IGS: The Inter-settlement Geographic Society
The Inter-settlement Geographic Society (IGS) is a much larger organization than it was when it was known as the National Geographic Society. Then it had its hands full trying to catalogue all the wonder and majesty of Earth; now, it has the entire solar system with which to occupy itself. Although much of humanity is now quite homogeneous in terms of culture, dress and behavior, there are still pockets of uniqueness left in the solar system. Many IGS photographers wander the Asteroid Belt and the Independent States of Earth, recording the traits of the various cultures therein. Exploration of the vast expanse of the outer solar system is also a strong focus of the IGS. Most nations are too busy paying attention to themselves and each other to bother with exploration, leaving the IGS and occasional university collaborators to plumb the secrets beyond the settlements of humankind.
The Society has retained its centuries-old credo: “Only what is of a kindly nature is printed about any country or people.” In the increasingly bitter social and political climate of the solar system, the IGS’ strict adherence to this policy has made it welcome in every nation; its publications often serve as excellent public relations material.
The home offices of the IGS are located on Phoenix Station at Earth‘s L4 point. The organization left Earth along with the United Nations a short time before the Fall. During the period of isolation that followed, the IGS was one of the few sources of communication between worlds, informal as that interplay was. By the time the Mercurians had rebuilt the trading ties between nations, the IGS had already opened branch offices all over the solar system.
The IGS maintains a small fleet of exploration ships that chart and investigate the solar system outside of Jupiter‘s orbit. Although the ill-fated Beagle II was the best known of them all, over a dozen other vessels continuously ply the lonely space around the outer planets, their captains and crews isolated from civilization for years at a time. The IGS has also set up dozens of observatories. Of particular note are the telescopes located at crater bottoms on both poles of Earth‘s Moon, where permanent darkness results in temperatures only about forty degrees above absolute zero.
These devices have proven extremely adept at spotting very cold, distant objects, while being less difficult to maintain than space-based telescopes. The IGS telescope, however, must share ground with CEGA spy stations, which use the same equipment for very different purposes. The IGS remains a nonprofit organization. It is funded solely through public donations (much of which, admittedly, come from corporate interests) and the sale of Interplanetary Geographic magazine, which is distributed system-wide in a variety of formats.
IGS WORLD MAPS
A common rumor among rookie scientists says that the walls of the chiefs’ office at Phoenix Station map the planetary movements in real time. Whether or not that is true, there are few cartographers in the solar system that compares to those of IGS. Even Nomads have been informed of geographical details pertaining to their own Belt while poring over IGS maps. These are a wonder of precision and any such map costs well above 1000 credits.
SolaPol is widely recognized (and resented) as the finest intelligence agency in the solar system. Its agents are everywhere, working undercover as deterrents to any misbehavior. The Solar Police act as the eyes, ears and hands of the USN in its attempt to maintain the peace among solar nations.
The agency is tasked with performing the impossible. Its primary mission is to moderate the settlements of the solar system, to uncover both plots and misunderstandings and take steps to subdue them before they are impossible to stop. This gargantuan task is accomplished on a daily basis with little or no external help or support. SolaPol has naturally made many enemies along the way.
If a possible violation of interplanetary law under the jurisdiction of SolaPol has occurred, the agency will conduct an investigation. The information and evidence gathered in the course of that investigation are then presented to the appropriate official or agency, who will determine whether or not prosecution or further action is warranted. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, evidence is either returned or retained for court; some of it may be confiscated by SolaPol. Its agents are the main investigators of criminal acts that reach across frontiers, be they the work of individuals or organizations. Local law enforcement agencies have little choice but to turn to the Solar Police when their quarries escape their jurisdiction and flee to another settlement.
The main weapon of the agency is information, more so than firepower or politicking. They discover and reveal the agendas of hostile parties, leaving the definition of the term ‘hostile’ to their discretion. This has made everyone who has a secret to hide, which amounts to just everyone, suspicious of SolaPol. SolaPol law enforcement officials train at St. Cloud Academy, a small asteroid that orbits Pyrea station.
The public function of the Solar Police is threefold: the agents investigate crimes committed by non-residents, pursue criminals across interplanetary jurisdictions and make sure the Edicts are respected (see p. 108). In the course of these goals, they run across the full gamut of criminal acts, ranging from interplanetary smuggling to assassination.
This represents only part of their work. Both the USN and SolaPol are known to favor a stable solar system, and are ready to take action to maintain the peace. As such, SolaPol investigates rumors of arms build-ups and war crimes, and generally acts in the interests of peace everywhere.
LAW ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURES
SolaPol agents may make arrests for any offense committed within the member states and their territories (all the settled planets, plus the Moon and the Orbitals) in their presence, or when they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed, or is intending to commit, a violation of interplanetary laws. Arrests in non-member settlements, such as most of the Belt installations, are also possible, though agents generally do not have sufficient authority to proceed. Exceptions are cases where, with the consent of the host, the USN has granted SolaPol extraterritorial jurisdiction.
If an individual is being sought by local police for committing a crime, a call will be placed to the SolaPol response system and the suspect will be placed on an alert list. The fugitive’s name and correlated data will automatically be entered into a computerized database, which contain record collections of fingerprint, retinal, and DNA identifications. This data is always accessible to SolaPol agents everywhere. Any agency which inquires about this individual will be informed of his or her fugitive status. Local police will be notified immediately of the receipt of any additional information concerning the fugitive. As a standard procedure, SolaPol will immediately generate an arrest warrant against the individual if there is reason to believe he or she has left the settlement. Though SolaPol generally has the authority to make arrests on its own, it is primarily an investigative body and its agents often leave the task to local officers.
There are limits to what a SolaPol team can and cannot get away with, at what times and where. Its members must obey the local law codes at all times, and respect the established investigative procedures. They must also make sure they have the proper authority in an affair, keeping in mind that concurrent jurisdictions may exist, whereby a crime may concurrently be a local, state and solar violation. Agents may certainly not use illegal means to gather information on a suspect, nor violate private property or rights while in pursuit of a fugitive.
While many agents chafe under these restrictions, most understand their purpose. Without them, the Solar Police would be little more than the USNs hired thugs. Some agents blatantly violate those codes, but they have either learned to cover their tracks or have quickly been removed. On the other hand, agents are prompt to be unofficially informed that efficiency matters and that bending the law in the face of good results will not lead to any problem with superiors; outside of the unavoidable rhetoric pertaining to protocol.
Being the main enforcer of the Edicts, SolaPol has broad discretional powers while investigating its possible violations. The use of physical force may be ordered if it is believed the suspects will oppose significant resistance, or if an urgent intervention is required. The Edicts Enforcement Bureau and the Crisis Intervention Team are the two SolaPol divisions that work together to spearhead assaults against those who have breached the Edicts. Exo-suited forces are available if need be. Unless rogue machinery and independent combat robots are believed to be present on the premises, their use is generally avoided.
The political function of the organization is not widely advertised, but it is equally vital. The Solar Police is the main source of intelligence and information for the USN council. They keep the politicians up to date on the plans and agendas of the various governments and groups throughout the solar system.
Though many governments see SolaPol as little more than a hostile intelligence agency, one of its pivotal roles is to maintain equilibrium between the settlements by ensuring that no one group gains the upper hand over its neighbors. The Solar Police and the USN themselves are kept in check by their limited means and resources. The result tends toward a balanced system that remains constant.
The least well-known function of the Solar Police, which remains buried in one of the final paragraphs of their charter, is to help keep mankind united in the face of possible dangers from without. Though no one believes in extra-solar invaders, the founding members took no chances.
The powers conferred to the Solar Police are derived from USN statutes that have been ratified by all major solar system settlements. SolaPol’s charter, which is the broadest of all investigative agencies, authorizes it to investigate all criminal violations that have not been specifically assigned by the Council or General Assembly to another agency. SolaPol‘s investigative functions fall under the categories of applicant matters, civil rights, counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, organized crime, violent crimes and major offenders and major financial swindles. The Solar Police‘s authority to investigate specific criminal violations is reiterated by numerous other statutes, many of them voted in by member settlements. Although SolaPol is responsible for investigating possible violations of interplanetary law, it does not give an official opinion or decide if an individual will be prosecuted. The prosecutors employed by the Solar Court (see sidebar) or the local authorities are responsible for making this decision and for conducting the prosecution of the case.
SOLAR COURT OF JUSTICE
Not all settlements have viewed the formation of the Solar Police as a beneficial thing. Early on, many worked to put together an instrument that would give them some measure of control over the new police force. The result was the Solar Court of Justice, a multinational body that oversees the most high profile investigations. The Solar Court of Justice is used only to try high-profile cases and make final judgments on long-running appeals. The Court also looks into alleged abuses of power by SolaPol’s agents and representatives. Judges called Justices go through a mental and psychological screening process as stringent as those of most security agencies and intelligence services. They set down the final word in trials, deciding alone what evidence or witnesses are to be permitted. While an appointed jury makes the final decisions, the judges are permitted to truncate presentations and speeches in order to expedite the process. The Court is allowed to throw out cases without trying them if they believe the evidence to be non-conclusive (a power that is sometimes used against the Solar Police if it is convenient).
All colony cylinders have well-equipped medical centers, but these are only administered to care for the colony and its local space. The Solar Cross is a neutral corps dedicated to providing professional medical care to people traveling or.inhabiting the vast reaches of international space. The hospital ships of the Solar Cross are considered non-aggression zones. No combat activity whatsoever is permitted in and around these vessels. This edict is enforced by all nations and space faring groups for their mutual benefit; no one wants to waste resources providing escort for hospital ships. Problems do arise when pirates and criminals elude authorities’ pursuit by entering a hospital‘s safe zone.
In times of war, the Solar Cross is allowed to inspect POW camps and prisons to ensure humane treatment. The organization is also granted immunity in battle zones, provided that its ships are readily identifiable. Since the Solar Cross has never operated during wartime, no one knows how well these rights will be respected.
The Solar Cross’ main offices are located in the USN complex on Pyrea. Its current Director is Dr. Paolo DesSources. The majority of Solar Cross personnel are scattered across space, crewing the organization’s massive hospital ships. Most spaceports have small SC offices which serve as a re- cruiting centers as well as accounting stations. The Solar Cross is funded and equipped by the entire human community. Each nation voluntarily contributes large amounts of money, materiel and personnel. The Jovians provide mostly shuttles and exo-suits, CEGA offers ship hulls, the Martians donate pharmaceuticals, etc. The Solar Cross does not lack in equipment, but could always use a greater number of qualified personnel aboard the hospital ships.
People who volunteer for Solar Cross service are a special lot, willing to ignore political differences and cramped conditions to perform their duties. While the monetary benefits are minimal, the prestige and respect is enormous. Lasting out an extended tour aboard a hospital ship demonstrates excellent teamwork, compassion and efficiency under stress. Unfortunately, few people are willing or able to give their time and energy in this fashion, leaving the Solar Cross eternally understaffed.
Solar Cross ships are advertised by their white hue broken only by the organization’s blazon. Solar Cross ships are one-of-a-kind refits replete with ad-hoc fixtures. They tend to be very large and interior space is given over almost entirely to medical facilities. They also support a large complement of daughter-craft and the odd refurbished exo-armor. Small gravity wheels are common, which operate when the ship is not under acceleration and permit doctors to perform operations that are not feasible under microgravity conditions. Finally, the ships are all unarmed; the 100-kilometer neutral zone surrounding each Solar Cross vessel is enforced only by the cooperation of the zone‘s beneficiaries.
Despite years of investigation by virtually every intelligence agency in the solar system, very little hard data exists regarding the organization known as STRIKE. Often branded as an unusually well-equipped terrorist operation, STRIKE's alleged activities are, if truly the work of a single entity, implicative of an organization with high-level production, political and intelligence resources.
Dissent From Within
CEGA Councilor Eleanor Crati of the Maritime League founded STRIKE in 2190, shortly after her exile on charges of corruption. Accompanied by loyal aides and paid mercenaries, Crati created STRIKE as an antipropaganda organization. She began to make pirate broadcasts detailing the high level of Venusian interference in CEGA's affairs. The broadcasts were silenced within a year, coinciding with a JSI raid on a remote Earth-system space station.
As expected, the STRIKE broadcast network faded away without Crati's leadership, but the JSI underestimated either Crati's persuasiveness or the loyalty of her former colleagues. Two years after Crati's presumed death, a new organization bearing the STRIKE name pirated and captured three CEGA warships and liberated a Siberian prison camp. Soon, a new flurry of broadcasts began, and this time, the JSI proved unable to trace their source. STRIKE raids and attacks became more common. Today, it is widely believed that several high-ranking JSI and JMS officers are at least tacitly cooperating with STRIKE, which has become the Solar System's most widely known terrorist organization.
STRIKE's efficiency stems from the high proportion of skilled CEGA officers that most likely form its upper ranks. The organization is actually made up of dozens of unlinked cells that share little more than the STRIKE name. While some kind of central command is expected to exist, its nature is completely unknown to the individual cells; captured STRIKE members are often even unaware of their teammates' real names.
STRIKE'S stated motive is the elimination of Venusian control of CEGA; this goal is logically extended to include the destruction of CEGA as well. Individual cells carry out operations toward this end, but observation indicates that there is little overlap between them. This suggests that STRIKE's unseen central command coordinates cell activities by guesswork and predictions of how any two or more cell's combined psychological profile will react to its environment and the events around it.
Given that hostility toward CEGA is common, STRIKE draws recruits and support from every Solar nation; even certain Venusian factions have cause to support the reduction of the Venusian Bank influence in the CEGA Council. Somewhat ironically, this agglomeration amounts to the solar system's only true multinational military force. This partially explains the apparent schizophrenic nature of STRIKE's activities, which range from child kidnappings to deliveries of medical supplies.
Muddying the question is that fact that far more actions are attributed to STRIKE than that organization can possibly be capable of in a physical, much less moral, capacity. One must take into account the dozens, if not hundreds, of criminal and terrorist groups who perform actions in the name of STRIKE without actual affiliation. A true STRIKE cell is distinguishable from fakes, but often only after extended observation; STRIKE cells are characterized by a long-range political agenda, high levels of expertise and security, top-of-theline equipment, reliable intelligence and odd instances of political or military sympathy (for example, several cases of captured members "escaping" from the custody of otherwise competent prison administrators).
United Solar Nations
The United Space Nations (USN) is an earth-founded chartered organization whose purpose is to promote humanitarian relations between nations. However, its scope is greater than that of the old United Nations. It is more concerned with interplanetary rather than domestic politics. Thus, the various non-CEGA states on Earth are afforded little power in the USN Assembly. The existence of only eight voting positions in the USN has greatly simplified matters of organization. Sadly, this situation also makes it difficult for nations to stay neutral in disputes since every decision will have some effect on every member. Over the years, two ”voting groups” have developed, although they are not formal associations. The Jovians, Martian Free Republic and Mercury tend to vote together, while CEGA, Venus and the Martian Federation form an opposing group. The Belt and the Independent States on Earth are wild cards; their decisions are motivated solely by their shared desire to be left alone. In recent months, however, these two members have been siding with the Jovian faction, increasing CEGA’s frustration.
The chambers of the USN are located on Pyrea Orbital Station. An entire section of the colony cylinder is recognized as neutral territory for the use of the USN, complete with its own docking facilities and housing area.
The USN Assembly is made up of delegates sent from every participating nation. Earth and Mars are the only worlds that send more than one team of representatives to the Chambers at Pyrea; Mars sends two, and Earth supports a whopping twelve recognized governments in addition to CEGA. The CEGA group contains representatives from the homeworld, the Moon and the orbital colonies. For the purposes of international representation, the nomads have chosen to send one team to speak for all of them, although nomad tribes are not bound by their representatives’ promises.
When decisions in the Assembly must be made, a vote among nations is taken. Each recognized nation is allowed one vote, with the exception of the twelve non-CEGA Terran powers, who must share one vote between them. This policy is maintained mostly to appease CEGA, which does not want its rivals on Earth to outweigh their voting power in the USN assemblies. CEGA, in turn, is allowed only one vote between Earth, the Moon and the Orbitals.
The USN is administrated by a Chairperson who presides over Assembly sessions and commands the Solar Police. Required to give up all citizenship or ties to any nation in order to symbolize neutral arbitration, the USN Chair is one of the most powerful person in the solar system, as he or she is the tie-breaker when the Assembly is deadlocked on an issue.
ZONET: Zenith Orbital Network
One of the most widely watched and influential news and information video networks, Zenith Orbital Network (ZONet) is based in Kolis Station, an O'Neill cylinder station at the L4 point in the Earth-Moon system. ZONet was founded in 2174 as a local broadcast network servicing the orbital settlements at L4 and L5, as well as sending broadcasts to the Earth and Moon. In 2189, ZONet was acquired by Hannah Gutierez, a wealthy Orbital businesswoman who saw the potential for a commercial, system wide network. After extensive renovations to its facilities on Kolis and substantial internal restructuring, the refurbished and upgraded ZONet went on the air on March 7, 2190, addressing its first newscast to the citizens of the entire solar system.
Over the last twenty years, ZONet has become an important part of interplanetary society. From the underground colonies of Mercury to the distant stations on Titan, the round-the-clock broadcasts from Kolis are watched by billions of people. ZONet's ability to reach such a broad audience is accredited to serious capital investment in a network of relay satellite stations designed to boost broadcast signals (and help deal with interference from solar flares). Time lag between planets means that no ZONet broadcast is truly "live" when seen from outside the system of origin, but the two-hour Lead News broadcast (from 12:00 to 14:00 GMT) is still the best place to get international news. Other current affairs, entertainment, scientific and popular culture programs fill the schedule.
Zenith Orbital Network is a corporation with shares traded on the CEGA stock exchange in Brussels. Hannah Gutierez remains the main shareholder, but her interests are now represented by a proxy; Gutierez is 77 and finally seems to be retiring. The current president and CEO is Wolfgang Pfell, former head of ZONet's news and current affairs division. Pfell is assisted by a series of executive vice-presidents and division heads, each in charge of one of the major domains of ZONet interest (e.g. news, entertainment, and scientific affairs). By far the largest division is news and current affairs, which not only accounts for fully fifty percent of resources at ZONet broadcast center on Kolis, but is in charge of the various field offices.
ZONet maintains offices (usually staffed by about a dozen reporters, producers and technicians) at each of the national capitals, as well as on the Moon and major regions on Earth.
The news department also directs the activities of special correspondents, one or two-man teams of reporters sent to remote areas to seek a story. Some of these teams have their own vessels, but most find passage on commercial liners. The life of a special correspondent is an exciting one, allowing the reporter to go where the action is. ZONet correspondents are seen as brave and honest, going into the heart of danger (such as border disputes on Mars or pirate colonies in the Belt) for the sake of the story.