Hello, my name is…
01 – Hello, my name is Betty. Alcyone has five stars. The blue giants, Aa and Ab, have fancy scientific names. The locals call them Ace and Deuce. The white dwarfs, B and C, our astronomically huge mines of star stuff, we call Buck and Cash. And then there’s Alcyone D. It’s a little hotter than our sun, and it’s in a pretty screwed up neighborhood. Most of the planets are long gone, but the three survivors are all habitable. Lots of people live under the never-ending light of Dixie.
02 – Hello, my name is Jack. Christian was Cowboy Four in the old days. Christian Mack his name was. We called him The Knife after some old song. The Peloran named him Ram. He’s real loyal and real determined, and he stood with Charles when it wasn’t shiny. I think both names fit him good. He became Cowboy One when Charles retired, and has commanded the Cowboys real good since then. Without him, the little disagreement we had with Charles’ family after The War would have ended way worse.
03 – Hello, my name is Charles. The South Americans are the most powerful of the non-aligned powers. They maintained strict neutrality between the Western Alliance, Russians, and Chinese as we expanded into the stars. Their worlds became trading posts where traders of all nations are welcomed, for a small import-export tax of course. And their own freighters carry goods that cannot be acquired through official shipping to all the worlds. They are a vital cog of the interstellar economy.
04 – Hello, my name is Betty. Alcyone’s fifth star, Dixie, has a system of three planets and an asteroid belt that is probably the remains of a fourth. They are the only remaining stable planets in the entire Alcyone star system, and humans live on all three of them. Two of them are actually very comfortable. The third, not so much. Dixie and her three worlds are the center of human civilization in the Pleiades Cluster, the heart of power for the entire sector.
05 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Cowboys named me Jester. It was a good name. I earned it. Then the Peloran named me Hart. It took a while for us to make the change. We felt they were trying to take our real names. In time, we realized that the names fit us, often better than the names we were born with. I stopped using my old name altogether. It became the past, the person I was before The War. I am Cowboy Five, and I will be until the day I die. My name is Jack Hart.
06 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Persians are a powerful non-aligned power. They are one of the most ancient civilizations on Earth. They say the oldest. They have ruled the known world, and been ruled by it. They have seen civilizations rise and fall. They have survived every occupation of their land, Greek, Mongol, and even Islam, and risen again. Other young upstarts come and go with the wind, but Persia will stand for all time. They are the superior culture. Such is their mindset.
07 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. When The War ended, everyone came home. Soldiers, sailors, spacemen, and marines. After twenty years of War, all of our warriors came home. Old New York partied for an entire year, a celebration that never ended. Ticker tape parades, concerts, and more. As all things do though, the celebrations came to an end, and we all had to learn how to live again. That was the most difficult mission we ever committed to. Life after War.
08 – Hello, my name is Betty. Orbiting the Alcyone system’s fifth star, Gateway was the first Western Alliance colony in the Pleiades Cluster. It was also the farthest colony from Terra we’d ever built. Designed to act as our embassy to the Peloran, we constructed it as a monument to Western civilization and sent our best and brightest on the four-year flight to the system. They built a colony we could all be proud of, a veritable Garden of Eden in the distant frontiers of space.
09 – Hello, my name is Jack. Ken was my wingman back when we first started. He was Free Japanese. His great grandparents made it out before the fall, and he grew up surfing the California coasts. We called him Buckaroo Banno. But you probably know this already if you read our diaries. He was a good man, a good friend, and I will always miss him. He will forever be known as Crane, as Cowboy Six, and to me as one of the many friends I owe my life to.
10 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Republic of India is one of four powerful non-aligned nations. Bordering Persia in the west and China to the northeast, they began practicing neutrality after finishing their part of the Islamic Jihad. They have colonized a small number of systems, maintain a small navy, and keep to themselves as much as possible. They do not ignore the outside universe. They simply see no need to compete with us. They feel secure. It makes them interesting to deal with.
11 – Hello, my name is Betty. The first planet orbiting Alcyone’s fifth star is a hot little world, drier than Earth on average, but with a lot of natural resources. The Republic of Texas colonized Odessa and turned it into a major manufacturing center, even before The War. Odessa has expanded to become one of the foremost American colonies, a strident voice for colonial rights in modern America, pushing to grant Statehood to more colonies. Odessa is not always popular in the Core Worlds.
12 – Hello, my name is Jack. Jessie James was my second wingman in the early months of The War. And yes, that is the name he was born with. We called him Cards at first because he’s always shuffling them, but after he somehow managed to get ejected into space during training he got the name Dutchman. He’s one of those real good friends that you can meet after five years and pick up the last conversation where it ended. The Peloran named him Fox. He is Cowboy Seven.
13 – Hello, my name is Charles. Constantinople is the last great non-aligned power. The City stretches from the Mediterranean to the Black Seas, and has been a major center of trade for thousands of years. When humanity went to the stars, The City sent scouts to find stars they judged to be in good locations for future trade. They colonized very few, but those few are the richest trading centers in all of Terran space. Any trader that ever lived has been to at least one of those worlds.
14 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. After The War, all we wanted to do was rest, relax, and never have to worry about fighting ever again. It was not meant to be though. They did not want to let us retire. They wished us always there to enforce the new peace under their orders. Cybers. Pilots. All of us. We opted instead for eternal vigilance on our own terms. It was the harder road, and many of us have died on it. But it has defined who we are now. We are Cowboys. We are eternally vigilant.
15 – Hello, my name is Betty. Hades is the last inhabited world around the Alcyone system’s fifth star. It’s a sulfur-rich world, but despite the name, it’s extremely cold on average, with ice sheets stretching from the poles to near the equator. Constantinople used the ice to their advantage and turned it into a major transshipping center, the central storage facility for trade in the Pleiades Cluster and into Peloran space. Not surprisingly, the locals have mastered the winter sports.
16 – Hello, my name is Jack. Cowboy Eight was a real good dancer. She was Hawaiian, so we came up with the amazing name of Hula. Yeah. We weren’t the most imaginative, but she liked it. She died and I helped her cyber live with the loss. Literally. They don’t take the loss of their partners well. Most die. Next thing I knew, her cyber created another cyber in her image. That was slightly against the rules you see. Still is, actually. Her name was Drew. Is Drew. It’s complicated.
17 – Hello, my name is Charles. When Americans first went to space, the old Air Force led the way. NASA became the civilian face of our space program, but the Air Force continued their efforts. The resulting Air and Space Force became the primary Earth-based defense of America. We lost most of it during the Second Great Depression, but the Star Wars network proved instrumental during the Mexican Drug War, and the larger Islamic Jihad as well.
18 – Hello, my name is Betty. In the middle of the Alcyone quintuple star system, between the stars Ace and Deuce, is the reason we came to the Pleiades Cluster in the first place. It’s the reason the Peloran came here too. We’ve traveled thousands of lightyears and never found anything like it, the rarest natural phenomena we know of. At least we think it’s natural. Gateway. Stargate. Wormhole. Science fiction gave us dozens of names for phenomena like it. We call it the Taurus Gate.
19 – Hello, my name is Jack. Jay Lovato is a big old Navajo Indian, and I do mean way older than me. He remembers when the Peloran made Contact. Never did fight much until Yosemite plastered the Navajo Nation. His people called him Running Bull on account of his hulking size, and we…ran with it. He’s a lot faster than he looks let me tell you, and the Peloran actually agreed on the name, just shortening it to Bull. He’s one of six of us originals that survived The War, and he is Cowboy Nine.
20 – Hello, my name is Charles. When we returned to space in earnest, the Space Force and the Navy argued over who should be the dominant space arm. The submarine service entered the debate by saying that no air or surface fleet commanders had any true clue of how to spend weeks or months in the dark, far from any reinforcement, a common routine for the submarines. In the end, the Navy submarine service built the first true American space navy.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. It was a long War. A lot of us didn’t make it out. Many of us that did…well…for a lot of us we really didn’t. Make it out entirely. War’s not pretty, and it’s not safe, and it’s real hard to come home after that. Most of us don’t like talking about it much. We just try to forget the bad times, remember the good times, and try to make more. We are prodigal sons come home, praying it is better than we have seen, fearing what we bring with us.
22 – Hello, my name is Betty. Alpha Centauri was our first gateway to the stars. A year away via hyperspace, we had to plan very carefully before sending scouts or colony expeditions. If anything broke, they had to be able to do without or fix it on site. Our governments planned scientific and military outposts, where our best and our finest would prove that our nations were strongest. What we got were frontier towns that had more in common with each other than those back home realized.
23 – Hello, my name is Jack. Cowboy Ten was a good man. Cowboy One Zero if you wanna be particular. Spud we called him for some reason I can’t even remember when I think back on it. He was always moving to a beat that no one else could hear and I learned a lot of good dance moves from him. The Peloran named him Boar. He died saving the USS Fox from a Shang warship squadron in the Hyades Cluster. She saved me from three frigates the next day. His name was Daniel Freemon.
24 – Hello, my name is Charles. As we expanded into the Solar System, colonizing Luna, Mars, and Venus, the new American space navy expanded with us. From one ship, to two, to a dozen, the best and brightest of the submarine service took to space. With them, they took their training, their traditions, and their language. Yes. That language too. But I meant the way they communicate orders and the way they think. For one example, every early warship was actually a boat according to the crews.
25 – Hello, my name is Betty. Alpha Centauri has five habitable worlds, and by 2120 we had outposts or full colonies on every single one. We targeted New Earth, the most Earthlike of them, with two major colonies from China and the Western Alliance, and numerous smaller countries supported the colony missions in exchange for their own small holdings. Some failed, but most thrived by cooperating with their neighbors, no matter what country they came from. Our governments didn’t plan that.
26 – Hello, my name is Jack. Bad Chad was a real character, one of the original Cowboys that actually came from Texas. And oh boy did he know it. He had an ego to match the size of his home, and almost always lived up to it in actions. Almost. Sometimes I think I channel him a bit when I’m feeling particularly snarky about something. He died at Alpha Centauri. He was Cowboy Eleven. Cowboy One One by radio. His name was Chad Adelman.
27 – Hello, my name is Charles. Run silent, run deep. Buried in the core of every submariner that ever lived is the urge to do precisely that. When they built the American space navy, they took that tradition with them. They flew the flag when ordered, but otherwise they disappeared in the deep dark between planets, never seen unless they wanted it that way. When we discovered hyperspace, they dove into it as if it were a special gift from God. They named it subspace.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. Going home can be amazing. It can be scary. It can be sad. There are so many emotions, all dependent on how you left. For the prodigal son, you can be afraid, praying your parents will accept you back. For the conquering hero, you expect family and friends to say how proud they are of you. For every kind of person, there is another hope or worry. Few go home looking for trouble.
29 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Chinese colonized New Earth first. Through their colony of Xin Xiang (New Town) the Chinese claimed the world as their own. We disagreed with their claim and founded Landing City. For the next two centuries, Landing City and Xin Xiang vied for control of the world through a series of territorial claims and outposts surrounding each colony. Despite often tense relations though, they avoided armed conflict. Both cities remain to this day.
30 – Hello, my name is Jack. Peter White was the last of the original Cowboys. And we were so imaginative in our callsign creation that of course we named him Rabbit. And to make it worse, he was so compulsively punctual that we kept ribbing him about being late. He was a rather serious fellow. And he was always Cowboy One Two, never Cowboy Twelve. He died providing cover for a Marine orbital drop at Eudora during the Hyades Campaign.
31 – Hello, my name is Charles. Because of the submariners that built the space navy, even the modern navy “dives” into hyperspace and “rises” into normalspace. The clarion call of a commanding officer to “prepare for surface action” is still the standard. But not all their terms survived. When the navy began building carriers and their escorts, they called on surface fleet sailors to man them. And no true sailor would be caught dead living on a “boat.” And subspace? No. Just no.