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|Human Lore Pages|
|Species Lore Pages||Gwix|
|Planet and System Pages||Merik Reuir|
|Governments and Organizations Pages||Onk Conglomerate|
|Leader||Foreman Brufour Metalmaker|
The Onk Conglomerate is a galactic empire based in the Angorian system where the Gwix homeworld is located. The Conglomerate is ruled by a board comprised of most major Gwixian industrial giants and their associated unions; most of the Conglomerate's territory is divvied up equally between these corporations, giving them all equal control over a portion of Gwix space. It has struggled to keep pace with other galactic powers, however, due to the Conglomerate's focus on traditionalism. Its reliance on a caste system and old inheritance laws have kept power in the hands of a small few for generations, leading to a recent slowing and stagnation of development. That Gwix live long lives has not helped either, and now the younger of the race have found themselves at odds with the old and the ancient names that still reign hundreds of years later.
The Onk Conglomerate is an ancient government formed early in the formative years of the Gwix species; the Gwixian homeworld of Merik Reuir is a rocky planet rich in ore and minerals but devoid of just about everything else. The Gwix were forced to spend most of their lives underground, subsiding on edible mushrooms and water sources regularly tainted with heavy metals. Their hardy biology made it easier, though not effortless to survive these harsh conditions, and for a period of time the Gwix hoarded resources amongst tribes, refusing to share or help outsiders. This survival of the fittest mentality helped contribute to their overall evolution.
Eventually, over time, these tribes started to consider themselves more as massive families than separate entities. Huge homes were carved out of caves, and the diminutive stocky nature of the Gwix made mining easier thanks to the smaller tunnels and equipment they needed to accomplish this. These storied clans went on to become the basis for many of the huge corporate entities that lay claim to Merik Reuir's surface. Companies like Metalmaker Refineries Inc. can trace their lineage back hundreds of years to the same sedentary tribe, and it is because of this familial link that the caste system and inheritance laws are so ingrained in Gwixian culture.
Over time, these families came to work together with profits in mind; those at the top of what had basically become far-reaching family owned businesses wanted to line their pockets, and by pooling their resources, they could cut costs and bolster income to the highest levels they'd ever seen. Since the Gwix are naturals at engineering, it did not take long for the Conglomerate to turn its attention to the stars and begin colonizing nearby planetoids, further expanding their mining operations beyond their homeworld. The Conglomerate maintains an equal amount of colonies sparsely spread amongst Gwixian territory; each colony must be approved by other corporations and none may have more than the others.
During the Succession War, the Conglomerate traded ore, machinery and weapons to both the Coalition and the Federation; their respective intelligence agencies suspected that this was the case, but proof was not obtained until after the armistice had been signed, forcing the Conglomerate to admit that they had basically been war profiteering. Diplomatic relations to both of humanity's superpowers were damaged as a result, and the Conglomerate is forced to weather additional sanctions and trading restrictions that have eaten into its profit margins.
The Conglomerate is comprised mainly of Gwix and Onkian citizens. While technically open to immigration from outsiders, Gwixian culture does not exactly treat them highly and any aspiring immigrant is subjected to a myriad of tests to ensure that they are useful and can actually contribute to Gwixian colonies. Most species do not find the idea of moving into Gwixian colonies very attractive, however. They are not designed to accommodate the size of other races, and this makes navigating their buildings troublesome. Homes for non-Gwix require special permits and contractors who price gouge what is a small demographic so they can make the highest profit they can.
A good portion of young Gwix have equally expressed frustration with what they see as stifling traditionalism, and space travel has allowed them an escape. One of the huge problems currently facing the Conglomerate is a mass emigration of young workers, leaving them with an aging workforce who are unwilling or unable to accept low-skill jobs.
Six major companies - and thus, by extension, six major families - make up the ruling class of Gwixian life. These entities are a strange mix between what could be seen as a monarchy and a corporatocracy. The board of directors that handle each of these businesses are made up of close family members of the CEOs, who pass their title on to their oldest child when it is time for them to retire. Then, in turn, their child appoints new board members as necessary, all drawn from the same pool of high-born family members. This system of inheritance has been integral to Gwixian society since their early days. The CEO is the head of the family, whose wit and shrewdness provide for everyone else.
These six companies make up the Conglomerate, and they attempt to govern together as best as they can. Disagreements regularly arise, however, and in the event of two companies fighting over an asset or piece of land, the rest of the Conglomerate will vote on how to handle the situation. All six companies rotate as the 'leader'; at the current moment, the CEO of Metalmaker Refineries Inc. has the lofty title of Foreman. This individual is responsible for the direction of the Gwix species as a whole, ensuring everything remains profitable for the rest of the companies.
Not everyone is born equally, however. A Gwix is either high born or low born, and this distinction is not something one can control. Gwixian family trees are a matter of public record and have been tracked for generations. Your status in life is solely dependent on your relation to the original tribes. If you are descended from the immediate family of one of the first tribe elders, for example, you are considered high born. High born Gwix wear gaudy gold jewelry, typically inlaid with gems or pearls, and have bright purple markings somewhere visible on their body to denote their high born status. The closer you can trace your lineage to the original elder, the higher your status in Gwix society.
Similarly, if your lineage is unrelated to the first tribe elder, you are for all intents and purposes a low born. Low born Gwix wear copper or brass jewelry that is forbidden to be ornate or anything but spartan in its appearance. Bright red tattoos are required to be visible somewhere on your body, and low born Gwix are practically forbidden from advanced education. They are used as menial workers, forced into unenviable professions like deep space mining or mushroom farming. Many low born Gwix who reside on Merik Reuir have never even been off planet, and will scarcely ever be able to afford to leave.
As one of the smaller galactic empires, the Conglomerate does not need to invest in a huge navy. It maintains a small military force mainly used to protect their trade lines and shipping transports, as well as to police its local space. Military funding is a money pit as far as most companies that sit on the Conglomerate are concerned - the loss of a vessel is a short-term cost, while the money spent equipping and maintaining a military sucks in more money over a longer period of time. Many executives view a dedicated military as superfluous spending, as they feel there is no need to pay for a massive standing army during peacetime.
Most of the vessels that fly the Onkian flag are simply cargo ships, and the Conglomerate finds ways to monetize even that. Companies and subsidiaries must pay for their own fuel, upkeep and maintenance, ensuring that no other business must shoulder the cost of unsuccessful ventures or lost shipments. It is typically cheaper for these corporations to hire mercenaries for short periods of time, and the Conglomerate is one of the largest customers of groups like the OSIRIS Network, providing a steady stream of work for independent contractors or opportunistic mercs.
The Conglomerate's focus has always been on heavy industry and profiting off of exports from its mineral rich home-world. While the Gwix are not known as selfless altruists, their successful application of shrewd business tactics has enabled them to be one of the richest empires in the galaxy at one point. Regular trade with other empires as well as expanding domestic businesses lead to a bustling economy. Unfortunately, this good fortune was not to last forever. That rosy economic bubble ended up bursting, and the Conglomerate is trying its hardest to recover from a serious economic shock.
Galactic opinion as a result of their war profiteering resulted in a drop in sales. This sort of moral bankruptcy triggered their regular buyers to look for alternative business partners. This coincided with the massive emigration of young Gwix into the galaxy at large meant that the Conglomerate began to lose a significant portion of its workforce. While draconian measures on Merik Reuir meant they could effectively keep low-born under their yoke, those born off-world or residing on Gwixian colonies were more freely able to access space travel. Now, the Conglomerate's economic forecast is grim and it has begun to slump, making their top priority a way to restart this industrial giant that no one wants to trade with.