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Far Trader

The basic ship involved in free trade is called the free trader. Variations on the basic ship have resulted in variations in the name. The type A2 far trader derives its name from its jump capability: its drives are capable of jump-2, twice what the standard free trader can do. The far trader was originally developed in 1042 by Gesichtkries Sternsschiffbau AG (GSbAG).

The far trader can be encountered anywhere in the Imperium. It ranges far and wide, and deals with every world it finds. Even amber zones and red zones are not considered off limits by its captains, provided there is profit to be made and the risk of being caught is slight.

Far Trader (Type A2): Using the type 200 hull, the far trader is capable of 1-G acceleration and jump-2. Fuel tankage is 50 tons, and the ship incorporates fuel scoops for gas giant skimming. The bridge is standard and has a computer Model/1-bis installed. Two tons of fire control support the ship's two turrets. The ship has ten staterooms (three for the crew; seven for the passengers) and four low berths. A single air/raft is carried for various ship duties. The ship itself is streamlined for atmospheric landings. Cargo capacity is 61 tons.

Interior Details: The far trader is constructed on a two level system. Cargo, bridge, and some drives are on the lower level; passengers, fuel, and power plant are on the upper level.

The bridge occupies the forward port section of the lower deck. Its two control positions are surrounded by transparent screens allowing a view of forward and above. Note that the lower level extends farther forward than the upper level.

Behind the bridge proper is the computer room and a spare stateroom. When fewer than seven passengers are carried, this stateroom is used for the crew on duty; otherwise, it holds a single passenger. A common area is used for passenger reception, after which they use the lift shaft to the upper passenger deck. In flight, the common area is a crew lounge.

The forward starboard section of the lower deck is crew quarters. The spacious captain's cabin has transparent screens along one wall and above as a skylight. Bordering the three cabins is the life support equipment and atmosphere recyclers. Between the crew quarters and the bridge is the forward cargo loading ramp. Although this ramp and door is not equipped with an air lock, it does allow a straight vehicle approach for cargo loading on hospitable worlds.

The upper level forward is the passenger deck. Six passenger staterooms line the outer bulkheads while a large central area provides recreational facilities and a galley. The grav plate floor fields for individual staterooms and for sections of the common area may be adjusted from 0.1 to 2.0 G, depending on the preferences of individual passengers. Centered above the cargo loading ramp is the ship's air/raft, with easy access and launch from inside the ship.

The center of the ship is occupied by the 61 ton cargo bay. Reinforced deckplanking and strategically placed tie-downs make the bay capable of handling modular cargo containers, palletized shipments, or individually packaged items and bulky mechanisms. Above the cargo bay is the ship's 50 ton fuel tankage.

To both port and starboard on the lower level, corridors run the length of the ship, connecting the forward control areas with the aft drive rooms. Each corridor provides access to the ship's turrets, to a cargo air lock, and to the fuel scoop and purification mechanisms. The port corridor provides access to the ship's four low berths. These low berths were originally intended for carrying livestock in the 100 to 400 kilogram range. For this reason, the berths are close to the port cargo lock, and the entire area can be sealed off with hatches and doors in the event that an animal gets loose. The starboard corridor provides access to the ship's locker, which contains the ship's armory, survival equipment, cold weather clothing, and other essential materials.

Aft, the drive rooms contain the ship's jump and maneuver drives, with the power plant mounted transversely on the upper deck.

Weaponry: The ship's two weapons turrets provide tremendous potential for armament in the event that the ship should require it. The standard weapon mix for the ship is two dual laser turrets. Gaining favor, however, among free traders is a homogeneous mix consisting of one laser, one missile rack, and one sandcaster in each turret. The result is a set of weapons that can respond to many different threats and penetrate the defenses of several different types of targets.

Peculiarities: The design of the far trader has ship security in mind, and so all passengers are segregated onto a passenger deck. Their access to the bridge and to other areas of the ship is limited. Unfortunately, when a seventh passenger is carried, he or she is berthed adjacent to the bridge. Original specifications did not envision more than six passengers, but the profit motive has led to them being overridden.

Costs and Revenues: The far trader costs MCr66.175 to construct. The price includes architect's fees and design plan costs, but does not include weaponry to be added later. The monthly payments for a ship of this type amount to Cr275,729. Further expenses for crew salaries, life support, maintenance, and berthing fees amount to Cr60.714 per month, assuming a jump every two weeks.

Fuel is free for the skimming, but would add another Cr5000 per jump when its purchase is required. This type of merchant can gross approximately Cr242,000 per month, assuming a full manifest of middle and low passengers and a full cargo bay at Cr1000 per ton of cargo. Obviously, even with a full load, this ship would be unable to make its payments; it could conceivably come close to breaking even if the crew went on shares and salaries were foregone.

Instead, the owner would be required to engage in trade and speculation in order to make up the difference between what the ship normally earns and what must be paid every month. Charters might also seem an attractive alternative.