Update #22 - The Leaders of Tomorrow
A setting is defined by the factions it spawns. For example, 9th century England is not defined by dudes sporting swords and chainmail but by the warring kingdoms, Viking factions, puppet rulers, the Danelaw, and a clash of religions. In turn, the factions are defined by their leaders who reflect the current state of affairs, and the leaders are defined by the challenges they face.
Thus the time has come for you to meet the finest sons and daughters of Starfarer: the elected, appointed, hand-picked, hereditary, and self-proclaimed leaders who hold the fate of the Ship’s inhabitants in their hands. Let’s start with the three main factions fighting for control over the Habitat – the central living complex housing 80% of the Ship’s population. For more information on the Ship’s factions, see our website:
PROTECTORS OF THE MISSION
When Silas Reis was promoted, he was handed the same unfulfilled mandate as every Commander before him: restore order. The meaning of this directive was simple: to exterminate the Brotherhood wherever they skulked, crawled or hid, and finally end the generations-long Mutiny. If Reis were to doubt the likelihood of carrying out this objective, he was careful never to acknowledge it. Defeatism is heresy, and heresy is punishable by death.
Every member of the Mission Control Council which appointed Reis could trace his lineage back to the original crew. Since these wise elders occupied a perch far above reproach, any failure in furthering the directive must lie with the Commander. Failure at this level was also punishable by death.
Silas’ mentor, Commander Matheson, had been eight years in the role before his execution at the Council's order. They gave no reason for their decision but it was widely believed Matheson had been too timid in his persecution of mutinous filth. Immediately after his promotion ceremony, Commander Reis began planning a major assault against the Brotherhood. Whether or not his tenure would end in execution, no one would call him timid.
BROTHERHOOD OF LIBERTY
Bill Hanson, the Chairman of the Brotherhood's Executive Council, has served longer in that position than anyone before him due to his deft handling of the Council itself - a nest of bickering, backstabbing vipers. They were a never-ending headache and more dangerous, in Bill's opinion, than their archenemies, those blowhard fools calling themselves the 'Protectors of the Mission'.
In order to keep their teeth off his throat so he could bloody think for a goddamned minute, Bill had orchestrated a few small victories for the Protectors. The rapid reversal of those victories proved that the Chairman was a necessary evil to keep people safe, and talk of removing him from power had finally died down.
Taking advantage of this tiny bit of breathing room, Chairman Hanson had established an understanding with the Protectors' Commander Matheson, which may have blossomed into a working relationship and - just imagine it - an end to the hostilities. Then one of the snakes on the Council got wind of it and scuttled the whole deal.
Matheson was executed shortly thereafter and the Protectors appointed Colonel Reis, a known straight-edge and all round git, in his place. To Bill's mind, this kind of instability and rapid change didn't bode well for anyone. As for the Councilman who got Bill's maybe-friend killed... well, if there's one thing he could not abide, it was a snitch.
CHURCH OF THE ELECT
Chaplain-General Abraham Davis had been chosen by God to battle the Devil aboard Starfarer and to deliver her crew from evil. It was at times a wearisome burden. Some of his flock questioned the Devil's very existence. Hadn't they left the Father of Lies behind on Earth? Weren't they flying away from sin, and through the heavens at that? But Davis knew better, for God had opened his eyes.
The Mutiny had not been made by man. It was one of the Devil's sideways deceptions, pushing folks to choose either Protectors or Brotherhood as their saviors when both were the Devil's guises, diversions from the true path.
A less experienced leader would have struck at once. The two groups had been weakened by their endless skirmishing. But to bring the Church into their conflict prematurely, to leave themselves vulnerable to a counterattack, would invite the infection of the enemy's lies. The Chaplain-General was no such fool. He knew that once the Devil has made his home inside your door, no military victory would save you.
Instead, Abraham would bide his time and watch the two deluded factions like a hunter scouting dangerous prey. He would learn the enemy's habits and weaknesses. Sooner or later the Devil will make a mistake and then Abraham will strike. Then will be revealed the power and fury of the Lord.
Next we have 4 lesser but nonetheless important factions: the Covenant, House of Ecclesiastes, the Pit, and the Grangers:
PEOPLE OF THE COVENANT
As happens every generation, when old age had left the Great Mother too withered and bent for her duties, she turned to her Handmaidens, the unquestioning instruments of the Mother’s will on the Ship. From among these young women her successor would be selected based on her intelligence, and most importantly, unemotional good judgement.
After seventeen long years of service, Pale Glow was chosen to wear the ceremonial hazmat helmet and sacrifice all ties to family and friends. Upon the Mother’s death, she would become matriarch of all mutants, her edicts more binding than law, for they are not subject to argument or appeal.
Her fellow Handmaidens she would know no more, as they took on the mantle of the Harbingers and scattered to every distant corner of the world. The Harbingers’ duty is to spread the word of God to the un-marked masses outside the collective, those passengers doomed to remain on the Ship during the implosion of Judgement Day.
With the old Handmaidens disbanded, it would fall to Pale Glow to select a new group of young mutant females to serve alongside her until age and infirmity would force the cycle to turn once again, until the Dawn.
/to read more about the mutants' origin and history or see what they look like without fancy helmets, click here
HOUSE OF ECCLESIASTES
John Miller was nearly seventy when he decided to step down and pass the Chief Technical Officer chevrons to his daughter Ava. When the Mutiny broke out, his grandfather promptly sealed the Environmental Control and Life Support System center, declaring that neither side will use the ECLSS in their war. Those who wished to leave were allowed to do so; the rest remained with CTO Miller, committed to supporting life on the Ship.
Fearing that the ECLSS will fall apart after his death, Miller reshaped it into a religious, monastic order, following the teaching of Ecclesiastes: “one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” The struggles outside the hallowed halls of the ECLSS were meaningless squabbles of children who didn’t know better. There was no greater purpose than serving the Ship and supporting life.
Over the decades the conditions slowly worsened and by the time Ava Miller took over, most systems operated far below their capacity. The length of the voyage had exceeded the ECLSS capabilities a long time ago and it was a miracle that it was still operational.
Thus Ava faced a dilemma. The ECLSS needed help fast but requesting it, let alone accepting it, threatened everything her family built. She knew enough of the outside world to know that such help would come with strings attached, that whoever helps her will control the ECLSS whether she wants to or not. On the other hand, doing nothing like her father had done, will doom both the ECLSS and the Ship sooner rather than later.
Wasteland is the affectionate name used to describe the now uncharted miles of scorched corridors and decks that bore the brunt of the fighting during the Mutiny. It is even rumored that the hull has been breached in certain sections, leaving them open to the void of space. This unstable no-man's-land is the principal hunting ground for folks willing to gamble their lives against the chance of finding old and outlawed tech.
For a scavenger, Jonas Redford was more successful and more ambitious than most. One of the key difficulties for a professional scav is to extract your finds as quickly as possible, since anyone else stumbling across your good fortune will quickly try to make it their own. In order to facilitate more efficient runs into the Wasteland, Jonas set up a base camp in Cargo Hold #3, right next to the action. Such a good idea couldn't remain secret for long, and his fellow scavengers soon began pitching their tents nearby. With its increasing popularity, the camp attracted a growing crowd of traders, whores, and other hangers-on, and people began to see it as a rugged alternative to the Habitat, which promised safety, but insisted on submission in exchange.
At some point Jonas realized that more money was waiting to be made right there in the Pit, as it had come to be called, than out in the Wasteland. Thus he opened The Promised Land, the finest and only whorehouse in town. The success of this venture, and his own popularity, led to his role today as the de facto mayor of this frontier town.
* * *
The Hydroponics Division was originally conceived to adapt Terran plants to both the anticipated environment of Proxima Centauri, and to unanticipated threats. Extensive gene-editing was employed to develop resistance to alien fungi and pests, and accelerated adaptation hacked into the plants' genetic code.
Like many other critical systems, Hydroponics was abandoned during the Mutiny. The carefully cultivated flora and fauna was left on its own in harsh environs designed to propagate rapid and brutal evolutionary cycles.
When human beings finally decided to reclaim Hydroponics, they discovered an environment as wild and hostile as any Earth jungle: animate vegetable guardians that would attack any warm-blooded thing, and a virulent fungus whose spores could kill a man in minutes.
Carlos Maney was one of the few to survive the first expedition. What he had learned from that foray earned him a well-paid position as leader of the second expedition. He was also the only one willing to return. The second expedition also failed to secure any kind of foothold, but Carlos was now able to recognize the dangers and had developed a new strategy: coexistence over extermination.
He mounted the third expedition himself, at little cost since the equipment left behind by his predecessors was free for the taking. Within a month, Carlos and his team had reclaimed the first Tower and were supplying the Pit with edible algae and leaves. They call themselves the Grangers and need little in the way of arms or security. The environment itself is enough to deter any but the most foolhardy.
Last but not the least we have three distinguished groups of fighting men (not counting the various gangs): the Regulators, Jackson’s Riflemen, and Thy Brother’s Keepers.
Rumor has it that Captain Braxton once served a higher power, that in the days before his crisis of faith and the subsequent falling out with the Church of the Elect he was known as Faithful Gunner Jeremiah Braxton. Speculation about why he left is abundant, but as is often the case no story is more compelling than the others.
Backed up by a few like-minded men and picking up more willing recruits along the way, Braxton left the Church behind and ended up in the Pit, a place where reliable fighting men are always in demand. Around the time of his arrival, the Brotherhood had started showing a keen interest in the Pit, eager to establish a foothold there. Braxton and his newly christened Regulators offered the good people of the Pit their services and after much debate they were hired to drive the Brotherhood’s men out, which was accomplished with brutal efficiency.
Adopted by one of the gangs roaming the shattered compartments of the Factory, Moses Jackson started learning his trade young. Home was a metal shelf, preferably high off the floor and with open sightlines, and what passed for meat had to be boiled in disinfectant, but despite the hardships he was free for the first time in his life.
At the end of his first real fight he earned a battered old energy pistol by stabbing a man to death. With no cells to arm it the pistol wasn't particularly useful, but he decided to keep it anyway. Moses was scavenging for a proper holster when his prize caught the eye of one of his mates. The man was six feet tall and scowled at the world through a single blue eye, having lost the other to radiation burns. He claimed the energy pistol for himself, as compensation for keeping Moe alive. A week later he vanished. No one knew for certain he'd been killed, since there was no body or blood, but shortly thereafter Moses was wearing the pistol again, now in a sleek leather holster. None of his other confederates thought it was worth taking since, they said, there was no ammunition for it anyway.
By the age of 25, Moses was running his own crew with some success. Thinking their superior numbers would carry the fight, he had attacked a group of mercenaries guarding a still-working rail transport. Moses had the numbers but the mercs were better armed, and when one of them got sprayed with the brains and blood of the man next to him, he didn't panic. He kept right on shooting. Moses lost half his crew in the assault and still didn’t secure the train. It was a costly lesson, but he learned to temper his ambition with consideration and better planning. Over the following year, he came to be known for picking the right jobs, for sniffing out trouble and finding a way around it.
When the time was right, Moses set his sights on an even bigger prize. The Shuttle Bay was a well-fortified base with a machine shop specializing in custom weapons. After many months of intelligence gathering, and finding and training the right people, Moses’s crew took the Shuttle Bay in an action that people in the Factory and the Pit would be talking about for a long while.
Though he seemed to be sitting pretty now, Moses Jackson never forgot his most important lesson, the first the Factory had taught him: it's not enough to get what you want. You must be ready to defend it against anyone willing to take it from you. To that end, he hasn’t stopped improving his crew, their armaments, and their training. Everything points to Moses becoming a major player, perhaps the major player, outside of the Habitat.
THY BROTHER’S KEEPERS
Thomas Stanton had always been good with guns so it made sense that's where he would make his living. Robbing traders and prospectors would have been the obvious choice. The payoff was quick but picking targets was risky work, and the chance of a fatal error always high. Instead, he organized a small crew to offer protection services. They called themselves Thy Brothers' Keepers and quickly established a name for reliable service in the Wasteland.
It was around this time that traffic through the Factory sharply increased, and when Tommy caught wind of the escalating violence that came with it, he smelled opportunity. He relocated his entire operation to the Factory, a decision which at first looked like a serious mistake. The Keepers lost more men on their first day in the dead city than they would have on a paying job. In return they had advanced all of four blocks. That’s when the idea of the Toll Road was born.
Leaving the rubble-choked ground level to the gangs, Tommy and his Keepers secured the remains of the rail overpass and the upper floors of a few key buildings. High above the strife and mayhem of the Factory floor, they began work on establishing a safe route through the area. The first month was rough; their waypoints were attacked almost daily. But the ragtag gangs didn't have the organization or mentality to maintain a real siege. The Keepers fortified their positions while their attackers received an education in the many disadvantages of attacking from low ground.
The rough part is all behind them now, and Tommy's business is flourishing under the best conditions: he offers what nobody else can, and is free to name the price for his services. Since Tommy decided on quite a high price, he's also keen to discourage competition. The Keepers have a standing order to fire on anyone armed or suspicious looking who isn't under their protection, making it impossible for anyone else to get a foothold in the Factory.