Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Charles. After a decade of failed Navy exploration missions, the government moved to acquire NASA resources to fix the program, but the NASA ships had been sent to the ship breakers, the companies that built them went out of business due to loss of business, and the Astronauts were years out of practice. The Navy had to rebuild a new space exploration program from the ground up, using what NASA expertise remained, and looking for help from the outside.
2 – Hello, my name is Betty. Americans have a flair for using names like Freedom, Independence, and Liberty to celebrate the rugged individuality that supposedly won the rebellion. In actuality, it was teamwork and hanging together that made America great, and it was just that organization that made the Liberty Colony Mission a success. It also became one of the giants of American industry during The War, and many ships sailing today were built there. I may have helped design them.
3 – Hello, my name is Jack. I really did have a chance to retire after The War. I did retire from the military. But no one really retires from being a Marine. Turns out, it’s the same thing for Cowboys. A lot of us have gone back to our day jobs. Accountants. Engineers. Doctors. And some of us travel, meeting new and interesting people. But you know, wherever we are, when the wolf howls at the door, we howl right back. Of course, our leader did earn the name Wolf.
4 – Hello, my name is Charles. When the Navy called for companies willing to construct new exploration ships, the Numu Federation of western America quickly answered the call by offering the services of their yard complex. They had been building Yosemite Yard for years to support a planned Numu Colony Mission. In a mere five years they retooled it to begin mass production of a new generation of Navy exploration ships, superior in every way to those produced by any other yard complex.
5 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. People think that space is cold. They are wrong. It can be cold, and in shadow it is so cold that metal can snap. But in direct sunlight, that same metal can melt due to the heat. Of course, that is in a star system. Matters get far more interesting in interstellar nebulas, the various walls, and in the star clusters that dot our territories. We have yet to map all of the mysteries of space, but we have learned one thing. We do not know anything yet.
6 – Hello, my name is Betty. Of all the worlds I’ve been to, Arkadia is one of the most interesting. It’s not even really a world, properly speaking. A planet that is. It’s part of a binary star system out in the old Albion Sector. The Ennead wiped out the other system before dying, but even they couldn’t wipe out Arkadia. It is a true gas torus wrapped around a star. Some call it a smoke ring. A man could spend a lifetime exploring in those skies and never find an end to them.
7 – Hello, my name is Jack. I don’t remember the American Presidents of my youth. They didn’t really affect my life. The junior Senator from Colorado did though. When the Shang plastered Washington D.C. with missiles, she stepped up and gave us all an example to follow. I met her, I followed her personal orders, and she earned my unconditional loyalty. She was my President, not simply the President. And that made all the difference.
8 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Yosemite Yards were built in high geosynchronous orbit near the Panama City Orbital Elevator. All of our major shipyards were up there back then for security reasons. Nobody wanted an American shipyard flying over Chinese airspace for obvious reasons. The consolidated complex allowed a single heavy security force to keep corporate and government raiders at bay. Everything changed after Contact.
9 – Hello, my name is Betty. I really like Arkadia. Open skies as far as the eye can see, literally, are only one thing going for it. There are handfuls of planetoids, mostly man-made that pass for cities, and smaller moonlets and asteroids scattered throughout the ring. You can live anywhere you want. The gases that make up the ring aren’t exactly Earth-normal atmosphere, but humans can breath there just fine. Gravity is the tricky bit, but that is what gravity generators are for.
10 – Hello, my name is Jack. My President pushed a treaty through the re-elected Senate that made the Cowboys a shared unit, where we provided the personnel, and the Peloran provided technological support and operational command. There are those in the military high command who never forgave her for placing Americans under foreign command, permanently, by treaty. And they never forgot those like me who embraced it. None of us ever got another promotion, in twenty years of War.
11 – Hello, my name is Charles. When the Peloran made Contact, we used rocket ships. Orbital elevators were our only cheap way into space. We had no control of gravity the way we do now. Then the Peloran Battle Squadron flashed into existence before our very eyes, deep inside our hyperspace limit, and their gravtech battleship maneuvered more easily than one of our fighters. They could have wiped us out in a day and we wouldn’t have scratched their hulls. Thank God they were here to help us.
12 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. Stories, and the ability to tell them, are one of the many things that make us human. Our imaginations drive us to do things we don’t yet know how to do. Our wishes make us grow, our growth makes us learn, and our learning makes us realize just how little we really know. And it is stories that make our imaginations run wild, or wishes expand, and bring us the knowledge we crave. Please, never deprive our children of the stories that made us who we are. Human.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. After The War, we went to Old New York for the celebration of War’s end. The celebration went on for months, as Veterans came from across known space. Whether retiring or on liberty, the Veterans came home and celebrated with the people who came to meet them and thank them for twenty years of service to humanity. It was amazing, and we will never forget it.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. I remember the celebration at Old New York like it was yesterday. I found myself with old friends, some of the few who survived the fall of Yosemite. They held me together. Well, they say that we held each other together, but they were always stronger than me. Don’t trust them if they say anything different. They met me in Old New York and we celebrated the fact that we still lived. Not that we won. Just that we lived. It was a really awesome night.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. I arrived late to the celebration at Old New York. I was late enough that I did not have time to celebrate at all. My guide never arrived. That was my first clue that while The War was over, we would not yet know peace. It is the lot in life for Veterans to always have problems with that notion. We fight, and then we are forgotten. To their credit, America tried to remember the Veterans. But it is hard to remember a warrior, when you try to forget The War.
16 – Hello, my name is Betty. It’s amazing really, just how short an attention span people can have. Realty shows bracketed by one-minute news reports simply don’t provide for an informed citizenry. And when the news cycles can be measured in days, today’s heroes who fought in the greatest battles of the Hyades can be tomorrow’s forgotten figments of imagination. They tried to make the people forget us. They almost succeeded.
17 – Hello, my name is Jack. Most Veterans got to enjoy the celebrations of War’s End, but we Cowboys, and the other Ageless, got truncated real quick. It started when the media asked how someone scarred by twenty years of War could be trusted in normal society with a deadly weapon. They provided a platform for “experts” to demand the confiscation of our weapons, our ships, and even our partners. The War was over after all. What need did we have for weapons?
18 – Hello, my name is Charles. My family saw the Ageless as a Peloran plot to take over the human race. I was the only member of the Family who was Ageless. They used my mind to further Family interests, but never trusted me, never placed me in positions of true power in the Family. They never forgave me for using Family funds to build a colony, in Peloran space, welcoming of Ageless. I knew they would not. I underestimated how far they would take their grudge though.
19 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. There is no such thing as a civil war. Wars are messy, nasty business. When family goes to war, matters are the worst they could ever be. I knew what Charles was up to the day I was born. I chose to live so I could help him. I mourn every one who died because of the choices we made, the mistakes we cannot take back. But I would not change that most basic choice that gave me life. To help Charles, whatever the cost. And the costs have been high.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. Everyone has to make a choice on what to do. None of us really have to work anymore. Thanks to the Peloran, energy is free, and with energy you can do whatever you want to do. Ships like me just top off at gas giants or other places like that, and we can fly forever. It is amazing to be free like that, to be able to go wherever you want, whenever you want. We Cowboys have our jobs of course, but we all chose them. One day, I hope you will find out what they are.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. After we The War, me and Betty spent some time touring with T&J. Those two girls are amazing. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them. We traveled to so many worlds at first, but never really got to enjoy them. We sang at the starport and left, never experiencing much beyond it. I finally talked them into taking time to smell the roses. Or maybe Betty tuned their hyperdrives to go faster and we forgot to tell their scheduling agents. Oops.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. After Contact, the Peloran medical treatments cured our worst diseases, and gave us the long lives that are common now. And in a very few cases, we stopped aging at all. We became Ageless. It took us some time to realize how important Ageless were. At first, all we saw was the shiny new gravitic technologies that could bring us to the galaxy at large far faster and safer than the mere rockets we flew the year before. At first.
23 – Hello, my name is Betty. We spent nearly a month in Arkadia after The War. We were looking for artifacts there. Arkadia was destroyed back during the Great War a couple thousand years ago, but there are lots of relics you can still find there. We spent a long time looking. Of course, T&J were doing concerts at the same time, and there were a lot of venues there. Nobody knew we were looking for anything else, which was exactly how we needed it.
24 – Hello, my name is Jack. Me and Betty became explorers after The War, going all over and looking for anything new. We spent a lot of time on our worlds, looking for things that nobody else knew were there. We also went places totally new, for all of us. I’ve seen waterfalls three kilometers high, meteor showers burning as hot as stars, and the deep darkness between the arms of the galaxy. We’ve been where no one has gone before. Well. No Terran at least.
25 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Peloran did not actually give us high technology. Not much at least. They gave us basic gravitic tech and improved hyperdrives generations ahead of our technology, but they were far below true Peloran technology. They gave us a taste, a very good taste, and then taught us what we needed to know to design those same technologies on our own. In the words of an old parable, they taught us how to fish.
26 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. Long ago, we came to a new, strange world that made little sense to us. We struggled to grow corps in the alien soil, but they failed. But we made friends with the natives, and they helped us. We worked together, growing new food and hunting the local animals. In the end, we all celebrated together, thanking God for the friendships that helped us gather the food we needed to survive the coming winter. That is the essence of the holiday we call Thanksgiving.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. According to Arkadian history, after the total destruction of the other half of the Arkadian Binary system, the survivors towed one of the last remaining moons over to the smoke ring surrounding the other star. They renamed it Antigonia, after their destroyed homeworld, and in the last two thousand years it has become the center of civilization in the Arkadian Ring. It is also the place where we found a very special artifact that we had been searching for.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. I had another good day today. I sat back, a drink in my hand, and watched a world I’d never been to go by before my eyes. Tomorrow I have a job to do, but today I just enjoyed life. Everyone needs to take time to do that from time to time. It’s even more important with modern life spans. I can’t imagine working at the same job, doing the same things day after day, for over a century. Or longer. So take a break. Make a change. Live your life, not your work.
29 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Peloran, and the Roderan and Shang when they came, did give us at least a few examples of “surplus” hyper and gravitic drives. The hyperdrives were faster and hardier than our own, and most of the samples were torn apart for study and replication. We retrofitted a handful of them into existing naval warships though, and those hybrid ships became the fastest warships we owned. The Russians and Chinese did the same thing of course.
30 – Hello, my name is Betty. Antigonia is not the only moon in the Arkadian Ring of course. Over the millennia, they’ve towed most of the surviving rubble from their old home star to the ring. Most of it is asteroid-sized, but there are many very small moonlets and a few actual moons. Antigonia is the largest surviving fragment of the original Arkadian home system though, since the Ennead literally ripped everything larger than it apart.