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The Company: When mankind went to the stars, it wasn't governments that sent them there, but corporations looking to make a profit. The Earth Company, as it came to be known, lived well off the trade of its colonies. But with the advent of faster than light technology, the distant colonies found they had more in common with each other than the far off world their ancestors had come from. This lead to the development of

Union: The world Cyteen rebelled against the governance of Earth. The backbone of Union society are the Azi, genetically engineered humans bred in government labs and educated by tapes. With the Azi, Union could increase its population at a rate that non-Union worlds could not compete with. Communication being so slow, it took a while for Earth to realize the implications of the Cyteen rebellion, and determined to hang on to their precious colonies, the Company sent out its fleet

The Mazianni: taking their name from their leader, Conrad Mazian, the Company Fleet fought a long hard war with an enemy they knew they could not defeat. For in the distant reaches of space, Union had the population and the resources that the Fleet did not. Moreover, as years passed Earth lost interest in its far off war, and adopted an isolationist approach, effectively cutting off the Fleet from its supplies. Dying for a planet that no longer cared, the Mazianni adopted a policy of raiding neutral merchant ships for supplies and crew. When the Earth signed a secret peace treaty with Union, the estranged Fleet had the rug jerked out from under them. They had been born, lived and died in space, for the sake of a war waged by Earth - a planet most of them had never seen. A war which had suddenly ended, leaving them with essentially no purpose to their existence. Trapped between Earth and Union without a planet or a station to call their home, the Mazianni adopted a pirate lifestyle, raiding passing ships in struggle to keep themselves alive. Meanwhile a third party had arisen:

The Alliance: in the final year of the war, a group of merchant ships who were tired of being a target for Union and Mazianni alike decided to form their own government. Traditionally neutral, the merchant ships traveled from star to star trading between stations. But with the formation of the Alliance, humans realized how much power truly lay in the multitude of merchanters, for without trade human life beyond Earth was in jeopardy…