Portfolio: Koa e Ko’ia

This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 5.1.

Exhausted yet intensely focused pilots speed their ships towards a checkpoint. Once there, their flight logs receive the coordinates for the next destination. The pilots check their scans and pick a route before blasting off into the blackness of space. For the Xi’an pilots who step up to the challenge of the Koa e Ko’ia, this is their life for the next 200-250 hours.

The Koa e Ko’ia is an epic endurance race that’s wildly popular among the Xi’an. Although the race has been contested in various systems across the Xi’an Empire for centuries, it only recently came to Human attention when competitors appeared in the former Perry Line system of Hadur. One day, in 2881, previously open sectors of the system were suddenly off limits, and remained that way for the next week and a half (Standard Time). Famed Terra Gazette travel journalist Jan Sharrock happened to be in-system at that time. After being diverted off her intended course, she landed at a nearby space station to find groups of Xi’an gathered around wallscreens in rapt attention. She had to find out why.

Sharrock wrote, “I’d gone up to a shop owner to buy a Surluk, but he was more interested in the serene images of Xi’an pilots and their ships than serving me a drink. When I asked what he was watching, he mumbled a Xi’an word I was unfamiliar with, but which roughly translates to ‘holy, distance race’.”

Sharrock spent the following days on the space station. She learned everything she could about the Koa e Ko’ia, interviewed observers, and witnessed an incredible finish that had three racers speeding toward one last checkpoint as time expired. The subsequent articles produced from Sharrock’s writings generated great interest from xenophiles and ship enthusiasts who were intrigued by the extreme length of the race. Her travelogues lead to a sharp spike in Human visitors to the Hadur system, fueled by their interest in learning more about the Koa e Ko’ia.

Despite not hosting the sporting endurance event since 2881, Hadur is still seen by Humanity as the home of the race. Canny Xi’an vendors play into this perception by keeping their store shelves stocked with Koa e Ko’ia trinkets. MISC, who has a special lend-lease agreement with the Xi’an, has persistently advocated bringing the race back to Hadur to capitalize on Human interest. Following years of debate, the Xi’an government decided to return the race to Hadur in 2947 and even established a special division specifically for Humans to compete in.

The Spiritual Sport

The basics of the Koa e Ko’ia are easy to understand. Though lengthy, the race is contained to one system. A number of Xi’an-controlled systems are certified to host the race, but the only one Humanity has access to is Hadur.

Before each race, various checkpoints and destinations are chosen by a governing body within the Xi’an government. Participants do not know the specifics of the course until the race begins. Once under way, racers receive the coordinates of the first checkpoint. Only when that checkpoint is reached do they receive the coordinates for the next one, and so on. The racer who reaches the most checkpoints at the end of the set period, which can vary anywhere between 200-250 standard Earth hours, is named the winner. If two or more ships pass the same number of checkpoints, it triggers tie-breaker conditions too lengthy and detailed to succinctly describe here.

When racers receive the coordinates for the next checkpoint they are also provided with the location of waystations located between the two. Pilots must coordinate with their crews about when and where to meet to rest, repair, and refuel. This communication is key and more complicated than most expect, since teams must plan with enough flexibility to allow the crew time to reach the proper waystation and prepare for the racer’s landing. Unprepared pit crews have been the downfall of more than one racer over the race’s history.

At its heart, the Koa e Ko’ia is an endurance test for both a ship and its pilot. The race’s extraordinary length tests the concentration and fortitude of the pilots. As ectotherms, the Xi’an can lower their metabolism while inactive to reduce their need for sustenance. Yet, doing so while achieving rapid focus in high-stress situations requires intense training and carries a toll both mentally and physically. Xi’an racers train to overcome these roadblocks, and if done successfully, the lowered metabolism, combined with intense concentration, leads to a euphoric state that has been described as deeply spiritual. Winners of the Koa e Ko’ia are believed to have transcended into an advanced spiritual state to achieve their victory and are treated as cultural celebrities thereafter.

The race also tests the speed, agility, and reliability of the participating ships by incorporating unique features of each system in which it takes place. For Hadur, this included a number of checkpoints hidden within the system’s asteroid belt that require careful and precise navigation to reach, and one located on the sunward side of the tidally-locked Hadur I, testing the ship’s ability to handle extreme temperatures.

The race must also include both space and atmospheric flight. According to race experts, this is where Hadur’s 2947 Koa e Ko’ia course is unique. Its atmospheric flight occurs somewhere over Hadur II and Hadur III, which are both being terraformed. The uncertain atmospheric conditions make picking an entry point extremely important, as flying into a high-density pocket not only increases drag on the ship but could even damage it.

The Human Factor

Following decades of increased Human interest, the Xi’an decided to allow other species to participate in Hadur’s Koa e Ko’ia. The process to implement this change took even longer, as the race’s extensive rule book had to be modified to accommodate the many differences between species. According to Daniel Gordon, who hopes to qualify with his Mustang Beta, “the race’s real endurance test is getting through the rule book.”

Until race officials understand how the Human body reacts to the stresses of the race, independent medical examiners will be assigned to each Human team to track the pilot’s vital signs. If the medical examiners determine the pilot’s health or safety is in danger, they will have the authority to force them to stop at the nearest waystation for further evaluation and could even remove them from the race.

After years of advocating for the race’s return to Hadur, MISC will be one of the major sponsors of the system’s 2947 Koa e Ko’ia. MISC spokesperson Federica Zabel believes the race will be another step towards improved Human and Xi’an relations. “The Koa e Ko’ia represents the perfect opportunity to bring the Xi’an and UEE Empires closer together,” Zabel said at the press conference announcing the race. “We believe our shared love of pushing finely-crafted and tuned spaceships to the extreme can be a gateway for both species to better understand each other.”

It’s also bound to bring MISC a surge of publicity. According to reports, MISC has spent years training and funding teams exclusively for this race. One of those pilots, Brian Blitz, claims that certain aspects of the MISC Razor were even designed with the Koa e Ko’ia in mind. “The more I’ve trained for the race, the more a lot of these design choices just make sense. From the layout of the cockpit to the ease of being able to swap out components, I fully believe the design of this ship already gives me a leg up.”

MISC appears determined to ensure that a Razor places first in the Human division of Hadur’s Koa e Ko’ia. Whether or not MISC gets the outcome it wants, of course, is yet to be determined. Regardless of the winner, if the race proves to be a success, there are rumors the Xi’an would consider making Hadur’s Koa e Ko’ia a regular event. That outcome would be a victory for race fans across the galaxy.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16968-Portfolio-Koa-E-Ko-ia

Portfolio: Esperia

This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 4.12.

There’s an old saying that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” That has never been more true than with Esperia. The company produces fully-functional recreations of both historic and alien ships, and most recently, historic alien ships. Esperia’s ability to seamlessly blend modern function and luxury with classic and long-lost ship designs makes it utterly unique in the aerospace marketplace.

Interestingly enough, Esperia’s founding in 2873 was about history, not commerce. The company only became a major player in the aerospace industry thanks to a bit of luck, a big controversy, and the tireless drive of its two founders: Jovi and Theo Ingstrom. The Esperia story is truly about these brothers who hated, loved, and pushed each other to do what no one else dared.

Sibling Rivalry

The Ingstrom brothers were born and raised in Quasi, Terra. Their parents owned and operated a vast luxury hotel that catered to the tourists that visited this picturesque, mountainside city. As a kid, older brother Jovi was fascinated by the strange alien ruins just outside Quasi and would spend hours exploring them. Meanwhile, Theo hung out in the hotel’s hangar. There, he ogled the rare and expensive ships that came and went with the guests.

According to hotel staff at the time, while Jovi and Theo were a pleasure to be around individually, they became a terror when together; the brothers constantly antagonizing or daring each other to do reckless things. Edwin Kelce, author of Resurrecting Icons (the definitive biography on the brothers), suggests that the most notable incident occurred when they were teenagers, in 2866. Jovi dared Theo to stand on the railing of one of the hotel’s third story observation decks. Once his brother finally was perched on top, Jovi bumped the railing. Somehow Theo survived the fall, suffering only a broken arm.

Despite this rambunctiousness, their father detected a strong entrepreneurial instinct in Jovi and wanted him to learn the family business. Jovi refused and instead attended the University of Jalan to study xenoarchaeology. The following year, Theo began attending the University of Rhetor to learn aerospace engineering. Theo proved to be a gifted and motivated student. Jovi was expelled his sophomore year.

Following his expulsion, Jovi worked at the family hotel for a few months. He quickly tired of his parents’ constant scrutiny and wanted to return to his studies. His parents agreed to financially support him under the condition that he attend the University of Rhetor with his brother. Reportedly, his parents, both alumni, played the legacy card and made a sizable donation to the institution to ensure his application would be accepted.

Jovi moved in with Theo the next semester. The arrangement annoyed both brothers. Theo felt that his parents had burdened him with the additional responsibility of keeping his brother in line, while Jovi resented his younger brother looking over his shoulder. Then, in 2872, the two took a trip to the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo (IAE) that would not only change their relationship, but also their futures.

Digital Archaeology

For years, Theo had been trying to get his hands on a Gailforce-model ship, known among engineering enthusiasts because it never made it to market after cost overruns drove its manufacturer out of business. While touring the show floor, Theo found a broken shell of a Gailforce for sale. Yet despite his efforts, he couldn’t talk down the private collector’s exorbitant purchase price. For the rest of the day, Theo rambled incessantly about the ship until Jovi decided to take matters into his own hands. Before anyone attributes Jovi’s actions as altruism, Resurrecting Icons claims that Jovi’s actual motivation was “to make Theo shut up.” He tracked down the collector that evening in the hotel bar and after a night of drinks, was able to talk down the price. Not only that, he managed to get a set of the ship’s original blueprints thrown in as well.

Theo used the blueprints to repair the ship, but ran into a snag when data corruption rendered a number of the pages unreadable. Jovi researched where they could obtain copies of the corrupted pages and was shocked to discover that blueprints were often harder to find than the ships themselves. The fact that the Gailforce’s blueprints had virtually vanished after only a few decades stunned Jovi.

After watching Theo repair and restore the Gailforce, he understood that ship blueprints were an essential part of aerospace history and was surprised that no one had thought to compile any kind of archive of these documents. Jovi saw an opportunity to combine his natural business acumen with his passion for history.

In 2873, Jovi dropped out of school, liquidated his trust fund, and started Esperia with the help of Theo. The company was named after a small-scale ship manufacturer, renowned in collector circles, that was tragically wiped out when the Orion System fell to the Vanduul. Esperia’s initial goal was to collect and preserve ship blueprints so more wouldn’t be lost to the sands of time.

Jovi and Theo began to buy as many ship blueprints as possible. Then they charged a recurring fee for access to these records, so collectors could restore their precious ships to the original specs. Jovi scoured the universe, paying good money for any blueprint he could find. It wasn’t long before Esperia had accumulated an impressive database, and had made a name for itself among collectors as a go-to source.

But the subscription model wasn’t lucrative and Esperia struggled to turn a profit. After Theo graduated from university, he began to buy and sell old ships he’d restored from Esperia blueprints. Jovi heavily advertised these restorations to show what was possible with their service. It wasn’t long before Theo’s reputation as a talented restorer drew more interest than the blueprints. One morning Victor Hurston was patiently waiting for them outside their small office in Kutaram, Terra. What he proposed would permanently alter the company’s course.

The Imitation Game

Victor Hurston was best known as a playboy with a penchant for exotic ships. Even so, what he proposed to the Ingstrom brothers was nothing short of shocking. Victor had come into possession of a Vanduul Glaive and asked if Esperia could get it up and running. Though they lacked blueprints and any knowledge of the Vanduul language, the Esperia team somehow got it working. A few months later, Victor Hurston unveiled the Glaive to a shocked audience at the 2877 IAE, the crowd reaching fever pitch when he climbed into the cockpit and took off. Afterwards, Victor personally thanked Esperia for their hard work on getting the ship flight ready.

Overnight, the name Esperia spread across the Empire. Many marveled at how this small restoration company had mastered Vanduul technology, while others cursed them for turning the enemy’s weapon of war into a rich kid’s toy. Theo recoiled from the controversy. Jovi embraced it, using it to advance their image and start building a brand.

Then the UEE Navy was at Esperia’s door. Government engineers had never quite figured out how to make captured Vanduul ships function properly, certainly not to the level that Victor Hurston had demonstrated, so they hired Esperia as consultants. After Theo and his team proved their worth, the government approached Esperia with an even more ambitious project — building replica Vanduul ships to be used in Navy training exercises. Esperia needed to quickly expand their operations to fulfill the government contract. Jovi worked tirelessly to make this happen and it paid off. Esperia has been on the Navy’s payroll ever since.

After expanding their operations to fulfill their government contract, Esperia finally had the facilities to produce quality replicas for the private sector too. Before long, several near-extinct spacecraft were to be found flying the Empire once again in the form of Esperia reproductions. Wealthy clients flocked for the chance to fly these limited-run collector ships.

Recently, Esperia’s special relationship with the UEE government allowed them access to the Kabal System to catalog and assess the ancient Tevarin ships found there. They have since brought to market the Prowler, the famed Tevarin boarding craft, which has been painstakingly constructed to recreate the spirit of the original ship while updating it with contemporary features and comforts. The Prowler joins replicas of the Vanduul Glaive and Blade that the company recently sold to the public under a new business plan pushed by current CEO Charlotte Hussion.

Esperia has come a long way since Jovi and Theo started it as an archive for vanishing ship blueprints. Still, the company’s dedication to preserving the past stays alive and well and continues to influence the future. Each year, eight students at the University of Rhetor receive the Ingstrom Fellowship for their work in the field of xenoarchaeology.

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Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16959-Portfolio-Esperia

Advocacy Archive: As Good As Dunn

As Good As Dunn

ADVOCACY ARCHIVE
INTRAAGENCY MESSAGES

2948-12-14_19:07 SET
TO: SSA LAKODA IWATA
FROM: SA JULIE NADIR
SUBJECT: DUNN INVESTIGATIONACTIONABLE

Sir –

Just wanted to give you an update. The op’s good to go. I’ll set up on an overlook above the Dunn Scrapyard and will watch it for a few hours before paying them a visit. I’ll use an Argo SRV to tow in a busted 325a. Both have clean regtags so there shouldn’t be any reason for them not to process it. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to verify my confidential informant’s claims about this place being a front for organized crime.

I’ll be on comms if you need me.

Julie Nadir
Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

2948-12-15_06:22 SET
TO: SA JULIE NADIR
FROM: SSA LAKODA IWATA
RE: DUNN INVESTIGATIONACTIONABLE

Keep me posted. We need a big win on this in order to maintain the investigation on Dunn. If the op doesn’t uncover anything, the Haubert case is heating up and might require your attention.

Lakoda Iwata
Supervisory Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

2948-12-15_22:09 SET
TO: SSA LAKODA IWATA
FROM: SA JULIE NADIR
RE: DUNN INVESTIGATIONACTIONABLE

Sir –

Today didn’t quite go as planned. I’m drafting the full incident report, but I still think there’s enough suspicious activity to warrant further investigation. You’ll have all the details in the report, but the big takeaways are below:

The scrapyard refused to take the 325a, claiming they didn’t have the capacity to process it. When I pointed out that there was space in the scrapyard, the story changed to the problem being a mechanical issue with their compactor. I sang them a sob story about needing creds fast, even offered to take just below market value for it. They still rejected my offer and did everything in their power to have me leave the premises as fast as possible.

Several other peculiarities presented themselves during the day, which add to the theory that the scrapyard is a front. While there I clocked 20 employees, most without safety gear. Some just sitting around looking bored. Others were involved in a rowdy Trigger game happening in one of the hangars. The shop definitely didn’t look or feel like the bustling business it is on paper, which was substantiated by my surveillance.

I logged all activity that occurred at the scrapyard today and it was significantly lower than expected. Exact numbers will be attached, along with a detailed explanation about why they’re red flags. I think we may be on to something big here.

I’ll be back in the office tomorrow. Let me know when you’re free.

Julie Nadir
Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

2948-12-16_07:13 SET
TO: SA JULIE NADIR
FROM: SSA LAKODA IWATA
RE: DUNN INVESTIGATIONACTIONABLE

Refusing to scrap a ship isn’t a crime. While the behavior you’ve outlined is indeed suspicious, there’s not enough evidence to back up your CI’s claims. With our current caseload, I cannot justify any additional hours being spent on this.

Come by tomorrow at 15:00 for a debrief. Before then, familiarize yourself with the attached Haubert case file.

Lakoda Iwata
Supervisory Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

Attachment: CaseFile_NH81315E.tbf

2948-12-16_08:40 SET
TO: SSA LAKODA IWATA
FROM: SA JULIE NADIR
RE: DUNN INVESTIGATIONACTIONABLE

Understood. See you then.

Julie Nadir
Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

2949-01-24_23:03 SET
TO: SSA LAKODA IWATA
FROM: SA JULIE NADIR
SUBJECT: DUNN INVESTIGATION— NEW EVIDENCE

Sir,

Last month, although my attention was focused on the Haubert sting, something still wasn’t sitting right with the Dunn case. To be clear, I dedicated my work hours to resolving the Haubert investigation, but I kept an eye on the scrapyard off the clock, meticulously noting everyone coming and going. I poured over the scrapyard’s public records and tax filings three times.

Thankfully, I finally managed to make contact with local law enforcement. Turns out a former detective had opened a case on Dunn last year. They received a tip about potential contraband moving through the business, but once word of the investigation was made official, there was pressure from higher-up to shut it down. All files related to the case were transferred and vanished. The detective had backups of some of the case files before they got wiped and sent them along.

The files document Dunn using a long list of fake SRV regtags to inflate their profits. It’s proof they’re scrapping way more ships on paper than in reality to launder millions of creds. I got curious and ran a few of these fake SRV regtags through the system. Each of these fake ships “towed” wrecks to the same few scrapyards, which includes Dunn and even one on Castor. I compared the fiscal reports for each of these companies and found them be almost identical. It has to be a system-wide money laundering operation for one of Corel’s major players.

The report and all related documents will be ready for your review tomorrow morning.

Julie Nadir
Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

2949-1-25_06:36 SET
TO: SA JULIE NADIR
FROM: SSA LAKODA IWATA
RE: DUNN INVESTIGATION— NEW EVIDENCE

Find me when you get in. I need you to debrief me on everything, including exactly how you obtained these files. The legitimacy of the entire case hinges on it.

Lakoda Iwata
Supervisory Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

2949-1-26_13:22 SET
TO: SA JULIE NADIR
FROM: SSA LAKODA IWATA
RE: DUNN INVESTIGATION— NEW EVIDENCE

Nadir, where are you?

Lakoda Iwata
Supervisory Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

2949-1-29_04:37 SET
TO: SC LEN TEXIERA, ASC FREDDY AGUILAR
FROM: SSA LAKODA IWATA
SUBJECT: URGENT — SA NADIR

SA Julie Nadir was found dead in her apartment last night of a single gunshot to the head. This was a professional execution.

To give you a clearer context, SA Nadir recently revealed to me that she caught a big break related to an old investigation of the Dunn scrapyard. As you’ll see in the attached comms, SA Nadir continued to pursue her investigation in an unofficial capacity, during off hours, and not under my direction. Upon hearing this, I arranged SA Nadir to debrief me immediately. After several days passed where she was unaccounted for, I paid a visit to her apartment. That’s when I discovered SA Nadir’s body.

Her home terminal was still on, with all her findings on the Dunn investigation sitting on screen. I’ve gone through the files, and Nadir’s ultimate conclusion was that the scrapyards tied to Dunn through fake SRV regtags are a front for the Benini clan. Taking down these shops would be a significant blow to their ops throughout the system. While this might explain why she was targeted, it doesn’t explain why the Benini clan would just leave her terminal and case work untouched.

Which got me thinking, who would serve SA Nadir this case on a platter?

It’s too clean. Too convenient. I can’t back this up yet, but in my opinion, I think a new syndicate might be making a move into the system. Getting rid of the Benini clan’s cash flow would be a huge win for the Advocacy, but would equally benefit a criminal rival looking to carve out space for themselves in the underworld.

I’ve attached the case file, which includes all comms between myself and SA Nadir related to the case. I’d recommend reading SA Nadir’s report first. The case is laid out beautifully. The Advocacy lost a good investigator today.

Lakoda Iwata
Supervisory Special Agent
Office of the Advocacy
New Junction, Lo, Corel

Attachment: CaseFile_WI57421S.tbf

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16955-Advocacy-Archive-As-Good-As-Dunn

Spectrum Spectator: One Step Back

Daisy Wences: Welcome once again to your show of shows, Spectrum Spectator. Where we take everything broadcast during the past week and blend it into a concentrated, easy-to-digest paste. I’m your entertainment emissary, Daisy Wences, and with me as always is this other person.

Lars Gonall: Why do I feel like the job title ‘Paste Purveyor’ would go over better with my parents than ‘Spectrum Critic?’

Daisy Wences: Because even though you’re a grown adult, you still live your life seeking your parents’ approval?

Lars Gonall: Once again, thanks to Daisy, I’m going to have some deep thinking to do after this show.

Daisy Wences: That’s why we’re all here, right? Profound self-epiphanies.

Lars Gonall: Profound epiphanies through the prism of spectrum are the perfect medium for self-reflection.

Daisy Wences: Which reminds me, have you caught Far From Home yet?

Lars Gonall: I have…

Daisy Wences: Yes! How many episodes have you done? Ten? Twenty?

Lars Gonall: Daisy has been begging me to check it out since she discovered it last week and I gotta say… it’s not for me.

Daisy Wences: What?!

Lars Gonall: For those of you unfamiliar, Far From Home is this personal diary and advice show that a solo pilot puts out from his Freelancer. It’s basically like when you get seated next to your friend’s uncle at a dinner party and they just want to talk about how good ships used to be in the old days.

Daisy Wences: You did not just compare Old Jegger to someone’s random uncle.

Lars Gonall: Later, when you go back and check the recording, you will see that I, in fact, did exactly that.

Daisy Wences: Despite what Lars says, I still think that this is a show worth checking out. I heard about it on a DIY forum when I was trying to fix a glitchy heater in my hab. Of course, instead of actually fixing the stupid thing, I wound up spending the rest of the night consuming every Far From Home episode I could find. Maybe because part of me always wondered what it would be like on the drift. Hearing him talk, you start to understand the difference between a solitary life and a lonely one.

Lars Gonall: I will say that I appreciated how he seemed very much about everyone finding their own best way to live. It wasn’t just him preaching about how we should all be space hermits. And I’ll also give it a few more points now that there’s that rumor circulating that he’s dead.

Daisy Wences: Wait? What?

Lars Gonall: You didn’t see this? It was on the Galactapedia page. Turns out he hasn’t put out an episode since the last one he did from Charon. People are speculating that something might have happened to him. A bunch of fans have started trying to organize a search for him.

Daisy Wences: He is a hermit, right? I bet he’s simply staying off the grid for a bit. I’m sure this is just one of those dumb spectrum rumors and he’ll show up in a week or two with a great story to tell. At least, I really hope that’s what’ll happen.

Lars Gonall: Yeah. You’re probably right. Just promise me that you’re not gonna run away to join the search.

Daisy Wences: Don’t worry, Lars. I’m not leaving the show… yet.

Lars Gonall: Since we got to talk about one of your new favorite shows, you want to talk about my new crush that you can’t stand?

Daisy Wences: Fine. Go ahead.

Lars Gonall: From the makers of such fine reality vids like Kid Empire and Weapon Wars: Shoot-Out Edition comes my brand new obsession, Face to Face, a dating show with a brilliant premise.

Daisy Wences: You mean an insanely creepy premise.

Lars Gonall: Oh, yeah. Won’t argue with you there. This is definitely a show for people who love cringe binging. All the contestants are sent into one of those new and really expensive BiotiCorp machines and given identical faces.

Daisy Wences: Want to know how they picked what that face would look like? They created a composite head from all the main single person’s exes. How messed up is that?

Lars Gonall: The show claims they’re trying to create an ideal partner for the selector by looking at their previous romantic choices. The lucky –

Daisy Wences: I guess that’s how they could be described…

Lars Gonall: The lucky bachelor is a fitness instructor from New Babbage named Eris who goes on dates with all the contestants and eliminates anyone they don’t like. Once eliminated, the candidates are reverted back to their original face.

Daisy Wences: I swear it’s like some bizarre cult. One of the contestants who got cut was sobbing because they didn’t want their old face back. I know it’s pretty common these days to adjust how you look, but the way they were all losing their identity while trying to become someone else’s fantasy made me really uncomfortable.

Lars Gonall: You had a much darker take than I did. For me, it was fun to watch people get to know each other in a situation where their looks didn’t matter. Eris couldn’t judge people on who was attractive or not, it was all about if they had a connection. What’s really going to be interesting is that the winning contestant gets to reconstruct their face however they want. Do they go with their original? An ‘improved’ version of themselves? Keep their new face? So many choices.

Daisy Wences: Do you think the people at BiotiCorp would have made the Calliope if they knew that this was how their amazing invention was going to be used?

Lars Gonall: I assume all scientists hope for a day when their discovery or invention can be used to help strangers pretend to be in love on spectrum.

Daisy Wences: Shall we move on to a show that we were actually scheduled to review this week?

Lars Gonall: Even better, a show that we both actually liked.

Daisy Wences: Last Friday saw the premiere of the much-heralded docu-series One Step Back. Filmed on Asura, it’s a hard look at what life is like for former criminals trying to re-enter society. The first episode focuses on Liz ‘Necro’ Salguero, a convicted shipjacker who was released from Quarterdeck last year.

Lars Gonall: You get a real sense of what it must be like to have this criminal reputation hanging over your head. At one point, she goes through a checkpoint on her way to sell some scrap and seeing how security swarms all over her to do a deep scan was really surprising to me. Maybe this is just my naïveté talking, but I always figured that serving time was enough to clear your record. It turns out though that the Advocacy keeps you flagged as a person of interest for a long time after you’ve been incarcerated, and a lot of people get access to those records.

Daisy Wences: One of the people they interview is a criminal rights advocate who is trying to change the law so that once your crime is atoned for, your records remained sealed unless you are charged with a crime again. We expect these people to be able to make a life for themselves, but with their past available to potential employers, many can’t find work and even when they do, it’s a long hard road to earning trust and respectability again.

Lars Gonall: This isn’t exactly the same thing, but I do remember this one time growing up when my dad accidentally clipped a ship that was rising out of hangar bay. He got flagged and until he paid off the fine, we weren’t allowed to use a lot of public landing areas. It was only a week, but still.

Daisy Wences: I had no idea you came from an outlaw family. It’ll be interesting to see what the show does to help forward the dialogue about all this. Apparently, since the episode was released, Liz has been overwhelmed with job offers and people looking to help her out. Pretty touching really. Of course, that’s just one person.

Lars Gonall: Strongly recommend you give this show a try. It’s not exactly lighthearted, but it’s doing some important things.

Daisy Wences: All right, on that surprisingly serious note, we have to take our first break. When Spectrum Spectators returns, we’ll be discussing the new Tavi Arteaga comedy, One Mann’s Treasure, about a young woman named Aleria Mann who leaves her bustling life in Prime to run her sick mother’s salvaging business out in the far reaches of Corel.

Lars Gonall: I’m pretty excited because we haven’t reviewed a ‘the character’s name is a title pun’ show in a long time, so be sure to stick around and we’ll be right back.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16930-Spectrum-Spectator-One-Step-Back

Galactic Guide: Kabal System

This Galactic Guide originally appeared in Jump Point 4.12.

After nearly six years of work as a stellar surveyor for the Imperial Cartography Center, Usuni Colo had never taken as much as a sick day. By 2941, his supervisor hadn’t suggested that Colo take a vacation, she mandated it. Faced with three weeks of nothing to do, Colo knew there was only one place he wanted to go. Fascinated by the Outsiders, he traveled to Mya in the Leir system to see firsthand how isolationism had affected the planet and its people.

Unfortunately for Colo, his attempts to talk his way past the traveler zone to get the ‘real experience’ got him expelled from the planet. Still faced with a couple weeks of enforced downtime, Colo took his time returning home to the Elysium system. And as a member of an ICC Stellar Surveyor team, he was in the habit of scanning for jump points even when off-duty.

So on 2941.03.11 when his scanners hit an anomaly that looked like a new jump point leaving the Leir system, Usuni Colo was professional rather than surprised. What would ultimately surprise him would be what lay on the other side. He’d learn that he hadn’t discovered this system at all. Only rediscovered it.

Exploration Excitement


Colo took a number of initial scans of what became known as the Kabal system, which Colo named in honor of the famous 27th century musical group. The scans found a F-type main sequence star, three planets, and an asteroid cluster. Upon returning to UEE space, he immediately reported the discovery and logged a special request that his ICC unit be assigned to scan and explore the system he discovered. The UEE granted Colo’s petition, and he returned to the system with the rest of his team shortly thereafter.

Their initial assessment of the system was overwhelmingly positive. Kabal II and Kabal III were located within the habitable zone, and Kabal III’s oxygen-based atmosphere meant it had the potential to be a turnkey planet. Excitement swelled among government officials, since finding a naturally habitable world would provide incredible benefits and resources without the expense of terraforming. Colo and the rest of his team were immediately deployed to take more detailed scans of Kabal III.

The ICC’s standard protocol is to keep the initial assessment of systems confidential until further evaluations have been made and details verified. Yet, somehow Kabal’s assessment leaked. News about the existence of a planet that might be immediately habitable caused a media sensation.

Critics of Imperator Costigan were suspicious; they claimed the leak was a calculated move on the part of his administration. Only weeks prior, the Historical Truth Act of 2941 declassified a trove of documents, many of which were from the Messer era and revealed many of the propaganda techniques Messer’s government used to manipulate the public. Although this was hardly a new revelation and obviously none of the released documents directly related to Costigan’s administration, columnists and critics drew tenuous comparisons between the tactics previously used and actions of the current administration, which had been mired in a series of embarrassing gaffes. The leak of Kabal’s initial assessment was seen by some as a way to get the populace to focus on the UEE’s future instead of the past.

Once the confidential report leaked, the ICC decided to embrace the buzz being generated. Usuni Colo was even scheduled to tell his incredible discovery story to Beck Russum for an Empire Report exclusive. The event was hyped across the spectrum for days, then abruptly canceled. When no official explanation was given for the interview getting canned, rumors started to swirl. After the official assessment of the Kabal system was delayed, also for unspecified reasons, the Senate Subcommittee of the Interior decided to get involved.

The Known Unknown


In October of 2941, Rebecca Alves, chair of the ICC, was summoned before the Senate Subcommittee of the Interior to discuss her stewardship of the agency. Senators focused their inquiries on Kabal III and wondered why the system‘s official report was late. Alves dodged most questions, claiming she couldn’t discuss specifics until the official report was released. When pressed, Alves became more evasive. This drew ire from Senators, who openly wondered who was really running the ICC if its director couldn’t provide a timeline.

Alves’ appearance before the Senate subcommittee was considered a disaster. It re-energized the debate over Kabal and reinforced the claim that the Imperator was really controlling the release of information. Faced with mounting public pressure the ICC finally published their official assessment of the Kabal system in early November of 2941. Suddenly, it became obvious why there was so much secrecy surrounding the system.

The report revealed that ancient, abandoned Tevarin cities, believed to predate the First Tevarin War, were discovered on Kabal III. So, even though the planet was Human-habitable, no settlements would be established for the foreseeable future. Following the release of this report, the UEE government classified the entire system off limits to the public to maintain the integrity of this important archaeological site. It has remained restricted ever since.

Kabal I


This small, lumpy protoplanet sits so close to the system’s sun that it only takes 34 standard days to complete its orbit.

Kabal II


The ICC’s initial report on Kabal II drew comparison to Mars. It’s a terrestrial desert planet situated smack dab in the middle of the habitable zone, making it an ideal terraforming candidate. Yet, the Tevarin never mastered terraforming technology, so it remained uninhabited while the system was under their control.

Kabal III


Kabal III was the system’s clear gem when it was (re)discovered. Yet the hope of the UEE establishing settlements on the planet was quickly squashed after abandoned Tevarin cities were uncovered, turning the planet into an archaeological site.

Beneath a thick layer of native plant life that had reclaimed the cities, this Tevarin world was stuck in time. Buildings and houses were filled with various common goods. Ships sat quietly on landing pads. The sacred codices of Rijora still hung in the temples. All this evidence suggested that the population either left quickly or planned to come back. Either way, Kabal III opened a window into a culture that had tried to erase itself in the Purge after the Second Tevarin War.

The UEE military invited Esperia, the noted ship replica manufacturer, to visit the planet to catalogue and appraise the ships that were found. After comparing them with the few remaining historical records, Esperia estimated that the planet was abandoned prior to the First Tevarin War. Despite providing a treasure trove of historical information on the Tevarin, these cities raised more questions than answers. One in particular remained elusive: why did the Tevarin leave?

Many still wonder how an entire system could have been forgotten by the Tevarin. Most believe a confluence of calamitous events over two centuries — the First & Second Tevarin Wars followed by the Purge — erased the system’s existence from the Tevarin cultural consciousness. Others insist its existence was a closely guarded secret among Tevarin radicals. Acutely aware of how little they know, UEE researchers have taken a cautious approach with the system. Despite repeated requests from the Tevarin Cultural Preservation Society and the Tevarin advocacy group Nerriva Alle, the UEE has maintained a tightly restricted access to the planet.

TRAVEL WARNING

Since Kabal can only be accessed through the unclaimed Leir system, some have tried to camp out and stalk government convoys to discover the exact coordinates of the jump point. UEE ships have been known to engage suspicious ships in the Leir system that are deemed a threat to the confidentiality of the jump point’s location. So, if a government sends you a warning comm, obey their orders or suffer the consequences.

HEARD IN THE WIND


“If you elect me as your Senator, I will work to help bring my people out of the shadows by rebuilding the beauty of Tevarin culture. This includes designating the lost cities on Kabal III as historical sites, and establishing cultural centers on the planet that will educate future generations of both Human and Tevarin alike.”

– Senator Suj Kossi, campaign speech, Jalan, Elysium, 2946

“The Kabal system is an interesting case. How could an entire system be forgotten about in only a few centuries? Could collective cultural amnesia really run this deep, or is there something else going on here? To be honest, I don’t know what answer scares me more.”

– Professor Vincent Fontana, excerpt from a speech to the Tevarin Cultural Preservation Society, 2943

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16926-Galactic-Guide-Kabal-System

Galactic Guide: Kiel System

This Galactic Guide originally appeared in Jump Point 4.11.

The Kiel system was a major hub of military activity during the cold war, but since relations with the Xi’an have improved, the system has worked hard to redefine itself. The Senate’s recent official recognition of the system’s third planet, Severus, is considered proof to many that some of that hard work has started to pay off.

The system was discovered by a Merchant Marine fuel collection vessel operating in the Hadrian system. The ship’s captain, Adhama Schnauss, made it a point to take a different route on each collection trip to keep the crew on their toes. One day in 2514, Schnauss noticed a strange anomaly on their scans and redirected their course to investigate it. What they found was a large jump point connected to a new system with a white, F-type main sequence star surrounded by six planets and an asteroid belt. Schnauss named the system Kiel after a longtime friend who adamantly refused to leave his home planet of Mars. Schnauss hoped the gesture would motivate his friend to finally venture into the stars to see the system that bore his name.

Military pathfinders scanned the system to discover that none of the planets were naturally habitable and only the third one, Severus, was deemed suitable for terraforming. As the terraforming process was underway, jumps to two new systems (Baker and Horus) were discovered, igniting massive public and private interest in the system. Even though it hadn’t been officially inhabited, it was already well connected to the expanding eastern-edge of the empire. It had a mineral-rich asteroid belt, gas giants to be used for refueling and soon, a terraformed world to serve as the system’s nerve center.

Yet, all that changed when in 2542 when Marie Sante discovered a jump into Xi’an space from the Horus system. Being connected to the Perry Line, Kiel was now only one system away from Xi’an territory, so the UPE quickly re-designated the system. Much to the dismay of the companies that had begun prospecting as the terraforming process was completed, rather than opening the system for economic development, the government drafted plans to make Severus a massive military hub, a decision that would define the system for centuries.

Military Machine


Once Severus was habitable, the military moved into the system en masse. Ivar Messer had recently risen to power partially by cultivating fears over the Xi’an, so pouring government funds into Kiel was considered an impressive show of force against the new alien enemies.

Over the decades, the military’s strong presence in Kiel also proved beneficial for domestic pacification purposes. Its proximity to Terra was a noted concern amongst the growing anti-Messer activists, who saw it as a potential staging point for invasion. There were even rumors that Terran Senator, Assan Kieren, who mysteriously disappeared in 2638 after drafting a bill that would grant Terra sovereignty apart from the UEE, had been abducted and taken to a military installation on Kiel II.

Kiel’s military footprint was greatly reduced in the early 29th century after tensions with the Xi’an de-escalated and the Perry Line was dismantled. However, as the military moved out, attracting private sector companies to replace them in the system proved difficult. With large swaths of resources removed by the military, an aging infrastructure in need of repair, and without a significant population, it just didn’t make economic sense for many businesses to expand into Kiel.

That started to change under the guidance of Joona Tzur, who was elected Severus’ Governor in 2903. Tzur was one of only a few hundred people whose Kiel roots extended further than two generations, beginning with his great-grandmother who chose to remain in the system upon retiring from the Army. He knew Severus’ strengths better than anyone else and specifically recruited industries to the planet that could capitalize on the military’s infrastructure and abandoned bases. The strategy worked and numerous giants of the space industry set up factories in the system. In addition, Tzur knew that he needed more than businesses to grow his homeworld, and so he invested heavily in public leisure and green spaces, claiming that a happy population is one that grows.

One of Tzur’s most notable victories came when he convinced the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo to host the event on Severus. Tzur’s main selling point was the numerous decommissioned spacecraft hangars that could house the massive event. After a rapid series of upgrades were made to the facilities, the IAE was held on Severus for the first time in 2916 and has been one of the system’s main economic drivers ever since, creating additional hotels, restaurants, and attractions in its wake. Today, in addition to the Aerospace Expo, many other conferences use the facilities throughout the year, making tourism one of the largest growth sectors for the planet.

The economic turnaround and rebranding of Kiel has been considered a success by many, including the Senate who official recognized Severus in 2937. The system’s population has continued to swell ever since. With plenty of jobs and considerably less congestion than other systems (like Terra), Kiel was recently voted one of the “Top Ten Most Livable Systems” by the editors of New United.

Kiel I


This small mesoplanet is sun-scarred on one side thanks to it being tidally locked.

Kiel II


Kiel II is a rocky planet that features a thin atmosphere and a good deal of mystery. Scans of the planet reveal the presence of resources, yet the UEE has strictly prohibited any mining operations. This has led some to believe the planet may continue to house classified underground military installations.

Kiel III (Severus)


Severus is a rocky planet that was quickly terraformed after the system’s discovery. Named after a famous Navy admiral who distinguished himself during the Second Tevarin War, it served as a key military hub during the cold war with the Xi’an. Once relations thawed, the planet’s permanent residents worked hard to help it find a new identity.

Things started to turn around after RSI agreed to open a large factory to manufacture their improved line of thrusters. RSI brought a fresh flow of people and creds into the system, which encouraged other companies to follow suit. Soon word spread that the planet had plenty of work and an affordable cost of living. Blue collar workers arrived in droves, and the planet saw its populace consistently rise for decades. It wasn’t long before the Governors’ Council applied for and received representation status, with Tzur’s daughter Janna Thurville elected as Severus’ first senator.

The influx of people and business allowed the government to redesign parts of the planet for civic use. The planet’s capital, Eri City, received the most attention. A number of old, drab military structures were demolished and beautiful public parks built in their place. Though the planet still lacks a unique cultural identity, its fine dining scene is surprisingly strong. There have been great strides in making the planet’s soil arable again, and with housing expenses being relatively low, many people are more than willing to splurge on gourmet meals.

Kiel IV


A picturesque gas dwarf that’s a striking deep blue color. The planet’s rapid spin means it only takes 16 standard Earth hours to make one complete rotation.

Kiel V


This massive gas giant has a planetary radius of over 57,000 kilometers and an impressive set of planetary rings that extend well beyond that.

Kiel VI


It takes this protoplanet 44,512 standard Earth days (about 122 standard years) to make one trip around the system’s sun. A festival is currently being planned for the next time it reaches its perihelion.

TRAVEL WARNING

Miners have long coveted a chance to pull resources from Kiel II, and over the years, numerous unauthorized attempts have been made. Yet, even though the military no longer dominates the system, it still maintains a strong presence and is quick to go after those who disobey the mining prohibition on Kiel II.

HEARD IN THE WIND


“The true potential of the Kiel system is still untapped and unmolded. I don’t see its lack of an identity as a hindrance, but rather as the ultimate opportunity to create something new.”

– Governor Joona Tzur, inauguration ceremony, 2903

“The boring, nondescript building was originally constructed and used by the military when they controlled the planet. For centuries, it housed stodgy military bureaucrats, but now it’s home to Nocturne, one of the most exciting new restaurants in the UEE. Like much of the Kiel system, what looks dull and unimpressive at first blush becomes much more fascinating upon closer examination.”

– Gloria Budd, New United “Top Ten Most Livable Systems,” 2945

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16895-Galactic-Guide-Kiel-System

OP.NET: Combat Haggling

Independent Mercenary News

Welcome to OP.NET. Your single source for all the news, tips, and insights that any independent mercenary could ever want. I’m your host Conva Maynard. And although we’re not Guild affiliated in any way, I’d like to give a special welcome to Local Guild 806 out in Ferron who comm’d in to tell me about their weekly OP.NET gatherings. While it may surprise some of you to learn that Guild members would be fans of the program, in fact, more and more of our audience are people like the 806 who are eager to get their hands on any solid information no matter the source. Basically, what I’m saying is that Skiv’s reviews are useful no matter who you are.

I know a lot of time it can feel like it’s an ‘us versus them’ thing. Independents and Guild members out there scrapping for the same work, arguing about what’s the best way to handle our business, but if you want to know the truth, we all have a lot more in common than not. We’re all trying to do the job the best we can. I’ve always felt an important part of being independent is respecting and learning from the way other people like to operate. Yeah, the Guild may not be for everyone, and it sure as heck ain’t for me, but for a lot of folks it makes sense and that’s okay. OP.NET is all in favor of making the choice that’s right for you, as long as you do the proper research and diligence first.

Speaking of, with this week’s Job Board, research all of these opportunities on your own to make sure they check out square before signing up for anything. We say it every episode, but any merc worth their body armor always vets their leads before making a move.

First up, we got an offer coming all the way out of Oberon. A growing refinery concern, Miguello Extraction, has expanded recently and it seems that a local outfit of marauders has taken notice of Miguello’s success. While the Navy have been flying more ships in system as of late, their priority is definitely dealing with any Vanduul threats, leaving folks like Miguello to fend for themselves. The company has been hit more than a couple times this year and they’re looking to hire a security detail to patrol and protect their spread of collector arrays, ASAP. What’s interesting about this contract is that they aren’t just looking for sluggers to tangle in the field, they’re looking for strategic consultants, someone who can help figure out the logistics of guarding such a large area. So, if planning routes, schedules, and security protocols gets your thrusters boosting, and you don’t mind how isolated the location is, then I’d snatch this one up right quick.

Next, we got something for those of you who might be a little less cerebral. An individual wishing to remain anonymous had their estate robbed of a so-called “sensitive item” by a local gang. Now, they’re being blackmailed for the return of said item unless they pay up. For various reasons, paying the ransom is not palatable, so they’re looking to hire a recovery team. Now you can see why there aren’t a lot of public details on this one. The crooks catch wind that their mark is hiring mercs and you can bet they’ll retaliate. For my creds, a job like this requires either a very light touch or a very heavy hand – i.e. sneak in so they don’t know you’re there or hit them so hard and fast they don’t have time to do anything but panic. Hard to say which is best without some more information but that’ll be up to you to acquire. Understandably, this contract’s looking to staff up fast, so if you’re interested, don’t wait long.

Finally, we’ve got an escort contract protecting a hauling convoy doing regular runs out to Tal. What makes this job a little bit different than your standard fly-along is that the escorts will be expected to directly interface with the Xi’an criminal houses in control of the sectors the route travels through. Since the passage of HuXa, I have seen more and more of these kinds of requests popping up, and I don’t know about you, but I pretty much know next to nothing about navigating the intricacies of Xi’an politics. Figured that it was about time I do something about my ignorance and hopefully help out any of you interested in operating in Xi’an space.

Please join me in welcoming to the show our special guest for today, former MISC security officer Jack Leong.

Jack Leong: Pleasure to be on the show.

Thanks for taking the time out of your well-deserved retirement to talk with us.

Jack Leong: Don’t worry, I’m having my granddaughter keep an eye on the fish for me until I can get back to my boat.

So, just for a little bit of history, my understanding is that you worked for MISC going on sixty-two years?

Jack Leong: Correct. Joined them right out of equivalency as an off-shift factory guard and worked my way up from there. I’m one of those odd people you meet who’ve only ever worked one job in their life. Didn’t even have to bother with the whole Guild or Independent debate. Just always been MISC.

Now, I’m sure with six decades in security we could fill a couple episodes with your advice and wisdom, but for today I wanted to talk to you specifically about your experience operating in Xi’an space.

Jack Leong: I’m happy to tell you what I can.

You were one of the first civilian Human pilots to officially be permitted to fly a combat ship through their territory correct?

Jack Leong: That’s right. Back in 2910. MISC had just signed their partnership deal and was going to be sending some execs and techs out to Tal on a regular basis. I was the lucky guy picked to go along and make sure all the important people got there and back in one piece.

What was that like? Flying into Xi’an space for the first time?

Jack Leong: Security-wise? Pretty darn easy to tell the truth. It was a big deal and all eyes were on us and the Xi’an to see how this whole thing would shake out. Nobody was going to risk anything happening to us. We got a military escort everywhere we went. For the first five years at least.

Turned out, that was all the initial lendlease agreement covered. After that, we were on our own and let me just say it was a damn pretty steep learning curve.

Sounds a bit like my dad teaching me to EVA by kicking me out an airlock.

Jack Leong: Not too far from the truth. First flight after our government protection ended, we ran into a collector for one of the major criminal houses, the Kuang.

Let me see, I have a list of terms here. That’s a yu’at.ōngh’uitā, correct?

Jack Leong: You’ll have to excuse me, I never did learn to speak much Xi’an. Blame it on me relying on my extremely competent translators too much.

No worries. We’ll post a bunch of terms to our spectrum page for anyone who’s inclined to look it up. For now, would you mind explaining a bit more about these criminal houses?

Jack Leong: Basically, the Xi’an have legal crime. I know that doesn’t sound like it makes much sense but that’s the way they do things. Criminal houses get permission from the government to run what amounts to a protection scheme; pay us and we’ll leave you alone.

I heard that’s what they do, but I still have a hard time believing it.

Jack Leong: I did too at first, but after having to deal with the system for a few decades I’ll admit the logic of it all is appealing. The Xi’an will tell you that they have just come to terms with crime being a fact of life and since there’s no way to get rid of it, why not try to control it?

The criminals have to follow certain rules, right?

Jack Leong: Exactly. For example, they’re limited to only taking a certain amount of profit every cycle. They’re not allowed to kill. They can’t take all your cargo. They can’t hit the same people too often. And that’s just a few of the rules. As with all things Xi’an, the list is long and complicated. One of the more interesting things is that a lot of the time these criminal houses wind up acting like security forces since it’s usually them who hunt down and catch rogue outlaw Xi’an who break the rules.

That thing about not being able to take all the cargo has to be pretty nice for haulers.

Jack Leong: Well, to risk sounding like the retired old dodder that I am, it’s a bit like fishing. Take all the fish out of lake in one go, and next time there won’t be anything for you to catch.

Wish some of the gangs out here showed that kind of restraint.

Jack Leong: It’s all a numbers game with the Xi’an. In fact, another way to think of Xi’an crime is almost like a second tax or an alternate form of insurance. Depending on how much you fly you can choose to risk being held up, or you can plan ahead and pay a fee. After being robbed a few times, MISC eventually figure out that it was smarter to just make regular payments to the Kuang.

Sounds like it would all be pretty straightforward after that.

Jack Leong: It would have been if it weren’t for the renegotiations. It was never clear if it was because we were Humans or if it was just because we were seen as valuable targets, but more often than I’d like our payments were refused.

Let me guess. They wanted more money?

Jack Leong: Yup. It meant that we would have to settle on a new price en route. Or as one of my associates called it, “Combat Haggling.”

Okay, definitely want to hear more on this, but I’m gonna have to ask you to hold that thought right there, Jack, as we need to take a quick break.

When we come back, we will have plenty more insights from Mr. Leong and Skiv will be by to provide his hot-take on the newly available fighter from Aopoa, the San’tok.yāi. All that and more as OP.NET continues.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16892-OPNET-Combat-Haggling

Something Every Tuesday: IAE

[ Music ]

Announcer: Don’t crawl into that the cryopod just yet. Not when there’s Something Every Tuesday, with your host Esen Landari!

[ Applause ]

Thank you! I’m absolutely thrilled to be here with all of you. Make sure to give it up for SET’s very own talented announcer, Christine.

[ Applause ]

Christine, just to check, were you implying that people out there are debating between putting themselves in to a state of frozen stasis and watching our show?

Announcer: Yup.

Great.

[ Laughter ]

I, for one, am very excited to see what they choose. Hopefully, they stick around because we have a fantastic show coming up. One of my personal favorite comedians, Langer Lewis, will be coming by fresh from his latest tour.

Plus, cleaning expert Daryl Hissup will explain how to transform your hab from funky to fresh. Something that I’m personally dying to know. No matter how hard I try to stay organized, stuff just always starts to pile up everywhere. My place has gotten so bad that I actually had to switch from hiring cleaning crews to contracting search and rescue teams.

[ Chuckle ]

Now, normally I break down all the biggest stories of the week for you, but I’m gonna be honest, there’s only one thing that I’ve been following: this year’s IAE.

[ Cheers ]

For you planet-bound folks out there, I’m talking about the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo, where a few days from now all of the ‘verses biggest and best manufacturers will be coming together to show off their latest and greatest. It does not get better than this for a gearhead like me. Well, maybe if Consolidated Outland announced they were designing a gravlev called the Esen.

[ Laughter ]

Silas, feel free to comm my people.

[ Chuckle ]

Besides all the new ships and tech upgrades, the real excitement is that the IAE Board of Directors recently announced that there is not going to be just the one Expo on Kiel this year, but that they are adding an entirely new second location.

[ Applause ]

Of course, most of that excitement goes away as soon as you find out that the second Expo is going to be hosted on Hurston.

[ Laughter ]

Not quite sure what the Board was thinking on this one. My best guess is that they thought people would have fun if it smelled like the Expo was being held inside a fuel tank.

Okay, actually my real best guess is that Hurston Dynamics paid them a ridiculous sum for the honor. No one knows for sure, but the rumors have it well into nine digits. Apparently, the ol’ Colonel, CEO Gavin E. Hurston himself, has been growing tired of the bad rep his planet has gotten over the years. That’s why last year they built a giant new convention center just outside of Lorville. Guess how many conventions they’ve hosted since it opened? One. And that was for Hurston Dynamics annual management training.

I guess it’s hard to draw tourists when the two things your planet is known for is labor violations and toxic shock.

[ Laughter ]

Of course, having a second Expo isn’t all bad. While tickets to the main Expo on Kiel sold out weeks ago, IAE Hurston has plenty left. And according to the IAE, the Hurston Expo is going to have all the same vehicles on display. That means no matter which Expo you go to, you will still get to see in person all the Origin models that Ellroy Cass crashed this year.

[ Laughter ]

But not all ship buzz this week has been focused on the IAE. Did you hear about the capture of Kelligan’s Bazaar? One of the biggest Advocacy busts this year. A vice sting operation discovered a Kraken filled to the brim with just about every illegal contraband item you can think of, all thanks to some enterprising outlaws setting the massive ship up as a floating black market.

Shopper Impression: Excuse me, can you tell me where I can find the vials of Slam?

Store Clerk Impression: Of course, sir. Just make a right past the stolen kidneys. If you hit the cage full of crying Osoians you’ve gone too far.

[ Laughter ]

So much for Drake not making ships for criminals. CEO Anden Arden was quick to point out that just because some creative people were using the Kraken for illegal activities does not mean that Drake condones such activity. To which the entire universe responded by winking back at him.

[ Laughter ]

Okay! Our special guest Daryl Hissup will be joining us in a little bit. But first, we have a special edition of —

Announcer: The Headlines of Tomorrow!

[ Music and Applause ]

That’s right, Headlines of Tomorrow, where we give you a special preview of the biggest news stories that will be making headlines all this week.

First up, we have this headline straight from the IAE.

Anvil premieres their new ship: the Arrow. Vanduul respond by making their ships even pointier.

[ Laughter ]

Next up is a touching headline for the upcoming holiday on December 3rd.

UEE holds an Empire wide moment of silence to honor Anthony Tanaka Remembrance Day. Most people use that moment to think, ‘Who is Anthony Tanaka again?’

[ Sparse Chuckles ]

Okay, guess I need to wait a few more decades before making Tanaka Jokes. Our last Headline of Tomorrow is also from this week’s Expo.

Drake Interplanetary introduces a new Kraken variant called the Murderer. Claims it’s designed to help teach children how to read.

[ Laughter ]

All right, we have to take a quick break, but when we come back, cleaning tips with Daryl Hissup and comedian Langer Lewis, right after this.

[ Music ]

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16869-Something-Every-Tuesday-IAE

Portfolio: Intergalactic Aerospace Expo

For spacecraft enthusiast Audrey Timmerman, Lo was the ideal place to grow up. Every day, a wide array of ships would make the trip into atmosphere from the bustling spacelanes above. Family members recalled Audrey spending her nights staring out the window of their flat in the Walden Towers housing development and identifying ships as they flew past solely on the configuration of their running lights. In an interview with the Terra Gazette, Timmerman couldn’t recall what first got her interested in aviation: “I don’t remember one specific ‘ah-ha’ moment. That love was just always there.”

Timmerman came from a family of modest means who couldn’t afford to own a ship, but her parents indulged her passion by taking her to New Junction’s bustling trade port to watch the ships take off and land. In 2656, Timmerman eagerly joined the Navy with dreams of becoming a pilot. Unfortunately, her piloting skill lagged behind those who already had years of flight experience.

Still, her vast knowledge of ships and eye for detail did not go unnoticed. She became a mechanic and rose through the ranks to became a pit chief aboard the frigate UEEN Solis. Assigned to patrol the Perry Line, the Solis spent its time as a mobile support ship for UEE strike fighters that monitored the Xi’an jump points. She described it as ‘long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of terror,’ but that changed one day when a flight of fighters brought back something from their patrol: wreckage of a Xi’an ship. While Timmerman was intimately familiar with Banu ships from her childhood in Corel, seeing the Xi’an’s unique design approach was both fascinating and inspiring for her.

After ending her Naval service, Timmerman returned to New Junction and opened Intergalactic Aerospace Repairs in 2667. The shop quickly garnered a reputation for being able to fix just about anything. In her off hours, Timmerman devoted herself to her true passion, trying to reverse engineer the Xi’an tech she had seen in the Navy. Relations between the two species were antagonistic at the time, so it was impossible as a civilian to get her hands on Xi’an tech, leaving her nothing but memories and ingenuity to work with.

Humble Beginnings

In 2670, Timmerman finished installing Xi’an-inspired maneuverable thrusters on Poby, an old Aurora she named after her cat. Afraid to test fly the ship on a heavily populated planet, Timmerman and fellow aerospace enthusiasts loaded Poby and a number of other heavily modified ships onto a transporter and flew to the nearly desolate planet of Castor to test fly them. Though it was an informal gathering, historians now considered it to be the very first Intergalactic Aerospace Expo.

Poby’s first flight was a disappointment, as a power surge fried a number of her experimental thrusters. Timmerman wasn’t deterred by the failure — quite the opposite, she was energized by the process, and it wasn’t long before this group of experimental spacecraft enthusiasts were meeting regularly to discuss and examine various mods they were building. The annual test flights on Castor became a tradition and grew in popularity over the years.

One of the members of the group was Steffon Dillard, owner of Steffon’s Ship Emporium in New Junction. He recognized the popularity of the annual gathering and approached Timmerman about sponsoring the event. He would provide the latest ships for the enthusiasts to check out in person, and hopefully make some sales in the process. Timmerman agreed and, needing a name to put on the ads Dillard was creating, decided to borrow from her own company to get the name Intergalactic Aerospace Expo (IAE).

Over the next decade, the event became large enough that other retail outlets and parts manufacturers were eager to show off their own goods at the expo. Once that happened, it wasn’t long before the major ship manufacturers took notice. In 2683, RSI became an official sponsor of the IAE and has been one ever since. Each year, more and more sponsors and booths appeared at the event.

Purists decried its corporatization, but Timmerman vehemently justified the expansion. To her the Expo hadn’t sold out; it had adapted and improved. Her final act was to create a nonprofit to officially manage the event, and ensure a large percentage of the revenue went to a charity Timmerman created called Simpod Pals, whose mission was to give underprivileged children the opportunity to learn how to fly.

Spooling Up

In 2847, the board of directors made the decision to rotate the location of the IAE each year. The public explanation was that it would give more people the chance to experience the universe’s premier aerospace event.

Numerous systems clamored to host the event and enjoy the economic windfall that came with it. The event hopscotched from planet to planet for the next few decades until the 2913 event in Ferron was almost canceled due to Asura’s inability to meet the minimum hangar and power standards outlined by the IAE’s contract. Shortly after this scare, the IAE board was contacted by Governor Joona Tzur of Severus about bringing the event to the Kiel System. IAE officials were impressed with his presentation, but more so with the facilities his planet could offer. Severus contained numerous hangars (initially built and used by the military), plenty of available landing pads, and more than sufficient accommodations for visitors. After impressing the IAE board with Kiel’s facilities, Tzur went in for the kill. He offered to make vast upgrades and improvements to the existing facilities if the IAE agreed to make Severus the event’s permanent home. Still reeling from the Ferron controversy, the board of directors took a vote and approved the proposal. The IAE has been based in Kiel ever since.

The Intergalactic Aerospace Expo has come a long way since its humble beginnings on Castor. Due to insurance and legal issues, it’s no longer about amateurs test flying experimental ships. Instead, renowned pilots like Chelsea Yan and members of the Navy’s famed ‘Wreckless’ Squadron 999 dazzle attendees with impressive flight maneuvers, while ship and component manufacturers unveil their latest wares. At its core though, the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo is made for those young dreamers who find themselves staring up at the sky to count running lights.

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Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16841-Portfolio-Intergalactic-Aerospace-Expo

Far From Home: Best Laid Plans

Best Laid Plans

Hey there, folks. It’s me, Old Jegger, calling out across the void. Glad this installment of Far From Home has found you. Here’s to hoping I can provide you some companionship on your journey. Heck, maybe even a smile or two. Those looking for wisdom might be disappointed. Sure, my life has been a crazy trip with more twists and turns than the Defford raceway, and a lot of it I only weathered by white-knuckling life’s flight stick and not letting go. Still haven’t figured out if that makes me ‘wise’ or not. But you know, with everything I’ve been through, it definitely makes me lucky to have survived.

Shana and I are currently in the outer edges of the Charon system, waiting for an old friend. We’re gonna keep them company on a run and reminisce a bit. It sure is a sight out here. Most folks just consider Charon IV a regular ol’ ice giant, but she’s got a special place in my heart. Starlight reflects off her in a way that’s always stayed with me. Glad I made it back here to see her again.

Normally, this is where I answer some questions commed to me, but I was reading through a few and got a bit overwhelmed. If I’m being honest, many of y’all are asking for advice that I can’t provide. Either ‘cause the subject is outta my league or something I don’t feel right weighing in on, and I’m too old to start pretending otherwise.

Guess this is the long way of explaining why I picked the question I did for this show. Among the various inquiries about how to mentally prepare yourself for life on the drift, or pointers on how to avoid grief from unruly types, there seemed to be one simple question at the heart of those being sent my way… why?

As in, why in the hell did I decide to live my life like this. Drifting all alone amidst the vast expanse without anyone but myself, minimal supplies, and Shana. It sure as hell isn’t the life I planned, but I learned a long time ago that you don’t plan for your future, you prepare for it. That might sound the same but trust me, there’s a difference. Planning is aspirational. It’s what you want to happen. But preparing is practical. It’s what’s left of your plans when life knocks you off course, which has happened to me more than I’d like to admit.

This might surprise some of you, but I once lived in Charon. Built a little homestead on Charon III with the plan of putting down some roots. I’d been wandering ever since I left Vann and was ready to return to solid ground and enjoy a nice quiet life.

I found a spot in the Dellin desert that was desolate but beautiful. It was by a small oasis, which sounds more impressive than it actually was. Let’s just say the water was way too salty to drink and not even deep enough to drown if you passed out drunk in it. A few other folks lived nearby. Close enough to create a sense of community but not get in each other’s way. I hadn’t really experienced anything like it before, and I… well, I began to understand the appeal.

I fixed things for my neighbors and developed a reputation that had folks from other parts seeking me out. I even entertained the thought of opening my own repair shop. After growing up in one and watching all the stress slowly drain the life out of my ma, I had always told myself I wouldn’t live that way, but for the first time the idea didn’t seem like such a bad one. Funny how I left home all those years ago searching for something different and somehow ended up in a place that felt familiar. A strange feeling to be sure. That itch to escape had faded and I had begun planning a future for myself that I would never have believed possible.

Then a terrible drought hit Dellin. I knew they occurred from time to time, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Didn’t take long before the oasis evaporated, leaving nothing but a salt flat in its wake. Some folks picked up and left right then and there. They were the smart ones. Leave it to Old Jegger to learn his lessons the hard way.

Water became particularly hard to come by. A hauler hired to bring in regular shipments was ambushed by some desperate folks and the pilot killed. After that no one was willing to make the delivery, at least not at a cost we could afford. Lacking any other options, I began making water runs myself. First I went to Acheron but the second someone got wind I was from Dellin the price doubled. Bastards knew the terrible situation we were in but didn’t give a damn if it meant they could squeeze a few extra creds outta it.

Soon I was making runs out of system to load up on food and water. The experience provided quite the crash course on how to run your ship sigs low enough to not attract attention. Folks desperate for supplies are willing to do just about anything. It wasn’t long before I was spending more time in my ship than at the homestead. Soon, I was justifying extending my hauling runs even further out just so I wouldn’t have to return to Dellin quite so soon. And when I was home, I was missing the drift something fierce. Wasn’t long before I had to admit to myself that the old itch had come back worse than ever.

I chewed on the decision over my next few runs. Returning to my wandering ways wasn’t so easy. People depended on me, and I wasn’t so sure what they would do if I left. Finally, I made up an excuse for Langston, one of the remaining residents, to join me on a run. Didn’t take long for him to figure out that I was showing him the ropes. When we got back I broke the news to everyone else. They didn’t give me no grief and thanked me for all I’d done. They even threw me a little going away shindig. That only made me like ‘em more.

I hadn’t been back until this trip. I kept telling myself that it’d be too dangerous, what with the terrible war between Dellin and Acheron still raging. Deep down I was also worried that going back might stir up thoughts about settling down. The trip definitely triggered some strong emotions but none of ‘em had me questioning my decision.

My old homestead’s still there, barely, but all my old neighbors were long gone. Not too surprising. The water’s still all dried up and the ground as salty as a Snaggle Stick. It was good to be back, but I’m glad it’s not my home no more.

Guess that was the long way of saying that the reason why I live the way I do is because it’s complicated. It’s partly because I’m just a restless soul who prefers his own company, and partly because life pushed me that way. This life isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely the right one for me.

[ Beeping ]

Damn, has it been that long already? Sitting here, recollecting the past and enjoying a slow drift by Charon IV has sure been fun, but it’s time to move on. There’s still so much out there for me to see.

This is Old Jegger, signing off.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16835-Far-From-Home-Best-Laid-Plans