Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Betty. While hackers and lawyers fought over Twilight, it’s season two premiered in the top ten for United States viewers. It was number one compared to the other minor networks. They made a big splash with the opening scene of the opening episode when a series of terrorist strikes hit a half dozen major cities. Some people said it was immoral for them to base entertainment off something so near real life. Others praised them for addressing a real problem of the day.
2 – Hello, my name is Jack. Sometimes I wonder what our worlds would be like if there’d been no War. We’d have a lot less technology of course. The Peloran really had to open up their can of tricks for us. But what about our culture? What about who we are? I like to read Pre-War science fiction just to see where people thought we were headed. Nobody saw The War coming. Oh, lots of authors forecasted wars out in the colonial regions and such. But the Shang were a serious left turn at Yosemite that nobody saw coming.
3 – Hello, my name is Charles. Americans like to think that we have always been the motherland of inventions. We like to think that we changed the world and conquered space with our culture of dogged determination. And it is easy to think that when you see the list of things that we have created. But one should never assume that others are less capable than we are because of that. One should never forget that the Russians went to space first. That the Chinese were first into hyperspace. Never underestimate our adversaries. For they are at least as determined as we are to be the greatest of nations.
4 – Hello, my name is Betty. Market research from season one suggested that people didn’t enjoy the cybernetic side of Twilight as much as the network had hoped. That was why season two went real world so heavily. It also featured several actors from Dixie in recurring or even main series roles since the other show had finally ended. Most of the actors enjoyed their characters so it was easy to get them to return. And with early stories taking the team back to southern Texas it was easy to write the Dixie characters into the series.
5 – Hello, my name is Jack. The War was almost as hard on the Chinese as it was for us. I’m serious. They walked into it prepared and knowing how it would end. They were the superior race in their minds. We were too weak to put up a fight. We were lazy. We were soft. They grew up learning this as children in school. It was a matter as simple as faith to them. And still we beat them. We broke them. And we humbled them when we demanded the Hyades Cluster. I don’t think they will ever forgive us for that.
6 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Chinese changed everything when they made their first hole into hyperspace. Scientists had still been arguing over whether it was even possible to do so up to the second it happened, and some hours later due to how long it took the reports to arrive on Earth. We still have not mastered the speed of light after all. For the Chinese did not go faster than light. They merely found a place where the speed of light was faster than ours. And that changed everything.
7 – Angel Strike. Third Fleet was our best hope to defeat the Shang once and for all. To send them running back home with their tails between their legs. Third Fleet failed. We became those who ran, though we learned something important before we did. The Shang had a secret weapon you see. A weapon we had gotten close enough to blow up. And to get good solid readings on. So we went back to Serenity with another mission. Bring news of what we were fighting against. But Serenity had some bad news of her own when we arrived. The Chinese had traveled a long ways to bring it in person.
8 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight’s season two spent most of its time in Texas and the surrounding States, fighting against human terrorists that absolutely did not belong to any of the known real life terrorist organizations. There was one major recurring Rogue AI that showed up from time to time, but the producers chose to downplay that element for most of the season. Twilight’s rebellious side was focused on much more instead in what many considered one of the best character arcs of any of those original shows.
9 – Hello, my name is Jack. What happens when you humble an enemy? What happens when you beat them? What happens when you break them so badly that the only thing worse than surrendering is fighting on? What happens when the man that signs the surrender finds living with the shame harder than eating a bullet? What happens? I don’t know yet. I hope whoever reads this doesn’t know either. Because I’m very much afraid that the Chinese will never forget that we won and they lost. And I don’t think they’re going to forgive any of us for that.
10 – Hello, my name is Charles. Our first starships were spindly, fragile things. They were a slender needle nearly five hundred meters long designed to pierce the wall between normalspace and hyperspace. Fuel tanks and crew quarters surrounded the central spindle with little room for anything else. Even the engines were weak things barely strong enough to push them through hyperspace. And so the early starships never left the gravitic rivers that linked our stars together. They simply did not have enough power to try another route.
11 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight’s second season nemesis was the recurring Rogue AI. He wore a different dapper suit every episode, donated by a local Texas company, and the show made certain to show a close up of their distinctive logo at least one each time. Product placement at its best. He used the codename Solo because nobody was good enough to be his partner. Or so he thought. He also thought he could beat Twilight and the gang every time he met them. It became more “escape” than “beat” as the season proceeded towards its finale. But Solo never lost his composure. He was a cool customer that the audiences loved.
12 – Hello, my name is Jack. They started The War. Well, the Shang did but the Chinese were quick to pile on. And of course there are the reports that they knew about the Yosemite Strike before it happened. They doubly deserved what happened if that’s true. But is it always good to give people what they deserve? I used to think so. I used to be so quick when justice called out. But sometimes vengeance hides under outraged justice. And sometimes what they deserve isn’t as important as what you’re willing to do. I fear we were willing to do too much. Though what is too much when it is a war for survival?
13 – Hello, my name is Charles. What most people who grew up after Contact fail to realize is that Pre-Contact spaceships generated gravity by spinning small sections of the outer hull around the central spindle frame. Most of the ship was in zero gee unless they were undergoing acceleration. The crew strapped into their stations for high gee operations surpassing a quarter of Earth standard gravity, and could go for months without experiencing anything above one half gee. Pre-Contact interstellar travel was truly a different world than the one we experience now.
14 – Empire-class Battleship. Product of the Fleet 2300 Program, the Empire-class battleship was the most powerful warship built by the United States of America when The War came upon us all. Three spinal-mounted gravitic cannons backed up by six forward anti-ship lasers comprised the main armament that made her such a formidable foe. Fifty-eight flank-mounted capital missile launchers and over one hundred swarm tubes on the bow could overload entire squadron point defense networks. Two fighter squadrons and a full Marine battalion simply gave the Empire even more ways of hurting the enemy. She was simply the best American battleship when The War began and at least one Empire served in every victorious fleet until Wars End.
15 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight started season two as a diligent but disaffected individual. She’d lost one of her best friends, and that made her question everything she’d learned. Dixie became the anchor that kept her on our side, but the season nemesis Solo soon began to tempt her back towards the Rogue AIs. While based on the real life campaign against Solo, Twilight states to this day that the flirtation with the dark side was entirely fictional. Almost entirely. Mostly. Partly. She likes to smile about those days and keep people guessing.
16 – Hello, my name is Jack. People sometimes ask me what HALO drops are like. Well, I’d like you to envision a bunch of grown men screaming like children. Cries for God’s helping hand to keep them from going splat at the end. OK, now that you’ve got the Hollywood version in your mind, forget it. It’s way scarier than that when HALO dropping into a prepared defense. Trust me. The sky lights up like fireworks but those things are trying to kill you. And there’s friendly fire raining down all around you as well, trying to suppress the enemy defenses. You might avoid every enemy shot only to get hit by the good guys. HALO drops are fun and scary at the same time. Part of me hopes I never see another one. Another part of me can’t wait to do it again.
17 – Hello, my name is Charles. For a hundred years we expanded into the void using rocket engines that an Apollo Astronaut would have recognized. Our ships and stations spun to generate gravity. We spent weeks accelerating up to interplanetary speeds and using planetary slingshots to send us out to the edges of our star systems. Fuel bunkerage was what held us back. No ship could carry enough fuel to keep accelerating for weeks or months at a time. Science fiction dreamed of drives that could run forever on different scientific theories, but it was old-fashioned rockets and our very good friend Newton that took us to the stars.
18 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight season two ended with cameos of almost every Dixie character driving north to join in the real life Battle of Kansas City. It took place in the shattered remains of the computer grid, and was filmed on location in the city’s ruined streets. Rival gangs fought each other and the beleaguered police tried to restore order as Twilight’s people tried to track down Solo’s real world terrorist compatriots. It ended with the entire team falling into a trap and being confronted by Solo’s debonair smile and the realization that Solo was just the agent of a much larger organization.
19 – Hello, my name is Jack. HALO stands for High Altitude Low Orbit. Basically it means anything above the atmosphere but below the really stable orbitals. Of course there are disagreements on where space starts and the atmosphere ends. The United States Space Force still says space begins at 80 kilometers up. On Earth. The Navy took NASAs old definition of 100 kilometers, and other organizations claim other numbers. In practice against Earth-type planet most drops are in the 150 to 300 kilometer range. Though I’ve seen drops start anywhere between 60 and 1,000 kilometers above the surface. Life gets real interesting on the extremes.
20 – Hello, my name is Charles. Science fiction authors used to say we would use something better when we went into space, but three centuries later we still use rockets. Yes they are more advanced than what propelled our Apollo missions, but the German scientists that pioneered them knew what we still use. We dump fuel into a reaction chamber, make it explode, and use that push to send us flying in the way we want to go. But the Peloran gravtech changed everything. Now we use a gravitic generator to lower our effective mass so it only takes a very small push of the engines to send us flying far faster than we ever could in the old days. It is amazing how much just a single application of alien technologies can change all of our worlds.
21 – Los Angeles-class cruiser. The Fleet 2300 Project’s goal was to distill a century of reverse engineering alien technologies into new designs built to incorporate those technologies from the hull nuts up. The Los Angeles-class cruiser instead spat those hull nuts out in every direction as the prototype nearly tore herself apart during testing. It was roundly considered a Pre-War lemon, a waste of good resources that should be scrapped before it got good people killed. But an influx of new talent ripped the troubling systems out and redesigned the entire prototype just before The War came upon us all. The class was renamed in memory of Los Angeles and every subsequent ship memorialized another city destroyed by Shang bombardments. And though it became the most common cruiser built during The War, we never ran out of cities to memorialize. But thanks in part to the Los Angeles-class cruisers, we did run out of Shang ships to kill.
22 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight season three started with a fade from black to a man walking back and forth in a small room, footsteps echoing off the walls. He spoke unintelligible words with pauses to show he was having a conversation. Finally he nodded, turned towards the camera, and stepped forward to open a door. The camera panned back to show Solo smiling at Twilight, Dixie, and the rest of the gang, all captives to the Rogue AI. All he said before the opening credits rolled was “Good news. My boss just told me to kill you quick. No time for torture or all that useless begging. So who wants to be our first volunteer?”
23 – Hello, my name is Jack. People sometimes ask me how I decide what to do when time is tight. The simple answer is that I usually don’t. Decide at least. The complicated answer is a bit more…well…complicated. There is right and there is wrong. I know it’s not always popular to say that. There are so many people who want to say that everything is relative now, that no one has the standing to say someone else is wrong. I disagree. There is right and wrong. There is good and evil. And if we do not stand for good, we allow evil to flourish. I don’t want that happening on my watch, and so I act.
24 – Hello, my name is Charles. Pre-Contact warships used a mix of various forms of lasers, projectile weapons, and rockets as their primary armaments. Most lasers did very minimal damage compared to modern versions but were very accurate. Heat shielding was cheap, and therefore warships could easily armor themselves against most laser attacks. Where lasers excelled at was at burning out incoming projectiles and rockets that carried minimal or no armor. Almost every warship carried some anti-ship lasers for after other weapons breached the armor though. Few things can kill an enemy faster than setting them on fire in space after all. Oxygen runs out amazingly quickly.
25 – Hello, my name is Betty. Killing off the whole gang in the first episode of a new season would have been bad form for Twilight’s creative team. It is therefore not a surprise that they did not cooperate with Solo. What surprised the viewers was that they did not escape him during the firefight that ran through the physical and electronic streets of Kansas City. Twilight trapped him. Dixie captured him. And in a mere forty minutes of airtime the Big Bad of an entire season became their prisoner. The show ended with Solo leaning back in a chair as he told Twilight that she was going to need his help if she truly wanted to stop his boss. While a bit more dramatic than the real life story of how Solo joined our side, it at least has a passing resemblance to reality.
26 – Hello, my name is Jack. Sometimes you have to stand up for what is right, and sometimes you simply must say when someone is wrong. Because sometimes there is no one else who will do it. You will earn enemies this way, and some of them will make you pay for what you say and do. But I say it is good to have enemies. I say you can measure a person by his or her enemies. Having them means you stood up for something, sometime, in your life. And maybe, just maybe, you helped make your world a better place.
27 – Hello, my name is Charles. Pre-Contact warships used rockets and projectiles to breach enemy armor and render them vulnerable to laser barrages. Rockets were slow to accelerate but had impressive ranges of engagement when built with multiple stages. Unfortunately, the longer the flight time the more time enemy point defense had to pinpoint their exact location. A large enough rocket barrage could overload the defenses and shatter armor, but those were very expensive and not commonly performed. We were never officially at war with anyone until the Shang attacked us after all. There may have been some disagreements over colonial possessions, but it was generally considered bad form to open fire over mere disagreements.
28 – Austin-class destroyer. Another product of the Fleet 2300 Project, the Austin-class destroyer was designed to bring America to the forefront of small warship technology. While only mounting a single gravitic cannon, two capital laser cannons, and five capital missile launchers on each flank, a squadron of Austins can devastate any warship flown by humanity. They and their Hellcat squadrons became one of the most common sights during The War, and though retired by the American military they continue to serve throughout known space in various roles. Many joined the Cowboys following the Hurst Family Affair and continue to provide heavy fire support for them to this day. They are the most common destroyer in Terran space. Expect to meet them wherever you go.
29 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight’s third season featured another format change in an effort to bring in more viewers. Every episode took place in a new location as Twilight’s gang traveled in search of Solo’s mysterious employers. They took the time to spotlight many of the great tourist attractions in each one along the way. The stairs of Philadelphia conquered by Rocky and the Pope. New York City’s World Trade Center. Chicago’s Sears Tower. And Solo would laconically state some little known fact about the structure at the end of each episode as the picture faded to black.
30 – Hello, my name is Jack. I travel a lot. I’ve been from Terra to Wolfenheim and far beyond. My last trip was a real doozy, taking me entirely outside our own Orion Arm of the galaxy. Space gets real dark out there, and hyperspace acts weird too. It slows down a lot for one. And it’s harder to navigate. It’s easier to drift away from normalspace when there aren’t enough stars to hold the universe together. I can see why most people don’t leave the galactic arms. Makes me wonder if we’re ever going to figure out how to travel to another galaxy.