July 23rd 2013
This article on Hurston Dynamics, one of Star Citizen’s weapons manufacturers, first appeared in last month’s Jump Point! Jump Point magazine is available only to development subscribers and contains exclusive articles on the making of Star Citizen and the Star Citizen universe. A new Jump Point will launch this Friday, featuring all-new fiction, information about the making of Star Citizen’s economy and more!
Hurston Dynamics is the United Empire of Earth’s premier producer and distributor of both quantum cascade lasers and a wide variety of electron guns. They are also the single largest outsource producer of standard munitions warheads for military contracts and the third-largest refiner of antimatter precursor in today’s economy. Though few finished products bear the Hurston name, their raw materials and manufactured components are found in nearly every piece of space technology in flight today.
Copies of Hurston dies are used in manufacturing facilities across the galaxy, with illegal copies even crossing the border for use in Xi’An production hubs.
The Hurston family has been helping Humans make war on one another for generations. They can readily trace the name back five hundred years, to the development of the first power lasers for space defensive platforms. More fanciful family histories connect the present-day Hurstons to Earth’s dark ages, crediting the family with everything from broad axes and crossbows to fixed-wing aircraft and atomic weapons. The current patriarch, “Colonel” Gavin E. Hurston, adopts this backstory wholeheartedly, decorating his office with millennia of killing tools and infusing the company’s advertising and corporate culture with medieval weaponry wherever possible.
Whatever the true history, the old adage has proven correct with the current generation: war is good for business. Hurston Dynamics is one of the rare mega-corporations which can properly boast that it owns its own planet, having secured Stanton I from the UEE government in a money-and-stock deal worth an estimated fifty trillion credits. Prior to the acquisition of Stanton I, Hurston was based on Earth, with mining assets and weapons testing ranges scattered throughout the galaxy. In the past fifty years, these have been significantly consolidated to the facilities on Stanton, making it the place to go for Hurston technology.
A glitzy showroom and an uncomfortably formal pilots’ bar, Viola’s, belie the overall situation on the planet. Unlike the other inhabitants of the Stanton “office park,” Hurston has consciously run the planet into the ground: every inch of the world not assigned to corporate facilities is being mined for antimatter precursors or blasted apart in research and development tests. Soot and smog pollute the atmosphere to the point that inhabitants must be issued breathers when conducting work outside their habicubes. The worker satisfaction rating on Hurston is an astonishing 0 .5 (out of 10), and very few miners last more than a single conscription tour. The corporation is always seeking to import low-skilled workers and rumors persist that there is a market for Human slaves on their planet.
Whatever the truth, privateers will find that Hurston pays well to those who provide them with involuntary labor and is an excellent source of low-cost munitions and metals.
As a result of their disregard for Stanton I’s ecology, Hurston frequently finds itself the prime target of environmentalist groups, including the Citizen’s Clean World Alliance (CCWA) and the Wildlife Conservation Project (WCP). The Colonel does nothing to hide his disgust for such movements, frequently boasting about the number of indigenous species his company has exterminated (mounted Osoian heads and flatcat sensor nubs decorate his sitting room) and inciting further hatred from organizations unlikely to be purchasing radioactive munitions in the first place. In response, more militant environmental groups have even been known to target Hurston space convoys. Illegal bounties on Hurston corporate spacecraft are plentiful, though the corporation pays better for the requisite escort pilot muscle.
Though their weapons technology is found throughout the Empire and beyond, Hurston currently manufactures “only” two lines of branded ship weapons: quantum cascade lasers and electron guns. Both lines are available in multiple sizes, configurations and purposes. Weapons sizes range from tiny “needle” cannons to the massive capital batteries found on UEE warships. Hurston’s extensive tool and die experience allows for both weapon types to be sold in both Gatling repeater and strict cannon configuration. Variants of the guns (at various grades) are designed for different markets: Cheap for export, Standard to Quality for licensed civilian use and Excellent for the UEE military.
Hurston’s “Spectrum” line of external cavity quantum cascade lasers has been used effectively by a variety of operators for nearly a century. Quantum cascade lasers fire electromagnetic bolts that convert any material contacted into plasma, giving it a reasonable “bite” that is useful in most space combat encounters. A Hurston Dynamics Spectrum 7 QCL is recommended by the Bounty Hunter’s Guild as the gold standard for “starter” laser cannons, while the Spectrum 9 Gatling variant has been adopted by the UEE for their destroyer-based CIWS systems currently undergoing space trials. While many corporations produce cheaper quantum cascade lasers, mostly based on Hurston’s technologies, the Hurston name continues to convey a strong cachet.
The less-celebrated “Magnitude” line of electron guns is generally considered a specialist’s weapon. Standard UEE units do not use Magnitudes, although they are mounted on particular special operations and Advocacy spacecraft variants. The guns strip electrons from hydrogen atoms and then accelerate them at high speeds suspended in a magnetic bolt focused through a multi-stage Einzel lens. A pilot trained in the use of his particular model of electron gun will find it an incredibly precise and powerful weapon … a “newbie” activating such a gun for the first time will find it largely useless.
Extensive weapons labs have been established on Stanton I, and rumors of a third line of guns continue unabated. These rumors gained serious traction last year, when the corporation put out a record-high ten million credit bounty believed to be for a mercenary who stole a test artifact from the corporation. It is unknown whether or not the bounty was claimed or the artifact was recovered. Observers do consider it highly unusual that Hurston produces conventional and antimatter warheads without their own delivery system. Many believe it only a matter of time until the company premieres an entirely new antimatter-derived slug thrower gun type. When — or if — it happens, it is likely to throw the balance of power among civilian pilots wide open … and potentially impact the course of the war against the Vanduul.