Much Ado About Nothing
Ah, the Bubble. Several trillion people, packed within a few thousand stars, the beating heart of mankind! The great hallowed halls of Achenar, the ancient museums of the Earth, the bustling bureaucracy of Alioth, and myriads of other systems, myriads of other stars. For an inhabitant of Colonia, it is insanely big. Our little faraway bubble contains 70 systems and 9 million inhabitants. 9 million...backwaters systems on the edges of the Bubble have ten times more people than Colonia. It really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?
Ok, yes, I'm going to say it. The Bubble is...disappointing. It's both too big and too small at the same time, too large and too contrived altogether, and yes there's a lot of noise here but there's little substance. And the life of a pilot trying to improve their ship in the Bubble isn't...very fun.
Let's start with the elephant in the room, the great superpowers vying for power in the human Bubble. Who do you want to follow? The Empire, its abstract-art-turned-spaceship vessels, great temples, snob nobles, fabulous hats and zero-g jacuzzis (slaves included)? The Federation, its great corporations, free market liberalism, bald eagles, militaro-industrial complex and tanks-turned-ships (and corruption)? The Alliance? Bah, the Alliance gives its ships away for free. They don't count. (I still love you, Mahon, don't look at me like that, it's not my fault if I like the Imperial Courier so much!). It's funny how they exploit independent pilots. And yes, they exploit them. Think about it. We run missions for them. We run courier missions, we trade for them, we kill people for them, we basically do their dirty work for them. And what do we get in return? Meaningless titles (do you REALLY think becoming a federal rear-admiral or an imperial king/queen just boils down to running courier missions between two stars? Ah! The real Kings and Rear-Admirals are laughing their arse off at this idea) and ships. Ships we still have to pay for. Great. Greeeat. I need to work to get the mere permission of giving money to Gutamaya or FaulconDelacy. Absolutely wonderful.
And I mean, what's in these data boxes I have to move between systems? Aisling Duval's hobby paintings? Zachary Hudson's lewd pictures (do NOT type that on Galnet)? Edmund Mahon's lolcats collection?
And then there's the engineers. "Peculiar individuals" they say...indeed they are. While Felicity Farseer is rather sane and Elvira Martuuk is...fine I guess (I'd debate her on her architectural tastes, but that's another issue), a few others are...more than special. Todd "Blaster" McQuinn for instance. He's got a bit too much of a taste for blowing up ships, or rather, watching other people blast them from the skies. And Liz Ryder? "Bring me two hundred tons of landmines" - I mean WHAT? Who hoards landmines like that? I'm scared to walk around her station, now. I feel like I'm taking part in an interstellar terrorist scheme here. And the Dweller? 5 black markets plus 500,000 credits, at least the criminal intent is clearer here. Or Selene Jean asking you to mine for her. That's vile. Come on, that's just vile. These engineers use your ship as practice (let's be honest that's what they do) and you have to pay for it.
Gah. Yay for capitalism.
As we took a little break from the activity of the Bubble, standing in silence in our SRV, above the distant lights of a small ground base, a village lost on a hostile planet. There were a few ships flying overhead, and the stars spreading from one side of the world to the other. From there, we could easily believe that we were alone in the world. Without the Bubble, without trillions of human beings, just this small colony lost in the stars and ourselves.
Much ado about nothing, indeed.
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