Mereni's Journal
Hello, my name is Mereni de la Renata and I grew up on a farm world in the Urbanos Sector. However, for the last fifteen years I have been working in Search and Rescue (S&R) in the Kobra Worlds region, which is part of the catatrophic Collapse Zone. A nearby supernova cause a massive trade and technology crash in the regions surrounding it, and my degree in robotics has been helpful in disaster zones like earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and the occasional civil war. I have several different types of rescue bots, in three different classes: low tech, medium tech, and ultra tech.

The low tech bots are easy for me to maintain on worlds which have little or no tech support, while my most advanced ones are made out of pure nanotech bots and are extremely useful. However the nanos tend to be power hogs and have a limited lifespan, so for the most part I use my lower tech bots for my job.

Kobra World is truly an amazing place; it's a city-world just like Urbanos and the population here has reached an extraordinary 1+ trillion people. It's a very stable planet, politically and technologically, and it utterly dominates its neighboring worlds, most of which are low-tech agro-planets. With such an titanic population, there is very little empty space on the planet. I have taken several photos to show the enormity of this heavily over-populated worlds' predicament.


The Methuselah Council
The biotechnology and AI development of Kobra World is the most advanced in the lower Orion Arm, and they make fabulous amounts of money in these two fields. Tissue engineering, advanced body parts cloning, cybernetics, and even total rejuvenation of the human body is possible on Kobra World, and its been this way for thousands of years. On KW you can literally live forever and these people are called "Methuselahs". Unfortunately this advanced technology has created some serious social problems on KW that needed to 

be addressed. Several hundred years ago, the Methuselah Council was created to deal with these issues. 

Legally, the Council only has authority over people 300 years or older. These undying people can amass an enormous fortune during their life and can wield extraordinary influence with those finances, so the Council was created to make sure those problems would be mitigated as much as possible. On Kobra World, once you turn 300 years old you go on the "Meth Watch List" and every 100 years you must donate at least half your total wealth to the planetary government. The amount of money that Methuselahs give to the government is called the Gift, and accounts for a significant portion of revenues in any one year. 

The majority of the Council are self-aware AIs, most of who diligently watch the finances of anyone over the age of 300. They ensure that the rule of giving up half your wealth every century is self-imposed, otherwise the Council steps in and removes all a Meths' money altogether. With this law in place, most septuagenarians strictly follow the rules to avoid the extreme penalty of Forfeiture that the Council can impose. With a massive overpopulation of the planet, the Methuselah Laws were needed to help control the growth of the Kobra Worlds' population and so the process of becoming a Meth is fabulously expensive.

Elysium Highport
I have many feelings about leaving Kobra World since it's has been my home for more than 10 years. I accomplished much during that time and saved many lives with my robot team. Once in orbit we passed through the Elysium Highport, a space station circling the planet; one of hundreds that service the space industry of the system. I was able to use their recreational facilities while aboard, including the zero-gravity pool. While there, I was able to meet several of my fellow travellers that would be with us on the Uncanny. I wasn't sure how many people had booked passage 

aboard the freighter, but I did notice a dozen low-berth containers in the hold when I looked over the ship. They aren't the normal low-tech "freezers" that you sometimes don't wake up from, they are the more advanced zero-tau pods and they keep the sleepers safe and unaging during the journey. We safely left orbit and began our journey out of the Kobra Worlds Sector. I have fond memories here and will miss it.

So our story is the travels of two dozen adventurous souls across a Collapse-zone of space. The primary focus will be Mereni de la Renata, an emergency robotics troubleshooter that shows up in disaster zones, helping the natives with her advanced robots. She is headed back home, to the Oceanic Alliance (specifically the city-planet Urbanos). The captain of the mership MNS Uncanny, in which our heroes are travelling, is the famed explorer Miguel Rivo from the planet Harpoon. The Uncanny itself is a Gorgon-class civilian cargo vessel that has added a few "modifications" over the years by Captain Rivo. Additional crew are:

Daniel Heller (navigator/second pilot)
Droxler (troubleshooter and supercargo, a Bennite)
Fichera T'Darano (medic, ships weapons, ex-Marine)
Inella du'Farris (robotics specialist, foodie specialist)
Jain ap Haas (cargo master, repair tech)
Mazzei Selse (ship's doctor: MD specialist in xenobiology)
Omar Ayala (engineer)
Raby (second engineer, a M'Norn)
Rihaly Abseck (security, environmental specialist)
Wilson Jane (JOAT, weapons: ship and small arms)

The primary waypoint during this 12 sector journey will be the Jerlea Ringworld. 

Leaving orbit of Kobra World (below)

Cargo Lots of Cargo!
The merchant ship Uncanny is carrying some lucrative cargo that it intends to sell along its travelling route. Below is a list of some of the items:

1 Bubble metal fabber
1/2 ton of high-end brain implants (TL18)
1 ton of Class A pharamceuticals (TL18)
2 tons high-end computer parts (TL18)
5 tons of TL 18 small arms
4 tons of perishable food
Six packaged Zero Tau capsules
Sixteen boxed nanotech naval androids
Twelve boxed orbital zero-g repair robots
Live Cargo: 8 breeding pairs of Meowls (delivery to Ringbolt)
Live Cargo: 4 breeding pairs of M'Rets (delivery to Ringbolt)
2 tons pre-loaded info datacards
5 tons of TL18 self-repairing (nanotech) space bouys: navigation, surveillance, communication and marker bouys

The First Passenger
When I boarded the Uncanny, I found my cabin easily enough and stowed my gear. It would be a long trip so I packed for an extended stay on this medium-sized mership. My new cabin is roomy enough but its odd octagon shape has thrown off my feng shui. I then decided to explore the ship a little before we boosted for the jump point, While wandering, I found an exotic beauty in the corridor who was instantly recognizable by anyone from Kobra World. She was an up-and-coming porn starlet, Melissa Love and she is a Yitarian. I am guessing she's been in dozens and dozens of films 

and we chatted briefly; she was headed to the Euforix Station in the adjacent Sector and I told her I was headed home. I left her in the hallway as she searched for her cabin, but her spicy scent filled my nose all the way down to the Common Area.

Kobra World Orbital Traffic
As we made our way across the system to the local jump point, I spent most of the time in the main lounge of the ship as it has a extensive set of windows facing forward, allowing an unfettered view of the ships and stars nearby. It always amazed me how much orbital traffic that revolved around Kobra World but with a trillion people to feed, it made sense. As we approached our exit point I saw one of

the larger merships, the KWS Guppy and its escorts. It looked like a mammoth bathtub and was surely carrying a huge amount of cargo, probably perishable foodstuffs from nearby agroworlds. The Guppy itself was an impressive site, completely dwarfing our small ship.

Fond Memories
I have many fond memories of living on the huge city-planet Kobra World; the amazing scientific fields that the citizens and government excel at, the amazing complexity of a planet with over a trillion people, the various alien races that would come to visit (and sometime live permanently) on this world. I experienced some truly remarkable events and met many talented people while living there. My fondest memory is visiting a new friend, Chandra, at her spiritual commune in the sky. She worked as a missionary-liaison for the Communion 

of the Stars, a humanitarian neoChristian organization. Their facilities were astounding and I spent several hours there networking, making good future contacts within the organization.

The Exam
I found myself lazing around the ship until I was called for my mandatory medical exam. Currently, the Uncanny has over two dozen travelers on board so it taken some time for the the ships' doctor (Mazzei Selse) to finally see me. Like most modern humans, I have various cybernetic and biological enhancements and it's the doctors job to maintain a baseline for these systems and to make sure the systems are safe to use in the environments we would be experiencing. I have several important enhancements, the primary one is for my brain, called "Cognito". It's a brain implant that

increases cross-brain connectivity (which significantly boosts critical thinking and creativity), and expands raw intelligence by 15-20% above a baseline humans' brain. The hardware also increases a persons' memory capacity by up to 50%, depending on the subject as well as adding near-total recall of information. Cognito is a standard brain implant for most Kobra Worlders and also for citizens from planets with a very high tech level.

Raby the M'Norn
While checking out the confines of this mership I ran across one of the engineering crew, a large lion-like alien that I knew to be a M'Norn. He introduced himself as Raby and he had a lovely, aromatic smell to him that was distinctly much like vanilla. He told me we were ready to jump and to return to quarters, which I did. I look forward to meeting the rest of the crew and passengers on our long trip across the stars.

Crash of the Titan
In some ways I am really looking forward to heading back home; since I arrived in the Kobra Sector I've been working my tooshie off. One of the more difficult jobs I had was during the aftermath of the crash of the gravitic city named "Titan". It was the worst situation I ever had to deal with; millions of lives were lost when this disaster occurred and I will always remember the weeks of sweat, blood, and tears I shed directing my rescue 'bots to help the injured and trapped. I still have nightmares about it to this day.

We've Jumped
Well, we've begun out jump to our first destination, the Wynter System. It will take approximately a week to get there, apparently an essential constraint of spacial mechanics. Time spent in jumpspace can be boring so I headed back to the kitchen/common area of the ship, hoping to get to know some of my fellow travellers. This mership is quite large and carries numerous cabins and a few (very high-priced) luxury suites as well as some low-berth travel pods.

According to the manifest, more than 30 people are travelling aboard the Uncanny and I look forward to meeting some of them. When I arrived in the common area I did not see anyone, so I looked around and was pleased to see every nook and cranny was meticulously clean. Many cargo and passenger ships could be quite filthy and I myself have journeyed on more than a few during my time in the Kobra Worlds Sector. 

A nice array of plants, games, and food items were on the main table and the layout was very pleasing: not too small to make one feel trapped in, and not too large that it wasted too much cargo space within the ship. My tummy rumbled, and I began thinking about a meal....and a shower. This trip seems long already and yet I have months to go before arriving at home in Urbanos Sector. I am deeply concerned about the route we are taking but there is little choice: the whole lower arm of the Orion Spur us suffering from the supernova that blew many years ago. 

Foodies and Fabbers
I headed back to the common area to grab some food. The most advanced planets use food processors called "foodies" and at higher tech levels all the various types of foodies are combined into one and use molecular construction. However, the Uncanny seems to be a more dated vessel since it has these older specialized food printing machines:

B-Foodie or the "Bakery". It can also sub-specialize: pizzeria, cookies and cakes, etc.

D-Foodie or "Drinks" (hot and cold, no alcohol)

M-Foodies or the "Meat" machine: specializing in fish products, smoked meats of all types, fried/broil/poach/roast, and BBQ meats.

and finally the P-Foodie or "Produce" printer: taste fresh fruit and veggies from over 450,000 plant based items.

Anything "printed" or prepared by a foodie generally takes less than a minute, unless its a baked item, then it take a few more minutes to appear, hot and fresh tasting.

Foodies enable merships like the Uncanny to carry almost no foodstuffs on board, allowing for greater cargo capacity and on high-tech planets like Kobra World they are installed in every home and apartment. People used to handle and prepare raw meat?! Can you imagine that?! And it could take almost an hour to prepare a full meal whereas the foodie can make items in seconds. Thank God for printed food!

*Authors note: Foodies can rapidly convert nearly any organic substance into edible food, removing harmful toxins and viruses and adding any necessary vitamins and nutrients. As long as there is a source of compatible organics, food can be created indefinitely although its store of vitamin supplements will eventually run out. Foodies can synthesize additives and coloring to anything it makes. The processor can also distill simple organic compounds, like alcohol. 

More About Cybernetics
On ultra-high tech worlds the general public are hardwired with internal gadgetry and high-tech enhancements that give them a much higher quality of life. However, in interstellar space, the odds are that cosmic rays, x-ray emissions, meson sources, and even random high level EMPs from stars could cause my augs to go offline or damage them, including my personal Aide. Thus, I dont enjoy space travel. Added at birth, these technological gadgets chelate into our brains and 
construct nanocircuitry throughout our neural pathways as we grow. Losing this would be devastating for any high tech citizen:

No EM telepathy, so no way to talk to those around you unless you were actually in their presence or you happened to have a portable comm unit with you. No translator software; if your friend didn't happen to speak your language, you were out of luck. No e-conferencing in noumenal or virtual space. No datasphere linking you with every other person and every electronic service across the local networks. No way to access news, or weather—assuming you were on a planet which actually had weather—or med access, or e-pedia information feeds, or travel directions, or life journals, or any of the hundreds of other data downloads necessary in today's fast-paced life. No Sims. No download entertainment. No way to interact with either the stored or broadcast simvids that let you take the role of hero or villain or both. No way to buy the most basic necessities. Or to find them, since most shops now were on-line. No driving ground cars, piloting mag skimmers, or accessing public transit. No books, unless you could find the old-fashioned printed variety and that was assuming you could read them. No more educational feeds and no access to personal e-memory.

And then there was Aide. For someone like myself, it would feel like losing access to the AI mentor, secretary, and personal electronic assistant I've had since I was a kid. Without this online cyberware, the world would suddenly be a much smaller, much more difficult, much narrower place. My hope is that this journey will be mostly uneventful.

Onto Wynter
Having travelled for a week in Jumpspace we finally arrived at the planet Wynter. Whilst on our journey, I have been able to meet a few more of the passengers and many are quite interesting. I have also studied up on the planet we will be arriving at. Apparently no women are ever 
allowed to land on the all-male world of Wynter, so I must send a factor to purchase a few luxury goods and spare parts for my bots. 

A massive glacier world, Wynter (B776899-9) has a population of around a billion homosexual men. Apparently they use artificial wombs or cloning to maintain their civilization. It would be fascinating to study such a closed society.

Two of our fellow travellers are leaving us at Wynter, including the noted poet Kojo Dhlomo, a renowned novelist, poet, and storyteller who made his fame across the Kobra Sector. The retiring Relof Musk, a ex-constitutional court judge from Kobra World is also leaving us here at Wynter. Several tons of cargo are also being sent down to the planet, forcing us to orbit this world and refuel from a nearby tanker spacecraft instead of the local gas giant. The landing port on Wynter has to be seen to be believed; its massive and embedded in a huge ice formation near the equator.

Apparently throughout Wynter's long history it has maintained its glacial albedo, therefor the majority of resources for the planet are mined in the extensive asteroid belt. When the Collapse overtook this iceworld very little changed, except the cloning process which now has to be supported by offworld technology at Kobra World. Also, from what I have read, a significant number of the inhabitants of this planet are touch telepaths, giving this society an odd inward-looking viewpoint. In the past, Wynterian Marines used to be the most feared combat soldiers in the sector but the technology collapse has forced their cloning process to radically fall, from creating a brand new ready-for-combat clone in just 10 days to now taking at least 6 months. Nowadays, these "tanked" marines are rarely fielded off-world unless hired by high-priced contracts from other nearby planets.

The Dolphins of Fronomios
After eating, I went down to the medical bay and found one of the Dolphins of Fronomios. His name is Grzk'kat'grat and he is a forensic scientist. We spent some time talking about his society, and mine. The long-term friendship between cetaceans and humans has always amazed me; only the canine/human relationship is closer. I know of a dozen dolphin worlds within the Orion Arm, but none is as influential as the ultra-tech 
world Fronomios, which resides in the same sector as my homeworld.

Uplifted dolphins are honest, open, and friendly—sometimes to a fault. They are quick to recover from their transgressions and can be humble to excess. Some people consider dolphins to be pacifists, but they have, on occasion, been involved in wars. The most notable of these was their series of conflicts against the Bushi people, during the horrendous Starflyer War.

Dolphin marriages on Fronomios are polygamous, with a husband having three wives, and each wife having three husbands. The marriages are also open, with spouses free to pursue casual encounters with other people as they please. While many non-dolphins find this arrangement difficult to grasp, it’s the social norm on Fronomios. Most dolphins are equally astonished by the exclusive and monogamous mating rituals of other species. Also, dolphins do not sleep nightly, as most other species do.

The typical dolphin is exceptionally friendly, even to strangers, and possesses a keen curiosity about the world around them. They cherish new experiences and find their lives, and those of life forms around them, exceptionally interesting. They are excellent listeners.