Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Charles. The largest weakness of warship-carried Pre-Contact rockets was ironically the rockets themselves. They were large and massive, and every rocket a warship carried took valuable space to carry it and valuable fuel to move it. Most warships only carried a handful of rockets because of this. But space stations and planetary colonies often surrounded themselves with long-range rocket-based defense grids that were happy to outgun any stray warship prowling their territory. Only the most prepared or ruthless warship commanders risked angering such defense grids.
2 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight’s gang searched for terrorists in every major American city during the third season, but they kept missing the mark. Instead they found people in need of help with some every day problem. The new primary sponsors thought that showing them aiding everyday American citizens would bring in more viewers and catapult Twilight into the top ratings bracket. The ratings jump never happened as Twilight fans felt betrayed and critics made fun of the show. Season three is generally considered one of the weaker seasons of the shows ever broadcast.
3 – Hello, my name is Jack. I didn’t go it alone when I left the Orion Arm. We took my Privateer of course, hauling four cargo pods packed to the bulkheads with supplies for good measure. And two Austins escorted us all the way. You can see things farther away out there, so we were able to spread out further in search of any gravitic runs. There weren’t many, and those we found were very weak compared to those we can ride out of Alpha Centauri for example. It’s real unsettling to find yourself out in the middle of nowhere with nothing to tell you which way to go.
4 – Hello, my name is Charles. The most common Pre-Contact warship attack was the equivalent of David throwing a rock at Goliath. Warships used electromagnetic rail guns, or the older exploding shells of autocannons and machineguns, to fling projectiles at the enemy. Even with rudimentary guidance modules and maneuvering thrusters, warships could easily carry a thousand projectiles of various common sizes for any one rocket. And while the individual launchers were larger than a rocket launcher, the ability to fire more than once is a decided advantage when engaged in prolonged combat.
5 – Blackhawk starfighter. The F-4 Blackhawk was designed by one of the preeminent design teams of her day, responsible for five successful Pre-Contact space fighters. She quickly showed superiority to America’s first three gravtech fighters, and became the most common American starfighter of her generation. Even after being retired in favor of the Hellcat, the Blackhawk continued to serve in corporate and militia forces. Post-War Hellcats have eaten into that market, but the Blackhawk is still the most common privately owned starfighter in Terran space. Typically armed with twin laser cannons and side-mounted missile pods, numerous War-era upgrades gave her significantly more firepower, increased endurance, and advanced deflection grids. Now serving in her second century of life, the Blackhawk is still a popular and dangerous starfighter.
6 – Hello, my name is Betty. By the end of Twilight’s third season, the network knew they were on the verge of cancellation. In making a case for season four they began doing what the audience had been asking for. The gang tracked Solo’s employers down to Los Angeles and engaged a terrorist cell there in both the physical and cybernetic worlds. They also unveiled a new-to-the-series Rogue AI intent on its own goals and using the Salafi terrorists as a smoke screen. The season finale was filmed on location in Los Angeles and the local Chamber of Commerce went to great lengths to help the production.
7 – Hello, my name is Jack. I grew up near a small town. I went into town every day to go to school. I partied with the townsfolk and all the farm kids in the area. I don’t remember ever being alone as a kid. Yeah, my house was on a lake, and there weren’t any other houses within sight, and I liked that. But civilization was a few minutes away. I’ve gotten used to being a few days away from civilization now that I travel the star lanes, but that did not prepare me for leaving the very stars behind. Life outside the arms of the galaxy is…truly and completely isolating.
8 – Hello, my name is Charles. The primary weakness of projectiles in combat was that they were fired in a certain direction at a certain speed and their ability to modify either course or speed was limited. All a warship had to do was maneuver away from their projected course and it would never have to worry about being hit. That meant warships had to fire at short range to stop the enemy from having time to maneuver away. Most Pre-Contact space combat was a matter of tanks at ten paces blazing away at each other in hopes of cracking enemy armor for the lasers to burn away before being cracked themselves.
9 – Hello, my name is Betty. The end of Twilight’s season three became a virtual tour of Los Angeles and Hollywood, filmed on location with real residents becoming extras in most scenes. The finale was a running battle from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the Queen Mary. Ending on the edge of the physical and cybernetic landscapes, the gang tried to stop both the Rogue AI and the terrorists from completing their missions. They stopped the Salafis and captured their rolodex of other terrorist cells, but the Rogue AI managed to deploy it’s computer virus before escaping into the unregulated Pacific network. The season ended with Los Angeles itself fading to black, one block at a time.
10 – Hello, my name is Jack. We live in a spiral galaxy. The galactic arms spiral around the core, spreading out the further away they get. And the stars filling those arms make interstellar travel possible. Literally. We couldn’t do it without them. Think about it. Yeah, you see what I did there, don’t you? Heh. The serious point is, it’s the gravitic pull of the stars that makes hyperspace work. It’s like on Earth. You can travel from Old Japan to America in a rowboat if you find the current. That’s hyperspace. We follow the currents. But there are no currents to follow when you leave the stars behind.
11 – Hello, my name is Charles. There was another use for Pre-Contact projectiles. A particularly ruthless warship commander could stay outside conventional rocket range and fire the projectiles at stationary targets. Planets or space stations are examples of this. Accuracy was the common problem of these “bombardment” tactics though, and “accidentally” blowing up a civilian compound was a particularly bad way to get oneself declared persona non grata from any civilized star system. Therefore the most effective tactic against prepared planetary defenses was also the most dangerous to use as it was never officially sanctioned by any major government.
12 – Hellcat starfighter. The F-7 Hellcat starfighter entered service five decades after Contact, after we’d had time to learn more about the alien gravitic technologies quickly taking over both military and civilian starship design. She was designed and built by the best gravtech engineers of the time to be the best starfighter ever built. They succeeded. The Hellcats soon replaced the older Blackhawks as the primary American starfighter and proved themselves throughout the Outer Colonies until The War came upon us all. Then they proved themselves again by taking down more alien starfighters than any other Terran fighter. Their frontline service ended with The War, but they continue to serve in system defense fleets, corporate security forces, and private hands throughout the Western Alliance and beyond.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight season four returned to the grittier and darker tone that fans preferred. But it originally had only six episodes to close the series. The season premier blew everybody’s expectations though. It started with a quick montage of gang violence in Blacked Out Los Angeles and then showed glimpses of the Battle of London with Big Ben as the anchor point. Then it went full metal with the desperate Battle of Japan. It wasn’t the first time mecha appeared on a network series, but Twilight earned an Emmy nomination for its dramatic portrayal of the Japanese mecha fighting the Chinese landing forces on the western shores, interspersed with the loading of the evacuation ships in the eastern ports.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. I didn’t just think of going outside the galactic arms on my own you know. I wasn’t just some wanderlust person looking for someplace new to look at. I had an actual mission. I’d been tracking Shang ship movements for months and found a discrepancy. There was a ship that left but never arrived. There’s more than one actually, but this was the first I found and I was curious. So the short story is that I followed this ship. As far as I could. As far as our engines could take us. Right past the end of the stars.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. There were only two ways to lift anything from a planetary surface into orbit before Contact. The first was to strap it onto a rocket engine at Cape Canaveral or any of the other launch sites around the world. That was expensive but secure. Most spy satellites were placed in orbit by rockets that way so nobody could peek inside of them. Then there were the orbital elevators. There were six on Earth and most major worlds had at least one of their own. Most cargo went up or down using the elevators because it was so much cheaper than using rockets. We still use them now.
16 – Hello, my name is Betty. Everyone already knew how the Battle of Japan had gone. The Japanese lost. But theTwilight season four premier did what no one else had yet done on any “mere” entertainment program. They secured the rights to use Empress Aiko’s likeness in full. The former Princess Aiko had long been a fan of the Dixie and Twilight series, and she was eager to let them show the evacuation of Japan from her perspective. Due to time and acting talent, they scanned her body in and generated the footage digitally. It wasn’t the first time that was done either, but the production team pulled it off well enough that few suspected until the credits rolled. That gained them another Emmy nomination.
17 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Shang ship got away. It did something we’re still trying to figure out. We were far enough back in hyper with our jamming up that it didn’t see us. But we could see it. It’s like it deployed a kind of energy sail or something. And then it just…dove deeper into hyper than I’ve ever seen any ship go. It was going 10,000 lights effective and still diving when we lost it. I don’t know how deep it went, but I think it was headed for the Sagittarius Arm. Yeah, I know…that’s crazy. But it’s the only thing that makes sense. Even if it violates everything we know about physics.
18 – Hello, my name is Charles. It was the orbital elevators that made us a true space faring species. We could only boost small numbers of people and cargo into orbit before then, leaving most exploration to major government or semi-government agencies like NASA. But once we built the elevators we could send people and cargo up or down all day, every day. And once you get out of the gravity well it takes very little fuel to go anywhere in the solar system. Interstellar travel was still too expensive for the masses, but the solar system was our playground and humanity spread throughout it in a matter of decades.
19 – Avenger starfighter. The F-12 Avenger was part of the Fleet 2300 Project to upgrade America’s starfighter capabilities for the coming century. The primary goal was to build Earth’s first hypercapable starfighter and thereby place America on a more even footing with the alien powers. America had only recently begun to miniaturize hyperspace system down to a scale that could work for fighters though, and the main hyperspace needle running down the length of the Avenger’s long nose assembly resulted in the largest starfighter ever built. The Avenger was in fact too large for the Navy to approve production and it would have been relegated to the status of a mere testbed platform had The War not come upon us all. The Cowboys became the first operational squadron to fly them, and the rest is history. They still fly them now, a statement to anyone who sees them that even the ugliest of ducklings can become swans if allowed to fly.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. The fall of the American federal government forced many foreign-deployed American commands to look to local resources to survive. The Japanese island of Okinawa was one of the largest such bases, and was one of the last parts of the Japanese islands to fall to the Chinese invasion. Twilight season four’s first episode showed that fall in living color. And while not entirely historically accurate, it also showed Twilight and Dixie performing an emergency transmission over the remaining communications lines across the Pacific in order to help. The network had to show the stars of their show doing something more than watching after all.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. I’m starting to realize there’s all kinds of things we don’t know about interstellar travel. I used to think we knew everything there was to know. But now I’m thinking the Peloran left a few things out for us to figure out on our own. I should have seen that coming. I guess I just assumed they unlocked everything back during The War. But then they never did tell us what was so important about the Hyades until the very end. They never like to give us the whole story you know. They can be bloody annoying in that way.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. We were the first to build an orbital elevator. That was the Port Harcourt Elevator in Africa. For once we actually beat the Chinese to something. They were right on our heals at Singapore though. And the Russians built one in Sri Lanka not long afterwards. One of the problems with being a far northern nation was that they never were able to build an old elevator on their territory. They did build one over the North Pole after Contact though. That is the only Earth elevator that does not orbit. It is held in place by a series of gravitic generators. Severnyi Polyus is I do believe the most amazing piece of engineering ever built by the Russian Federation.
23 – Hello, my name is Betty. The joint Japanese-American defense of Okinawa was nearly as vigorous as the defense of the Japanese Home Islands. The only difference was that the defenders knew they would fail long before it started. Every single one of them was a volunteer, and they handed their dog tags to those who left on the ships. They were dead men walking and they knew it. Twilight dramatized that scene for America and then showed us the last of the Japanese mecha, thousands of American servicemen, and an entire squadron of American warships holding the line against the Chinese invasion as the evacuation fleet set sail. And true to life, none of them ever returned home.
24 – Hello, my name is Jack. I need to talk with Aneerin. Yeah, I know. He can be real hard track down when he doesn’t want to be found. And lately it seems like he’s been even harder to track than normal. But I have a few questions I need to ask him. Starting with what exactly that Shang ship did when it ran away from us. Because I don’t believe for a minute Aneerin has no knowledge of it. So I’m going to need to track him down and get some answers from him for a change. Yeah, I know. Answers from Aneerin are like standing on a two-edged sword while drunk. But maybe for once I can get a straight one from him.
25 – Hello, my name is Charles. America built another elevator at Panama City to go along with the Canal down there. That was part of the arrangement that included Panama joining the United States and gave us an elevator fully under our control. The British Commonwealth built one in Australia as well, and the South Africans lifted one of their own into orbit. That gave us six total orbital elevators on Earth when the Peloran made Contact. Adding the Russian Polar Elevator and we currently have seven Earth elevator complexes, running every hour of every day of every year. We can move significant tonnage on and off Earth without ever lifting a single spaceship off the ground, and the elevators are far cheaper. They have made space travel safe and inexpensive.
26 – Cyberdyne C-5 Liberator / CF-5 Privateer. The Liberator was originally designed by the Cybernetic Families during The War to support the larger fleets as transports and scouts. They were designed to carry up to five modular cargo pods between the primary wedge and the engine section. Many pods were designed to carry fighters, weapons, and even ground forces over the years as The War pushed them into jobs they were not originally designed for. And the upgunned Privateer variant became the primary transport for independent Cowboy squadrons supporting the Alliance fleets. Cyberdyne Transtellar Shipping purchased almost all surviving Liberators after War’s End and now sends them throughout Alliance space with the mission of sending small amounts of high value cargo anywhere it is wanted. The Cowboys also continue to use their Privateer variants, though they blend into the existing transport traffic due to appearing identical to their unarmed cousins.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. In real life the Japanese evacuation fleet had to fight all the way across the Pacific. Former Taiwanese, Filipino, South Korean, and even some North Korean warships sailed with them. Along with the last American warships in that part of the globe, the Chinese fought them all the way to Midway. Twilight only showed the scene of the ragtag fleet leaving Okinawa as the last line of defenders fought to slow the Chinese advance. The pursuit didn’t make it into the show due to story focus and time, but the season set came with hundreds of hours of news footage and interviews with real survivors and the Twilight cast talking about the Fall of Japan and the subsequent evacuation.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. Some people say that humans are the most evil things in the universe. Their evidence is all the wars and destruction we commit on each other. All the species of animals we’ve destroyed. The way we’ve torn planets apart for the resources they hold. I can see their point. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. And sometimes they weren’t mistakes. Some people really are evil. But most people just want to live and be happy. That’s what everything that lives wants if you get down to it. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that. In fact that I think that’s what’s right in the universe.
29 – Hello, my name is Charles. The first orbital elevators were built as a single tether from Earth to orbit. You could send packages up or down, but not both at the same time. One had to be careful with the schedules. The obvious first upgrade was to add a second tether, one for lifting and one for dropping. The Panama City Elevator was the first purpose built dual-tether elevator. Yes, they actually considered two tethers to be sufficient back then. The modern Panama Station and her tethers would amaze them.
30 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight’s season four closing music began to play as the ragtag evacuation fleet set sail from Okinawa. Twilight and Dixie stood next to Empress Aiko as they watched the last battle, and then the scene panned forward with a quick advancing of days and nights to show them looking over the rebuilt Los Angeles skyline as they entered the harbor. Dixie welcomed the Empress to her new home and the credits began to roll. And then the series showed how the new Empress would forever change the roll of the Japanese Imperial Family. The footage of her walking through the streets of Los Angeles and actually conversing with the people under the credits was all real news footage recorded the day the Empress arrived.
31 – Hello, my name is Jack. I say the universe is better because of humanity. We’ve created art with no more reason than because it is pretty. We’ve sculpted entire worlds to be able to better support life as we know it. We’ve recreated extinct animals on hundreds of worlds. We’ve uplifted uncountable numbers of animals to human-level intelligence. There have been bad times. Times of war and destruction and slavery and all of that. But those always end and humanity blossoms like flowers after a long drought. We can make and do amazing things. And we make the universe a better place to be.