Barnard’s Star Jump Gate

Description

Amid the endless blackness, a giant halo of grinding metal wrestles with the wormhole’s mouth. The Jump Gate of Barnard’s Star slowly spins, preparing for the passage of the next queueing vessel. Nearby, the Consortium’s Gate Defense Ship keeps a watchful eye, its black form outlined against the red surface of Barnard’s Star behind. Understanding this station’s Cat timeline is vital for present-day Consortium-Gaule relations. The mysterious Bakker Inquest recently sought answers, closing the system’s passage to Sol in the process. With the classified report now complete, single-jump Sol access is finally restored.

Those who survived here rebuilt a station forever cast in Catastrophe’s shadow. Rumor and hearsay spread like a reactor fire as scavengers spoke of a Consortium-Gaule battle. Some accused the Gaule of a bold bid for control of the gate. Others turned their blame to the Freebooters of Caen Station. Fickle narratives sowed doubt and distrust. Post-Cat, little was done to improve system harmony until the Consortium finally launched the Bakker Inquest a few cycles ago. With the murky timeline of vital import to present-day Consortium-Gaule relations, the political will was quickly found.

Bakker started with the single, awkward fact: a Gaule ship, the Mistral, was destroyed shortly after reaching Barnard’s Star Jump Gate. The passage to Sol, by which it had come, was closed for the inquest’s duration. Cycles of relative isolation followed here, with the indirect route to Sol, via Struve 2398, needing five costly interstellar jumps.

After the inquest’s recent conclusion, the Jump Gate’s Casimir Ring once again offers direct access to Sol. Some on the station remain fearful of the inquest’s classified findings, while others simply celebrate the departure of Bakker and his serious-minded inquisitors.

Statistics

System: Barnard’s Star
Affiliation: Consortium
Level: 10
Legal: Strong
Orwellian: High

Areas

Bank (Consortium Prudential Trust Bank)

Helpfully situated near the port, for many of the station’s visitors the Consortium Prudential Trust Bank will be all they see of Barnard’s Star Jump Gate. Occupying a low-ceilinged box unit, it’s unlikely to make a lasting impression.

This facility was clearly unprepared for the increase in activity after the re-opening of the Sol passage. Queues of impatient travelers wait for one of the wall-mounted terminals to become free. The room’s atmospheric regulator thrums loudly as it pulls the CO2 from an endless supply of exasperated sighs.

Brig (The Pen)

With a Panopticon design, the Pen is a circular metal-frame facility mainly housing non-violent inmates. Most are serial smugglers and bio-document forgers, always ready with a repertoire of remorse for any passing parole agent.

Despite the Consortium stockpiling supplies prior to the recent Sol passage closure, property crimes still spiked in this period. Most who spent those cycles on the station discovered first-hand what a thief’s guilt felt like. Given the special circumstances, security was more lenient than usual. With the Sol passage open again and normality returning to the station’s supplies, most locals carry on as if they had never seen the inside of a brig cell in those tough times.

NPCs

Clones (Anima Jump Gate Gestation Ward)

Anima’s Jump Gate Gestation Ward occupies a large unit on the station’s central walkway. Its prominently displayed vats draw glances from passersby, reminding them of the need to secure favorable post-death prospects.

The ward’s interior is somewhat of a building site, with long-awaited refurbishments finally underway to equipment which became outdated during the recent closure of the Sol passage. Crates stamped “Anima HQ: Taungoo” are being unpacked while a cluster of grimy old vats stand empty in the corner, awaiting removal.

Murky fluids drip from the now disconnected piping, draining across the floor into a sewer panel. It smells worse than a shuttle barf bag. At the reception desk, a Foundation employee strains hard to maintain a ‘business-as-usual’ smile for prospective clients.

Available Clones

NPCs

Employment (Consortium Labor Office)

With the direct passage to Sol now open again, the station has its livelihood back. Residents queue excitedly for a free terminal, relieved to finally put recent hardships behind them.

The Consortium’s decision to close the Sol passage during the Bakker Inquest had grave consequences for employment on the station. Traffic levels dipped and port jobs dwindled. Today the air of relief is palpable as residents once again scroll through plentiful opportunities on the Labor Office terminals.

NPCs

Career Advisory

Information panels line the walls, listing the perks and hazards of various occupations.

NPCs

Discreet Work

There’s always a reason why these tasks demand discretion. Sometimes, it’s not a nice reason.

Side Jobs

Side jobs aren’t always prestigious but at least they’re honest work.

Name Description Credits Statistic
Clonevat Fitter Anima Foundation seeks individuals with a good work ethic to assist with clone vat refits. Visit our facilities for walk-in work. 45 Intelligence
Medical Test Subject Jump Gate Medical seeks robust and hearty individuals for medical trials. Sign up now! 50 Multiple1
Nervous Fliers Mentor First-time jumpers can get jittery about interstellar travel. Help to settle their nerves by teaching a few short pre-flight classes. 40 Social
Shuttle Cleaner Nobody likes dealing with shuttle barf bags but someone has to do it. 35 Stamina

NPCs

Gaule Embassy (Gaule Protectorate Embassy)

The Gaule Protectorate Embassy was hastily constructed from an old residence and it shows. Animated displays on the wall show Gaule soldiers and Consortium civilians shaking hands and smiling, though no one who actually works at the embassy is.

If the Catastrophe changed everything, the Bakker Inquest on the Barnard's Star Jump Gate ensured that in this portion of the stars, things were not going to go well. Tensions between the Consortium and Gaule are high and both sides agreed that constructing this embassy was needed to have instant, clear communications.

Extend your visa: 362.7 cr

Government Center (Barnard’s Star Jump Gate Ministry)

The Ministry is a large well-lit building paneled in Consortium blue. As well as the usual government services, it also houses the offices used for the Bakker Inquest.

As the Consortium’s sole government base in the system, the imposing Ministry building is of vital importance. Consortium insignia adorn the external walls and guards patrol the perimeter. Inside, compliant citizens process documents and collect rations. A quiet murmur permeates, punctuated only by the occasional motor swivel buzz of a surveillance camera.

It is from the Ministry’s upper levels that the high-profile Bakker Inquest into the station’s Catastrophe experience was conducted. Under Chief Bakker’s direction, a team of seconded investigators from Tau Station worked to pull truth from the swirl of rumor which had festered here post-Cat. Survivor testimonies of a vicious Consortium-Gaule battle at the Jump Gate undermined the uneasy truce installed by the Nouveau Limoges Accords. The Bakker Inquest promised answers, but both governments knew they could be difficult to accept.

NPCs

Inn (The Star Jumper Arms)

The Star Jumper Arms is a modest inn offering travelers the basics for a brief stay. A 3D holomap in the doorway indicates a bar on the entry level with rooms above.

Surrounded on all sides by the station’s port facilities, the Star Jumper Arms is a squat two-story paneled unit that somehow survived the Catastrophe intact. There’s little luxury on offer, but the weary travelers who frequent it don’t seem to mind much.

NPCs

Bar (The Airlock)

The Airlock is a poky bar on the entrance level where travelers and port staff come to unwind.

There are few tables in the cramped room and most of the customers stand or take stools at the bar. The place is popular with port staff: off-duty cargo handlers and shuttle-wrenchers blowing off steam after a shift. The floor is sticky with the residue of yesterday’s synthehol but nobody much seems to mind.

Menu

NPCs

Hotel Rooms (Traveler’s Rest Motel)

The Traveler’s Rest offers a selection of functional rooms with automated check-in and concierge services.

The motel’s boxy rooms provide visitors with a few hours of broken sleep and a charging point for their slates. Those disturbed by the noise of the nearby port won’t be happy to discover that the ear-plug vendor in the corridor hasn’t been restocked for many cycles.

Prices

  • 1 day: 76.57 cr
  • 5 days: 306.28 cr
  • 10 days: 535.99 cr
  • 30 days: 1378.26 cr

You should have minimum intelligence of 13.5? to avoid injury while reading.

NPCs

Lounge (Frontier Cantina)

An under-lit seating area decorated with forgettable 3D-printed ornaments. The Frontier Cantina attracts those who don’t fancy the noisy Airlock Bar.

Bland background music floats across the Frontier Cantina blanketing the chatter of its few occupants. Despite the simple layout, it’s a special place for those whose relationships once began with a shared ration at one of these tables.

You should have minimum social of 13.5? to avoid injury while socializing.

NPCs

Port (Central Port Zone)

The port is the lifeblood of the station, offering passenger and cargo handling alongside a range of technical services. Resurrected by the return of direct Sol transit to the system, the decline of recent cycles is slowly being forgotten.

The sprawling complex occupies a large portion of the station’s internal surface area. Most of the shuttle bays are pre-Cat but survived intact, later enabling the station to handle a diverse range of vessels. Today, the din of shuttle landing thrusters is heard every few segments as the port again revels in the benefits of single-jump transit to Sol.

NPCs

Docks (The Docks)

The docks are equipped with hydraulic cranes that can unload a hauler in a matter of segments. Cargo carousels ferry the precious goods through to customs control.

The dock’s container yard is stacked with all sorts of freight. Every crate bears a logo indicating its contents: from Taungoo noodles to phosphorous from Daedalus. The diversity of the station’s essential imports meant shortages were inevitable in recent cycles, despite the Consortium’s promise of adequate stockpiles before the Sol passage closure.

NPCs

Interstellar Shuttles

With the launch of the Bakker Inquest and closure of the direct passage to Sol, the station’s Interstellar Shuttle Bay fell quiet, apart from the odd service to lesser systems. Today, arrival and departure boards again indicate a busy gate with frequent connections to Sol, reminding thankful locals that their isolation is over.

With the Sol passage a key site of Bakker’s investigation, there was little choice but to close it while his team completed their work. With reliable findings potentially key to future relations, both Consortium and Gaule governments supported the effort. A joint pact agreed the closure terms and the residents of Barnard’s Star prepared for a period of relative obscurity.

These cycles took their toll on those with loved ones elsewhere. Now, with the re-opening of its vital connection to Sol, this terminal regularly hosts heartfelt reunions between distant friends and family.

Destinations

  • Sol
  • Struve 2398 collapsed
  • 70 Ophiuchi collapsed

NPCs

Local Shuttles

A garishly bright advertising screen adorns the external façade of the Local Shuttle terminal. The display refreshes every few units with news of latest travel times and fares.

A broken public address speaker emits garbled flight info at harried travelers in the departures lobby. Stringent security notices remind passengers that weapons and fuel cells are only permitted as hold cargo. Those leaving stride stiffly with purpose; those arriving dawdle past, the stress of their journeys behind them.

NPCs

Shipping Bay (Light Speed Shipping Co.)

Residents queue to send and collect parcels using the automated terminals.

The post-Cat society of Barnard’s Star Jump Gate included many stranded survivors, uncertain about the fate of their faraway homes. Many of those who built new lives here kept a special place in their heart for the distant homes they’d once known. Today, the Shipping Bay is a vital link for them as parcels from those distant stations help to keep precious memories alive.

NPCs

Residences (The Perch)

Few reside here permanently, but those who do mostly occupy quarters in The Perch, a stack of small-windowed units, bolted to an elevated ledge on the station’s biggest internal wall.

The port’s substantial space demands forced lesser buildings to fringe locations. And so, from their pre-fab standard-class cabins, the residents of Barnard’s Star Jump Gate overlook the station’s principal facilities below.

NPCs

Ruins (The Ashes)

Nothing here should burn. And yet, all those cycles ago when Catastrophe came, an explosive din filled the air. Against the odds, somehow, the station’s wall integrity held. That epicenter is now known as The Ashes.

What used to be a vast maze of automated cargo facilities is now a flame-scorched warren of hazards. Somehow, despite the proximity of the station hull’s thinnest sections, a ruinous breach was avoided.

A series of blasts blackened this non-combustible place but, in the scramble that followed, it was yet another mystery which may never be solved. Some posited rogue cargo shipments, hydrogen perhaps, somehow evading customs, venting into the air and finding the spark of a loose electrical connection. Others spoke of Gaule bombs and sabotage, while many cared only that they’d survived.

Cycles later the problem occupied some of Bakker’s finest minds. Today the stench of charred flesh is gone, but the blistered bulkheads of The Ashes still remind residents just how close the station came to complete destruction.

NPCs

Security (Consortium Gate Watch)

The large security office employs many residents and seems to specialize in anti-smuggling operations. Station guards carefully monitor a wall of surveillance image feeds.

As with most Consortium jump gate stations, security is tight and well-resourced here. Although safeguarding the work of the Bakker Inquest took priority in recent cycles, the focus has now returned to lesser transit crimes. The cost of interstellar travel prompts some to steal their passage, but it takes a skillful stowaway to outwit these experienced agents.

NPCs

Sick Bay (Jump Gate Medical Services)

Reputed to be the system’s leading medical facility, the Consortium-run clinic attracts patients from far and wide.

The walls of the clinic’s reception are lined with info posters, teaching patients to recognize the symptoms of various ailments. Most seem to focus on the nausea and dizziness that accompanies space sickness. A larger poster by the entrance warns pilots about G-force induced Loss of Consciousness. It shows a cockpit flight console with the outer edges darkened, simulating tunnel vision symptoms. Underneath; “Don’t ignore Greyouts! G-LOC Kills.”

NPCs

"Galactic Destinations" Introduction

Bathed in the dim glare of its ancient star, this Consortium-run Jump Gate station welcomes visitors to Barnard’s Star. One of them is Chief Bakker, sent here to investigate the station’s curious Catastrophe experience. Below, we reveal a transcript of Bakker’s first dispatch to Consortium bosses, back on Tau.

First impressions

One thing’s clear already: just starting this inquest is proof enough for some that all the rumors are true. Reports of a battle have swirled here since Catastrophe, and now Consortium Intel is here to take a closer look. Wouldn’t do that unless some of it was true, would we? That’s how the locals see it, and I can’t fault their logic.

And boy, do they want to discuss it. Every segment I spend in the bar gets me ten new takes on it all. Everyone has their own version of events; survivors and next generation alike. Most agree there were two ships; one ours, one theirs; and a skirmish. Beyond that, pretty much nothing lines up neat. But then that’s why I’m here I guess.

I’m meeting the Station Governor, Orson Xian, later. He’s given us half a deck in the Ministry to use as offices. Not a patch on our usual Tau suites, but it’ll do. Main thing is we got quiet space to interview survivors. Plus: a decent coffee machine. Did I mention I like Governor Xian?

Next steps

The rest of my team will be here in a few days. After that, it’s down to business. 32 of Consy Intel’s finest minds; all here to figure out why Blue and Red started shooting at each other here all those cycles ago. We got forensics teams, expert interrogators, two artefact specialists, military strategists, and a system historian. It’ll take time, but we’ll get something.

A few grumbled about having to follow classified protocols for the duration; slows down the work apparently. I spelled it out for them. There’s risk here, scratching at things we don’t fully understand. If we find proof of Gaule mis-deeds during Catastrophe, it should be the bosses who decide how to proceed: not some nationalist hot-heads looking for kindling to start a war. It’s simple: leak inquest data, even by accident, and you’ll be looking for a new career. They didn’t moan any more after that.

Our schedule

Once we’re up and running, it’ll take us near enough a cycle to collect all the survivor testimonies. After that, we’re onto physical data collection, starting with station internals and then moving to externals, including full search of passage 420.C to Sol. It’s a longshot, but if there was debris from the fight, the only bits of it that aren’t in another galaxy by now would be those trapped in the wormhole. Like I said, this is going to take time. But if it gets us closer to understanding Catastrophe, it’ll be worth it…

Anyway, that’s enough for today’s dispatch. You’ll get the pleasure of my soothing voice again tomorrow.

Oh, and one last thing: next time you offer me a career-defining case, make it somewhere fun like Cirque Centauri. You ever meet the sort of folks who choose to live on a Jump Gate before? There’s a reason normal people only spend a few days here usually.

[Transcript ends]

That was the first of 1134 daily dispatches Chief Bakker would eventually send back to Sol System over the course of his inquest on Barnard’s Star Jump Gate. Today, Bakker and his team are recently-departed, along with their classified findings. But for many of the residents of Barnard’s Star Jump Gate, the search for answers continues, and they’re growing increasingly impatient…

Notes

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