(c)2017 by Corbeau

Parallax

Go beyond the stars. We’re beside you.

(excuse the “XXX”, this is meant to be part of a larger item and I’ve got placeholders for page references)

Forget the moon landing. What launched the race to Mars was the promise of passenger seats.

In the early part of the 21st century, the governments of Terra looked away from the stars. Space exploration was expensive, and science for science’s sake couldn’t get past the budget committee. Private enterprise led the charge beyond the moon. Wealthy visionaries and madmen launched the space tourism business and kept the dream of interplanetary travel alive until the curtains opened on the dusty red stage of the Age of Mars.

Around 250 years ago, the company that successfully trademarked the word “visionary” ignited that dream again.

Pulse, originally spun off from a MarsCo marketing and PR department, is quick to push Sol toward economically useful action when vector society has hit a cultural slump. When the inhabitants of Luna Base were massacred by the system’s first encounter with the Whispers, a dark period of fear, introspection, and a weak Credit rolled out from the disaster: financial recession paired with a fear of the dark and the unknown that seemed like it would never break.

Parallax was created to carry a bold neon sign into the darkness, and market the unknown as next hot xenotourism destination. It would take more than a tourist agency to rekindle the spark of adventure it once had, but the MegaCorps play the long game, and a spare hundred years later the images of Europa’s breathtaking geysers and ice cliffs replaced the grim, grainy photos of the Monolith beneath.

Enemies:

None to speak of. The Pulse subsidiary is too small and too busy to place on ASR’s radar. While they’re still a part of the ancient grudge between metal and muscle, Parallax is more interested in selling Sol than throwing fuel on that old fire. If anything, Parallax’s complete disinterest in ASR’s technological prowess has stopped them from building a better relationship with ASR. Parallax’s relationship with IRPF is strained, as they tend to see hotzones and biohazards as destinations rather than disasters. Parallax’s “no borders, no boundaries” attitude creates paperwork headaches for the megacorp most focused on borders and boundaries. Similarly, secretive TTI keeps close tabs on any Parallax-owned businesses or activities within their territorial borders, in case a well-meaning travel agent is organizing a tour through a sensitive experiment.

Allies:

Spyglass and Progenitus both keep Parallax in their toolbox, for similar reasons. If your rivals are hiding secrets, a luxury frigate loaded with selfie-seeking tourists provides a perfect distraction and great cover.

Subsidiaries:

LaGrange Society: A lean and underfunded PR project, the LaGrange Society focuses on asteroid belt experiences, grotto ambassador programs, remote BlueSky retreats, and other far-flung and spread out destinations. The subsidiary raises funds partly through trade with these isolated markets, partly through adventure tourism, and partly through the occasional reality video coverage of the more sensational grottos (the high drama of the Emphyrean, in particular, is worth the risk of filming in an eccentric and dangerous territory). Somehow they’re able to make ends meet. Overall, LaGrange Society speak with a softer voice and walk with a lighter step than their Pulse colleagues; they’re used to navigating political terrain that at any time can turn dangerous and very weird.
Aphelion Press: A niche producer of actual, hard-copy books. Of course their content is as downloadable to any toggle or viewer, but Aphelion builds its brand on back-pocket guides to adventure, perfectly functional on and off the grid. Among their more popular lines: the “Sundowner Trail Guides,” aimed at and often freely given to vectors at the end of their youth-extending treatments. Parallax has huge success in steering the 70+ set toward the kinds of travel they never had time or money for before, and bucket-list sightseers and glamour-camping octogenarians are a huge revenue stream…and the subject of any number of comedy, romance, and unlikely-hero action films. Their steamy, sensational “…By Starlight” line highlights nightclubs, restaurants, and thrills both cheap and breathtakingly expensive. The Starlight members’ card brings in more credits than the books themselves. Sadly, Aphelion still hasn’t found a writer for “Europa By Starlight,” it looks like TTI’s icy moon won’t be melting any time soon.
Zodiac Travel and Tours: Parallax’s bread and butter. Zodiac offices are spread across all the worlds of Sol, engaging in the business of sending people to the other worlds of Sol. With lodging ranging from inexpensive hostels in The Disk XXX and luxurious spa resorts in The Vale XXX to a hotel in an active volcano on Mars, undersea villas on Venus, and the recently-opened Sea of Stars, a sparkling Flowform resort drifting in Martian orbit like a diamond, built without walls, Zodiac has a dream location for every Vector. Their new line of holographic tours has become popular with vectors on a budget, but really, what’s a little personal debt in exchange for a once-in-a-lifetime experience? It’s just a ledger, after all.
Wayfinder Academy: The shiny new “Magellan” BlueSky station (see page XXX) may be the single biggest gift to Parallax since its founding, and Pulse is watching MarsCo ever so closely to see what strings are attached. Located in Venus’s orbit opposite the sun, Magellan is a convenient stopping point for long journeys across Sol, and is aggressively welcoming to visitors. But only part of the massive 12 kilometer-wide ring is Sol’s largest luxury rest stop. A significant arch of the station comprises Parallax’s corporate headquarters. The Wayfinder Academy occupies fully half the station, a collection of schools, consulting navigators and astrophysicists, shipyards and training grounds dedicated to creating a new generation of explorers. Wayfinder’s creation closely coincides with the sudden appearance of Lumen. The future of Vector society may be beyond the Sol system, and Parallax, Pulse, and MarsCo are building the road to that future…before somebody else does.

Rumors:

* Cameras across Sol: This isn’t a rumor, it’s not even a secret. They’re a Pulse company, after all. Every tour they run, every selfie, every gray couple sharing their vacation, is a part of a coordinated information-gathering plan. Mapping Sol, pulling away curtains, uncovering secrets, and using tourists as spies. It’s not so much that they’re using their customers as cameras, as the 12-step plan to map every inch of the system.
* Counterstrike: MarsCo’s waking up again from its hundred-year nap. The spire, the whispers, and now Lumen, all these weird threats from outside what we can possibly understand. And they want Sol to wake up, too. Their new school for adventurers is a way to make Vectors remember that there are stars in the sky when they’ve been looking at their toggles for 400 years. What’s the only weapon against the unknown? Curiosity.
* To Infinity and Beyond: Parallax is in bed with Lumen. Or if not, then they will be, now that the speed of light barrier’s wide open. How can they resist leading the first tours to Proxima Centauri? And when they go, they’ll take Pulse’s data with them, and wrap up their customer base with a pretty bow for their new masters.

Key Products and Services:

Luxury hotels, expensive “primitive” lodging, tourism of every sort, member plans, hologram travel tours, edutainment videos. More recently, secondary education in travel, navigation, and adventuring.

Corporate Culture:

There are a few main stereotypes in Parallax. The biggest one is the smiling service provider. Bright smile, welcoming voice, best listener ever. As a subsidiary corp focused on customer experience and experiences, their employees often come across as friendly, positive, and more than a bit artificial. The second Parallax personality is the adventurer: flashy, great hat, loud voice, lots of battle scars. There’s even odds whether the “adventurer” is a core employee or a loyal customer. And lastly, the post-career, post-family, final 20 year crowd is the biggest pillar of Parallax’s business plan. Vector society can be somewhat ageist, with young and beautiful bodies that don’t sag until a vector’s in their 70somethings. Parallax takes very good care of their older customers. While Parallax has very few corptowns, they’ve created, in a sense, a system-wide corpernation of the senior set, who’ve abandoned loyalty to a single location for a life of carefully orchestrated must-see experiences. With that can come a slower pace, accommodations for aging bodies and minds, and a strange culture clash between extreme sports enthusiasts and opinionated octogenarians.

Naming Conventions:

Parallax avoids the grandiose naming style of its parent company in favor of the common sounds of MarsCo first names—frequently mix-and-matched with exotic sounds from the far corners of Terra, more for appealing sound than any deeper historical meaning. Clio Kidanu, Alden Dioskoros, Leigh Chevalier

Proficiencies:

(1.0) As per Pulse, but replace CQC with Spot