On special request:
CFA-919 NEW ORLEANS
(NOTE: The original HHGG CFA New Orleans writeup, like the similar writeup for New Orleans on Earth and Third Orleans in the New Paris system, contained a near-encyclopaedic list of bar reviews. These have been deleted. It is presumed that, should you ever be in a position to visit one of these bars, you will be able to pick up a secondhand electronic copy of the Book as well.)
The second largest ship, and largest city, of the Confederate Freespacers Alliance, CFA New Orleans is as much fun, and occasionally as dangerous, as the North American, Earth city for which it is named...
The hulk which became the CFA New Orleans began existence as Envoy One, the deep-space generation ship project which consumed the total domestic product of the planet Onordian, a world inhabited by a humanoid race not known to Galactica surveys until 2007. The ship began construction in 2001 and, by 2007, was slightly more than half complete, with one of the planned four chemical engines installed, one of the four planned rotating gravity pods around the midsection of the ship, all of the bunkerage and about a third of the food-storage compartments. In as little as three years, the ship could have been off to the star five light-years away for which it was intended.
Unfortunately, that was when First Contact happened and turned Envoy One from a magnificent effort of engineering skill and sapient determination to explore into the biggest piece of space junk shy of Unicron's severed head.
The Onordians, bankrupted, had no choice but to sell their expensive white elephant as they could. The planned ship had been for about five kilometers long and, at its thickest point (not counting the extension of the single rotating pod, now fixed immobile on its rotating ring) about two kilometers beam and draft. The forward two kilometers had not been finished yet, and the chemical engines and bunkerage had to be yanked out so a modern engine of much smaller size could be installed; what was left was enough empty space to haul small asteroids in whole. Naturally this seemed like a real money-making opportunity, so one hauling company after another bought the hulk, did some minor remodeling, and tried hauling freight with it.
Unfortunately this was just before the days of the huge cargo ships, the days when light and medium freighters hauled most of the freight. Envoy One was not only too fragile of construction to take more than mild acceleration with ion engines, it was almost never even half-full; there just wasn't enough cargo around to justify its existence.
Finally, in 2069 a purchaser for RebelTech Industries, seeking hulks to convert into factory ships, found Envoy One and bought her for a song. Since the Freespacers didn't have any drydock large enough to handle the huge ship (even today* (2390- editors) only a handful of slips at Zeta Cygni can dock her), they instead decided to refit and rebuild her from the inside out. Already the Freespacers had lots of practice rebuilding ships any other shipbuilder would have scrapped for welding rods, but this project stressed them to the limit. In fact, if you want to be technical, it's not finished -yet-.
The first step, as always, was to install new engines to allow her to move. The ion engines which power her in sublight are very weak for her mass; if she enters the athmosphere of any planet, she's not powerful enough to pull up, and she's big enough to cause an extinction event. To balance this, she was given, and still maintains, the most powerful hyperdrive motivator and the most current, most accurate astrogation computers available, so finely tuned that she can enter hyperdrive less than 100 kilometers from the surface of a class-M planet, should she need to. (This is very, very dangerous, of course, and don't be stupid enough to try it yourself. You don't get money for breaking that record, but you could get very very dead.)
After that, the superstructure was strengthened somewhat while decks and hangars were installed for construction workers to work from. Bulkheads were installed to make the ship airtight, the makeshift control room in the massive habitat pod was remodeled into a full command center, and six hangars were constructed so as to allow multiple crews to work at once. This took a year, and nothing much happened in that time.
Once the hangar force-shields were installed, and the ship athmosphere and artificial gravity turned on, the refit crews began work in earnest, building future apartments for factory workers, an open 'town square' for them, and the first of a planned twenty different factories.
That's when the peddlers showed up.
One of the most popular Freespacer occupations is 'free trader,' in which small ship owners buy small quantities of goods and go from world to world selling as if from a flea market stall. Occasionally, such traders would join the 'roach-coaches' which followed Freespacer refit jobs and spend a few days selling to the workers during their breaks. With such a huge job, however, the number of traders grew and grew over the two years... and, unlike before, they wouldn't leave.
Eventually, the traders began trading among themselves, and before the ship was even declared open to the public, shuttles were running with non-involved civilians wanting to visit the bazaar. Finally, RebelTech gave up, finished the one factory (which now houses the Alliance coin mint) and shifted their conversion efforts into designing the center of Freespacer commerce for the Home Fleet. Finally, seven years after it began, about 30% of the newly christened CFA New Orleans was rated as inhabitable, and storefronts opened up for rent.
In 2100, when the Freespacers were granted a representative in the Galactica Assembly, they celebrated by remodeling the large open space at the center of the New Orleans into a Promenade, complete with a large grass-covered area large enough to site five soccer fields side by side. The entire CFMF was assembled, along with as much of the Freespacer nation as could be rounded up, for a grand Muster, four days of celebration which drew thousands upon thousands of spectators from other worlds. The Muster became an annual event (althought the CFMF seldom gathers all its forces into one place anymore), and it is the single greatest tourist-draw event the Freespacers have, second being (of course) Mardi Gras.
Today, the New Orleans has a permanent population of 25,000- exceeded only by the only ship larger than it in the fleet, the mobile drydock CFA Bethlehem. It has an average daily -occupation- of 65,000, including tourists, visitors on business, etc. It has official capacity, without overcrowding, for not quite 200,000 people, and handles even more when it is pressed into service as a refugee evacuation vehicle.
What's really impressive is that those numbers do not include the unofficial population, those who squirrel around the 40% of the ship which is very, very slowly being claimed by the ongoing refit. Because the New Orleans requires so -much- maintenance to be made safe, the refit project is approaching the point of diminishing returns, allowing those who can't be legal even by Freespacer standards- and that is SAYING something!- a semi-safe haven.
It's bloody dangerous in the uninhabitable zones. Some doors lead out onto hard vacuum. Others lead into holes of crime and villainy and don't lead out again. In other places, you can walk around the corner of a corridor and fall a kilometer straight down. Finally, the ship's security forces do -not- patrol or investigate anything short of a bomb threat or fresh hull breach in the zones, so any hitchhiker looking for illegal goods (again, a MAJOR stretch for Freespacers) had better have his or her towel handy.
There are several points of interest in general on the New Orleans. The Bazaar is scattered all over the ship, but concentrated on the access ramps and corridors leading to and from Bay Two, Bay Three, Bay Four, and Ship Repair Bay. (The latter is the main place to take a broken ship, although there are five private small-vessel bay repair hangars as well.) The Freespacer Mall, surrounding the Promenade and the broad walkway from Bay One, is an upscale version of the Bazaar, with galactic chains of food, clothing, and other sellers, as well as unique locations as Calrissian's on the Promenade, reputed as the best casino in whatever sector it happens to be in at the time. (It is, too; the odds are more favorable there than most places, since Calrissian's makes a lot of money off tourists looking for a glimpse of its famous proprietor.) The lower level of the central mall is actually rated Transformer-friendly, with thirty shops mallwide which cater either to giant mechanoids or to other giant-sized humanoid life forms.
If the New Orleans comes under attack- possible but unlikely, since it defines the center of the Freespacer Home Fleet and coordinates its orbital traffic pattern- it cannot fight, only run. Its multiple layers of shields protect a totally unarmored and fairly weak outer hull. It has no guns at all, only a small starfighter hangar just above the engines which cannot do quick launches. The New Orleans compensates by being the fastest ship of its mass in hyperspace, factor 0.75; when the Home Fleet moves, New Orleans is the last to leave and the first to arrive.
Other points of interest:
THE PROMENADE- a span of grass measurable in acres, it hosts public athletics (including the AAA Freespacer baseball franchise, the Rebels), marching exhibitions, picnics, and other public assemblies. It is the center of the annual Muster celebrations and, effectively, the center of the Freespacer nation. Its video billboards, overhead walkways, and six levels of storefront are a familiar postcard sight.
THE BAZAAR- if you can't find it her, legal or not, it's not likely to be found at all. ANYTHING except slaves is sold here.
FLEET PERSONNEL PROCESSING CENTER - After the GENOM-inspired Revolt of 2288, the CFMF cracked down a bit on its recruiting procedures. It's still pretty easy to get in the CFMF, though, and this is the place to go if you have your own ship and want to volunteer for Supply Fleet, or if you want a three-year-hitch as a seaman on a warship. This is also where you go to seek Freespacer citizenship- the only place, in the latter event. Both are determined by resume and personal interview (occasionally involving an unlicensed telepath or empath). The inhabitants of the Zones are in large part composed of those who were refused citizenship, but are taking advantage of Freespacer noncooperation with agencies like the WWWA and other law enforcement groups.
HOME FLEET TRAFFIC CONTROL AND HEADQUARTERS - This is the bridge of the New Orleans, the flight tower for the Home Fleet, and the administrative home of the Freespacer ship registry, all in one place- the tower-pod atop the ship. Freespacer ATC controls over 2000 ships at any given time, Freespacer and visitors, in a tight pattern with defined rights-of-way. Violations of ATC don't result in prosecution unless you hit another ship... but the pattern is so dense that that's difficult to avoid.
HOME OFFICE, FREESPACER GALACTIC BANK AND TREASURY - Home office of the fifth largest galactic banking combine, also the home of the Freespacer government treasury and mint. Located a short distance from the Promenade in the old Rebeltech factory, it is the place where the Freespacer mark (CFA currency, fluctuates between 0.9 and 2 SalCreds in value but is used almost exclusively within the Alliance) is minted.
FREESPACER STOCK AND MERCANTILE EXCHANGE - the local stock market, home of RebelTech's listings plus nearly two hundred smaller corporations.
(For other ships of interest in CFA Home Fleet, see CFF Confederacy, CFF Camelot, CFA Richmond/CFA Washington, CFA Bethlehem, CFA Birmingham, CFA Jaime Escalante, CFF Chimera, CFA Robert E. Lee II, CFA Rappahannock, CFA Golden Hind.)
Red wizard needs money badly...
White Lightning Productions - don't tell the Pope