Earth had grown too small, the resources were all used up, and the stars beckoned. With the Allied Planets, the Confederate Planets, the Republic of Unionized Planets, and a dozen other planetary systems who had banded together since humanity started colonizing everything they could there were plenty of battlefields. Even with entire worlds to themselves old grudges found a way to get started again. Technology made it all possible and planet after planet turned into a fresh colony. Countries claimed planets and in a perfect world that should have stopped hostilities. Of course that was when they started tossing bigger sticks at each other, each planet was something different and some had very interesting qualities. The subsequent invasions, space-battles, and dazzling displays of stupidity knocked more than one planet back to the Stone Age. Such conflict and resulting chaos meant that a lot of people were in need and didn’t mind paying a little extra.
This was where free-traders came in. Working outside of a government structure, they ran goods to those who needed it, and did the jobs others didn’t care for. Mercenaries, scavengers, curriers, and bounty hunters banded together in a loose collection from the size of a single ship to a small colony to work together. Being alone out in the vast black of space led to craziness remarkably fast.