Saturday, 4 July 2015

PACT - The Planetary Alliance for Cooperation and Trade

Members: Earth, Altair, Zoa, Ochra, Caspar, Anak, Kohath
Outside: Boka

When Earth was first discovered by the alien species, it was PACT that made contact. Earth's space capability was already quite advanced, with high speed ships serving colonies across Earth's corner of the galaxy, and exploration expanding all the time. But it was an unmanned space probe that strayed into Kohathi space that alerted them to Earth's capabilities.

In view of the inter-racial problems in Earth's history, there were surprisingly few people against the relationship with the alien races. Earth's United Nations organisation, by this time acted as a sort of federal Earth government, especially in representing Earth as a whole to alien governments. Using PACT to make contact ensured that the first impression was of the advantages, rather than fear of conquest or aggression.

In the twenty years since then, Earth and its colonies have been fully integrated into the Alliance, and all parties have benefitted from the exchange of culture and technology. The Earth PACT fleet, all named after birds of prey, was set up within three years of joining the Alliance, and there was a free exchange of crew between the fleets, promoting inter-species co-operation and understanding.

Exchange was more frequent between those species that could breathe each others' atmosphere, but short exchanges were still made where the crewmen had to spend the entire time wearing a breathing mask. The same applied to different gravities – Shom Reuel, from lighter gravity Altair, was able to serve on the Kestrel after special training and wearing a back brace, which was also used by humans serving on heavier gravity ships.

There were PACT offices on every world, serving as embassies, and looking out for likely candidates for not only the PACT fleet, but cultural and academic exchanges and collaboration. The training facility on Earth had different departments for alien studies but the training for the PACT fleet was mostly induction, explaining the rules of working in the fleet to trainees who had already learned their skills elsewhere. Bursaries were available for crewmen to study specific courses with dedicated training schools, including those on other worlds.

The crew of each ship changes with promotion, retirement and injury, and although the same crew serve together most of the time, there are temporary secondments to cover shore leave in an attempt to keep the ships on patrol permanently. Only rarely are the whole crew granted leave at the same time, while their ship is under repair or staying over on a friendly planet for a few days.

The Boki feel threatened by the Alliance, that other species are banding together to take advantage of them, even conquer them. Offers of membership in the Alliance are viewed with suspicion for the same reasons. The Boki have mobilised against the perceived threat and the PACT fleet is on alert and patrolling the borders, but still trying to be low key. There is divided opinion within PACT, which threatens the Alliance.

The Flight of the Kestrel stories centre on one PACT ship, the Kestrel, under her captain Joseph Darrow. She has a crew of eleven. The majority are human, from Earth and her colonies, but there are some crewmen from alien species.

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