#19 [July 3303] Shadows of shadows, passing…
The stage has been set, the players are moving…
The last three months saw the release of long lost mission recordings, ship’s logs and through careful insinuation the possibility of a major conspiracy behind the closed doors of superpower politics. What began with the dismantlement of the details of the 30 years old covert Dynasty Expedition, in which countless people were murdered by shrewd powermongers, and the finding of the last and eerily functional deep space vessel Zurara with their ship’s logs straight from a frozen grave, culminated not long ago in a galactic chase of a few daring pilots who brought the story about this conspiracy home. It’s evident that someone wanted and still wants to cover things up rather than allow them to be published.
In recent times, more and more representatives of the collectives of minor factions, the private security sector and multiple non governmental science and exploration organisations voiced their concerns that the political theater of the Bubble is a mere chess board for a select group of secretive, powerful individuals who direct and manipulate nearly every aspect of the galactic community according to their whims and plans, none of which seem palpable enough to bring them to the attention of the media, let alone the populace; until the Zurara reappeared and Salomé’s troupe succeeded in releasing ages old information about this enormous manipulation scheme that’s claimed to reach back for centuries.
During the last few weeks, the Children of Raxxla have conducted thorough research, relying on their extensive network of contacts in the science, media and intelligence community. In part they were met with resistance, obfuscation and unprovoked aggression. What first resulted in a jigsaw of leads and leaks eventually became an operations profile of gigantic proportions. These leads ranged from clandestine deals between the galactic economy and the political leadership during their power plays, obscure intel on equally obscure (and often illegal) research programs on uncharted moons, the involvement of the group of ‘Engineers’ in certain scientific projects and the emergence of alien bases attributed to a fifty or more years old threat named the Thargoids.
There are patterns in all this, if you look closely. It’s all connected, although the details are easy to miss. One hastily deployed comms beacon here, next some encrypted logs or intercepted comms pointing at things, then an experienced explorer gone missing there. Still, what becomes evident is a game of chess on a galactic chess board. This game is played by a very small coterie of seemingly omnipowerful and ubiquitous figures. They are exceedingly good at it and most likely they have been there for years, presumably having ‘inherited’ their position from their forebears.
This ‘Shadow Cartel’ has no name. No name by design. Try investigating an organization that has no name. In today’s world where information is logged electronically in databanks, an organization that bares no name will never be found. So little seems to be known about them and even then it’s only being hinted at in hushed voices, because their chief modus operandi is: “Silence the knowing”. Throughout countless newsfeeds and personal or company logs you will always find the same method: Remove those who even come in range of getting to know tidbits that may lead to something about their plans. Go out there and count the garbled messages of unfortunate pilots who stumbled across something and then a short while later sending their last maydays on broadband, while being attacked by unmarked or unknown ships.
You won’t find these stories covered in the ever subservient GalNet or as part of those frivolous Community Goals where there always seems to be a happy ending. If at all, they are sanitized or outright dismissed as nonsense, being brought forth by outcasts and malcontent undesirables. You may find more information in the Galactic Heralds on various space stations or some courageous Freelance Reports, where criticism and pointing at things is a little bit more open. But even then it’s tedious to piece it all together. The thing is: You have to look harder or establish your own lines of (heavily encrypted) communications with other entities like Canonn, IGER, Singularity or the Formidine Rifters and cooperate in sharing this news.
And still, the Children of Raxxla have painstakingly identified a number of possible manipulators on the grand scale, some of them likely being members of the Shadow Cartel and others being merely their pawns. History is full of self-proclaimed arbiters of humanity justifying their actions for some “greater good” of which the populace (or plebs) must know nothing.
But who would they be?
One possibility that inadvertably comes to mind are the rulers of either one of the superpowers or the leaders of one of the megacorporations. After all, they are experienced in the ways of directing the fortunes of billions of people over hundreds of worlds, right?
Alas, it’s not that easy. Those who do so have a very public profile, are doubtless the victims of many, many espionage and sabotage attempts and in the end run a full time job just to keep their superpower or company in check against the others. They are watched by billions and have a nearly equal amount of political enemies.
Let us put forward as an example the current President of the Galactic Federation, President Zachary Hudson.
One of the Shadow Cartel? One of the Club? Unlikely.
Instead, it is more likely that the Shadow Cartel provided the necessary power base for Hudson to guarantee his bid for power and thus his presidency.
Hudson is a fan of the military and also of the Arena games which he sees as a means for recruitment. Early on in his campaign he flattered the senior officers, one of which is his close friend anyway, and promised their navy a rejuvenation program. Meanwhile, Hudson surrounded himself with high profile representatives of the Federal economy, including Sirius Finance Vice President Patricia Spellman, and allegedly stroke some heavyweight deals during the Exphiay Bankers’ Ball to complete the circle of politics, military and economy. Come February 3301 and lo and behold! Core Dynamics and then elected President Hudson began the Capital Ship construction program and many believed the financial backing had its roots in that very Exphiay Ball. Not long after that, and huge construction initiatives were handed to some near-Sirius heavy industrial corporations like Wreaken Mining & Construction or mass healthcare companies like Reyan BPS. Others, maybe not so near to certain chairmen from that Ball, were simply left out. Still others suddenly lost their chairman, their vice president or some other key figure due to some unforseen mishap or sudden disease. Even the otherwise cautious if not subservient GalNet speculated about a ‘super PAC’, a political action committee (sometimes called a ‘lobby’), that went back to this very Bankers’ Ball and acted as power base for Hudson’s ambitious plans.
And those of the Shadow Cartel of course: With so much corporate support in his early political campaign and rise to power, Hudson – while presumably not one of the Cartel – would be an ideal candidate for a powerful puppet who could combine the Cartel’s need for a dependable asset to manage both political and economic high profile contacts while keeping a galactic populace calm and in check.
It’s the same with other profiles like Shadow President Felicia Winters, Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval or even the Utopian Pranav Antal. It’s not entirely implausible they could be one of the Cartel, but as of now it’s considered highly unlikely. As concerns charismatic and enigmatic Li Yong-Rui as CEO of Sirius Corporation and Sirius Gov, opinions are currently divided and with the current protests being organized against first Wreaken Mining & Construction and now directly Sirius Corporation at their Procyon holdings, hopes are that more details will be revealed about his involvement.
So when you’re looking for the members of this Shadow Cartel, you don’t necessarily look at political leaders, which doesn’t mean that they have none at all. But rather, you look at the ‘second tier’ of decision makers: Those that bring people into positions of power and those that have nearly as much power but not the high profile and visibility. They could be senior officers from the military (preferably with political ties and friendships), (vice) presidents of major corporations, large shareholders in research, entertainment and exploration or even individuals trusted by the overwhelming community of independent pilots for their invaluable services they provide, i.e. the ‘Engineers’. Conjure up some disgruntlement story about the ‘corrupt government and megacorporations’ and witness how they will be heavily frequented and maybe trusted on a “we are pals!” basis with galactic rumors and other convenient unofficial theorycrafting.
Maybe the Cartel’s structure is even comparable to a functional committee. One of them stands for politics and the overall agenda, one for the financial situation and well being, one is maybe occupied with lulling the populace into entertainment torpor or other social avenues to keep them docile while the other organizes operations with pre-selected personnel and outcomes like these ominous ‘Engineers’ and their surprisingly specialized talents or even the vast Dynasty Expeditions, maybe with some heavy aid from the field of survey and exploration and/or backing from the Pilots Federation and their interstellar hyperspace permit control systems. All in all, it would explain the Cartel’s ruthless efficiency and the ability to traverse the boundaries between politics, military and the economy with such ease.
Whatever the case, the Children of Raxxla won’t tire and promise and proclaim that they will use all their resources to expose those who would through unethical methods put humanity at risk. We will continue Salomé’s work, knowing that had she not been silenced by the Cartel, she would not have rested until she had identified and named and shamed them for the whole of humanity to see.
As more information about the Cartel’s plans and members becomes available we will continue to add it to this chronicle.
Let knowledge be our tool to bring them down.
This we owe her legacy. Remember!