Criminal Activity in the Fleet
Aside from petty criminals and one timers, most activity is coordinated by one of four known and recognized criminal groups.
An exclusive group related by kinship ties. (Blood or Sealing) All are originally from Aeries and the organization had a long history on that planet. Though the ‘True Tarqs’ in the Fleet are fairly small in numbers, they have many ‘soldiers’ in their employ. They run extortion rackets, loan sharking, gambling, prostitution rings as well as theft and fencing of stolen goods. The smallest, numerically, of the criminal organizations and the most limited in scope. Found on any ship with large Aerian populations.
Major producers and distributors of illegal substances, also into prostitution and gambling along with stolen goods (especially organics.) The largest criminal group in terms of numbers, members are almost exclusively Capricans and in some cases Virgons.
Named after their leader and founder, Kittla Lauren (who is now in lifetime residence in the Astral Queen) a predominantly (though not exclusively) female criminal group.
They are into virtually everything and can be found on almost all ships, except where the Tarqs operate. The second largest group numerically and very widespread.
The Group, the Crew, the Organization
The name varies, and indeed they seem to have no formal name, or ethnic affinity, but all the members are bound to loyalty to their leader, an almost mythical figure know simply as ‘Jubal.’
Probably the the most influential, in the underworld, of the criminal groups. The reputation of Jubal for ruthlessness and intelligence is widely regarded.
An uneasy truce exists between the four gangs. The Tarqs are the most volatile and likely to respond violently to real or imagined slights. Periodic spates of bloodletting seem to keep things balanced.
Not really a criminal group, but rather a loose association of Hackers who help each other out, and at the same time strive to outdo each other.
Notable and Notorious Individuals
Gheel “The Ghost”
A legendary Hacker, able to obtain virtually any information from any Net with no difficulty at all. His existence was rumored for yahrens before Security, with the help of an informer, finally tracked him down. Cornered in an isolated storage chamber along with his equipment, Gheel sealed himself in and chose to kill himself by detonating a Solenite charge of such size that it breached the hull of the freighter he was on. His body and mangled gear where vented into space and lost. Fortunately no Security personnel where harmed and the entire drama was caught on Security Cameras that were remotely inserted into the chamber.
Kittla Lauren. Founder of the Laurens. Now in her later years she was once considered the most dangerous woman in the Fleet and is said to have personally killed over twenty men. Serving a life sentence on the Astral Queen after being betrayed by an unknown informant.
Jubal. A shadowy figure of unknown origin or background. Regarded as a true Mastermind and Genius by all who deal with him, including the Security Officers who have been after him for yahrens. It is said that his own people aren’t really certain as to who he is. Security isn’t even certain that Jubal is male.
The Pisceran Slasher. A brutal serial killer of women. The Pisceran Slasher as he is known, earned the title Pisceran not because he is from Pisces, but because the first five victims were from that planet. Since then he has branched out to other groups and Security decided that the origin of those first five were mere coincidence. To date the Slasher is known to have killed seventeen women over the last nine yahrens. Several other women have simply vanished, much to the chagrin of Security, and it is widely held that the Slasher is responsible. Killings have occurred on eleven different ships and it is similarities in method and other evidence, that have lead Security to conclude it is the work of one person and not copycats. The Slasher is presumed to be male, but much of what is known of the Slasher is classified to avoid tipping Securities hand in their efforts to catch the killer. The public vacillates between fascination and outrage at the killer’s success and Securities inability to catch him.
Tools of the Underworld (some are self explanatory)
Prices and such will be addressed in another file.
Using medical grade plastics (intended for bone and limb replacement) craftsmen manufacture one piece knives and daggers. These are valued because when carried close to the body they cannot be detected on Security Scanners, appearing as part of the persons body to the scanner. Possession of a Bone Knife is illegal.
Scan Proof Containers
Some bright individual discovered that power cables and communcation lines on the starships have a lining, under the outer casing, made of a silvery gray film that is intended to help shield the ships systems from EMP. By stripping off the outer casing and removing this lining the film can be woven into sheets of fabric that can completely block the Security Hand Scanner. Craftsmen manufacture small pouches, suitable for a personal stash, up to large sheets that can be used to line a foot locker. Expensive, because it is labor intensive and illegal, just having it is a criminal offense. Making it is even more of one.
The CTC (Cubit Transfer Card) is the backbone of the Fleet’s economy since there is nowhere near enough cash to run it. Electronic transfer from Bank Accounts, to Cubit Transfer Cards and into Merchant Cards and vending machines and similar, is the way business is done. A Cracker allows someone to access the electronic cubits temporarily stored on a CTC, stripping them out and depositing them into a new card. Where as a legitimate transfer machine, used by a merchant, government, vending machines and such, leaves an Electronic Record or receipt on the CTC the Cracker leaves no trace (that can be easily detected.) Possession of a Cracker can result in automatic charges of Major Theft.
Electronic and Manual Lock Picks
Though manual locks are rare, except on personal luggage and cases, they do exist and having the tools to open them illicitly is a crime.
Electronic Locks are far more prevalent. Their complexity varies with most requiring the swipe of a magnetic key or authorized Id card to unlock them. Some require a code to be entered on a touch pad. Others require voice recognition or thumb prints. More sophisticated ones require combinations of the above while the most secure require retina or genetic scans to unlock them.
An electronic Lockpick is able to open any lock that requires a magnetic key or card and, with a bit of rigging, locks that require codes. An electronic lock pick looks like an electronic key/card.
MOST electronic locks are hooked into the ships computer system, either hardwired or remotely. Unlocking such a lock will be noted by the ships computers and logged as an event. Security, or someone, may be alerted depending on the lock in question. To avoid such logging and notice is beyond the ability of an Electronic Lockpick. That requires a Hacking Computer and an Override Code.
Override Codes and Hacking Computers
On a sophisticated and complex structure like a starship, virtually EVERYTHING, from flushing a john to opening a broom closet is noted and logged ine ship’s ‘Auto Log.’ Most of this activity is mundane, routine and valueless, except for diagnosing mechanical difficulties and in trying to catch a criminal.
Two points of particular note to the criminally minded are the auto logging of lock and door activations and the security cameras that monitor most corridors and many compartments. The legitimate use of Override Codes is so maintenance techs can bypass systems to do needed repairs and diagnostics without shutting down entire areas. The illicit use of the codes is to stop an event being logged, like unlocking or opening a door, or to switch the local security cameras to ‘Maintenance Mode’ and stop their recording. Codes are specific as to Priority and Type. A Code used to disable security cameras cannot be used to bypass the logging of unlocking or opening doors.
Priority One Override Codes are used with nonessential systems like the locks on private cabins, non secured areas (closets, some store rooms, shops etc,) and lifts, Non essential devices like food distribution systems. These codes are rarely changed and can remain valid for a yahren or more.
Priority Two Overrides can be used to affect access to secured areas, (restricted stores, Life Center, machine shps, hangers, parts of Engineering, arms lockers, and accessing maintenance hatches in all but sensitive areas) security camera nets, restricted private quarters, shutting down security sensors (smoke, fire, radiation, gas etc) turning off fire suppression systems, etc. These codes go stale quickly, They are generally valid only for a secton or two before the computer automatically changes them.
Priority Three Overrides can be used to access critical areas, airlocks, undocking shuttles, restricted areas in engineering, weapon stations and opening maintenance hatches in these areas. These have a very short lifespan, usually a sectarie or two at most.
Using an Override Code requires a programmed DataPad and the ability to physically link to a Data Port. This requires a data transfer cable not just a wireless connection. Data Ports are common throughout starships. One can be found in most corridors or cabins. General computer skills, or Tech skills specific to the systems involved, are required to apply the code properly.
Obtaining Override Codes (illicitly) is tricky. Priority One Codes are the easiest to get and can often be acquired by simply ‘borrowing’ a maintenance techs datapad and transferring the data on to another datapad. Priority Two or Three are harder to get and require a Hacking Computer and a knowledgeable hacker.
A Hacking Computer is a computer (more powerful and sophisticated then a datapad) that has been tuned and programmed to hack into the ship’s internal computer network to obtain Override Codes and, in some cases to alter log entries and other data. The network that the Hacker breaks into is unique to each ship, but once a hacker succeeds in entering a ships system his access will remain usable until one of two events. Either the intrusion is detected (directly or inferred) in which case the systems security is scrambled and the hacker must start again. Or, in the event of a routine Security Rebuild (which occurs about once a hetari.)
Military networks are the hardest to hack into and security updates or rebuilds occur regularly. Data intrusions are aggressively sought and access is limited by many safety precautions.
The Secure Ship networks on civilian starships vary enormously depending on the ships age and function. For example, tankers and Industrial ships have stronger security systems then liners and freighters. (Though there has been a concerted effort to upgrade all the ships it is a slow and resource limited process.) In most civilian vessels the auxiliary computer system, which backs up the main and takes over in the event of malfunction, is an older and less secure system and often provides the access hackers need.
The Public Network, legitimately accessible to anyone, (Much like Earth’s Internet) is part of Inter Fleet Broadcasting (IFB) and can be accessed by a simple DataPad. Here is where purchases are made and, via Secure Channels, banking and financial transactions take place. Hacking into this part of the Public Net requires a Hacking Computer and is about as complex as hacking a modern civilian starship net.
Hacking requires Computer Operation AND Computer Programming Skills with Specialization in one of the three Network types, Military, Secure Ship or Public.
Scrambled Private Communicators
Private, short range comm links are perfectly legal. Having a Secured or Private Channel is legal too, ( but expensive) But having Secured Scramblers, which scrambles and decodes broadcasts to ensure that Security and the Military have trouble monitoring conversations, IS illegal.
Security Scanners that are issued to the Security Officers are designed to detect illegal substances and weapons. They are also a handy tool for a thief who is searching for particular goods. In addition to their regular functions they can be used to locate oregg (gold used to mint cubits) and other valuable substances.