Drone’ is an old-fashioned term for a remotely controlled vehicle or agent. In modern terms a drone is a small, space-faring vehicle used for various civilian or military means.
Above: A Scanner-Jammer Drone in action
Drone Technology was developed by Syn-Tec who had hoped to place the small devices under some form of AI control. The technology proved too complex for human AI to handle and trials floundered. The drones themselves were completed and functional; controlled in initial tests by a young research intern. Syn-Tec decided to run the field trials without the AI, relying on the intern to guide the machines remotely. He proved adequate with a single drone but struggled controlling several at once. Syn-Tec persevered.
The problem wasn’t with the intern’s capacity but rather the hardware; he just couldn’t type at a quick enough speed to coordinate more than one drone. The youngster was paid a hefty sum and promised a job for life and in exchange he consented to the implantation of a experimental, cybernetic Cochlear implant. With this installed he was able to plug into the control deck proper. The change was monumental; he found himself able to coordinate four of the craft at once. Drone technology was finally viable and, due to his hirsute appearance, the term ‘Drone Monkey‘ was born.
Initially the Sol military took huge interest in the speciality, but this interest faded after several unsuccessful trials. The rigid discipline of a military life and the fact in which it moulded one’s psyche made for surprisingly poor Drone Monkeys. Frustratingly for the military, the best Drone Monkeys tended to be oddball, eccentric types unsuited to a regimented life.
Above: Nightstrike drones in formation
That didn’t spell the end of Drones in conflict. A number of independent contractors exist, usually comprising of a small ship capable of deploying and repairing Drones, an efficient crew and, of course, a Drone Monkey. Drone ships have a wide variety of uses; one month they may be assisting construction of a star base, the next they might be mining a radioactive asteroid field and the rest of the year they might be using combat drones to hunt pirates.
The ability for one person to control up to four combat drones (e.g. the D-4 Nightstrike) proved too tempting a lure for some in the military. The Americans and British keep a Drone Monkey each on retainer and pay handsomely for the privilege.