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AC UNS Unity

Unity in orbit over Chiron.

UNS Unity was a starship used to take human colonists to the Alpha Centauri system. From the beginning, there were problems aboard the Unity. An unexpected reactor malfunction damaged the ship, waking the travelers early from cryo-sleep. It was soon evident that the accident has damaged the communications equipment and contact with Earth was lost, and couldn't be re-established. The leadership of the mission was faced with the prospect of going it alone and soon begin to argue obstinately about the best way to proceed. Each game begins when the Unity Mission reaches Chiron, by which time the mission has fallen into chaos. Had the Unity not suffered a reactor malfunction, it could have been used as an ark ferrying what remained of humanity to Chiron.

The wreckage of the UNS Unity can be found on the planet, where the Unity units can be retrieved, these lightly armoured units can be useful for early exploration.

Design[ | ]

GURPS Space statistics
  • Crew: 310 Command; 440 Engineering; 300 Life Support; 600 Maintenance; 200 Medical; 200 Service; 600 Security. Total: 2,650.
  • Design: 10 million cf USL hull, with heavy compartmentalization and robotic structure options. cDR 1.
  • Systems: Large bridge/9; medium bridge/9 (backup); 2 enhanced sensors/9, with astronomical/8+ and planetary survey/9+ add-ons; 600 fusion rocket/10; 1,600 super Bussard ramjet/10; 11,600 fuel tanks; 12 fusion power/9; fusion core/9; fusion core/10; 500 freeze tube/9; 900 total life support/9; 40 complete workshop; 14 large entry module; conference room; 20 lab; 20 surgery; 8 vehicle bay (for Unity landing pods); 1,200 cargo; 43 empty.
  • Statistics: EMass 18,700 tons; LMass 112,000 tons. Cost $8.2 billion. cSM +2; ASig +2; PSig +2. Hull cHP 4,200.
  • Performance: sAccel: 0.86 G on fusion rocket, 0.09 G on Bussard ramjet. Burn Endurance: 10.7 hours on fusion rocket, infinite on Bussard ramjet.
Landing pods
  • Crew: 1 Command; 1 Pilot; 1 Maintenance: 2 Specialists. Total: 5.
  • Design: 200,000-cf SL hull, with heavy compartmentalization option. cDR 1.
  • Systems: Medium bridge/9; basic sensors/9; 20 nuclear pulse drive/9; 60 fuel tanks; 3 fusion power/9; fusion core/9; 80 passenger seats/9; 4 large entry module: 147.5 Cargo. Statistics: EMass 473 tons: LMass 1,930 tons. Cost $41.64 million.
  • Stats: cSM - l ; A S i g - l ; PSig-1. Hull cHP 375.
  • Performance: sAccel: 1.04 G. Burn Endurance: 1.03 hours. Air Speed: 2,450 mph.

The Unity was the paramount achievement of Earth-bound civilization. Most of it was built using cutting-edge technology. The Stardrives were designed by Prokhor Zakharov, one of the greatest scientific geniuses in Earth's history, and were effectively "Superscience" equipment. The actual cost of the ship and its contents was many times the effective price given in the statistics below (on the order of $100 billion).[1]

The starship was launched with a 5.3-hour high-acceleration boost, after which it was almost a million miles from Earth and traveling at over 100 miles per second. At this speed, the ship could deploy its Bussard ramjet, using the thin hydrogen gas of deep space for fuel. The second stage of acceleration used the ramjet and lasted for over a year, bringing the ship to its cruising velocity of about 11% of light speed. The original mission plan involved a turnover in interstellar space, followed by slow deceleration using the ramjet scoop fields to "brake" against the interstellar medium. Final entry into the Alpha Centauri system and insertion into Chiron orbit would be accomplished using the fusion rocket. The ship's supply of fuel and reaction mass was calculated with extreme precision, leaving almost no room for error.[1]

On board, most of the 10,000 crew and colonists entered cryosleep even before launch, with only a skeleton crew remaining active until the ramjet deployed. Crew quarters on board were extremely austere. Not even the captain had his own cabin, and any on-duty crewman who needed to sleep did so in his (deactivated) cryocell. The mission plan assumed that even in emergencies, only a few crew or colonists would need to be awake before the final landing on Chiron.[1]

Each Unity landing pod was an independent spaceship, although they were never intended for long-range flight. Instead, they were designed to be used in the final exodus from the starship down to Chiron. After that, they would never fly again; in fact, they were designed to be cannibalized after landing. This proved useful to the colonist factions after Planetfall, although the actual landings were much less organized than the mission plan had envisioned . . .[1]

Background[ | ]

Later, some of the colonists realized how miraculous a successful journey would have been. The mission had been planned in haste and with no margin of error. Any mishap might have doomed the crew. As it happened, the bulk of the journey did go by without incident - but in late 2099, as Unity was decelerating into the Alpha Centauri system, it collided with a tiny fragment of space debris. The interloper was no larger than a pebble, but at the starship's speed even such a small missile could have devastating impact. One of the eight cryobays was completely destroyed, killing hundreds of colonists and crewmen. Damage to other parts of the ship was widespread, if not crippling. The greatest hazard lay in damage to the ship's fusion drive. The master computer had shut down the drive rather than allow it to tear the ship apart - but now, so close to journey's end, there was no way for the Unity to stop. If nothing was done, the starship would fly through the Alpha Centauri system and be forever lost. Captain John Garland and his command staff were automatically roused from cryosleep, four days before the final flyby of Alpha Centauri.

Quickly, they assessed the damage. Chief Engineer Prokhor Zakharov swore that he could repair the drive if enough of his engineering staff could be awakened to perform the necessary work. Other crew were awakened to assist.

Factional Divisions[ | ]

Unfortunately, not all of the crew were cooperative. Disputes over the repair strategy exposed deep ideological divisions among the crew. Finally, Colonel Corazon Santiago mutinied against her superiors, leading a crew faction that was determined to seize the means of survival at any cost. Her "Spartans" broke into the armory, seized Chief of Security Sheng-Ji Yang, and attacked engineers working on repairs to the drive. Soon, exchanges of gunfire were taking place throughout the ship.

After a tense standoff near the hydroponics greenhouse, Colonel Santiago was captured and the Spartan threat seemed over. Captain Garland went off-watch for a brief rest, to wash some of the stimulants out of his system and prepare for the final attempt at deceleration.

While waiting for the Captain's return, Chief Engineer Zakharov made a fateful proposal: if control of Unity could not be reestablished, each leader among the crew should take one of the landing pods, break away from the starship, and make an independent attempt at a landing. In preparation for this, crew and supplies should be divided among the landing pods at once. The command crew discussed the proposal, some favoring it, others opposed. Unfortunately, just as they moved to summon Captain Garland, another piece of sabotage struck the command module itself. A sonic hammer exploded, wrecking the module and nearly killing several of the command crew.

With that, there was no longer any hope of saving the Unity. All the remaining cryocells were ordered open, and the bulk of the crew awoke into a dying starship. Frantically, the crew and their leaders made their way to the landing pods, hoping that they could be released in time. Captain Garland made a last desperate attempt to gain control of the situation, but was shot by a renegade crewmember. His last action was to trigger the explosive bolts holding the landing pods in place, allowing the crew to attempt to reach Chiron.

Scattered Tribes[ | ]

In the end, most of the crew survived even as the Unity plunged to a fiery death on the planet's surface. Each landing pod made its way to the surface, carrying a few hundred crew and whatever equipment could be gathered at the last minute. Each pod landed far from the others, as the factional divisions among the crew bred distrust.

All contact between the human castaways was lost. Each group struggled for bare survival, directed by one of the leaders from the Unity. Under the pressures of the early years, each group developed its own distinctive ideology. Each was determined that it, and if necessary it alone, would win a future for all humankind.

References[ | ]