Untangling the Knot
Tech: 1 Exploiting the System*
Environment: 1 One garden, several hostile worlds
Resources: – 2 Needs imports
*Local manufacturing is limited overall to T1, but T2 computer and communications technology is available
- Grandma’s Blaster Still Works, More Or Less
- We Work Best In The Shadows
- Freedom Can Be A Burden
Ford is a system on the brink, but whether it is the brink of disaster or greatness is not yet clear. For a century or so, Ford prospered under the patronage of the highly advanced Shodani, and enjoyed exclusive access to the Shodan system. Recently, however, the Shodan – Cin slipstream was discovered. Speculation abounds that whatever transcendent event happened on Shodan was involved, but whatever the case, Shodan’s existence, long a secret guarded by Ford, suddenly became known to the rest of the cluster.
Before the collapse of Shodan, Ford was able to procure advanced tech from the relatively benevolent Shodani, and in fact had advanced rapidly from a pre-industrial society under their guidance. Now that Shodan is in decline, however, Ford suddenly finds itself with a fleet that it can barely maintain. To complicate matters further, the Ford system is very light in heavy metals and fissionables, making the long-term support of high-tech manufacturing unlikely without either considerable imports or free access to the resources of another system.
On the political front, recent Tannhuaser action against Mir demonstrates that Tannhuaser is unlikely to allow Ford to advance much further without open war. Though much of its Shodan supplied T3 fleet is still operational, Ford would be unable to replace or in many cases to repair any ships lost or damaged in action, a hindrance Tannhauser would not suffer. Consequently, all but the most warlike members of the Ford government view war as a likely disaster.
Some factions within the government of Ford view this as a positive, and longing for the days of Shodani ‘mentorship,’ promote the idea of willing subservience. The party currently in power, however, promotes a slightly jingoistic ‘nationalism’ and advocates a course of diplomacy, subterfuge and careful brinkmanship. Though operating at a distinct technological disadvantage where Tannhauser is concerned, the Ford intelligence service is the best trained in the cluster and so far has managed to hold its own. Such a course is fraught with other dangers, of course, and those calling the shots in Ford are well aware of just how precarious their current position is.
Lacking the resources to maintain their rapidly aging fleet, or to advance their own technology further, Ford finds itself painted into a corner. Since open conflict would almost certainly be a disaster, Ford faces the daunting task of countering Tannhauser without firing a shot if it wants to remain viable and independent.