Humanity discovered Darkspace as a means of travel shortly after the Mars Colony was constructed. Within a few hundred years numerous habitable planets were found, and subsequently colonised. Originally lifeless and barren, some have been converted with terraformers, creating conditions similar enough to Earth to enable plant and animal life to exist on them. It has been 300 years since Darkspace was first penetrated and the universe was the domain of aerospace corporations. It is the dream of many but the destiny of the few to own a spaceship, most privately owned spacecraft belong to thieves or gypsies, and most captains rent their craft from ship-hire merchants or simply work for haulage companies.
The 10 colony systems are mostly self-sufficient, although break-through technology inevitably comes from Earth. Some locally born scientists attempt to change this by conducting their research away from the universities of Sol, but are thought of as anti-social by the academies, and dangerous and untrustworthy to the less well-learned colonists.
Ships disappear from time to time, usually the result of pirates or bad navigation. For weeks now the number of missing ships has risen dramatically, and continues to rise. The Solaris System Navy seems to have dwindled in numbers and powers in the last months, and piracy is at an all-time high. The governments of the colonies are starting to take matters into their own hands.
Contact with earth has ceased for reasons unknown. The last messages and ships that came from Sol were over a month ago. Ships that investigate don’t return. A lot of money was lost for the shipping companies, and they’ve started to rely on freelancers.