Monday, 15 November 2010

Space Encounter 1 - Drill

Approach to Noble-3
Klinsman-Noble is a 'Drill', a Klinsman Corporation mining platform stationed in low orbit around Noble-3, a gas giant of rich chemical composition.

Resembling a misshapen corkscrew; the Kinsman-Noble is comprised of a broadly cylindrical command module trailing an 8 kilometer pylon.

As well as providing the living area of the 'Drill', the the pressurised, oxygen-filled command module affords the the facility neutral buoyancy in the sea of heavy gases. 8 Kilometers below, the pylon 'tip' houses a state of the art chemical processing factory.

The factory collects and processes gasses into refined chemicals before loading them on to internally manufactured skiffs and launching them via the factory 'gun', up the pylon into a holding orbit around Noble 3 (for later collection and transport).

Housing an average compliment 41 crew, the Kinsman-Noble is state of the art it has an estimated working life of 50 years.

Or had.

2 years ago it disappeared. The 'gun', stopped firing, transmission ceased, and the whole rig sunk beneath the volatile, gaseous surface. Untraceable.

Now it's back. A single, looped, transmission heralding it's arrival. The 'gun' isn't firing and comms haven't been reestablished.

Klinsman Corporation protocol dictates a salvage team be dispatched to perform rescue and asses/resolve platform integrity.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Habitable Planets

Despite centuries of theory, conjecture and fiction on the subject, nothing prepared us for other worlds, and life on other worlds, to be so familiar.

Many planets (estimated at 1 per 10,000 solar systems) exist within the narrow band of temperature, gravity and atmospheric composition that allows Earth evolved life to thrive. And although undeniably strange, exobiology on these worlds bares striking similarity to what we know.

Oceans of water, plant-life with roots and photosynthetic leaves, herbivorous creatures that graze, carnivorous creatures that hunt. Soil, seeds, eggs, eyes, wings, Life as we've always known it.

Gburrek's World .Equatorial Jungle Isopod. 95cm Long. Harmless.
We can eat the fruit here, we can grow wheat and barley and maize, rear cattle. It's remarkable.

Testing has revealed common genetic markers on many worlds, evidence of a root biological ancestry. Although it hasn't been observed, many scientists support the theory that all worlds were 'seeded' by comets. Fewer believe this is undeniable evidence of the existence of God.

But in all our exploration, colonization and cataloguing of new life we have yet to find a planet with anything approaching the biodiversity of Earth, yet to find an alien organism with anything like human intelligence. Yet to find anything that could challenge the fierce colonial ambition of humanity.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Corporations - The Employers

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

In 2310 the word government doesn't mean that much, the word Corporation does.

By the mid 21st century, when space flight became economical; none-governmental space travel bloomed, when it was proven to be profitable, space exploration exploded.

It was the big Corporations that pioneered interstellar travel, developed the technology to exploit the mineral and chemical wealth of the cosmos and eventually colonized new worlds. Soon the terrestrial economy, and traditional government became obsolete.

Life on a Corporation world is much like living in a religious or deeply political dictatorship of 21st century earth, the beliefs of a distant CEO reflected in every facet of life.

Company Protocol is law, some govern how you live, others govern how you work, some Corp's even govern what you believe.

Almost everyone works for a Corp, rents Corp property, earns corp money and spends it in Corp shops. Everyone is free, but everyone is beholden to company whose hospital they were born in.

Salvers, historically, are free agents. Risking extremely perilous conditions to pay company debts and live their own life outside the grip of any given Corporation.

NEXT: Habitable Planets

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Salvage - The Job

Objects in space are valuable.

Ships, platforms and settlements are expensive, requiring a huge investment to build and operate. Minerals and gasses that are vacuum mined are essential to the development of colonies. Cargos worth shipping the thousands of light years between worlds can border on priceless.

This means that when a ship loses it's crew to explosive decompression, a colony is wiped out by a rogue viral strain or a habitation ring is shredded by micro-meteorites; somewhere an accountant talks about recovery.

If it can be salvaged, it will be.

Salvage crews; Salvors, are paid well. Pilots, engineers, operational experts of various disciplines with ability to think on their feet. The job is to gain access to lost vessels, ascertain capability and secure for transport. To recover esoteric cargos, to investigate lost colonies and retrieve every last scrap of value for their employers.

Each Salvor knows that every ship they secure, every colony they investigate, every platform they loot has killed one crew already.

Life expectancy is short.

2310 - The Space Setting


Mankind has lived and worked in deep space for centuries. We have the means to survive indefinitely between worlds, but as organisms, as animals, we haven't changed, haven't evolved to this environment.

We don't belong here.

To make a 21st century analogy. Working outer-system is like working on an oil rig, in the arctic ocean, in a tornado, in eternal night.

Space is lethal. One faulty seal on suit; dead. A bad CO2 filter, dead; a solar flare and a poorly calibrated rad-shield; dead. And even when you're safe, life is hard.

When you're not in cryo-sleep, you're living on recycled air, water and synthetic food in very close-quarters, it takes its toll. Suicide is rife, murder is not uncommon, throats slit over a card game or using the wrong coffee cup. No sky above you, no soil beneath your feet, a dozen souls in coughing distance and a centimetre of steel between you and cold, godless vacuum.

But there are rewards.

A typical shift for a gas miner is 2 years, a merchant navy-man 5. It's dangerous, very dangerous, but a couple such shifts can set you up for life, life in a decent settlement or orbital.

But if you want more, or want it quicker, there's always salvage.

NEXT: The Job