Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fragged Empire: For a Nominal Fee

To the private traveler the alphabet soup of planetary foreign ministries can be overwhelming, each with their own foibles and internal hypocrisies.  The bureaucratized smokescreen is purposeful on many levels, a nonlethal deterrent to filter out those who may not be ardent enough in their desire to travel.  If you have pressing business elsewhere, you can hire an agency to act on your behalf cosmographically freeing you. Cutting through the red tape and doublespeak these companies provide the following services: legalizing documents, travel auhorization external and internal, collection of intersystem shipments, expediting customsimmigration legal counsel and more.

These agencies offer nearly all the business utility of a law firm, but without the ethical restrictions or legal protections.  Operating in this gray area gives a greater degree of business mobility and deniability to Corporation and mercantile interests who retain these agencies on contract.  Since systemwide travel has become so prevalent, two of these agencies have expanded their operations aggressively and now vie for control of this gray market.
The largest processor and agency is CGBT, an orphaned acronym that once stood for Corporate Galactic Business Travel.  This company started off as a small travel agency that facilitated arrangements for deniable business assets and operators, since then they have grown due to their close relationship with the Corporations' Board of Directors.  Proving themselves indispensable when certain business initiatives need another layer of deniability and a shell company is too traceable.  The company's rapid rise has drawn both kinds of attention, and find their Datastream sites under perpetual siege from the Galactic Jesters and other hacker groups.  Housing a tremendous amount of transit data, if one of those groups could get in then a host of Corporation secrets would be revealed.  In counterpoint, CGBT regularly replaces the physical servers themselves, placing the retired machines in an anonymous storage facility for a set amount of time before wiping and reselling them on the secondary market.  Their tacit support in operation logistics has piqued the interest of Paladin Consortium. The Consortium has already begun to purchase shares of CGBT, laying the pipe for a takeover soon.

Hook:  A security guard at the CGBT server farm on Alabaster passes on a tip- in light of recent attacks the maintenance schedule has been stepped up and more servers than usual will be transitioned out.  Probably in response to life support failure on several militant, anti-Corporation habitats.  Twice as many trucks will show up, but the security will be the same to save on labor.
CGBT's largest rival is Translight System Services, emerging from a conglomerate of smaller agencies competing with CGBT on the system fringe.  They have made massive inroads with Kaltoran and Legion based planetary governments, functioning as a bureaucratic buffer.  Led by Dvorak, a four eared Nephilim emissary, and his husband, the Kaltoran fixer Jude Filch, TSS continues to expand its operations.  The Filch Clan happens to have far flung members in nearly every spaceport and pirate fleet, forming the seed for TSS satellite offices.  With these intimate criminal ties, the company has a more direct, blue collar approach to their business.  Where CGBT will go through the steps to obtain a legitimate manifest for illicit cargo, TSS will just smuggle in the freight and present forged documentation to the Port Authority if they can't manage that.  In a more extreme example of TSS' practices, they have managed to secure exclusive contracts with some Kaltoran planets so anyone looking to travel there will be required to process their paperwork with a TSS office.  Their greatest coup was contracting Denpasar, a hub of Kaltoran culture past and present.

Hook: Kaltoran planets tend to be leery when it comes to cultural contamination, wanting to retain their own belief structures in place and unchanged.  TSS works in concert and screens applicants, sure to reject would-be prosletizers.  A group of Black Key missionaries has approached the crew, asking for them to obtain leverage on a TSS visa officer so the group can travel to Denpasar and meet with an affluent Kaltoran celebrity, Sal Omni.