April 13th 2016
From the unique drone of its dual-vector thrusters to the sharp lines of its distinctive profile, Xi’an ship manufacturer Aopoa’s (pronounced /uh-POE-uh/) export model of their sleek scout ship, the Khartu-Al, has made a splash amongst spaceship enthusiasts since its debut in the UEE nine short years ago.
Following on the heels of a successful technology-sharing partnership with ship manufacturer MISC, Emperor Kr.ē has slowly been allowing his people to pursue more interspecies business transactions. The effects of this new policy can be seen coming to fruition in the production of the Khartu-Al, the first completely Xi’an-designed ship approved for sale in the UEE, marking a significant step forward in xeno-economic trade development.
However, it wasn’t so long ago that Aopoa and its vessels weren’t so welcome in Human space.
At the height of the cold war, the UEE and Xi’an navies maintained a delicate stalemate along the Perry line. While large fleets patrolled the border, daring one another to make the first move, most of the real fighting was done through clandestine operations. Both species would send small scout vessels for recon missions along the line, stockpiling information that, should an active war break out, potentially could prove more valuable than missile stockpiles.
Even after peace was brokered by Senator Akari in 2789 and the Perry Line was formally dissolved, suspicious attitudes remained firmly intact, as both governments worried that the truce would prove to be a temporary one.
As we have learned from documents unclassified under Imperator Costigan’s Historical Truth Act of 2941, the UEE continued to launch secret missions along the border as they tried to assess the Xi’an’s true strength and intentions. It was in these covert forays that UEE pilots first encountered the ship they would come to nickname ‘Quark.’
With their inability to get close to the agile craft, it earned its sobriquet from the distinctive way its maneuvering thrusters lit up like a spark flying through space. Despite several encounters, the Quark would remain elusive until 2896, when a naval recon squadron were fortunate enough to discover one derelict and pilotless. Taken to a classified base for research, military scientists spent years studying the alien vessel. Impressed by its complex articulating wings and dual-vector maneuvering thrusters that could rapidly provide thrust in multiple directions, they dedicated themselves to trying to reverse engineer the advanced technology found on board. It was in this undisclosed bunker where the researchers would spot on the sleek hull a corporation council mark that was already familiar to them. First seen on the wrecks of Xi’an Volper bombers, that distinctive mark confirmed who was behind the manufacture of the mysterious Quark — Aopoa.
It was perhaps no coincidence then that while all of this was going on behind highly classified doors, Aopoa was making headlines in the UEE for another reason.
Not long after the Quark — or Qhire Khartu to call it by its Xi’an name — was captured, Aopoa’s leadership council sent a delegation to the MISC corporation with the intent of exploring the possibility of a lend-lease agreement.
MISC, chosen because their Hull transport line had begun to gain popularity in the Xi’an border systems, knew that if they could incorporate Xi’An technology into their ship designs it would give them a huge market advantage with both species. In 2910, after a four-month closed-door conference, a deal was struck and MISC became the first (and so far only) Human spacecraft corporation to have such a business alliance with a Xi’an manufacturing council.
Though the details of the deal remain a tightly-held trade secret, many historians are theorizing that Emperor Kr.ē approved Aopoa’s courting of MISC because the Xi’an had learned of their vessel being taken by the UEE. What some experts suggest is that since they knew it would only be a matter of time before Humans reverse-engineered the technology ourselves, it would be better to share with us directly and be able to profit off the exchange.
Of course, for now we can only speculate that this is what prompted them to negotiate the agreement with MISC, as much of the Xi’an business world and Emperor Kr.ē’s motivation remain heavily shrouded.
Thanks to the budding openness between our two species, we have slowly begun to better understand Xi’an society, but they continue to be a private people hesitant to fully share the intricacies of their culture. Part of this has to do with their longevity. Many of the Xi’an, including Emperor Kr.ē, were alive to personally witness Humanity’s actions of centuries past and remain wary. So while Humans do not yet fully know all the complexities of the Xi’an economy, we do know that Aopoa, like all Xi’an corporations, have been granted a monopoly over their unique manufacturing sector. Currently, they are the only manufacturer of light-craft legally allowed in the Xi’an Empire. As such, their leadership council has a government representative who ensures that Aopoa always has the best interest of all Xi’an at heart in their corporate decisions.
When asked for comment on their company history, Aopoa’s official statement claims that they produce advanced spacecraft by the will and grace of Emperor Kr.ē, but unofficially, it seems that they have a reputation amongst Xi’an for their aggressive political maneuvering a millennium ago when they wrested control away from previous light-craft manufacturing council. Incorporating the iconography of the Emperor’s family into their prototype design, Aopoa challenged their predecessor to shoot at the sacred symbols during the trial skirmish that would determine control of the governing board. It was a clever move, as the ship could not be fired upon without risking the Emperor’s displeasure, and Aopoa was able to gain control over the sector. However, the company did not have time to rest on their laurels. Before the dust could settle, numerous rivals emerged, and assuming that they had earned the position through audacity and daring alone, sought to oust the company themselves. Faced with many challengers, Aopoa surprised again by revealing the innovative dual-vector thruster technology that has since revolutionized Xi’an ship design. It seemed that their designers had been working on it in secret, but had been unable to finish it until they had acquired the resources that council control brought them. Aopoa handily defended their title and cemented their position for the centuries that have followed.
As the Khartu-Al becomes a more common sight across the UEE, it seems that this may just be the beginning for Xi’an trade. With CTR opening new stores in new systems and MISC actually moving manufacturing facilities to Xi’an-controlled space, our two economies may become ever more intricately linked. There are plenty who are eager to see other Aopoa ships modified for Human sale, and if the trends we see today continue, it may not be too long before it becomes as normal to see a Human pilot flying an Aopoa Volper as it is to see a Xi’an.
Don’t expect Aopoa’s now-familiar 4-Hex mark to survive much longer. Obviously different from Aopoa’s usual Xi’an mark, the 4-Hex was an attempt by the Xi’an manufacturer to appeal to a new, Human audience. After a swift (for the Xi’an) nine-year trial period, it is rumored that Aopoa will be replacing it with a more traditional, Xi’an-based mark.