The colony ship Liberty was commissioned by the Americans and was the first to arrive in the Sirius Sector. The colonists settled in the center of Sirius space, where the highest number of main sequence stars and Earth-like planets existed. These mostly-American colonists called the first system they settled "New York" as they began the difficult task of rebuilding civilization, two full years before any other sleeper ship arrived. The actual sleeper ship Liberty itself was originally stripped down to allow for rapid building, but has since been refurbished and proudly flaunts Liberty's logo over Manhattan's main landing dock for all travellers to be reminded of just how far Liberty has come.
Liberty is a very capitalistic colony, cherishing free trade above all else. Its location at the center of Sirius has made it extremely rich off of inter-colonial trade, and Liberty's military forces have the protection of free commerce as their primary mission objective. While their military (as seen in the game, anyway) is comparatively the weakest of the houses, so are its criminals, resulting in a remarkably secure colony that the other Houses can only envy.
Liberty's initial meteoric rise was fueled by early scientific discoveries leading to Ageira Technologies invention of Jump Gates by 180 AS, with production going into full swing by 215 AS. Jump Gates were incredibly expensive to build, but allowed the phase alignment of a jump hole to be controlled, forcing the hole to stay open for trade, or allowing it to be "locked". Therefore, Jump Gates were incredibly useful for normalizing trade and communications between colony systems, and thus highly in demand, spurring an influx of cash to Liberty and the rise of Ageira. In particular, Interspace Commerce made a killing financing the construction of the extremely expensive Jump Gates as well as underwriting interstellar shipping insurance packages. By 280 AS, Ageira introduced Trade Lane technology, and the second half of the modern interstellar trade infrastructure began to take shape. Ageira and IC grew rich beyond their wildest dreams; Deep Space Engineering expanded rapidly to handle the increased demand. Universal Shipping used the new Trade Lanes, Liberty's central positions and its favorable deals with IC to gain a competitive edge in the early years. Things were looking pretty good for Liberty.
However, free-market capitalism rapidly exploited and depleted the resources in Liberty space, producing a vast fields of scrap metal in the New York and Texas systems as used-up junk accumulated. The central position in Sirius that made Liberty the master traders of the early years now worked against the House, as it was boxed in by the other Houses and had no direct access to the vast resources of the Tau, Sigma, and Omega Border Worlds. To make matters worse, disaster struck in the Texas system in the form of the Dallas Incident in 521 AS, squandering a vast amount of resources and prompting Liberty to pull all funding for scientific research in the Texas system, cutting many promising careers short. In the same year, both Rheinland and Kusari defaulted on their financing terms with IC for Jump Gate and Trade Lane production, leading to a financial crisis: as usual, the little guys took it the hardest. The combination of the loss of scientific funding in the Texas system and the economic downturn throughout Liberty caused unemployment in Texas alone to jump by 50%. The crime rate exploded, with a 300% increase in the next decade.
Soon afterward, terraforming efforts on Planet Los Angeles failed, causing the rich residents to start considering the possibility of relocating, and many began to eye Planet Denver. Increasing costs and workload from the additional crime in Liberty's downturn, combined with decreasing funding put the pinch on the Liberty Police Incorporated, forcing them first to cut corners and privatize, starting with their detention facilities. The wealthy on Planet Denver begin taking advantage of this shift and used their influence to pass laws to gentrify the planet, enforced by the now for-profit LPI. By 600 AS, this dynamic spiraled into a full-blown prison-industrial complex, a cat-and-mouse game involving the LPI on one side of the law, and the Xenos, Lane Hackers, and Liberty Rogues on the other. Manhattan, by contrast, has become a cornucopia of wealth, and planets like Denver and Los Angeles are playgrounds of the rich and corporations, respectively. Meanwhile, the labor of Texas that fuels Liberty's industries is supplied by a near-permanent underclass of convicts and those at the margins of Liberty society.
Liberty's prospects began to change for the better in 600 AS, however, when Kruger Minerals and Daumann Heavy Construction convinced the Imperial Rheinland government to begin the 80 Years War against the Gas Miners Guild of Kusari. Rheinland underestimated the independent GMG, and suffered heavy casualties. The government ran up huge bills with Daumann for ship construction, which were exacerbated somewhat due to the strong Alster Union, formed after the disaster at the Alster Shipyard in 512 AS. Finding itself in a financial pinch, Rheinland was forced to seek loans from Liberty and Interspace Commerce, who were only to happy to comply... with some pretty serious default clauses written in the fine print!
When Rheinland was eventually defeated in 680, it was time to pay the piper. Liberty corporations regained complete access to Rheinland, Synth Foods in particular. The food-producing corporation quickly bought up land on the fertile Stuttgart to pay off Rheinland war debts. In 700 AS, the financial crunch culminated in the Popular Revolution. The Imperial Rheinland government was overthrown by 705 AS and reborn as the Republic of Rheinland, led by the Chancellor and the Reichstag. Rheinland has since slipped into economic, social and military decline, with Liberty only too eager to further exploit its regained economic advantage.
In the tumult of the Exodus, The Liberty launched before the other great sleeper ships. Even today, colonists whisper that the launch date may have been intentionally moved forward against the explicit wishes of the Great Planners. Early launch would have guaranteed the Liberty free access to the worlds of the Sirius Sector before the other sleeper ships arrived, but all proof of such a betrayal of trust was lost along with Earth. Even if the Liberty did launch early, there is little that can be done about it now...but there remains a lingering feeling of resentment among the other houses: a vague feeling that, somehow, Liberty does not entirely deserve the position of superiority it enjoys eight centuries later.
When the Liberty first arrived in the Sirius Sector they found an area rich in resources but lacking in habitable planets. With a hundred systems at their fingertips, they settled on those near the center of Sirius where the highest number of main sequence stars and Earth-like planets existed and a fair number of resources could be easily obtained. Eventually they made planetfall on Manhattan, in the system they christened New York. They began the difficult task of rebuilding civilization two full years before any other sleeper ship arrived.
Two years before its arrival in the Sirius Sector, the captain of the German sleeper ship Rheinland was awakened from hypersleep to begin preparations for planetfall. He and his officers spent weeks studying the long-range sensor logs in an effort to determine the best location for their new home. Much to their surprise, the Rheinlander officers found that the Liberty already had arrived in the sector and had made planetfall within a clutch of worlds near the center. The officers decided to give the Liberty colonists their space, as it were, and instead concentrated on an area close to the Walker Nebula and rich in natural resources.
Rheinland was, at one point, the most powerful of the major houses, even with its stripped down military, which has been reduced to its last battleship, the Westfalen. An industrial and nationalistic people, the Germans brought their traits with them to the Rheinland and produced an economic powerhouse that has seen better days. Rheinland was blessed with food and more resources than it knew what to do with, save for H-Fuel the critical fuel for space flight. Rheinland launched an all-out war against the GMG to seize the gas fields of the Sigma systems, but was pushed back and utterly crushed in a daring GMG ambush. The remnants of the Imperial Fleet still exist today, slowly being reclaimed by shamed ALG Rheinlanders and indifferent Junkers.
The debts from the Great War paralyzed the economy and the once powerful nation slid into a tailspin. Chancellors were elected, tax reforms were launched, economic incentives were initiated, but nothing save for selling off Rheinland's precious resources to Liberty's corporations could keep the nation afloat. Many criminal factions flourished in this upheaval: the Bundschuh strive to purge corruption from the Rheinland government, while the LWB seek to eject Synth Foods from Rheinland space in general and Stuttgart in particular. Further down the spectrum of altruism come the Unioners, largely made up of former Alster Shipyards workers and their descendants, who have turned to piracy since the days of the rebellion. Finally come the Red Hessians, opportunistic pirates feared throughout Sirius. The government struggles to keep in check with its dwindling navy, recently rendered impotent by colonial conflict.
Those who have not left Rheinland for the forces of the radicals have simply left outright, fleeing to the economic prosperity of Liberty to make their mark. However, Rheinland's tourism industry has seen a recent resurgence despite the events of the Nomad Incident.
Although Rheinland went through a period of radical military buildup under Nomad influence, the nation has recovered to its ante-bellum levels, which weren't all that stellar to begin with. However, the economy seems to have tapered out, waiting until the government can strike the right balance to revive the nation into the powerhouse it once was and could realistically become again.
Omega 7 lies deep within the clouds of the Walker nebula, filled with mineral rich asteroids and explosive gas pockets. Not really a system, it’s more of a waypoint along the Trade Lane that was constructed from Cambridge to Stuttgart in the middle of the eighth century. The long and dangerous construction process took 20 years, with drifting asteroids an ongoing problem.
Five years after the Trade Lanes’ completion, a motley crew of independent miners from Bretonia and Rheinland rehabilitated an abandoned DSE construction site for use as a mining base. They named it Freistadt, a free port operated along similar lines as the Zoner run bases scattered throughout the Border and Independent Worlds. In 760, they became official members of the Independent Miners Guild. Over time, the miners discovered significant pockets of silver, copper, and cobalt. Lacking the facilities to refine the minerals, they shipped much of the raw ore to the relatively new ALG smelter in Berlin. The IMG dominates mineral production in the system to this day, although Kruger and Daumann have recently opened mining operations in higher risk areas off the Trade Lanes.
Piracy is an ever present threat in Omega-7. The ongoing attacks by Corsairs and Hessians led Interspace Commerce to recommend closing the Rheinland-Bretonia Trade Lane unless security can be improved. Little can be done given the complete lack of funding available for Rheinland Military patrol operations
Omega 11 is a dying and dangerous system located at the southern edge of the Walker Nebula. At its heart is a late-stage red giant, a sun grown huge and hot as it begins to burn off the last of its helium reserves in its final death throes. Most of the planets in the inner system have already been consumed in the fires of the Omega-11 solar furnace, leaving only the volcanic planet of Schutz. Between the sun and the orbital path of Schutz lies the astronomical anomaly known as the Von Rohe Belt, named after the famous Rheinland deep space exploration leader who initially surveyed Omega-11 in 110 AS. Von Rohe theorized that the belt was comprised of the molten remnants of a destroyed inner planet. Rich in diamonds, it has lured miners to Omega-11 ever since.
With the construction of the first jump gate to Omega-11 in 376 AS, commercial exploitation became a priority despite the inherent dangers. Daumann established the Solarius base within the planetary shadow of Schutz, the only area close to the Von Rohe Belt safe from the debilitating effects of the frequent solar storms. Mining the Belt is a very simple process that hasn't changed much in the preceding centuries. Ships make runs to the inner edge of the Belt and literally grab as many of the molten asteroids or loose diamonds as they can before retreating to the relative safety of Solarius.
The system also sits astride the Omega Jump Hole network, so both Red Hessians and Corsairs are frequently spotted in the area. Attacks are common along the tenuous supply line that stretches from Solarius back to the Stuttgart Gate. Omega-11 offers great riches, but only to those who are able to take care of themselves in this lawless frontier.
The Kusari systems were founded by the inhabitants of the Japanese sleeper ship Kusari. This house is ruled by a feudal system, in contrast to the single leaders of the other nations. The capital of Kusari space is Planet New Tokyo.
As the Kusari sleeper ship approached the Sirius sector, they looked for evidence of high percentages of water, analyzing spectrographic wavelengths of various planet atmospheres. One area in particular looked interesting. Lying near a distinctively shaped blue nebula that the on-board astronomer named the Crow, it was composed of relatively young stars, and possessed at least two planets with high amounts of atmospheric water vapor and oxygen. Planetfall was made on the New Tokyo in 5 AS., five years after the arrival of the Liberty. New Tokyo had plenty of water. What it didn’t offer was much land. The ocean planet was dotted with a few small volcanic islands. A culture that had left their cramped homeland far behind had to accept a cruel twist of fate once again, on the other side of the universe.
Shortly after planetfall, the Planners decided to restore the title of Emperor as the leader of the Kusari government after centuries of figurehead status. Strong and absolute leadership was needed to rebuild their civilization. The political maneuvering was intense. There were two rivals - Masamune Samura and Yosai Hideyoshi. Ultimately, Hideyoshi won. As a compromise, Samura was offered the presidency of the corporation that would rebuild the industrial might of the Kusari people from scratch. He accepted, and Samura Heavy Industries was incorporated, the first of the two great Kusari industrial conglomerates that dominate commerce in the region to this day.
By 100 AS., Samura had constructed the Yamamoto Shipyard and established its reputation as the premier shipbuilder in Kusari. Over the next several centuries, Samura expanded its gas mining operations throughout Kusari space, began regular trading with the other houses, and perfected the construction of polymer hull panels and shielding. Samura's contracts to construct ships for the Kusari Military remain highly lucrative, while its commercial transports almost entirely dominate that sector. Throughout its history, Samura Heavy Industries has exhibited many of the traits of its founder: methodical, implacable, slow to change, quick to anger.
The second company had far more humble origins. In 10 AS., a small research company, headed by Katsuhiro Kishiro, genetically modified an existing earth fish species and introduced a super-breed optimized for life in New Tokyo’s alien ocean waters. He also tackled the rice problem. The soil conditions were quite different than Earth, lacking certain nutrients that rice brought on the sleeper ship needed. Again, Kishiro came to the rescue, this time with a new rice strain that could handle the harsh growing conditions found planet side. Kishiro won the adulation of the Kusari imperial family, and thus began the second of the two industrial dynasties of Kusari. Adapting the name Kishiro Technologies for his company, Kishiro espoused a progressive research oriented environment that relied more on brains than sheer size and intimidation, unlike his primary rival, Samura.
In 91 AS., Kishiro Technologies achieved a breakthrough in the development of quantum circuitry that revolutionized the entire economy almost overnight. Just as its founder had originally planned, Kishiro products found their way into almost every consumer, commercial, or military product on the market -- including those made by Samura. With their new found capital, Kishiro Technologies rapidly expanded their manufacturing capabilities and established the Yukawa Shipyard the nearby Honshu system, devoted almost exclusively to the construction of ships to be used in gas mining operations in the nearby Crow Nebula.
Kusari was generally poor in natural resources, although the New Tokyo system did contain limited deposits of aluminum and titanium, which enabled Kusari shipbuilders to be relatively self-sufficient, at least for the first three centuries after arrival. The surrounding Crow Nebula had little in the way of asteroid fields found in such abundance in the Walker and Barrier regions. It did offer one key resource, however, that the entire Sirius Sector needed. Virtually unlimited supplies of Helium-3 and Deuterium were present inside the great clouds of ionized gases in the nearby Sigma systems. Both isotopes were quite rare on planets, but essential for the fusion engines that powered spacecraft of all sizes. Kusari soon became the exclusive supplier of H-Fuel, as they called it, to all of the colonies. H-fuel was the foreign currency source that allowed Kusari companies to purchase the many raw materials found in the other colonies that Kusari lacked.
The Bretonian systems were founded by the inhabitants of the British sleeper ship Bretonia. The ship arrived a full 20 years after the Liberty. The region is now ruled over by a monarch and its capital is Planet New London.
The Bretonia was one of the last sleeper ships to arrive in the Sirius Sector, almost twenty years after the Liberty, Kusari, and Rheinland had made planetfall on what became their respective homeworlds. In the chaos of Exodus, the starboard engine array of the Bretonia was destroyed, requiring her to limp the rest of the way to Sirius.
By the time the Bretonia arrived, most of the resource rich areas of the sector had already been claimed by the passengers of the Rheinland and Kusari, while the Liberty had settled the lush planets at the sector core. Bretonia was forced to select a less than ideal site near the Barrier, a giant belt of ice that spans the entire western half of the Sirius Sector. Here they established the colony of New London, on one of the few habitable planets in the area. Isolated by the Barrier from the other houses and years behind, Bretonia began an accelerated program of rebuilding their industrial civilization.
Historically quiet in terms of crime, Bretonia is the home of two narrowly focused terrorist groups, the Mollys and the Gaians. Common criminals were quite rare until the recent arrival of Corsairs and Outcasts within the colony, which has severely tested the capabilities and resources of the Police Authority and Armed Forces.
Bretonia is considered one of the less dangerous regions of the Sirius sector, and is a good "second step" for new freelancers after Liberty space.
The Hispania, a Spanish sleeper ship, is thought to have been sabotaged on its escape from the Sol system. On its arrival in Sirius space, many of its passengers split away, becoming the Corsairs. The remainder founded the Outcasts on a planet rich in a plant containing cardamine.
The wreck of the Hispania still drifts in Outcast territory.