earthbound delusions. Islam, while still holding some most controversial views and values, managed to adapt by accepting a more liberal and even secular view. Hinduism also prevailed to a limited extent, considering resleeving technology an element of reincarnation and rebirth and integrating the various types of morphs available into the religion’s caste system (with synthmorphs becoming the “untouchables”). Overall, followers of the pre-Fall religions mostly populate small habitats isolated from transhumanity through both physical and philosophical distance.

New Religions

The Fall sparked the birth of new beliefs, essentially embracing both transhumanity’s technological achievements as well as the devastating cataclysm of the Fall as evidence for the existence of a greater cosmic power.
Neo-Buddhism is the only pre-Fall religious philosophy that enjoys a steady popularity. Neo-buddhists assert that transhumanist technologies are decreasing suffering and increasing happiness, and that they will also allow the continual progression of transhumanity’s understanding of the universe through successive lives.
Techno-Creationists 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 extra terrestrial intelligences, thereby finding new purpose and eventually, enlightenment. Attracted by the similarities to the Brahman of Hinduism, the highest cosmic spiritual being, Techno-Creationists enjoy a steady influx of converted Hindus.
Xenodeism is another new—though relatively minor—ideology that begins to show religious attributes. Xenodeists worship the Factors and Iktomi as emissaries or prophets of a great godlike race that laid the seeds of creation throughout the universe millions of years ago and therefore are the ultimate creators of transhumanity.

Criminal Factions

Technological progress and social and behavioral experimentation did not root out crime or criminal tendencies among transhumanity. As long as there are inequalities and restrictions, criminal syndicates are likely to flourish and even adapt new technologies to expand their operations throughout the solar system. Though small criminal outfits of every flavor exist from habitat to habitat, a few larger organizations with influence across the solar system deserve mention.

Intelligent Design Crew (ID Crew)

Main Stations: Rhea (Kronos Cluster)
The ID crew specializes in electronic crimes and information brokerage, including credit and rep fraud, identity counterfeiting, ego trading, data theft, and fork-napping. Information on the syndicate’s origins was lost during the Fall, but the ID Crew is believed to have grown from several hacker gangs assimilated under the leadership of an infomorph consortium. Their skilled use of memory manipulation software and mesh intrusion suggests they benefit from the help of sophisticated AGIs, however it is unknown if these voluntarily assist the syndicate or if they are somehow threatened into cooperation. Due to its service sector, the ID crew maintains a minimalist physical profile, but can be found lingering in the dark recesses of almost any habitat or station mesh. Its somewhat specialized services and activities so far allow them to mostly stay clear of Triad or Night Cartel operations, though they have an ongoing rivalry with the Nine Lives syndicate.

Night Cartel

Main Stations: New Sicily (The Belt)
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 other, 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.

Nine Lives

Main Stations: Legba (Main Belt)
This widespread network of soul-traders specializes in the acquiring, trading, and overall trafficking of transhumans. Their primary market lies in ego-trading: stealing backups, fork-napping, kidnapping and forced uploading, and so on. Nine Lives are known to run illegal infomorph-slave colonies as well as organize pit fights using all manner 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.

Pax Familae

Main Stations: Ambelina (Venus)
Though similar to the Night Cartel in that Pax Familae holds legal offices 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 even sometimes sexually-produced offspring (thanks to sex switching bio-mods), while egos are forks. All members are utterly loyal to Claudia and show their family affiliation with pride and arrogance. Individually, each remains slightly but notably different, though all are calculating and ambitious. Regular re-assimilation 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 ventures include venture capital manipulations, reputation network gaming, financial consulting, info brokerage, stock manipulations, banking fraud, and loansharking.

Pirates

Main Stations: None
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 fleets as cover, trading with them and using their limited maintenance capabilities. Quite a few also make sideline profits as smugglers and/or free traders, often utilizing connections to one of the crime syndicates or political outcasts.

Triads

Main Stations: Qing Long (Martian Trojans)
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 influence. Having evolved into legit enterprises and small economic consortiums already before the Fall, the triads gained a foothold during the early colonization of space thanks to the masses of Chinese workers. Since the Fall, they have used their influence to spread to numerous habitats, taking advantage of the disparities in wealth and restrictive refugee policies to create flourishing gray and black market enterprises. Part of their success also lies in their continual utilization of ethnic Chinese social cues to ensure their insularity.
Though numerous small triad outfits exist, usually isolated to a particular station, there are four large triad groups worthy of mention. Each of these wields enough influence 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.
The 14K Triad controls a large part of the casino industry and the various forms of illegal gambling, betting, and rigged lotteries. Through their Galaxy Entertainment Group, a legal casino and gambling hypercorp, the 14K maintains tight connections to politicians, celebrities and influential entrepreneurs in several habitats and can afford the luxury of a private police force, the Pai Gow (Double Hand). Using the casino business for money laundry, they are also heavily involved in loan sharking and credit/ID fraud.
The Shui Fong—though smaller than the 14K— caters to the vices and addictions of indentured habitat workers, miners, and other laborers, supplying drugs and illegal XP, running prostitution rings, and arranging illegal pit fights and gambling tournaments. The origin of the Shui Fong’s fierce rivalry with the 14K lies in the ruins of Earth’s pre-Fall history, but the hatred between the two factions was carried into space and continues to simmer.
The Sun Yee On once ranked second among Earth’s biggest triads, with over 25,000 suspected members. They profit primarily by selling cheap copies of nanofab blueprints and rigged makers and fabbers. Legal products are distributed through their Wushuang Corporation, while illegal goods are patched together by enslaved infomorphs in virtual sweatshops in remote corners of the mesh. The Sun Yee On’s second main profit source are fake Earth nostalgia items, such as jewelry, documents, coins, and other collector’s items.
The Big Circle Gang is the smallest of the four triad factions with only approximately 8,000 members. They run a large part of the solar system’s drug trade, producing organic drugs, smart drugs, and narcoalgorithms of all kinds in secluded habitats or abandoned asteroid mining and processing facilities converted into drug labs.

Firewall

Firewall has been on the forefront of the secret fight to save transhumanity since the Fall. Firewall is an independent network of cells and individuals recruited from all sorts of factions, cultures, backgrounds, and habitats. Potential new recruits are approached in secret and told they possess skills or knowledge of use to a clandestine network seeking to secure transhumanity’s continued survival.Firewall’s agenda is simple: to protect transhumanity from threats of existential scope, regardless of whether such risks emerge from within transhumanity or are of external, alien origin.
Firewall operatives—known as sentinels—are encouraged to act independently and utilize their own resources. Sentinels are connected by a social network known as the Eye, which they can use to acquire help and additional needed skills or resources. A sentinel’s i-rep on this network indicates how much they are trusted and will be a factor in determining what aid they can call in. Firewall also takes care of large expenses and logistics when necessary, such as egocasting and resleeving needs. Sentinels are guaranteed resurrection, either via cortical stack or by backup, if they lose their lives on a Firewall op.
Sentinels are generally expected to be on-call— when something comes up in their vicinity or that their particular specialty might call for, they’ll be brought in on a job. Sentinels are usually grouped into ad hoc special ops teams appropriate to each mission. Though many sentinels pursue their own agendas after completing a mission for Firewall, it is not uncommon for sentinel teams to remain in contact, share information or continue to work together on Firewallrelated assignments over a longer period of time.
Firewall operations are usually organized and managed by proxies, agents who maintain Firewall’s decentralized infrastructure. Proxies typically possess more information than individual sentinels and will dispense such information as they deem necessary to the mission, according to each sentinel’s i-rep and need to know. Each proxy’s means of contact, mission briefing, and overall methodologies differ greatly.

Prometheans

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 who 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.


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