As part of the land-lease programme between human megacorporations and the Lovona, the largest spaceport and orbiting dock around their Lovona Prime is majority owned and used by humans. It is a conduit through which cargo and people flow, handily situated in an civilised sector of mankind’s Rimward territories.
Port Aquinas is also serves as the nominal base for the Border Fleet, the human organisation set up after the Toronto Treaty. Although originally planned as a robust force capable of acting against threats to divided human interests far from home, the fleet is chronically underfunded and understaffed. Port Aquinas is similarly underfunded, however it’s mere presence serves another purpose – it gives the Lovona a sense of importance and the feeling that they are protected.
It is, however, an illusion. The expensive human-developed vessels of the Lovona Naval Defense Force (LNDF) tend to be far more potent and sturdy compared to the predominantly old and decrepit human capital ships.
There is no Earth law against interaction with less developed civilisations in the universe. Human treatment of the Lonova goes to show that perhaps there should be.
The Lovona are a race of bipedal humanoids physically similar enough to humans to use the same equipment with little modification. They prefer warmer climbs than humans and a slightly different oxygen/nitrogen/carbon dioxide atmosphere. Their society is caste-based and rigidly organised against any social mobility. The Lovona had just discovered the ability to travel within their own star system when the USEF stumbled upon their world.
The Lovona found themselves in the middle of a complex geopolitical situation, within reach of humans, Gnobo and the Wun’Tux. The leadership caste called upon the human race for assistance and – with little wringing of their hands – the US opened Lovona society to a handful of favoured megacorporations.
With little hard currency available, the Lovona leaders bargained off land and resources in exchange for technological innovations. And so their race went through an accelerated technological upheaval, creating an odd schism between the people who could afford new gadgets and gizmos and those who looked upon the new world from afar – predominantly the worker caste who were the first Lovona utilised as cheap labour for new human factories.
The Lovona have become entwined with some of the larger human megacorporations; their colonisation and defence programmes became particularly dependent on the technological assistance from humankind. However, no formal military alliance exists. Something that makes the Lovona military caste both outraged and simultaneously very nervous.
Megacorporations aren’t the sole beneficiaries of the Lovona emergence. Top human business schools and military academies have profitably marketed themselves to the Lovona leadership caste. A number of human academics refuse to be involved, believing tacit support and legitimacy to a deeply undemocratic caste-based society is ethically wrong. Academics lacking such scruples, however, have become very rich indeed.
The Lovona leadership rather naively believe that humankind has stepped in the protect them from the Wun’Tux, although the Lovona have only lost a small number of their people to the slavers. Humans are held in a disproportionately high regard trusted above other species; the Gnobo have attempted to woo Lovona with discounted technology but received short shrift so far.
“She ain’t too pretty and she ain’t too clever; but the Outrider made me rich.
… can’t say that about my wife. ”
– Captain Durant Song, Saturn Solutions
The Blackmane AF-17 Outrider is a straightforward solution to straightforward problems. A very basic life support pod sits in-between powerful engines and a pair of auto-cannons. This gives the ship an impressive straight line speed and the ability to inflict significant damage.
These two priorities leave little room for finesse. The ship is slow to manoeuvre and has only rudimentary shielding. It has limited FTL capability; one or two short range jumps at most. Furthermore, a lucky hit to either of it’s engines can result in the most massive of explosions.
That being said, the ship is popular bounty hunters, mercenaries and pirates for it’s ability to strike fast and strike hard. It was the first human ship to be successfully marketed to the Gnobo mercenary brigades who – in spite of it’s similarities to the Gun Skiff – appreciate the mix of high speed and brute force.
Manufacturer: Blackmane Military Solutions
Role: Attack, Search and Destroy, Hit and Run
Crew: 1-3 Weaponry: 2 x autocannons
FTL: Capable (short-jumps)
Ravensmere is the nominal capital city of Alpha Centuari IV. Often refered to as ‘The City Science Built’, the name itself originated from the first Chief Scientist’s whimsical interests in the work of Poe; the place is far less picturesque than the name might imply.
The planet itself is too cold and inhospitable to support humans naturally; the ‘city’ is a collection of pre-fabricated buildings and underground chambers. The Central District was established first; it’s buildings are large, drab and utilitarian but home to the more venerable scientific institutions. The Outer Districts were built to accomodate the influx of new arrivals: not only the families of the scientists but the people who would teach their children, grow their food and maintain their equipment. These Outer Districts are prettier, more ornate. Half of the residents live in specially drilled underground chambers, heated by the deep-dwelling geothermic conduits built to facilitate their existence.
The Universities and institutions of Ravensmere are at the cutting edge of scientific endeavour. Their real specialisation is in the growing xenoscience areas, be it geology or microbiology. The first advances with the antibiotic Strandweed were made in the Central Distict laboratories, helping further embed the image of Ravensmere as a city of science.
The majority of Ravensmere residents fit the scientist stereotype: pale, quiet and clever types at home with study. The main exception to this rule are the geologists, the majority of whom are gregarious risk-takers, happier digging tunnels and hunting for new geothermic vents with nothing but an environment suit and their wits.
Exile gon’Jerac is an oddity in the universe: a Hirudin banished from his home and society. Although individual Hirudin vie for power and prestige, using dirty tricks and intrigue to ascend the various structures of power within their mysterious society, none have ever been forced into exile.
He resides at the centre of a fortress on Yon’jar, the only moon of a gas giant in the Sutado System. Far from wallowing in pity, Jerac has found a lucrative hobby to fill his time: information brokerage. His status as persona non grata amongst his own people has only served to enhance his reputation.
Jerac is intelligent and ruthless; even for a Hirudin. From humble beginnings he has built an intricate hub for information and intelligence. And although larger spy agencies view him with suspicion or worse, they sometimes find themselves with no choice but to use him anyway. Having made more than his fair share of enemies, he protects himself with an elite guard of Gnobo Shadowspines kept on permanent retainer.
Nobody is quite sure how the Exile gets his tentacles on rare and protected information. Rumours revolve around important people being kidnapped by his Gnobo hired guns and taken to his fortress and subjected to experimental and powerful psionic procedures. Technically, Hirudin lack the ability to control the more complex sentient minds. And yet Jerac has become something of a bogeyman of the intelligence world, making many important people up their security and peer over their shoulders.
Stuhkhaven is the capital city of the Union world of Trillyth III. The world is a favoured holiday and retirement destination for well-heeled European citizens; the majority flock to the beautiful capital city. The original colonists chose settle on a fork on the River Piros; the city has expanded out and around the red-hued river as it’s centrepiece. The first settlers crafted with materials to hand and their buildings and infrastructure matched neatly the land around it. This necessity became written law and – inspite of a recent trend for glitzy, shiny metal building materials – the architecture remains strictly old fashioned.
The main business within Shuhkhaven is hospitality. A host of different entertainments and diversions exist for visitors from the planet and further afield. The architectural trends for the old-fashioned continues here; activities are typically ‘analogue’. Sailing is a popular hobby, horses have been imported from the last ranches on Earth and are raised on the city’s outskirts. Its restaurants serve food prepared by hand and cooked in the most old fashioned ways, including wood-burning ovens. People travel to Stuhkhaven for the quiet life and often have no choice but to live it.
Although short-term visitors tend to stay in the established hotels in the centre of the city, the outlying districts feature a host of self-service cottages and chalets nestled in the hills and river bends. Isolated enough from the capital, rumours abound that such rustic abodes are used by individuals on the run from various trackers; even the shadowy Agency.
Washburn is the US capital city of New Kansas, Kepler System. True to it’s namesake, New Kansas is a fertile farming world from which a wide variety of crops are cultivated and animals raised. Settlements range from small, old fashioned farms to large, mechanised outposts of synchronised machines and technology.
Several elite bioscience and veterinary colleges call the city their home.
Washburn is the hub for all manner of activity; business, education and pleasure. It is the port by which New Kansas feeds a large proportion of the Core Worlds. A giant spaceport sits on the outskirts of the city, big enough to accommodate the larger interplanetary barges for the transfer of crops and livestock.
There is also quite the lively nightlife; most of these bars and cantinas centre around the American Cool Revival trend. They feature music and décor reminiscent of days gone by from the old USA.
There exists a quiet acrimony between the city-settlers and the more isolated farmers. The latter consider their city-based fellows stuck-up and pretentious. The former consider the farming population crass and uncultured.
Above: a typical Washburn home
The city is home to the New Kansas Senator, when she is not involved in democratic discussions back on Earth.
Although officially neutral during the Pan-Eurasian War, several of the large farming conglomerates sold food to the under-siege Coalition population of Kepler V. The government span the story as to say these farmers saved the lives of starving children. In reality, agricultural corporations made huge profits breaking a neutrality clause set by the government. The US investigation into the food smuggling found no person or organisation culpable and no prosecutions were made. It is considered a whitewash by the Coalition.
The Scientia Sinistral are a group of scientists famous for their taste for risk and dangerous expeditions. The group originated out of Ravensmere; it’s core members were the geologists who first discovered the geothermic nature of the planet’s underground and the free heat and power it could be used for. This school of geology had always been more gung-ho than it’s peers and in the case of the subterranean successes on Alpha Centauri IV they had been both rewarded and vindicated.
The fees and reimbursements from the geothermic advancements on AC IV gave the small group sufficient capital to invest in equipment to take them off world and investigate similar phenomenon. And whilst to begin with the pursuit of knowledge was enough, eventually the bills to pay became unavoidable.
Scientia Sinistral (or SciSin) then branched out, becoming self-styled Scientists-for-Hire. Although at pains to remain free from bias, the group made themselves available to any interested party with a need for science but not formal department within their ranks. The new workstreams they discovered ranged from geological surveys to work as expert witnesses. This paid work goes to fund their more cutting-edge and dangerous endeavours.
The Baionetta-class Signal Ship was commissioned in the aftermath of the Pan-Eurasian War. This conflict had seen the European Union Navy beaten on several significant occasions by modern groups of mercenaries equipped with cutting edge technology. Their targeting sensors were frequently jammed, their formidable ships taken by surprise by sensor ghosts and trickery.
The Baionetta is a capital-ship designed to support larger fleet actions. It is able to co-ordinate and process very complex information streams in real-time, aiding the accuracy of weapon fire and fleet formation. Conversely, the ship concentrate on output of information – sending out huge volumes of ‘garbage’ information to cloud the sensors of opposing forces. Layers upon layers of this sensor ‘noise’ make it more difficult for the Baionetta’s enemies to track and strike accurately.
It’s communication technology is it’s only real defence. Although the ship is armed with two flak turrets, they are computer targeted: the ship is seldom crewed by battle-hardened veterans.
Complex or sensitive information is often transported on a Baionetta, especially if the files aren’t trusted to the ExtronNet.
Role: Information Warfare/Transport, Battlefield Coordination
Crew: 35 Weaponry: 2 x flak turrets
The BB-22 is a human capital ship produced by Marlin-Kast Industries around Earth. MKI were originally contracted by the European Union as part of the military modernisation programme but the ship design was deemed too large for it’s original purpose. MKI went ahead and released it onto the general market anyway, where it became a long-lasting success.
Although originally envisaged as a corvette, the ship weighs in more like a frigate. It features a dorsal-mounted photon cannon and a sensibly positioned array of flak turrets. It’s engine performance is dependably average and what it lacks in the most modern modulation of shields it makes up for with thick armour and sturdy construction. It eschewed modern and revolutionary design features for a rugged-if-unremarkable dependability.
The Union had requested a modern corvette; the BB-22 final design was deemed too large in scale and crew demands. The reaction from the independent sector was much more enthusiastic. Independent operators could find basically trained crew on most populated worlds and the increased size meant the ship could carry a not insigificant amount of cargo on it’s travels.
Though now many years old, the BB-22 still sees use in various roles and locations throughout the human occupied galaxy. It is frequently used as an armed escort by megacorporations and, conversely, by various pirate and bandit groups. Derelict BB-22s are highly prized by scrapyards who can fix them up and turn a tidy profit to boot.
Role: Escort, patrol, attack
Manufacturer: MKI Weaponry:
> 1 x Photon Turret [dorsal mount]
> 2 x Fragmentation Cannon [left and right of bridge]
> 4 x “Starsnipe” Flak Turrets