Category: Chapter 1

Webcomic P0012 – She Was Max’s Ship

She Was Max’s Ship

murpworks ATJ p0012 web image

Max ‘acquired’ his ship on planet Sammarka in Centrale System. Not exactly a planet bristling with spaceship showrooms. Oh, I’m not saying there is anything dodgy or underhand about obtaining a shuttle from here but people would come here for a more ‘private’ transaction, if you know what I mean.

As we know, XTC-3323-1 is a Delta Class Aphelion spaceship but as can be seen above, Max loaded her with  ‘equipment’ so she’s become something special. The ‘Tech’ he installed made her something special. Max likes nothing more than being prepared – for any event.

Sammarka is a beautiful planet in its own way. A desert planet, several indigenous species of animal, adapted to life in harsher environs nearer the equator. The poles have more in the way of vegetation and a greater diversity of fauna. The Dreffa spaceport, where Max ‘picked up’ the Ecstasy was based just north of the equator. Although it all started here for Max, he has never been back.

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Webcomic P0011 – Acquisition of Ecstasy

murpworks ATJ p0011 web image

Acquisition of Ecstacy

An exotic title but all is revealed. This is how Max obtained his spaceship, or so it’s said.

so. it is the far future – but there are still playing cards 😉

There is a precedence for this; Chris Wooding‘s Retribution Falls features cards, even a unique card game so I feel I’m in good company. When it comes to how Max actually did acquire his shuttle, he keeps his cards close to his chest. Maybe they should have been a digital deck or a quantum Queen of Hearts or even nanotech etched numbers but the old school pieces of thick, stiff card will suffice for the purposes of this story.

As to whether six is lucky, it seems to be for Max. For the Japanese, 8 is a lucky number, like-wise in Chinese culture and for the Chinese, six is considered, if not lucky, then positive.

There’s something rakish about green baize and pristine white cards laid out across its expanse and even though I’m no gambling man, I’d lay good odds that Max’s fair hand will win the day.

She’s called the Ecstasy, Max’s ship that is. XTC – Ecstasy. Geddit? We’ve been making plans for a long time and our senses have been working overtime. It’s not easy making Science Friction.

Thank you XTC

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Webcomic P0010 – A Course is Set

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A Course is Set

The Confederation oversees the ‘known’ universe from Coro at its centre, right out to the edge of Extero system. Beyond here, out into the Perdio system, you are on your own. Known simply as ‘The Black’ by most, Perdio is populated with renegades, freebooters and other unsavoury, lawless characters. From time to time, they make their way into Confederation space and wreak havoc but always return to The Black. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, a punishment worse than death would be being cast into The Black.

Max is headed out only as far as the Intero system, he has the buffer of Extero before coming anywhere near ‘The Black’. However, as with many a best laid plan; fate, the Gods or just plain luck might have a say in what lies ahead for him.

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Webcomic P0009 – A Line from A to B

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A Line from A to B

Plotting a course is a fairly simple task using the NAVICOMPUTER, especially with Schrodinger (the Artificial Intelligence) overseeing Max’s initial work. With an expedited exit from Space Station Brompton 1, Max has to think on his feet paws and plot a path to transport his load of biscuits to the Bissell Sector. There’s a planet here eagerly awaiting his delivery.

The Bissell Sector is located in the Intero System which is quite some distance from Coro system; the centre of the Confederacy. Max is heading to Min-Alpha-1, an average sized planet that supports an extensive mining colony. It’s affectionately known as ‘The Red Planet’ because – it’s red.

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Webcomic P0008 – Navicomputing

Webcomic P0008 - Navicomputing image

Ah, the NAVICOMPUTER – a mainstay in any spaceship’s technological array.

The Bloors Rempton Inopta is fairly standard offering throughout the universe but as with most things these days, its the software updates that keep it current. By current, I mean ahead of any competition.

The Bloors is just one of many machine/software devices or interfaces that come under the jurisdiction of ‘The Ship’s Computer’. ‘The Ship’s Computer’ in our case is Schrödinger. Schrödinger is an Artificial Intelligence or AI. Schrödinger is also a cat.

It is cats that have tended toward this line of business as their evolution as a superior being lends itself perfectly to this. I mean, could you imagine a dog running things? Exactly, they may well think they are but that’s as far as it goes…

Max has chosen a blue contrast ‘skin’ to the NAVICOMPUTER as he plots he way through space but he could change it at the touch of a screen. There are an infinite variety of options but Max likes to keep things simple.

Astrogation never seemed so easy! But that’s AI for you. Or more precisely; cats…

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Webcomic P0006-7 – Fall or Push?

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Ah Max, you are so cool…

That jump into snapspeed* and the infinitesimal lag before the artificial gravity kicks in and you’re floating in space. Your ears take on a life of their own, your stomach performs somersaults and the snacks redistribute themselves throughout the cockpit. All this, just before the floating stops, as quickly as it began and you drop back into your seat and hurtling through space.

Is it a feeling you ever get used to?

Is there some inertial dampener you haven’t installed yet or even deployed Max?

Did you fall or where you pushed?

The real question remains, however – why is Max running from the authorities?

*Snapspeed is fast. It allows space travel across the Sectors and since its invention, has been used by everyone in known space. Montgomery Harrington III is credited with its discovery but it was soon quickly taken over, developed and incorporated into the snapspeed-capable craft we see across the universe of MEET ME AT THE JUMPGATE.

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Christmas Nebula

Out in the cold dark of space, in a vacuum of nothingness, vast distances have to be traversed to reach planetary mass that occupies its remote corners. Accretions of interstellar matter, clinging as if for comfort form focal points of infinity.

But there, after aeons, after light has travelled so far, it thinks it can travel not further, a twinkling of lights.

Behold, the Christmas nebula

murpworks Christmas Nebula image

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Webcomic P0005 – Straight Outa Brompton

murpworks ATJ p0005 web image

So, not just a case of ‘Ladies and Gentlemen we are floating in space’. Max is seemingly on his way purposefully, to somewhere! And anywhere seems preferable at this moment in time.

Space Station Brompton 1 is the first of the Space Stations (no there aren’t specifically 5 with the first four mysteriously having had things happen to them. Although there’s a plot idea!). It is a Level 3 Space Station (that’s to say a smallish structure), set in the Intero system. I’ll expound more about the systems later, as the story develops.

So, from the safety of a Level 3 Space Station, with all the comforts of a home, his consignment loaded, Max checks the ship’s computer

“Schrödinger, confirm clearance code for Space Station Brompton 1 departure”.
“Departure code AV-iN-@L@-UGI-I confirmed from BISCORP”.
“So, the problem is?”.
“Brompton 1 security detain procedure in effect”.
“Detain? Sounds serious”.
“It is!”.
“Then get us out of here, now!”.

Without a clue as to why has to leave (with his tail between his legs)

Ejected from, max is.

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Webcomic P0004 – Earlier…

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Some time earlier…

So here we see Space Station Brompton 1 (or SSB-1 as it is lovingly designated). This is where Max was some time earlier. He was relaxing ‘off-ship’, taking a drink in one of the many bars on SSB-1 and stocking up on his favourite snacks. However, the main reason he was here was to load up on a consignment of goods – biscuits to be precise. A staple of the known universe.

This is what Max does. As an intergalactic haulage contractor he traverses the systems of known space, transporting goods from here to there or from there to here. Hey, it’s a living!

It’s what happens next that jump starts our story.

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Webcomic Page 0003 – Max Helms the Ship

murpworks ATJ p0003 web image

The use of a nautical term when dealing with space is one that is perpetuated throughout Science Fiction. Helm, the old nautical term meaning ‘the steering thing that directs the ship in its travels’ serves well here. Max is the helmsman of this craft and knows it like the back of his paw. We see it (the craft) in a little more detail here ourselves.

I believe we might find out more about this ‘ship’ if we stick with it.

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