If you want to survive in the Sixth World, you best get to know who these guys are. Megacorporations, the AAAs, the Corporate Court, however you want to call them, they are the MFIC of today. These guys control hundreds of companies, millions of people, and trillions of that sweet, sweet nuyen we all love and need. Seventy years ago, the borders of the nation-state determined who controlled what. Now, it’s the bottom line and the razorfence around the corporate campus.
So how did they get so powerful, you ask? It’s simple, and boils down to one word: extraterritoriality. Back in the late 1990s, there was a union in New York that decided it was a good idea to go on strike; now, had things just stopped there as they normally did, everything would be fine, but some felt that more needed to be done. The union members started hijacking food shipments being transported into the city. Hundreds of trucks were stopped, and things only got worse after the leadership reached an agreement with the city to return everything to normalcy. New York fell into anarchy.
In February of 1999, one of the trucks belonging to Seretech Corporation was set upon by an unruly mob, ostensibly wanting to hijack it for what was presumed to be food. However, this truck was not carrying food, but rather it contained biomedical waste that if compromised, could have been a disaster for Seretech. The armed guards that were sent along with the truck were given orders to protect the cargo at all costs, and the resulting siege that occurred once it reached its destination resulted in the deaths of 20 Seretech staff, 200 angry civilians…and the classification of corporate guards as a well-regulated militia under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. When coupled with the First and Second Shiawase Decisions (the first led to the approval for construction of, and subsequent physical attack on, a corporate-owned nuclear reactor and the second being the legal defense of the defense force), the seeds were laid for corporations to be effectively kingdoms unto themselves. The nation-state had no more power there.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The Corporate Court
Not all companies are entitled to the principles of extraterritoriality. This is where the Corporate Court comes in. Housed on the Zurich-Orbital space station, the Court was formed after the megas realized they were fighting each other too much. After its formation, it developed and came up with a ranking system to determine how things would go. At the bottom are the unrated companies: the mom and pops, the strictly national corps, and those barely selling internationally. The single-A corps are the next rung of the ladder; these are the guys doing a lot of business in more than one country, but not really able to stand on their own. Most have patrons of one kind or another…or are owned themselves.
The AA and AAAs, now these are the big boys. AA-class corps do a lot of business in a lot of places, are extraterritorial, and can take the hits dished out by those larger than them. The AAAs? These are the ones who run the Court. There are ten AAAs, and all are larger than most nations on the planet. They make the nuyen, they make the rules, and may the deity of your choice help you if you cross them. Here’s the list.
These guys are well-known amongst ’Runners like yourselves, mainly due to the products from their weapons manufacturing division, Ares Arms. Led by wealthy magnate and former Army Ranger Damien Knight, Ares portrays itself as being the epitome of stereotypical American values: in short, Mom and apple pie. They specialize in law enforcement, military-grade hardware, aerospace, entertainment, and the automotive industry, but have dozens of smaller divisions.
If you consume small goods, you fund Aztechnology. These guys make nearly everything you can imagine, and even some things you can’t. Be extremely careful about crossing them though, as they’re rumored to engage in some less-than-savory practices…like blood magic.
EVO is probably the most progressive of the megas. With an ork for a CEO and a free spirit serving as their largest stockholder, they’re certainly a different breed. Their primary focus is on transhumanist projects, from bioware and cyberware to anti-aging, not to mention everything they make for those non-baseline amongst us. Hell, they even have a base on Mars. Be careful though: they might be more amenable to some things, but even the velvet glove can contain an iron fist.
Glitz and glamour define Horizon. Based in Los Angeles in the Pueblo Corporate Council, this corp specializes in anything that can be done to manipulate the people. They take care of their people…and will do anything to make sure you still think that.
Mitsuhama Computer Technologies
One of three Japanese megas, MCT focuses on the physical side of things. Robotics, computers, heavy industry, and more make up their core. Surprisingly, they’re also one of the largest purveyors of magical goods. Less surprising is their rumored symbiotic relationship with the Yakuza, which has likely helped them gain a pretty sizable foothold over in the former United States. They pay well, but don’t disappoint them. They have a certain…distaste for such things.
One of the smaller megacorporations, this group is probably best known for inventing the wireless Matrix. They run the Grid Overwatch Division, hold a vast majority of the back end under their control, and are pretty heavily invested in cyberware, bioware, electronics, small arms, and nearly anything else involved with computers. The corp itself is somewhat schizophrenic, though, with more factions than your average nation-state. Be wary of doing any runs with this group, as one of the Great Dragons is known to be involved here.
Renraku Computer Systems
These guys have all the paydata you could ever want. With the largest data repository in the world, this second of the two major Japanacorps is an incredibly tempting target for runners due to the incredible potential stored in their holographic drives. Beware the Red Samurai, though; these elite military units employed by RCS are ruthless, professional, and feared by anyone who dares go up against them.
Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries
This is the big one, Elizabeth. S-K is led by the Great Dragon Lofwyr, who rules it with an iron fist and the cunning that only one of his kind can possess. Cross him, and you might find yourself on his dinner plate. They primarily have stakes in heavy industry, manufacturing, chemicals, finance, and aerospace. If I were you, I would avoid pissing off the largest megacorp in the world at all costs.
The third of the big three Japanacorps (MCT, RCS, and Shiawase), this group holds the unique position of being the oldest megacorporation on the Court. Don’t think that this makes them the most powerful though, since not even a Japanese familial dynasty can hold a candle to the capabilities of a Great Dragon. Their habits of keeping things “in the family” also tend to make jobs…tricky, to say the least. If you’re working for Shiawase, make sure you know which side you’re on.
The only Chinese corp on the list, Wuxing has garnered a reputation for two things: magic and mysteriousness. They are one of the largest magical suppliers in the world and play their cards very close to the vest. Not much is known about their operations as a result, but like all Chinese organizations, they play towards the long view; a short-term sacrifice play means nothing to them if the long-term goal is advanced.