And now for something completely different…

Chapter 1

When humans expanded beyond the atmosphere of Earth, it was not NASA, the United States or Chinese governments, nor any other government that led the way; it was the corporations.  There of the major oil companies banded together in the late 22nd century and founded the first extra-terrestrial colony on Alpha Centauri.  The first prospecting ship took twelve years to travel the mere four light-years.  The 4th planet supported no life, the atmosphere was too hot and thick with carbon dioxide, but the ground was rich.  With no governmental regulations and oversight, no environmental protection groups, no employee safety organizations, the conglomerates raped the planet.  The demand for resources on earth was high.  The profits were obscene.

Other companies soon followed; the space race was born again.  Most expeditions were prospectors, although there was the expected assortment of religious communes, a few extremist governments, and even the occasional pleasure colony.  Coca-Cola founded a colony, just to prove they could.

Within 50 years, space technology had greatly improved.  The trip to Alpha Centauri was down to 6 years.  A limited form of stasis was developed that allowed passengers to sleep through the trip, aging a month for every year traveled, allowing workers and families to be shipped like so much cargo to their destination.  The more automated mining colonies would ferry raw materials to the orbital shipping port, a large automated facility that collected incoming shipments as well as launching the outgoing exports via mass driver to the even larger deep space starships that awaited outside the gravitational well of the solar system that would ferry the goods to their final destination.

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