Ming Enterprises: The largest shipping magnate in the ‘Verse, Ming Enterprises has a stranglehold on interplanetary imports and exports on many worlds. Their ships are all painted white with red trim, and the distinctive “Red Crane Mon” symbol emblazoned somewhere on the vessel. Crews are crisply uniformed in white and red, with nearly military regulation standards of personal appearance.
Ming has a near monopoly on bulk shipping in the Core, and a majority of medium freight. While some have complained about the monopoly, few have been able to match the efficiency of Ming’s byzantine scheduling of bulk freighter runs that allows them to price shipping far below potential competitors. They brokered deals with many of the better-established Border Worlds for exclusive contracts that allowed them to expand out into the Rim. However, Ming has since had some trouble expanding into the distant Rim Worlds. These worlds generally don’t ship enough to make their bulk freighters cost effective. The corporation has since bought a large number of medium-sized freighters to try and take over those markets as well…where they have run afoul of smaller companies and independent “tramp” freighters.
The company is family owned by the massive Ming clan of Sihnon, the venerable patriarch Ming Fu Tze presiding as CEO. Fu Tze has three sons who sit on the board of directors, and six grandsons who are in charge of sectors of the trade routes. (Until recently it was seven grandsons… It is likely that within a few years, Fu Tze will name a successor. The progeny of the patriarch are an ambitious and Machiavellian lot…and it is generally thought that regardless of who is named the new CEO, there will be considerable infighting in the company.
Ming Enterprises has recently been dealt some severe blows to their prestige in the Border Worlds and the Rim. They lost their exclusive contract for shipping wine from New Canaan, and ended up on the losing end of a tradewar with the upstart Cosmohaul Incorporated. One of Ming’s grandsons, Alan Ming, recently died under mysterious circumstance that the company has taken some pains to cover up.
Cosmohaul Incorporated: This shipping magnate is only five years old, and already proving itself a major player among the Rim Worlds. The company was founded by retired Alliance naval admiral, Robert Crixby. After the War of Unification, the alliance navy was looking to reduce the size of the fleet it had assembled…and Crixby purchased a large number of medium tonnage military transports at auction. Through his contacts in the alliance Navy, these vessels were purchased fully armed and licensed. While it isn’t uncommon for corporations to license ships to carry “defensive” armament to discourage piracy, Cosmohaul vessels are considerably better armed. The flagships of his fleet are four fifteen-thousand ton escort frigates, the Swan, Gull, Mallard, and Albatross.
It’s generally believed that Cosmohaul is allowed to operate these vessels as privateers by the Alliance, sweeping the Outer systems for pirates while protecting their merchant fleet. For security reasons, their ships are not allowed within the Core Worlds. Cosmohaul was recently involved in a tradewar with Ming Enterprises, which has increased their standing considerably.
Naasirka Industries: This is the premier independent spaceship manufacturer in the Border worlds and Rim planets. Naasirka maintains a number of models of starships that they build, but they will also build ships designed by other engineering firms. Many spaceship designers will construct plans and sell them, allowing them to be built by any manufacturer the client desires. Naasirka has made much of their profit doing so, and by offering dry-docking and maintenance facilities to independent ship owners. If a captain has a problem with a ship that their engineer can seem to fix, Naasirka is there. If a ship needs an annual overhaul or upgrade, then Naasirka can do it. Their corporate headquarters is on the practically lifeless world, Liann Jiun, with repair facilities at Beaumonde, Muir, and New Canaan.
Blue Sun Corporation: Without doubt, the ubiquitous Blue Sun is the richest and most politically connected corporation in the system. Blue Sun is on every planet, in every home—rich and not so rich alike. For all its fame, it is one of the most shadowy institutions in the ‘Verse.
The Blue Sun logo is everywhere: on T-shirts, billboards, posters, food cans, etc. The logo has become so much a part of daily life that people don’t even notice it anymore. Blue Sun products are considered essential to a person—like water and breathing. Just look for the Blue Sun label. It’s never difficult to find. The company doesn’t operate retail outlets, but every shop stocks its products. While not the best on the market, Blue Sun products are the most reliable. If you buy Blue Sun, you always know what you’re going to get. There are never any surprises—good, bad, or otherwise.
Blue Sun produces a lot of different things, but the company concentrates mainly on the basics of life. Folk will always need food and drink, and Blue Sun is there to sell it. They hold the monopoly on packaged foodstuffs, and their products have become essential to people on the newly terraformed worlds. Many new settlers wouldn’t have made it through their first year without Blue Sun packaged food.
Like all corporations, Blue Sun didn’t get into business out of love for their fellow man. They started the company to make a profit. No one begrudged them that. Profit pays the bills and folk’s salaries. But then, as the company grew bigger and bigger, and became more and more powerful, greed and corruption took over. Profit was the only thing those running Blue Sun could think about. They set out to make more and more money by extending their power as far as they could mange.
It’s an open secret that Blue Sun engages in deadly corporate espionage and then calls in favors from powerful government officials to cover their tracks. Its subsidiaries and shell corporations have branched out far from food and service industries, going into computer systems, communication technology, and even spaceship design, along with the biotech industry—even going so far (some whisper) as to conduct experiments involving living humans. Only top executives have a good grasp on what the “big picture” is when it comes to this mega-corporation. Its research and development division is a mysterious place guarded by security equal to top secret Alliance military projects.
Corone Mining Consortium: The Corone Mining Consortium, formed just before the war, is made up of several of the most powerful mining corporations in the system. Those corporations were having a problem with prospectors mining claims of their own. Individually, the corporations couldn’t muster the resources to put the small fry out of business. By combining, they could afford the best lawyers, pay off the right politicians, and acquire the technology needed to buy up claims, drive people off their land or simply make it unprofitable for the lone miner to keep operating.
Corone will first try to buy any claim that appears to be worth a full mining operation. If that fails, they buy a piece of land nearby, and then encroach on other folk’s claims by digging tunnels underneath them. When the locals complain, they are told it was an unfortunate accident that caused the company to strip their assets. Few locals can afford to take the company to court to get back what was stolen.
Corone keeps costs down by making use of indentured workers. Some even claim they use slaves, going so far as to pay well for human cargo and never mind where it came from. On the flip side, they’ve been known to employ the locals they put out of business, promoting them to positions of authority and paying good salaries. They recognize the skills these people have, and hope that loyalty can be purchased with platinum or credits.
Corone does not operate every mine in the ‘Verse. Not every claim is worth bringing in the expensive technology. Most locals have learned to keep real quiet about any major finds on their land, though Corone agents always seem to be in every two-bit mining town, poking around in the hope that they can loosen a few tongues with bribes, trickery, or threats.
In some areas, the Miners’ Guild has taken on the Corone Consortium and won, bringing about improved condition for workers and justice for those who lost property.
The Danube Mining Company: The Danube Mining Company, founded some fifty years ago, was one of the founding members of The Corone Mining Consortium and is one of the more powerful corporations operating today. Danube owns dozens of small moons and planets that it harvest both minerals and to some extent, timber.
Danube is a gigantic corporation. It produces everything it needs to search for and dig new mines, the equipment to harvest the minerals, refine the product and haul it to the core for sale. And as such is one of the largest employers in and out of the core. Danube even runs a research and development department that explores every thing from preventative vaccines for health issues specific to miners to new technology for discovering mineral veins.
For all its wealth, Danube maintains some of the most rugged Company towns on the Rim. Danube has a system of ‘colonization’ of sorts and once it procures the moon or at least the land it wants to develop, the place can go from uninhabited wilderness to thriving company town in a month or so.
Danube has been accused of less then above board dealings with land owners and private mining companies. However, with the might of the CMC behind them few of these complaints ever come to anything. Claim jumping, forgery, slant mining and out right assassination of anyone standing in their way are only a few of the rumors that abound about Danube.
However, most troubling for Danube, are the accusations of its use of slave labor. The Company flatly denies any involvement in such nefarious activities. But their ‘Recruitment Drives’ on the more populated planets are said to amount to nothing more then shanghaiing new workers. More then one young man has awoken from a drunken revelry to find himself well on his way to a new career. All legal, of course, his Company recruiter can produce all the paper work he signed agreeing to sell himself to Danube. The same goes for the Drives aimed at young women who often find themselves on distant Rim worlds with no way home and no way of supporting herself but to marry one of the miners or work the Company run ‘gentlemen’s club.’
Danube also runs a large security department in order to insure its product reaches its proper destination. The well appointed gunboats and soldiers also mean that few people encroach on Danube territory. At least without facing sudden loss of life or limb.
Iskellian Technology Solutions: There are many tech companies throughout the system, producing everything from computers to lasers, and Iskellian is the largest. Iskellian holds the Alliance contracts to produce arms, spacecraft, and weapons for their troops. The products it sells are the best money can buy, and what Iskellian charges for its wares more than makes that point. Given that the Alliance buys arms from Iskellian, the Alliance has laid down the law that none of these weapons can be sold to anyone else.
However, Iskellian does manufacture weapons for civilian use. These are not the same weapons that the military buys, of course, but they are of the same high quality and have the price tags to prove it. Such weapons are rarely seen on the outer worlds and few are on the black market. If you can get hold of an Iskellian weapon, you count yourself lucky.
Unified Reclamations: There is a lot of trash in the ‘Verse, and Unified Reclamation owns it.
The company began small with a few garbagescows, but its founders were wise enough to see the potential of trash hauling and, by taking out huge and risky loans, they were able to secure an exclusive contract with the Alliance government to haul off folk’s refuse.
At Unified Reclamation, they consider garbage a growth industry. Picking up dirty diapers isn’t a very glamorous job, but someone has to do it and it makes for a very good living. Where Unified Reclamation struck gold wasn’t in diaper pails, however. Real money comes from issuing licenses for legal salvage. Currently Unified is the only system-wide operator allowed to claim salvage rights. Due to the sheer magnitude of a system-wide salvage collection operation, Unified Reclamation also issues licenses for small operators to collect salvage on their behalf. The small operator can go through the local government to obtain a salvage license, but that involves mounds of paperwork and fees. Such licenses are more quickly obtained by going through United Reclamation, though they see to it that you pay for the convenience.
Small operators make more money if they run unlicensed, illegal salvage operations. Best to be careful, though, as things can get right ugly if Unified catches you poaching on their territory. You’d better hope the Alliance catches you doing illegal salvage before Unified Reclamation gets its hands on you.