compass atop a bowl of roasted coffee beans set inside gold laurels Tomasius Space

Ex dubium scientia. From doubt [comes] knowledge.

Star Citizen

Port-lit, metallic, Star Citizen Logo comprising a single cruciform star encapsulated by a wreath and set between the words STAR and CITIZEN

Star Systems
In-system view of a O-Type Main Sequence Star

Space Trials
Shuttle Class space ship

Cutter Class space ship

ASW Frigate Class space ship

Endurance Cutter Class space ship

Heavy Ordinance Endurance Cutter Class space ship

Life in Overlap

Technical Requirements
Starboard-lit, metallic, Star Citizen Logo comprising a single cruciform star encapsulated by a wreath and set betewen the words STAR and CITIZEN

Due Diligence

What is an RPG?
It all began with pen and paper

Gaming Concepts
USB Iconography

Gaming Psychology
Neural network node showing connective reinforcement

Merc's Folly


Xi'An Inter-Embassy Report; 2946.0220

A human male, identifying himself as "Mercurio Morat" was rescued from an escape pod on 2945-Nov-02. The escape pod was found travelling at high velocity through the Virtus system and had been badly damaged.

The occupant was suffering from Long-Stasis Termination Illness, Hypothermia and Hyperstasis Psychosis. It is evident that the stasis unit had malfunctioned as the occupant had been under for longer than the documented 4 year operational maximum.

Mr. Morat was convinced that he'd been involved in an accident more than 250 years ago in contrast with the records of his insurer who maintained that his insurance policies, never paid more than a decade in advance, were still up to date. The insurer has dispatched a replacement ship to Stanton II.

Mr. Morat has undergone extensive cognitive therapy and, aware of the cognitive dissonance which permanently scars victims of Hyperstasis Psychosis, he has been deemed sufficiently functional to return to his former life.

Well, that's how the Xi'An tell it. Seeing as I'm still alive and haven't lost anything except my dignity, I guess I'm not exactly in a position to complain. Anyways, that may well be how thay tell it. What follows is how I tell it.

How Mercurio Morat Became a "Star" Citizen

I'd set my ship's operation lights to announce the fact that she was not under command (two all-round red lights in a vertical line above the ship). I might have been travelling at a substantial fraction of the speed of light but a vessel not under command always has right of way for very practical reasons. Apparently, as it turned out, another species known as the "Vanduul", didn't see it that way.

I'm not exactly what people'd describe as a "star" citizen. I like to do my own thing and I hate authority because it inevitably fails to honour the sovereignty of minding ones own damned business. The system, where I'd registered my ship for example, was very liberal about taxes but this was offset by some draconian prohibition laws. I regularly drank enough brew to merit the death penalty in that system - which I will not name for fear of their very generous informant program and complete lack of any statute of limitations. Suffice it to say, I kept my stash of brew hidden in the escape pod where, for some reason I could never understand, customs inspectors wouldn't search. And this is where I celebrated my ninth birthday, on the twenty-ninth of February, 2680.


Birthdays, not coming around as often as they might, in my case, were a cause for special celebration. And hurtling across the great empty void of the Black, all by myself, well; special celebration inevitably translated to special hangover. The nice thing about passing out in an escape pod with a functioning stasis field is that waking up will always be far less painful than it could have been. On this occasion, however, it did occur to me that I was going to have to repair the stasis field because I woke to a world of pain. Every square centimetre of my skin felt as if it had been doused in fuel and set alight, my bones ached as if I were a growing child. Every breath I took felt as if it were breaking all of my ribs at once and talk about having migraines on both sides of the head! What a bender! At least it was still Sunday - or so I thought.

It was so damned cold that I almost thought that was the reason for my agony. However, the first hint I got that something wasn't quite right with this picture came when I feebly tried to open the main hatch of the escape pod. I'd reckoned that it might help if I got out of the pod, found my clothes and got dressed. It was a birthday bender so, of course I'd found my way into my birthday suit at some point. I probably thought it was funny at the time but I never could remember the punchline. Suddenly, I noticed that in the process of trying to get out and find my clothes, I accidentally brushed the frost from the porthole in the main hatch and, consequently, saw stars.

These weren't the kind of stars one sees on a bender. These were the kind of stars one sees through the porthole of an escape pod when the ship is gone and all hope is lost. It was just as well I couldn't get the hatch open. Slowly, as the world around me began to come into focus, several things dawned on me. I was trapped in an escape pod with, potentially, enough bootleg to get me the death penalty several times over, if word of this ever got back to my ship's planet of registration. I had no idea where I was but I was convinced that something was wrong with the computer when I noticed the date on the readout: eleventh of May, 2945: a Tuesday. If the bleeping computer wasn't glitched, I guess that would mean I overshot the Pyro-Nyx jump point. At least, now that I was awake, I could hope to regain control of the escape pod and figure out how to get through this with a minimum of discomfort. The sounds of bumps and clangs on the hull of the pod, coupled with some unexpected course changes, interrupted my chain of thought and forever banished the delusion that my return to civilisation might be, in any way, dignified.

El'Sin Convalescence

In the midst of a lot of noise and movement, the hatch must have swung open and I found myself face to face with a well dressed biped who's own face could only be described as turtle-like. No, these were, definitely, not the attractive female humans I secretly hoped to be rescued by, one day. Alas! Life is full of disappointments. All things considered, however, I was alive and my Xi'An rescuers were polite and professional. They provided some spare clothing, assigned me a place to sleep and the journey, of an uncertain number of jumps, saw us dock at a station in El'Sin. After being given a checkup, at one of their hospitals, I was taken out for a meal and a night on the town. My host was particularly interested in how a hull fragment, which could only have come from a Vanduul kingship, 265 years ago, was found lodged in the outer hull of my escape pod. I'd never heard of the Vanduul and, so, this was a little confusing to me. I was particularly uncomfortable about admitting to flying a light freighter while passed out drunk in its escape pod, but this was to be one of many very entertaining nights out, courtesy of the Xi'An. This sympathetic persistence of my host, with a little help from good food and drink, was eminently more effective than the more "traditional" methods of my own species.

I woke from a much more memorable bender, and several more like it over the weeks of Xi'An interrogation. These Xi'An knew what they were doing and it never felt like an interrogation. In fact, I never even felt judged by them. After one last bender with a particularly entertaining Xi'An host, I woke in the cabin of a large ship moving very fast through space. Based on what I am able to remember of our conversations, Fen Wei, my interrogator, adopted an interesting opinion about the events which led to my suddenly "old". Fen Wei was convinced that, while my ship had been "not under command", it hurtled into a Vanduul fleet and collided with a structurally vulnerable point on a kingship, where the main hull and the superstructure join. From here, it penetrated the main breeder reactor, for munitions manufacture, which exploded with enough force to take out the kingship and two thirds of the accompanying fleet. Causing a thermodynamically controlled reactor to go supercritical was something of a curiosity for my Xi'An host who also maintained that additional thermal energy was required for an initial primary explosion of sufficient force to compress the reactor matrix while it was being vapourised.

As it turns out, I was smuggling 60 tonnes of enriched plutonium in addition to another 40 tonnes of super-oxidant called potassium astatinofluoroxinate bound for Bremen. Oh, I guess the beryllium shielding, necessary to prevent the plutonium's neutron radiation from killing me, made it not such a good idea to be shipping oxidants onboard the same vessel - much less super-oxidants. Everything was packed in molynitronese which, officially, I was shipping under license to Covalex, bound for Vega out of Davien. I'd taken what I thought was the Cano-Pyro jump point, only, the computer kept malfunctioning and where I got dropped off just didn't look right. That's when I got suspicious of some Messer trick and decided to long haul a quantum jump in the direction I'd dead-reckoned would bring me up on the Pyro-Nyx jump point in a few days - with my birthday on the middle day: Sunday, 2680-February-29. The problem with a long-hauled quantum jump is that it's not a quantum jump. It's basically over-riding the safeties and using the quantum drive to pull the ship incrementally to relativistic speeds (in this case, 6.026% of the speed of light) where the ship is left on the drift without a quantum field engaged - making collision a considerable risk because the quantuum field that bends space-time around your ship also bends all matter in that space-time around your ship. About the only thing worth avoiding is a sizeable gravity well if "moving" in proper quantum travel. However, long-hauled quantum jumps don't bend space-time and can allow very high-energy collions to take place. By my reckoning, there was nothing on the trajectory to worry about and there wasn't a lot to do. From Nyx, I'd make the jump to Bremen, drop off the enriched plutonium and potassium astatinoflouroxinate before taking on another 43 tonnes of the offical molynitronese cargo and carting it the rest of the way to Vega. This was going to be a good haul and my bender started without so much as a second thought.

At some stage while I was out cold, about 30 minutes prior the collision, the escape pod would have auto-ejected based on three criteria; firstly, that it had an occupant in stasis; secondly, that there was an unanswered collision alert; and, thirdly, that the 30 minute to collision threshold had been crossed. In hindsight and in spite of Fen Wei's doubts, I now think that the surviving Vanduul knew exactly what had hit them and this is why, within a year, the Vanduul began raiding human settlements. Of course, perhaps it is better, as the Xi'An say, to think that the Vanduul were simply acting in accordance with their culture; that their decision to hit Dell, a town on Armitage in the Orion system, had nothing to do with the fact that the cargo manifest, which I'd left with a pile of paperwork in the other escape pod, identified the recipient as a subsidiary of a company based in Dell. Whether or not I am "creating importance for an psychologicaly impacting experience by placing cognitive emphasis on a selection of statistically certain coincidences; in order to project that experience onto a major historical event", I think it is nonetheless a sobering thought, for me; in more ways than one.

Many Happy Returns: at least, as happy as can be expected...

As the Xi'An ship entered UEE controlled space, Fen Wei graced me with one more conversation. Over a good meal and some drinks, Fen Wei impressed upon me how unbelievable it is that I could be 302 years old with nary a grey hair on my head - at least for a Human. It was, after all, the first of March, 2946 and, in Xi'An tradition - or perhaps just good Xi'An diplomacy, Fen Wei had marked my birthday to the year and a day of the actual date. In any case, the Xi'An government had decided that I could not be held responsible for the events of the time, even if only because my age, as a human being, was too outrageously improbable to be considered admissible as fact - in spite of the telemetry and the likelyhood that there is probably some old and perhaps misplaced record, archived somewhere and long forgotten, which could turn something like this into a circus if found by one of those ... journalists. Certainly, my escape pod, which had been designed to keep its occupant in stasis for up to four years, had malfunctioned and it was the most unlikely nature of this malfunction which had allowed me to survive being held in stasis for so long. Perhaps it was this the Xi'An were most interested in. After all, the escape pod was never returned, nor was any attempt made to leverage me with my secret. Apparently, as far as the Xi'An were concerned, they had rescued the sole survivor of a tragic space disaster far too traumatic for witnesses to recount and, after extensive rehabilitation, returned the survivor to his own people. That being said, this is just me, some guy you don't know, talking about himself as guys often do. However amazing the story or tall the tale, it's nothing to write home about - even if you do happen to know that the tale is more deep than tall.

On my return to the UEE, I was put up in a hotel, at Terra, and then notified by my former insurance company that they had learned of my recent accident and loss of ship and special cargo, courtesy of the Xi'An Embassy, and sought to fulfil their obligations by replacing my ship in addition to what seemed like a generous payout on the special policy I'd taken out on the cargo which, admittedly, I had sunk my, then, life savings into in addition to some "investment" from a syndicate who'd begun working the Covalex contractors. The first good thing that's ever happened to me as a consequence of waking up on the wrong side of time is the fact that all the, ah, "shareholders", are no longer around to collect and I am long forgotten.

It is strange, though. During my time with the Xi'An, I came around to the decision to focus more on my particular skill-set and start living again. Grief is a painful reality of life but the suspension of living is an inefficient way to set grief aside. I guess I came to the realisation that in order to begin living again, really living, I'd have to learn to live with the pain and mitigate it by doing the things I love to do. So I'd decided to quit hauling and upgrade my freighter for research and it was the darndest thing. The replacement supplied by the insurer might have been an older model, by today's standards, and it could haul freight without modification, but it was an actual survey ship. Was this a coincidence? Was Fen Wei actually listening and did he arrange, through the Xi'An, to accommodate my change of direction, or did Fen Wei talk me into this change of direction? I have no idea. I like where I'm going much more than where I've come from and I like the survey ship that will take me there. It took a bit of learning to feel out her helm and her handling and I sctratched the paintwork passing too close to one of Port Olisar's habitat rings. But it seems, I'd gotten lucky; very lucky. Even flying the newer base model, while waiting on repairs, I noticed that the habitat ring in question was stuck. It seems I did more damage than just scratching the paint and, yet, nobody has said anything to me about it and everything seems to be getting taken care of without the usual adversarial negotiations over who pays for what and how much.

I found this most peculiar because the last time I had anything insured was more than two and a half centuries ago. I remember having to sue insurance companies to get paid in full on a claim. However, this time, my insurer had an "equivalent" replacement waiting for me out at Port Olisar. I had to dig. I remember when insurers like this were militantly opposed to paying up. But they were no longer owned by the same people. The board of directors, such as it was, was manned by a collection of Xi'An corporations. So, it seems the Xi'An want to avoid questions and, speaking for myself, I want to avoid the shipless fate that I thought awaited me when I woke up in that escape pod. And, so, here we are, Fen Wei and I; both going about our business while whistling in the dark.

...a Time to Grieve. Or not.

While I waited on some upgrades to the Constellation Aquila, shortly after the insurance company delivered her in replacement for a heavy shuttle and her cargo, I took Commander Perry's old fighter back to the Uffern System where I visited Uffern II or Nog; the second of four planets and the first of the green band planets in that system. Commander Perry had followed me there to finish me off after I'd witnessed something "classified". While he hunted me, I took his fighter. He was never heard from or seen again. I'd returned to pay my respects, both to the memory of the man I'd killed, however indirectly, and to the world which had given me life and so much happiness such an unimaginably long time ago.

I was making my approach over what was once the northern tundra when the misile lock warning lit up. There were no contacts on LIDAR but that didn't stop a small, high explosive missile from slamming into the engine mounts and taking out the power plant. The main engines rattled violently and cut out, and maneuvering thrusters were limited to what little emergency power I could shunt their way. I glided her most of the way in, crossing as low as I dared over the dry canyon that was once the Green River before nosing up the old mountain road, now deeply buried in ash; just enough to put the airframe into a stall. I left the gear up and let her fall softly into the ash as gravity played a part in slowing her down. The old fighter came to a standstill under the old Tubec drawbridge. That old box fighter, now a complete wreck, would never fly again. I was trapped here, just as I'd trapped Commander Perry here all those years ago. I guess I was getting more than just to pay my respects in this graveyard world. If I didn't want to join Perry, I'd have to do more than I came to do this time.

Of some consolation and, perhaps, my ticket off this rock; the tactical computer still held the origin coordinates for the missile lock and I was able to identify the location just North a few miles over what used to be the Green River. Seeing the devastated ruin of what was once the world of my people left me with little to care about. There was nothing here for me now and, somehow, it seemed, that my newly regained life was only slightly less bleak. That wasn't enough and my journey became a deathmarch. I would end these trespassers, whoever they were. Then maybe I would leave or maybe I would join them.

I caught sight of a landed tramp steamer (of the spacefaring kind), called a Caterpillar; just as I climbed out of what was once a tributary flowing into the Green River, now south of my position. Then I saw the people who'd taken that shot at me. They were your typical band of tomb-raiders and they'd made camp just by the port side of the Caterpillar. I noticed smoke still billowing from a nearby pile of wreckage which appeared to be the remains of a Prospector (a small mining ship). It seemed that the graveyard of my homeworld was beginning to get busy again. Certainly, it seemed that they'd been busy. Sure enough, one of their number, seated on the ground in the open, was not there willingly. She'd been stripped and securely bound. I had to wonder what these people were really doing here as only slave traders were so thorough when restraining captives. I unshouldered an energy rifle which I'd modified for minimal noise and racked up some charges. I started by dropping the ones who were out of sight of the others and then simply the ones the others weren't looking at. Of a crew of six, that left only two; two who seemed intently engaged in one-another's company. So I reloaded while I waited. Eventually, one of them called out to one of the missing crew and, concerned at receiving no answer, he turned his back on his companion to see where the others had gone. That's when I shot his companion and, then, there was only him. He never knew his entire crew had been killed before his turn came.

Up close, their captive was intoxicating to the senses and working her out of those bonds was an exercise in frustration. Heat shimmered off her dark chocolate coloured skin in waves; seeming to amplify her scent. She was formidable; tall with a powerful feminine musculature and thick, creamy blond hair that starkly framed her face and glinted with golden highlights. She also seemed quite amused by the effect she was having on me. Once I'd freed her, she made short work of Caterpillar's security as she'd been paying more attention to the comings and goings of the tomb raiders than they'd realized. And this is probably just as well considering that none of them were in any condition to answer questions. Beyond this, there's not much to tell. We got the Caterpillar into orbit, we went over the vessel component by component, I found out that some feelings were mutual when she ambushed me in a corridor and, well, there wasn't much I could have done about it if I'd wanted to - and not of lack of trying just for fun. Suffice to say, we were a good fit for one-another and have since became close, lifelong friends.

As it turns out, her unusual physique was not quite so mysterious as I'd thought. She was of African origin, from Earth, but had spent years working a hand drill in the depths of one of those new "ultradeep" underground mines. Her hair, originally a dark brown mess of curls, had faded to blond and lost its curls as a symptom of an industrial disease affecting people with long exposure to high gravity spaces. This was usually something that resulted from the use of artificial gravity to relieve overburden pressure in the deepest and most dangerous parts of those "ultradeep" mines. She'd continued her mining career after she left and, when she'd brought her Prospector mining ship, here, she got jumped by the local tomb raiders who figured they'd get a good price for her from a slaver they knew. Then I happened along. So, not everything that starts badly, ends badly. I might have permanently lost a priceless, classic vintage fighter; but I'd made a friend, found a way off this graveyard of my people, and even managed to get a newer, functionally better repalcement out of my insurance company for the old ship; only, they couldn't deliver the old model so I had to settle for a Hornet. I picked out a special one, tricked up for discretion. And the wreck of the old fighter? That was discretely reported to the UEE so that there could be some closure concerning the fate of one Commander Perry.

As for Keesh and I? It'd been a long, dark road for the both of us, although in different ways. Now that we'd found eachother, we had a lot of catching up to do; regarding our newfound time in the sunshine.

Still can't fall asleep? Click for part one. It'll bore you more than a squadron of Vanduul Drillers; better than counting sheep.
I promise!

compass atop a bowl of roasted coffee beans set inside gold laurels
Monday, ISO: 2024-July-22, 02:20 hours, UTC.