Black Mark Acquisitions
I understand you bought dwarf from us before. Most pleased with their performance, yes? This happiness to me. You may as well buy their world too, have them all, yes? Or, should you wish to be soul owner of that breed but not want a planet in your portfolio we will be pleased to liquidate the inventory for a nominal exclusivity fee. Your joy is happiness to me. We discuss particulars, yes?
No civilization is a stranger to the idea of business. Anything from simple trade, to banking, to complex arrangements between power and influential companies are all common stock and store as far as basic economies go and rarely do they harbor anything truly sinister.
However, there is one exception. If one looks past Tairos and to the empty vastness of the heavens above they'll see the horrific blending of alien intellect and corporate indifference unfolding on an apocalyptic scale. This is the Xikhani, a people for whom company allegiance replaces nationalism. Where profit and equity define the meaning of altruism. Where life is a commodity to be patented, augmented, and sold.
The heroes of myth and legend for these wretched beings are companies, not individuals, and one of the greatest heroes to their kind is the infamous Black Mark Acquisitions. Black Mark is one of the earliest companies in the history of their people to rise to planetary scale. They, along with the help of other mega-corporations such as Triazine Fleshworks, Twin Star Extinctions, Anvil Forge Conglomerate, and Hammer Fall Solutions, worked to topple the hive democracies of old and usher in the golden age of the Xikhani. And... the twilight of thousands of civilizations with it.
Black Mark Acquisitions, like all of the other successful mega-corporations, has their areas of expertise. They are slavers pure and simple. They excel at seeking out new opportunities and seizing on them quickly before their competition can make landfall. That means sending thousands of probes and expeditionary ships all across the stars and into the planes of reality searching for populations ripe for harvesting. In most cases they only take a few handfuls of the general population and see how this new stock performs on the open market. If they fetch a price commensurate with the costs involved in plucking them than they will continue their harvests or even conquer the region these new specimens hail from. If the profit is right that can scale to even planetary acquisition. Once slaves are secured they'll look to start selling them to any of the few remaining powers in the stars and planes that still remain. They may even look into genetic alteration and farming of the enslaved specimens though neither of these industries are a primary part of their brand. Those are industries dominated by Triazine Fleshworks and Black Bliss Organics. That being said Black Mark has been poaching talent from both companies with hopes of expanding their own genetics and farming efforts into profit-bearing verticals.
The most recent endeavor embarked upon by Black Mark has been on a distant world in a hidden little corner of the cosmos. Among the countless barren worlds and dead stars of the void this one stands alone as having an abundance of life both in number and variety. They were made aware of this potential windfall by one of the native species there, the Drekh who were seeking to understand the nature of The Gates and who built them. Black Mark recognized the opportunity but also the danger if they chose to do nothing. These Drekh were ambitious, clever, and motivated in their search and should they be successful it could mean the end of not just the Xikhani... but of everything. Of all things. The Architects that built the gates still slumber and should they wake it would mean a return to their grand work. The extinguishing of stars and reaping of any life that escaped them before.
Tairos was the name of this new bounty but it presented difficulties that required creative solutions. Ships sent to try and land there never made planet fall. Some disaster sent them crashing into Tairos' moon or exiting their gate jump directly into the Bitter Depths. The believed this had to do with the nature of Sha'Hidun, the city the Drekh had taken over in the Bitter Depths. The city was built by the Architects themselves eons ago and they assumed it was responsible for the navigation fatalities. They also feared that should the effort be repeated it could evoke even more forceful responses or worse, wake the Architects. Instead, they've opted for a more long term strategy. The Drekh were conquered by gate based invasion and Sha'Hidun turned into a secret foothold beneath the surface of Tairos. From their they've turned the city into a hub of trade for visitors from all across the stars while slowly looking to destabilize the kingdoms above and make their eventual invasion all the more inevitable.
Xikhani full by Antti Hakosaari
Black Mark Acquisitions is typical of Xikhani corporations. Upper Management, Senior Partners and the Board of Directors control the destiny of the company. These roles are very much akin to similar political roles in other societies such as Governors, Parliaments, and Autocrats. It is ultimate the decisions of the Board that represent the highest authority. On lower levels the chain of command can often be nebulous with overlapping areas of responsibility. This is often by the design of the Senior Partners and the Board. Such structures keep lower seniority company members concentrated their own petty rivalries rather than aspirations that could lead to attacks on Upper Management or above. It also ensures that only the most qualified of employees survive.
Demography and Population
The company is made up entirely of Xikhani though many "Independent Contractors" will come from outside species
With regards to Tairos the entire Bitter Depths could be considered their territory
If able to bring the fully military might of the company to bear it would be of a scale that no kingdom in Tairos could fathom. However, they are forced to use the gates rather than invasion and must be cautious not to bring through military numbers that might trigger the defenses of Sha'Hidun or the waking of the Architects.
Black Mark Acquisitions has no official stance on the religions of their employees or contractors. A pet project of the company though is the hopes of finding the body of a dead god for mining or a living god that can be enslaved. Less for the potential profit but more for the strength it would bring to their brand. The Xikhani themselves are largely atheists who do not see gods as divine.
Black Mark Acquisitions maintains what it considers very positive relations with any entity powerful enough to be considered worthy of diplomatic relations. That means other empires and competing companies that cannot be harvested as product. These entities are whom Black Mark wishes to turn into loyal customers if possible. It also maintains what it considered positive relations with any non-Xikhani people they've chosen to "contract" with rather than harvest. These people typically become second-class citizens serving the Xikhani agenda in exchange for some measure of autonomy and continued survival.
Agriculture & Industry
Reluctantly, a great deal of their agricultural needs are supplied by Black Bliss Organics. They feel this company is gouging them on prices for slave-feed and slave-breeding technology. This is a particularly bitter thorn for the Board but until an alternative source is found or their own verticals take off they're doomed to continue doing business with this vendor
Trade & Transport
Trade is the lifeblood of all Xikhani Mega-Corporations, Black Mark included. Slaves are their primary business with profits also coming from planetary strip mining as well as secondary profits being generated by their salvage operations. Product is moved by vessel or by gate
Slave labor, raw minerals, mining equipment, military conscripts
Foodstuffs, cloning cylinders, genetic modification equipment, pharmaceuticals
Board of Directors
Senior Partners are responsible for enforcing the directives of the Board