The discovery of Niwa and the initiation of the Mandjet Project was a unifying force – every nation state or corporation on Earth wanted to be part of it. And just as well – the vast cost of the Mandjet Project required the investment of resources, expertise and capital on a scale never before seen. But each of the project’s main sponsors had their own reasons for getting involved – from altruism or the spirit of scientific discovery to a desperate need for resources.
Whatever their reasons, none of the project sponsors were willing to let their investment go unsupervised. The colonists and crew aboard the Mandjet were selected to be the best and brightest humanity had to offer, but the selection process was marred by back-room politicking of the most savage sort. Without the backing of one of the project’s main sponsors, nobody was going to Niwa. So here you are, one of the extraordinarily privileged few. And just like everyone else on this virgin planet, you owe your place to your sponsor. Whether you sit in the Assembly, oversee colony planning or just clean windows, you owe them… and they own you.
The discovery of Niwa drove humanity to the brink of war, and after clawing its way back from the edge one thing was clear: no single government or company would be able to fund the kind of mission needed to access Niwa’s desperately-needed resources. Alliances were made and broken, treaties fractured and were reforged, until eventually three international associations were formed. The Global Interoperability Council, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Arab League for Economic, Cultural and Scientific Development – loose collectives of allied or like-minded nations bringing their pooled resources to bear on the project.
The corporations too, hungry to get in on the action, tore each other apart in a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions. In the end, six vast megacorps were left standing: Universal Banking Group, B.E.T. Pharmaceutical, Cain Enterprises, WeyTani Industrial, Losanna and Advanced Ventures.
Yet by the end of the project, even these colossal mega-organisations were stretched to breaking point by the construction of the Mandjet – and of the supply ships which would follow in its wake, shuttling much-needed colonists and high-tech equipment to the Niwa colony before filling their holds with raw materials and exotic wonders.
When the Mandjet sailed, no sponsor could afford to let the mission fail. Nonetheless, each sponsor has its own objectives for the Niwa colony, and will be watching developments closely. Any deviation, any misstep, is likely to prompt furious questions from back on Earth.
Global Interoperability Council (GIC Nations)
Built upon what was left of the European Union, the USA, Canada, Australia, India and a handful of other industrialised former-commonwealth countries, the GIC nations cling to notions of democratic freedom, capitalism and free markets.
Sinking deeper into economic depression and unable to provide the populace with the stability of energy and jobs that they need, The GIC see the colonisation of Niwa as a chance to revitalise their once-great nations and return to their rightful place at the head of the world table.
With the renewed resource security that will come with success on Niwa, the GIC will be able to settle its various domestic issues, restore its citizens to a comfortable standard of living, and get back to leading the free world.
The GIC nations’ major contribution to the Mandjet Project was the provision of key scientific and engineering expertise… and a stubborn insistence that democratic principles be embedded in the colony administration’s governing Assembly.
Arabic league for Economic, Cultural and Scientific Development (the League)
A repurposing and expansion of an older cultural organisation for the modern world, the League is a loose collaboration between the African and Middle-Eastern Arabic nations.The modern Arabic nations are riding high, after recognising the damage caused by ongoing conflict – and Western interference – and taking steps to increase stability.
The most significant of these was to invest oil profits heavily in social infrastructure, allowing the benefits of the region’s energy reserves to finally reach its people.
The resultant population explosion has made the League countries Earth’s largest importer of grain and fertiliser, as the often desert-bound countries struggle to feed their people.
With their still-formidable energy resources, the League was vital to the success of the Mandjet Project. In exchange, they secured a strong position within the colony’s ruling Assembly, and – even more importantly – favourable allocation of the strictly-regulated cargo space aboard the Mandjet’s two sister ships, massive supply haulers shuttling goods back to Earth.
Shanghai cooperation organization AKA the Cooperative
Originally set up to counterbalance NATO, by the time Niwa was discovered this alliance between China and Russia was on the verge of crumbling as the two vast superpowers began competing for the resources they needed to fuel their economic growth.
Yet instead of turning on each other, China and Russia realised the necessity for collective action if they were going to claim their share of Niwa’s bounty – and the Cooperative was revived. East Asia’s smaller economic powers, dependent on Chinese or Russian markets for their exports, quickly fell in line.
Like the rest of the world, the Cooperative has plenty of problems – but unlike the other supernational groups, their main issues aren’t with overpopulation or fuel. What they lack is the resources to keep up with the spiralling demands of an increasingly wealthy and educated population. Should the resources run dry and the tiger economies begin to starve, things could get ugly fast.
Building a brighter future…
It was with one eye on the future that Earth’s largest mining conglomerate partnered with its leading manufacturer of construction machinery to form WeyTani Industrial.
As demand for rare earth elements (REE) continued to soar, and with resources dwindling at an alarming rate, these massive corporations had no choice but to throw themselves into the Mandjet Project – hoping that Niwa’s vast untapped resources would provide the corporations’ shareholders with unimaginable dividends.
But as the project went on, the delays, setbacks and under-estimates began to cut deeper and deeper into WeyTani’s projected profits. And at some unknown point, years before the Mandjet launched, it became slowly apparent that it wasn’t just WeyTani’s profits that rested on the outcome of the mission … the survival of the entire company was at stake.
If the colony fails, WeyTani fails… and if WeyTani fails, fully 3% of the Earth’s population will suddenly find themselves unemployed.
Cain Enterprises was always at the heart of the Niwa colony project. Led by one of the world’s most brilliant engineering minds, Martha Cain, the corporation’s contribution to the project came principally in the form of ideas.
In combination with a series of implausibly competitive bids for the project’s myriad infrastructure and manufacturing contracts, Cain’s engineering genius saw her company go from strength to strength as the project grew more and more reliant on Cain Enterprises technology and expertise.
Alas, Martha Cain herself never saw the first human footsteps on Niwa. Yet with Martha’s strong legacy to build on, Cain Enterprises’ representatives on Niwa are sure to prove themselves – not only a great businessmen and women, but as great leaders.
Moving as one
Certifiably the largest and most ambitious crowdfunding project to date, the Advanced Ventures project was a desperate gamble – one that paid off beyond all expectations.
Everybody on Earth wanted a piece of the dream that was Niwa – a chance to be part of something bigger. And some wanted even more– they wanted a new world and a new life.
The crowdfunding project offered that, with higher-end stretch goals including a place aboard the
scheduled second wave of colonists, or even aboard the Mandjet itself.
Those who gave up their wealth on Earth for the chance to set foot on this brave new world are among the colony’s most fanatically idealistic and forward-looking. They have given up their ties to Earth… and are dedicated to the idea of making a new and better life on this brave new world. They will not allow a repeat of humanity’s past mistakes… nor the sacrifice of Niwa for the sake of the planet they left behind.
Universal Banking Group – ( UBG )
Very few banks survived the first half of the twenty-first century in anything like a recognisable form… and those which did mostly managed it simply through being the biggest, nastiest shark in the tank.
UBG rode out the crises that shook the world after Niwa was discovered through a combination of shrewd investments in arms and other wartime markets… and their forecasting algorithms were oracular enough to predict that humanity would manage to pull itself back from the brink, leading UBG to divest itself just far enough ahead of the curve.
So when the banking group was approached by a variety of organisations and governments looking to borrow the billions they needed to send a colony ship to to Niwa, it became apparent that this was the next big opportunity – and to turn it down was folly on a massive scale.
It was a high-risk venture, certainly – but there isn’t a single sponsor of Project Mandjet that isn’t indebted to UBG to some extent, and the banking group’s usurious stranglehold over the project allowed them to negotiate the terms of their investment with unprecedented aggressiveness.
Life is BETter in our hands…
Among all the political and sociological upheaval sparked by the discovery of Niwa, the scientific possibilities of a planet hosting alien life seemed to fly strangely under the radar. Not so at BET Pharmaceutical.
No other group have higher hopes for Niwa than they – the sheer potential of the planet and its lifeforms was enough that they sold all their existing patents, along with drugs research that had been decades in the making, simply to raise the money to get involved in Project Mandjet.
So for BET, there’s a lot riding on the Niwa colony’s success.
As the primary provider of chemical and biological expertise to the colony, BET is desperate to discover something vast and world-changing: the cure for cancer, or for the common cold; or perhaps new and alien antibiotics with which Earth’s ailing population can defend itself against the ever-growing hosts of antiobiotic-resistant plagues.
One of Earth’s leading agrochemical firms, Losanna has walked a fine and delicate line between expedience and ethics.
Taking a conservative stance on the acceptable limits of genetic manipulation, even as millions starve on Earth, they have still somehow managed to demonstrate the kind of cutting-edge science required to make them the market leader in gene-fixed, high-yield crops. That same unrivalled expertise also made them a critical part of the early development of the sustainable biofarms for both the flight to Niwa and the early stages of colonisation.
Losanna knows that the life on the new planet could radically change the human race for the better or worse. During the development of the Mandjet Project they continued to lobby for a ‘hands-off’ approach to Niwa and its resources, and have over time become the project’s self-appointed guardians of scientific morality and environmental conservatism, a counterbalance to the exploitative forces of the nations and corporations who would exploit the planet’s resources through wholesale and damaging processes.
Other factions and influences
The Niwa Colony Council
The Council of Niwa is an internationally diverse, expressly neutral body chosen from among the most scrupulously moral, most forward-thinking individuals on Earth.
As the operational arm of the colony government, and as a managing body which operates entirely independently of the various Factions without whom Project Mandjet would never have succeeded, the Council has one of the hardest jobs on Niwa.
Nonetheless, their purpose is simple. They have one objective – to ensure the Niwa colony not only survives, but flourishes.
How they choose to fulfil that mandate is entirely down to them, though without the legal framework (and financial support) of the Faction-dominated Assembly, the validity of their mandate to act – and their ability to enforce those actions – may come into serious question.
The primary responsibilities of the Council include, but are not limited to: collecting taxes from the various Factions; proposing new laws and legislation; and offering contracts for vital services or the building of essential infrastructure.
While the vast majority of the materials, personnel and funding for Project Mandjet was provided by the nine vast organisations above, they weren’t the whole story. Countless thousands of smaller investors, from wealthy philanthropists to pension funds to co-operatives and collectives, made contributions of their own to the project; contributions that, while insignificant if considered individually, were enough to have some measurable impact on the project’s development.
In recognition, a handful of these independents – typically their loudest voices or most enthusiastic donors – found their way onto the Mandjet’s passenger manifest. Alone among the rival factions fighting over the fate of the colony, they lack the support structure to take a role in every aspect of the colony’s development. Instead they focus on their own objectives, wielding their limited resources in order to make a difference where they feel it matters – anywhere from exploration to scientific discovery.
Where there is money, there is crime. And with the vast amounts of money involved in the construction of the Mandjet, only the most naïve of optimists could expect the project to have remained untainted by the criminal element. Or perhaps, just perhaps, this brave new world we’re building has moved beyond the greed, corruption and venality which has forever dogged mankind?
With a crew and passenger contingent made up of the best and brightest from every nation, nearly every faith or belief system on Earth is represented among the Niwa colony’s population. Others might have philosophies or ethical codes that verge on the fanatical. Yet the colony charter, signed by every man or woman to board the Mandjet eighteen months ago, included a solemn vow to place the colony’s success and survival above all other creeds or considerations. In this age of rationality and reason, in a corner of the cosmos so far from the original word of God, what place could religion possibly have…? What influence?