SHARD-SEEKERS HANDBOOK - Heart of Star v2.0
Welcome adventurer on your first journey as a shard seeker. Make no mistake that while the path you have chosen is a truly profitable one there are many dangers involved and it behooves all to be well informed. Included in this document are the basics of what you will need to know to get your start making your fortune as a seeker.
The first thing a beginning seeker will need to do is to sign on with one of the major trading companies. This will provide you with start-up funds and basic equipment to get you into deep space. Contracts typically last 3 cycles or until the death of the seeker, whichever comes first (typically the latter). Some seekers have had success as independents, however, this requires that they own their own equipment and already have the necessary experience.
Shards were discovered in deep space last century. These high density crystals emit a peculiar radiation that interacts with nature at the sub-quantum level. They are found in many sizes and a variety strengths. There are are three main types of field that can be generated from shards.
De-energizing/defensive shield – These fields convert any energy including, laser blasts and kinetic energy, into matter. The efficiency of this transfer is proportional to the strength of the shard, the intensity of the field at the point of impact and the amount of energy to be converted. Middle range energy impacts, such as bullets and energy blasts are stopped easily, while interactions at the farther ends of the spectrum, such as a stealthy knife strike or a nuclear explosion will pass through the field more effectively.
Energizing/Blast field – Essentially the opposite of a defense shield; this field converts a percentage of matter into a stream of radiation that follows the trajectory of the original object when it contacted the field. Again, the efficiency of the transfer is proportional to the intensity of the field, and the strength of the shard. In general the efficiency is much lower than a defensive field and results in a blast more akin to a pulse laser than an atomic bomb.
Tachyon field - Sub quantum Tachyon energy was discovered to flow between the stars in celestial winds. Tach-fields harness these currents and translate them into kinetic energy, moving shuttles, skiffs and shard seekers on glowing energy sails across and between the planets.
Field Focusing Elements
The energy emitted by shards is generally diffuse uneven and useless, however, certain materials have been discovered that can channel these energies into more refined fields. Carefully managed electrical currents can further tune and modify these fields. Thus, any of the three major field types can be generated with only two elements;a shard and a focusing element. Stories have been told of stranded seekers fending off Fyer attacks with only a single shard and a bone torn from a decapod as a focusing element.
Most space journeyers are familiar with the AI system. These programs, though they seem sentient, are simply advanced algorithms designed to protect their owners from the psychological strain of deep space journeys and to manage the necessary background operations important to life in space. Such tasks include gravity simulation, life-support and shuttle-craft interface.
E-suits are standard issue and many times your E-suit will be your only defense against the extremes of the space void. Made from the still living hides of Fyers the suits manage temperature extremes and pressure inside the suit by the advanced biology of their gas-phase circulation. Small tears and scratches are usually repaired by the cells of the suit itself but there are automated functions added to the suits to make quick, though temporary repairs that will preserve life. These systems and the general health of the suit are managed by your AI. Suits are generally fitted tightly to the body and sometimes retain the luminous properties of their original owners.
Shard seeking requires equipment that is highly maneuverable, simple and dependable. Early seekers depended on small shuttle craft and standard space suites to traverse the planets and asteroids in search of shard-creatures. However, this often led to seekers dying on distant rocks due to failed engines and damaged equipment. To reduce these unfortunate fatalities the shard harness was devised. Harnesses provide another layer of protection from the extremes of space for the head and core of the wearer and house multiple shards to reliably provide power and various energy fields. Though not designed for interstellar travel, when combined with simple field focusing devices the shard harnesses allows seekers to travel at high speeds and generate specialized fields without any complex external machinery.
Specters are space faring creatures of varying sizes mostly found in the deep space regions of the Outer Rim. Little is known about them save that they are often very hostile. The scans that have been obtained show they are unique in that no biological components have ever been detected within them. They are made up exclusively of shards and shard-like crystalline structures suspended in a field of electromagnetic energy. Despite their wealth and magnitude of shards, it is advised that NO SEEKER EVER ATTEMPT TO HARVEST SHARDS FROM A SPECTER. Specters emit long range hull piercing energy blasts, move quickly in the air and on ground, can arrange themselves into various forms and have been reported to be capable of some sort of teleportation. To date, no specter has been killed or restrained. When encountering these entities it is advisable to flee immediately. In dire circumstances the creatures can be temporarily destabilized by a targeted blast to their core energy center. The nature of their hostility is unclear in that unlike other, more organically based creatures, they do not make use of the shards of their victims. Instead these entities seem to mount coordinated assaults on deep space outposts and settlements leaving no survivors without taking so much as a single shard. Their level of sentience and intentions toward humanity are a topic of much debate.
These luminescent many-winged creatures were once thought to be docile drifters in space. “Fyers”, as they are often called, revealed their true nature with the emergence of shard technology. Moving in pods of 5-20, these creatures scour the galaxy for asteroid bound shards and and will use their powerful blasters to mine them from rock and shuttle-craft alike. Swarms of the creatures have been known to descend on unsuspecting shard powered craft and tear them to pieces with no regard for human life. Despite their incredible speed and their ferocity in the presence of shards, they are a profitable prey for seekers due to their relative fragility, wealth of internal shards and the usefulness of their hides in making bio-active E-suits. Because of their high-pressure gas-phase circulation system a well aimed shot to pierce their main body will essentially detonate the creatures (careful aim is a must if their valuable hides are to be salvaged). Each adult Fyer can be expected to yield 3-8 shards.
Resembling oversized isopods from earth, decapods are the staple shard source for seekers. The creatures live in symbiosis with a remarkably space tolerant fungus that hitchhikes along with them as they drift between asteroids. Once a decapod crash lands on an asteroid or planet the fungus grows out and covers the area in a thick blanket of slime as it slowly degrades its environment. As it does so it breaks down rock and debris into energy and the chemical building blocks that nourish itself and the decapods. The first decapod will become a queen and scour the nearby landscape for shards and a location to set up her hive. Once she has obtained enough shards to provide for her offspring she will begin generating smaller clone like drones. These drones will continue the work of harvesting shards while the queen metamorphosizes into her final stage capable of generating new queen eggs and blasting them back into space where they will drift indefinitely until they encounter new ground to colonize and repeat the cycle. Decapods are aggressive and armed with shard enabled energy blasters. Unlike fyers, dacapods have substantial defenses in the form of thick stone-encrusted exoskeletons and defensive shard fields that render long range energy blasts useless. The main technique for harvesting decapods involves very close range attacks from within their shields and piercing their bodies either from beneath or from above between their protective scales. Decapod drones can be expected to house 6-10 shards while Queens can contain as many as 600, however, queens are rarely harvested as the larger decapods tend to have more substantial defenses.
You will likely encounter a range of other space adapted species in your travels, however these have not been fully documented and cannot be described here. Be advised that most interstellar species depend on shards as much as you and will likely be eager to commandeer your shards for themselves.
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