The TSA, Trans-System Authority, is an independent body funded by 37 trans-gov powers (governments or super-corporations that own and operate phase gates between solar systems), and given jurisdiction over trans-system affairs: as defined by a document called The Charter. The Charter is a comprehensive document, covering disarmament, fair trade agreements (most importantly, sharing phase gates), and certain basic civil rights that had become blurred (or tossed aside) during the dark times of the Expansion.

To enforce The Charter, the Trans-Govs chose Admiral Rathine Studaber, former head of the revived British Secret Service, and gave her a budget for a small military force – which proved hard pressed to stop those same greedy and quarrelsome powers from violating almost every agreement they had made: often concerning their own citizens (termed "population abuse"). It was not very long before the TSA had to resort to military police actions. Its surprising success against the vastly more powerful and far better equipped Trans-Govs earned it the secret hatred of the same powers that created it. They have long been angling to curtail the TSA's powers, slash its funding, or even dissolve it entirely and replace it with something they can control. So far, their distrust of each other, and intense media scrutiny, has kept the TSA alive. The TSA sees itself as the only sane player in trans-system politics, and has become an unappreciated (and often vilified) champion of human rights.