"Space Truckers", perhaps a less than glamorous title, but as far back as viable recorded history goes, this is what Beacon Space has called the network of semi-independent operators of cargo-carrying spaceships that provide reliable logistics services for reasonable prices. While Ascent has cornered the ‘physical’ message delivery market, little centralization exists on who ships products around the sector. Thus space truckers fill the void of market share, bringing a unique subculture worth exploring in further detail.
Most Space Truckers form into Space Trucker Unions (STUs), a loose organization for the improvement of all members. These STUs help organize reliable access to local currency, maintain reputation, establish vendors, and repair spaceships. STU membership requirements vary by the union, often requiring a fixed, consistent charge and experience minimums. Crew can also expect to negotiate consistent contracts for different captains with ease. This section is broken down into two parts: an explanation of space trucker subculture and standard operating expectations, along with part two of an overview of some region notable unions and how they run.
Given the number of Space Trucker Unions in the sector, no record of their operation will ever be entirely accurate to an individual union. Still, the information here is generally accurate to the structure of these unions. Some may have more democratic input, and others have a less planetary presence. Still, their goals remain the same: Provide excellent service for their region while maintaining a high quality of life for those in the trade. Unions are generally formed from four components: Management, Planet Operations, Void Operations, and Customer Support. Outside of these core divisions, various additional branches frequently exist, including R & D and Inter-Union Coordination, as well as general administrative support staff. It’s not uncommon for larger Unions to operate the business in adjacent verticals as well as means of generating additional revenue.
Management of an STU generally falls into either a Corporate or Legislative setup. Corporate Unions have separate administrative and delivery branches, each responsible for different aspects of the union. While coordination across these branches exists, Truckers at these unions find themselves siloed into their branch with mobility coming by jumping between branches. Most Unions of this type have a sole authority figure able to make decisions and guide union-wide policy. Two corporate-style unions are Bestrin Systems and PathX, each with a different scope and policy outlook described later.
For examples of a legislative-style union, look no further than Saxophredionics or League of Licenced Noble Caravance in these unions ship captains, officers, and crew have an increased participation in Union wide decisions. A common structure is a representational body for each of the three position types explained above where each debate proposes before needing at least one other group to approve the proposal for it to be accepted across the Union. These methods mean that Union wide progress can be slow due to the communication overhead however ship-based decisions often move much faster, with the latter resulting in more individualized ships than a standardized corporate interaction.
Regardless of the management style, Unions maintain consistent overall business strategy, inter-union cooperation agreements, and managing investments into ground and ship based assets. Some of these management groups may find themselves reporting to primary owners whose main business is not shipping related or the inverse may be true where management receives updates from heads of operation of various external divisions. Regardless of the exact management coverage the results are the same, if change is something you desire at a Union management is the place to make it happen and is sure to be filled with power politicking.
No space trucker will get far in making a planet-side trade deal without supporting equipment on the planet. While any reasonably established colony is likely to provide a minimal landing spot for cargo shuttles, larger operations, such as docks for frigate class ships, require a dedicated trade port with servicing equipment available. Well established planets of Beacon Space’s average technological level are likely to support a trade port however Union managements can also provide this service through a Headquarters located on world. Varying in size from a small shop front, a full office building, or even a private city or space station these represent the ability of a Union to manage planet based assets. Given the large expense of these assets it’s no surprise that Union’s presence across Beacon Space is far more extensive than individual truckers could have established. Unified rather than competing presence on worlds have created a network which has cemented Truckers’ place within the sector.
For the grandest example of these headquarters in operation let's dive into the planet of Idarast, homeworld of the Assembled Commonwealth, and the largest trade hub in the sector. As a sector trade hub this world boasts a unique fact, nearly all STUs no matter the size maintain at least a shared office presence here. Why? Well the vast array of contracts and interdependencies that allow the booking logistics service applications to operate are facilitated by a location where exchanging agreements and credits can take place. A headquarters enables an STU to send and receive funds on world, making the Commonwealth CURRENCY NAME a de facto standard for inter-union agreements. In addition to financial services, most diplomatic arrangements between unions occur on this world.
Headquarters can be of varying sizes from the aforementioned shared office space, to a dedicated shop front, an entire business complex, or even your very own space station. When not providing space for posh business transactions headquarters can also serve a roll of managing local businesses including asteroid mining or hydroponics providing a cheap supply of goods for Space Truckers to ferry deep into far away places.
In Space, a Trucker’s spaceship is the lifeblood of the crew, no efforts will be spared in maintaining its life.
Like all of Beacon Space, the exact specifications of every ship are unique to the shipyard that built it. However, standard class sizes have evolved over time, which dominate the Trucking arena. These ships are optimized for cargo space, relegating as little space as needed for the ship's organic operators or disbanding pressurized living space entirely for robotic crews. The information presented below provides a default configuration assuming computer-assisted systems and an organic crew with atmosphere requirements.
While the original creator has been lost to time, this class of ship is the largest standard base used by Trucker companies. Few may have larger custom configurations but if you show up at a shipyard with ASSEMBLED MONEY to burn and a desire to own the largest ship possible this is what you’d be sold. Capable of carrying 5,000,000 Trucker Standard Containers (TSCs) and a hangar able to support many Hauler, Falcon, and Welder class ships. Numerous external docking ports also line the ship, allowing ships to dock in less-ideal conditions. Such a capable vessel requires a minimum crew of 750, not including the crew of docked vessels, given the expectation to support a large crew of a transitory nature the MaerSkipper provides bunks for up to 2500 people and temporary berths for another 7500.
A MearSkipper class ship is often the Flagship of a Minor STU with Major STUs owning multiple across their service regions. The MearSurveyor variant optimizes space for habitation components and is often used by settlement groups looking to establish a colony on an exo-planet or moon. This variant is normally a one-time voyage with the ship becoming the origin of such a new colony.
Significantly smaller than the MearSkipper, but perhaps the most common base ship used across Unions coming in approximately the seize of a Frigate class ship.
The standard shuttle class used to ferry guests and cargo between in-orbit vessels and the surface.
A maintenance drone or shuttle which helps keep a fleet in tip-top condition.
Booking Logistics Services
In keeping with the trend across Beacon Space there is no monopoly on the services through which delivery contracts are purchased. Three competing standards have well established themselves as a pseudo triopoly Ascent’s Parcel Post (APP), NEOD the legacy system which up until 27 standard telas years ago was the de facto system, and a new arrival taking a large amount of market share is the Mine!Eral App. The ordering process of each system has its quirks but all promise delivery safe and sound across the sector. Even with these unified applications and nearly-automatic cross-sector route completion most citizens of Beacon Space rarely use them for anything other than delivery within their local system. The nature of space travel makes cross-system delivery a luxury for only a few times a year for an average citizen with one needing access to vast wealth to consistently receive out-of-system deliveries.
Ascent's Parcel Post
Commonly referred to as the APP...
Current Known Organizations
Ranking similar unions is an interesting proposition as one doesn’t know if by volume of cargo moved, revenues, or comparable ship size are better ways to group similar unions. To this end the following section ranks Unions by their coverage size with the following definitions:
- Major - Covers delivery across 9+ sectors
- Minor - Covers delivery between 2-8 sectors
- Micro - Covers delivery in one local or two adjacent sectors
One of the main truckers union for 1210 Hela and the main world of the concord, Kardakouk. Contains two sister capital ships, the Red Morning Rise and Red Evening Set. An explosive result when Concord opened to the wider community. The already planet logistics enterprises ability to mediate species differences proved advantageous for establishing complete coverage over Faction Homeworld systems & through the newly developed Zoanthi Chain Constellation.
A legacy union, having existed for as long as most living individuals in Beacon Space remember. They support and operate the supports the NEOD standard. Chasing after the Ingirid supercomputer to try and optimize their systems for better return and easier maintenance of the NEOD platform.
Established ships designed for passenger and colony foundation. Specializes in colony ships that only fly once but can carry supplies to generate an initial logistics network a fledgling colony needs. Has access to some pretech relics which make this process easier. They tend to move on once a world is out of the colony stage, often leaving new micro unions styled after themselves behind.
Thousands of years ago, this organization may have been a significant influence on the sector. Due to the beacon wars and the glitch, they have been reduced to a handful of far flung colonies and coreworld farms. They tend to be libertarian, supporting the “working class” by controlling them as oligarchs. Focus on Dairy products and livestock. Included as a callout of “Legacy Factions in Beacon Space”. A DAC ship, the Titanicus was responsible for the extensive damage to TTGI station hab 11 and 12.
A noble guild formed out of the Starlit Court, more focused on logistics than military work. Given the unique nature of the Court’s presence, this Union’s sphere of influence depends on the location of Sihi. Close cooperation with the other nomadic Faction has enabled a looser but organized presence around Ingirid, even given the vast distance. Management type is unique and somewhat loosely Legislative but has a ‘knights of the round table’ type of vibe. Only Captains & Officers get a say rather than all crew members.
This Union considers themselves to be 'above' Trucker culture often containing ironic and perplexing opinions on how shipping should operate. Or at-least that's what your told by the employees, in practice they are perhaps the best-run Union.
A trendy and media-conscious corporation with a primary interest in asteroid mining. They use a mix of slang from all eras but their speech and messaging is so thick with it so as to be almost unintelligible.
Eliina Fiaffa is a collective of Mining and Pirate ships led from their flagship. They are a singular mind ran by the collective massed will of the individuals within it, sharing memories and sensation and thought. They are a cut-off from the Tahora Whai, and are prosecuting a campaign of terror amongst the mining populations of 0909 and surrounding hexes, though their true purpose is the search for exotic mineral sources to continue proliferating the advanced electronics vital to their hivemind.
Elite Emissary and Electronics
An offshoot of Ascent’s primary business model focused on local system shipping between Mos and Ikaros. Bitter Rivals with Green Harvest.
Sponsored by the Larkspur Combine, this front is an operational cover for covert logistics. However the front has developed a bitter rivalry with Triple-E with dangerous potential consequences for the invisible side of the operation. Competitive advantage: hazardous material transport.
A local Kardakouk Shipping provider, unlike AATTTU was unable to capitalize on Kardakouk’s reintroduction to Beacon Space. They have expanded operations to nearby colonies of Concord, however.