Gemini Sector: An Overview
THE FRONTIERSMAN: INTERVIEW WITH A PRIVATEER
As told to Chandra Karr
For the fourth installment of our ongoing series on the young pilots who make a killing prospecting the open space lanes of Gemini, I went to find out what motivates a hotshot pilot to risk it all, to seek out new challenges in our little corner of the war. I was curious what these young people were leaving behind and what they hoped to achieve, knowing the odds against them. I chose Helen, a small agricultural planet in Troy System, to find my subject.
Helen doesn’t have much to recommend it, but at least there’s a bar. Out in this part of the Confederation there are only three kinds of people in a bar: those looking for the kind of work that doesn’t get publicly advertised, those offering that kind of work, or anyone looking to blow a paycheck on some Mjolnarian Stout. I was hoping to attract one of the former by posing as a fixer, and it worked.
I was sitting at a small table near the door, listening to the bartender give advice, when I spotted my target. A young but weathered man walked in with an air of confidence that advertised for him. He lifted his personal computer from his belt with the ease of someone who had performed this gesture a million times. As he checked his mission roster I was drawn to the vertical scar through his left eyebrow. He looked hungry for work so I threw him a morsel.
“You looking for work or just to get drunk? ” I asked, winking from my table.
“Both, if that’s an option. But I’ll settle for either.” He smiled, laid his computer on the table, straddled the chair across from me, and asked, “What can I do for you, Ma’am? ”
I explained I was writing an article and wanted to hear what had brought him here. He was interested, eager even. What follows is his story as he told it to me over too many drinks in the cheap bar of a nowhere agricultural planet.
[All names have been changed to prevent this from becoming a vehicle for self-promotion. To the best of our knowledge, all the events described actually took place. Ed.]
Six weeks ago I was first mate on the Scarab, a bucket of bolts merchant ship held together by bootlaces and luck. We were jumping out to Sheol, a deep space science station. It was a good contract running supplies, food and equipment. We’d made the run before and I was looking forward to spending some quality time with Jo. She was heading an investigation of unstable jump points in the area and we had found each other, well, compatible. I was on the bridge thinking about the phase ball rematch I owed her, not watching the consoles at my station. The heavy sound of Geof Kane’s boots clanking on the metal deck brought me to attention.
Kane was a big man who was most comfortable wearing the mantle of command. He was a bull of a man, always moving forward, unable to form the concept of retreat. That’s why he went freelance —too many rules of engagement in the military. Kane only obeyed the laws of expediency and profit. He had trained all nineteen of us, forming pilots, gunners and mechanics from the soft clay of street urchins and stowaways. We depended on him for leadership and each of us owed him our life. Kane came in and stood heavily by a large bay window, turning his Academy ring deliberately.
“We’ll be arriving soon,” he said slowly, “and I want you on your toes. I don’t feel good about this run.”
“Why so nervous, boss?” I asked. “You know something or just got a feeling?”
“I don’t know yet. Maybe it’s nothing. I know the captains of the last Draymans to make this run. We were supposed to meet back on Baroda for a drink. I still haven’t heard from either one of them. They’re old pals from my Navy days — I really should’ve heard something by now.”
“Maybe they just stood you up, boss.”
“I hope you’re right but, just in case, I want you on your toes and ready to get us the hell out of any trouble along the way. I don’t think my friends stood me up. There haven’t been any distress calls from the base. Could be business as usual, but we should probably expect the worst.” He fidgeted with the console next to him, glanced nervously at the windows, and left. Images of Jolene attacked by a faceless enemy that I wasn’t even sure existed plagued me for the remainder of the journey.
The trip out was uneventful except for Kane’s nervousness. After several days we jumped out to Sheol’s system. I was on the bridge. As the streamers of light settled into a more familiar starfield two gray Talons raced towards us. I was edgy and damn near fired on them before realizing they were our escort. The huge and ungainly Scarab made her way to Sheol’s main hangar, the Talons moving beside her like remoras on a shark.
The science outpost was made up of a series of hangars off a central hub that housed personal quarters and open office areas for data analysis. They primarily sent out probes or small vessels in search of new jump points and asteroids rich in mineral deposits, as well as the smaller, more esoteric astrophysics work with no exploitable payoff for another generation or two. Because of their isolation there was no one except the researchers — no service personnel. The dingy Apocalypse Bar was staffed by whoever was available, usually someone waiting for a probe to reach its target system or for an automated analysis to finish. Administration, repairs, and distribution of food, clothing and equipment worked the same way. The only full-time position belonged to Lars Furstenburg, who was base captain. He was held accountable for anything that might go wrong and ignored when significant progress was made. Furstenburg was new. He had arrived less than four months ago, well after our last run, and seemed to be still in the midst of finding his footing among the staff and crew.
Furstenburg greeted us in the sparse, unfinished hangar.
“I have regret that I did not find you,” he said, “to warn you of our uncomfortable situation. The last two supply ships were destroyed. First one got blown up when leaving, second before it left the jump sphere on its way in-system. But you had pleasant trip, no? We will unload and then have a drink, yes? Thank you.”
Geof Kane was livid. “How can you be so flippant? Who destroyed them?” He didn’t wait for an answer, “Those were my friends, sir. I’m sorry, but it seems to me that you could have made a little more effort to reach us. Our itinerary was forwarded to you over a month ago and we never deviated from it. You had a responsibility to warn us.”
“I will not argue with you. I, too, mourn loss of your colleagues but my responsibility is to the people of this base. It could not be allowed that you not come from fear of being attacked. We have been too long without fresh provisions. We have much work to do. Meet in my office in five minutes, yes? We can use your know-how to analyze base security. We do not know who these brigands are, but we need protect ourselves and find out if possible.” He started to head up to his office, turned and said, “I sorry to gamble with your life, but is only way to get you here.” I don’t believe Kane was any more satisfied with that answer than I was.
The inhabitants of Sheol moved swiftly and efficiently to unload the supplies we’d brought. I’d assigned a few of our men to security to keep an eye on our goods as they were unloaded, but I now saw that that was unnecessary. The men and women unloading the cargo were careful, organized and visibly relieved that we had arrived. Only one of my security men was having any problem at all — he was being badgered by a woman whose voice echoed throughout the hangar.
“What’s your name, sir?” she asked. It was Jo who was beating up my security detail. I crossed under the Scarab’s still-cooling engines toward her.
“Uh, Hank,” the man stammered, “Hank Slater ….” Security personnel weren’t used to answering questions.
“And, Mr. Slater, just why in the Sam Hell are you standing around, carrying nothing but that stupid sidearm, when we’ve got work to do?”
“Well, Ma’am, I uh … my boss says there might be looting, and he says ….”
“Hank, be a good grunt and go tell your friggin’ boss that there may be violence if he doesn’t get you guys into a few waiting cargo loaders.” She motioned toward a line of machines standing idle along the hangar wall.
By now, I was standing right behind Jo and figured it was time I announced my arrival.
“What seems to be the problem?” I asked.
Jo answered without turning to face me, her voice filled with contempt. “The problem,” she said, “is that this big ape’s boss won’t let him do an ounce of real work.”
“You must mean me.”
She turned, looked me square in the eyes and said, “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Precaution back from the hinterlands to save our starving village from itself.” She smiled. “Will you make these men useful or do you plan on spending your time here alone?” A wink softened the remark but I got the point.
“It’s all right, Hank, do as she says. Collect Al and Frank and the others and report to Captain Furstenburg for unloading assignments.” I turned my attention to Jo. “Here’s a proposal for you, Doctor — you promise to quit harassing my men and I’ll buy you the best dinner this tin can has to offer. How about it?”
“How about I make no such promise and we skip dinner for healthier activities?”
“Deal. Oh, and I expect a rematch if you guys still have a phase ball court.”
“We do and you’re on.”
She turned to go settle a dispute that was developing over fuel storage. I watched her cross the hangar, and hoped she was as pleased at our arrival as I was to be here. A kind of awkward tension had fallen over the crew before our arrival, none of us sure whether we would have to fight or if it was all just a false alarm. Jo had pulled me out of my depression. Hustling to unload the ship seemed to be helping everyone else. Finally we had a task with a clear, achievable goal, getting the supplies unloaded and looking into who might be behind these recent attacks — a welcome change of pace.
Kane was taking the whole unloading and base defense operation very seriously. No surprise, given that he thought there was a force out there preparing to assault the base. I figured that if he was right, then it must be a small force — anyone with the firepower to destroy a couple of Draymans had the firepower to destroy an outpost like Sheol unless, of course, they didn’t have the fuel or munitions to do both.
Once we had arranged for the unloading and distribution of cargo, I headed off to discuss security concerns with Furstenburg and Kane. Furstenburg’s office looked out over the hangar and into the void. We could clearly see our staffs cooperating to unload the Scarab. I moved into the room, expecting something a little more commanding but pleased to see that Furstenburg was a busy man, definitely not a delegator. He had both a desk and a small conference table, the latter cluttered with chits and tablets that made it clear he only used his desk occasionally — probably not enough surface area to hold the clutter of “current” projects and files.
The two captains were already deep in discussion when I arrived, a small hologram of the base flickering between them. As I entered, Furstenburg began shuffling through the mountains of correspondence on the conference table.
“There is, on this table, a message that did come for you, couple of days ago,” he said.
I was surprised to hear this. Who would send me a message? Everyone I knew was here: Jo, Kane, the Scarab’s crew. Unless it was some kind of a recruiting message from the Confederation Militia …. Finally, Furstenburg found what he was looking for.
“Ah ha!” he said. “Here is your message sent from the Gemini sector. I see you have frontiersmen friends, yes?” He handed me the disk. “Use the monitor on my desk should you want to take it now.”
“That’s all right, we’ve got business to attend to.”
I pocketed the disk and joined them at the conference table. I only knew one person in Gemini, my grandfather, and I didn’t figure he’d be sending me anything more important than a birthday card, not that I’d ever gotten one from him. The security analysis was top priority. I was hoping that there would be some sort of clue in the transmissions from the probes that Sheol regularly sends out for scientific reasons. Knowing our enemy would be the first step in defeating them.
We all agreed that violence in the system could only imply an impending threat to the base. There were several things we could do in order to seek out the people who destroyed the ships and to protect the base. We divided up these tasks amongst ourselves. Furstenburg took charge of readying the base’s launchers and shields, as well as preparing a schedule for the volunteer security team. Kane would coordinate with both Sheol’s and the Scarab’s pilots to develop a more effective patrol pattern. Analysis of data sent by the probes and missing cargo ships fell to me. I was to work with Jo and Blake Sorensen, an older researcher who would be able to spot anomalies in the transmissions. Furstenburg pulled a monitor over to his seat, nearly knocking over a cup of coffee in the process, to inform the members of our teams of their new assignments and that they had only three hours to report for their first meeting. My group was to meet in Blue Deck, Lab 37, close to my quarters. I had just enough time to eat, shower and read my junk mail from the edge of nowhere.
With the team notified, I headed for my room in Green Deck. There was no intra-base transportation except walking. I passed through halls filled with blue jumpsuits carrying crates of newly arrived supplies. I stopped to help a young man move a too-heavy box into one of the smaller dining areas that were spread throughout the base. With this delay, it took nearly twenty minutes to reach my quarters, but I didn’t mind. It was a nice opportunity to reacquaint myself with Sheol’s color-coded corridors and window-less workspaces.
My room’s dull grayness stood in stark contrast to the bright green of the hallway. The bed, night stand and desk, with its small communication console, all reflected a unified Spartan vision. Comfort was not a priority in the design. All the same, I felt relaxed by the very austerity of the room. As I emptied my pockets of I.D., personal computer and a few loose coins from Baroda, I dropped the disk Furstenburg had given me. It was time I read my mail. I switched on the comm unit, put the disk in and sat back, expecting pro- paganda or a postcard from Grandpa Mack.
The screen filled with the typical sender information. It was from Mack all right, and had apparently been forwarded six or seven times before someone knew where I’d be. It had been sent nearly a month and a half ago, marked priority one. Better late than never, I thought. I hit the key to proceed. Mack’s face appeared on the screen. He took a drink of something that wasn’t water and began his message.
“Look, kid, you know I’m not much of a talker so I’ll get straight to the point. I’m dead. This is my last will and testament and whatever. You’re all I got in the way of family and your mother made me promise to see that you were taken care of. So, here goes…” He paused to take another drink, winced and continued. “I, Mack Christiensen, being an old man and of ill health do leave whatever hasn’t been repossessed to you, my only daughter’s only kid. Right now I’ve got a Tarsus' 'class ship that I bought from an Exploratory Services officer with too many debts, and a little cash that I plan on spending before you get this. Sorry, but you know how it is. Whatever’s left is yours. It may not sound like much, but what I’m trying to give you is an excuse to come see Gemini. I was charting new jump points and getting in bar brawls out here when you were born. There’s been a lot of development since then but it’s still the best place to make a quick buck. I may not have given you much over the years — now that I’m dead I figure you could benefit from a little frontier action. I guess I better go before I get all sentimental and …” he looked down at his glass and the screen went blank. A small green light indicated that there was a second message waiting.
I went over to the sink, washed my face, took a long hard look at myself as the only heir of an old lush. I guess I needed a minute to take in the fact that Mack was dead. I was sure that the second message was the executor telling me what had happened and how to contact him — details that could wait. It wasn’t the first time I’d gotten a message like this. There were still a couple of hours before I had to meet with the investigative team and I was planning on spending them figuring out whether or not Mack’s bequest was worth dropping everything to go out and deal with. There was a lot of work coming up for the Scarab, and getting to Gemini wasn’t exactly a day trip. We had contracts to fulfill. I had a career with Kane, who treated me as a first officer and a son. This was a terrible time to take an extended vacation.
I was pacing, looking over at the faint green light on the communications console, when my reverie was interrupted. It was Jo opening the door.
“What happened to you? You look more confused than a Firrekan hatchling.”
“Have a seat, Jo. It’s nothing, really. Just that I got this message that my grandfather died and they want me to go out to Gemini, of all places, to take care of the estate,” I said, pointing to the console.
“Oooh, an estate? Really? I thought you said Mack was an old drunk, spent his time remembering his glory days for anyone who’d listen and a few that wouldn’t.” She was shaking her hair, as if its tangles took priority over my dilemma.
“Turns out he had a ship. A Tarsus. Maybe even a little cash. Who knows?”
“I think you should quit the Scarab. Go out there and get that ship,” she said, with more than a trace of sarcasm in her voice. She started to pace. “I think you should drop everything — me, Kane, the Scarab — and run away to where you’ll be poor and a nobody.” She stopped pacing, squared her shoulders and glared at me. “Look, seriously, I don’t think you should do it. If you decide to leave the Scarab, come here and work with us, but don’t go taking risks if the only up side is an out-of-date ship. The Tarsus hasn’t even been manufactured for ten years!”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t have an answer — not yet — and we had business to attend to. The silence quickly got awkward, but I didn’t know what to say. Still in silence, we headed over to our meeting.
We were a good team. We got along well and understood what needed to be done. With all the equipment at our disposal it was easy to set up a detector for non-standard emissions. There was a nearby asteroid field, and that’s where we focused our search. We were poring over the data transmitted by a probe that entered the asteroids a handful of hours ago, just before our arrival in system. Though frustrated that we hadn’t discovered anything immediately, we resolved to be patient and thorough. It wasn’t too long before the slow and steady approach paid off.
Jo spotted it first. There was a small peak in X-ray emissions, as if a short burst had hit the probe. Blake said that he had noticed a similar anomaly a few days ago but it had been dismissed because they were actively searching for something else. He put his tea down to rifle through his notes from the last week and announced that the previous X-ray peak was also recorded by a probe sent to the asteroids. We put the computer to work looking through the last month’s probe transmissions for other X-ray spikes. We had to be sure it wasn’t a false reading or a natural occurrence. As Blake fired search parameters and commands into the computer, Jo and I set to work breaking down the X-ray peak to see if we could determine whether it was a man-made transmission or not.
Almost simultaneously, Sorensen announced that there had been several X-ray peaks, all from probes to the asteroid field and all within the last three months, and we discovered that it was indeed a man-made emission. The next step was to see if any information could be gleaned about where this message had been sent from. This turned out to be the easy part. The probes automatically report the direction from which they receive any input. Confirming with all positive reports we were able to triangulate on the source. It was us. All the anomalous X-ray peaks had originated from Sheol.
“Can we pinpoint where the messages were sent to?” I wanted to know.
“I don’t think so. It was really sort of an accident we caught the transmission at all. Whoever these guys are, they’re definitely using the asteroids for cover,” said Blake.
I was curious as to who might have access to equipment on the base that could send such a signal. Jolene and Blake agreed that there was no convenient means available and that whoever was sending these messages must have their own device. It was time to bring the others in on our discovery.
We sent the base captain a report via computer. After we decided to meet again after dinner to devise a way to search the base for an X-ray emitting device, I headed off to inform Kane of our discovery and to get his input on ways to search for the emitting device with maximum efficacy.
Running up to Kane’s quarters, I nearly smashed into a harried-looking Furstenburg, who said he wanted to get the Scarab fired up and into space to fill a gap in the patrol schedule as soon as I was ready. He wanted to come along. I thought this was a strange request; I could think of no reason he should want to be on a patrol run. Furstenburg didn’t seem himself. Still, I agreed.
When I burst into Geof Kane’s quarters, he was pacing the room like a caged lion, muttering something about the two other ships that had been attacked as they neared the base. Scratching his once black, now white, crew cut, he mumbled, “Why wasn’t the Scarab attacked?”
Reluctantly, I interrupted his pacing and filled him in on the message beamed from the base to the asteroid field. His face became even more somber than it had been to start with. I also told him about Furstenburg’s request. Kane asked if we had determined when the messages first began. I gave him the three-month figure and he frowned. It all came together.
“It looks to me,” Kane said, “like Lars Furstenburg is out to sabotage the base and he needs to ensure safe passage out of the system. He expects us to be that ticket. Let’s go…”
Kane rushed from his quarters and toward the Scarab’s hangar, towing me along in his wake. Furstenburg was there waiting for us. Kane wasn’t one to let talking get in the way of action. He moved toward Furstenburg with the ferocious look of a predator closing for the kill. Furstenburg stood his ground, only his eyes revealing a kind of nervous fear. Kane backed Furstenburg up the ramp and into the S carab’s hold. I was close behind.
“When is it coming?” Kane roared. “When are your people gonna attack the base?”
Furstenburg answered by pulling a blaster from beneath his coat with faster reflexes than I’d given him credit for. He spoke slowly, steadying his nerves, “It does not matter. There is no way this evil font of technology can survive our onslaught. You will pilot me off base. Now! Your lives may be spared despite your high tech alliances.”
Despite the obvious danger, Kane hadn’t stopped moving toward him. Behind my captain’s advancing bulk I was able to draw my gun, an old-fashioned laser that worked well on flesh without damaging a bulkhead.
I dove to the side, firing past Kane on my way to the ground. A burst of brilliant red light sliced into the base commander-turned-Retro. Kane looked down on me.
“I’d have decked him, son. No need to get dramatic.”
We had no idea how much time we had remaining before the assault. All we could do was get out and try to stop the attackers before they reached the base. I headed for the bridge as Kane went to assemble a skeleton crew. I had all engines ready for launch when I heard the hatch close and the pounding of gunners’ feet on the metal floors as they headed for battle stations. I didn’t wait for clearance to launch. The Scarab was ready and we were likely the base’s only defense. It seemed that Furstenburg had disabled the base’s automatic defense systems.
Out in the void we turned toward the asteroids. White Talons, Retro ships for sure, emerged from their hiding places and headed to intercept. The Church of Man was continuing its campaign against all things technological and we were its next target. Kane took the helm as I headed for a vacant turret. It wasn’t long before we were in amongst them, the all-seeing eye of their agrarian deity emblazoned on their fighters. These were maniacs, unafraid of death, willing to ram you, destroying your ship even if it cost them theirs. From the turret I could see flames erupt from our hull, a quick burst of plasma destroying an enemy. That reduced the odds to five against one.
Then my radar went red. I thought it was a glitch. There was a swarm headed past us straight for the base. We’d been suckered into a trap, separated from the base the way wolves separate a calf from its mother. Before I could get a lock on any of the ships I was slammed against the inside of the turret. We were out of control, spinning without purpose. I unstrapped myself, clambered from the turret and headed for the bridge.
When I got there, I stopped short. The bridge was filled with smoke and debris, red warning lights flashing in the half light, cables hanging lifelessly from the ceiling where a panel had fallen and crushed Kane. There was nothing we could do for him. There wasn’t much we could do at all but fight for our lives. I assumed command, sent most of the crew back to their guns and the rest to restoring our maneuverability. This was too big a job for our one repair droid.
Outside, three Talons still circled us, two of them damaged. I knew that, given our condition, we couldn’t do much to them but there had to be something. Switching power from guns to shields, I resolved to use the ship’s bulk as her defense. It didn’t take long for a Retro to make the mistake of flying directly in front of us. I engaged afterburners and sent the Scarab’s weighty prow through the tiny ship. I had the comm lines open and shouted orders into the air.
“I’m taking the shields down. Hank and Johansen use the extra power to blast those freaks. Everyone else hold your fire. On my mark … NOW!”
Johansen destroyed his target, but Hank only managed to clip his. Its shields were down but there was no hull damage. The quick Talon turned to approach us from behind. Textbook, I thought. I hit dead stop, freezing our position. He blew past and Hank nailed him with a torpedo. We were in the clear for now, but Sheol was dying. Lights blinked out all along its hull as power was cut. We could see they had been boarded — white Talons stood out against Sheol’s dark hull and the guns protecting the main hangars sat lifelessly by as enemy ships were docked. All I could think of was Jo fighting for her life against those bark-eating, anti-urban, anti-stellar, neo-pagan, hypocritical, knowledge-destroying fanatics. I went red trying to turn the Scarab to her rescue. They had to pry me from the controls. Sheol was a loss and we weren’t doing much better.
By the time we had jumped back to a civilized world I was numb with grief. Jo was certainly dead, we had buried Kane in space during the trip, and the Scarab had received much more damage than we had the finances to repair. We sold the ship for scrap and divided the cash. Some of the crew stayed together, hoping to find financial backing. Some went back to far-away families left waiting months ago. I had no choice. I exchanged work for passage on a small merchant ship, the Sword of Damocles, and headed for Troy in Gemini. There I knew I’d find a new beginning, a chance to be the explorer I had admired in Mack Christiensen and the master of his own fate I had admired in Geof Kane.
Mack’s bequest had the unfortunate side effect of actually costing me money. The Tarsus he left was no longer in working order and I sunk most of my money and what little he left me into repairs and hangar fees. It’s been nearly two months since that day I last saw Jo, and I’m ready to move on. I have my own ship and a new destiny as Gemini’s newest privateer.
GEMINI SECTOR: AN OVERVIEW
By Lieutenant Gabriel Quentin, Exploratory Services
Gemini is still a newborn sector struggling to find her feet. It has only been 30 years since the military set out to contain Kilrathi expansion by entrenching along the border. It was during this early entrenching period that the Exploratory Services (ES) were first called in to map out available resources, including habitable planets, mineral-rich asteroids and jump tunnels.
Within the first five years of exploration two major factors contributed to the opening of Gemini to public enterprise. The first was the rapid entrenchment of military forces far from established supply lines and support services — they needed access to local resources. The second factor was the tremendous wealth of resources discovered by the ES in Gemini. This was essential in boosting the Confederation’s gross worth. As developers and entrepreneurs moved in to exploit the discoveries made by the ES, several standard base types evolved (see below). As the populations grew, Gemini was divided into four political/cartographic quadrants — Potter, Humboldt, Fariss and Clarke, clock-wise from bottom right on a standard Gunther projection.
Clarke is the fortress, the heart of the military entrenchment begun 30 years ago. Today, the seat of all Gemini’s naval forces, Perry Naval Base, is in Clarke. This is the front line, dotted with jump points into Kilrathi territory. In this area, ships must constantly be ready to engage in border skirmishes. However, because of our strength, there has not been a full scale battle in Gemini for 11 years. The whole sector owes its existence to the strength of our naval forces, forces that have blossomed under Admiral Terrell’s capable leadership.
Asteroids. That one word sums up any traveler’s experience of Fariss. Here are more mining bases than in the surrounding five sectors combined. There are agricultural planets and refineries, to be sure, but the most prevalent industry is the extraction of minerals from the many large asteroids that clutter Fariss’ attractive vistas.
Humboldt is the sparsest of the quadrants. The central hub of Humboldt is Junction, a system with three habitable planets and six jump points. The quadrant is limited in natural resources, but Junction earns its name as one of the most essential nodes in Gemini’s web of jump-ways. Aside from Junction, Humboldt offers few mining and refining opportunities and a lot of empty space.
Potter is the heart of what little civilization Gemini has. The capital, New Constantinople, is located here, as are many other large population centers. The most important of these, New Detroit, is renowned for the wealth of work and opportunity to be had there, not to mention the high quality of alcohol imported from Centauri and Ceti Prime. Potter is the only quadrant that has more than one Pleasure planet, built entirely on rabid consumerism and providing R&R for the military types. Reports of Kilrathi and pirate attacks in Potter have dropped to the lowest rate of any border sector.
As mankind has settled the stars, several types of bases appear wherever we go. As you travel throughout the quadrants you will certainly encounter each of these. Below, you will find a thumbnail sketch of each base type to help you set your expectations and goals before landing at any given locale. Also listed are four of Gemini’s most significant places: Perry, Oxford, New Constantinople and New Detroit. Be advised that not every base will buy what you have to sell — for example, it is obviously futile to try to sell unrefined plutonium to an agricultural planet. Trade can be very lucrative if you don’t get discouraged and keep your wits about you. Enjoy your stay — may it be full of adventure and profit!
General Notes. These are planets whose primary industry is farming. They are usually large, with a high land-to-ocean ratio. Terraforming is in progress on most of these worlds, but domed cities are still the rule. Life here is a lot of work, and Gemini is trying to encourage colonists to have more children and settle down.
Trading Tips. Furs, lumber, pets, grain and foodstuffs are available here. They have a great need for more equipment and workers, as well as housing for their growing population.
General Notes. Mining bases are affixed to and carved into large asteroids. This means that flying through an asteroid field is usually mandatory for getting there. Mines are most prevalent in Fariss Quadrant, though they are also found, less frequently, throughout the sector. The bars are generally Spartan and all drinks have been imported (and are therefore expensive).
Trading Tips. Mining bases need food. They have plenty of minerals and not much interest in luxury goods. Mining bases also seek ways to distract their lonely workers. Issues of Plaything, games or other entertainment are in high demand.
General Notes. With the population boom has come a piracy boom. At times, entire bases have been taken over. These hostile takeovers have been mostly limited to Fariss Quadrant and, therefore, to backwater mining bases, especially those left abandoned due to depleted resources. Pirate bases are a hazard to aboveboard shippers and a boon to unscrupulous dealers in illicit goods. Due to the nature of this type of base, no guild offices are ever available here.
Trading Tips. While I would rather say that it is not possible to trade with pirates, that is not the case. These bases need food and trade in weapons. They deal in drugs such as Brilliance, and continue to trade slaves as if we were living in the 23rd century. Please note that persons known to attack merchants and trade in contraband are considered saboteurs of the war effort and are attacked on sight by Confederation forces.
General Notes. Pleasure planets are the result of high demand, a sudden population explosion and a few lucky prospectors coming into too much wealth too soon in their lives. These are places of hedonistic games, a tromp l’oeil of culture. They are also important pressure valves during these tense times.
Trading Tips. Pleasure planets are hotbeds of consumerism. The population is interested in buying drugs, art, furs, games and anything fun or exciting. Unfortunately, they produce little besides movies.
General Notes. Refineries are platform-based space stations whose primary purpose is to turn the natural resources of Gemini’s asteroids and planets into advanced fuels, durable goods, etc. They are a major employer of skilled labor and are found throughout all four quadrants.
Trading Tips. Like mining bases, refineries have a great need for food and entertainment. They also need natural resources shipped in for processing.
General Notes. New Constantinople is the capital of Gemini Sector. It is a major population center, with representatives of every major industry. It is located in central Potter and receives fairly heavy traffic. Confederation and militia patrols have a high chance of being around the base to protect it and to police the merchants, preventing the movement of contraband on or off base.
Trading Tips. Almost all art to be found in the area is produced here. New Constantinople is the hub of all political and cultural events. Due to its importance, people come from all over to buy and sell nearly everything. It is a good place to do business.
General Notes. New Detroit is one of the most fascinating of Gemini’s urban centers. It is our industrial heart and it beats with the rhythms of heavy machinery. Even from orbit, the pervasive gray of buildings and smog are visible. Before there were refineries in Gemini’s space, there was New Detroit. For three decades the central metropolis has been expanding to cover the planet’s enormous land masses. Its bars and other businesses sit at the bottom of skyscrapers like the little hunched prophets at the bottom of Hadrian’s Gorge. Definitely a place to visit and an even better place to do business.
Trading Tips. Competition is stiff here. There is a glut of manufactured goods. If it’s man-made, you can bet New Detroit’s got it. They need natural resources and are willing to pay the price to get them. New Detroit’s mixture of highbrow and sleaze industry means that there’s a nook, out of the incessant drizzle, for any goods you wish to buy or sell.
General Notes. The intellectual seat of the sector, Oxford is a university planet, well known for its research facilities. It has been built out to resemble Old Earth, specifically the old English college town. This makes the place a fantastic draw for tourism. It is located far from the front in Potter Quadrant and was one of the first planets terraformed in Gemini. Its library is renowned beyond Gemini’s horizons, drawing scholars from distant suns to visit its hardwood halls and well-tended quadrangles.
Trading Tips. They will definitely sell books and other intellectual properties. Aside from that they have the same trading needs as any heavily populated agricultural planet.
General Notes. Perry, the military center of Gemini, is located in Clarke, not far from the Kilrathi border. Many military patrols originate here and you have a high chance of encountering these forces. Admiral Terrell runs his corner of the war from here. Perry is a model of efficiency and does a lively business in all industries. It is a fine example of starbase architecture as well.
Trading Tips. As the core of all local military operations, many supply lines come into Perry. They need food, medical supplies and the like. They sell lots of out-of-date weaponry here — a good start for a gun-runner. With so many merchants coming here, there is always a chance to pick up whatever you’re looking to buy.