The X-Boat network is the main means of sending messages across the vast Imperium. It was established 624 (Imperial) and covered the entire Imperium in 718 (Imperial). The backbone of the system is a small craft capable of a maximum speed of Jump 4. Administration of the X-Boat system is the responsibility of the Communications Office division of the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service (IISS). Although the maximum speed of an X-Boat is jump 4, not all jumps are made at that speed. Because of the way the network is laid out, the average speed a message travels is Jump 2.6.
So breaking it down, starting with the far left. The * informs me that John is a registered voter on Regina then his name. The @ means located at. The next part is his Personal Information Reader's serial number. This part is optional. TASNET is the computer system name. Regina is the subsector capitol, Regina is the system name.
Common computer system domains include:
These are the main ones. Major corporations' names are added after the network name and before the user ID.
I record my message to John using my terminal in my room. I have the option of Video, Audio, or text. The only difference in them is the quality and cost. Video is 30 credits for each ten minutes per jump, audio 10 credits for ten minutes and text one credit for ten pages. Mixed text and pictures' costs one credit per page. If I was not using a terminal in my room, there are public terminals located in most starports. Although video transmissions are only available on class A starports, audio class B and C or less is text only. Billing is in Imperial credits and worked out with the jump speed of 2.5. If he was not on the main route, the message would be passed to the Imperial Courier Service (ICS) for final delivery.
I have finished my message and instruct the terminal to send. The terminal then gives me the option to have my message encrypted, this doubles the cost of the message. From here, the data is compressed and passed to the local communications system for transmission to an X-Boat station or passed to the ICS for delivery onto an X-Boat route.
An X-Boat drops into realspace. The pilot then activates the recovery beacon and aligns the communications array to the X-Boat station. An X-Boat station is constructed close to entry points of Hyperspace and contains fuel, pilot stations and communications arrays. The station dispatches an X-Boat Tender with a fresh pilot and fuel. Once it has reached the boat, it recovers it, changes crew and refuels it. This process takes about four hours. The record for this routine is seven minutes. A single tender can deal with up to six X-Boats at a time. In busy systems, many tenders can be seen working at once to keep the network going. Once re-fuelled and a new pilot aboard, the X-boat is released and gets ready to jump. While all this activity is going on, the X-Boat is still getting data and messages.
Once all checks are finished aboard the pilot shuts down the communication array and departs the system. The pilot from the X-Boat is given another job, whether this be aboard the tender or at the X-Boat station. After a week in normal space he is reassigned to another X-Boat and his job starts again.
The ICS maintains a fleet of type S scout/couriers. It is they who take the messages to systems off the main network. They are mostly modified with the passenger compartments removed and replaced with extra computer storage and extra fuel tankage. They depart at different speeds taking their messages to wherever they need to go.
Note: Since the ICS has limited ships available, they rely upon licensed carriers. Obtaining a licence is not easy. First an application form has to be filled out and a fee of 500,000 credits is paid. Then the applicant is given a thorough background check if anything looks suspect then their application is refused and the fee is kept. If all looks good, the applicant is granted a licence.
ICS regulations prevent more than five tons of a ships' cargo space from being used for mail. This prevents unscrupulous captains from running off with mail and also means there is a steady flow of carriers. Each ton of space nets the carrier 5000 credits.
If a group of governments is pitching together for a Subsidised Merchant and the ICS thinks it will suit their needs then they will throw in one fifth of the cash for it. The merchant is usually given first pick of the cargo.
The cargo is then transported to its destination in its pod. It may along the way make stops to drop off mail pods and collect more.
Well, I finally did it. I always thought it would be a bit longer than what I have here! I hope that this will provide inspiration for all players out there. I can be contacted at:
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