Voici la troisième partie de ma méga-vignette consacrée à l'univers de RIFTSPACE par Irvin Jackson.
Zeta Black is the fourth-ranked close combat specialist in known space, although physically she may be the most powerful. Zeta Black is not her real name, which is unknown. It is, in fact, the honorary name of a Sigmari tribe which she leads. The Sigmari are massive, powerful aliens from a world with twice earth's gravity. Zeta is the only non-Sigmari to ever be named head of a tribe. What's even more amazing is that she appears to be physically as powerful as any Sigmari, whose strength is the stuff of legends. She also appears to be just as durable (refusing to wear armor in battle and having been seen shrugging off railgun rounds) and seems to speak Sigmar more naturally than she does Terran. How could this have happened? Nobody knows for certain, as the tales her Sigmari tribe tell of her are surely fanciful and embellished, which is traditional for Sigmari hero tales. If those tales are to be believed however, the woman who would eventually become Zeta Black crash landed on the southern continent and endured for months in one of the most hostile environments known to sentient life before she was found by a dying Sigmari mystic who had been betrayed by his tribal chieftan. Here the tale gets muddled. Some say the mystic granted Zeta the spirit of the Sigmari to get revenge on his enemies. Others say both of them were dying and they used the mystic's knowledge to merge into one being. Rival tribes say Zeta ambushed the mystic and ate his heart in a sacred crater filled with "poison rocks." Most people scoff at all these tales, as all of them require a certain suspension of disbelief. However, the fact that she does have some Sigmari attributes is not to be denied. Is she a cyborg? Some unknown human-like species? Did she find some ancient alien device that allowed her to add Sigmari attributes to her DNA? Whatever the cause, she and the Zeta Black Sigmari Tribe captured a ship on the northern continent and have been a terror on the space lanes ever since. She is actively gunning for all of the higher ranked close combat specialists, and anyone who she thinks might be a threat to her dominance. She is quick to fight, violent, merciless and lives by a code of honor only she and her tribe understand. Other Sigmari tribes reject the Zeta Black clan as perverse and distorted, but there are very precise rules of societal conduct which stop them from banding together and wiping the Zeta Black clan out. Whatever gave Zeta Sigmari-like attributes, it seems she only got the worst parts...or perhaps those parts were always there to begin with...
Chief Silverhorn is one of the most well-known of the southern Sigmari. A warlord with a past filled with near-mythic tales of battle, he has united more than half the southern tribes under his banner. He believes that the Sigmari should stand alone in the universe, and preferrably apart from it as well. No one knows what happened to his horn except that he lost it on his kage hunt; a traditional hunt some Sigmari take to obtain a tooth from the largest predator on their planet.
Located on the border of the Empire of Many Suns, the Terran Protectorate and the Imperial Freehold, the Sarasweti Jumpgate is controlled by the insect-like Fahreen and their organized criminal syndicate from the nearby Sarasweti Station. They exact significant tariffs for imports into the Empire of Many Suns, and work hard to make sure the station is secure. Still, the station is rather lawless, if fairly peaceful, and has a large and thriving black market. Most legal travelers forgo the station and just use the gate to come and go, trying to avoid contact with the underworld elements at the station.
Known as Eddie to most of the crew, Warrant Officer Edith Knight is in charge of internal security onboard the mercenary carrier Eyrie. Confident and willing to get in the face of the toughest merc, she's caught a lot of heat over the years for having started out as a corporate security consultant. She was blacklisted from the industry and took her skills to the mercenary market for reasons unknown. She is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, focusing on grappling arts, like Aikido and Judo.
Zeta Black and Mr White
Mr. White is, officially, Zeta Black's bodyguard, and the fifth ranked close combat specialist in known space. In actuality, every Sigmari tribal chieftan has to have a consort, and this is what Mr. White (a name given to him by Zeta) considers himself. White would die for Zeta without a second thought, and would probably take a hell of a lot of people with him when he went down. While publicly Zeta scoffs and calls his inappropriate advances and possessiveness ridiculous ("White, how would the biology of that even work? Idiot!"), she once thought he'd been killed and flew into a tear-filled homicidal rage, slaughtering the (now defunct) Gamma Burst pirate organization before she found White alive and imprisoned. She denies the tears ever happened and anyone who presses the issue is likely to get shot. But ever since then her scolding and ridicule of Mr. White has softened considerably. Mr. White follows the ancient shamanic traditions of his people, and indeed appears to possess abilities that some would consider "magic"...
Kaleema Hazarad is a rarity among Close Combat Specialists; she prefers the use of very heavy weaponry. Most of her profession shun heavy weaponry, due to its tendency to blow holes in hulls. But her aim is phenomenal and she uses sonic weapons, which have virtually no chance of causing a hull breach. Still, you usually know when Kaleema's been involved in a boarding action due to the number of people lying on the deck bleeding out of their ears. Many believe Kaleema has been genetically augmented, perhaps by the Fahreen, whom employ her frequently. She has tremendous strength and has taken what appeared to be lethal injuries on more than one occassion. Like all members of her species, her reflexes are well above human norms. She is the third ranked Close Combat Specialist in known space. Kaleema is a member of the Rotani species.
For at least 400 years, the survivors of the Rotani race have been scattered across the local sector. Claiming to be from the edge of the Sea of Dead Stars, they say their home world was destroyed by some malevolent force from that forsaken region of space. The survivors of their race travel about in small, nomadic bands, which have a bad reputation among most species. The Rotani are the gypsies of space, traveling in small family groups, often engaged in criminal activity, and shunned frequently when they have done nothing wrong. They've been subjected to purges, wrongful prosecution and slavery in some cases. They are known as thieves, assassins and con-artists. The Rotani take it all with a philosophical shrug and keep doing what they do best: surviving. The Rotani themselves are physically a cross between a ferret and a snake. They have a lightning-quick metabolism and reflexes, are cold-blooded, and consume small animals live. The latter trait, no fault of their own, probably has more to do with their shunned status among other races than any illegal activities they may or may not be involved with. Rotani make camps on habitable planets that are marginally settled, landing far enough away from the main colony so as not to appear threatening, and then selling their wares to the colonists. In some cases they are driven off as claim jumpers, but the Rotani have never actually claimed a colony or a planet as their own.
Rayzer Kane is an extremely feared close combat specialist; an expert at combat in the tight confines of starships. Ambidexterous, and with reflexes that most people believe cannot occur naturally, he is ranked second among all close combat specialists in known space, below only Paran Vericross. Most people think he could beat Vericross in a fair fight, but Vericross has an entire pirate organization behind him, while Rayzer has no known allegiances. His favorite weapons are a pair of personally crafted Omegablades; swords with edges covered in a field of ultrahot plasma gas in a magnetic field. He also carries a pair of hand-made 12.7mm revolvers that fire rocket-propelled explosive rounds. In addition to his incredible physical prowess, he is known to be an accomplished hacker, most often using these abilities to hack into ships and shut down key systems and override security measures.
Lord Eidolon Harper
Possessed by a powerful alien entity, Jesse Harper is now known as Lord Eidolon, and has turned the brainwashed prisoners, guards and staff of Hifari Prison into a small army that appears bent on spreading chaos, destruction and anarchy. Harper claims that he is preparing humanity for the future. His army consists only of humans. His men killed all of the alien population of the prison. It is clear that the entity possessing Harper doesn't have full control, and Harper's actions are sometimes erratic and unpredictable.
The Eidolon are one of the strangest and, in many ways, most frightening threats to emerge from the Sea of Dead Stars. They are unique for many reasons. First, they appear to be human. In fact, many are identifiable as humans who were lost once they crossed the Terminus Line into quarantined space, or humans who were captured in an Eidolon raid and "re-educated." If there is some other power behind the Eidolon, no one has seen it or heard it's name. Second, the Eidolon only attack human colonies. Most threat species from the Sea of Dead Stars seem to have it in for all sentient life. The Eidolon will kill any alien species they come across, and in fact seem to be quite pro-human on some twisted level, but they only target other humans for their attacks. Typically, the Eidolon target small, fringe colonies of a few thousand people or less. They swoop in on freighters, disguised as supply convoys or lost ships requiring repairs, and then land and disgorged dozens or hundreds of the Eidolon shock troops, always headed by their dreaded Captains (one of which is pictured above). They then subjugate the populace, putting in place dozens of restrictive rules and requiring complete obedience. This is reinforced by The Miasma, a noxious gas they use to permeate the colonies they capture, which causes the people to become obedient and slowly twists their thinking into the same as the Eidolon. The Eidolon pick the strongest and brightest for "re-education" and subject them to subliminal torture, mental conditioning, desensitization and worse in order to convert them into Eidolon. Once they have re-educated all of the people who are deemed worthy, they leave, loaded with Miasma and new recruits. Then, like a cancer, the new Eidolon of the colony they attacked spread out to share their "New way of thinking" with other human colonies. So far, the authorities have prevented any permanent Eidolon "infestations" from taking hold on this side of the Terminus Line, but as humanity keeps expanding and more and more "shadow colonies" go unregistered, it seems inevitable that the Eidolon will begin to expand. In fact, many theorize that it's already happened on unregistered colonies the authorities never knew existed. The Eidolon are striking deeper in human territory and their ships are frequently newer and more modernized ships sold in just the last decade. The Eidolon appear to have a severe hatred of authority, and twist and pervert its purpose, almost as if they are making a mockery of human society and leadership. Even the way they look, with the coal-kettle helmets, gas masks, black rubber-looking suits and storm coats appear to be specifically designed to get a mental reaction of fear and abusive authority from any who see them. Their faces are scarred and their eyes red, but it's all superficial and makes no rhyme or reason, except to tap into subconscious human fear. They constantly babble about humanity being "prepared for what's coming" which can only be survived by the "new way of thinking." Psychic probes to uncover their secrets only runs into the mental wall built up by their "re-education" along with the firm conviction of all Eidolon that humanity has to be "darker than the darkness that is coming." In addition to their attacks, Eidolon ships have been implicated in attacks on alien species which seem to be geared toward causing humanity to go to war with anything not human. Eidolon are murderous and don't hesitate to shoot and kill those opposing them, but they seem far more focused on subverting the human race and aren't known for their high body counts, unless a colony resists too strongly. At that point they deem the colony "beyond saving" and bathe it with poison gas, lift off, and destroy any signicant structures from above. The typical Eidolon is well-trained, disciplined, but not too creative and have little initiative. They follow orders to fault. The exceptions are the Captains, who are exceedingly good tacticians and dangerous combatants. The Eidolon also resort to piracy to acquire new ships when necessary. Usually by sending out a distress signal and baiting a ship in. When the ships dock, the Eidolon storm the other ship and capture it, either re-educating the crew or spacing them.
Kellias Vornsan is a Rhtharian flamekeeper, a psychic with pyrokinetic capabilities. Flamekeepers are greatly respected in Rhtharian society and feared outside of it. Their ability to control and create fire by mere thought means that they are never unarmed or harmless. All Flamekeepers prominently wear red on their outfits to let other Rhtharians know who and what they are. They can also be distinguished by their orange eyes; a color that doesn't occur in any other Rhtharians. Kellias, the daughter of a high-ranking Rhtharian official, has worked as a diplomat whose job is to smooth over relations between the Rhtharians and the Terran Protectorate. In the last war, the Rhtharians contracted as pirates and privateers, raiding human shipping and colonies. The Protectorate eventually destroyed their shipyards and forced them out of the war. The war led to a change of government on Rhythmar, but the new government has failed to convince humanity that the Rhtharians are not a threat. It doesn't help that there are a large number of Rhtharian pirates who still prey on human shipping when possible.
Ruins of Tanquero Station
The Garuda's Claw discovers that Tanquero Station, a Terran Protectorate fuel depot, has met an unfortunate end.
Colonel Daryl Hawkins is an ex- Terran Protectorate Colonial Marine. He was dishonorably discharged along with most of his regiment; a commandoregiment from the planet York, but the details of that are hidden beneath layers of top secret security measures. Whatever the situation, other marines who knew Hawkins treat him with an unusual measure of respect given his discharge status. When Hawkins and the rest of the 53rd York Commandos left, they pooled their resources and went into business as a mercenary unit. Hawkins' Boys, as they became known (despite a 35% female compliment) soon gained a reputation as a hard-hitting, no-nonsense merc group that took primarily pro-human missions. Needing more fleet and air support, they linked up with Hera's Harriers and became Hawkins' Harriers. Hawkin is a tough, tenacious commander. He is a solid tactician who enjoys a good scrap, cares for his men's welfare, and who still has a marine's code of honor. However, he tends to let his men run wild unless its mission time, and he himself is known to have quite a temper.
Hawkins' Harriers are a mercenary force made up primarily of former human colonial marines and freelance spacers. The Harriers were originally two merc groups, Hawkins' Boys and the Hera Harriers. Hawkins' boys, led by Col. Hawkins were a force recon strike regiment of former marines who were, for the most part, drummed out of the service for behavioral problems. The Harriers were a fighter wing under Captain Marisa Graves who were the only survivors of a pirate raid on their home colony. As part of the militia, the Harriers swore a blood oath to destroy the pirate group that raided and butchered their colony (while they were assisting with evacuation of a colony three systems away). They did that, killing the pirates to the last man. But then, they had nothing to do. Col. Hawkins suggested they join forces as a combined arms mercenary unit. The mix has been a roaring success. Hawkins' Harriers specialize in surgical strikes against hardened targets. Assets include a marine regiment divided into four companies; two infantry, one special ops company and one mechanized company; a fighter wing of 24 star fighters based out of the light carrier, The Eyrie; and a space combat task force. Their flagship, Garuda's Claw, is a Tarasque-class battlecruiser with increased tactical and command and control capabilities. The Harriers' missions tend to include things like hostage rescue, precision strike operations, blockade running, etc. Col. Hawkins describes the group's fast and hard strategy as "hitting your enemy in the nuts with a hammer, so you can pick his pocket."
Rear Admiral Jessie Moran
Rear Admiral Jessie Moran, newly promoted from Commodore. Commander of Task Force 31, assigned to protect Terran Protectorate interests in the Niflheim-Lumilar Independent Economic Zone. Unfortunately, he was assigned before hostilities broke out and since Protectorate interests were mainly focused on trade and economics, his focus has been on logistics, not combat. Whether he can rise to the occassion and help defend the zone without making it appear to be Protectorate takeover remains to be seen.
Fact finding fleet
Admiral Moran's "fact finding" task force, dispatched to investigate the Donovan's Jump incident and to pick up the survivors of the S.S. Tereshkova.
Interdiction task force
An interdiction task force sent to "secure" Donovan's Jump.
The notorious pinnace Hi-Calibre is the ship used by the bounty hunting duo of Proxie and Omega (voir illustration suivante). It appears to be an amalgam of a Xintrin Auditor and an L-750 patrol ship, but usually such amalgams look rough and scrapped together. The Hi-Calibre, however, appears to have been constructed as one ship from the ground up. That has led to some suggesting that she may be some form of stolen prototype...or the Omega and Proxie have hidden corporate backers. Whatever the origin, the ship is fast and deadly, with a sophisticated ECM package and boosted sensors that make her an interstellar bloodhound that is quite capable of killing what it catches.
Omega and Proxie
Omega and Proxie are an infamous bounty hunting team known for extracting targets from hard-to-reach places, such as fortified compounds and guarded safehouses. Very little is known about them. No one has seen a robot or cyborg like Omega and some believe it is a piece of ancient technology discovered by Proxie or some third party. The other member of the team, Proxie, is just as much of a mystery. No one knows Proxie's species or gender, although from the build of the suit and the five fingered hand the occupant would likely be human or Mogg'Theran. Proxie speaks in a monotone mechanical voice that likely covers his or her real voice. Proxie has been heard speaking just about every known language with no discernable dialect or intonation to give away whether it is a native speaker or just speaking through a translator in the helmet. Some have even suggested that Proxie is a robot as well. The two bounty hunters have been very careful to conceal how they operate, usually only coming out publicly with their captured (or dead) target. But it is known that Omega has very powerful weapons systems, and is much faster and more agile than one would expect: It has been seen loping down corridors like a gorilla, swinging from rafters and doing full flips over the heads of unexpecting opponents. The way Omega moves has led some to suspect that it was created by a Simian-like race...or is a cyborg with an ape brain. Proxie is a deadly blur of action and stealth, quickly disarming opponents and usually catching them unawares. One or both of them is an expert hacker and Omega appears to not show up on weapon sensor systems, as Proxie is always able to smuggle it into secured ports and space stations without trouble.
Niflheim Inquisitors have a number of duties, some of which are not known to the general public, but they are most famously known for enforcing Nifacillian shipping licenses and apprehending smugglers of the valuable medication.
The Bedlam is a light transport that has a contract for medical shipping for the Niflheim Sovereignty. It is under the captaincy of a Mogg'Theran named Beldan Ree, who bought it from a human captain he worked for. As per tradition among the Mogg'Theran, he kept the name, which happened to be so close to his own.
Wildlings of Dor
The Wildlings are the descendants of a colony ship that landed on Dor about 200 years ago. No one is sure why, but the entire population went "feral" after just a few years on the planet. They appear to be plagued by various insanities, an overall savagery and paranoia...attacking most others that try to colonize Dor. They also exhibit a high rate of psychic abilities. Dor Wildlings are often found around ancient Xynoban ruins...the remains of a minor galactic civilization that existed about 300,000 years ago. They have prevented serious scientific study of the ruins and the mining of potentially profitable resources on the planet, which is technically part of the Niflheim Sovereignty. The Sovereignty is loathe to use violence against the Wildlings unless it is self defense, because their planet was colonized by the sistership of the vessel that took the Wildlings to Dor. Instead they have financed scientific endeavors and diplomatic attempts to end hostilities. None of those efforts has yet succeeded.
The Galanshah Pirate Fleet
The Galanshah is a Rhtharian pirate fleet led by the pirate and gunman Paran Vericross, often referred to as the most dangerous sentient being in known space. The fleet consists of the flagship, a war frigate called the Blood Oath; two Fahreen gunships and a Corsair raider vessel. The name Galanshah comes from the name of a ritual Rhtharian hunting party used to hunt down the Spine-backed Galan; a large predatory creature that lurks along the edge of methane swamps on Rhythmar. Traditionally, a Galanshah has four individuals: The scout, the wardens and the killer. The scout finds the prey and baits it by harassing it while signalling to the others. The wardens then herd the creature to the killer, which ambushes the beast and makes the kill. Vericross's Galanshah works in much the same way, with the corsair doing the scouting, the gunships taking the roll of wardens and the frigate performing the kill. Usually, when most merchant vessels see the scout they try to run for it. If they are caught by the wardens, most surrender right then and there. Few last long enough for the Blood Oath to do anything but pick up the booty.
Paran Vericross is a close combat specialist and pirate lord with his own fleet. This Rhtharian has powerful psionic abilities and is sometimes referred to as the most dangerous sentient being in known space. Close combat specialists are a combination of gunfighter and media superstars. They excel at close combat fighting in the tight confines of a starship. The top 20 are "ranked" by intergalactic media outlets. Paran Vericross has topped the rankings for the last 6 earth years.
Commodore Kaska, House of Lan, is an up-and-coming Mogg'Theran leader who wishes to see the Empire of Many Suns restored to Mogg'Theran rule. A consumate politician and accomplished veteran of a number of campaigns, he rose through the ranks of the Mogg'Theran Security Service and still prefers to fight his battles in the shadows, gathering as much information about his enemies and adversaries as possible and crippling them before they can move against him. He is also known for his skill in the Kalar; a traditional Mogg'Theran spiked club that fills the same cultural niche as the sword does for humans. Whether in politics or in a space battle, Kaska always prefers to use misdirection, superior information sources and subterfuge as his main weapons.
The Hifari Penal Colony
The Hifari Penal Colony is property of Lumilar Corporate Holding and one of the largest prisons in known space. The planet is a barren rock perpetually covered in water vapor fog. The surface air is not breathable by any known life forms. However, the dense water vapor in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect that keeps it relatively warm. The planet is valued for its rich deposits of gold, platinum, beryl and uranium. The LCH decided they could make the most of the planet by turning it into a penal colony where other races could send their criminals, whom the Lumilari would look after (for a reasonable fee). In turn, the prisoners mine the valuable deposits for the Lumilari. Unlike stereotypical portrayals of prison planets that haunt tri-vid media, Hifari prison is clean, safe and follows strict mining safety rules. Prisoners who rehabilitate and learn valuable skills are offered a position in LCH or one of its subsidiaries...often as a member of its expansive mercenary division. Hifari sits in a binary star system, with two main sequence stars circling each other at about the distance of one light month apart (about 90 times the distance between pluto and the Sun at its furthest point).
The Lumilari Corporate Holding
Lumilar is an independent world that lies between the Terran Protectorate and the Empire of Many Suns in an unclaimed region known simply as "the gap." It is a metropolitan planet that is the banking center of known space. It's native inhabitants, the Lumilari, have organized their government into one massive corporation; the Lumilari Corporate Holding. There is no private business. Every business from a corner convenience store to a starship parts manufacturer is a subsidiary of Lumilari Corporate Holding and pays back a percentage of its revenue to the "parent company." Every Lumilari is either a corporate employee, or the very lucky (and rich) ones are shareholders, who try to live a life of luxury off the (extremely expensive, but profitable) dividends from their investments in their homeworld or its subsidiaries. This set up has made the Lumilari merciless corporate sharks as a species, but it has provided them tremendous wealth. Besides banking and financial institutions, the Lumilari also excel at genetics and all Lumilari genetically alter themselves to rid their bodies of genetic imperfections. This has gone on for several hundred years and most Lumilari are amazing physical specimens with an extended lifespan and free of disease. The Lumilari are not expansion-minded and only control a half dozen planets, only two of which are habitable outside of their homeworld. Their power is all financial and they've maintained their independence by threatening financial ruin on any major power that tries to force them to do something they do not want to do.
Takamo Remnant Observatory
The Takamo Remnant Observatory, located in neutral territory, was built to observe and survey the Takamo supernova remnant. The remnant is part of the shell of a star that was blown off during a supernova countless eons ago. It has been captured by the star Takamo, which is bleeding off much of its excess matter and heat. This is important for two reasons: First, it is changing Takamo itself into what's known as a Cepheid Variable. Any day now, Takamo is expected to begin blowing off unstable mass it has collected from the remnant. Second, supernova remnants are potential sources of neutronium, the densest substance known. A glaze of neutronium only a milimeter thick can provide a starship with the armor protection of 20 feet of steel. The remnant has a temperature of 5 million kelvin, making it extremely difficult to approach currently. There may be technology that allows a ship to venture inside, but investors want to make sure there is neutronium there before they put forward that kind of expense. In the meantime, the observation station has gathered a wealth of knowledge on supernova remnants, the lifecycles of stars, and stellar dynamics. The station is 1.7 miles across from the tips of its solar arrays, but it only houses a permanent population of a couple thousand at most.
MacKenzie on date night
MacKenzie Capella, the engineer of the Honor's Hammer, dressed for a date with Raid, one of the player characters.
Old futuristic photo 2
A photo of Salas, House of Bek, in front of the Hammer of Honor...found in the captain's cabin. Location and photographer unknown.
Old futuristic photo 1
This is a photo found in the captain's cabin of Honor's Hammer.
The Kalabar Ruins
Ruins of an ancient civilization, that existed about 200,000 earth years ago, can be found throughout local space. The Kalabar were believed to have been giant simian-like beings who dabbled in advanced genetics. They were destroyed in a cataclysmic war between an unknown foe. Because their ruins are usually located on frozen ice worlds, often uninhabitable by other sentient species, it is believed that many of their worlds remain undiscovered, especially their home world, whose discovery could be worth a fortune.
A bounty hunter and assassin who works mostly for underworld figures, Naga Centauri is a clanless orphan who revels in taking down tough targets.
New Avalon Colony
"Water World" colonies like New Avalon can be surprisingly self-sufficient and profitable. A water world filled with life often has megafauna fish species in abundance for food, massive stockpiles of petroleum used to make plastic and composite substances (it's no longer used for fuel in about any capacity) and a number of valuable substances and minerals can only be found in the ocean depths. But in the case of New Avalon, the colony's wealth actually comes from medicines derived from the cornucopia of creatures living in its extensive coral reefs.
Tomb of Ice and Steel
On an uncharted, frozen world in a binary star system little visited, is the final resting place of the massive Mogg'Theran Greatship, Kalisk'tuvisk. The atmosphere has flash-frozen the bodies of its crew, and thus, the brave warriors achieved something in death that they failed to achieve in life: Immortality.
Tortuga Temptress on the job
The Tortuga Temptress, a John Henry-Class Utility Transport, working as a fleet tender for a convoy of Ceres-class supertankers. An explanation on the larger vertical surfaces: Someone early didn't understand why a ship like this would have large surface area like the wing-like structures. The John Henry is a utility ship. That means you have to give it a lot of power without it taking up a lot of space. Space works as an excellent insulator, which means that a lot of starships will build internal heat that they can't get rid of. The more energy a ship expends in a smaller area, the more heat will build up inside, eventually frying electronics and cooking the crew. This is actually why a lot of space fighters are okay with having wing designs, even if they don't go into atmosphere. Those large surfaces work as waste heat collectors, shunting the waste heat into those wing areas and away from the crew and valuable electronics. The same goes for the John Henry. But it needs vertical surfaces (up and down) because its job requires that those sides, with th grapplers and such, be free from obstruction. That allows it to fit between ships, dock easily, etc. while still having the waste heat collectors big enough to do the job. Your usual transport (ships like Serenity or Millenium Falcon) would not need large waste heat collectors because they're actually designed to just land, get loaded, fly to where they need to go, and unload. They would actually use very little in-transit energy except when going FTL. The large cylinders are actually heat-driven generators which provide the ship with extra power. The convection turns turbines inside which generate electricity which is then routed back to the ship for use or stored in batteries. This means the ship has a little extra juice when it needs it, and the harder its working the more heat is built up and the power they generate, so that power is there when it needs it. Efficiency on several levels, which is what you'd want in a starship.
La suite (et fin) dimanche prochain.