Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Charles. Every major colony world has at least one orbital elevator of some kind. They were all but required to support major imports and exports before Contact. Rocket launches were expensive, and standard colonization packages have come equipped with starter elevator kits since the 2150s. While not as capable as permanent orbital elevators, these single-tether elevators are generally everything a young colony needs. And many smaller colonies have never upgraded to a larger system at all.
2 – Joint Light Tactical Vehicle – The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is the standard twenty-fourth century American hoverjeep. Nicknamed the Jolt due to horrible suspension when the wheels are deployed, the hoverjeep is designed to carry five soldiers (usually four standard infantry and one powered armor infantry) and a single heavy weapons turret into battle. Capable of driving, flying, and fighting in either operator-controlled or autonomous modes, the Jolts often act as tactical air support as well as tactical transport. They are seen throughout Alliance space and are the most numerous of the various tactical vehicles utilized by the Alliance member nations.
3 – Hello, my name is Betty. Only six episodes had originally been ordered for season four and the production team had planned to make that short season the best they’d ever made. Twilight used newly-acquired Japanese mecha in Denver and Fargo against terrorist and cyberterrorist foes, and the ratings of the first three episodes all but forced the network to lengthen the season. And that allowed the writing staff to slow the story down, splice in some good character episodes, and reveal the big bad much more slowly. It gave season four an interesting arc, from frenetic beginning to slow middle and then a ramp back up to the season finale.
4 – Hello, my name is Jack. Of all the things I miss it is the loons. Their haunting, rhythmic tunes speak of melancholy and freedom at the same time. Their calls echo off the foggy mornings that hush almost all other sounds in the northern lakes. Add in the sound of fish jumping, waves lapping on the shore, and maybe an elk trumpeting it challenge to the nearest tree that disrespected it and you have the sounds that I grew up to. The buzzing of mosquitoes I can do without, but I love and remember the rest, and even the best simulations do not capture those moments right. I will always miss those sounds of home.
5 – Hello, my name is Charles. Colonization packages have changed significantly since 2100. Back when all we had to worry about was our own solar system we would send multiple robot ships with supplies to setup the initial habitation domes before the first people arrived. Boosting supplies before and after colonization was a small time affair of small rockets and smaller cargos drifting in the void of space between the planets and planetoids that orbited our sun. Then we found hyperspace and everything changed.
6 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Big Easy was right smack dab in the middle of Twilight’s season four and was more of a throwback to season three in many ways. The gang had stopped in New Orleans between missions and just wanted to relax. When of course something bad happened and they had to fix it. What followed was one of the best “caper” episodes of the entire Dixie and Twilight runs. They ran from one end of New Orleans to the other, stopped in the French Quarter to listen to some jazz, and ended on the massive dike separating the city from the lake as sunset arrived. It was generally considered the funniest episode of the season.
7 – Hello, my name is Jack. I love the smells of northern Minnesota. Fresh pine needles carpeting the ground. Still air after a spring rain. Roasting pinecones in a bonfire. A field full of flowers. A storm front advancing across a Great Lake. They each have their own smell and taste that is utterly unique. I have never experienced them on any other world. Not exactly. Not the totality. The lake country will ever be my home, no matter how far I travel or how many places I see. I spent two decades away from it during The War and it was changed when I returned. But the smells are still there. And I can still close my eyes and imagine the world I grew up in. I will love those smells until the day I die.
8 – Hello, my name is Charles. The first thing to know about the colonization ships that took humanity to the stars is that they were expensive. Or rather the hyperdrives that carved their way into hyperspace were expensive. At first it took major governments to collect enough funding and resources to build a hyperdrive, and so all expeditions had to be self-sufficient. They traveled with everything they needed to carve out life on alien worlds knowing that they would be out of contact for years. We became proficient at packing the necessities in those early colonization ships, and we continued to use those lessons today.
9 – TALOS. The TActical Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is the American Army’s primary powered personal combat infantry armor. There have been nearly three-dozen variations on the basic TALOS since the first crude versions fought in the early Twenty-First Century’s Islamic Jihad. We took them to space, to the stars, and far beneath the ocean waves. They have fought in every environment known to man against both Terran and alien foes. The modern TALOS sports modular armor plating that can optimize it for anything from a lightly armored scout to a heavily armored bunker buster. This allowed the American Army to constantly surprise the Shang throughout The War as they never knew what they would face next.
10 – Hello, my name is Betty. An interesting thing about the Dixie, Twilight, and the various series and movies that followed it is that they showed us the America that was before and during the Second Great Depression. There had been decades of increasingly toxic political rancor in Washington DC between the Democrat and Republican parties, but most American citizens still considered themselves Americans first. The Texas Tech students and faculty came from every State in the Union and liked and trusted each other. The shows gave us that window into America. They spotlighted it even as that America disappeared forever.
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. I went to the Californias before The War you know. Every kid wants to take a trip to Disneyland after all. And for all that it’s designed for kids, even rebellious high schoolers can go there and have fun too. I should know. And like all good tourists we went out to check the other things you do on a trip. We walked the stars of Hollywood. We toured the Imperial Palace. I sat at the foot of trees as cherry blossoms fell around me. I did that the first time I went, when I really was a kid. A nice lady stopped to tell me how they took those trees from Old Japan before the fall. I found out later that the Empress had told that story for hundreds of years to children who enjoyed her garden. So I guess you could say I’ve known her most of my life.
12 – Hello, my name is Charles. Hyperdrive technology required an overhaul in our entire spaceship design philosophy. We built ships short and stubby to make them easy to move throughout our solar system. And to be harder to hit in combat. But the longer we could build our hyperdrives, the smoother the cut into hyperspace became. And so our starships became long and narrow with habitation and cargo sections built around hyperdrive cores that stretched longer and longer as time went on. Dedicated hyper-warships were built shorter to compete with real warships, and accepted the rougher rides in hyperspace for combat utility. The colony ships were where we stretched our manufacturing processes as far as we could go.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. The original Dixie and Twilight series spanned a decade of time, and you can see America change in them. Their always welcomed new people from anywhere, and sported Californians working with New Yorkers and the Texans that made up the bulk of the team. They showed American individuals working as a team even as they showed the American States withdrawing from their neighbors to look out for themselves. And they showed some of the places where law and order broke down entirely. I think that’s why those series are so popular even now. We saw the apocalypse of America through them. And then we saw it come back to life. We see the end of America that was and the rebirth of what we have now.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. The one thing I’ve always remembered about Los Angeles is just how hot and dry it is. Not that it’s really all that hot. The ocean actually moderates the temperatures a lot if you’re looking at weather service records. But it feels hot. The sun’s almost always out. And it beats down so much harder. And they just don’t have rainy days down there like we do in Minnesota. But on the plus side, almost every day is a good day to go to the beach. By my standards at least. And the teenage me fell in love more times than I can count the first time I caught sight of the sunbathing at El Porto Beach. I love LA dress codes.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. We built our colony ships long and slender due to the required length of the hyperdrives. The long ships served the dual purposes of making the rides smoother and allowing more framework to hang the colonization packages onto. Colony ships were a mass of habitation modules, hibernation chambers, control rooms, cargo bays, and the hundreds of other systems required to setup a new colony cut off from home by years or even decades of travel. Even the girders that held everything together had a purpose. They formed the skeleton of a new space station after the colonization packages detached and dropped towards the new home of humanity. And then the hyperdrive core set sail for Earth where the crew would report the successful colonization of a new world and begin preparing to take the next colony mission away.
16 – Taro Scout Mech. The Taro scout mech was part of the Army 2300 Project, designed to revolutionize America’s ground forces and ready them for the next century. It gave us a fighting chance when The War came upon us all. While one of the smallest mechs used in combat, it is fast, sports superior sensors and targeting equipment, and can jam or hack most enemy systems. It’s armor can blend into the environment, and limited flight capability allows it to clear small buildings and most terrain features. What many consider the most revolutionary aspect of the Taro though is the modular weapons mount that allows it to interface with weapons built by any of the great powers. This capability made the Taro a difficult mech to fight, as the enemy rarely new what exactly it was going to face even if it was lucky enough to detect an incoming Taro before it or distant artillery opened fire on their position.
17 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Dixie and Twilight shows always had a loose relationship with time. Major events that were years apart in real life happened right after another in the show, but in general they showed things a couple years after they happened in real life. Long enough ago that they weren’t fully remembered by the viewers, but close enough that it still felt like the shows were set almost in the now. The commercials claimed that they were showing us the real stories of yesteryear. They made a few mistakes though. The Ford Mustangs the gang drove in New Orleans weren’t released until a year after the beginning of the battle that ended Twilight season four. Numerous other product endorsements like the phones they used met similar fates at the hands of cyber nitpickers of the time, but modern audiences never notice. Everything is just Pre-Space old to our eyes.
18 – Hello, my name is Jack. One thing I learned when I visited Los Angeles is that I love it. LA and the surrounding cities are so peacefully multicultural. You can find anything from Indian rain dances to Mexican maraca parties within walking distance of each other. Almost every Asian culture I know of has a place to call home there. You can walk for five minutes and pass by ten different cultures. And Cherry Blossom Boulevard is one of those magical places that everybody has to see at least once in real life. If you come at the right time you can watch as the blossoms carpet the street. I’ve never seen anything else like it in all the worlds. That’s the definition of New Japan really. It’s a whole different world from anyplace else out there.
19 – Hello, my name is Charles. Once we perfected the deploying of orbital elevators we began shipping single-tether starter elevators to the existing colonies, and we of course added them to the basic colonization packages. Colonization missions were no longer pure scientific, exploratory, or flag waving expeditions by then. They were big business opportunities and the corporations required a cheap and effective way of moving freight up and down. Interstellar trade was nearly non-existent of course, but when a corporation gave money to support a colonization expedition they obtained certain understandings with the new colonial governments. These allowed many corporations to obtain vast tracts of land on many new worlds that would allow them to grow quite impressively over the centuries.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. After the playful romp in New Orleans, Twilight spent an episode each in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and New York City. They drove a procession of Ford vehicles around the cities in search of more serious terrorists threats to the American homeland, and communicated on various Samsung phones the viewers could go to the stores and buy. If they lived in an area where law and order prevailed. Twilight’s creators purposefully placed the shiny new cars and phones in front of burned out neighborhoods and emergency shelters overflowing with homeless immediately next door to prosperous neighborhoods guarded by paid security. They drove the surreal reality of America in the middle of the Second Great Depression into the public consciousness with an unapologetic hammer.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. Silicon Valley has a much smaller population and land area than Los Angeles, but beautiful crystalline technological megastructures rise far above the surrounding landscape. Some of the most advanced AIs built by humanity run their environmental and security systems. Cars fly through a city that never sleeps on crisscrossing skyways reaching from the heights of the building tops all the way down to their ground level roots in a never-ending rush hour. It is a city of invention that celebrates the accomplishments of the human mind. It is an amazing place to visit.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. We were beginning to generate some small interstellar trade routes before the Peloran made Contact. Every world had orbital elevators that gave them impressive local economies, and the luxury trade was picking up. San Lucas blood wine is an example of one of the Pre-Contact luxuries that all the rich had to at least pretend to love when amongst their peers. It was the civilized thing to do after all. Find some local resource that they could run better than the locals and turn it into a profit by bringing it back home for their fellows to ooh and ah over it. Many of the trade routes we run now found their origin in those heady Pre-Contact days when we thought we ruled the universe.
23 – Thunder Jaguar. The advent of the Chinese civilization’s Sixth Millennium was an auspicious time for the Asian worlds’ most powerful representative to reinvent their military in order to stand fast against their always-changing Western foes. New ships, tanks, mechs, and all manner of war machines were ordered to usher in the Sixth Millennium as only Earth’s oldest civilization could. With consummate superiority. The Thunder Jaguar was the recon mech the showed the worlds. Or rather they didn’t show them off. They allowed us to find them the hard way. And they hurt.
24 – Hello, my name is Betty. Twilight’s fourth season saw the gang going to the Indian Reservations for the first time. Their trip to New York City started a search that ran up Long Island to the Hamptons until they rolled into the Shinnecock Reservation. It was a rich, prosperous, and cosmopolitan reservation with a competent police force, good roads, nice houses, and very happy citizens paid via revenues from a casino and golf club the tribe owned. It was an interesting look at the mid-century status of Indians in America’s law-abiding areas. Twilight’s gang learned that some people on their list had been using the reservation’s docks for some time, and been paying impressive tips for no questions asked. The tribe's chief was very sorry he couldn't help them, but suggested that they may find answers to their questions in the Iroquois Nation.
25 – Hello, my name is Jack. Silicon Valley is what some of the more artfully minded people call a monument to invention. It focuses on computer technologies of course, but any inventor is welcome in the city, and the Edison Patent Office is the busiest patent center in all the worlds. It’s normal to see some young inventor walking through the streets testing a new invention in the wild. It’s also common to see when the invention fails, sometimes in rather hilarious ways. The amazing thing is that the locals actually celebrate those failures. Their founding ethos is that every success is built on a thousand failures, so failing is simply one step on the path to success. I wish more people thought like that.
26 – Hello, my name is Charles. The oldest Pre-Contact trade routes were the richest. Most of them started or went through Alpha Centauri due to how its three stars twisted hyperspace. Alpha Centauri hyperspace runs were the fastest way to get anywhere and Alpha Centauri was home to the first Extra-Solar orbital elevators and the largest warehouse complexes we had yet built. Alpha Centauri was the one place other than Earth every company that styled itself an interstellar player simply had to be at. That is why Alpha Centauri became such a large target during The War. Everyone wanted it.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. Back before the Second Great Depression the Indian tribes were split up between many small reservations all over the country. They had little physical power but a procession of Indian-owned casinos over the previous three quarters of a century had many of the tribes impressively wealthy and that bought them political power. When the United States government and many State governments fell to the depression, many Indian tribes took the opportunity to declare independence. The producers of Twilight worked with the local Iroquois chiefs of then New York State to show America how their new system was working. They also showed a very interesting political process where most of the western New York counties were effectively merging with the Iroquois to protect their own interests better than the State could. That was the beginning of what we now recognize as the Iroquois Nation.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. One thing I learned about Silicon Valley is that they have seemingly endless patience when it comes to technological accidents. And they have exactly zero tolerance for outside interference that results in things that look like accidents. Hacking someone else without their prior permission is one of the very few unforgivable sins you can commit in that city. When I visited the city as a teenager, some hacker deployed a virus that broke the smart clothing of everybody within three blocks of the city center. I later heard that Silicon Valley’s tame white hat hackers blew straight through The Great Firewall of China and dropped a living virus on the girl that burned out every electronic item she ever touched for the rest of her life. They really don’t like hackers.
29 – Hello, my name is Charles. Humanity lost more ships at Alpha Centauri then in any other system during The War. The warehouses, the elevators, the hyperspace runs, everything about it made Alpha Centauri more valuable than any system short of Terra itself. And some people considered it more important than that. The riches that flowed through it, the starships that could use it, and defenses that held it all made Alpha Centauri an amazing target for the Shang and the Chinese. They wanted to drive us out. We wanted the same thing. None of us got everything we wanted in that deal, and we lost far too many ships before the end came. But trade must continue, and so it did, and so it has.
30 – Kato Strike Mech. The Kato strike mech was part of America’s Army 2300 Project and envisioned a mobile mech carrying a particle accelerator gun for superior striking power. Numerous Katos have been fielded since, from standard trooper mechs that fight in platoon strength to bring down their enemies to sword wielding ninja mechs that slice and dice the enemy like they are part of Japanese anime. One never knows what exactly you will face when a platoon of Katos charges you, but the Chinese and Shang learned to fear their arrival on the field of battle.