The Crossroad 134 system

Image from David Jackson
The ring of starminer habitats that form the hub of the Greyman Empire can be seen around the brown dwarf Traction

Traction Data Panel

SYSTEM :Crossroad 134
PRIMARY :YTS 5072-5871740
REGION :The Seams, NoCoZo
SECONDARY COMPONENTS: white dwarf and brown dwarf in trinary orbit
AIAI OVERSEERS : None apparent.

AI'S ETHOS : Burdikeer Ethos.
PolityAFFILIATION : The Seams; The Greyman Empire
ALLIES:The A2 NeoMonarchy
The Uploaded Reengineerists
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy. Each corporation have their own internal laws, though the Bill of Sentient Rights must be obeyed.
POPULATION :c.29 billion sophonts


Bionts : 5.7% : approx 1.7 Billion
Artificial : 23.0% : approx 6.7 Billion
Infomorphs : 70.6% : approx@ 20.5 Billion
Xenomorphs : 00.1% : approx 29 Million
Transavant : 00.6% : approx 174 Million
STARGATES TO:Swartzchield (Corridor 59342), Blue (Corridor 343)
Moedus (Corridor 3490), Orange Polity (Corridor 3920)


The YTS 5072-5871740 system was an uninhabited and rather uninteresting trinary system consisting of an unimpressive red star, a white dwarf and a small brown dwarf, visited only by a few probes and interstellar tourist-explorers, before its inclusion in the Seams in 4654. Among the details released to the sophont public about the Seams was the mention that Crossroad #134 would gain stargates to several far-off systems. This specific information was extracted from the entire information package by several NoCoZo corporations. Suffering from bad investments during the Version War, these corps were faced with extinction in the corporate jungle of their home systems, and they each, unrelated to each other, decided to try and move to this new system and start over from scratch.

When the corporations arrived, one by one, they found the system largely devoid of materials, and the stargates yet unarrived. Most of the corporations set up base around the dim red star, converting the engines and other now unnecessary systems of their ships into systems needed for more permanent settlement. Three of the better prepared corporations on the other hand set up orbit around the brown dwarf, and started their attempts at a rudimentary form of starmining. These companies called themselves Starlift Enterprises, the Resourcelift Corporation and Greyman Incorporated. After seven decades of experimentation, the starlifting projects began to bear fruit, and the first materials were released on the isolated market to the other corporations. Most of the corps, retaining no valuables after their odyssey, bought their resources in exchange for a percentage of their future profit. As larger orbital complexes were built from the resources of the starlifters, conflict slowly emerged between the corporations. With no authorities in the system, sometimes it was cheaper to steal, by force, resources from other parties than to purchase it from the starlifters. Slowly the philosophy "might makes right" was established as law, as the ruthless hounded the weak into slow extinction.

With the arrival of the first stargate, leading to Swartzchield, in 4821 a large part of the corps expanded aggressively. While a few corps expanded physically, establishing mining of the Swartzchield system in competition with the already established settlers of rianth-cyborg clade Swartzchield, most of the corps expanded virtually, using the Known Net connection that the wormhole provided to establish contact with clients in the Seams interested in their services. The wormhole also released the corps from much of their reliance on the starlifting corps. Still, the starlifting corps now began receiving the promised pay for the resources they had sold on tab during Traction's isolation. As work and resources became more plentiful, the corps also began investing heavily in vecs and ai, which were bound into indentured service as payment for their creation. Though it varied from corporation to corporation, often these indentured employees had little to no rights.

In the 6th millennia, connections were opened to Blue and Moedus. Both systems were quickly seized as corporate interests over the heads of the original inhabitants, though in Blue, the Burdikeer agent Mallard of Blue announced that the planet Blue and the xenoecology thriving there was protected by the Burdikeer and off limits to the corps. Still, the corporations gained steadily more capital throughout the millennium, a percentage of which was delivered to the starlifting corps to pay of their old debts.

Finally, in 6156, a coalition of the normal corporations formed, as they felt that they had gained enough power to confront the starlifting corps. Positioning their fleet between their habitats and those of the starlifters, they declared that they would no longer pay any money to the starlifters. Starlift Enterprises and the Resourcelift Corporation, being the wealthiest corporations in the system, and the ones with the largest fleets, refused to listen to the coalition, and announced that they would exterminate those corporations that refused to pay . Surprisingly enough, Greyman Incorporated didn't join in the announcement.

A short period of announcements and threats from both sides followed, until, in 6157, the fleets of Starlift Enterprises and the Resourcelift Corporation finally headed towards the fleets and habitats of the coalition. The main fleets met in something as rare as a head-on engagement, while flankers passed by for attack runs on enemy infrastructure. Two weeks later the main battle was over, resulting in a victory to the Starlifter Corps. However, though the starlifters had managed to defeat their opponents, their own fleets had been devastated. Determined to make an example of the coalition, they set course for the main star and the coalition's habitats.

However, back around the brown dwarf, Greyman Incorporated launched their own fleet as soon as they learned the result of the conflict. In less than three weeks -- far too fast for the distant main fleets to respond -- Greyman took over control of the other two corps, removing their leadership and taking over their habitats, populations and resource facilities. The main fleets, seeing the battle already lost, defected to become mercenaries, joined Greyman, or launched kamikaze, guerrilla attacks on their opponent. Still, Greyman could rebuild their forces relatively unhindered, and worked to stabilize their conquests.

Though the coalition was happy that their doom had been averted by the hostile take-over, the normal corps soon began to worry again, as they realized the size and power that Greyman had gained from its action. And they worried with good reason, as in early 6158, the forces of Greyman swept out across the Traction territories and declared that a new age of peace and prosperity was at hand. Under the able leadership of the newly crowned Emperor of the Greyman empire. Overmatched by the Greymanni forces, the remaining corporations surrendered mostly peacefully.

The Greyman Empire

During the next two decades, the Greyman empire created a host of rules and regulations to facilitate the just and peaceful running of the Greyman empire. One of these rules completely separated the Greyman corporation from the Greyman empire, though the corporation still had a favored position amongst the corporations making up the empire. The inter-corporation warfare and raids was stopped, and the Universal Bill of Sentient Rights was reinforced, though the sentience of the indentured vecs and virtuals was constantly disputed, limiting the progress for that class of citizens. Still, the Greyman empire became known as one of the most prosperous and promising polities in the nearby network. Despite the regulations, the new peace and regulation meant that most of the corporations prospered and new ones popped up. Those that suffered the most were usually among the largest corporations, which earlier could do more or less whatever they wanted. The restrictions caused a certain amount of resent amongst most of them, and the intelligence agents of the Greymanni emperor watched them closely.

The reign of emperor Greyman I lasted until 7328, where the emperor and all his backups suddenly disappeared. Though his disappearance has never been fully explained, he artificially and steadily increased his intelligence throughout his rule, and it is commonly believed that he broke the singularity at the day of his disappearance. Some say that he was quickly destroyed by the Burdikeer, others that he was expelled from the seams, and still other that he still resides in the computers of the empire, guiding things from behind the scenes.

No matter what happened to the emperor himself, what happened to the empire is better documented. As soon as the disappearance of the emperor became apparent, chaos erupted in the bureaucratic halls of the government. Out in the empire things continued as normal for almost a week, with rumors raging, before the first insurrections and riots started. The leaders of many of the largest corporations quickly gathered, and after a short period released a suggestion for the emperor's succession. Most independent researchers of the current age believe that the insurrections were actually arranged by these corporations in order to generate enough of an emergency that their suggestion would be accepted quickly to limit the damages. The successor suggested was the fifteenth son of Greyman I. His first fourteen sons had been clonesons of himself, and had thus disappeared when he himself did. The corporations argued for the emperor title being hereditary and thus the fifteenth son the natural heir. Though many intellectuals argued against the proposal, it gained wide support with the bureaucrats for its damage-limiting potential, and with the general populace for mostly simple romantic feelings. After a week of deliberation, the suggestion was widely embraced, and soon after, Greyman II was crowned.

Undoubtedly a large factor for the corporations' choice of successor was that Greyman II was a very weak emperor. Soon after his coronation, the emperor was clearly influenced by the group that had suggested him into power. Over the next years, much of the power of the state over the corporations was cut back. The corporations were allowed to keep paramilitary forces for the protection of their own installations. The indentured vecs and ais were once again completely cut from the support of the Bill of Sentient Rights. And the empire's jurisdiction outside of Traction itself was limited to protecting against piracy and foreign powers. Finally it was decided to limit each emperor's reign to 250 years, after which a new emperor would be appointed from the closest possible heir. An heir would have to be accepted by a council consisting of the 25 largest corporations of Traction. With these measures, the corporations undoubtedly hoped to be able to keep control, even if an emperor might prove difficult. After at most 250 years under a troublesome emperor, the corporations would be able to choose someone more suitable to their goals.

Mostly, their plan seemed successful, with a few notable exceptions. Greyman V, who, though not particularly interested in restricting the corporations themselves, did allot to bring the Bill of Sentient Rights back into force for all sentients. Greyman VII is poorly remembered by common citizen of Traction, except for being the only emperor besides Greyman I whose rule ended due to his death -- and that after a remarkably short period of regency. Independent researchers widely believe that he was attempting a coup against the corporation, seeking to install a cyberdemocracy, and was thus removed. Greyman IX was a bit too happy for war, and though he captured the Horus and Maldavi systems from the Khordian Electorate and Manifold from Jeon, the resultant loss of trade hurt the corporations. Greyman XIII managed, through superior political skill and cunning, to delegate power to the masses, through the creation of the upper and lower houses. With the resultant influence from the common citizen, both Greyman XIV and the current Greyman XV have been friendly towards the common man, though the influence of the upper house has provided balance. While Greyman XIV seemed most inclined to listen to the corporations, Greyman XV leans more towards the lower house.

Today no sentient being can be forced to work for a corporation against its own will. The creation of artificials, which have been programmed to enjoy their work, is widely used, but free artificials are also employed by both conservative and liberal corporations. Given the lack of planetary bodies and the widely virtual aspect of the corporations, the largest part of the population is virtuals or other infomorphs. The empire is ruled by the emperor, though his jurisdiction is still very restricted outside of the Traction system. The emperor theoretically has the power to perform any action within the Traction system itself, however, in reality he cooperates widely with the lower house, consisting of officials elected by the entire population of Traction, and the upper house, consisting of the leaders of every corporation in Traction. An emperor cannot be crowned unless both houses agree that he will make an acceptable ruler, and either house can dispose of an emperor if he is found unacceptable during his regency.

The Imperial Line

6158-7328 Greyman I (the founder)
7328-7578 Greyman II (the heir)
7578-7828 Greyman III (the gengineer)
7828-8078 Greyman IV (the blue)
8078-8328 Greyman V (the enlightened)
8328-8578 Greyman VI (the holy)
8578-8580 Greyman VII (the brief)
8580-8830 Greyman VIII (the sharp)
8830-9080 Greyman IX (the conqueror)
9080-9330 Greyman X (the borg)
9330-9580 Greyman XI (the bright)
9580-9830 Greyman XII (the happy)
9830-10080 Greyman XIII (the reformer)
10080-10330 Greyman XIV (the silent)
10330-10580 Greyman XV

Related Articles
Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Thorbjørn Steen

Initially published on 04 July 2006.