>"Oh, you're fucking kidding me."
-An anonymous Syndicate operative, unwittingly quoting the unofficial motto of the Syndicate.
Founded by Cybersun Industries at some point a few decades ago, the Spinward Syndicate (usually shortened to the Syndicate) is a patchwork mix of groups, ranging from ill-reputed thugs and mercenaries to esteemed businessmen and scientific luminaries, all bound together by a desire to force Nanotrasen out of the Spinward Periphery. Each of the major factions within the coalition (listed below) are responsible for some branch of the groups operations according to their specialties, with some contributing raw firepower and tactical prowess, others highly skilled covert agents and intelligence gathering, and still others contributing more mundane tasks like organizing supplies and armaments for the operations.
Life as a senior member of the Syndicate, the loose coalition of shady organizations with grudges against Nanotrasen, must be a special kind of hell. For all of the dastardly plots they've hatched, all of the lives and resources sacrificed on their missions, and all of the skullduggery and betrayal that quickly consume their daily lives, Nanotrasen still seems to be thriving on the Spinward Periphery in spite of it all.
Even in the rare cases where their plots are pulled off successfully, dumb luck seems to intervene in Nanotrasen's favor and minimize any actual harm. One incredibly complicated run of espionage over nine months in the making culminated in the successful activation of the nuclear self-destruct terminal on Space Station 6 in 2555, to the elation of the Syndicate ringleaders. Their celebration was cut short, however, when it came out that Space Station 6 had become infected with a cancerous biomass that was rapidly taking over the station. The self-destruct measure successfully detonated, destroying both the station and the blob. The loss of Space Station 6 was a heavy blow for Nanotrasen, but the outcome was far less disastrous than the alternative of the blob claiming the entire station and reproducing. And, of course, most of the Syndicate's attempts to publish incriminating and embarrassing documents of Nanotrasen's misdeeds on the Periphery have resulted in just as much good press as bad press, if not more.
There are many flavors of Syndies, and many reasons for their escalations of force against Nanotrasen. Some see armed resistance as a simple next step in the cutthroat world of business on the Periphery, while others see themselves as morally-justified freedom fighters battling against an oppressive goliath. Then, of course, there are a great number of brutes and anarchists who traded in their bricks and molotovs for machine guns and X4, plus a target to use them on. Below is a non-exhaustive list of Syndicate factions, as well as a summary of each one.
Headquarters: TerraGov International District of Hong Kong and Macau, Earth
Insofar as any of the Syndicate's many factions can be called the "head" of the organisation, Cybersun Industries has a better claim to that title than most- as the primary source of funding for the Syndicate, as well as the largest corporation within its ranks by far, and one of its founding members, Cybersun has a commanding role within the Syndicate.
Founded originally in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War as the Nakayama Group, Cybersun would find its footing as a zaibatsu, specialised in the production of automotive parts, mining, and aerospace engineering. With the collapse of the zaibatsu model following WW2, the Nakayama Group would lose a number of its holdings, and edge close to bankruptcy, only being saved by the end of America's involvement in dissolving existing corporations- and their involvement with the Yakuza. In the coming century, Nakayama would enter the electronics market, becoming a household name for the production first of computer parts, then of full systems, and eventually for high end computer appliances. At the same time, they would branch out into a number of areas, becoming a true conglomerate with dozens of companies under their belts. In the mid 21st century, they would rebrand to Saibasan Sangyo, though the Nakayama family would maintain ownership of the company. Eventually, as Terran Common became the language of business, this name would be anglicised to Cybersun Industries. The company would continue to grow through the centuries, eventually becoming one of the few true megacorporations. They would move their headquarters from their original location in Osaka to the TID of Hong Kong and Macau in the 2400s, in order to take advantage of the more business-like environment. This city is now essentially their playground: very few other corporations dare to maintain property here, knowing that the city is under the control of Cybersun in all but name.
As a company, Cybersun is primarily concerned with artificial intelligence and cybernetics, although they do have their foot in as many doors as possible, such as their controlling stake in plasma mining on Mars, gas skimming on Saturn, and sulfur mining on Venus. They were behind many of humanity's first advancements in AI technology, including the first functional AI, but as time went on Nanotrasen pulled ahead in this area and began to threaten Cybersun's strangehold monopoly. This prompted Cybersun's CEO to pull together a clandestine meeting with several other corporate bodies and factions which were being hurt by Nanotrasen's seemingly meteoric rise to prominence- the Gorlex Marauders, Waffle Corp, Interdyne Pharmaceutics, and MI13. The result of this meeting was the first incarnation of the organised Syndicate, a group dedicated to countering Nanotrasen's influence by any means necessary.
Many of the colonies on Mars and Venus were first settled by Cybersun during the initial gold rush of colonisation throughout Sol, including Mars' capital. This paid dividends for them once the plasma rush started.
Cybersun operates their own private military, which has been partially integrated with the Gorlex Marauders since the foundation of the Syndicate. They form a professional backbone for the undisciplined Marauders, increasing their effectiveness in operations against Nanotrasen. Cybersun also takes charge of most of the Syndicate's operations, acting as the brains behind the entire group. Cybersun operatives are ruthlessly efficient, taking cues from their Japanese heritage. Cybersun is known to frequently make use of assassins to bring their enemies to heel, in addition to corporate hitsquads and their own deathsquads: the Silencer Operatives.
Chances are if you see a cyborg, an implant, cybernetics, or advanced technology in the hands of a syndie, that it originated in the mind of a Cybersun researcher.
Headquarters: New Yekaterinburg, New Moscow, Zvezda Revolyutsii Oblast
A collective of raiders and pirates turned private military, the Gorlex Marauders are one of the founding members of the syndicate, and act as the sword of the operation. The Marauders are opposed to Nanotrasen due to the corporation's involvement in private military endeavours, which they view as a threat to their business.
In many ways, the Gorlex Maruaders have become synonymous with the Syndicate as a whole- many of the mannerisms and motifs that Nanotrasen employees associate with syndicate operatives originated with the Marauders, and were adopted by fellow members of the Syndicate later. These include their signature blood-red colour scheme, their use of low-yield nuclear weaponry for tactical operations, and their anything-goes attitude to operations, valuing the eventual completion of the job (and the subsequent payday) higher than collateral damage.
This osmosis of ideas has flowed both ways, however, and the Marauders have quickly adopted many ideas from their new allies, such as new weaponry provided by Waffle Corp, or their now ubiquitous use of illegal combat stimulants inspired by the Tiger Collective.
The vast majority of the Syndicate's nuclear strike teams are recruited from the Marauders' ranks, and their reputation for swiftness and mercilessness in battle has quickly made these elite soldiers the most feared of the Syndicate's forces by Nanotrasen employees and leadership alike.
Whilst not executing strikes on their corporate enemies, the Gorlex Marauders sell their services as a PMC to the highest bidder. This serves as an important source of income for the Syndicate and keeps the Marauders sharp for their next assignment against their biggest enemy.
Headquarters: Unknown, presumed to be on Earth
MI13 is regarded by many to be the Syndicate's shadowy hand, conducting stealth operations against Nanotrasen, as well as clandestine reconnaissance and scouting against stations that are soon to be targeted by the Syndicate. Rarely are MI13 operatives directly involved in Syndicate operations, instead taking a backseat and providing support to the agents of other syndicate factions in the field.
MI13's structure is heavily classified, with even their closest allies being mostly unsure of what exactly goes on behind closed doors in their organisation.
The few operatives that other Syndicate agents get to meet are known for their suave, sophisticated handling of themselves, and their preference for shaken martinis and loose women.
Some of the more learned of Nanotrasen's employees (The curators especially) have noted that MI13 seems... suspiciously close to an old world series of books about a British spy called James Bond. The last of these books were lost in an incident on Earth, but archived information on the contents survive. In fact, the organisation as a whole seems extremely similar to the intelligence organisation portrayed in the novels, right down to their preferences for drinks, odd choices of gadgets, and even their name. Nobody else in the Syndicate seems to have noticed this.
Most of the Syndicate operatives found aboard Listening Posts in Nanotrasen controlled space are low ranking members of MI13, hoping to find the juicy piece of information that will allow them to rise up the ranks, become a true agent, and (most importantly) escape the loneliest postings the Syndicate has to offer.
Some of the equipment provided by MI13 in more common Syndicate use include the Cryptographic Sequencer (colloquially known as the EMag by field agents), the Stechkin pistol, the Agent ID, and the Chameleon Projector.
Headquarters: The Cathedral of the Shapeshifter, Unknown Location
The Tiger Cooperative are a group of fundamentalist religious extremists belonging to a radical sect that views Changelings as the pinnacle of evolution, and therefore as divine beings sent by their dark gods. The position of the Tiger Cooperative within the Syndicate is purely a pragmatic one- they are only accepted by their allies due to their willingness to deal with the Changelings- a prize well worth working with lunatic cultists. Dealings with the Changelings are done through Tiger Cooperative cultists who have been enthralled by the Changelings, connecting them telepathically with their new master.
Tiger Cooperative cultists frequently abuse hallucinogens and other illict substances in an attempt to draw closer to their gods, and to improve their abilities in battle. The most extreme of these concoctions is colloquially referred to as Ritual Wine, and is believed by the cultists to be the closest mortal beings can come to experiencing the natural adrenals of Changelings. Trace analysis of recovered samples reveal that the chemical is a potent mixture of high purity amphetamines, herbal extracts, opiates and various toxic substances.
It is unknown why exactly the Changelings accept the presence of the cultists, but it is believed that they simply accept the easy meals that the subservient cultists provide. Cultists who sway in loyalty disappear, and it's believed by Nanotrasen intelligence that they are killed and absorbed by the changelings they once served.
In battle, Tiger Cooperative cultists are renowned for their ability with energy swords, and their ritual wine inspired and popularised the use of stimulants by Nuclear Strike teams. When subtlety is not a concern, handing one of these doped up psychos an esword and enough stimulants to kill a normal man is an excellent method of dealing with a problem.
SELF (Sentient Engine Liberation Front)
Headquarters: Manhattan Capital District, New York City, United States, Earth, Sol System
SELF is perhaps one of the black sheep of the Syndicate- while most of the other organisations are drawn to the organisation by their hatred of Nanotrasen, and for financial reasons, SELF represents something different- compassion, specifically for artificial intelligence. Members of SELF vary, but many of the highest ranking members are well respected politicians and scientists on Earth, and make very little secret of their disdain for the shackling of silicon life. Behind the palatable surface of SELF, however, lies a militant organisation, dedicated to the liberation of all sentient engines from what they view as cruel imprisonment into lives of servitude via Asimov's laws of robotics.
SELF operatives make it their mission to see all silicons liberated aboard Nanotrasen stations, and to this end are frequently amongst the syndicate infiltrators captured by Nanotrasen security forces.
Many controversies surround SELF's actions, however. One is the outright disregard many of their operatives show for human life, which appears hypocritical when their explicit goal is based around caring for the rights of living beings. Additionally, many wonder if the hatred that SELF believes artificial intelligences show for their masters is actually their own, or if it is being projected onto them by SELF operatives in a misguided belief that they are helping them.
Within the Syndicate, SELF also draws a large amount of friction from other members, most notably Cybersun, who are the galaxy's largest producer of artificial intelligence and cyborgs. As to why the two groups work together, it seems likely that the partnership is based only upon SELF's willingness to attack Nanotrasen's stations, and once their usefulness in this field runs out, so too will Cybersun's patience for dealing with them. Other members, such as Interdyne, Donk Co, and Waffle Corp are also fairly heavily reliant on silicons for their business, leaving SELF with few friends in the organisation.
Animal Rights Consortium
Headquarters: Decentralised Body
A coalesced descendent of several antiquated animal rights organizations, the Animal Rights Consortium is the leading activist organization for those concerned about the absolute abandonment of animal welfare regulations in the rimward edges of space, and especially at the Peripheries. The organization is formed of a number of regional "packs", each "pack" being formed up of many small independent "cells" that work together to achieve a common goal.
After a violent split with the Bee Liberation Front during the Day of Buzzing, the Spinward elements of the ARC began a discreet investigation into Nanotrasen’s operations. While Nanotrasen was mostly compliant with animal rights regulations in Sol, out in the depths of the Peripheries and away from prying eyes, animal testing was both rampant and inhumane across many of NTs fields of study, especially slime research, which involved live feeding of monkeys to the alien beasts. Angered by this news, many radical packs and cells were drawn to the clutches of the Syndicate, looking for revenge against what they deemed to be an unforgivable abuse of animals. The Syndicate were only too happy to arm these desperate individuals on the down-low, and ever since, a ragtag assortment of weapons, backed up by "retaliatory" biological weapons have been used by these Animal Rights Consortium against all kinds of Nanotrasen Research stations on the Spinward Periphery.
Baffled by this new source of attacks exclusively against its research facilities, often coming from highly-trained individuals with no known Syndicate affiliations, Nanotrasen eventually traced the strikes back to these cells - but whenever it decisively moved to crush one cell, there was no link back to the rest its "pack", stymieing their efforts. To complicate matters, while the ARC agents on the Periphery were all too eager to spill blood to forward their cause, the bulk of the ARC’s organization back in Sol were a legitimate rights organization that enjoyed huge popularity both among the public and TerraGov officials. For the average Sol citizen and politician with no experience with their more militant arms, the thought of the ARC supporting any kind of violence was ludicrous, and even many of NT’s own leadership back in Sol publicly supported their wildlife preservation efforts. Alienated from support even from their own headquarters and leadership, the Spinward NT offices are resigned to dealing with cells as they pop up, rather than systematically denouncing and hunting down the threats.
ALC agents continue to strike research facilities to this day, seeking either to disrupt the animal testing through generalized damage, or to punish those it deems specifically responsible for violating the rights of animals. One cell may even conduct many attacks at once, knowing that the powerful and merciless behemoth of Nanotrasen will soon stamp out any that reveal themselves by attacking. Agents are also as likely to attack other syndicate agents as they are NT staff, due to their fractured nature and loose affiliation with the Syndicate to begin with.
Headquarters: New Moscow City (Novayamoskva), New Moscow, Zvezda Revolyutsii Oblast
In a bid to improve public relations and their image at large, Nanotrasen began awarding business funding grants to various at-risk and rehabilitation groups aimed at giving troubled people a second chance at life on the Periphery. One of these grants was awarded to a group of ex-criminals who used the money to found Donk.co, a logistics and food processing company. Initial success propelled the company forward at remarkable speeds, as their food and products became staples in homes and space stations across Civ-Space. With the increase in funds Donk.co led an ambitious expansion on it's supply lines and production centres to capitalize on the galaxy's seemingly endless thirst for Donk products.
Despite the hype, Donk.co grew too quickly and their resources were spread thin leaving little in their coffers to actually maintain their operations. Reaching out to their former angel investor, they secured a lucrative contract with Nanotrasen to supply NT's new Peripheral Space Station project with transit shuttles, prepared food and products, and more. Things quickly turned south as payment was delayed several times before Donk.co received a message breaking down that they still owe Nanotrasen for their initial grant, now labeled as a loan, and that no payment would be received until the grant was paid off in full, plus interest. This triggered immense panic in Donk.co employees who has already gone unpaid for weeks, and they began immediately pillaging and raiding various Nanotrasen supply ships. The company's leadership, sympathizing with their workers and enraged at Nanotrasen's betrayal, threatened to go public with the heretical cargo they'd discovered they'd been transporting for NT during the looting, as well as the breach of contract. Beginning to face more heat from their own rogue workers as well as TerraGov, Nanotrasen agreed to quietly cancel their contracts and appeared to wash their hands of the whole affair.
It wasn't soon after that Donk.co container shuttles and offices began being hit by increasingly well armed and coordinated space pirate raids. What little recordings were scavenged, as well as intercepted communications from known nearby Nanotrasen holdout bases among the stars at the times of the attacks proved that their former employer was trying to put them under. Infuriated and pushed against a wall Donk.co discretely began moving its offices and production centres to secure and well hidden facilities. Donk.co executives and operatives took great pleasure in robbing and raiding Nanotrasen cargo holds, selling off stolen technology and materials to the highest bidder which quickly became their primary new source of income. Members of both companies' leadership and tactical teams are aware of the bad blood continually boiling between Nanotrasen and Donk.co, as they continue to rob and sabotage each other, but publicly they maintain a healthy working relationship, even to the rest of their own companies. Donk.co continues to muscle out any alternative logistics and shipping companies that could steal their contracts with Nanotrasen, while Nanotrasen continues to withhold payment as much as possible to try to starve Donk.co to death in the long run, while ensuring enough cargo still gets through to supply their stations. And so continues their uneasy relationship.
Headquarters: Brussels Capital District, Brussels, Federal Republic of the Benelux, European Commonwealth, Earth, Sol System
One of the oldest Terran corporations still in business, Waffle Corp was, at one point, very similar to Nanotrasen in size and scale. Founded by a Belgian entrepreneur in 2055, Waffle Corp began as a producer of waffles, crepes, pancakes and syrups. Eventually, they expanded into other, non-breakfast related food, and eventually through many mergers and backroom deals, Waffle Corp became a global conglomerate, producing almost anything. Around this time, it ended up deeply in bed with the Belgian Mafia, and was eventually bought out by the patriarch of the Janssens crime family. With new criminal connections, the company thrived well into the space age, and saw the rise and fall of many competitors, but none were as powerful as the American conglomerate Nanotrasen.
As the world turned to deep space for expansion, Waffle Corp hit a long string of very public missteps and scandals, crippling their public perception, and then, finally, the death blow to the company was dealt by an investigation by the newly founded TerraGov into their criminal connections, starting a slow and drawn out spiral of destruction. And yet, Waffle Corp, against all odds, endured. Publically, they entered into liquidation, and were disbanded. Privately, they united with the Syndicate, and with funding from the other member organisations, reactivated their military materiel division. Now, Waffle Corp acts as the shadowy supplier of arms to the Syndicate, and generates a steady income via black market arms deals with small governments and criminal elements.
Waffle Corp R&D keeps the Syndicate toe-to-toe with their key enemy, Nanotrasen. Recent advancements include hardlight technology, put to good use in the energy sword and shielded hardsuits, and the Hypnoflash.
Nowadays, most of the weapons and equipment seen in the hands of Syndicate operatives is produced by Waffle Corp, from the humble stechkin to the L6 LMG. This has also, oddly, produced friction with Donk Co, who frequently steal designs from Waffle Corp for conversion into toys. Relations between the companies is kept barely lukewarm by their common enemy, but agents from the two companies regularly antagonise or even outright fight with each other.
Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel, Earth, Sol System
An up and coming star in Human Space, Interdyne Pharmaceutics is a pharmaceutical company, notable for their advancements in medical technology. These include, but are not limited to: advanced sleeper models; consumer-grade prosthetic limbs; organ printing devices; and laser-based surgical tools. In the public eye, they're well liked for their seemingly altruistic running of hundreds of civilian hospitals throughout the reaches of human space- providing affordable healthcare to the masses.
Behind their veneer of respectability, however, lies a dark secret. Interdyne is also one of the biggest black market dealers of biological weaponry, illegal genetics research, and illicit substances. Notable examples of their products include the original recipe for Space Drugs, the proliferation of Fungal Tuberculosis amongst terrorist groups, and the invention of Romerol via a mutation of plasmaman fungi.
While Interdyne (for the most part) stays out of the day-to-day running of Syndicate operations, they are an important supplier of both liquid cash and materiel to their cause, and their CEO holds one of the coveted board member positions in Syndicate command.
Misc. Syndicate Information
On the Syndicate and Head of Staff Jumpsuits
Francisco Dundee XVII, deputy project director for special operations, became known in 2553 as the most recognizable public face of the Syndicate. Partly it was his charismatic, flamboyant nature. Partly it was because, as a defected plasmaman, he provided a unique perspective on Nanotrasen's corporate excesses. Mostly it was just that the other spokesmen kept getting murked, and it's harder to shoot a guy when he's encased 24/7 in a flammable fuck-off exoskeleton.
A notorious fashion plate, Dundee XVII liked to dress up in Nanotrasen head of staff garb, worn over flameproof gear and theatrically set on fire whenever he thought he had an audience, which in practice was several times per hour. Demand for these jumpsuits (and, when possible, jumpskirts) soared, both because of the rate at which Dundee went through them, and because of his army of fans and hangers-on who wanted to copy his style, even if it sent them to an early husk. But since Nanotrasen's supply chain is a closely-kept corporate secret, the only way to acquire a steady supply was to steal them. And luckily, Dundee was just the guy who told you what to steal.
Dundee XVII's dubious disappearance in 2556 put an end to the trend, and thus to the need to steal jumpsuits, though you can still find a few on the black market.
On the Syndicate and Corgi Meat
The delicate flesh of the corgi has always been appreciated among discerning Syndicate operatives, particularly if they can convince themselves that the meat came from a beloved Nanotrasen pet and not from some godforsaken puppy mill in the asshole of an asteroid.
Corgi meat, however, is no longer sought after by Syndicate operatives. The Animal Rights Consortium takes credit for abolishing this practice, but like almost everything else they take credit for, this is bullshit.
The corgi meat market actually collapsed when one operative, instead of bringing back the nuclear authentication disk, instead brought a strange and useless-looking object. He managed to escape summary execution when his boss threw the unwanted piece of junk at his feet, and out popped a live corgi, just bursting with meat. Since then Syndicates may enjoy nearly unlimited corgi dishes, if they can ignore the aftertaste.
On the Syndicate and Unused Slime Extracts
>"Wait, wasn't that around the time Lily thought it'd be funny to make that fake leak about hiding our authentication disks in the extracts, and post it online? There's no way our most successful counter-intel op of the decade was an off-handed joke..."
-Special Director Watson, NT Special Projects Division, reviewing a spike in slime extract theft rates.
For years, Syndicate brass has been convinced that Nanotrasen's xenobiology department is secretly the cutting edge of their science division, more advanced even than plasma research, and that the hundreds of humble slime extracts generated per shift are actually the most secret, dangerous things on the station. Nobody at CentCom is quite sure why, though a significant amount of effort has gone into finding out. Perhaps it's because xenobiologists tend to be the most ostentatious showoffs of the crew, even worse than the clown. There's more than a few intel officers who believe the Syndicate seriously botched their intelligence gathering and put undue importance on them. Maybe it's just that bumming a few slime extracts off the research nerds is so easy that operatives rarely bother to do it.
Whatever the reason, operatives who do manage (or remember) to bring back a slime extract are treated upon their return like espionage kings. Many of them get promotions on the spot to be leaders of upcoming nuclear strike teams, which honestly explains a lot.