The long strange trip
Free Trader (Type A)
FREE TRADER, TYPE A
Using a 200-ton hull, the free trader is an elementary interstellar merchant ship plying the space lanes carrying cargo and passengers. Tramp traders of this sort are often used by adventuring groups and small mercenary bands, especially if they have been retrofitted with turrets and weaponry.
One of the most common starships in the Imperium, the Type A free trader has remained unchanged for centuries. Built throughout the Imperium and beyond by the thousand, this small cargo ship continues to ply the trade routes and mains, picking up small cargoes and engaging in speculative trade. The free trader is a simple, cheap design with minimal specifications that will be built for centuries to come.
Variants of the free trader exist – all have the same characteristics but differ slightly in shape and internal layout.
The bridge of any starship is the nerve center of the vessel, and the bridge of an armed free trader is no different. The bridge positions in the diagram below are typical of the layout of an armed free trader. However, the Functions of each position are interchangeable between the bridge positions, as each function (pilot, navigator etc) is a suite of software programmes, not hardwired into a bridge position.
Each Function is accessed and controlled via large color LCD touch-screens at each position. Keyboards are also present at each bridge position, although they are rarely used and are usually for backup use only. Voice activated commands can also be used, although normal chatter on a bridge may sometimes render this a less-than-effective interface device. The Functions can be switched from position to position depending on circumstances and personal taste. Normally, Functions can only be switched by the Captain using an over-ride code.
All Functions have access to the communications software and communications arrays on the vessel.
Flight Controls Bridge Function
Normally occupied by the pilot, this function contains all the controls required to maneuver the starship in space, as well as control in atmospheres. The pilot can also access all data from the Engineering and Navigation Functions, although not control those Functions.
Engineering Bridge Function
Although the Engineer may not always be present on the bridge, monitoring and control of the powerplant, Jump drive and Maneuver drive, as well as life support systems happens under this Function. The Engineer Function can also be accessed from a console in the engineering room.
Command Bridge Function
Normally occupied by the Captain, the Command Function duplicates the Flight Controls function if the Captain requires it. The Command Function also controls the security systems on the ship, including over-ride controls for all airlocks, bridge access and anti-hijack programs.
Navigation Bridge Function
The navigator occupies a vital position on the bridge. The Navigation Position relays vital data on the ship’s position in space, as well as controlling the sensor and transponder systems on the spacecraft.
This suite of programs controls the weapons systems on an armed free trader. This function is not supplied with a standard free trader. The Weapons Function is usually controlled at the consoles in the two turrets, and are used by the gunners of the ship. But the Captain, at his discretion, can remote control either of the turrets from his position on the bridge, using the Weapons Function.