Galactic Guide: ArcCorp
ArcCorp! The so-called mega-corporate monster. Few in known space aren’t familiar with the conglomerate, the planet that bears its name, its infamous employment practices or its ubiquitous fusion generators. Even beyond Humanity’s borders, the ArcCorp logo is becoming a familiar sight, as the result of a tricky export deal that ultimately provides a counterpart shell corporation within the Xi’An with hundreds of thousands of branded engines every year.
Few realize, however, that ArcCorp actually began life as a deep-space exploration consortium in 2687. Started, essentially, in a Stor-All Hangar by a group of friends, the company aimed to use their lone Zeus IV spacecraft to locate and catalog jump points for UEE bounty money. Pooling credits (that included a lottery win and an unexpected inheritance) the quartet of friends began the process of exploring the universe.
Except that they didn’t do a very good job. Coming out of the turmoil of the 2690s, ArcCorp has made a shift from exploration (having accumulated a grand total of one jump license) to mining. During this period of rapid expansion, the corporation found a significant amount of success acquiring mineral rights to newly discovered planets. Soon, the renamed ArcCorp Mining Consortium was one of the most profitable companies in the galaxy, albeit one unrelated to the group’s original purpose.
Mid-28th century, ArcCorp first became involved with BCK, a massive terraforming conglomerate at the forefront of the then-lucrative trade. By then, ArcCorp had moved beyond mineral rights and was also dealing in planets for settlement. The synergy between the two companies was very positive, resulting in record profits for both. ArcCorp’s expert salesmen could lock down rights to a planet and then terraform it quickly at a low cost. As terraforming fell out of favor, ArcCorp absorbed BCK and the massive corporate structure they had used to help shape the modern galaxy. This was something of a hostile takeover, with BCK’s director being accused of corporate malfeasance by a still-unidentified whistleblower. Most suspect the company was taken down by their partner, but no evidence has ever surfaced.
In 2811, another sea change altered the destiny of ArcCorp. That year, looking to solve a problem with some of BCK’s legacy orbital platforms, they acquired an engine manufacturer called NovaLight. Staffed with excellent designers but lacking in business sense, NovaLight had a ready-to-go series of upgraded fusion engines but no ability to properly manufacture or sell them. The buyout, initially seen by observers as an error, lit a spark. Within two quarters, ArcLight-branded fusion engines were profitable. Within five years, they were the premiere engine type for large (100+ meter) spacecraft. Today, ArcCorp fusion engines are the basis for the technology, the pattern from which all competition is developed.
Today, ArcCorp is the definitive megacorp; the company so large it could buy a planet (Stanton III). While ArcCorp still profits from a diverse set of industries relevant to their earlier days (mining, some terraforming and even a newly-re-launched exploration effort), they are known by most of the public only for their exceptional fusion engines.
Not as exceptional are ArcCorp’s employment practices, earning them a somewhat deserved reputation for employing low-cost labor. Today, ArcCorp’s factory workers live, age and die entirely within the ArcCorp system. What some call job security, others call indentured servitude. They shop at company stores, live in company lodging and spend their lives on dangerous fusion engine factory floors. Little money ever exits the cycle, and even those who retire generally find themselves remaining within the ArcCorp system. An ongoing social issue, the fate of ArcCorp’s workforce periodically reappears in the headlines, generally resulting from fusion line accidents or factory worker suicides. While they were thrice voted the “Worst Company in the Universe” by Kaizen, the company does not comment on the issue officially and generally does not allow observers into their working facilities.
ArcCorp is one of a very limited number of supercorporations to own its own planet. ArcCorp, aka Stanton III, is the single most industrialized world in Human space. A massive, terraformed superearth, the world consists of layer after layer of factory; so many that today building additional structures is actually impossible. New facilities are built on top of existing ones. The corporation’s official headquarters is naturally located here, in the massive ArcCorp tower that rises above all other parts of the factory world.
The bulk of ArcCorp’s facilities on ArcCorp (the confusion is frequently commented upon by the population, most of whom claim outsiders simply do not understand) are located in Commercial District Circle C. In addition to the tower (and the never-ending line of fusion engine plants, which ring the planet’s latitudes), ArcCorp owns countless corporate towns. There is a cottage industry for tourists, who are invited to take pre-set factory tours. In fact, the actual fusion plants are so dangerous that a sanitized artificial factory complete with holograms and animatronics has been constructed for display to interested Citizens. While it was built for outsiders to make the trek to ArcCorp for the factory tour, it has also become a centerpiece of the local culture.
ArcCorp-the-world was first “discovered” by the United Empire of Earth in 2903, along with the rest of the Stanton System; what this actually means is that the government took advantage of eminent domain to claim possession of the planet from the existing inhabitants in that year, and in 2920 it was sold to the company. Unlike other corporate planets, ArcCorp decided to partition off the planet into smaller lots rather than reserve it for future development. Other companies (always non-competitors, but otherwise not pre-selected in any way) sprung up rapidly around the globe at a speed never before seen until the orb reached its current state.