Massive Criminal Corporation
The Pact Worlds are rife with interplanetary traders and corporations, but none are quite like the Aspis Consortium. The Consortium traces its history all the way back to Golarion, and in the wake of the Gap and the revelation of Drift travel, the company quickly mobilized to take advantage of the chaos, through both legitimate business and black-market opportunism. In theory, the Consortium’s great wealth comes primarily from commissioning explorers to find and claim distant resources and then exploiting or selling off these assets. The fact that this also creates a convenient cover for everything from false-flag piracy to the enslavement of entire worlds in deliberately uncharted regions of the Vast is something few dare address publicly. With each new discovery and conflict, Aspis agents are always ready to find some advantage, such as supplying weapons to the Pact Worlds early in their battles with the Veskarium, and then secretly selling arms to both sides once it became clear the powers had reached a stalemate.
Given its brazenly amoral corporate dealings, and the perpetual, never-quite-confirmed rumors of its vast criminal networks, one might be surprised that the Consortium can continue to operate in the public sphere. This is due not only to well-placed bribes and the restriction of its most illegal activities to outside the Pact Worlds, but also to its unique quasi-national status. When the Swarm first attacked, the Aspis Consortium leveraged its connections within the Pact Worlds and the Veskarium to broker the interstellar alliance that ultimately repelled the invaders, as well as donating arms, resources, and aid to the besieged worlds. Once the threat had passed, the Pact Worlds government used this generosity to justify an unprecedented—and never replicated—measure granting the Aspis Consortium status approaching that of a Pact World itself. Though not allowed to vote, the Consortium is recognized as a self-governing entity, its holdings on various worlds seen as embassies and its agents largely granted diplomatic immunity within other worlds’ jurisdictions, making it extremely difficult for anyone to investigate their schemes. Within the Pact Worlds, the Consortium takes pains to maintain goodwill among elected officials, staunchly disavowing and making amends for any agents caught in unsavory dealings, but outside the system, the Consortium operates as a criminal empire—exterminating inconvenient alien races, extorting colonists, manufacturing androids as slave laborers—doing anything to increase the bottom line.