The Passenger Transports of Free Space (Worldbuilding Notes)
The World Building Community released a Prompt, which asks us to describe some ways the transportation system runs, and some of the problems they may encounter while traversing our worlds, whether they be science fiction or fantasy.
Routine passenger transport jobs are sometimes less than 'routine'. What complications might a passenger transport job have, and how might they be resolved?
One Story Showed An Intention of Transportation
One of the characters in my stories is called Flux, and he's a Beskin, which is a kind of fully furred alien, renowned as being some of the best shipbuilders in Free Space.
In their recent history, of about three hundred or so years, they have pulled themselves from the brink of societal ruin, but, this ruin that they suffer is under control in the time since then; as they have joined Free Space and the threat to their society isn't so much of a problem anymore, but needs to stay under check.
Beskins suffer from a neurological disease known commonly as 'degradation.' The effects of this cause them to almost completely devolve into feral creatures, who are highly territorial and will attack anyone they come across in packs, who roam the streets of their world at night.
This happens to them when they form a close bond with other Beskin and as soon as they establish a den, the disease takes full control over those affected. The only way to save them from this incurable disease is to exterminate them and destroy the den. But, it's an uphill battle and the planet employs a lot of people as exterminators, and it is probably their largest industry as of the failed invasion, which almost completely disrupted their economy and allowed for many dens to be established.
While The Confederation was stationed in this world, they came into contact with many people suffering from this affliction and chalked them up to Beskin's being uncontrollable and wild, instead of listening or looking into the disease. Thus, the Beskins were dehumanized and treated terribly compared to most other worlds The Confederation occupied.
Flux Boarded Transport To Jex
Working as an exterminator was a fairly depressing ordeal for Flux, and soon he wanted to go back home to Jex, where he was happy. Due to this disease, most Beskins refuse to form friendships with each other, and some are even afraid to find partners. Opting to either stay alone or find suitable partners from other planets who they can settle down with to raise a family.
While on the transport, he was wandering and heard the familiar wails and pines of his people, after searching the cargo hold he found cage after cage of Beskin's suffering from Degradation. One member of the crew found him skulking and tried to imprison him, rather than let the word get out. After a fight, Flux killed the Mulu crew member, and then planted charges, not before finding out the reason for those Beskins being taken off-world, instead of being exterminated.
Before the Mulu died, Flux got some answers from him about the cargo. Turns out that there are pits all over Free Space, where people bet on fights between these devolved Beskins. That was all he had to hear. Flux planted explosive charges throughout the ship and once they landed, he waited for the passengers to leave the transporter, igniting them once he exited; destroying the ship and anyone left aboard.
Most People In My World Are Driven By One Thing, Money
Because of the simple fact that money helps to afford luxuries and a way of life far removed from the street level, where life is cheap, and people need to do what they can to survive - most people are truly only motivated by money, and if being a transport vessel means you can bounce between worlds regularly, most people find ways to make this an earning experience on top of the wages they earn from passengers.
Passenger transport is a good business, but, it also comes with a few risks. Namely, raids. If a transport ship is full of people, that can afford to travel, there are many riches and valuables in one place, mostly undefended and far from civilization while roaming space. There are many pirate clans, raiders, and bandits, operating on each world, and some track and follow transport ships as an easy mark.
The way to tackle this issue is to employ turret gunners, and for the larger and more expensive ferries, they employ fighters, who can take flight and defend the ships from smaller ships that are harder to hit with the larger canons. This means that transport ships have a much higher expense, so as such, they have to charge a much higher rate; which the average traveler can't afford.
Apart from the larger and more professional transport ships, you could hitch a ride with a smaller vessel. In doing so, you might be opening yourself up to trouble from the law, depending on the cargo that the vessel is transporting. The law of each world is different, but commonly, if you're on a ship that is smuggling illegal contraband, you'll be tried and punished as if you were involved in the operation.
Fight pits and smuggling. Love it!
Great topic and description of the transport/smuggling vessels. One thing I wonder is how easy or hard it would be to detect an outlaw ship in space. The most obvious way to detect one is visually because of the light they emit/reflect. A smuggler could turn off the lights and coat the vessel with paint that does not reflect light. So, I wonder how else could the law detect such a vessel. I imagine that it will be a cat-and-mouse game if we actually get to go into space on a mass scale. Cloaking technology will likely be developed or perhaps something that we haven't thought of such as temporary illegal worm tunnels. This article is making me think too much. :)
Hahhaa I'm glad you liked the topic.
Yeah, I think it would be easy enough to detect smuggling ships, mainly because their codes may give them away.
Then again, in the world I'm writing it's set after a massive war/ failed occupation and the people are dragging themselves out of the ruins of their worlds, so most of their data has been lost, and most ships are chop jobs; combinations of multiple broken down wrecks, so identifying them would be harder.
The way I imagine the world, it's like Europe after WW1 or WW2, maybe closer to WW1 though.
Also, the fall of the Western Roman empire too, as I think the idea of all government and structure disappearing is an interesting idea to me, and a cool place to set a science fiction story.
With little to no structure, people are kind of left to their own devices and with that the crime rate raises and gangs form as a way of protecting and governing themselves. I imagine with no government or protection people would devolve into tribes and clans, big families would take over plots of land, and anyone without a large circle of family and friends would most likely form communities and compounds with people from their street or estate; maybe estates would even build ramshackled walls to block immediate access.
It's an interesting idea to me, and I've been having some fun exploring this idea in the stories and notes.
Also, sorry about the delayed response.
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Ah, yes, I didn't think of this. There would be so many ships out there, you could easily disguise instead of hide. Interesting world, and there's a wealth of historical information that you can draw from as well.
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