Vordon: Planet of Adventure!

Ultimate Argument Risk Control welcomes you to Vordon (Lis Corridor), also known as Merchome, and hopes your stay will be an enjoyable and profitable one!

Whether you are, are looking to hire, or are looking to be hired by a mercenary company, our many talented brokers can find the contract that is right for you. Our partnerships with weapons brokers and vehicle manufacturers from Artifice Armaments, ICC, through Hectatonlon, JSC, guarantee your ability to resupply and upgrade your materiel, and facilities for training and exercises are available to you at reasonable —

Blah, blah, blah, and I ripped out the next three pages of sales pitch.

For your safety, Ultimate Argument Risk Control recommends that you remain within the bounds of the city of Plenary, capital of Vordon, where Imperial law is in effect and security is guaranteed by the personal pledge of the Executive Director for Private Planetary Affairs.

Affectionately known as “Mister Signature” to us, and even his salarymen have been heard to use the name.

Beyond the dome of Plenary, by special permission, only the Contract and the Market Peace are in effect.

Enforcement of these outside Plenary, except for UARC’s own facilities, is contracted out to copmerc companies currently in garrison and in need of cash flow. As such, it tends to be a little rough and ready – and is always subordinate to UARC corporate security.

Of course, if you wanted safety, why in the name of Orchaya’s carbon-scored tits did you come to Merchome!?

The Planet Itself

Vordon is a postsylithic world in the final stages of planetary senescence.

In other words: “it’s a bunk planet, so we got it cheap”.

From space, the planet resembles a yellow-swirled marble, an impression only redoubled upon reaching the surface: vast deserts of yellow-orange sand stretch between the remains of mountain ranges worn down to bare hillocks, and the dusty basins of long-vanished oceans. The sky, too, is yellow with dust born aloft by sluggish wind, which serves the valuable function of helping to block out some of the radiation allowed to reach the surface by the weak magnetic field generated by Vordon’s long-cooled core.

So just being outside is one way to tell who’s been properly maintaining the seals on their field equipment.

A thin oxygen atmosphere is maintained by remnant life deep beneath the former ocean basins, supplemented in most buildings by positive pressurization; those unused to the conditions routinely suffer from altitude sickness for their first weeks on-planet. While the winds of Vordon are typically mild, periods of flare activity on the system primary have been known to stir up violent cyclonic storms capable of sandblasting exposed equipment and flesh alike.

As is the case for many postsylithic worlds, Vordon was previously inhabited by a civilization now long since extinct. Extensive studies carried out before UARC obtained title to the planet have found only fragmentary remains too eroded to be of archaeological interest. UARC assures all visitors that there is no treasure to be found anywhere on Vordon’s surface, and advises that rescue and paramedical services are not available in Vordon’s wilderness except by private contract.

Hiring yourself out to treasure hunters may seem like easy work, but they tend to run out of money before they pay you, then whine when you leave them behind. Not recommended.

Vordon has three small moons, all asteroid captures. One, Vorwatch, is reserved by UARC for servicing corporate starships; the others, Vorguard and Vorsentry, are leased in sections to mercenary companies in need of starship berthing of their own.

Notable Regions: Plenary

The capital of Vordon is the city of Plenary, located at the edge of a mountain range running down one of Vordon’s continental mesas. Ultimate Argument Risk Control domed over an impact crater to create the city, adding an open starport to its north fully capable of handling heavy-lift vehicles and dropships.

Beneath its dome, Plenary is the shining jewel in UARC’s crown, a lush garden in Vordon’s desert wilderness. To representatives of our corporate and sovereign clients, we recommend the elegant waterfront hotels along the Sanguine Canal, which are fully equipped to handle guests of any known race. Our corporate concierge offers a booking service which guarantees that representatives will not be housed in uncomfortable proximity to their declared enemies, and our security services offer full protection against assassination during your stay, along with complimentary reinstantiation in the rare event that this protection fails. For less pecunious visitors, a variety of comfortable exodochia can be found on the first and second sublevels.

“Less pecunious”. Hah.

They’re very proud of their company town. To those of us less enamored with the starcorporate way of thinking, this shining jewel is better known as “suit central”, “client plush”, and “how am I still awake?”

The center of the city is the Spire of Glorious and Profitable Battle, known as “the Battlespire” for short. This 460-floor edifice, penetrating the dome at its highest point, presides over the lesser offices and commercial buildings at its knees with power and undeniable style.

There’s a reason a nameless but literate comrade nicknamed it the Baculum many years back, and even now, it’s generally known outside the corporation as “the Baccy”. Mostly affectionately – they may have one, but they usually aren’t one.

While UARC’s corporate headquarters remains in Titan Station (Lumenna-Súnáris System), the upper floors of the Battlespire serve as the headquarters for our mercenary brokerage division, with the Executive Director in permanent residence and other members of the Directorate visiting frequently. Lower floors, open to the public, house offices for our escrow, bonding, arbitration, sales, referral, information brokerage, and other services.

The remainder of the city, other than its residential districts, is home to offices for many of UARC’s partners and other corporations doing business on Vordon, including many of its most profitable and reputable mercenary companies. Its commercial areas offer for sale virtually any weapons system, military vehicle, or other materiel legal for use somewhere in the Worlds, many of them customized on-planet in the factory sublevels.

Since it’s also visited by many of us honest mercenaries who may be hard to distinguish at first sight from the less honest kind, it also holds the galactic record for autocannons per square meter.

You also can’t get the ammunition for anything larger than a personal weapon in those commercial areas. You can have it delivered to you in Plenary Camp, or to a transport in orbit, but not in the city itself.

Notable Regions: Plenary Camp

Surrounding the dome of Plenary itself for miles is Plenary Camp, a broad ring of barracks, laagers, airstrips, training grounds, and other military appurtenances; the home when in garrison of Vordon’s residential mercenaries, and including the offices of those companies which have chosen not to secure space within Plenary itself.

Or have other reasons not to pay for space at 250 exval per soph-square-month. Can’t imagine what those would be.

In Plenary Camp, while most management is left up to the individual base owners, the Contract and Market Peace are enforced by mercenaries contracted by UARC’s Planetary Security subdivision.

Aside from shared infrastructure, there is little else to be found in Plenary Camp. Over the years, most entertainment has moved to the nearby city of Ossiltun’s Victory (see below).

Because there’s only so much of a good time you can have under the eyes of your competitors’ armbands.

The entertainment they’re not telling you about is what used to be the Branta’s Bashers parade ground before they got shot up on Turech, now known to one and all as Sorehead Square, or by other names more profane. This is the chunk of land where the current copmercs like to herd all the green-cored mushheads who have issues with us honest fighting-sophs and our business existing at all, and have come all the way to Vordon to tell us about it. Bad publicity likely to ensue if you let them mix with the bored, offended, or easily amused grunts, after all.

It’s also why UARC changes out the copmercs every few months. They do love to fight among themselves over the right way to be pacifist, and it doesn’t take long for the armbands to stop refereeing the fights and start placing bets on them.

The UARC Sophont Relations department strictly forbids all mercenaries on the planet from hiring themselves out to any side in these internecine disputes, no matter how ironic it might be. Spoilsports.

Notable Regions: The Ranges

UARC has designated dozens of large areas of varied terrain on the continent north of Plenary as weapons-testing ranges and sites available for live-fire exercises. If you or your company wishes to make use of these facilities, please contact the scheduling office in the Battlespire for more information and to make a booking.

UARC strongly recommends that, despite the large uninhabited regions of Vordon, you do not plan weapons testing or live-fire exercises in locations other than the designated ranges. Liability for any harm done off a designated range rests with you, and Planetary Security, their contractees, and others, are free to respond to perceived threats with overwhelming force.

Some cash-strapped mercs and Rooktown denizens consider these a good place to scavenge. Since they’re almost continuously in use and rescue services are only available in between exercises, this is only a good idea if you’ve always wanted a career as a pop-up target. Spying on the competition pays better, but isn’t much more survivable.

Notable Regions: Ossiltun’s Victory

A thousand miles east of Plenary Camp, connected via maglev tube, is the city of Ossiltun’s Victory. Unlike Plenary, it was never intended as a city; rather, it traces its origin to the Five-Minute War of 6371. Following the loss by government forces to the rebellion in the nearby Mmpha Gerontocracy (now the Mmpha Mandate), the remnant forces of the Gerontocracy under Half-Admiral Ossiltun attempted a vengeance attack against what they perceived as the home planet of the mercenary forces which enabled the rebel victory.

And brilliant ideas like this, kids, are why you should always fight for money.

Having failed to properly assess the hazards of attacking what was, even then, one of the Worlds’ greatest concentrations of military force, Ossiltun’s fleet was destroyed extremely rapidly by the assembled spacegoing forces gathered on Vorguard and accompanying fire from the surface.

The Admiral’s flagship, the dreadnought GNS Scourge of Isskill, was fortunate enough to escape immediate destruction, but interruption of a maneuvering burn left it in a decaying orbit which terminated six hours later in a debris trail crossing several hundred miles of ground, ending at the largest intact fragment of the hulk. This collection of debris was unceremoniously looted by the defending coalition.

Shortly thereafter, an enterprising group of camp followers acquired rights to the hulk fragment, and making use of its salvage and remaining power machinery, the modern city of Ossiltun’s Victory was born.

Consisting of various suburbs around the reshaped hulk, largely constructed from prefabs and repurposed shipping containers, Ossiltun’s Victory includes Vordon’s secondary starport, the headquarters of several mercenary companies which prefer to maintain a greater degree of visible independence from UARC (primary among these is Kestal’s Raiders, whose HQ shares the hulk itself with the town’s civil administration and largest tavern, the Bloated Floater), and a wide variety of recreational services.

What they mean is “best booze, whores, and gambling on the planet”. Best drinks are at Dallie Lim’s – the drinks aren’t watered, the games are half-honest, and he only screws you where you can see. Tell him I sent you.

Stay away from Kabalga’s, though. My cloaca still itches, treatment be damned.

[A second hand, below, disagrees profanely and content-freely with the latter assessment.]

Notable Regions: Rooktown

Located thirty miles north of Ossiltun’s Victory, “Rooktown” is a temporary squatter encampment. UARC apologizes for its presence, and recommends that it be avoided by all visitors to Vordon. Steps are being undertaken to deal with the problem.

Translating that from the corpocratese: Rooktown is where the wannamercs rejected by all the recruiters on the planet end up, and yes, that does mean it’s full of psych cases who’re the wrong kind of crazy for this job. The “steps being undertaken” are that every time the noise gets too loud, Mister Signature issues a contract to deport anyone who doesn’t resist and shoot anyone who does, but there are enough wannamercs in the galaxy that Rooktown always comes back.

It’s a bad place to recruit cheap muscle, but if you need to pick up some quick ablative meat, it’ll do you. Odds are good you’ll never have to pay it, and you might even make a profit off a collector of the last 200 years of “Guns and Bullets” magazine.

Notable Regions: Htumleh Wastes

South of the inhabited regions of Vordon are the Htumleh Wastes, a large depression that was formerly a large lake or minor ocean. This region should be avoided by all visitors to the planet.

In part, this is because of the importance of the remnant ecology of such basins to Vordon’s continued viability. (Mote-lichen within the depths of these basins are the primary remaining oxygen producers.) However, of greater importance are the Vordon deathmites, tiny insects which consume the mote-lichen. The deathmites are adapted to survive by scavenging any fluids and recyclable organics they can locate, and they are exceedingly effective at doing so. An organic sophont attempting to traverse the Htumleh Wastes represents unimaginable bounty to them. Need we say more?

In other words, don’t bother buying insect repellent for your ground-car. The burrowing ones will eat that, too, if there are any sucrochemical or petrochemical-based plastics in it. And then explode from over-satiation. You don’t want them to explode.

Many visitors to the planet are tempted into the Wastes by what appear to be the ruins of a city on an island near the northern edge of the basin; starport slash-traders have been known to sell treasure maps leading there. Don’t be fooled: what you are looking at are multi-million-year-old crumbling foundations which have already been picked over by several expeditions, none of which found anything of value or interest.

And don’t hire yourself out to anyone chasing this sucker-bait, either.

Notable Regions: The Wrecks

Between Plenary and the Ranges are “The Wrecks”, the Vordon planetary wreckyard. Mercenary companies basing out of Vordon or contracted to UARC are permitted to dump destroyed equipment and surplus materiel here for a nominal fee and signing over all salvage rights. UARC in turn has an arrangement with several hazardous waste management consortia to properly dispose of all such military waste.

Visitors are advised to remain clear of the area, which may contain undetonated ordnance and other hazards.

You can sometimes pick up functional equipment and interesting secrets among the piles of discarded surplus and unsorted miltrash. Don’t be surprised to run across a few bodies, either; not everyone pays death benefits or lived long enough to cut their comrades out of the wreck – or else wanted to live too much to sort them out from the live rounds slopping around in it.

Stay out of the far end where they pile the starship wrecks and heavy vehicles, though. If the echoing sound of gunfire and canned orders over loudspeaker didn’t make it plain, some companies like to use it for live-fire training, and you’re not on their side.

Notable Regions: Grudgering

Vordon’s remaining settlement is the adjudication and war-tourism center of Grudgering. Based around a number of arenas carved out of craters, Grudgering originated as an informal location to settle intercompany disputes by combat adjudication, ranging from individual duels to full battlefield-conditions combat.

Today, Grudgering has expanded from this beginning into, on the one hand, a center dedicated to combat adjudication – not necessarily between companies themselves, but now permitting disputants to hire mercenary companies to fight out a binding decision on their behalf – and on the other hand, a generator of much of Vordon’s tourism income, as visitors come to observe the excitement of live-fire combat under controlled conditions. Indeed, some companies have come to specialize in delivering battles to please these visitors’ expectations.

Yeah, and are now worse than useless in anything resembling a real firefight.

Order (and profitability) in Grudgering is maintained by the Watchful Face company, under Eirsun “the Eyeball” Simeticelneratarathansi. Much of that profitability comes from the Face’s detailed recordings of all battles taking place in Grudgering, which they sell to companies for use in their own advertising, to the intelligence and research departments of their opponents, and to extranet media groups, without distinction. As “the Eyeball” herself puts it, “Even if you’re stupid enough to fight without gettin’ paid, someone ought to be getting paid. Preferably several times.”

A good way of getting paid for fighting, incidentally, is joining one of the guard squads that keep the Eyeball safe off-world from all the mercs who didn’t want to go prime-time or found the competition a bit too knowledgeable about their tactics. Not only does it pay well in money, but it pays well in staying under the radar where what you did in Grudgering is concerned.

– partially-eaten fragment of an annotated copy of Vordon: Planet of Adventure,
found in the Htumleh Wastes

 

Trope-a-Day: War for Fun and Profit

War for Fun and Profit: Mostly averted; the major arms manufacturers can make just as much money, what with upgrades, exercises, and replacements, from the peacetime market, especially once ongoing Space Cold Wars and loss-of-inventory-due-to-privateers-and-military-risks premiums have to be factored into the equation.  And the usual run of security companies, mercenaries (who often prefer to be paid not to make war… no, not that way) and privateers are better customers, anyway.  (Unlike most national governments, they tend to be regular, steady customers and pay in full and on time.)

Privately Owned Warships

Asked in a G+ comment:

How common is it for individuals to own full up dreadnought or super-dreadnought class warships? Am I correct in thinking that individually owned and operated cruiser and frigate class warships are commonplace?

Actually… not very common at all. (Even for corporations and other coadunations, even.)

That’s not a matter of legal restrictions, of course. While there are lots of remarkably illegal things one could do with a personally owned SD or DN (or BB, for that matter), the Empire continues to follow its basic ethical and legal principle that you don’t go around exercising prior restraint on the innocent just because that’s easier than dealing with the guilty, insert opprobrious remarks as appropriate here. It may not quite be the same SD/DN/BB that the Imperial Navy is flying around (given things invented and manufactured internally at BuInnov, and certain timed-exclusivity research and development contracts), but by and large, if you want an SD/DN/BB, Islien Yards and various other Imperial cageworks will be more than happy to sell you one.

(For clarifying the following comments, it might be an opportune moment to revisit Ships of the Fleet and Non-Standard Starship Scuffles.)

The question is more “why would you want one?”

The primary problem is that, per SotF, in addition to being a bloody expensive piece of hardware, a SD/DN/BB is also a bloody specialized piece of hardware. It’s pretty much got one function: counteracting other ships of the plane in the major fleet action battlespace, or dominating the volume in which other such ships aren’t. And to do that, per the implications of NSSS, it doesn’t operate alone: SD/DN/BBs operate in squadrons much of the time, but much more important are their screening elements. They need their associated CC/DD/FF squadrons to counteract the other guys’ CC/DD/FFs, otherwise they get swarmed and destroyed by smaller vessels that can dance circles around them under their guns.

About all you can practically do with an SD/DN/BB is fleet actions, for which you also need a supporting fleet. This is a very limited set of applications for anyone except “navies” and “seriously top-end mercenary groups”. If you had a personal one, you might be able to spend a few months playing “Send me tribute and attractive tribute-sack carriers” with underdeveloped hicksworld colonies before an actual naval force crushes you like a bug, but that’s about it. (Assuming you can get to them, because many polities don’t have the Empire’s relaxed approach to privately owned capital ships.)

All of which is to say: you can have one, but by the time you pay for it, and the crewing of it, and maintenance and resupply for it, and the eye-watering amount your tort insurer wants to cover it – well, what you have is a giant hole in space that you pour money into, and almost no applications for the thing to make the money back. Even by the standards of hilariously rich people, and even if you were deeply invested in status games – which people *there* by and large aren’t – there are better status symbols, y’know?

(Which, I rush to emphasize, by no means denies the existence of the Eldraeverse equivalent of Booster Terrik and his Errant Venture – it’s just that all the problems he had with it, with the exception of being leaned on by the New Republic, will also afflict his analog.)

On the other hand, you’re absolutely correct that there are more’n a few privately owned CCs and FFs around (both individual and corporate), although not necessarily intended in a primarily-warship role, just a warship-capability role. A FF makes for an expensive yacht/courier/etc., but if you’re in the habit of visiting the bad parts of the galaxy and/or getting into fights when you get there, it’s probably a worthwhile investment. Likewise, the design parameters for a CC include operating solo and being a heavily customizable part of the design-space – most of the specialized variant starships within and even without the IN tend to be built off a CC base – so if you have a task to do that also requires a decent helping of ass-kicking ability, starting with a CC spaceframe is a good move.

Neither of them is exactly ubiquitous – because most people don’t have practical reasons for investing in the military-grade stuff – but they’re certainly common enough that no-one would be surprised by seeing one or hearing that so-and-so had one in dock somewhere, belike.

More generally: if the imperial military and major mercs were to disappear tomorrow, how much military hardware would still be around and what would the force distribution look like?

Quite a lot, although biased fairly heavily towards the light end. By the time you’ve added together the Watch Constabulary (who use basically the same light infantry, light cavalry, and light starships as the Navy, just with a different paint job and software loadout), corporate and non-corporate branch security forces, military recreationists and other hoplo-hobbyists, huscarles, etc., etc., etc., together, it’s a lot.

If you allow keeping the 95% of the Home Guard that is citizen-shareholder militia and only delete the 5% that’s the central military cadre, it’s a whole lot.

And then, if you first bear in mind that arms manufacturers thereabouts don’t see any dichotomy between products for the military market and products for the civilian market (which is almost entirely created by regulatory requirements *here*), and then, second, bear in mind just how much equivalent-functionality hardware is out there in the form of, say, hazmat-protection “armor” and construction worker’s “exosuits” that don’t take much refactoring, and then third, consider that the one thing that is guaranteed to be around just about every corner is a cornucopia machine…

…well, I’m not saying that losing the heavy stuff wouldn’t hurt, in many ways, and there would be many complaints about the inconvenience of it all, but one would still have to be the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots to try your hand at invading that.

Trope-a-Day: Private Military Contractor

Private Military Contractors: Lots of them, especially since the Laws and Customs of War in the Eldraeverse recognize mercenaries as legitimate combatants (it should be noted that the Imperial sense of honor takes no issue with fighting for money as long as you stay bought; loyalty to one’s contract is still loyalty, savvy?), and there isn’t any particular rule about them only being able to sell their services to their host polity, or indeed, only to a polity, either.

The grandmother of them all, of course, is the Mega Corp Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC, which both supplies its own military and security forces, and brokers the services of other mercenary companies.  It can supply everything from local security (down to bouncers), public police services, regular mercenary companies (up to army-sized), privateer starships, naval task forces, and even strategic defense solutions.

But there are plenty of smaller (but still large enough to be effective – see NGO Superpower) mercenary outfits around, especially out in the Expansion Regions.  If you need to hire some force, you will have no trouble finding someone to sell it to you.

Oh, yes, and they’re called mercenaries. We don’t do euphemisms.

Relic

RKestal’s Raiders, Fourth Flak Platoon, Third Battery
near Site SNASNY perimeter
Golikkar (Night’s Cliff) System

The ground shook under another distant explosion.

“What’re we doing here, Sarge?”

The blotchy linobir spat.

“Getting’ paid, kid, same as last month.”

“Yeah, but – what are we getting paid for? Who are these guys? How’d they piss off a bunch of librarians?”

“Three in one: because these selffuckers are a bunch of iconoclasts.”

“They like command lines?”

“Yeah, Raczy, they’re fighting to get their keyboards back… The new fanatics in town don’t want anyone remembering the gods of their spawners. They told everyone they were going to burn down an’ blow up the temple back there, stop anyone from getting sinful ideas. That’s what pissed off the librarians.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re librarians.”

“But –”

“So we need to keep them out of the librarians’ way while they get the temple rooted up and moved off this planet, you copy? Which you’re not doing by standing here talking to me instead of getting’ theLongeyes set up and mined in for anti-air work. Their skycrane gets shot down, the estrev don’t get paid. The estrev don’t get paid, we get paid in pain when she finds out we screwed up.”

“Yes, sarge. Sarge – ain’t this stealing?”

“Nah. We’re mercenaries. This is plundering. Technical term, an’ not the same thing at all. Don’t call it that in front of the clients, though. They like to call it preemptive archaeology.”

Trope-a-Day: NGO Superpower

NGO Superpower: Actually, yes.  Quite a lot, especially given the sheer range of government sizes out there, and the sizes therefore of the organizations that some of the real behemoths can host.

For a start and most prominently, most of the “Big 26” starcorporations at least have the financial resources to stand in the same rank as many large governments (and often have extensive conlegial and/or extraterritorial holdings), and above the small ones.  Special note here goes to Gilea & Company, ICC, the banking starcorp which routinely makes large sovereign loans out of its private assets and treats polities no differently from any other customers – and when Gilea & Co., who stand behind or advise, in one way or another, an appallingly large percentage of the galactic economy, sneezes, entire economies catch the plague and die;

Ring Dynamics, ICC, which owns and leases most of the galaxy’s interstellar transportation network;

And Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC, which provides security services, military contracting, and mercenary brokerage, and if it cared to gather all of the forces beholden to it in one place, could make a respectable showing against most Great Power fleets, and unquestionably defeat lesser polities on its own.  (It doesn’t; its owners aren’t interested in assuming the responsibilities of sovereignty, and agree with the unspoken “Iron Concord” among the Powers that mercenaries should be paid to make war, not paid not to make war.  But it is happy to rent its mercenaries to other starcorps in need of a forceful solution to Static defaulters or expropriators, pour décourager les autres.)

(While no individual runs it or controls it to any significant extent, the collective intelligence of the Seranth Exchange has similar potency when it comes to the way that shifts in its market can affect things out and about in the Worlds.)

The others are less obviously potent, but smart polities understand that it’s a bad idea to make an enemy of say, StellEx (if you want your logistics to keep moving), Bright Shadow (who sold you your Internet), Telememe (who publish the news that the newscorps read), Traders in Ideation (unless you love getting FRM errors), Riverside Eubiosis and Crystal Flame (since your citizens may not appreciate a renewed outbreak of mortality), etc., etc.  Even much smaller starcorps than the 26 are accustomed to negotiating terms with local governments on a much more even footing than one might expect.

There are also, of course, a number of “non-politan”, unaligned seed AIs, who despite being singleton intelligences have all the production capacity and coordination ability of a (usually minor) polity.

A number of non-profit groups, mostly a mix of “direct action charities” and more self-interested “information brokers” – some of both of which are functionally privately run intelligence agencies – are in approximately the same league as some of the smaller starcorps – they have to walk a bit cautiously around (which by no means means “avoiding conflict with”) the Powers and the larger polities, but on those occasions when they think it will help – which, in fairness, they usually don’t, because it rarely does – they can slap a few smaller polities and single-system nations around a bit.  And a lot of them are more than happy to hire UARC or other merc outfits for this purpose, when necessary, although the latter especially prefer manipulation and memetic subversion than getting into out-and-out conflict.

And out in the Expansion Regions and other more shadowy corners of the worlds, some less scrupulous large mercenary organizations and the odd criminal syndicate can exert a lot of influence over local politics, more than enough to hold their own against the local polities.

Oddly enough, averted where most terrorist organizations are concerned.  Mostly because unlike most of the above, by definition the terrorist organizations go too far – which is unfortunate for them when the opposition tends to be people like the Imperial Navy, whose Combat Pragmatism and notions of cost-effectiveness are such that, for example, if told that the terrorist leader is hiding in an impenetrable range of cave-ridden mountains, will reply “okay, fine, we’ll just bombard them from orbit until the sonofabitch has to learn to breathe lava”.  And if it’s something less terrain-y – well, the Laws and Customs of War are very clear on this: voluntarily standing in the crowd the enemy is hiding in, once you’ve been warned, is giving aid and comfort to the enemy and the ensuing predictable consequences are entirely your own fault.

Subverted a little with the Conclave of Galactic Polities, even with the tremendous law enforcement powers and independence of the Operatives of its Presidium, mostly because it works very much for the highly select list of Great Powers making up said Presidium.