The Freeborn people carry out the overwhelming majority of independent trade, transport and communication amongst and between the panhuman systems and factions of Antares. Their area of domination also includes much of the equatorial region and the Determinate, with very few being able to trade with the Vorl and the southerly regions. Some, however, do eke out a risky, but profitable, business trading with the panhuman and non-Vorl systems that appear within the Vorl extents.
However, is not just the Freeborn who trade. The Freeborn are dominated by panhumans – indeed their very way of life and structure is predicated upon a panhuman existence – which can make occasionally dealing with non-humans difficult: the Ghar, for example, will not (cannot!) trade with humans at all.
It is in these marginal areas of trade that non-human traders make a living. A very few Freeborn have been known to pretend to be aliens to trade with Ghar by altering their ship profiles, transmissions and never meeting in person, but such risky subterfuge is regarded as treacherous by most humans, especially Algoryn – never mind if the Ghar discover the conceit!
As a result, many of the larger Freeborn houses have relationships with small, non-human trading groups or even individual ships. These are used as intermediaries (for a price, of course) when dealing with species such as the Vorl or, for the less scrupulous vardos, for lucrative trade with anti-human species such as the Ghar. Of course, such alien traders try to avoid using Freeborn as intermediaries at all – for the Freeborn will always take their cut – but it is extremely difficult to avoid the Freeborn houses when part of your trade is with any panhuman system.
One of the problems for the alien traders is that trading with panhumans near the IMTel nations inevitably draws the attention of the IMTel and local authorities. Having been notified of the existence of a panhuman system, the Senatex or Concord inevitably wants to draw it into the comfort of the IMTel. Around Antares, each Freeborn house has its own, established relationship with the IMTel nations and offers supplementary trade opportunities alongside the IMTels own, highly regularised trade routes and trade. Against such huge, established traders, the small, alien mercantile ships and corporations (or combines, syndicates, or whatever) have no power and are quickly ousted.
Inevitably, this means the non-human traders are jealous of their trade routes and out-of-the-way systems. They keep their destinations hidden and cannot help but specialise in out-of-the-way systems in the rifts and the more sparse latitudes of Antares. They are, however, forever on the move, trying to find new systems and new trade routes, and whilst they can even attract the more jaded panhumans, each ship is predominantly a family or similar social construct: Freeborn domas in all but name and species.
Background on how these alien traders can be used to trade with Ghar can be found in the article Ghar Trade and Commerce.