Planet Earth, Inc.
The opening years of the 21st Century saw a fading of the great Nations and a rapid increase in the power and influence of multi-national Corporations. These Corporations were not restricted to a single field; their interests were vast, covering all aspects of industry and economics as they diversified into every field that held profit. They were also not defined by country, society, or ideology. In industry, in business, and in the media, the multi-nationals became more powerful and more visible.
One Small Step for Man…
The Age of Space came in the wake of two tremendous technological breakthroughs. The first was anti-gravity plates in 2034, which defeated the debilitating effects of inertia, and thus allowing for much faster and easier travel within the Solar System. This ultimately led to the colonisation of Mars and the mineral exploitation of the planets and Kuiper Belt. The Jump Drive soon followed, taking Humanity out into the stars. As technologies were perfected, exploration craft went out from Earth.
Needless to say, Earth’s space exploration was not united; many different countries and corporations established colonies in space. The major colonisers were The United Americas (USA, Canada, parts of South America), China, Japan, The European Union and The Russian Federation. Though rare, conflicts occurred between countries in space, but disputes between competing corporations were much more common.
Expansion into the stars dawned a new age for the peoples of Earth; a second renaissance. Volunteers for new colonies, no matter how harsh the conditions, were numerous. The world’s economy quickly picked up, rationing of fossil-fuels disappeared, technological advancement received a new kick-start, unemployment declined and gradually poverty and crime diminished.
The search for minerals and other raw materials was only a secondary goal of the explorers; those things were available within the Solar System itself, and in amounts that would keep humanity supplied for many hundreds of years. The most important things the stars held were knowledge, the potential of new habitable planets to ease the population pressures of Earth, and the opportunity to study new life forms.
The greatest value for the corporations lay in the life forms. Each world was like a gigantic yet unique laboratory, where the forces of nature had experimented for billions of years. The creatures produced in those laboratories, and the complex chemicals contained within them, possess abilities far beyond those available to Humanity. Many of these abilities are nearly miraculous.
The expansion into space had been a slow progress, since useful systems were rare and the effort and resources involved in establishing colonies was great. Still, at least six Earth-like worlds have been found, and dozens more that are at least habitable. On other worlds, the process of terraforming is underway and hostile environments are slowly being transformed into places where Humans can live.
A New Kind of Cold War
With colonies on many worlds and a galaxy of resources to exploit, the power and influence of the corporations rose rapidly. As they became more powerful, they became more of a threat to the Nations of Earth. The situation was a very delicate one; the Nations had far larger armies, but the corporate military forces, although smaller, were able to draw on more financial resources and utilised higher technology. The same economic interdependence, which prevented war among the Nations now prevented the Nations from harming the Corporations.
Inevitably, tensions between the Corporations and the Nations increased, until one small crisis on a small independent colony erupted into open warfare. Fortunately, the war remained limited and few nuclear or biological warheads were used.
Birth of the ICC
The war made it apparent that some type of ‘police force’ was required so, in 2105, the establishment of the Interstellar Commerce Commission was born. The ICC was a coalition of Corporations and Nations charged with regulating the activities among its members. In time, as so many members were already a member of the ICC, the organisations of NATO, ANZUS, and the United Nations were dissolved and their responsibilities assumed by the ICC; covering all aspects of international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of galactic peace.
The military arm of this new organisation, christened the Colonial Marine Corps, was raised to discourage ICC members from using violence to solve their problems. The intent was that the Colonial Marines, funded by ICC members, would be an independent force that would resolve disputes amongst Nations and Corporations, and keep the peace in the colonies as well. Much like the venerated United Nations, each member of the ICC contributed a portion of its GDP to the Corps, and (in the case of the Nations) allowed its citizens to volunteer of their own free will. Led by the Colonial Marine Corps High Command, the CMC choose its own standardised equipment and trained ‘in-house’. Its neutrality, doctrine and non-preferential status to any of its contributors being its code of honour. The CMC High Command included representatives of most Nations and member Corporations and owed allegiance to none save the ICC.
To the Present…
The year is 2188.
The corporations continue to compete fiercely for ownership of new worlds and their resources. Industrial espionage and corporate black ops are common and the CMC are aware that their power and influence, due to underfunding and inability to maintain technological pace with the Corporations, is dwindling.
Approximately eighteen months ago an alien race known as the Sathar appeared. At first, reports of these alien beings were dismissed as a ploy from a corporation desperate to deflect an accusation of a poorly executed black op mission. In over 140 years of space exploration no sentient alien beings or remains had been found, but verified un-doctored footage showing the Sathar attacking a terraforming installation were presented to the ICC.
No one knows where they came from or why they attacked without provocation. They continue to attack and destroy lonely colonies on the edge of explored space and disappear to strike at another location a few days, weeks or months later. Survivors describe the Sathar as wormlike creatures three to four meters long, but as yet none have been captured alive for interrogation. All attempts of communication with the Sathar have met with hostility.