Another of the important players, the Independent Merchants’ Guild (IMG) was founded in the year 309 SSC by the Knights of the Lion of Judah as an association of free traders from the numerous single-system or minor powers of humanity, to give them a greater negotiating power than any of them could achieve individually. Despite its source, and the fact that it purchases defense equipment from the Knights, the IMG is completely independent, with its own contacts, agents, and agendas. Top among the agendas of the IMG is making money (rather obviously) and providing non-usurious loans to their member traders so that they might further expand the economies of the smaller countries they represent.
The IMG operates hyperspatial gates from their strongholds, a network that intertwines with that of the Knights and Sisters, with member traders being exempt from the ban on trading from countries currently at war that the dual orders normally enforce (though they must still pay to use the orders’ gates.) This means that the IMG members are often seen as war-profiteers and gun-runners by the populace of the more powerful nations, selling weapons to the highest bidders, but in fact weapons and weapons technologies represent a rather smaller percentage of the IMG members’ bottom line than this would suggest. The top product moved by the IMG is rejuve, the life-prolonging drug manufactured and sold solely by Rejuvenation Corporation, followed closely by other medical supplies, industrial equipment, agricultural equipment, and finally electronics-manufacturing equipment. Only after these does the categories of “war materiel” come in, and usually this is in the form of weapons manufacturing equipment; the IMG frowns on members carrying actual munitions, though there is not an actual ban on the practice.
The IMG thus acts as something like a (non-usurious) bank and something of a commercial association, but most importantly for the member merchants is that the IMG runs convoys through dangerous parts of space and hyperspace. It buys the ships for this from the Knights and Sisters, but finances the purchases, crews the ships, and plans the routes itself. Any member merchant may request a convoy, and the IMG tries to accommodate as many requests as they are able to, but piracy and privateering remain a threat to even guild members.
Up next I have a couple of gaming posts, but then it is right back into it with a couple of posts about the Empire of the Stars and the Federation of Peoples.