Hello, my name is…
01 – Hello, my name is Betty. For two centuries, the Western Alliance and the Chinese vied for control of New Earth through their surrogates in Landing City and Xin Xiang. They fought not with bullets but with land grabs, resource hoarding, and old-fashioned economic warfare. Both cities understood that war would be devastating, and signed the Centauri Treaty. When The War came, they held to the treaty, undoubtedly sparing every city on New Earth a truly brutal War.
02 – Hello, my name is Jack. There’s fewer of us as the decades go by. The first Cowboys. Only six survived The War. We’ve lost another brother since then. But there’s more of us too. Every year, more people volunteer to serve in the Cowboys, and every year more of us retire and go on with our lives. There are thousands of us now. They’re my brothers and sisters, alive or dead, in service or not. We have a tradition you see. There’s no such thing as a former Cowboy.
03 – Hello, my name is Charles. Subspace. Slipspace. Hyperspace. Speculative science fiction gave us many names, and picking one was not easy. The science fiction fans had vested interests in getting the name “their” universe used accepted, and the “debate” was energetic. Submariners picked subspace, and it gained early acceptance. Hyperspace was most popular when the US Navy began to expand, and the new sailors used it to annoy the submariners. God bless inter-service rivalry.
04 – Hello, my name is Jack. Some flames test us. Some flames break us. Some temper us. Some melt us. We are all a result of the flames that I have burned through our lives, and the way we met them. Did we fight them? Did we accept them? Did we cower before them? Did we meet them with a smile? And sometimes we find that as long as we live, the oldest flames never really burn out. They simmer, spark, and spit, until the time is right for them to burn again.
05 – Hello, my name is Betty. New Earth survived The War relatively intact. The Shang alliance attacked the world multiple times, trying to drive the Western Alliance off it. The Shang even performed an orbital bombardment of Landing City once, though newly built ground-to-orbit defenses bled them white. When the Chinese were finally forced to make concessions for Peace, New Earth was one of them. Xin Xiang remains as a Free Chinese city, now part of the Western Alliance.
06 – Hello, my name is Jack. Tom Rogers is one of the oldest men I know. Chronologically. Of course, between the time he spent in hyperspace and the Peloran Treatments, the question of how physically old he is, is actually a pretty good one. He was actually a true blue NASA Astronaut, and is the only man to successfully navigate through The Wall using a Terran hyperdrive. We named him Major Tom. The Peloran named him Hawk. Both names fit real good.
07 – Hello, my name is Charles. The submariners built our first space navy, but when the surface navy admirals finally bribed the politicians to give them a space navy, the submariners found themselves relegated and losing funding for their “silly little boats.” But they were the best scouts, and they soon bribed their own politicians to officially form the Scout Service as part of the Special Warfare Command. And so to this day, Scout Service personnel wear the Dolphins on their breasts.
08 – Hello, my name is Betty. America colonized New Washington in 2113 as a way of proving that America could travel to the stars without relying on the entire Western Alliance. It was a warm and tropical world back then, lush and brimming with life. It wasn’t as nice as New Earth of course, but it was one of the most comfortable worlds we have ever colonized. It was. Time and War has not been kind to the world.
09 – Hello, my name is Jack. Mischief is fun. Kathleen Reynolds according to her dossier. In a lot of ways we get along like a house on fire. She joined us after the first Battles of Alpha Centauri, and was the first Cowboy to fly a Hellcat. We got her upgraded to an Avenger in time, but it took a while. The Russians complicated things. She flew on my wing for a long time, and even after she got her own command, she remained close. We saved each other’s lives more times than I can count.
10 – Hello, my name is Charles. The new Navy Scout Service of the late 22nd Century was always hungry for more funding to build more ships, but the politicians gave them barely enough to scout for the major Naval fleets. At the same time, they lavished funding on NASA’s civilian exploration missions throughout known space. The Navy saw a chance to get that funding, and after a long and bitter political campaign acquired NASA’s mission and funding for the Scout Service. That is how NASA died.
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Marines have this thing about every Marine being a rifleman. Even pilots like me. They also have a thing about training every Marine in martial arts, to control our minds, our characters, and our bodies. They ground it into me pretty good. Literally. On the ground. A lot. But once I got the hang of it, I realized something. It’s all a dance. Combat in all its ways. Messy and violent, but a dance. And girls have always said I’m a good dancer.
12 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Shang bombarded New Washington during The War, leveling the capital city and driving ash into the air. That alone would have caused a period of global cooling that might have lasted a year or two. But the bombardment caused tremors that stretched out for scores of kilometers in every direction, resulting in the eruption of numerous nearby dormant volcanoes. The ash they spewed into the air started a global Ice Age that continues to this day.
13 – Hello, my name is Jack. America built hundreds of warships to fight The War, and they had absolute priority on recruiting the very best Ageless as their pilots. Most of the rest of us were fighter pilots, but there were barely five thousand Ageless in 2305. Two thousand of us died. I know that’s a drop in the bucket to the hundreds of millions of Americans who died, but I knew most of them. Most of them were my friends, and I will always miss them.
14 – Hello, my name is Charles. Contact resulted in tremendous change to the Scout Service. The introduction of Peloran gravitic technology alone would have been enough, but then Scout Service researchers broke the theory of Peloran stealth systems. The resulting radical redesign of Scout Service boats made them the perfect vessels for the Navy Special Forces. And so they are rarely seen landing said forces behind unfriendly lines. Being seen after all would defeat the purpose of being covert.
15 – Hello, my name is Betty. New Washington’s Ice Age has frozen most of the planet for decades. We’ve saved or cataloged the native plants and animals, and environmental domes across the planet protect our cities and many wild lands. Outside the domes, only the equatorial zones are habitable, though filter masks are required against the continuing volcanic ash. We are trying to repair the damage, but this is more of a Terraforming project now than a clean up project. Not cheap, not easy.
16 – Hello, my name is Jack. You know over four thousand American Ageless served during The War. Almost five. Maybe five hundred of us served when the Shang struck. Over two thousand volunteered immediately after that. Another thousand signed up after the Russians got involved. In the end, less than three hundred American Ageless who saw The War start did not serve. We know the name and face of every single one of them. Them. They are not one of us.
17 – Hello, my name is Charles. The modern Navy Scout Service is primarily made up of highly-stealthed boats that perform high-risk scouting and raiding missions. From screening Naval formations to penetrating enemy screens and planetary defense networks, they have been everywhere. Usually prowling with a company of Marines or Special Forces for more personal scouting and raiding, they consider themselves the eyes, ears, and brains of the United States Navy.
18 – Hello, my name is Jack. I’ve always taken things day-to-day, minute-to-minute. No plan survives contact with an angry father, so why bother making one? I prefer to wait for someone else to commit to an action, and then do what I need to do about it. It’s always done me well. Charles is way different. Even his backup plans have backup plans, and contingencies are his comfort zone. So if he’s involved, there will be a plan. Or several. None of them have killed me yet. So I go with them.
19 – Hello, my name is Betty. The world we named New Antarctica was the coldest nominally-habitable world in the Alpha Centauri binary system when we discovered them. We never placed anything more than scientific outposts in the early decades of our space exploration as interstellar colony expeditions were too expensive to waste on a dirty little iceball like that after all. So even though politicians declared it as a fifth habitable world, the rest of humanity ignored it for decades.
20 – Hello, my name is Jack. There are so few of us. Amongst the many tens of billions of humanity, we are thousands. We could have stepped out of normal society and kept to ourselves. Let the rest of the worlds live or die on their own like most of the Peloran have. Most of us took our cue from Aneerin though. We travel, explore, and meet new people wherever we go. We help when needed. In short, we involve ourselves everywhere we go. And that is why we are usually welcome.
21 – Hello, my name is Charles. Science fiction had a profound impact on the many terms we use now. The hyperspace/subspace argument, which still goes on, is far from the only “debate” we had. When the Peloran gave us the basic secrets of gravitic tech, we quickly harnessed them to protect our ships, just as they did. We had very long debates over whether to call them shields, screens, deflectors, or a host of other names. They never truly ended in civilian society.
22 – Hello, my name is Betty. With Contact, the Peloran gave us examples of many new technologies. Some made our warships better. But the Peloran have amazing knowledge of the life sciences and many of these have civilian applications. We engineered new plants for New Antarctica, designed to reinforce the greenhouse effect of the world, and within a decade the planet began to warm. It has become an amazingly Earth-like world in the decades since, and home to a major Alliance colony.
23 – Hello, my name is Jack. Most of us are travelers of some kind. We do a lot of bounty hunting, bringing criminals to justice and the like. Some of us join the Marshal or Ranger programs, becoming official peace officers. Some even become local Sheriffs or Police, though not many have yet chosen to settle down like that. Me, I’m a drifter. Part time bounty hunter, explorer, and partier. I do whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like doing it. I’m a Cowboy.
24 – Hello, my name is Charles. The defense grids of our warships have always been built of many systems. Devoted to keeping our ships alive against enemy attack, they include electronic warfare grids, active point defense grids, passive stealth grids, and more. When the Peloran gave us the secrets to gravitic tech, we designed systems that generate gravity bands to deflect weapons fire away from our ships. They are deflection grids, though civilians have many other names for them.
25 – Hello, my name is Jack. As a kid I spent the summers wearing swimming trunks. No shoes, no shirt, no problem as the old saying goes. And during winter, I wore enough furs to make an Eskimo jealous. They don’t call us the Icebox of the Nation for nothing after all. But I had some girlfriends that thought they could teach me how to dress good. I generally let them have their way since I couldn’t tell the difference anyways. A shirt was as a shirt, right? Oh silly me.
26 - Alpha Centauri - Everybody knows that Alpha Centauri A has three habitable worlds, assuming variable values for habitability. But each of them has a moon that we’ve placed small colonies on, and there are four gas giants in the system with a total of twenty more major moons. As we know from the Terran system that leaves a lot of real estate to place small colonies on, and we’ve been there for nearly three centuries. And we’ve used it.
27 - Hello, my name is Jack. I really do love the worlds we live in. There are so many, and all of them different from every other. Whenever I get bored with one, I jump in my ship and check out another one in a few days. I’ve been to every major colony world we have, and a lot of the minor ones too. If I live long enough, I plan to see every world, though Betty tells me that’s impossible. Something about us colonizing too many worlds a year for me to catch up. But I ain’t giving up.
28 - Hello, my name is Charles. It is interesting that so many of the words we use now are derived from the science fiction of a time when space travel was rare or non-existent at all. I have often wondered where those ideas came from, how we created them. How did we, an insular, planet-bound society, transform ourselves in a mere handful of decades into a society that actively hoped for Contact? And why? Who benefited the most?