Confederation and Empire:Information Concerning Known Space
Information Compiled by the Confederation Institute on Racial Studies and Interspecies Cooperation-Renaissance, Draco; Confederation
The term 'starport' denotes any physical structure or collection of structures that grow up around the landing fields used by interstellar spacecraft. In Confed and Allied space, the starports are run by civilian corporations. These usually consist of Shipping lines, Trading Cartels, and large retail companies. They provide all the infrastructure to create and maintain the starports, based on the old Federation and Imperial standards. Class A starports are small cities in themselves, class B ports are the size of major International airports, class C ports are the size of small international airports, class D ports are the size of municipal airports and class E ports are open fields with a control tower and landing beacon. This will vary slightly from one to the next, depending on planetary and economic conditions.
More than just places to land space ships, starports also usually provide docking, quarantine, Customs and Immigration, warehousing for goods, as well as retail stores and entertainment for the people going from Point A to Point B. An average or better port will also be the home for numerous Guild headquarters, trading offices, technical schools for learning new skills, and hospital/cyber shops. Starports come with their own specific rules and regulations that tend to be universal to all starports, Law Level 4 (personal sidearms) and no powered armor being the most important. For those who normally carry more hardware than that; secure, bonded and guarded lockers are available for rental just prior to the Customs Inspectors desk. Customs controls tend to vary with each one, the rule of thumb being; the bigger the port, the tighter the regulations. Class A and B ports routinely make use of scanners to detect for weapons, powered armor, NNBCG* agents, and illegal cyberware.
Class A and B ports will almost always have the presence of local military, Confed military, Far Traveler, Anrak Arbiter, and internal security forces. The policing of the port is exclusively the domain of internal security, however port authorities can call upon any of the others to keep the peace in the event it is necessary. The largest starport in Confed and Allied space is on Promised Land in the Carousel. It covers an area of land about the size of Colorado and is home and work space to millions of intelligent beings, all of whom are employed in one way or the other in jobs dealing with commerce in its many forms.
Major Starport Corporations
- Blueshift Industries
- Galaxie Communications
- Interstellar Transportation (IST)
- Monitor Shipbuilding
- Pan-Confed and Allied Systems Transportation (PCAST)
- Rapid Transit Systems
- Summersun Ltd.
- Vertex Industries
Imperial starports operate in much the same way except that the ports are controlled by one of the Merchant Families, rather than the Shipping Cartels, and usually have a much larger Imperial military presence, policing these ports is done by Imperial troops. This task is considered easy duty by the regular troops and punishment detail by Elite forces, policing a starport in the Imperium is about as exciting as being a mall cop in Los Angeles (99% of the time it's dull, the other 1% you're dealing with vandals. looters, and riots). Also, Imperial ports tend to be larger and less tightly controlled on the civilian side of things. It is generally easier to bribe your way past Customs on an Imperial port than on a Confed port. Arguably, the largest starport in Imperial space is the planet New Vegas. Taken in its entirety, the whole planet could be considered a starport, though it is difficult to tell where the port ends and the entertainment facilities begin.
In Confed and Allied space the military is usually broken down into two separate groups; local and Confederation. Originally, Confed military was assigned the task of policing major trade routes to keep them clear of pirate activity. However, more and more, the Confed vessels and troops are being called upon to perform other roles outside of its beginning job description. During the war with the Malavorite Empire all vessels on the Confed side, no matter what their origin, were assigned a slot in the Confed Navy Command structure. The job of prosecuting the war was the responsibility of Confed forces; local fleets kept to their own systems and took up the task of defending them from possible Imperial incursion. Because all vessels and personnel were adopted into the Confed military this greatly expanded the size of Confederation forces and they continue to operate in this manner.
Usually local forces now operate solely inside the star systems of their respective spheres of political influence. Confed forces now act as a kind of extra-national military force, the main branches of Confed military being Exploration, Defence, Interdiction, Intelligence, Emergency Services, and Command. There is still a good bit of political wrangling going on due to this shift in power. By way of an example; The Draco Pact, one of the founding members of the Confederation, sanctions and makes use of the Confederation Navy within the borders of it's space. Indeed, a large percentage of the Confederation military budget is supplied by Draco. However, in addition to a Confed presense in their space, The Draco Pact also maintains a standing military of their own. The Defence Forces have a small starfleet and numerous installations within Pact space. They are tasked mostly with in-system defence and pursuit of fugitives inside their borders. Relations between the Confederation military and other local military forces are generally good; cooperation has yet to break down in the field. All the actual fighting is going on at the political level as local system politicians react to the increased power that Confed has taken away from them.
Since the end of the Malavorite War* the Imperial military has seen a great many changes in its power structure. It remains the largest military force in Known Space, with the exception of The Kree (who are content to mind their own business), but its political power has shifted greatly under the new Emperor. Again, most of the upheaval is at the political, rather, than the fleet, level. The major changes to the Imperial military are in the command structure and the Intelligence services. However, there have been some large changes to the Imperial fleet, as well. The mainstay of the Imperial navy are now the Grey Fleets. These were originally military cyro-storage Reserve vessels under the Old Empire. At the time of their being mothballed (still fully crewed) they were considered obsolete. However, with the collapse of the Old Empire and the rise of the New these vessels are now technologically superior to the best the Malvorite or New Empire can build. They make up the backbone of all Imperial starfleets.
There is no difference between local and Imperial forces. In the Empire, all the military units are Imperial military units.
"Starship" is a term generally applied to any Faster-than-Light vessel. There are certain rules that apply to most, if not all, starships. All starships are equipped with both slower-than-light and faster-than-light engines, called Hyperdrives (FTL) and normal space (STL) drives. STL engines are used exclusively for maneuvering in systems, when the ship is not in Hyperspace.
While in Hyperspace a vessel cannot be attacked by normal means, it effectively occupies its own universe. However, vessels moving at FTL speeds are subject to gravity from outside sources; planets and other astronomical phenomena. Thus, when a ship approaches a planet or sun, there will be a point at which it must exit Hyperspace and finish the trip on normal space drives. Failure to do so will end in a catastrophic failure of the hyperdrives, the results of which are never good.
Certain more daring and talented pilots have been known to push this exit point as close as possible to the system, thus saving a long normal space trip. Also, when leaving a system a vessel must travel a certain distance away from the gravity well before entering Hyperspace. It is possible to enter while still under the influence of a gravity source, but is not recommended. Failure of the hyperdrive motors can be messy and expensive; at best they will need to be re-tuned at a shipyard, at worst the ship and its contents will be inverted and scattered over several A.U. The rule of thumb is; the farther away you are, the safer it is to Jump.
A ships speed in Hyperspace is fixed, it cannot speed up or slow down, as it can using normal space drives. Most human-built hyperdrives of the Quantum II variety (the most common) fall into a narrow range of speeds, meaning that there will be little time difference between when two vessels leave the same point and when they arrive at their destination. Differences in normal-space speed at the point of Jump (known as 'Injection Speed'), distance to a gravity source, mass of the vessel, and condition of the engines will have a small effect on the overall Jump time, on the order of minutes to hours. Boosted engines are available, for those who wish to optimize Jump speed. These are used almost exclusively by military vessels and couriers.
Primary weapons on starships are in the form of either energy weapons or missiles. Energy weapons encompass a wide range of types; lasers, particle beam, plasma, etc. These are used at (relatively speaking) shorter ranges and have the advantage of not running out of ammo. Missiles are guided projectiles and also come with a variety of payloads. They are, on the average, much more destructive than beam weapons, much slower in that they travel to their target at less than lightspeed, fairly bulky, and capable of being destroyed en route to their target. Missiles are normally used at longer ranges than beam weapons. Most vessels that expect to get into combat mount both types of weapons. There are also a number of exotic weapons available, the legality of mounting such on a starship will vary from place to place.
Primary defenses for starships will consist of either armor or energy shields. Both forms of defense offer their own obvious advantages and disadvantages. Starships generally have greater defense in shields due to the extra mass that armor has, limiting just how much can be attached to a given vessel. Radio or any other form of communication that travels Faster-than-Light has yet to be discovered; thus starships remain the fastest form of interstellar communication.
The Society of Dante'an Far Travelers
The Far Travelers exist as an independent interstellar society in their own right. Originally founded as the survivors of the Cyborg Revolt that led to The Fall they were the only group to retain the ability to construct Faster than Light engines through the almost two hundred year gap between the Collapse of the Terran Empire and the Rise of Confederation. Far Travelers are not made up of any particular race; they are a homogeneous and integrated society. Even more interesting, they allow new members to be introduced into their ranks. Any person desiring to join them merely has to pass a series of checks, both criminal and psychological. If they pass then they are admitted as a Probationary member, a period that varies depending on the applicant. Some applicants can go their entire lives and die as Probationers, others are admitted as full members of the society after only a short time. It would appear that the main thrust of Far Traveler society is the exploration of space, either worlds lost since The Fall or new worlds unknown to Interstellar society. With this in mind it is not surprising that most of the new discoveries in Known Space since the beginning of Confederation have been made with Far Travelers in attendance. While not overly secretive, Far Travelers often keep the knowledge of the places that they have discovered to themselves. It is not unusual for a Confed or Imperial vessel to make planetfall on a new world only to discover a Far Traveler base there that has been established for decades. Due to their extensive knowledge of unknown systems Far Travelers have become consummate traders, in both information and goods. Overall, relations between the Far Travelers and other societies in Known Space are cordial. Members of Confederation are usually more than willing to ignore them as they rarely interfere in Confed affairs and there is a Far Traveler office at all major starports.
Until recently being a Far Traveler in Imperial space was more than enough reason for attack, leftover hatred for the Cyborg revolt-which was particularly brutal in the Malavorite Sector of space, was usually the reason given. However with the ascension of the Emperor, Jano I and more importantly the Empress, Arianna; who is an admitted Far Traveler herself, relations have changed radically. It is thought that mainly due to the personal magnetism of the Empress, she has been able to sway the opinion of many in Imperial space to accept her former society. While quite impressive physically, it might be more rational to think that the long-standing hatred of Far Travelers in Imperial space might have had more to do with established Malavor Imperial policy, rather than any multi-racial dislike of their society. The Far Traveler mystique is now becoming more popular in the New Empire and many individuals are joining the ranks. Whether this is merely the current vogue in Imperial space (which is often accused of being decadent and swayed by fashionable trends) or a serious trend by the disenfranchised multitudes to become part of a greater universe has yet to be seen.
Looking like 3 to 4 meter tall suits of humanoid powered armor, the Kree have maintained an autonomous existence since their discovery by the Federation, due mainly to their vastly superior technology and a homicidal willingness to use it on anyone who tries to test their independence. They maintain little or no contact with any other current or past interstellar body and apparently wish it to stay that way. They inhabit four planets in the old Imperial sphere, all of them surrounded by not only a massive fleet of spacecraft, but also a formidable energy shield that protects the entire planet. Visitors are not welcome.
Any Kree venturing into the spaces of other races is almost always allowed to pass unhindered by that races government. Failure to do so has lead to a number of regrettable incidents in the past. Confed and Allied, along with Imperial political forces automatically grant any Kree travelling in their space temporary 'Diplomatic Immunity' as an attempt to keep atrocities from happening. Anyone encountering one of the massive, armored Kree; moving through the inhabited worlds of Known Space, is wise to give them a wide berth.
The Anrak Bar of Arbiters and the Farthe' Constabulary
These two organizations were created during the height of the Old Federation period, as interstellar legal and law-enforcement bodies. While the government that spawned them has long since gone the way of all things, the Bar and Constables have continued to work to try and bring some order out of the chaos that is interstellar society. The Bar of Arbiters (composed almost entirely of the methane breathing Anrak) first established their independent, non-governmental legal system at any starport that was created in Old Federation space. For a fee, an Arbiters office will hear and adjudge any legal dispute brought before it.
As many of them were wanderers to begin with and as all were law-abiding, it was thought prudent by Old Federation law-makers to provide any Farthe' who wished to join the ranks a weapon and badge and let them do what they tended to do anyway. So, the Farthe' Constabulary was created. Their jurisdiction was defined as being wherever they went and all law-enforcement agencies of the Federation accepted the word of a Constable. Despite their horrific appearance, the Farthe' are a highly respected and apparently incorruptible police agency.
It is a testament to their endurance and untarnished reputation that these organizations not only survived the Fall of the Federation, but continued to exist through the Old Imperial Dynasty, and on into this third expansion of civilization. Both have just recently been 'officially' granted their duties again by Confed, Imperial, and Other governments.
The Mercenary Organizations
Rising from the ashes of the Old Empire, several groups, races, and an entire Interstellar society have turned to warfare as their primary means of economic gain. It is a sad fact of interstellar demographics that civilizations that are either expanding, contracting, or encountering other societies tend to find a good use for large groups of armed and organized killers.
The most powerful mercenary armies are currently the Avalon Free-Lances, Summersun Corporation, Sharpes Marauders, and the Hss'Thai Independent Companies. The Free-Lances (6 Sanctioned and numerous Unsanctioned Clans) are literally part of the economy of the Avalon Star Systems. The largest, Clan Excaliber, consists of at least three complete Interstellar Taskforces (fleet of more than 12 Ships-of-the-Line and auxiliary craft) and more than 6 full divisions of highly-trained and fully equipped ground troops. Summersun Corporation is, as the term implies, a vast collection of business holdings whose primary commodity is to provide military power to whomever pays their exorbitant fees, up front and on time. Sharpes Marauders is a rather enigmatic group of mercenary soldiers and spacers, headquartered near the Pleiades Farside Systems. The are somewhat of a mystery due to the fact that no one knows their full compliment of equipment and personnel and, even stranger, no one has any idea where they and their equipment came from. Finally (as far as major mercenary units are concerned), The Hss'Thai as a race have had a long history of organized violence, if not against others then among themselves. It comes as no surprise, then that they would form companies and sell their services to the highest bidder.
In a typical Class A or B starport recruiting offices for any or all or other of these mercenary groups will be found. The turnover rate for these organizations tends to be high, especially for ground troops (historically the least well-trained and equipped) and the concourses and warehouses of any port seem to breed potential replacements for them at a high rate.