Cummerbund looked out over the field of RSI Zeus racers with some measure of pride. Every single owner was a customer of his race shop, mostly because he was the only shopkeeper in the ‘verse with the connections in the pirate community necessary to keep a reliable flow of spare parts for a ship nearly seven centuries old. Fortunately, space vacuum is a superior preservation medium.
The RSI Zeus was the first space explorer accessible to regular people. Initially available in 2140, it unlocked the solar system. Subsequent variants – along with the discovery of navigable jump holes a century later – helped unlock the universe.
As a beginner rogue, well before he earned the “Dread Pirate” honorific, Cummerbund was rummaging around the oldest portions of Spider and ran across an ancient Xi’An cargo carrier containing human ship hulls he’d never seen before. The technology and materials were so old they were worthless on today’s markets. After some research, he discovered they were centuries-old Zeus class ships.
He largely forgot about them until, decades later, he found himself running Spider. It wasn’t safe for him to be an active pirate any longer, so Cummerbund had a great deal of time on his hands. He remembered that Xi’An cargo ship and in his spare time started restoring one of the Zeus-class ships. He shipped it to his sister’s teenage son for kicks, but the pirate he hired to transport the craft was pinched by the UEE. The UEE put the ship went up for auction as “pirate spoils”.
When Cummerbund heard about the auction price, he couldn’t believe someone was willing to pay as much for a restored 700-year-old Zeus as a brand-new Connie. He restored another one and shipped to auction with the same result.
Shortly thereafter, Cummerbund retired from piracy, sold a third Zeus to finance having his citizenship record scrubbed by a real pro, loaded every Zeus part he could find into cargo ships, and set up shop in the Ellis System near the race course.
He never did find out why there were dozens of Zeus hulks in that Xi’An carrier, or why even today the pirates and explorers he buys parts from tell him they are usually collected in Xi’An space.
Cummerbund, and his few competitors whose businesses hadn’t “mysteriously” been destroyed by fire or other calamity, helped restore enough Zeus-class ships so Murray Cup Racing was able to create a “Classics” division. Every few months, Zeus owners from around the ‘verse would pay to have heavily-guarded transports haul their pricey restorations to Ellis to compete in these events.
“Welcome to the GSN Spectrum Broadcasting’s Racing Channel, this is Richard Petty the 31st bringing you one of our most popular Murray Cup events – the 2945 edition of the Cummerbund Race Shops Zeus Classic 5,000 Championship here from the Murray Cup Racing facilities in the Ellis System.”
Those who have been around since September 2012, a month before the pledge drive started, might remember the “A Ship in Every Garage” Time Capsule entry from Earthdate 2140. At the time, we had no idea the Star Citizen universe would take place some 700 years in the future. This was only the fifth entry in the Time Capsule series, after all.
I’ve never forgotten the Zeus, though. It was really the first ship those of us who happened across the RSI site got to see, so maybe it made a bigger impression than the very “space shuttley” design warrants. But it was love at first sight for me, and I’ve wanted one ever since.
At this point, we are pretty certain humans will be able to own manufacturing and storefronts in Star Citizen. I honestly have no idea whether the economy mechanics will be sophisticated enough to allow an explorer who just happens to come across some wreck of a ship to restore it instead of simply collect it for salvage. I expect the answer to that will be ‘no’, at least at the beginning.
I wrote previously about an idea called “Tweaker Service” where human shop owners well versed in the intricacies of ship system tweaking might be able to sell their services. I know the system I described would be its own little coding nightmare, but perhaps something like restoration of classic ship hulks would not be so bad.
Manufacturing is simply putting A + B + C + D together to get something new. Refined metals, electronics, fuel, and something that goes ‘boom’, for example, are how a human would manufacture a missile for resale. All the component parts of the missile are purchasable or discoverable.
Perhaps the same thing can happen with the Zeus. Seed the galaxy with bits and pieces of the Zeus. When a human collects enough A, B, C, and D then runs them through some manufacturing-like process, he/she obtains a classic ship to race in a Murray Cup event or parade in well-protected space. This certainly wouldn’t be a major part of the economy, but it might be a fun story line after Star Citizen is up and running.
For the record, I’m going to be a hard sell on the idea of humans manufacturing ships in Star Citizen. I don’t think it fits with the fiction and ship sales are going to be an important money sink for the game economy. But for something like the Zeus, whose 700-year-old design clearly makes it a non-competitive toy, I’d make an exception.
Someday, perhaps, I’ll run across a Xi’An freighter full of Zeus parts and be able to cobble them together into a sweet 22nd century ride.