The Privateer (working title)
The Privateer is the working title of a story idea I've had inspired by Wing Commander: Privateer and Freelancer. It is an idea for a visual novel based on "the privateer" stories I posted to Blaugh and currently just waste space in dropbox. Protagonist's name is Virgil, former squadron leader of an unnamed flight squad for the Solar Liberty Coalition. He left the SLC military for unspecified reasons and now wanders the Coalition systems as a freelancer.
In addition to Virgil's commentary (will actually be from a journal he keeps on his PDA), some sections will be written in a split-window format, where Virgil's commentary will be on the top two-thirds of the screen, while the bottom third is taken up by a fact-checking log courtesy of SLC Records Officer Mai Tsuwamono. Fact-checking is obviously biased in favor of the SLC, but can provide insight that Virgil leaves out.
Copious amounts of "zeerust" and intentional retrofuturism and anachronism: Virgil's ship is a very old model but highly customized. Many ship's systems were replaced with old Earth artifacts. This also carries over to the interface; backgrounds are drawn in 640x200 amberscale as wireframes or rough sketches, text in NVL mode is ordinary white text except when transcribed. Dialogue is not conveyed through the narrative; it is only written as spoken when transcribed by an external system, such as over ship-to-ship comm systems.
Note: The status in canon of these chapters is yet to be determined; I may wind up rewriting large portions of this once I become more confident in where I wish the story to go.
- Virgil Heidegger - 37, CA/m - Virgil once flew for the SLC Navy in a flight squadron that nobody seems to have heard of, before an incident he won't talk about resulted in him being reassigned to a near-derelict colony ship in fringe space, where he attained the rank of Colonel. Having deserted from the Coalition, he now makes his living as a freelance pilot.
- Lucia - 30, CA/f - Born into the "nobility" of Europe's megacity, Lucia was sheltered for the first 16 years of her life, until she realized how her family made their money by cut-throating others (sometimes literally). Lucia had such distaste for the killing and stealing that she stole a ship (and some Earth-borne artifacts) and made for the stars, intending to get a kickstart on her new life by selling said artifacts. When her first attempt at a deal resulted in Lucia being forced to kill her client (who had intended to sell her into slavery), she swore to never kill again and purchased her signature weapon, a tranquilizer pistol.
- Avery Marston - 34, CA/m - A Lieutenant Colonel working for the SLC Navy, Marston commands the SLCN Halcyon Sun. He contacts and attempts to arrest Lucia following a critical bomb threat to the SLCN Midway, but is thwarted when Virgil pulls rank on him.
- Mai Adachi - 28, AS/f - A Records Officer of the Solar Liberty Coalition Government, from whose perspective we are told the story when it is not from Virgil's own words. Originally from Japan's megacity on Earth, she ultimately enlisted with the Coalition.
- Keasel - ??, OT/i - Notorious pirate, owns a fleet of ships spread around various parts of the galaxy that are purportedly derelict. Some are equipped with remote control, some have elaborate security systems, some are traps, and only one has Keasel aboard at any given time. SLC and Earth governments both demand his capture. None have yet succeeded.
- 2050 - Civilian space travel finally becomes feasible.
- 2060 - First moon colony founded.
- 2070 - First colonies constructed on Mars and its moons.
- 2076 - Most UN countries merge; United Nations becomes a governing body for 78% of Earth.
- 2077 - UN is renamed United Terran Republic (UTR).
- 2080 - Under UTR's Outer Territorial Taxation Act, the "inner colonies" (as they are now called) pay tariff to UTR government for all imported goods.
- 2085 - Finally tired of the OTTA, inner colonies secede from UTR and form the Solar Colonial Front, engaging in rebellious acts such as hijacking UTR supply vessels. SCF conducts undercover operations to steal UTR supplies.
- 2100 - Fifteen years after founding of the SCF, war breaks out.
- 2102 - Merely two years after the start of the war, the SCF declares victory over UTR. Earth's governing bodies are removed and replaced with an SCF democracy, now renamed the Solar Colonial Authority (headquartered on Earth's moon).
- 2122 - Moon colony finally becomes self-sufficient; similar efforts now being redirected to Mars and its moons.
- 2140 - Frustrated at lack of support for further colonization efforts, a group of settlers makes off with an unauthorized SCA supply vessel and founds a new colony on Io.
- 2150 - Discovery of "worm clouds" results in accidental launching of a baseball from Mars to Pluto.
- 2151 - "Church of Earth-Bound Missionaries" are formed; a group of religious fundamentalists that believe that space colonization goes against God's will. Extremists within the Earth-Bound take to the stars themselves with the intent on "enforcing God's wrath" upon colonists.
- 2159 - E400 isolated from Mars worm cloud. Development of first potential catalyst follows same year.
- 2180 - Solar Liberty Coalition is founded out of the ruins of the SCA.
- 2181 - "Worm cloud" exploration efforts result in many settlements constructed from colony ships that have run out of fuel. Mankind refers to it as "second manifest destiny". SLC offers large tax breaks to Earth-based landowners for selling their land on Earth and helping build colonies through the Sol system and beyond.
- 2182 - The SLCG Camera Eye, a science vessel set to explore and colonize the worm cloud Theta 940K, accidentally overshoots its mark and goes missing. They are not heard from for ten years.
- 2183 - Land owned by Earth-residents that moved to space is annexed by the rich governments, and premium prices assigned for anybody that wants to move back in. Earth is now the domain of the very rich. All remaining inhabitable land is monetized, cities built on top, resulting in six "mega-cities"; one covering each continent.
- 2200 - SLC finally gets tired of Earth's governments annexing and overpricing land, and removes them from the Coalition. What remains, becomes known as the Earth's Nations Union (ENU).
- Solar Liberty Coalition - Generally shorthanded as "SLC" or "The Coalition"; they represent the best interests of post-Earth colonists. Their mission is to continue expanding human colonies to the ends of the solar system and beyond, and to protect colonists from those who would damage or destroy their efforts. They are spread quite thin, however, and certain small groups within the Coalition are eager to start a war to stimulate economic growth through the colonies and wrest control of assets from the Earth's Nations Union.
- Earth's Nations Union - The modern equivalent of what was once the United Nations, the ENU's purpose is to serve as a united government between Earth's corporate governments and megacities. It has been argued that the ENU came about not because Earth's governments needed uniting, but because so many left Earth to fulfill their own manifest-destiny that nobody was left to claim what land and assets had been left behind.
- Marauders - Not so much a unified faction as an overreaching label for the various smugglers, killers, and other criminals. They have their own little factions, with their own little disagreements and wars, but they are not organized criminals by most traditional definitions.
- The Church of Earth-Bound Missionaries - Those who left Earth quickly realized that most Earth-born religions were Earth-born for a reason; communities of Muslims and Jews found it difficult, for example, to ensure that they were praying towards Mecca or Jerusalem when they were several light-years away from them. The more practical followers invented tools to help them orient themselves. The less practical lost their purpose, and declared that it was not God's will for man to leave Earth. The even less practical took to stealing ships and acting as "the Lord's Enforcers," trying their best to deal as much damage as possible to the colonization efforts, in hopes that they would effectively force mankind to return to Earth. Those sorts of people organize under the banner of the Earth-Bound Missionaries, or "space-Luddites," as Lucia would call them.
- E400 - Element 400. A highly unstable element that is the source of the creation of worm clouds. Must be catalyzed under extremely controlled circumstances. Under (im)proper guidance, E400 catalysis can also be weaponized.
- Worm cloud - also occasionally called jump gates. Used for inter-system travel. Created with E400 particle and proper catalyst to keep it stable; "jumping" involves a further catalyst that, if not properly handled, could result in a "jump" not capturing the entire ship, or capturing portions of other nearby ships. Coalition system police are present at every jump point to ensure that lines and proper jump buffer distance are respected.
- DACS - The Distributed Asset Control System, or DACS, is a version-controlled banking system that works by having several DACS nodes present throughout most corners of known space, in constant contact with the others. A DACS node will authorize any deposits, withdrawals, or transfers of money and liquid assets between accounts, after which it will communicate said authorization to the other nodes, and once confirmed by other nodes as being a legit transaction, the change is propagated across the DACS network. A DACS account is tied to a user's specific physical makeup (genes, DNA, mental mapping, etc), so it is generally not possible for a user to access another user's account without the other person being present to allow permission.
- Racial indicators - Personal identification profiles are simplified. It's no longer in vogue to refer to a black man as an "African-American" since those locations are local to Earth, and are no longer relevant in spaceborne life. SLC identification shortens these indicators to three-character shorthand: the first two characters indicate racial characteristics ([CA]ucasian, [AS]ian, [AF]rican, [HI]spanic, and [OT]her), while the third indicates apparent gender ([m]ale, [f]emale, or [i]ndeterminate).
- VITALS - Vitals Information Transfer to All Linked Systems is an ad hoc wireless LAN, primarily used to transmit damage report information between ships in the same flight squadron. VITALS data includes communication keys, power draw information, cargo manifests (technically for law enforcement use only), hull and shield integrity information, and targeting systems (inbound and outbound). VITALS tend not to be encrypted; a bit like an internet chat room, anybody in the vicinity of a VITALS LAN can connect and use the data for whatever purposes they like.
Effectively individual nations in themselves, each station's population consists of a small crew (usually only 50 or so men and women) and whatever population can be convinced to stick around. "Station" can refer to everything from planets, to starbases, to capital and colony ships, even asteroids.
- Loye Station - Civilian transport hub stationed near Mars. Serves as a pickup and drop-off point for space-borne merchandise and supplies, as well as traffic-control for the nearby Mars docking system. Also home of the creatively-named Bob's Ships, outwardly a civilian ship dealer, but also a known tipster for freelance jobs.
- Caiaphas Station - Destroyed in a skirmish with the SLCN Iwo Jima. As reported to Extra!Net<ref>The_Privateer/Extra!Net_Issue</ref>, Caiaphas held a complement of at least 4,600 fighter craft and pilots.
- Herod Station - Considered to be an "off-shore bank account" by the marauders who run it, Herod Station contains untold numbers of cryogenic preservation pods, containing many wealthy men and women in suspended animation. Herod Station's "bank" is effectively a way for the marauders to finance their operations, by running DACS transactions through the frozen people as a method of laundering.
Starships come in many shapes and sizes; it's impossible to come up with a class name for every possible ship configuration, so ships are instead known by a base model (i.e. Viper) and a unique designation number derived from the current pilot's license designation (A1-1). SLC-owned/financed ships are preceded with the SLC* designation, with the fourth character depending on the ship's primary purpose ([G]overnment, [S]cience, [N]avy, [F]reight, [T]rade, [L]abor) (see also). The base model can technically be anything; SLCN ships often go by generic names per class (Viper) with pilot designations (SLCN Viper C5-33), while flagships, being technically designed and built from the ground up for each vessel, receive a unique base model name when finished (SLCN Midway). Virgil and Lucia's ships receive unique names in this field (Please Don't Shoot Me G5-2).
Solar Liberty Coalition
- SLCN Midway - Coalition Navy capital ship, also serves as a mobile "safe haven" for merchants and civilians seeking shelter from pirate attacks. The Midway eventually receives a critical bomb threat from an undisclosed source, causing the ship to be completely abandoned by her 50,000-some population. Thanks to the efforts of Virgil and Lucia, the Midway is spared destruction, but SLC officer Lt. Col. Marston attempts to have the two arrested in connection with the threat.
- SLCN Halcyon Sun - The carrier from which Lt. Col. Marston contacts Lucia regarding the bomb threat on the Midway.
- SLCN Iwo Jima - Navy capital ship responsible for the destruction of the marauders' base known as Caiaphas Station.
- SLCG Orenomah - Coalition Government colony ship, notable for having originally colonized Mars prior to the war with Earth. Officially, the Orenomah is decommissioned, but it remains - in its very run-down condition - in service with the Coalition, as a convenient place for Coalition brass to reassign troublesome officers to get them out of the way. Virgil once commanded the Orenomah for some years before becoming a freelance pilot.
- SLCG Makin Atoll - A heavily-fortified capital ship, escorted by the Navy's 92nd Fleet, infamously hijacked by marauders without a single shot being fired. Its 37,000 colonists were considered missing in action.
- SLCG Temperance - While not directly involved with the main story, the Temperance is the ship on which Records Officer Mai Adachi serves. The ship's purpose is, presumably, clerical and legal work.
- SLCG Camera Eye - Covertly borrowed from another abandoned Weasel document from way back in the day - the Camera Eye is described as an exploration vessel designated to explore worm-clouds. Presumed missing.
- SLC Callisto Dawn - Described as the flagship of the Solar Liberty Coalition. According to Virgil, it is rumored to be capable of achieving light-speed travel under its own power, though he says this is an exaggeration.
- Cotillion D5-75 - An aging (but affordable) mini-frigate, piloted by Virgil and Lucia shortly after being assigned together by a common employer. While the Cotillion lacks in weaponry, it does have a pair of mini-docks where the pair store their smaller one-person ships for more extreme situations. Even when not piloted, the Cotillion serves a support role for the two secondary ships, relaying its own high-resolution radar data and advanced ship analysis over VITALS.
- Please Don't Shoot Me G5-2 - Virgil's barely-functional civilian shuttle.
- Little Blighter E4-Lucia - Lucia's civilian-grade light fighter craft.