The Corporates.The diaspora of Corporates out of the System began when the Old Nations couldn't stop the adoption of autogov. Convinced that the machines had conquered the System, the Corporates took drastic action. Two hundred years they moved out of the System into interstellar space.
The Cooperative doesn't know if they survived. A few corporates stayed behind in the remote corners of the Kuiper Belt. But they are terrified. And they are convinced they are freedom fighters.
Did those Corporates that entered deep space survive? Have they discovered firespace? Or did they discover their own wonders in the cold black?
Unlike the Cooperative, Corporates cling to the ancient rites of capitalism. To them, a few humans have the true merit to ascend to lead them. A hierarchy divides those who have from those who work for them. Their long paranoid of machines oft manifests against Bots. They avoid giving bots the same free rein they have in the Cooperative.
They think the Cooperative to be the harbingers of a Machine plague. Every Corporate dreams of retaking the System. They do whatever they can toward that dream. Toward using their united greed to achieve that.
Even the poorest members of a Corporate obsess over their greed. Individual sapients convert their own bodies into organ farms. Others commit all sorts of atrocities for the sake of garnering more credits. The belief that any of the poorest Corporate employees can earn a greatness and liberate Earth dominates. Employees almost never break free of their lifelong struggles. Yet they believe they can break free of it, "one day."
The Pledged.As the Cooperative has found an alarming thing in recent years. Their Corps of Discovery is not the first terrestrials to visit alien worlds. Corporate piracy has complicated interstellar relations.
Alien civilizations use a different word to describe Corporates. They call them "Slavers."
The Corps of Discovery has had few direct encounters with interstellar Corporates. Most gathered is hearsay. Encounters with known extraterrestrial lifeforms have been tense. As the Corps maps regions of Firespace, it hopes to find a way to curtail Corporates. But their primary mission remains exploration, not military.
Those Corporates within the System have long been tolerated on variable scales. Colonies can be exempted from autogov if they wish. Some of those colonies are also home to the few remaining Corporates in the System. These Corporates do engage in piracy. They steal. They take from Cooperative communities on the fringe.
The Cooperative's answer to this is an extended application of the Corps of Discovery.
Called the Pledged, each Pledged group numbers fewer than ten sapient citizens. These are tiny, fixed communities made up of volunteers. Their autogov serves over tiny groups, who act in service to several other communities. Like ancient militia, these tiny communities and their governing AI spirits protect their neighbors.
They investigate the Corporates. They stop pirates. They agree to complete service to their autogov. They do not fight. These are the places that study and employ military science and combat drones. If the Pledged cannot find a peaceful solution, then their autogov employs the means to control rogue threats.
This is by self-design. Communities of the Cooperative negotiate conflicting issues through their autogovs. They have no need to police within the Cooperative, but the frontiers need protection.
The first Pledged formed on their own volition. They believed more harm would come from the formation of a large, centralized military. They don't need soldiers, they have bots. Their sapient members are political, criminal and military scientists first.
Each Pledged community investigates, studies and moves on its own. But they always act to avoid violence. The Pledged also subject themselves to all sorts of external scrutiny. They treat the United Corps of Discovery as their superior body. This is despite any actual chain of command making that so.
As the Corps of Discovery explores more, more Pledged journey out of System to help protect them. Corporate Pirates might plague any System attempts to extraterrestrial colonize. If so, then more Pledged starships will recruit from member communities of the Cooperative.