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Letter from the Editor: The New Horizon

Posted on Mar 25, 2944 in Editorial, Featured | 0 comments

As a people, the human capacity to endure hardships, both foreign and self-induced, has allowed us to evolve to a state of significance within our surroundings. None more-so than our recent hardships through economic and political upheaval. If our civilization can overcome the divisive and destructive nature of our past, then perhaps there is hope for our future as well.

Though it has been centuries since the atrocities of the Messer era left their stain on our society, we can still find remnants of corruption around us. Unfortunately with the untimely departure of my predecessor, even closer than we here at CM would like to acknowledge. Without going into the details of our own weaknesses, I feel it is important as the incoming editor in chief to make a clean break from the past. As the new editor of this magazine I feel that we must show our readers that here at Citizen Monthly we are and should be held to a higher standard.

While I do not hold to the beliefs that CM was used as an instrument of propaganda during these recent dark days, I do feel that we need a new focus. And I will do my best to bring that focus to the people themselves.

The citizens and civilians alike who have endured together and emerged to tell their tale are the new evolution of our society. And I would like to help make Citizen Monthly their voice.

As the slate is wiped clean, so are the painful reminders of what we once were. The reason that our slate is somewhat cleaner than expected is because I have made the decision to purge this publication of all past articles, opinions, and features.

There should be no question moving forward that what you read is born from the heart of our culture and its people, unburdened with the stain of politic and oppression.

Citizen Monthly magazine will start anew, and we look forward to hearing your voice, supportive or opposing of our decisions. Please write to us with the stories of your success or failures. We will do our best to feature as many as we can to show other citizens that their experiences may be shared and that they are not alone in the vastness.

– Randall DeMarcus

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Origin 315P: Long-range Hauling Potential

Posted on Mar 24, 2944 in Featured, Technology | 0 comments

The 300-series from Origin Jumpworks has long been associated with the style and elegance typical of the company itself. Origin products are an unbeatable fusion of sleek and stable, and are often the beautiful thoroughbreds of many corporate fleets as well as individual owners.

Few models exemplify this form and function design like the 315P. The rugged design and efficient Omni Precision thrusters are what most outer-system enthusiasts are looking for in their exploration of the vast unknown. But there is quite a bit to be said for the 315P as a long-distance trucking craft as well. Today we will cover some of the many aspects to like about the 315P when it comes to your long-haul cargo transport needs.

We’ll start with the ship’s strengths. Like the rest in the series, the 315P is a single pilot craft with ready access to sleeping quarters for extensive auto-pilot runs. And again like the other’s the 315P features wingtip laser mounts and standard missile rack mounts under the upper wing-box for a modest level of security when traveling alone or in a group. Couple these with a Gorgan All-stop shield system and a serviceable power source, and your standard 300 series package is complete.

But of course what sets the 315P apart is its stock  Dragon Stellar primary engine. The  STC Silver offers the exceptional efficiency that void-riders have come to expect when you might go for days between fuel stops. And of course the sacrifice of speed for distance easily translates into a reduced cost of operations when it’s time to look for cutbacks in your budget. In addition, the more muscular K3S-9 power-plant from Alliance Startech will give you a boost in shielding recharge rate should you decide to take a shortcut through a particle field to shave additional kilometers from your run.

“the more muscular K3S-9 power-plant from Alliance Startech will give you a boost in shielding recharge.”Now for a few weaknesses to the 315P as a freighter, and the smallest is of course the largest: cargo space. The 315P is not spacious. At a mere 8 metric tonnes of carrying capacity, it won’t be pushing a Starfarer or Merchantman out of work anytime soon. Small expensive cargo is of course ideal, but with a few modifications, a small convoy of Origin 315P’s could easily carry the volume of an RSI Constellation without the exorbitant fuel and maintenance costs that go along with it.

The Origin is of course unable to match the firepower of a Constellation, another weakness. But a few well-piloted 315P’s may stand a better chance of avoiding conflict altogether, splitting up or scouting jump points before traveling through to any un expected and uncivilized parties that might wait on the other side.

And that leads us to one of the strongest arguments for the Origin 315P as a dedicated long hauler, the standard-equipped Chimera Jump Scanner. If the name of the shipping game is “move it short and fast”, then there is no better way to ensure a tidy profit than taking the shortest route to your destination. And if there is none? Well then sometimes you have to make one.

While we would certainly never encourage an inexperienced citizen to try their hand at finding and navigating an uncharted jump-point, in the hands of a more skilled explorer looking to pay the bills with some cargo drops, a Jump Scanner is your golden ticket to finding the shortest line between A and B.

Sell the information for an additional job bonus, or keep the secret to yourself to beat out the competition. Even one “jumper” on your company’s workforce could turn any break-even route into a big payday route.

While there are always better (and bigger) solutions for the long-distance transport, being creative in your business and taking risks along the way are what sets any entrepreneur apart from the competition. And in the right hand and with the right modifications, the Origin 315P might just give you the edge you need to keep your shipping concern moving in the right direction.

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The Resorts of Cassel: Pandora’s Secret

Posted on Mar 23, 2944 in Featured, Travel | 0 comments

Located near the coastal town of Emmerson’s Bay in the western hemisphere of Cassel, this small but luxurious resort has a lot to offer the weary business owner looking to un-wind for a week and take in the sites. By no means on-par with the sprawling mega-resorts dotting the surface, Pandora’s Resort caters more to the relaxed life. A simple island experience away from the pounding nightclubs and hard-shop centers.

Pandora features a variety of bungalows with interiors that have been handcrafted by designer Pavel Lantier himself. A stylish mix of island culture and modern sensibilities await your needs as no expense has been spared, nor any comfort ignored.

The many pools and spas are to be expected, warm and soothing with convenient access to bars and poolside amenities. And as expected, there is plenty of room to stretch out and relax without fear of bumping into other guests. In fact it almost feels as though each guest has a pool to themselves, though the resort was by no means empty.

This spread-out nature did result in a feeling of an under-staffed operation at times, a potential knock for some who prefer the catered life, but for me it added to the myth of seclusion that I was absolutely looking for in a tropical setting.

The true jewel of the Pandora’s Secret resort is by far the view. From the many beach-side terraces, you and your guests will be treated to an unparalleled vista featuring pure warm sand and the nearby Goss III reflected serenly in the blue-green oceans. The entire portrait is framed brilliantly by local flora that is now common to those who travel the resort scene, but nevertheless beautiful to behold.

If there is any area for improvement at the Pandora it would be the dining options, which felt sub-standard even for a 3-Diamond resort. Morning and afternoon fare did not feel traditional to the local culture and were a little too touristy for my tastes. A buffet has no place in a luxury resort, in my opinion. The evening dining was a much more complete experience, however, and chef Santiago offered up a rare blend of Cassel-native delicacies grilled and spiced to perfection.

On the whole, Pandora’s Secret is an excellent example of the many private destinations that Cassel has to offer for those who can afford the finer things while traveling, and who truly value their privacy. In fact if you are fortunate enough to find availability, do not be surprised if you encounter an occasional celebrity of glass or stage mingling with the leaders of some of the finest corporations of Terra and more.

- Rolina duBarge is our Travel editor and was nominated for the 2941 Golden Sandal Award.

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Freelance Job Prospects for 2944

Posted on Mar 23, 2944 in Business, Featured | 0 comments

The economic disparity of the last few years has left many on the workman’s side of the fence wondering if their jobs are as solid as they are told. Large-scale shipping companies continue to downsize or outsource their fleet, and now more than ever a wagepay pilot must ask how much uncertainty they are willing to endure.

Contran Interstellar, for example, has diminished their Terran-based incorp fleet from its height of 1,450 ships back in 2936 to a mere 876 today, and most of those remaining are large-scale or specialty haulers requiring a practiced crew or a restricted license and training. Arther D’Mualli, operations manager at Contran, assures us that they are shipping as much if not more than they have in the past.

“Business is good, we can’t deny it. And a healthy aspect of that success comes from our conscious decision to outsource our small-haul fleet. As our older class lines continue to show their age, and with the recent rise in insurance claims following increased raider activity in the outer sectors, we had no choice but to diversify our sourcing options.”

Contran is of course not alone in their decision to move small ship operations outside of the corporate walls. In 2943 alone, nearly 18% of all shipping companies polled responded that they had or were planning to reduce their pilot roster in lieu of outsourced contract work within 6-12 months. Over half of those that responded, roughly 53%, felt that it was in their financial interest to eventually lower their fleet count within the next 3 years.

What does this mean for the solo pilots willing to work for their pay? It means a focus on self-employment might be in your future if you’re not there already. Those that do not currently own a freight-worthy ship might want to start saving, or at the least explore joint ownership. An investment in a well-maintained 2935 MISC Freelancer, for example, could more than pay for itself in available work if your team is able to produce a qualified mechanic. And the UEE appears to be ahead of the curve by providing independent contractors with a steady supply of government and private-sector work through their extensive job boards.

For those that do currently own a ship but are still holding on to their wage job, considering requesting a buyout contract package. Many companies that are feeling the pinch appear more willing to contract with trusted former employees, and in a sense you might be saving them money in the long run. Discretion is advised, of course, and your own situation may be different.

If a solo career is what you are after, consider the additional expenses that you will need to incur before pre-spending those large cred payouts. Fuel costs, insurance, and of course security resources are all expenses that are now your own responsibility. Considering the increase in raider and Vanduul activity along many popular trading routes, it might be advisable to join any of the growing convoy organizations to help mitigate the expense of outside security forces, not to mention the potential for word-of-mouth work that inevitably flows through such business-oriented factions.

Ultimately, the options for pilots moving into 2944 appear to be a mixed bag of uncertain but promising. While change can be unwelcome and overwhelming to behold, many successful solo-pilots and entrepreneurs today credit their “big leap” to independence as the motivating factor that lead to their fortune and success in business.

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PROFILE: Danning Security Enterprises

Posted on Mar 22, 2944 in Business, Featured | 0 comments

In this installment of Business Profiles we pull away the curtain to Danning Security Enterprises, an up-and-coming UEE enforcement enterprise offering potent but discreet support to those looking to enhance the safety of their fleet. Founded in 2934 by owner Maxwell Danning, DSE has quickly become a powerful player in the areas of support and interdiction.

“We have always held the belief that no cargo is too small or too risky for our care,” Maxwell is quick to offer when asked about his company’s core foundations. “Risk is not your concern anymore, it’s our’s. We ask no questions and instead guide the path to your destination, wherever it might be.”

From their headquarters on New Austin, Danning Security offers a broad range of ships in their private fleet, from the iconic rigidity of Hornet rows to entire squads of 300’s and Mustang’s for lighter work. “Even the safest of lanes occasionally need a show of skilled force and a watchful eye. Our pilots are experienced and will keep potential threats as well as curious onlookers at a secure distance from your property.”

Danning Security also sports a number of re-enforced shipping vessels available for contract for those needing additional cargo options. These ships are also available for the practice of jump-baiting, a common tactic today meant to draw out possible threats from a jumppoint exit before the rest of the convoy proceeds through.

“Our goal is to keep the potentials guessing. Always. If they emerge at the wrong time now, they may hesitate in the future. And often that hesitation is enough to expose their weakness.”

And those goals are paying off, as DSE turned a third straight quarter of incremental profit and growth, an accomplishment made more impressive by the number of new enforcement companies dotting the horizon each week.

What does the future hold for DSE? Maxwell Danning is clear in his message. “As the Vanduul advance and unlawful civilian encounters continue to be a presence on the landscape of any business, we feel we are in a prime position to cater to a market willing to opt for a real and aggressive form of insurance rather than the latter.”

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Illegal Mining on Kilian X

Posted on Mar 19, 2944 in Featured, News | 0 comments

Shel locks his thruster ignition with a switch-cover so he doesn’t accidentally activate it during approach. As we silently drift towards the growing disc of the planet surface, black against the contrasting light from Kilian’s distant star, the crew and I discuss the upcoming approach.

“Hit it wrong and we’ll have half the [expletive] Corp rain down on us.” The Serene nature of our flight transitions to a sense of unease, jagged as the surface, as the multitude of potential problems are numbered.

We started our approach hours ago. The calculations required to lay in the navpoint and time the burn perfectly took multiple attempts. Thousands of kilometers from the tenth planet of Kilian, away from the scanners and patrol ships, we began a steady course before burning hard to level all of the axis for a straight shot to a distant encounter with the planet’s dark side. Once Shel McCormick, captain of the Freelancer “Melinda”, and his two supporting ships had the course locked and instruments set, we cut all thrusters, electronics, and power. Nothing but battery-operated heat and an air-recycling pump.

“Poor-man’s stealth,” Shel had called it.

McCormick and his two partner ships, another Freelancer “BatNose” and an Aurora “Tailpipe Serenade”, were kind enough to allow me a ride-along on this less-than-authorized mining expedition, though not without some hesitation and plying with Emerick Whiskey.

McCormick is of course not his real name. Oddly enough none of the captains minded using their actual ship names for this publication. “Won’t exactly set off any bells because they’re not exactly registered,” chuckled the captain of the BatNose.

The next few hours are spent with the small crew of the Melinda, playing cards and watching the portable scanback reader for signs that we’ve been found. Nothing. A clean drift along a straight line and we arrive at the 10th planet of Kilian as calculated, with no sign of patrol boats, and more importantly, away from the watchful eye of Corin.

As the planet’s dark patch approaches, a few minor adjustments are made with external thrust-bottles activated by wire. Still no power.

“They don’t look in the dark. Know it won’t do any good.”

The UEE security patrols, outdated Avenger class, primarily stick to the light-side of the worlds they are tasked with guarding against this very form of illicit claim-jumping. Most ore-cutters have learned to run cold by now, so the patrol’s only hope is to catch a visual. And some cutters are apparently naive enough, or inept enough, to fly through the light-side atmo, streaking an exclamation for the entire hemisphere to see.

We’re through the atmosphere ourselves now, and Shel and his pack wait until what feels like too late to give the signal and light up all power and thrusters to push the rocky surface away from their hulls. Now in this crimson black they must quickly speed along the surface to arrive at their destination and the mining crew that awaits.

The cutter crew arrived by the same method days before the haulers. A two-man crew and equipment carried in on the “Rockslider”, an aged Cutlass fixed with on-ship drill-beams for hollowing out a cavern home near the dig site. Or if no cavern is found, carving one, all before daylight hits the mark. It’s a job for the truly insane, according to the Melinda’s turret gunner and prime mechanic. “But those Conner brothers never really had much use for sanity. Or soap by the smell of them.”

Within 20 minutes of breaching the atmosphere our three ship pack arrives at the mark, and slowly enters the narrow mouth opening of the sheer rock face. The Rockslider had no trouble skirting the passage and the jagged formations clawing at its hull, but our three would never survive unscathed if they hadn’t been cleared first. As we approach the interior base of operations, the marks are clear on the Cutlass’ hull even now through the dusting of ore and rock powder clinging to its surface.

The dust is everywhere, in-fact, and a frequent visor-wipe of our environment suits becomes a quickly learned habit. The machinery is closer than expected, and it’s clear this setup is not intended to be a long-term operation.

Without a word to the brothers, our crew unloads the empty and clearly aged dumpster-like containers from their holds, along with two smaller sealed crates and a heavy-wheeled loader to begin the scoop and deposit of the ore.

Each pile is surprisingly neat in their rows along the path of the cutter. Despite any pre-conceived notions about their personal hygiene, it’s clear the Conner brothers know their craft and are serious about the execution of it.

While the Aurora’s crew is focused on filling the cargo bins, the rest of our crew is tending to the large portable fans powered by auxiliary cells from the Freelancers, and directed at containing the billowing ore dust away from the cave’s entrance as daylight approaches. The mistakes of the caught guide their actions even now.

We’re not allowed to venture outside to see the surface by day. This is not the same crew that poured down homegrown alcohol and grinned at their cards while hurtling toward an unforgiving atmosphere hours before. Even Shel’s normally stern face betrays the heightened stress that daylight brings.

“They know someone’s in this region for sure. And they’ll make it their business to find them.”

Before we set off from an outpost on Kilian IV, I had asked McCormick’s crew what would happen if we were caught. “Depends on who catches us,” they had all agreed with a knowing look around the table.

When they offered no more I had asked if any of them had ever been caught, and received a more raucous mirth at this question, though the alcohol again may have played into their reply. “Oh sure we’ve each been snatched up once or twice to be sure,” offered Jacoby, the ship’s navigator.

“But there’s ways around that. Most patrols have their price as long as you don’t piss them off.”

And if you manage to irritate them? A more serious reply this time, “Well that’s when it depends.”

“I’ve known only two that got pinched and didn’t feel much in the sharing mood, both within 3 months of each other,” the gunner offered up. Jacoby had tended to his drink and nodded in instant agreement.”

“I don’t right know what happened exactly because I never really heard from either one after.”

He continued with an explanation that the prison systems are a long way from Ten’s surface, and conjectured that they were either slaved out or “fed to the Sisters as ‘volunteer target recruits’.” A notion Jacoby had found chuckle-worthy but a jest not shared by the gunner or McCormick.

The gunner completed his thought. “Me? I wouldn’t be surprised if they just dunked them in Seven to watch their skin bubble off.” When Jacoby did not respond with any more amusement, possibly taking the belated cue from his captain, the conversation had returned to the planning and calculations of mass, thrust ratio fully loaded, and of course the cred split.

Back in the cavern the work progresses slowly. No reason to rush since we have all day to burn before attempting the evac.

The brothers continue to cut as much as they can from the steadily depleting vein. I was told early on that I would have neither access to their prospecting process nor any indication of what it was they were actually mining. From what I can see through the dust it drops to the ground as a dull-orange material similar in consistency to a copper shale, but it’s clear from the effort involved that it is much more valued than mere copper.

“It’ll pay,” is the most I’m allowed when the elder Conner is prompted, a wry smile creasing his dust-caked face. I’ve noticed his eyes darting to the two unopened crates unloaded with the cargo bins. “Not always easy to move, but it’ll pay to the tooth.”

[To Be Continued]

- Jackson Morrre is a veteran war correspondent and winner of two Furtherton Awards.

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