We think it’s time to give you an insight into the world and history of Terraforming Mars and the competing corporations, so here goes:
When considering the colonization of Mars, the first pioneers were Interplanetary Cinematics, a media company that funded their first Martian settlements by making it into a live broadcast soap opera with plenty of advertising. This gave them a head start on the Red Planet, an advantage that allowed them to compete with much larger corporations.
However, they were not the only actors in early space colonization. National space programs also joined the space race, but with the increasing problems on Earth, funding dwindled over time, and a private company named Phobos Logistics was able to purchase several national space programs. With a lot of space infrastructure and technology, PhoboLog (to which it was renamed) set out to dominate ship building and spacefaring in the solar system.
This allowed them to play a key role in the terraforming of Mars (2300-2700), delivering both shipments and asteroids to the Red Planet, but also colonizing other bodies and profiting from trade and mining. Over the centuries, some corporations merged, some went bankrupt, but PhoboLog always managed to hold its own.
With the invention of the warp drive in 2692 by ThorGate, the stars came within reach. The warp drive enables a ship to create a space-time ‘bubble’ around itself and move this bubble faster than light, avoiding Einstein’s famous speed limit. It takes enormous amounts of energy, though, and even more the heavier the ship, so even with the astounding energies of a mass converter, small probes may only reach a speed of 30 times the speed of light (30c), while big ships can only reach about 8c. The energy input has a limit, since it would not be a good idea to vaporize the entire engine.
Corporations set out to colonize the nearby star systems, and the first interstellar colony was founded in 2719 by ThorGate. PhoboLog was not far behind, though, claiming Ashkelon in 2729, establishing extensive mining and shipyards to supply humanity with huge ships for colonizing and trade.
By 2782, the terraforming of Mars was completed and 28 interstellar colonies had been established. They
did not thrive though, because each star system lies several light years apart, meaning travel times averaging a year and communications being not much faster. Markets shifted, leaving traders without profit. Science stagnated due to lack of exchange and communications. Rebellions, disasters and epidemics tore the worlds apart before any help from Sol could be had. The colonies were a disappointment and the corporations began to lose interest in them. Some even reverted into autonomous kingdoms.
With the colonial decline, the demand for PhoboLog’s ships deceased too, setting the shipyards of Ashkelon almost on stand-by. By focusing on the steady but not very lucrative mining market (competing with all the asteroid mining going on in the solar system), PhoboLog could continue their operations on Ashkelon and at least replace their cargo ships as they wore out.
In 2827, however, PhoboLog scientists stumbled upon an innocent discovery that would completely change the future of mankind. Helium-3 was found in large concentrations in the asteroid fields around the star Merope in the Pleiades star cluster. Helium-3 is a key fuel for the fusion process necessary to ignite the mass converter, which in turn is needed for the warp drive. The real key, though, was its location in a star cluster. With distances under a light year, communications and travel could be made in weeks instead of years, eliminating all the problems that caused the colonial decline!
Once the chief analysts of PhoboLog realized this, they immediately ordered the top secret construction and launching of colony ships from Ashkelon, avoiding any surveillance in the solar system. For fifty years they traveled before reaching the Pleiades in 3008, and only then had their competitors finally realized what they were up to, and began hurrying to send colonizers of their own. For another fifty years PhoboLog built their new empire before other corporations began to arrive.
Once corporate competition began to harden in the Pleiades, things began to get ugly. With Earth so very far away, the rule of the strong began, and mighty war fleets clashed and forced the colonized worlds into obedience in what became known as the Pleiad Conflict. Only because of their head start was PhoboLog able to fend for itself when mightier corporations come to claim the Pleiades.
They had some advantages though; a knowledge of the land, and their well-homed cunning. Their famed Wing Commanders lead their squadrons in surprise attacks to take out the opposition, while their analysts always came up with new ways to surprise their opponents.
Will PhoboLog become the ruler of the Pleiades and dictate humanity’s future?