Portfolio: CitizenCon

Today is meant to remind everyone that the future of the UEE is what we make it. If we want a better universe for not only ourselves, but for the generations to come, then we must create one.”
• Imperator Erin Toi, CitizenCon 2793

For over a century and a half, CitizenCon has celebrated those that strive to make the UEE a better place. This annual conference spotlights the civic-minded, celebrates their achievements, and focuses on how to make the UEE better by highlighting and discussing the vital topics of the day. In short, CitizenCon embodies the hopes and dreams of those working to improve the universe for all.

CitizenCon typically occurs every October 10th SET and is the marquee event celebrating the Empire-wide holiday, Citizen Day. While people across the UEE observe the holiday in various ways, only one city gets to host CitizenCon itself. The event rotates locations each year, and hosting it is considered both an honor and a significant undertaking, much like achieving citizenship.

2948 brings CitizenCon back to New Austin. Over the decades, Terra has hosted the event numerous times. Only Earth has hosted it more, going back to the first ever CitizenCon in 2793 at a time when the Empire was still grappling with rebuilding itself after the fall of the Messers. Imperator Toi pushed the event as a way to provide hope and optimism that the UEE so desperately needed at that time.

Citizen Day Creation

The UEE celebrated Citizen Day for centuries before holding the first CitizenCon. When the governments of Earth first introduced the modern concept of Citizenship in the 22nd century, Citizen Day followed soon after as a way to celebrate civic responsibility. It would also become the day on which new citizens were sworn in. For hundreds of years, it was seen mostly as a bank holiday in which people would get a day off work and children would be reminded of the importance of achieving citizenship.

However, this would change under the Messer regime. While Galor Messer IX is generally credited with creating the modern elaborate version of the holiday in 2734, records released under the Historical Truth Act revealed that it was actually proposed by high-level military advisors. At the time, a surge in Vanduul raids in the Tiber system had the military concerned. Their troops were suffering losses, resources were stretched thin, and they worried that redeploying forces from the Perry Line to Tiber would be perceived as weakness by the Xi’an. The military needed more pilots, starmen, and soldiers to properly address the issue, but their recruitment numbers had been dropping for decades. Thus, they proposed that Messer IX inspire the masses into service by refocusing Citizen Day as a holiday that “celebrates citizens and the sacrifices they make in creating a better UEE.”

Galor Messer IX wholeheartedly endorsed the idea and planned lavish celebrations across the UEE on 2734-10-10. Messer IX wished to rally support for massive tax hikes to pay for his biggest obsession, constructing and remodeling government buildings in the Meta-Baroque style. Meanwhile, the military used the holiday to stir up xenophobic fears and launch a successful new recruitment effort. On the surface, this Citizen Day celebration achieved its goals, though it also made an impact in ways that Messer IX or the military never intended.

While many people came to greatly enjoy the yearly celebration, for years, Citizen Day festivities were forced upon the inhabitants of Terra and other systems opposed to Messer’s fascist and militaristic regime. A move meant to remind them of who truly ruled the UEE. Yet, celebrations in those locations took a very different tone. With massive protests against the Messer regime effectively illegal, activists turned Citizen Day into a chance to gather and subvertly celebrate the true power in the UEE – the citizens. Speeches given at events in Terra reinforced the idea that it was the sacrifices of citizens that made the UEE great. They strongly implied, but never outright stated, that the Messer regime would only remain in power as long as the citizens allowed. An Advocacy investigation from 2741, which was released as part of the Historical Truth Act, found that following Citizen Day there was a ‘substantial increase in membership of subversive groups.’ The civic holiday proved itself equally good at stirring loyalties, no matter which side of the political spectrum they lay. The fact that Citizen Day actually helped empower citizens to create a better future makes it a rare remnant of the Messer regime that persists in a positive way to this day.

A Celebration of Citizens

When the Messer regime fell in 2792, Erin Toi, the UEE’s first freely elected Imperator, understood the importance Citizen Day had in the early days of Humanity’s expansion. Facing a seemingly impossible task of restoring faith in the UEE government, Imperator Toi hoped Citizen Day could now be used to rally people to a new cause, the rebuilding of a wounded Empire. To lay out her case for the potential future of the UEE, Imperator Toi held the first ever Citizen Day Conference in New York on 2793-10-10. The symbolism of having it on Earth, the former center of the Messer regime’s power, was not lost on anyone. Imperator Toi used the occasion to give a rousing, inspirational speech about how the future of the UEE was now truly in the hands of its citizens.

Most people deemed the inaugural CitizenCon, as it would come to be known, a success. Some critics called it nothing more than a bloated campaign rally in the spirit of the former regime’s antics, and pointed out that the proceedings lacked specifics on how to improve the Empire. Imperator Toi took the critiques to heart and adjusted the format for the following year. Prime hosted CitizenCon in 2794, which officially focused on ‘Solutions for the Future.’ A not-so-subtle acknowledgement that Terra was the center of anti-Messer activism and the progressive politics that lead to their ousting. The second event featured a variety of booths and speeches tailored to a specific theme. The format set the standard for CitizenCon, though as history has shown, the organizers are not afraid to make further adjustments if necessary.

CitizenCon has produced many memorable moments, from last year’s unveiling of the revolutionary Consolidated Outland Pioneer to the often mocked ‘talent competitions’ of the early 2850s. For over a century and a half, CitizenCon has both informed, entertained, and inspired. Many of today’s current political, cultural, and economic leaders can point to a past CitizenCon as a source of inspiration. It is on this day that all the people of the Empire are reminded just how important Citizenship is, and hold it up as an ideal to be strived for and earned, no matter how humble the origins or difficult the journey.

In 2948, Citizen Day is set to be observed with great enthusiasm across the Empire, with a record crowd expected to attend the CitizenCon celebration in New Austin, with even more people joining to watch Drake Interplanetary’s keynote address on Spectrum. It reflects that the true heart and soul of the Empire is its citizens, who deserve to be celebrated for making the UEE what it is today. As Imperator Toi famously said during her opening speech at CitizenCon 2793, “The UEE is a dream that’s only possible with the support of the people. It’s a reflection of the universe they want and will fight to maintain. As long as the citizens stay strong, so will the UEE.”

If the sustained success of CitizenCon is any indication, the UEE is in good hands going forward.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16799-Portfolio-CitizenCon

Star Citizen Monthly Report: September 2018

Welcome to September’s monthly report from Cloud Imperium Games. This month we’re adjusting our Monthly Reports to be focused on each specific project.

This project-based approach to our monthly reports stands to provide a more detailed look at the development of both games going forward.

So, pop open a Smoltz and settle in for all the details on Star Citizen from around the Cloud Imperium empire.

For all you fans of the 2nd Fleet, a dedicated Squadron 42 Monthly Report will be released separately in the very near future.

Star Citizen Monthly Report: September 2018


The majority of the AI Team’s focus this month has been on the Alpha 3.3 release. They’ve been working on multithreading the execution of the Tactical Point System, which allows a large number of environmental queries to be processed simultaneously. To achieve this, they focused on making several subsystems safe, such as the Usable Query System, Navigation, and Cover System. The result will give a big boost towards full multithreading of the Subsumption Component execution.

For human combat, they implemented several strategies used during combat activities and completed tasks to remove existing glitches and visual bugs.

They’re making progress on the Usable Builder tool, with the aim to give the designers proper visual feedback when creating objects so that they can immediately see issues or problems. Being able to preview a usable and adjust the position of its use slots, alignment slots, and all the elements associated with it will vastly speed up production.

In addition, they worked on caching entry/exit animations of the usables and the related animations to speed up runtime calls.

For the mission system, they introduced new functionalities, first of which is the ability to provide restrictions on the availability of a mission based on location. They also introduced UI binding variables that easily connect data provided by the mission logic to the user interface so that data can be easily displayed on screen.
They’re currently working on a first pass to simulate incoming and outgoing city traffic so that large cities feel more alive.


The Animation Team has been working on refining the first-person experience, including tweaking weapon movement and recoil values. Work continues on ship sequencing, with the aim of increasing animation asset efficiency, while player actions were added to the bar stool to enable drinking from both standing and seating positions.

The Facial Team developed animations for the bartender and bar patrons off the back of a PCAP shoot. They also partnered with Tech Animation to test a new facial rig and ran the first set of reviews for the Facial Animation Quality benchmark. The goal here is to establish a gold-standard of facial performance on all characters throughout the Persistent Universe.

They also cleaned up the player locomotion sets and fixed bugs in preparation for the Alpha 3.3 release. The team is showing off motion capture at CitizenCon, so have been running tests to ensure everything runs smoothly.


Audio continued to support Alpha 3.3. They’ve also been prototyping new systems to allow the audio experience to scale as the project expands, with the intention to maintain the established quality bar and ensure a constantly immersive experience.

Backend Services

Backend Services has been looking into adding the S3 service, which is used to store and retrieve larger static datasets for various parts of the game.

They also finished up the NoSQL database API (which gives more fluid datasets) and finished the new Entitlement Processor to greatly optimise the processing of platform-purchased items.

As needed, they provided live support for Alpha 3.3 gameplay features to ensure everything is working as it should.

Build Engineering

A while ago, groups were formed to work on parallel branches for 3.3, with variable and control branches set up to investigate the benefits of streaming object container tech for Alpha 3.3 – this work was a success and is now complete.

Validation checks for the animation pipeline have been cemented to ensure assets intended for building and releasing align with internal file-content references. Logic is now in place to identify 3D vector field textures from regular compiled DDS textures. These 3D textures are now being welcomed into our existing asset pipeline. The releasing process received an upgrade, with additional checks put in place to help keep an overview of the final released files for Alpha 3.3.

Character Art

After completing the Odyssey Flightsuit, Virgil TruDef Pro Armor, and Hurston Collection, the team will move onto bug fixing and polishing. This content comes with material variants designed to give Hurston a varied and realistic setting.


The Community Team has already hosted more contests this year than ever before, with September’s MISC Prospector commercial contest spawning some unbelievable videos.

Also this month, Bounty Hunters rallied across the ‘verse to take down criminal scum and shared their victories in a screenshot contest on Twitter. Within 24 hours, the team had received over 500 entries, showcasing that the hunt was most definitely on. More fun contests are just around the corner, so keep an eye on Spectrum for more chances to win.

A community-organized convention, Con42, took place in Germany this month, with a strong attendance from both backers and developers alike. The event included informative panels, a treasure hunt to keep people on their feet, and stories from across the ‘verse.
France’s own fan convention, Pari’Verse, is coming up on the 12th and 13th of October. So, if you’re in the area and looking to connect with other Citizens, make sure you check it out. You can find more info and get tickets on the official Pari’Verse website.

“We can’t wait to celebrate CitizenCon 2948 with you on October 10th. It promises to be a full day of revelry, discourse, and fun. This event has always been about celebrating the current and future developments in Star Citizen, but at the same time also honouring the incredible community that continues to evolve around the game. We’ll see you in Austin!”

This year, Star Citizen orgs had the opportunity to apply for a booth at the event, where they can celebrate their own unique history and recruit the next generation of aces to join their ranks. Furthermore, CitizenCon ticketholders had the chance to create a unique in-game emote by recording themselves and submitting their best ideas. The four winners will direct a live motion capture shoot in front of an audience at the event.

The team also updated the CitizenCon website with the latest details, including a breakdown of what to expect throughout the day.


Design added new behaviors to give NPCs and Mission Givers an extra layer of ability and are currently retroactively applying them to Miles Eckhart and Ruto. They have also been diligently working towards getting Recco Battaglia and Clovus Darneely fleshed out and fully-functional for the upcoming release.

Tuning for the Economy continues, with new minable resources and updated inventories at the new outpost and truck stop locations.

The home stretch is in sight for believable bartenders and patrons in the PU, with work being done to ensure they both offer an experience that you might have at your own local establishment. They’re currently polishing their everyday behaviors, including cleaning glasses, carrying drinks to tables, and telling the player they’re busy when in the middle of an action.

Finally, the team had a clean-up and bug-fixing push to ensure that, when the players get their hand on the next build, it’s as bug-free as it can be.


This year, the team has been able to accomplish much more internally due to recent tool and process improvements. The build system has been running 24 hours a day, churning out more independent build branches than ever before. At the same time, they’re now able to publish and maintain several times more branch targets than before. They also added a few more engineers, which has paid dividends across the board.

“We’re super excited to see the results of all our efforts throughout summer pay off as we close in on the last steps for CitizenCon and the game publishing cycle.”


This month’s focus was on the upcoming Alpha 3.3 release along with the ubiquitous Object Container Streaming. Several improvements and bug fixes were made to water volumes so they can be used in ships and on planets as designed. They continued progress on improving planetary terrain soft shadows – a lot of optimizations and tweaks went in to get a natural look at a minimal runtime cost, though additional work is still needed on blending shadow cascades. They continued progress on the physics queue (to move physics from dedicated threads to a job model) and made progress on new soft-body simulation and cloth rendering, adding support for explosions and bullet impact. In addition, they worked on numerous bugs and optimizations tasks.


The Gameplay Team has been working on Asteroid Mining along with implementing Render-to-Texture (RTT) support for in-game shop item previews. On the tech front, the team worked on the new Transit System, which provides easier setup for elevators and supports trains that travel to schedule around larger planetary locations.

Work also continued on ongoing dynamic elements, such as ropes and soft-body simulation. The Core Engine and Network Teams focused on Object Container Streaming.

They also improved the Group System to support multiple chat groups, a feature that paves the way for Spectrum integration along with VoIP and FoIP. They also continued their efforts on scanning/ping gameplay and added support for scan/ping detection of minable rocks inside asteroid fields and other detectable entities, such as derelict ships.

Quantum Travel was improved to include routing in the Star Map. This will allow players to simply select their final destination and have the QT route plotted for them. The vehicle specialists continued to improve turret gameplay as well as support the new ships releasing this quarter.

Engine Tools

The Engine Tools Team worked on general usability improvements and game editor stability with a strong focus on supporting the needs of Alpha 3.3. The team also grew by two Tool Programmers; they’ll focus on improved tool development for Subsumption and internal profiling to gather and analyse global telemetry data. This will make it easier to enhance the general workflows for improving the overall game performance.

Environment Art

The Environment Art Team has been finalizing all the new locations going into Alpha 3.3, including graphics, navigational signs, final prop placements, dressing, optimizations, and bug fixing.

The Organics Team made the final polish on the surface of Hurston and its biomes, which will be the first-time players are able to explore lush vegetation covered biomes. With work on the planet wrapped up, they’re now supporting the Locations Team on closing out Lorville and its surrounding areas. Other than polishing and tweaking the existing areas, work involved making final art for Hurston Central, finalizing artwork on the Transit System and transit routes through the city, as well as creating and embedding the outer city gates into the planet.

Next up is the closing down of any remaining art tasks, then focus can move on to stabilisation and performance optimisations.

Gameplay Features

Gameplay Features coordinated with Backend Services to improve the Comms Chat App while in mobiGlas, and in the Visor when mobiGlas has been put away. This includes the ability to create multiple groups and invite players to join them.

“You will be able to chat with fellow players no matter how far away everyone is from each other.”

Voice Over IP is actively being developed to allow you to communicate with any group members using your own voice. Face Over IP is also in the works, allowing you to see the real-time expressions of those around you, adding nuance and emotion to your conversations.


The Graphics Team has been working to make light and particles support multi-threading to enable them to load in the background for Object Container Streaming. It’s almost complete and will remove a stall that testers are currently seeing when they load a new location. When it’s live, players will enjoy seamlessly transition around the whole PU.

The glass shader has also been updated so that interior ship canopies no longer show distracting reflections from the exterior which, in reality, wouldn’t be visible due to the shadowing of the cockpit geometry. As usual before a major release, there have also been a number of visual issues in the new environments that have been investigated and fixed.

Issue Council

The ‘Issue Council v1.1.0’ was deployed to PTU at the start of the month before reaching Live a few weeks later. This version features a new profile section where users can see their own reports, contributions, specs, and bookmarks. Reports now feature Technical Repro and Workaround fields.

The new version received a positive response from backers.

Level Design

While expanding the Stanton system from one to two planets, the question of where to place rest stops to best support refueling came up. After some research, it was decided they would be placed at Lagrange points – naturally occurring pockets of space where two gravitational fields overlap and balance each other out. They’re the ideal place for rest stops, as they allow spacecraft to remain static without the need for additional force.

A couple of new missions have been created that take place in Security Post Kareah: Crusader Security wants the abandoned station cleared of outlaws, and occasionally criminals will want the leaders of competing factions assassinated. Kareah itself has had some big improvements to its layout, with the opening up of new routes and more cover to make firefights in the station more enjoyable.
As well as creating the Scramble Race logic, the team spent time improving the foundations of driving on planets, including headlight brightness, vehicle durability, handling, and obstacle collision. Several new asteroid clusters were added around Grim HEX in which the races and other missions can occur.

A large portion of the month has been spent on Lorville and its surroundings. The team is currently adding trains and trams, setting up schedules, configuring hangars and garages, and adjusting level markups. They’re also working on the signage and general player-guiding throughout the playable areas of the city to make sure the various Points of Interest are easy to find and that visitors don’t get too lost. Progress on the Transit System is substantial and they have the first version of the system in place, allowing the team to efficiently set up elevators as well as adding in trains and trams that run to schedule.

“All of this will help bring the cities to life, even though you might have to run a bit to catch the train or accept waiting for the next one!”

They’ve started looking ahead to the upcoming areas of Stanton – ArcCorp, microTech, and Crusader. However, there’s a large amount of planning and prework that needs to be done before the teams can move onto them full time.


The Lighting Team focused on finalizing content for the upcoming Alpha release. This involved lighting many of the locations in and around Lorville, such as the bar, admin office, and stores. In addition, they’ve also been starting optimization work across all Lorville locations to ensure better framerates while maintaining a high visual quality.

Player Relations

“The Player Relations team is busy preparing for the epic CitizenCon week in Austin, Texas!

In addition to all of the planning and work that goes into running an event in your own city, we’ve been hustling away with the Evocati to test both the ‘No OCS’ and ‘OCS’ branches. Thank you Avocados!

We’d like to point all players to our growing Knowledge Base which now has over 100 articles and seen almost 150,000 visitors since its inception. We will continue to grow this by adding new ‘How To’ articles, patch notes, and live service notifications there as well as on Spectrum.”


Work continued on the utilitarian props for the Lorville landing zone, including infrastructure, furniture used to dress the main routes through the city, and smaller-scale dressing items for shops and bars. A polish pass on some older dressing assets was completed, with visual modelling improvements made to the meshes. Older assets using outdated glass shaders were also converted over to the new version to improve both the performance and visual quality.

The team delivered a set of animated signage, cameras, and interactive dressing props to add life and movement to the city. Finally, the team began work on a new mission set prop that will be going live soon.


The QA Team heavily focused on testing Alpha 3.3. The EU and ATX QA teams have been working closely to run various playthroughs and smoke-test builds for specific features. Alongside this, they worked on various QA Test Requests, one of which will bring significant changes to how the upcoming AI performs in-game. The AI change to Tactical Point System Query (TPSQuery) will allow for increased control over the number of queries that can be executed at the same time. This should reduce the amount of AI characters a player sees standing around doing nothing. They also made a test request for new physics changes that will reduce issues, such as physics collision detection buffers overflowing due to too many objects overlapping, objects getting pulled into random interior grids, objects missing, objects appearing with initial damage, etc. These changes also affect the new transit system.

Testers have been working with the Level Design and Gameplay teams to ensure that the new elevator system and metro rail are functioning properly, as well as setting up test levels to be used by Physics Engineering to investigate any new issues that may arise. They also increased support for the AI Actor Feature Team to now include testers across all studios as opposed to only having support from the UK.

Part of the team was busy testing upcoming features like Asteroid Mining and Rest Stops, new vehicles like the Mustang revamp and Cyclone variants, as well as preparing for CitizenCon.

On the Leadership side, it was business as usual as they coordinated testing priorities for all the new builds. They also continued updating the TestRail software as new features came online along with adding some new QA testers to the team.


The bulk of artwork done this month has been towards supporting Alpha 3.3. Outside of that, the team made strides with the glass shader, fixed bugs in preparation for Alpha 3.3, and finalised the Aegis Hammerhead.

On the design side, support was given in the global push towards Alpha 3.3 along with the groundwork for ships in Alpha 3.4 and beyond. They also spent a fair amount of time working on item balance and reacting to the internal and external feedback on the cannon changes that have just hit Evocati.

Ship Art

The Ship Art Team had to pause for a couple weeks on the 300 series updates to take care of some pilot-fitting issues on a prominent Squadron 42 campaign ship. Now that it’s done, they’re back in full swing on the 300i grey-box.

They also recently completed the long-awaited Constellation Phoenix, finishing the last few LOD tasks, and polished the conference table and piano (not literally). Once the final Phoenix bugs are worked out, they’ll move onto the Banu Defender:

“We’re very excited about this and are already doing the preliminary work to ensure the visuals match everyone’s expectations.”

System Design

The System Design Team was primarily occupied with tasks for the 3.3 release. They made progress on FPS combat AI, with improvements to perception and reaction to stimuli. Cover selection was modified to enable enemies and allies to more intelligently choose when and where to seek cover. They now also give increased vocal feedback, so players understand more clearly what they are thinking and what is happening during encounters. The next step will be to get the same functionality working in multiplayer.

The gameplay features for asteroid mining are complete, with the team now moving on to bug fixing, polishing, crunching numbers, testing, and generally making sure players will have an enjoyable experience.

“Expect new minable elements, more searching through the rubble for golden nuggets, and more time spent using your radar finding the right rocks.”

They also completed work for an upcoming release, with the focus on getting NPC ships to properly take-off, land, and quantum travel so that the universe can be populated with traveling NPCs.

Tech Animation

Tech Animation continued their work on the weapon batch exporter, which will enable the animators to iterate faster over their weapon animations. They also fixed various bugs in the animation tools set and added some new functionality with the goal of improving the way animators work.

Tech Art

The Tech Art Team continued work on the next-gen character cloth and softbody authoring pipeline and toolset. The data interchange format between Maya and the engine has been re-factored to enable various additional global and local ‘per-vertex’ dynamic attributes to be authored, transferred, and stored efficiently. These attributes enable complex dynamic effects such as friction, air lift, drag, and collision softness. They also allow fine-grained control over the various cloth-internal properties such as stretch, compression, and bend stiffness (and even volume preservation in the case of volumetric softbodies) on a per-asset basis as needed. They also added the ability to author so-called collision proxies together with the character animation rigs and meshes in Maya. Since full-on polygon mesh-based collision detection and resolution is still fairly costly to achieve in realtime, simple geometric primitives such as spheres, boxes, ellipsoids, or capsules are used to approximate the objects that cloth and other softbodies are supposed to collide with. For example, in order to let a skirt collide with the (approximated) legs of a character.


Turbulent has been hard at work this month providing support on all fronts in preparation for CitizenCon! Spectrum is now on release v.8.2 this month, with several bug fixes made, including the addition of emojis.

Quill, the new Spectrum editor, is in the QA stage of development. It’s set to replace the old editor and will resolve various bugs linked to Android. Due to the development work for Alpha 3.3, Spectrum progress will be picked up again the following month.
CitizenCon Merchandise is here! Ticket holders can purchase t-shirts and wireless chargers in advance to be picked up at the event. Backers who have purchased a Digital Goodie Pack can purchase t-shirts to be shipped to their address. Turbulent supported the release of the event merchandise on the platform side.

Turbulent undertook the badge printing for CitizenCon, which will display a QR code unique to each ticket holder’s account as well as details such as their name, avatar, and main org. The QR code is linked to our ticket-scanning app made for the event.
After the CitizenCon microsite update last month, the team has been working on building out the Livestream pages. While watching the event, you’ll be able to chat live with other Citizens.

Turbulent also helped with this month’s Pirate Promotion, which included sales of the Aegis Gladius, Aegis Sabre, Aegis Hammerhead, Anvil Super Hornet, and Freelancer MIS.


This month, UI supported the Mission Team by creating a persistent objectives widget on the HUD and crafted the pickup and delivery interactive displays utilizing the new UI authoring tool (which is still in early development). They began building the branding, identity, and fictional advertisements for truck stops and landing locations in the PU.

Vehicle Features

The Vehicle Features Team improved the manned turret experience by:

  • Adding an interface to turn gyro-stabilization on/off.
  • Finalizing the 1:1 input-to-rotation techniques for mouse and joystick, including properly adjusted input options for both.
  • Adding head look smoothing for a less jarring view from within turrets.
  • Programming automated turrets to now use the criminality system to determine whether or not to fire upon you.

Scanning vehicles was also extended to include stats such as vehicle status, owner, pilot, and onboard cargo.
Discovering entities on planets, asteroids, and deep space has been improved by allowing for much greater ping results, more informative blob aesthetics, and separate blob generation based on whether entities are on a planet’s surface or in deep space. Finally, the technique in which mineable rocks are spawned on asteroids and planetary bodies has been made more efficient.

Vehicle Content

The Star Citizen Alpha 3.3 release was the primary focus for the Vehicle Content Team throughout September. Tech Art completed their release prep passes on all of the vehicles going out in the update: the Aegis Hammerhead, RSI Constellation Phoenix, Tumbril Cyclone variants, and the rework of the Consolidated Outland Mustang. Both the Art and System Design teams completed their release prep passes on the Mustangs and Cyclones, while Systems Design also completed their pass on the Phoenix. All teams have been working on polish tasks and bug fixing to get these vehicles into great shape for the backers.

Additionally, the teams were involved in an ongoing process of creating sequenced animations for vehicles, in particular the Cyclone TR and Mustang Beta.
The Art and Systems Design teams also continued to move forward on the Anvil Hawk, which is whitebox complete on the design-side and into the final art stage.


VFX worked on several new biomes surrounding Lorville that are continually being iterated on, which will be included in an upcoming patch. They also continued to fine-tune the multitude of effects seen in and around Lorville, with a particular focus on optimisation. They also finalised VFX for several new vehicles, including the mighty Hammerhead’s interior and exterior damage, and exhaust misfires for the Tumbril Cyclone.


The Weapon Art Team finished production on the new Hurston Dynamics ship weapons.

Web Platform

This month, work focused on supporting the new features that gravitate around the Groups System. The new version is the primary component responsible for orchestrating chat lobbies and voice channels. A new group type made its entry in the system for supporting Instance and Server groups. The team also spent time fixing a few bugs related to the timing of incoming events and improving observability of the service by adding stats and reporters.

A new service called the Group Coordinator entered the network this month. This is in charge of tracking dedicated game servers entering/exiting the pool and creating the proper group resources needed to power a server-wide group, lobby, and voice channel. This service is isolated but uses the current network resources to achieve this automation while still notifying game clients about the changes, which then get replicated to the mobiGlas.

The lobby service work this month focused mainly on hardening and dealing with a few edge cases related to how events are processed. A few major bugs were fixed on how the player identifiers are carried across messages and observability improvements were made to Quality of Service.

Voice service work was completed this month allowing the sharing of voice channels across a fleet of voice servers as well as improving the scalability and reliability of how channels are created. Voice streams carried over the network are now properly attached to the player entities in the game space. Proper audio treatment gets added as players connect and disconnect from channels via the mobiGlas. Additional work was done to address issues identified in face-sync. Observability improvements were made for Quality of Service.

Major infrastructure work was advanced this month in how we store and process the Domain Events submitted to the Event Bus. A new set of clustered resources are now used and the orchestration of our game services containers got a big upgrade by moving to a Kubernetes based orchestrator. This gives Turbulent the ability to scale and easily orchestrate the game service resources. This is the first step in this new direction which we hope will allow for faster deployments and more reliable services all around.



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   Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/16790-Star-Citizen-Monthly-Report-September-2018

Empire Report: Sataball Scandal

ALAN: Welcome to Empire Report. I’m Alan Nuevo.

BECK: And I’m Beck Russum. Today’s trip across the Empire takes us to New Austin where Victoria Hutchins has the latest details on preparations for CitizenCon 2948.

ALAN: But first, an update to the ongoing controversy in Fora. Marcus Carino, the leader of a local militia group known as the Defenders of the Free, spoke publicly for the first time since being accused of running an unofficial Customs checkpoint that led to the near-fatal shooting of four civilians. We go now to a vid of his comments from earlier today in Shoel.

[ Marcus Carino stands amidst a scrum of reporters before his Drake Buccaneer outside the Shoel Advocacy office. ]

MARCUS CARINO: The Common Law Initiative enacted in 2526 guarantees ‘fundamental personal freedoms’, which includes the right to defend yourself. That’s all we’re doing here, because the government sure isn’t. Look at the system’s crime data. Look at the current threat level. Fora’s getting worse each and every year, and I’m not waiting any longer for the UEE to do something about it.

Far as I’m concerned, the government’s guilty of dereliction of duty for not defending the residents of this system. More contraband passes between the UEE and Banu Protectorate here than anywhere else in the Empire. Known criminals and smugglers openly break the law each and every day, and none of them face justice. All they get is a damn smile and a wave coming through Customs.

It’s clear that the current enforcement mechanism in this system is broken, and the Defenders aim to fix it. I stand by our right to operate these checkpoints to defend the interests of Fora’s residents.

[ Back to Alan and Beck. ]

BECK: The alleged incident occurred last Thursday around 16:30 SET. Carino and other members of the Defenders of the Free were patrolling the area around the jump point when Giorgio Hwang’s ship emerged from interspace. According to witnesses, Carino and other militia members opened fire on Hwang’s ship without provocation, leading to the death of two crew members and seriously injuring Hwang himself. When local law enforcement arrived to secure the scene, they discovered that Hwang’s vessel was carrying several crates of stolen military weaponry in smuggling holds.

ALAN: The aggressive actions taken by Carino and the Defenders of the Free have been widely criticized by some but defended by others. Both the Advocacy and Customs Bureau claim to be monitoring the situation and weighing their options as an investigation continues into the legality of the attack. Carino claims that they scanned Hwang’s ship and found signs of contraband which led to the attack, however they have been unwilling to produce proof. We will continue to update this story as it develops.

BECK: Sataball fans across the Empire were stunned today when an anonymous source leaked comms between Terra Gryphons’ superstar Benedetto Bodie and members of a New Babbage drug syndicate. The messages explicitly discussed both the purchase of illegal drugs and how to beat drug tests administered by sataball’s Banned Substance Task Force. Here to discuss the developing situation is Colt Legrande.

COLT: Sad day for sataball, Beck. Benedetto is a certified superstar in the sport. To hear this news came as quite the shock to a lot of people.

BECK: What has Bodie’s response been so far?

COLT: Bodie has released a statement vehemently denying the allegations and the authenticity of the comms. It seems, though, that the Gryphons are approaching this whole thing cautiously. Bodie was missing from practice today, and Gryphons’ manager Maiko Shapiro refused to comment on either Bodie’s status or his participation in Sunday’s big match.

BECK: How is the league handling the allegations against Bodie? Is there any indication that disciplinary action may be imminent?

COLT: I spoke with Eldon Agawa, head of the league’s Banned Substance Task Force, who said that they will be opening an investigation into the matter to verify the facts of the case and determine if any league rules have been violated. Not only that, but word is the Advocacy will also be investigating this is a criminal matter. You really hate to see this happen to a player in their prime.

BECK: Is there anything we do know for sure?

COLT: One fact that I can currently verify is that Bodie did spend time in New Babbage this off-season. On the books he was there discussing a potential sponsorship deal with microTech, but that leaves a whole lot of room for what he may have been doing off the books. In the wake of this story breaking, several vids have surfaced of Bodie reportedly dancing at an exclusive club rumored to be popular with a less than savory crowd.

BECK: This wouldn’t be the first time that a vacation in New Babbage became a problem for a sataball player. The Stanton Knights’ Myles Mason was suspended for part of the 2945 season after being found in a New Babbage hotel lobby riding out an intense maze trip.

COLT: That’s right. The city’s growing popularity as an up and coming tourist destination for the young and wealthy has definitely drawn its fair share of players looking to blow off some steam. Unfortunately, it seems a few too many are crossing a line and partying just too hard.

BECK: Back to Bodie, if the comms turn out to be authentic, what kind of punishment could he face?

COLT: As far as the league is concerned, if Agawa’s investigation determines that Bodie both used a banned substance and tried to hide it, then he could be looking at a full season suspension.

Of course, talking about something versus actually doing it is a very different thing. Even if these comms prove to be authentic, Bodie could argue that he never went through with it and force the league to prove that he did. If he chooses to take a combative stance with the league, who knows how long this could drag out. Really though, it may end up being his teammates and fans that are punished if he’s not able to play.

BECK: Thanks, Colt.

ALAN: We need to take a quick break. Don’t go anywhere, because when we return Victoria Hutchins will join us from New Austin with some exclusive details about next week’s CitizenCon 2948 celebration, including a sneak peek at two new exclusive Big Benny flavors that will only be available at the event.

BECK: That and more when Empire Report returns.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16784-Empire-Report-Sataball-Scandal

Phantom Bounty: Part One

Writer’s Note: Phantom Bounty: Part One was published originally in Jump Point 3.1.

Two hundred and sixty-five days. That’s how long they’d been hunting the Phantom. It seemed like they’d entered a thousand of these tiny, dark, hole-in-the-wall taverns, seeking leads from shifty informants, always just too far behind. Mila leaned against the metal prefab wall and tried to breathe through her mouth, but the scent of stale alcohol and vomit flooded her nostrils anyway.

Rhys stood at the bar, towering above the other patrons, his broad back all she could see as he haggled with the owner for information, likely bribing away the last of their meager credits. Her stomach churned just watching him. They had to be close this time. Because if they didn’t land that massive bounty soon, they wouldn’t be able to afford so much as a mug of this dive’s swill.

Mila ran a hand through her straight brown hair, and a toothless patron leered at her from his stool at the bar. She crossed her arms and shot him a challenging glare, which unnerved him enough that he looked away and took another swig of his drink.

A younger man with a ripped synth liavold-skin jacket and questionable hygiene inched his way up to the bar and stood off to the side, pulling on the silver hoop in his ear. Typical.

There was usually at least one lowlife in a place like this — wearing synth-skin of nearly extinct creatures. They thought it made them look badass, like they didn’t fear the law, like they were above it. Mila’s nails bit into her palms, and she forced herself to unclench her fists. He probably didn’t even know it was a fake. Real liavold skin never came in that shade of grey.

The lowlife stepped closer to Rhys, clearly trying to eavesdrop, and Mila pushed away from the wall to go run him off. But Rhys finished haggling before she made it to the bar, and he gestured at her toward the exit. Relieved, she followed him outside.

The yellow-white sun had finished its descent while she and Rhys had been inside the tavern, and one by one the century-old light globes running the length of Tevistal’s streets flickered on. A loud murmur echoed down the alleyway, voices in the night, evidence of the crowd that had been gathering a few streets over in the square to celebrate the new year.

Damn Traveler’s Day. Sure, the huge crowd afforded her and Rhys an easy way to blend in, but that went both ways. If they could stay low profile, then the Phantom could do the same, slipping away like always.

Rhys grabbed Mila’s arm as the tavern doors swung closed behind them, and she gazed up at him: at the sharp angles of his face, his tousled brown hair, at the rough beard he’d allowed to grow in as they’d chased the Phantom from system to system, barely sleeping.

Rhys’s green eyes were bright, glinting in the light of the globes as he leaned down close. Mila warmed at the look in them. If she was being honest, their recent sleepless nights had less to do with the Phantom and more to do with . . . other things. They had been sharing a bunk for almost a month now.

“Good news,” Rhys said. “Maybe.” A familiar smirk appeared on his face.

She cleared her throat. “Oh yeah? What did he say?”

“That we might actually catch our Phantom this time.”

Mila’s pulse quickened, and her hand involuntarily dropped to the laser pistol holstered beneath her jacket. “She’s here? Still in Tevistal?”

Rhys’s smirk faded, and he took Mila by the arm and led her down the alleyway toward the main street. “I want to believe it,” he said, keeping his voice low. “I paid the fixer his fee and . . .”

“And what?”

“He gave me an address to a hostel. RoomTab’s still clicking. Said he saw the Phantom yesterday.”

Yesterday. “Why do I hear a ‘but’ coming?”

Rhys halted as they exited the alley. “But I’m not sure we can trust him. It was all . . . too easy.”

Pressure grew in Mila’s chest, and she blew out a breath, surveying the crowd at the end of the globe-lit street. Rhys had solid instincts — one of the many reasons Mila had charmed the successful bounty hunter into forming a partnership with her. With his hunches and her tech skills, they made a great team.

“Well, what do you want to do?” she asked, a note of the desperation she felt seeping into her tone. “I think we should check it out. We need this.”

“I know.”

She met his eyes. “We don’t have a choice.”

“There’s always a choice.”

“We’re too close. I say we check this out.”

Rhys worked his jaw and finally nodded. He pushed up the sleeve of his jacket, revealing the mobiGlas strapped to his forearm, and swiped his finger along the flexible clear screen to bring up a street map of Tevistal. After a moment, he concluded, “The address isn’t far from here. Travel advisory says it’s a high crime area.”

Mila snorted and swept her arm around. “And this isn’t?”

Fetid pools of water had gathered in potholes from the last rains, and the low prefab buildings here were dirty and dented, nothing like the tall, sparkling skyscrapers that had grown up further from the docks as the city matured. If Tevistal had an armpit, this was it.

Rhys laid a heavy hand on her shoulder. “Doesn’t matter. Because you’re heading back to the ship. I’ll scout this out to see if it’s legit.”

“Like hell I am. No way.” Mila flared her nostrils and shrugged off his hand. “It’s dangerous. You need back-up.”

The Phantom had single-handedly attacked seven Phan Pharmaceutical research facilities in the past year and had managed to evade every agent of the law since. The UEE wanted the saboteur — dead or alive — on charges of terrorism, murder and armed robbery. Dangerous was an understatement.

“Let me scout it out,” Rhys repeated, his voice rough.

“We go together,” Mila responded through gritted teeth.

Rhys let out a low growl, but when it was clear Mila wouldn’t back down, he shook his head and started walking.

Mila released a breath and caught up to him. Rhys never would have suggested going alone before. He’d grown more cautious, more protective since they’d taken things to the next level. Controlling, even. It needed to stop, but right now wasn’t the time to address it.

The mobi directed them away from the crowds and deeper into the dockside slums. One cramped alleyway led to another, and the scent of burning garbage wafted over them as they passed homeless transients tending fires in front of scrap-metal lean-tos.

Hovers flew overhead, their lights illuminating the dark night as they ferried those who could afford it between the docks and the gleaming towers in the more affluent sections of the city. The soothing hum of their engines reminded Mila of another life, where she’d have been the one headed for better lodgings. But that old existence on Terra was long gone. And this — the chase, the hunt, taking down criminals with Rhys by her side — this was her life now. No regrets.

When Rhys’s mobi beeped to tell them they’d reached their destination, he deactivated it and drew his Arclight. “Down that alley. Building Two. Apartment Nine.”

Mila readied her own pistol and followed him into the dark alley. The prefab self-service “hostels” that filled this area were owned by investors who probably never set foot here. If you wanted to do something shady, this was the place for it.

Adrenaline flooded Mila’s body, making her pulse thrum faster. A cracked globe flickered above the low buildings, barely illuminating the letters engraved in the walls. She activated her pistol’s nightlight, but it didn’t help much.

A slow drip echoed from somewhere, and the only other sound was the pad of their boots on the pavement. Mila pointed her light at the nearest building and found the number etched in the side.

“One,” she said quietly.

A low rustle emanated from where she’d cast her light, and she and Rhys tensed. Metal hit metal, and Mila swung her weapon toward it. A skap tore out of the darkness and skittered across their path. Another dark shape, a blur of claws and fur, raced after the rat-like creature. As the predator and prey disappeared into the gloom, the skap let out a brief, interrupted shriek.

Mila released her breath with a shaky laugh. Maybe it was an omen. Maybe this would be the night she and Rhys finally caught their prey.

“Building Two,” Rhys said, shining his light on the building where the animals had headed.

Mila barely breathed as Rhys pushed open the outer metal door. It swung in on rusty hinges, creaking in the silence.

Dim globes lit up the space automatically, revealing a narrow corridor that was strewn with litter and stank of piss.

Mila darted a glance at Rhys. His eyes were narrowed, and that hint was enough for Mila to know he was worried.

“It’s too quiet,” Rhys murmured.

“Maybe it’s pickpocket-the-pilgrims night,” Mila responded, but her sarcasm didn’t ease the tension. Rhys was right. These prefab buildings had paper-thin walls, yet the place was dead silent. Not a good sign.

They walked a few more paces, and Rhys pointed his weapon at a door on the right. “Nine. Watch my back. I go in first.”

As he turned the knob, every muscle in Mila’s body went tight. The door swung open, unlocked, and the bright lights inside flooded the dimly lit hallway.

Rhys stepped through the door, and Mila’s jumpsuit suddenly felt too tight. Sweat dripped down her back as she scanned the other doors and kept an eye on the one they’d come in.

Rhys returned, finished with his sweep of the small space. His face was a blank mask. “Empty. RoomTab’s been hacked.”

Heat coursed through Mila. She let out a grunt and shoved past him and into the room. So close. Her throat thickened, and she fought the urge to punch a hole through one of the thin walls.

The room contained a low mattress and a metal folding table and chair. A partition separated the sink and toilet from the rest of the room, but other than that, the room had been stripped bare.

Mila whirled around to face the hacked payment scanner. Wires had been ripped out and reconnected in a knot, forcing the RoomTab system to keep the water running and the lights on without payment.

“Search the room,” Mila said, her voice hard. “You find so much as a hair, you save it.”

Rhys gave her a pained look. “You know we won’t.”

“I’ll check the scanner.” Mila clenched her jaw as she rolled up her sleeve to activate her mobiGlas and access the payment scanner.

She brought up the program she’d written to hack basic systems. Technically it was illegal to use a program like this, but she’d written it so she could bring criminals to justice, hadn’t she? She’d never use one of her programs to break the law.

“This was rigged less than twenty-four hours ago. We just missed her.” Mila disconnected her mobi and slammed a hand into the room’s thin metal wall. The whole thing shuddered in response. “We need to —”

“Mila.” Rhys’s sharp voice was a warning, and she turned to face him. The heat drained from her as she saw what he held in his hands. He’d turned the folding table over and part of it rested on his thighs. A small bundle was taped to the underside of it. It let out a low beep. Then another.


Mila’s pulse skyrocketed, roaring in her ears. She kept her eyes glued to Rhys, to the thinly masked fear on his face, and reluctantly backed out the door. It had happened too fast. They should have listened to Rhys’s gut on this.

She paused for a moment outside the unit’s door, indecisive, then turned and took off running down the corridor.

Reaching the outer door, she threw it open and glanced back to find Rhys hurtling toward her. They stumbled into the alleyway together as a deafening blast rocked the flimsy structure, and the shock wave knocked them both to their knees. Heat rushed over them and stole Mila’s breath away.

Mila stared down at the pavement, ears ringing as the shock faded.

Rhys recovered first, panting, and pulled a shaking Mila to her feet. He held her close and searched her face. “Are you all right?”

It took Mila a second to find her voice. “Yeah. You?”

“Fine.” Rhys glanced back toward the building. “Do you think anyone else was in there?”

“You know it was empty. We gotta get out of here. If we get stopped here, we’ll be wrapped up for a day or more in questioning.”

Rhys nodded, looking as dazed as she felt, and they jogged down the alleyway and back out to the street. The explosion had summoned a small group of the transients, and they openly gaped at Mila and Rhys as they ran by.

Red crowded the edges of Mila’s vision, and her anger mingled with an old, dark pain. They needed to bring the Phantom to justice. Had to. It was a need that overwhelmed logic, a need she couldn’t deny, and Mila probably would have chased the Phantom even if the bounty had been far lower.

It was all because of Casey, even if Mila tried to pretend it wasn’t. Casey Phan, kidnapped and murdered when they were sixteen. The inept police force had just let the killer get away. Watching that crime go unpunished was the reason Mila decided to work for justice. The reason she abandoned her family to become a bounty hunter.

Casey’s father owned Phan Pharmaceuticals, and seeing the Phantom blow up the facilities, kill Phan Pharm workers, steal research . . . it had rekindled all of Mila’s old memories. She’d take out the Phantom the way she’d never been able to take out the screwed up person who had stolen Casey away.

When Mila and Rhys were almost to the crowded square, she halted and wiped the sweat from her face, still breathing hard. She was dangerously close to losing it, and she wasn’t about to have a breakdown in front of all the revelers between them and their ship.

Rhys stopped when she did. “What is it?”

“That was a set-up,” Mila said, her voice breaking. “That fixer knew he was sending us to die. Everyone must have known it. Someone warned the rest of the tenants to get out.”

She swung her body around, seeking something, anything, to take her anger out on. She slammed the toe of her boot into a piece of scrap metal and sent it flying. A sharp pain coursed through her foot, but she gritted her teeth against it and tried to ignore the burning sensation in her eyes.

She let out a little guttural scream and turned back to Rhys, her hands clenched into tight fists. “We need to beat the kak out of that fixer until he gives us the truth.”

Rhys grabbed Mila by the shoulders and leaned down so his eyes were level with hers. “Calm. Down.”

“No!” Mila pushed him away with both hands, but he held her tight and didn’t let go. She blinked against the continued burning sensation in her eyes. “We need this bounty.”

Rhys shook his head. “If that fixer knowingly sent us to a trap, I’m not about to advertise we survived it. This is his turf. We’re at a disadvantage here. You should know that.”

“We were just so close,” Mila replied, her voice shaking.

Rhys loosened his tight hold on her. “I’m calling it, Mi. This isn’t worth getting blown up over. There are plenty of other bounties to go after.”

But none like this one. Hot anger lit a fire in Mila’s chest, and she shoved Rhys away. “Coward.”

Surprise flashed across his face, and he stiffened. “Don’t be an idiot. This isn’t about bravery, it’s about survival. You wanted to hunt this one, so I agreed. For you. It was always a long shot. We’ll survive off less until something else comes along. We’re done.”

“No,” Mila shoved Rhys again, and he stumbled back a step. “We’re finding the Phantom. And if you won’t help, I’ll keep searching by myself.”

“What is it about this case that you’re not telling me? You’ve never been this stubborn about any of the others. It’s like you’re not thinking clearly.”

Mila swallowed the lump in her throat and pushed past him so he couldn’t see the look on her face. She’d have to tell Rhys about her past someday . . . when she was ready. And today wasn’t that day.

“Mila.” Rhys was by her side again. “Tell me what’s going on.”

She took a deep breath as she turned toward him, struggling to get her roiling emotions under control. He really thought he was making the right choice. But he was wrong.

“The trail was cold before,” she said, trying to keep her voice even. “Whispers of the Phantom passing through, week-old transactions. Twenty-four hours, Rhys. Twenty-four! The Phantom was in that room a day ago. We can’t stop now. We need food. Devana needs maintenance and upgrades. And maybe . . . maybe after we finish this, we can take a break, right? Go to some pleasure planet, maybe Cassel . . . together.”

Her cheeks flushed at how her own words sounded, but Rhys’s eyes grew dark, and he cupped her chin in his callused hand and tilted her head up until their eyes met.

“One more time. We’ll try to find one more lead,” Rhys conceded, his voice rough. “But if we don’t . . . we can’t afford to keep ignoring other work for this bounty. So if the next lead doesn’t work out, promise me you’ll give it up.”

Mila pushed his hand away. “I’m sorry. But no. I can’t promise you that.”

The low hum of an approaching hover caught their attention, and they both looked up. Flashing lights. Local police.

“Let’s get lost in the crowd,” Rhys said. “But this conversation isn’t over.”

Mila pushed down her irritation and followed him. She’d convince him. Because they were not quitters.

They kept up a brisk pace until they were well into the main square, where the mass of people had gathered outside the Journeymen Hall. It was an interesting spectacle — a mix of normal-looking civilians and people dressed for the occasion. Some of these Travelers liked to mimic old Earth customs, more-so than those on Terra.

A cluster near Mila and Rhys wore silken cloaks and fantastic masks adorned with feathers. Another dozen had forgone the costumes, but their walking sticks were intricately carved and inlaid with gems and smooth stones. Another pair wore gold robes with masks carved to resemble predatory animals.

Rhys pushed through the crowd, carving a path to the far edge of the square where vendors had set up booths filled with all the goods and trinkets a crowd of pilgrims could want on Traveler’s Day.

The scent of roasting meat made her mouth water and her stomach growl, reminding her she hadn’t eaten since this morning’s breakfast on Devana. Rhys seemed to be of the same mind, because he led her to where the nearest food vendor had set up a grill.

“What kind of meat?” Rhys scoffed.

The middle-aged woman winked and waved the skewer at Rhys. “Special. Is a secret.”

“Ah, right. Might that be some special skap meat from dockside?”

The woman’s face soured. “Insults! I no sell skap.”

Mila wandered over to the next table, zoning out Rhys’s haggling. He was so tight-fisted with their creds. How could he not see how important catching the Phantom was to their bottom line?

The table Mila found herself at was strewn with trinkets. Incense burners, Christian crosses, Wiccan pentagrams, Buddhist statues, and a wide range of other eclectic-looking jewelry.

A bronze-toned pendant on a long chain caught Mila’s eye. She picked it up without thinking and turned it over in her palm. It resembled the shape of an infinity symbol, and small pearlescent stones in all different shapes and sizes dangled from the end of it.

“That piece is almost as beautiful as you.”

Mila started and felt her cheeks redden as she met the vendor’s gaze. The colorfully dressed woman looked to be in her early thirties and had pale skin and ice blue eyes like Mila’s, but that’s where their similarities ended. The woman’s space-black hair was styled in dozens of tiny braids, and she wore a nose ring that glinted beneath the sparkling lights hanging from the metal awning above.

“Um . . . thanks,” Mila said. “It is a nice piece.”

“Better than nice, girl. It’s the ideal gift to celebrate the new sun. That is, if you want to have good luck. That pendant’s been blessed by Cassa.”

Mila glanced back down at the pendant, at the way the twinkling lights overhead made the colors on each stone warp and change, like tiny rainbows. She wasn’t superstitious or religious, but the pendant reminded her of a ring she’d owned as a child. She wanted to try it on, hold the stones closer to the light and see them change, but she resisted.

“What kind of stones are these?” Mila asked.

“Those stones were collected from the null point between two binary stars. Only travelers with great luck and persistence can thread the needle to reach that point.”

A low laugh sounded from behind Mila, and she whirled to find Rhys standing there, two skewers of meat in hand. “Stones collected from between paired stars, eh?”

The woman’s serious expression didn’t change. “That’s exactly what they are.”

Rhys shook his head. “Maybe you should get off this rock some time. Because nothing hangs between binary stars; one or the other pulls everything in.”

The woman leaned across the table, and a slow smile spread on her blood-red lips. “The journey can teach us much, my friend. But build a life on false beliefs, and you’ll soon find your ship has drifted into a minefield.”

“You done here, Mi?” Rhys’s question came out like a command, and he looked like he was trying hard not to respond to the woman. He didn’t have a lot of patience for religious types, Journeywomen or otherwise.

The merchant ignored Rhys and looked at Mila expectantly. “The colors in that piece really do suit you.”

“It’s gorgeous. But maybe some other time.”

Mila sighed and reluctantly dropped the necklace into the woman’s waiting palm. Mila grabbed a meat skewer from Rhys without meeting his eyes and strode toward the center of the square. Why did he always have to be such a buzzkill?

She stopped at the edge of the crowd, watching an unfamiliar ritual unfold at the center of the square, and gnawed at the stringy meat. Skap meat or not, it was a thousand times better than the bland nutrition bars on their ship.

She finished it, tossed the stick, and started searching the crowd for Rhys. Time to convince him to continue their search for the Phantom.

She found him only a few yards away, watching her intently, and despite her earlier annoyance, a smile budded on her lips. He knew when to give her space, and he knew when she really needed him not to. His solid presence in her life had been the best part of these past months.

A flash of grey in her peripheral vision drew her gaze, and it landed on a man wearing a silver hoop earring and a fake liavold skin jacket. It was the lowlife from the tavern.

Mila’s pulse quickened, and she pushed past the people surrounding her to get closer. The lowlife was staring at Rhys, but when he noticed Mila heading for him, his eyes widened and he scrambled away, disappearing into the crowd.

Mila shouted and sprinted after him, shoving people out of her way, ignoring the obscenities they yelled in her wake. She was vaguely aware of Rhys falling into step behind her. That dock scum knew something, she was sure of it. He might even be a spy for the fixer. She couldn’t let him escape.

The cries of anger erupting in front of her let her know she was on the right path, and as she exited the main press of the crowd, she caught sight of a grey jacket disappearing around the corner.

She ran faster, a stitch growing in her side as she caught up. When the man faltered ahead of her, trying to decide which way to turn at the end of an alleyway, she launched herself forward, knocking him into the wall. They both hit hard and slid toward the grimy pavement.

Rhys was there an instant later, hauling Mila out of the way and pinning the man’s arms behind his back so he couldn’t pull a weapon. The man’s bloodshot eyes were wild, darting between Mila and the alley’s exit.

Rhys raised a brow. “Care to explain?”

Mila sniffed and wiped the dust off her pants. “What? Didn’t you notice him back at the tavern? This snake was eavesdropping on you. I bet he works with the fixer. And he was definitely watching you back there.”

“Is that so?” Rhys pulled his pistol and shoved the man against the building to frisk him. He pulled out a slide blade concealed at the man’s waist, then retrieved a small black case from his jacket. He tossed Mila the case, and she opened it, her heart still beating a staccato rhythm against her ribcage.

Inside lay a syringe and a vial filled with black, viscous liquid.

“Show us your arm,” Mila demanded.

The man was shaking as he pushed his sleeve up, revealing a web of veins stained black from his habit.

Rhys whistled. “Got ourselves a WiDoWer, eh?” He adjusted his Arclight so it lined up with the man’s face. “Now why were you following us?”

The man’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, and he held his hands palm out as a drop of sweat slid down his forehead and into his eye. “I followed you ’cause I got info. I’ll trade for it.”

“What kind?” Rhys asked, his eyes hard. “The last info we got wasn’t worth much.”

“Harris — he set you up. But I know the truth.”

“No trades.” Mila closed on the addict, still holding his drugs in her grasp, and wrapped her other hand around his throat, squeezing. “If you knew about the trap, you should have told us before. We could have died.”

“Mila.” Rhys’s low warning did nothing to calm the rage buzzing in Mila’s head.

“No trades,” Mila repeated, squeezing tighter. The lowlife gasped for air.

“Mila.” This time Rhys’s voice broke through, and Mila dropped her hand from the man’s throat, then forced herself to step back.

Rhys narrowed his eyes at her, then turned back to the addict. “What do you want for the info?”

“Creds,” the man said, wheezing. “Ninety creds.”

“For drugs.” Mila opened the case and held the vial high so the addict could see it. “How ’bout this? You tell us everything you know, or I feed your precious sludge to the pavement.”

“No. No no no.” The man was sweating more freely now, and the desperation in his voice made Mila nauseous with sudden self-loathing. But she wouldn’t back down. She was done with haggling. With the trades. Done with all the lies and dead leads.

She placed the vial on the ground and positioned her boot over it. “You get one second to decide.”

“I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you! Don’t. It’s my last one. The Phantom was here. She was callin’ herself Elaine. Harris hooked her up with new tags. I got a shot of ’em on my mobi.”

“Show us,” Rhys demanded.

The man revealed the mobi beneath his sleeve and brought up the data. Mila swiped her arm across his screen and her mobi captured the tag numbers. Then she placed her boot back over the vial of WiDoW. The lowlife seemed to turn green in the dim light of the globes overhead.

“Where was Elaine headed next?” Rhys asked.

“Septa — she had a meeting on the platform. She’s got a way into Xi’an space. Someone powerful is helpin’ that girl. Musta paid off Harris big, ’cause I ain’t never seen him help set up a bounty hunter like he did to you two.”

Mila’s mind raced, considering the implications of what this snitch was saying. If the Phantom truly had a way into Xi’an space, they’d never find her again. She’d reach Rihlah, and the Xi’an wouldn’t do kak to help them catch a terrorist. They’d just pretend to, acting diplomatic while the Phantom got to live out her life, with the Advocacy and the rest of the UEE stuck waiting for her to voluntarily cross into Human-controlled space again.

“He could be lying,” Mila said. “Describe this Elaine.”

“Uh — red hair. I think it was a wig. I followed her back to that hostel and saw her leave with black hair. Dark skin. Late twenties. Kept her face all covered up. Never got a good vid.” The addict tapped his mobi again and brought up an image of a woman, covered up as he’d described.

All Mila and Rhys had ever seen were blurry images of this woman, no better than what this man was showing them. But what else did they have to go on?

She exchanged glances with Rhys, and Rhys gave her a slow nod.

Mila picked up the vial and shoved it back in the case. She wanted to destroy the drugs, force this scum into withdrawal, but the withdrawal could kill him. And Mila was no murderer and never would be.

She dropped the case back into the man’s hands and flicked his jacket with her finger. He flinched at the touch.

“If you need creds, you should start by demanding a refund from whoever sold you this knock-off.”

His brows went up in surprise, and he glanced down at his jacket, then back to Rhys, who still held his weapon. “Can I get my blade back?”

“Get out of here,” Rhys barked.

The man flinched again, then pocketed his drugs and took off running.

“What the hell was that?” Rhys’s face was red, his voice so low Mila knew he was pissed. “That’s not our agreement. I do the haggling. I handle the contacts. Not you. That’s our deal.”

Mila put her hands on her hips. “Well, it worked, didn’t it? We need to get back to our ship and get to Septa before our phantom disappears for good.” She turned heel and walked off without waiting for a reply.

Rhys didn’t speak a word as they made their way back to the docks, and his anger hung in the heavy silence between them, ruining what should have been a celebration and leaving her to her own thoughts. When they finally reached the well-lit entryway that led up to their Freelancer, Mila turned to Rhys.

His expression was blank again, showing nothing of what he might be feeling. Sometimes he was so damn hard to read. She pressed a hand to his chest, and his eyes softened slightly at her touch.

“I’m sorry. For how I acted back there. You’re right. I broke our agreement. I promise I’ll try to keep it together from now on —”

“Don’t. You got what we needed. But if this lead doesn’t pan out?”

“Fine. If it doesn’t pan . . . then we’re done searching.”

It didn’t matter. Because if the Phantom really was headed for Xi’an space, and they missed her one more time, it was as good as over anyway.

A look of relief passed over Rhys’s face. “Good. Then we agree. We’ll follow this lead, but if we lose her, we move onto something else.”

He hesitated, then reached into his pocket and drew out a small velvet bag. Mila’s lips parted as he pulled out a length of chain, the Cassa pendant hanging from it, its gorgeous pearlescent stones shimmering in the light of the dockside globes.

Rhys fastened the good luck pendant around Mila’s neck.

“But our credits . . .” Mila warmed at his light touch. “We didn’t have enough to waste on this.”

He shrugged. “Could be that Journeywoman was right about this thing after all. All we needed was a little luck. And it seems we got it.”

His voice came out husky, and Mila stood on tiptoes to kiss him. He responded with intensity, pulling her close, pressing her body to his. She wrapped her arms around his neck and lost herself in him.

When he pulled away, his eyes were dark. “Flight plan first. But while we’re waiting for clearance . . . ”

Mila gave him a small smile. “Meet me in the bunk?”

He smirked and pulled her close for another kiss. “And after that . . . we catch our phantom.”


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Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/serialized-fiction/16770-Phantom-Bounty-Part-One

The Hunt Is On

Piracy Is On The Rise

Across the UEE, piracy is on the rise. Interstellar larceny and shipjacking have become increasingly regular occurrences, and not just in fringe systems. More and more civilians are feeling the tightening grip of the spreading pirate threat as outlaws become more brazen and expand their operations into sectors once considered safe.

Due to this disturbing trend, the UEE is issuing a full crackdown. Until the pirate threat is neutralized, we’re rallying all would-be bushwhackers and DIY defenders of justice to lend a hand in taking down these freebooters, corsairs, and raiders across the ‘verse.

Call to Arrrms!

With interstellar crime at an all-time high, freebooters and scallywags everywhere have taken the ancient pseudo-holiday #TalkLikeAPirateDay as a sort of rallying point. That means the UEE has their hands full and they need you. Take to the skies to show these brigands who truly owns the spacelanes.

Capture the moment while you capture salty marauders throughout the system. Share your best in-game screenshots on social media to show off your special brand of vigilante justice. You could win one of the universe’s most able hunting vessels to keep your crime-fighting exploits going:

  • Anvil F7C-M Super Hornet – The closest you can get to a full military load-out and still fly legally. The Super Hornet is chock full of tech and firepower to make even the dastardliest outlaw shake in their boots.
  • Aegis Sabre – Balancing speed, agility, and unrivaled firepower, the classic Sabre was built for absolute superiority in dogfighting applications and rapid response. Bandits and picaroons have nowhere to hide with a Sabre on the prowl.
  • Aegis Gladius – Simple, effective, deadly. There’s a reason the UEE military has trusted the Gladius for decades. Its tight handling and laser-focus on dogfighting have made it the scourge of scofflaws the universe over.

Find all the contest details here, and make sure to review the contest rules here before entering.

Looking for additional firepower? To bolster your fleet and rid the skies of criminal menace, we’ve made a handful of the universe’s most devastating brawlers available for all your mercenary needs.

Happy hunting and good luck out there.

Remember: we offer pledge ships to help fund Star Citizen’s development. The funding received from events such as these are what allow us to include deeper features in the Star Citizen world. These ships will be obtainable in the final universe, and they are not required to start the game.

The goal is to make additional ships available to continue expanding the depth and variety of the game world and give players a different experience rather than any particular advantage.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/16757-The-Hunt-Is-On

On The Run, pt. 2

Part One of the story can be read here.

Alex leaned over the railing to look down at the sprawling plaza below. Streams of Banu flowed in and around the stalls and shops that crowded the marketplace. The near deafening noise was a constant presence. Sellers shouted proudly about their wares, shrewd traders loudly haggled over sips of sloma, while young runners darted about trying to lure potential customers back to their Souli’s Merchantman where the finest fuel cyclers or crog berries or whatever it was they happened to be selling was waiting for just the right buyer.

And even over all that noise Alex could still hear her stomach rumble.

It seemed the one thing that wasn’t for sale on the Bacchus flotilla was a decent breakfast. After a harrowing experience with a ‘Human Breakfast Special’ that had resulted in a shallow dish filled with sliced hot dogs and popcorn covered in what she could only describe as very thick orange juice, Alex had sworn off eating till she could get back to the few ready meals still safely tucked away inside the Belligerent Duck’s stores.

That would have to wait though. Pushing her hunger aside, Alex searched the crowds below for anything suspicious. Which, when you’re inside a Banu flotilla, is sort of like looking for uptight swegs when on Earth. More specifically, she was looking for any undercover Advocacy Agents or bounty hunters who had the gall to follow them into Banu territory.

Typically, the Advocacy would pursue a thief for a system, maybe two, before they called back their resources and left it to the Bounty Hunting Guild to chase the culprit down. It wasn’t that the Advocacy weren’t eager to see justice done, they just had more important things to spend their time and efforts on (like vicious outlaw gangs and crazed serial killers). It was why the Empire relied so heavily on the bounty system in the first place. Doubly so when the jurisdiction crossed into the Banu Protectorate. With a high enough price, you could have hundreds of bounty hunters searching for free and only have to pay the person who collected. It saved time and credits.

The Advocacy’s focus was on big fish, and Alex had worked hard at staying a medium fish at best.

Yet, her and Mas’ escape from Terra had proven to be anything but typical. Instead of having to deal with the normal gaggle of cocksure guilders fumbling all over themselves to get paid, the Advocacy had mobilized dozens of Agents across multiple systems in one of the biggest dragnets she had ever seen. Every jump point had been swarming. Plus, there had been the daily dispatches encouraging citizens to share information with the authorities. Why was it that law-abiding types were always so bored they couldn’t just mind their own damn business?

The Duck could barely stop to refuel without some good Samaritan recognizing them from the wanted posters plastered all over the spec. Mas had to work overtime blocking or delaying comms until they were away, and even then, they still had to fight their way free more times than was healthy. They had always pulled through, but only by the slimmest of margins. Their Mercury had the scars to prove it.

On top of that, Alex had been forced to call in just about every outstanding favor she had. In Pyro, a crew that owed them for a records wipe had agreed to tangle with the bounty hunters who had cornered them there. Though, to be honest, she suspected they would have done it for free with the amount of joy they seemed to take in the fight. In Tram, Alex not only had to wipe Old Mac’s debt clear to get him to help distract the Advos tailing them, but now they owed him a favor. And knowing the gummer, he was likely to milk it for all its worth. A problem for another day.

All in all, they had been pursued across seven systems and hadn’t been able to rest for a moment. Well, Mas barely slept on a good day so he seemed relatively unperturbed by the whole experience. In fact, having the chance to coordinate an intrusion on the Meridian Transit network in Garron had the hacker humming louder than she had ever heard him. And admittingly, Alex had laughed herself watching the hacked starliner routes stymy their pursuers. But that had been days ago. Now, here she was in Bacchus, tired, hungry, surrounded by a hive of Banu, and she could tell that her brain was far from firing with all thrusters.

Something about this job wasn’t adding up. Being paid to delete files at Behring instead of stealing them was strange enough, but now with the way the law had been after them? Even with a big player like Behring involved the response had been above and beyond. Alex felt like she was staring at a big red warning sign, but she was so exhausted she couldn’t read it.

What she really needed was about a month on Cassel with nothing to do but float, drink, flirt with Navy, and spend all her hard-earned credits.

Speaking of which, Alex brought up her mobi to check the time. Only a half hour until they met with Mr. Grouse and received the rest of their payment. Pushing herself up from the rail, she turned and headed towards the docking tube that connected Donosi Souli to the rest of the flotilla structure. Hopefully, Mas had been able to make progress on untangling the project data they had secretly downloaded from the lab.

A few steps behind, Mr. Grouse quietly followed.

To say that Donosi was Mas’ old Souli was a bit misleading, but it was easier for Alex to think of it that way. A programming guild, Donosi had been formed when the previous guild leader, Essosouli Olosso has died. Mas had used the turnover to buy his freedom, while most of the other guild members had joined Olosso’s heir Donosi when she established her ‘new’ Souli. So basically, all the same people working out of the same place, doing the same thing.

Fortunately, while Mas was no longer considered family, Essosouli Donosi was inclined to temporarily hire them both whenever they needed a place to lay low for a while. In exchange for Mas doing some work for them, he and Alex received the protection that being part of a powerful Souli brought, keeping would-be Bounty Hunters at bay thanks to the intricacies of Banu politics.

Alex arrived through the old airlock that marked where the Donosi’s ship connected to the flotilla. Not that it was much of a ship anymore. The thing hadn’t flown in decades and was so hemmed in on all side by other structures it was unclear if it could take off even if it had wanted to. Carefully stepping over thick cable bundles, she made her way inside. It was cluttered for sure, but compared to some of the other Souli she had visited, Donosi was neat and organized. Rather than the usual overflowing collection of odds and ends that most Banu seemed drawn to, the computer guild’s wealth was all in data. Racks and racks of drives of various makes and models lined the walls, some of them older than her. In the center of the room, several Banu half-reclined at terminals pouring over lines of code. Over the sound of typing, she could hear Mas happily humming to himself.

“Any luck, Mas?” asked Alex.

“Oh, yes. Much,” replied Mas with a wide smile. “We have confirmed that Project Stargazer is particularly worthless.”

Alex turned to see Essouli Donosi enter the room. You could always tell when Donosi was approaching because the dozens of mobiGlas that she wore clacked together as she walked. “Oh, yes,” said Donosi. “Complete garbage.”

That red warning sign in Alex’s head started flashing a little faster. “What do you mean? We got paid a fortune to wipe this stuff.”

Mas walked over to Alex with a datapad and gestured to the screen. “This is Project Stargazer.”

“Looks like a targeting reticule.”

“It is a targeting reticule. Part of a design that was supposed to help gunners recalibrate their weapons if the sighting was off during combat. The project was shelved last year when it was proven in tests to only be slightly more efficient than not using it.”

“The datapod you stored it on is worth more than this terrible information,” said Donosi. “Total refuse. Utter trash. No one would ever pay anything for such a thing as what you have brought.”

Alex’s stomach sank when she realized that Donosi was repeating herself. A sure sign that the Essosouli was negotiating. Part of the agreed upon price for the Souli’s protection had been the info they’d stolen and now it seemed that Donosi was no longer satisfied with that deal. This was not good news considering that both her and Mas were technically indentured to the guild currently.

“You can keep the datapod then,” replied Alex. “Let’s go, Mas.” She pulled on his arm, trying to get him to follow her.

“Mas, stay where you are,” said Donosi in a firm voice. “Your debt has not been cleared.”

Mas stopped and Alex found herself uselessly pulling on what might as well have been a brick wall.

“What are you doing? Let’s go.”

“I am sorry, Alex,” said Mas. “I cannot leave until Essosouli Donosi approves.”

“Are you serious?”

“I will not break a given bond. I am not like a Human.” With that, Mas winked at her.

Alex had been the one to teach Mas to wink and it had quickly proven to be a terrible idea. More than a few deals had gone south thanks to him winking when Alex was attempting to stretch the truth a bit. However, since none of the other Banu knew what winking meant, the skill might finally have payed off. Mas wanted her to find a way out of this.

“And what do you think our debt is?” asked Alex.

“A month of labor. Mas will gain access to some difficult locked drives we have acquired and you will clean.”

Even if they hadn’t needed to make their rendezvous, there was no universe that existed where Alex would have taken those terms. A headache began to grow behind her eyes. Like she didn’t have enough on her plate without becoming a Banu slave for a month. Actually, Alex thought, why am I having to deal with this?

“And I say there is no debt. You agreed to take the info on the datapod and that’s what you got. A deal’s a deal.”

“Information that is worthless.”

“Yeah, that sucks for you. Next time negotiate better.”

A smile broke across Donosi’s face. “Very well. You are free to go.”

“Oh,” Alex responded a bit taken aback by the sudden shift. Even though she lived with a Banu, she still could be surprised by how alien the aliens sometimes felt. “Thanks.”

“Come on, Alex,” said Mas, getting up from the terminal. “We don’t want to be late.”

Mas worked the star runner’s scanner as Alex guided the ship towards the rendezvous coordinates the courier had delivered to her a few days earlier.

The relative quiet of the Duck proved to be unnerving rather than the relief she had expected. And even though she should have been able to take a break from looking over her shoulder now that she was back aboard her own ship, Alex still felt on edge. Nothing about this job was sitting right. Why would Grouse want them to purge useless data? Why would the Advocacy be treating them like the Empire’s most wanted? Why did Grouse want to meet again rather than just sending the credits. Why couldn’t she figure out what the hell was going on?

“This is a trap, yes?” asked Mas, having similar thoughts.

“Yeah,” agreed Alex. “You want to forget the credits and bail?”

“It is a lot of credits.”

“It is so many credits.”

Mas thought for a beat. “We can always get more credits. I am a very good hacker and you are also good at things.”

“Yeah.” Though she was sad to be losing the money, a huge sense of relief came over her now that the decision had been made. “Where do you want to go? Spider? Maybe finally check out Kayfa?”

“Neither, I’m afraid,” said Mr. Grouse from behind them, the energy pistol in his hand trained at Mas’ head. “You will maintain your current course.”

Alex, cursing herself, swore that from now on she and Mas were going to search all the berths for stowaways before taking off.

“Let me guess, Advocacy are waiting for us at the rendezvous?” asked Alex.

“Correct, Ms. Dougan. You will be arrested, tried and convicted. Of course, there is a chance I will be forced to kill you both before then, but I would prefer not to.”

“You know we’ll tell them about you, right?”

“That has always been the plan. The only surprise was you managing to evade capture this long. I was certain they had you at the Davien jump point. It was most impressive when your Mercury gave them the slip once again.”

“Wait,” said Mas. “If you wanted the thieves arrested, then why did you hire us? Why not hire bad thieves?”

“The job needed to be successful. A lesser team would have been caught before deleting the project.”

“But the files were worthless!” protested Alex.

“Enough, Ms. Dougan. We should be arriving at the ambush any moment now.”

“What about Prairie Lightning Delta?


A moment after she had uttered the phrase-key, the EMP rigged under the main console went off.

With a sickening lurch, the ship powered completely down.

Mr. Grouse, unprepared, tripped forward off balance. Mas, very prepared, slipped his knife from its sheath and slashed at their captor’s arm. The pistol dropped to the floor and Alex dove, recovering the weapon before Grouse could.

“An EMP. Clever,” said Grouse, breathing hard, the deep gouge on his arm dripping blood onto the floor.

“Mas’ gets full credit,” said Alex. “Now, if you don’t mind, why don’t you start explaining what in hell it is you’re up to.”

Before Grouse could respond, bright headlights suddenly shone into the cockpit. An Advocacy Vanguard flanked by two Banu Defenders was quickly approaching their ship. The Agents must have negotiated their way in with the Security Souli in this sector.

“I am afraid it’s too late,” said Grouse.

“Comm them and tell them we’ll kill you if you don’t stand down.”

“Why would they care about a corpse?” asked Grouse, reaching his fingers inside the wound on his arm.

“Mas! Stop him!” shouted Alex.

Mas reached out, but not fast enough.

“Your Empire thanks you for your service,” said Grouse as he used his fingers to sever his brachial artery. The trickle of blood turned into a gushing flood. Grouse collapsed to the floor unconscious.

Alex was certain that the memory of what Grouse had just done would hold the top spot for the most terrifying thing she’s ever seen for a long time to come. “Crap! Do you know first aid?”

“No.” said Mas, looking down at the body and its widening pool of blood. “Did we ever buy more medpens?”

“Crap. Crap. Crap. Help me get some pressure on him or something.”

It was then that the ship’s power kicked back on.

—gent Duck. This is the UEE Advocacy. Prepare to be boarded.”

It seemed Alex and Mas had a choice. Either tend to Grouse before he died, or try to avoid capture. It was a very easy choice. “Mas, dump his body in the lock and strap in!”

Alex threw herself into the pilot seat and opened up the throttles to max. The Mercury burst to life and hurtled towards the Vanguard, rolling to bring their port side to the Advocacy’s ventral. The shields flared as the twin Sawbucks on the Vanguard’s turret scored a direct hit. They held for now, but a few more hits like that and the Duck would be done for.

A head to head fight wasn’t an option here. They were outclassed. Emergency escape maneuvers were the order of the day.

Gaining a bit of distance from the pursuers as they rushed to turn around and give chase, Alex quickly opened up the rear ramp and turned off the cargo grid.

“Mas, special delivery!”

Alex pulled hard on the controls and Mercury flew straight up, leaving the ten crates in their hold floating behind them. She grabbed the blackout helmet she kept nearby for just this moment and quickly slipped it on, giving all new meaning to the phrase ‘flying blind.’

Mas began counting down, “Three… two… one… “

Alex heart skipped a beat before she remembered that Banu counted down to zero.


Behind them, a small new sun burst to life as the crates exploded. Or at least that’s what it looked like. Or would have looked like if Alex could see anything.

Each of the crates had contained the equivalent of a hundred flares. The ten crates combined was enough to overload any nearby sensors long enough for them to clear range. And forget trying to track them visually. Those poor pilots would be lucky if they got their vision back any time soon.

Alex pulled off the helmet and lined up a QT towards the Bacchus asteroid belt.

“If we are going to be on the run again,” said Mas. “I think I would like to go visit Leir.”

“Sure, Mas.” said Alex. “It’s your turn to pick anyway.”

Alex let out a deep sigh and for the moment tried to ignore the pool of blood at her feet by concentrating on flying.

No answers. No money. But for now at least, they had their freedom.


Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch/16762-On-The-Run-Pt-2

Website Upgrade

So I decided to upgrade the website. It still has all of the old posts with correct dates for archive purposes. Will continue to work on this site to try and get it looking nice. It may be replaced so don’t get too attached, but it is a bit better than the html mess we had here.