|This article is about the fourth war. For other uses, see Corporate War (disambiguation).|
The Fourth Corporate War was a global conflict that took place from 2021 to 2023/2025, and involved the two aquacorps CINO and OTEC, who later hired Arasaka and Militech respectively to fight their on their behalf.
Like the 1st and 2nd Corporate Wars, the 4th Corporate War began when rival megacorps used their finances and military muscle to fight over buying out a company and its resources. In early 2021, IHAG, a megacorp which specialized in underwater shipping and tech, went bankrupt, which lead to two rival aquacorps, CINO and OTEC, squaring off for a hostile takeover of IHAG's remaining assets. At first, both corporations engaged in the typical opening rounds of corporate battle; stock manipulations and economic warfare, but as the conflict grew out of hand, it was only a matter of time before true fighting broke out.
Financially, OTEC and CINO were too evenly matched to leverage a take-over of IHAG in a conventional matter. In November of 2021, OTEC sent a strike force to intercept CINO negotiators and prevent them from attending acquisition talks. In return, CINO netrunners executed an attack on financial exchanges to devalue OTEC's stock. Things escalated from there. Neither corporation realized Eurobank was working behind the scenes to manipulate both corps into driving themselves into debt. The financial institution's ultimate plan was to acquire the assets of IHAG, OTEC, and CINO and position Europe as the dominant global nautical tech and shipping power.
In the beginning, the strategy for both corporations was to devalue the other, in order to force them to back off from the acquisition attempt. As the conflict continued, the rest of the world became increasingly aware of the potential for a global crisis. The economy depended heavily on shipping and ocean-based food, mineral, and energy production.
Arasaka & Militech Involvement
A year of fighting led to a stalemate, with neither megacorp being able to take down the other. This led to both corporations taking steps that escalated the conflict; hired the forces of much larger megacorps to provide themsleves with proper militaries and resources to conduct open warfare. OTEC hired Militech, an armaments manufacturer and security force based in the United States. In response to this, CINO hired the Arasaka Corporation based in Japan, the most influential megacorp of its kind in the modern age.
At first neither Arasaka nor a majority of the Militech board were looking for a direct war with one another. While competitors on the world market, their contracts with CINO and OTEC respectively, were simply an avenue to generate massive profit and to promote the effectiveness of their services to the rest of the world. However, an Arasaka advisor working with a CINO strike force was targeted and killed by Militech security at an OTEC facility, as she wasn't wearing her corporate uniform identifying her as a non-combatant. A Militech-owned vessel was targeted by automated Arasaka torpedo systems due to it covertly carrying supplies to OTEC through CINO-controlled waters.
In February 2022, tensions rose to the point that world governments began seizing some of the more isolated properties of OTEC, IHAG, and CINO in a form of "protective custody". This led to direct confrontation between OTEC, CINO, and various governmental forces. These conflicts were the final straw and, on February 22, global pressure forced OTEC and CINO to the negotiation table.
However, Arasaka and Militech's role in the conflict had grown beyond their contractual obligations of security, supplies, and advising. Due to the years of tension between the two, in part due to Donald Lundee's actions, and multiple "accidental" damage caused to each other's assets, the war became personal. While the battles between CINO and OTEC ended in early 2022, a shadow war between the two security corps continued.
The Shadow War
On February 20, 2022, EuroBank had realized their manipulations of OTEC and CINO had run amok due to the involvement of Arasaka and Militech. The financial institution began pushing for peace talks, which Arasaka and Militech argued against. On February 22, both OTEC and CINO canceled their security contracts. By the 27th, a peace accord between the two ocean-based corps had been signed.
On March 6th, Arasaka tested the newly completed Soulkiller 2.5, by planting it in the vehicular smartlink processor of a Militech executive. The program worked perfectly and interrogation of his captured mind led to an assault on Militech's Night City office. This opened a three-month period of covert strikes between the two Megacorps.
The Hot War
By the end of May 2022, the shadow war had gone hot. On June 9th, Arasaka forces attacked a Militech factory in Virginia while Militech-backed mercenaries massacred the employees of an Arasaka factory in Yokohama. By mid-July, strikes on Militech and Arasaka facilities were a daily occurrence. The war wasn't confined to Earth, either. Attacks occurred in orbit as well, disrupting space travel and business even further. Everything was made worse by a strange corruption in the NET. Numbers and data were changed, seemingly at random. It marked the beginning of the DataKrash.
By late Spring of 2022, the war had spread to space, with Arasaka and Militech assets striking at each other. Space travel was disrupted by the chaos. In the summer of 2022, Arasaka had seized a Militech office in Los Angeles In response, Militech staged a riot at Arasaka's Paris offices. They used the distraction to access the building's HVAC system and pump it full of a short-lived aerosol toxin. Everyone inside died.
In late summer 2022, strikes in Chicago turned into outright war when aerial and orbital support were called in. The battle ended when nomads from the Meta and Folk Nations, both of whom had contracts in the still rebuilding city, used covert teams to demolish both the Arasaka and Militech offices. During this time, Militech released a bioplague killing thousands in the city of Busan, the city was evacuated by the Korean government and later quarantined.
By September 2022, Hong Kong was in ruins as Militech and Arasaka forces turned it into a major battle ground. Any refugees who could escape did so before the battle started. Elsewhere in the world, six Militech research scientists died while plugged into the NET. Militech intelligence suspected Arasaka of using Soulkiller to do the job.
In the country of Brazil, the city of Rio De Janeiro was reduced to rubble. As Militech attempted to destroy Arasaka operations within the city, the battle persisted for hours. At the end of the fighting the city was in ruins.
In Late September, a killsat fired an ortillery strike at the Crystal Palace orbital habitat, seemingly by accident. Three Highriders died intercepting the projectiles.
The Seven Hour War
- Main article: Seven Hour War
On September 29th, the Highriders of O'Neill Two declared independence, leading to what became known as the Seven Hour War. The European Space Agency lost because it had dedicated so much of its forces planetside to protect ground facilities from 4th Corporate War overspill. Eager to gain the support of an orbital group not controlled by the ESA, both the United States and Japan moved quickly to recognize the independent government of O'Neill Two.
In the fall of 2022, the governments of Southern California and Republic of Texas both nationalized all Arasaka and Militech facilities within their borders. Days after, the EEC declared that if hostilities within their borders did not cease, they would do the same. When a Militech showroom in Italy was invaded, the EEC carried out its threat and began nationalizing all Arasaka and Militech facilities in Europe. Both megacorps protested and suggested the attack was a false flag operation designed to give the EEC the excuse they needed to seize their assets.
Emboldened by the actions of the EEC, Japan also attempted to nationalize Arasaka within its borders. Prime Minister Jirou Kikuchi made an attempt to seize control of Arasaka, but Saburo used his influence keep the PM's hands out of the company. Yorinobu Arasaka, the rebel son of Saburo, played a role in supplying info to the Government of Japan which helped their nationalization of Arasaka's assets.
With Arasaka's local assets under the control of the Japanese government, the United States moved to end the global conflict. President Elizabeth Kress, the ex-Militech president, reactivated the commission of Militech CEO Donald Lundee to work with the government. Under Lundee's command, Militech forces ceased all active offensive operations, a decision Lundee was not happy with. With Arasaka assets in Japanese territory also nationalized, the global war was effectively over. However, there were still Arasaka facilities and operatives in the Western hemisphere. President Kress wanted to completely remove Arasaka from North America for her own personal goals, as well for the benefit Militech.
Bombing of Night City
All that was left was the conflict in Night City between Arasaka and Militech. Kei Arasaka, son of Saburo, remained in Night City and was cut off from their assets from across the globe. Much of Arasaka's forces relocated to Night City, as the war persisted. Tensions broke in the summer of 2023. By then, a number of prominent national figures in the US had been murdered while connected to the Net. Arasaka had used targeted assassinations via Soulkiller to effect policy change. Militech retreated from the city and considered it a lost cause, and devised a plan to destroy Arasaka.
On August 20, 2023, a small nuclear device was detonated by a strike team somewhere in Arasaka Tower, killing 12,000 employees of the corporation. The explosion destroyed the building. Debris from Arasaka Tower crashed into nearby structures, setting off a series of chain reactions, gas line explosions, transformer explosions, and intense fires. By the end, the Corporate Center of Night City was a radioactive hot zone.
The End of the War
In 2023, the last known pocket of Arasaka resistance was cleaned out of the US and the hot war was over. The US, under President Kress, engaged in a massive PR campaign to place the blame for the Night City Holocaust on Arasaka. The official story held that Arasaka had kept a fail-safe nuclear device in the Tower and had detonated it when it was clear they couldn't win against superior Militech forces. She then promised to restore the country under the name of the New United States.
Years later, Nomad Santiago's son, Trace published an expose which revealed the truth. The US had sent a nuclear device in with the strike teams that night. Kress and Militech planned to destroy the Night City for their own gain. While Kress refused to respond to the allegations, many citizens protested. Meanwhile, the NUSA was now a functional dictatorship under Kress' ongoing state of emergency. Militech, with its assets, were used to strengthen the country.
In Japan, the Japanese PM, Jirou Kikuchi, made a public statement that the Arasaka Corporation was to be reduced to a Japan-only company for the next decade. The Japanese government nearly had collapsed after the War, however manage to save face after the nationalization of the corporations assets.
Even after the damage that had been done, the EEC was mostly restored.
Hot War Response
In 2022, around the world countries were waking up to the fact that they needed to face the War. Arasaka and Militech (not to mention their allies and operations) were so intertwined into the world's economic system that there was no country that could afford to stand by and let them slug it out. This is due to both companies being involved in international arms supply, security contracts, subcontracts, showrooms and ammunition manufacturing. Thanks to the war, many of these operations became legitimate targets for hostile action.
It was not just the widespread violence of the war that concerned governments. The operations of these two megacorporations pumped considerable amounts of capital into local economies. In Night City alone, there was the Militech showroom retail business, the retail ammo and parts business, as well as the wholesale business conducted by both corporations. There are also the security contracts held by Arasaka, many of which were filled by subcontractors. With the war ongoing, all of their subcontractors had been summoned to wage war against Militech. Arms, ammo, and parts sales had plummeted, as Arasaka and Militech conserved their supplies for themselves; it was becoming nigh impossible to procure Militech's special 6.5mm ammo on the street. The effects on local business were also negative; Che Guevarra's had practically shut down their back-room business in arms dealing, and Taco Hut only offered cheap Mexican knock-offs of good firearms. It began to be difficult to find ammo on the rack in convenience stores; few people realized that 74% of the ammo sold in Night City was manufactured by Militech.
The Shadow War made it perfectly clear that governments around the world were going to have to do something about the escalating conflict. Logically, the solution would be to present a unified front against the warring corporations and tell them to cease fighting or face nationalization. However, since Militech and Arasaka were massive, wealthy, and important, efforts were made on their behalf to let them continue their conflict. Both corporations had their lobbyists working full-time to mollify the growing tide of anger over the destruction that came with the war; businesses which were tied to or depended upon one of the two were lending their lobbying efforts as well.
United States of America
America was not idle during the Shadow War; when the EEC attempted to subvert Colombia, the U.S. answered with covert warfare of its own. The Colombian conflict came out favorably, although the CIA lost more men than it had anticipated.
The U.S. and the Free States were deeply caught in the economic consequences of the Hot War. Only Texas was free from Militech's pervasive economic impact, and even the Texans got most of their military arms and equipment from Militech. This, and sizable bribes, had made these governments reluctant to move.
However, the war's chaos became ever more difficult to ignore. When Los Angeles, Chicago, and Night City were burning, and the sound of automatic weapons fire was coming back to the District of Columbia, state and federal governments needed to respond. To this end, National and State Guard units were on alert across the nation. Regular military units were also on standby alert; the USAF had put their assets on standby, and featured a daily delta sweep patrol through LEO during the western hemisphere's daytime hours. Hawaii and other U.S. possessions were now firmly under martial law; anyone caught with weapons would be imprisoned, and those who tried to resist were killed for the duration of the war.Ccorporate immunity was suspended. and at the time it was rumored that the US was considering the European method, where the country would seize and shore up the domestic assets of both corporations if needed.
Japan had put their Self Defense Force on alert readying for the inevitable attacks on Arasaka assets. There had already been plenty of clandestine attacks, and the government was ready to respond with overwhelmingly lethal force if they caught anyone making any more attacks. The government had issued orders to the effects that anyone caught with military gear, engaged in sabotage, or took part in paramilitary violence would be shot on sight.
The Japanese Self Defense Forces was also doing anti-invasion exercises, preparing for the possibility of a Militech-sponsored Chinese invasion. The only country that took that line of reasoning seriously was China, which believed the mobilization excuse was a ploy to cover activities against the Chinese mainland. The prime minster's main concern was to nationalize Arasaka within their borders, restricting resources to the rest of the world.
Despite concerns over being invaded, the people of Japan were enjoying a period of relative peace. Most of the violent yakuza, bosozoku, and gangs were either keeping quiet due to the increase of SDF operations within the country or they were hired by Arasaka. Overall, Japan did not fare too bad, as much of the populace took solace in the record low crime rate, a stark contrast compared to the American continents.
The Shadow War had the nations of the EEC on distinct alert. Their peace had already been disturbed by the OTEC/CINO war, and they knew that it was only the precursor of a more violent and widespread conflict to come. To that end, most EEC members had their anti-terrorist forces mobilsed and ready to move at any moment, on the grounds that the threat to tranquility and business was more important than angering either Militech or Arasaka. Any military or paramilitary actions would be met with a swift and deadly response. At the same time, the ESA readied its forces to move in case of another space war and started selling payload line space for putting new satellites into orbit.
The Soviet had the advantage of having very little in the way of Militech and Arasaka assets within its borders. Of course, the fact that the Soviets had never been on good terms with America or Japan might have had something to do with it. At the time it was an acting neutral country, selling weapons, ammo, and equipment to anyone with the euro. The Neo-Soviet Rocket Corps was doing much the same, selling cheap rocket lifers for small satellites at rates that undercut the ESA's African Earth-to-orbit railgun cargo lifters, as corporations scrambled to plant more satellites in LEO. The money, supposedly, was going to go to completing the Ural Mountain Gun, the NSRK's land-based, alcohol/steam-powered lifting gun. However, the Soviets did feel the effects of the Avgas War.
Politically, China was in a unique position. On one hand, they were worried about the recruiting efforts in Korea and Taiwan; believing Arasaka could be planning to use those troops against them. At the same time, the Chinese were making money. Their space program was deep in the black, selling satellite lifters to Arasaka for their artillery/killsat web. Their munitions industry was also making profit; China's arms tended to be considered inferior to Japanese weapons. Thus, during the war, they were still considered inferior, but they were more readily available.
Western Australia was heavily dominated by international corporations and relied on Arasaka troops to bolster their police and military forces. The war was a major concern there; if Arasaka pulled out its forces, Western Australia would be at the mercy of neighboring Federal Australia, and vulnerable to guerrilla attacks from the Aboriginals. In return for continued aid, Arasaka was granted full access to all Western Australian government facilities, and they put them to use. The port city of Perth was a major Arasaka staging and fleet area. Militech had contacted the government of Federal Australia and the Koorie Nationalist Front, and was providing the former with naval and aerial assets, and the latter with arms and munitions.
Chile was still recovering from an insurgency. Despite the fact that it didn't topple the government, the uprising did significantly deplete Militech forces in that country.
Colombia was still dealing with the mess that came with too many foreign meddlers. Brazil, dominated as it was by Arasaka interest, was eyeing Colombia with apprehension. Brazilian troops began mobilizing to defend their borders as Arasaka attempted to hold onto its main South American asset.
Why Did the War Start?
Arasaka and Militech have been contesting each other for domination of the world's arms market for decades. This competition swiftly became a commercial rivalry, turned to good use in marketing, since most people think in black-and-white, good-or-bad terms. By fostering an "us against them" attitude, Arasaka and Militech salespeople could elicit an ancient tribal response pattern in their customers. Patrons of one company could be persuaded to invest emotional capital in "their side", and would cheerfully buy more products from "their" suppliers. It was a proven sales pattern, and both companies milked it for all that they were worth, painting their rivals as threats to "our way of life."
The darker side of this rivalry was that Saburo Arasaka soon came to consider Donald Lundee as a real threat to him and his goals. Everything Saburo had built was at risk and it was a fight he was willing to take throwing everything he could at Lundee. On top of that Saburo irrationally saw Lundee as the pilot that originally had shot him down in WW2, robbing him of his honor.
Lundee soon used the rivalry between the two corporations to distract his fellow board members from his secret goal of total domination of both Militech and the world arms market. He would claim that the actions he ordered were to counteract Arasaka "dirty pool", and sales figures always vindicated him. After years of putting up himself and Militech against Arasaka, he'd finally be able to fight despite even his friends disagreeing with him.
As time went on, Saburo Arasaka came to believe Militech, and Lundee, as the major source of everything holding him back. He harbored the secret suspicion that they were actively blocking his plans for world economic control, and were attempting to bring back the 20th-century rule of the United States. Not only that, but they would bring with them all the humiliation of his crippling wounds. These fears began to gnaw on his mind.
As for Lundee, Arasaka became a foe he could deal with in a primitive and decisive manner-with firepower. Lundee always wanted to be the man on top, and turn his corporation into the largest force on the planet. Saburo stood in his way and because of it he hated him. Defeating Saburo and the Arasaka Corporation throwing everything he possessed was his only goal.
Of course, the real conflict was being fought economically, as Arasaka plunged its assets into weapons merchandising and Militech added an ever-growing line of security subsidiaries. For years, neither company succeeded in significantly penetrating into the other's territory. Finally, in 2021, Arasaka's Asian sales exceeded Militech's, striking a crippling blow to Militech's solvency and morale.
The Shadow War
After years of sniping at each other, the CINO/OTEC conflict provided ample opportunity for Militech and Arasaka to clash. When it finally and inevitably happened, neither Saburo or Lundee wanted to continue to prod each other. Each coveted a decisive victory, a smash-up so great that the other side would be forced to back down.
Yet neither could accelerate matters too far without risking government and market reprisals; too much war would anger governments worldwide and cause business to abandon both corporations. As the Shadow War dragged on, Saburo and Lundee became directly involved in assigning missions and sparring with each other in a complicated live chess game of sorts.
The Final Struggle
By the time the Hot War broke out in June, there was no turning back. Saburo Arasaka and Donald Lundee took the gloves off and began directly slugging each other's organization, with the sole intent of defeating each other. In fact, both corporations were so involved that they wouldn't back down or stop the war; if one of them did, they would lose every market they had ever built up, through a combination of bad publicity and negotiated settlements (as well as damage lawsuits).
R. TALSORIAN GAMES. R. Talsorian Games Blog. rtalsoriangames.wordpress.com/cyberpunk. 2018