[NOTE: Work in progress - subject to change]
Name: Kiaran Sheppard
Born: 2905-03-14, Terra Prime, Terra III, Terra, UEE
Naval Education: MacArthur Officer's Academy, Killian + [Classified]
Term of Service: 2925-2937, UEEN Captain (Ret.)
Profession: Explorer, Analyst
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My family tree has long roots that stretch back to Earth in the Sol system, where our ancestry originates to the nation of Norway. DNA analysis that was done by relatives a few generations back revealed that my family bloodline go all the way back to the age of the Vikings two thousand years ago and to the Viking explorer Leif Eriksson, the first European to set foot on the North American continent around the year 1000. Perhaps this ancient heritage explains why the urge to explore runs so deep in my veins. Knowing of this history have certainly given me motivation and inspiration in my endeavors.
In the not-so-distant past, the family tree from earth got a brave new branch, as some of my ancestors were among the settlers that migrated on board the original colony ships to Terra III in the Terra system in the 26th century. These are a four-hundred-year long line of my direct ancestors, who have lived there since.
I grew up in Terra Prime with my parents, Ragnar and Tyra. The capital city of Terra III is a beautiful flourishing mega-city situated on the shores of the Anasazi sea. We lived on one of the islands in the Zaffre Bay, which was connected to the main city by the Oceania Bridge. Here we had an apartment on the top floor of an apartment complex, with a great view to the downtown city scape and briefly seeing the landing zone at Corsa off in the distance.
My parents are scientists working for the company Interorbital Sciences, where they also sit on the board of directors. Interorbital Sciences is an organization which was founded by my grand parents and their partners in 2872. It was the announcement of Project Archangel from Imperator Salehi that same year that kicked it all off. Having contacts in the Advocacy, they founded the company to provide support to the construction of Synthworld which got started that year in the Chronos system. The target of the project was to create an artificial world from scratch, to offer an alternative to the invasive terraforming process on existing worlds. To fulfil this goal, they would need a large amount of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, freighters and construction workers.
For many years, my parents and I lived a comfortable and routinely life on Terra III. Most days consisted of taking the monorail into the Archer district along with my parents, where I attended a school in the neighborhood while they worked at the company office. Life was generally calm but with the usual hectic that belongs to the city life. During my childhood on Terra III, a favorite memory is the many times we flew down to the city of Quasi, near the south pole, where we went to relax and ski in the cold climate. My most fond memory from Quasi is the massive ruins surrounding the city, that stem from the extinct indigenous people that once lived on this planet. I have always had a deep fascination to the fact that another advanced civilization once lived here, and a favorite pastime of mine was feeding upon articles and vids that I found about the subject on the Spectrum.
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In 2918 my life took an abrupt turn, as the support requirements for the construction of Synthworld escalated. This also led to increased requirements for my parents’ company, and going forward their work required geological analysis and development tasks to be done on-site. So a couple of months before my 13th birthday I moved with my parents, together with a team of their Interorbital Sciences colleagues and their families, to Archangel Station, an orbital station positioned above Synthworld, that housed all the administration, planning and construction workers that worked on the project.
My life suddenly became quite different. Archangel was a huge station, but still an enclosement, so it took some getting used to when coming from the open world of Terra III. But life went on and I quickly adjusted and found I enjoyed life on the station. We lived in a family sized apartment, where I had my own bedroom. I attended the small school onboard and often hung out with friends in the hallways and commons. When I got old enough, I was also able get a part-time job besides school, which was a good way to earn some credits while learning the ins-and-outs of the station operations.
Archangel station was the port of entry for the vast construction resources needed for the project and there was a constant flow of cargo and equipment in and out of the station. When I turned 15 I got a part time job on the cargo deck. People had noticed that I was good in math and had an eye for details, so I was assigned to assist in the logistics coordination office. This was a learning rich experience for me and my first deeper look into the works of the station and of trading across the Verse. I found the job thriving but as time went on it became a bit tedious and desk-bound. I needed something a tad more engaging. So a couple of months later I went through training and could join as an operator on the freighters running resources down to the planet. I liked this work, space suits, grunt work and all! This was the first time I truly got the feeling that space called for me. That I belonged out there in the vacuum of space!
At my 18th birthday I attended pilot training classes and eventually became a trainee co-pilot on the ships that I've been working onboard, with the goal to become the pilot-in-charge one day.
Life aboard the station included many professions and organizations, and there was this one huge section of it that was closed off for civilian residents. The entrance had extra solid bulk doors with guards outside at all times. A small sign on the doors said "UEE Navy - 18th Battle Fleet". Due to the sensitive nature of the Synthworld project, the 18th was stationed at Archangel Station to provide security. Also a part of this fleet was the 999th Test Squadron, that used the Chronos system's vast expanse to test the next generation of military fighters. My friends and I often hung around the commons, talking to the personnel that served in the fleet and got them to tell stories of their endeavors. We looked up to them, especially to the pilots, and found their professionalism and stories of spaceflight enticing.
My friends and I eventually started discussing between us that we could see ourselves serving in the UEEN. We wanted to serve our duty to become proud Citizens of the UEE, and it was also an opportunity to get out there to experience the verse and get an education while we're at it. The desire grew stronger, and the year I turned 20 me and two of my friends decided to enlist in the UEEN. So, we did!
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During the Invictus week of 2925, my friends and I reported for duty at the naval base, on MacArthur in the Killian system, to begin our boot camp training. As all recruits do we started in the Forges, and were facing eight months of basic military and naval aviation training in the shadows of the massive shipyards of MacArthur. We went through an extended period of intense drilling, physical fitness, and education in military theory and technology. During my off-times I often found myself to sit on a rooftop overlooking the shipyards, where large ship sections were assembled. There was a constant stream of military freight ships supplying the construction lines with materials and lifting ship sections out of atmosphere to be assembled up in space. It reminded me of my job on the freighters back at Archangel. Looking up at night I could see the orbiting drydock facilities, where gigantic Bengal and Javelin ships were assembled, while thinking for myself that one day I would be out there in the verse flying my own ships!
I finished boot camp with strong results and had a good feeling when I entered into the Candidacy phase, where I applied to the Flight Academy. I went through the three weeks of Candidacy testing, where the UEEN screened me with having high analytical and intellectual aptitudes. I also scored high on spatial awareness tests and got a particularly good overall score, so I was accepted into the Flight Academy! Some intense fifteen months of flight training was ahead of me.
When the Invictus week approached the next year the training neared complete, and the time came to be deployed as a Starman. At the end of one day we were filling out our assignment applications. I was in the middle of filling out my application for the 999th Test Squadron when my Divisional Officer came up to me, having a strange look on his face. He had a message for me, where I was told to be ready for a transport at 0700hrs next morning. There were no more details with the message. That night I was tense and very curious as to what this meant. This was not normal procedure, and I realized that no one else in my barracks had gotten such a message.
The next morning at 0700hrs I was ready. I got into an Ursa transport waiting outside the barracks and was taken to the other side of MacArthur base. When we stopped, the Lieutenant who was my warden for the trip led me into a small building and introduced me to an officer who carried Admiral distinctions. I saluted him and stood at ease. He took a minute to inspect me with a firm gaze, before he told me that I was screened by my personality tests, my good results from Flight Academy and high scores in analytics and intelligence classes, and that I had been selected to deploy to an operation somewhere in the Vega system. They could only say that the operation might involve enemy contact and would suit both my aviation and analytical abilities. Due to the special circumstances of the assignment I had the option to turn it down to be assigned somewhere else, but they could not give me more details until I had accepted. I took a deep breath while considering it all - and accepted immediately!
As the next days went by, I had to go through a security clearance process for Empire Top Secret level, then on to signing a stack of legal papers to accept the mission. Only then were the details presented to me. I must admit that I questioned myself a couple of times during this process, what had I stepped into? But this seemed to be an amazing opportunity for a unique adventure, so no turning back!
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The deployment was to a covert UEEN military unit of company size, located in a hidden mountain base on the planet Aremis in Vega, a system neighboring the Vanduul frontlines. The company unit was doing advanced analytics and research on known Vanduul movements and ran stealth intelligence operations deep into Vanduul systems. They reported directly to the Grand Admiral at Naval High Command. The mission was to monitor Vanduul ship movements, intercept transmissions, predict their behaviors, search through wreck sites, and gather intel on their many roaming clans - being especially on the lookout for the dreaded Kingships and Driller Harvester carriers, and their Lightfire comms ships. They were also tasked to search for new jump points that could possibly lead further into enemy territory. The short-term goals were to increase knowledge about the enemy and prevent Vanduul attacks in UEE systems, while the end-goal was to try and discover the Vanduul home world - which as of today still remain unknown.
The company unit consisted of a mixture of officers and enlisted that were especially trained in analytics, xeno-linguistics, data operations, NavJumping, stealth flight and space combat. Including support staff, it totaled to a crew of 72. They had an impressive setup for onboarding new personnel. The day I arrived I immediately began an intense 3-month onboarding regime, before continuing with training in active duty.
The missions were mostly run with small crews flying a selection of Terrapins, Heralds and a couple of Mercurys depending on the type of mission. All the ships were outfitted with anti-reflective black paint for visual camouflage in space and was equipped with modified components that were configured for maximum stealth flight. I was paired with a senior officer who was my assigned trainer. The two of us usually went out on missions in a Terrapin, often accompanied by a second ship. Sometimes we received specific orders to follow up on reported intel, other times it was an open mission to search and gather any intel we could find. Most often we flew out through the Oberon system and then further into Vanduul territory in Virgil, Tiber, Orion, Vector, Viking, and Caliban. Perhaps needless to say, but we were good at our jobs. Not once had anyone in the company unit ever been discovered by the Vanduul forces we were spying on. This UEEN company unit have likely saved countless lives with the intel gathered throughout the years, that made it possible to foresee and prevent several Vanduul attacks before they got started. As was normal for all who got recruited to this company unit I climbed the ranks and stayed on to serve with the unit long after my compulsary year as Starman, and I am proud to have been able to contribute to their work in the years that I served here!
There are a couple of incidents from this time I remember especially well;
In 2932 we were out on a routine search-and-salvage hunt when we came across a partly intact Vanduul ship wreck of unknown model. One of the rooms in the intact section of the ship revealed a machine with biogenetic scanning technology that looked to be far more advanced than any known human development. The wreck was salvaged and brought back to a UEE research site, where studies later revealed it to be the groundstone of what we now know as the Ibrahim Sphere, which is the basis of our regen techonology.
In 2933, when I was several years into my assignment and had risen to the rank of Lieutenant, I was out on a solo mission in a Herald deep into the Orion system, where I intercepted communications from a Kingship in close vicinity of Armitage. Xeno-linguistic algorithms in the Herald's servers managed to transcribe enough of the gathered data to reveal that the Kingship planned an imminent attack on Aremis - they were hitting our home! Had they discovered our covert operations base there? I had to act fast, so I flew stealthly out from the Kingship detection range, then I overclocked the Quantum Drive and floored it, rushing through Jump Gates until I got in secure communications range to home base, while disregarding all warnings that the Heralds stealth functions could not be upheld at those speeds. I transmitted the intel to base, which were again forwarded to the Naval High Command. An emergency assembly of UEEN forces was set in motion. Long story short; when that Kingship came gliding out of the Jump Point from Virgil into Vega it was greeted by the UEEN's 6th Battle Group, with a Bengal carrier commanded by Ernst Bishop himself, several Javelin destroyers, Idris frigates and Polaris corvettes and a platoon of smaller combat support ships. We had the complete upper hand, and only half of that Kingship made it out of the Jump Point before it got dissolved into a cloud of scrap. The insides of the Jump Point tunnel was later scanned in detail, but the other half of the Kingship was never again seen. Quick reactions from all involved led to a total victory! We gathered at base that following night to pop a bottle of our finest Martian Radegast whiskey, which we usually did after a job well done, but it did taste extra good that night!
I served in the company unit for ten years, where I performed several hundreds of missions behind enemy lines. During those years I also had several trips back to MacArthur to pursue my UEEN Officer training and had steadily risen in the ranks. For the last one and a half years of my service I was given the rank of Captain and took on the role of Assistant Commandant of the company unit.
One day in 2937 I came to the realization that I for a longer time had been increasingly tired and indifferent. After many years living with the enemy practically inside my head, I had eventually gotten enough of the conflicts of frontlines and war. I was empty - I needed a break! So, I decided to pass the stick on, take my well-earned Citizenship and retire from the UEEN. I had started thinking a couple years ago about what I wanted to do when the day came for me to retire. That urge for exploration that had driven me since my youth and was with me in all the years of service would surely not settle easily, and I knew that my curiosity would be itching if I did not do something about it. So, the plan that had grown together for a while was to pursue a career as a peaceful voyager of exploration and wonders. I had seen enough of the frontline systems; it was time for me to explore the rest of the verse!
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I had kept in contact with my parents through the years and occasionally visited, but I had not seen them for a couple of years now, so I started this next chapter by going back to the roots - back home to spend some time with them. Home was now the old apartment in Terra Prime, where they had moved back to some years ago. I booked myself into a small EZ-Hab in downtown Prime for a time while visiting the family and getting reacquainted with some old friends and with the life of the city.
The plans for my way forward also got started. I felt that I wanted a bit more comfort than the ships I had flown up till now, and when I saw a street advertisement in downtown Prime one night for a ship, I just knew that was the one I wanted. So the next day I went to a ship dealer and used my savings to buy me an Origin 400i. This was the perfect size, confortably equipped with everything I needed to start my exploration endeavors. I named it "North Star" and had it registered in UEE records.
One day I read a science article on Spectrum about the Kallis system, which was discovered back in 2921. This was a young system still in its accretion phase. It consisted of a G-class main sequence star surrounded by nine protoplanets in various stages of development. I had heard of this discovery some years earlier, and was intrigued by it. It would be nice to experience first-hand the birth and formation of this stellar system, and what better way to kick off my adventures of peaceful exploration?
The system was set under protection by the Fair Chance Act, so there was strict rules for who was allowed to enter the system. I checked with my UEEN connections for the application procedures, when I learned that a former colleague of mine, Moya Raven, had moved on to work with civilian protection services after retiring from our company unit on Aremis. She was now part of the Fair Chance Act security group that was stationed at OB Station Chimera research facility in the Oso system together with a science team. Through her I managed to get in contact with the science team to request an assignment with them. Now, I did not have a full science degree but my UEEN Officer education had included enough science curriculum to qualify me for a three-month temporary position with the team to help study the Kallis system.
I arrived at the station in mid 2937, and over the next months I joined the scientists on several surveys into the system. The work that was done consisted of measuring and gathering data about the atmospheres, surfaces, biomes, and potential flora and fauna of the planets to make prediction models of their future development, while comparing the models to similar known systems of more advanced age. I found these sights of wonder a fascinatingly different experience from the years at the Vanduul frontlines. It was the perfect eye-opener for me to realize that there was so much to see out there in the verse.
It was especially interesting to follow the developments of Kallis IV, a world dominated by volcanic activity and that appeared to be forming an atmosphere. It was the planet with the greatest chance for the potential to one day support life. This planet had a striking resemblance to what many believe Earth must have looked like in its infancy.
Meeting Moya again was also a delighted reunite. During our stay there we caught up on lost time and bonded to become close friends. We talked a lot about what we wanted for the future, and it turned out she also had a desire to see the more peaceful parts of the verse. So after my three months on the Chimera station was up, she decided to join me back on Terra Prime, where we would lay plans for some exploration on our own terms.
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In November of 2937 Moya and I was settled in Prime. One night, we were hanging out with some childhood friends of mine while we were attending the Imperial Tevarin Heritage Month celebrations and enjoying the city nightlife. Around a bar table that night, five of us got talking about our exploration dreams. It was me and Moya, my childhood friends Malcolm Holden and Alex Burton, and Malcolm's wife Claire Inara.
The night went on, and a few beers in we all concluded that our yearnings matched very well, and now was both a good time and opportunity for us to do something together. One thing led to another and quickly plans were made for us to join forces and head out to explore the verse as a team. The next weeks was used to plan it all and assemble the team. I parked my 400i for long-term storage in a hangar complex belonging to my parents company Interorbital Science, and we all invested our savings to buy a brand new, fully exploration-rigged Anvil Carrack including a Pisces snub and an Ursa rover. We named it the "Asgardian".
Because of my UEEN background, and the fact that I had more funds to invest than the others combined, they insisted that I should be the team captain. We were all a good fit with each other so our roles were quickly determined. We would all share the daily tasks onboard, but to divide the main responsibilities, Moya was specialized in security, Malcolm excelled in navigation, Claire was an outstanding mechanic and Alex had medical training.
Discussions went on about where we would begin our journey. None of us had been in Xi'an territory before, and we were all curious to learn more about them. For both Moya and me it would be a pleasant opportunity to meet an alien species that did not want to rip our heads off. So, we all came to agreement that we wanted to start off by exploring the borders between UEE and Xi'an systems, to learn about the Xi'an species, their society, culture and way of life. The "Asgardian" was about to become our main home for the foreseeable future.
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We spent the next years travelling around the UEE systems of Horus, Gurzil, Tohil and Oya and into the Kayfa, Eealus, Rihlah and Virtus systems of the Xi'an. During those years we occasionally took on some officially announced Spectrum missions from UEE and Xi'an governments and private contractors to have a steady base income. We also built up a solid supply of tradeable goods and everywhere we went we traded all sorts of stuff with the locals. The cargo bays on the Asgardian was never empty. Beyond that, the whole idea was to go where the tip of our ship pointed. Off course, there needed to be a bit of planning involved but we weren't unfamiliar to suddenly turn in a completely different direction based on information that were presented to us. We often hung around human and Xi'an homesteads to socialize and hear the latest gossip. My training in xeno-linguistics from the UEEN came in handy, and I quickly learned enough of the Xi'an language to handle some simple communications. But Moya was much better than me with this during our time in the UEEN, and still was, so she became our designated translator. Having the right contacts across a bar table could be an effective way to get whiff of interesting sites and coordinates. We also used these places to meet with miners and salvagers to sell our own intel about locations for shipwrecks or valuable mining ores that we had come across during our explorations. Trading Xian antiques and artifacts and information about relic sites with representatives from The Ark was especially lucrative. Life was good! Life was bliss!
Sadly, in late 2945, I got news from my contacts at Naval High Command that there had been a massive Vanduul attack on Aremis. The attack had crippled most of the planet’s infrastructure, and the former company unit and command post had been totally wiped out. I told Moya the news. It had gone many years since we had left, but we knew many of the men and women that still served there. We told the news to Malcolm, Alex and Claire, but being a classified site we could not tell any details to them. But they had seen the news, connected the dots and understood that there were more here than could be said. Later that evening Moya and I left the others in the recreation room, took two glasses and a bottle of Radegast from our supplies and went up to the cartography room. I zoomed in on Aremis on the hologlobe and we spent the night having toasts for the planet’s population, for each of the soldiers that had fallen and for the company unit that was no longer there.
A couple of days went by and I had thought a lot about the attack and even considered to reenlist to face the Vanduul threat. So, I called up the former Grand Admiral at the Naval High Command, who I served under back in the days, to discuss this. We knew each other quite well from the time I reported to him as Assistant Commandant of the company. He convinced me to let the past be the past, and that larger and younger forces now took charge on the Vanduul fronts. Battles are lost and battles are won, that is the way it is - "you sacrificed enough in your years at the frontlines, focus on your current life", he said. A few days later I saw admiral Bishops emergency session speech in the senate, where he urged for full-on war against the Vanduul. I understood then that this attack had been something different than the raids and incursions we had seen from the Vanduul earlier, and I knew that this situation would somehow come back to haunt us in the future. But for now I took the Grand Admiral's advice and I eventually laid the attack behind me.
Going forward, the five of us kept travelling, occasionally to take on guests and collaborate with visiting explorers for parts of our journeys. Moya and I had become a couple now, so we were now two couples and Alex onboard. Many years into our travels we had visited most of the systems both in the UEE and of our Banu and Xi'an and Tevarin allies, and we had indeed contributed our fair share of collected data to the database repositories on The Ark!
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One day late in 2949, I got a group call on my mobiGlas from my parents and the current CEO of Interorbital Science, who was a good friend of them. He knew well of my history through them and said they had a proposal for me. Interorbital Sciences was no longer solely focused on the Synthworld project, as the project was draining the UEE economy too much and moved very slowly. So for many years the company had steadily reorganized its divisions, that were now established to spread the services and earnings of the company throughout many locations in the verse. With this shift in the company strategy now having landed in a good place, the time had come for my father to retire from his position on the board of directors.
Knowing my family's history with the company, the CEO now asked me to take my fathers position on the board. It was an enticing offer, and I though this could be my opportunity to give something back to the legacy from my grandparents, who founded the organization. He assured me that this would only take up part of my time, and mostly could be done from remote work. So I decided to accept the position, while remaining on the "Asgardian" with Moya, Alex, Malcolm and Claire, where we continued to travel around the verse.
On one of our travels in early 2950 I got connected with fellow travelers in a group called Murphy Exploration Group, where I got in touch with several cartographers and exploration focused minds. This turned into an interesting collaboration for sharing cartography intel and a place where I learned a lot of improvements to my route navigation and triangulation skills.
In spring of 2951 I joined with a group of people in Murphy Exploration Group to carry out the Icarus expedition. This was a daring expedition to, over a period of several weeks, travel to the star of the Stanton system. During this mission I got in touch with many people with connections to various orgs around the verse. Some of these people were associated with an org called Cornerstone, which turned out to be very exploration focused. This proved to be an org that fitted very well with the manifesto we had onboard the "Asgardian". After the Icarus mission had concluded I received an invite to join them. So in July 2951 I brought along my crew and joined, and shortly after I was assigned the position as a Capstone leader of their Analytics division.
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And here it is, my life as of today. I am on the board of Interorbital Science, out exploring the verse with my crew on the "Asgardian", and take on work in my position as Capstone of the Analytics section of Cornerstone. And for what the future brings - only the verse knows!
Some of my productions in Cornerstone include:
- Planetary Survey
- Refinery to Aaron Halo Mining Routes
- Hurston and microTech Traveller's Guide
- The Xi'an Note Lore-story