This article originally appeared in Jump Point 7.6.
Most would be scared to hear that an outlaw pack placed a price on their head, but the agents assigned to Bronson’s Bolts, the Advocacy’s elite interdiction unit, consider it a badge of honor. Since their inception in 2938, the Advocacy has strategically deployed the Bolts to suppress outlaw activity in troubled systems, and the results speak for themselves. A 2948 report released by the Criminal Reform Center revealed the unit’s effectiveness over the decade. It found that systems patrolled by the Bolts saw a notable decrease in reported crime alongside increased arrests. The report also considered the high bounties outlaws often put on Bolt members as further confirmation of their effectiveness.
The Bolts’ reputation as an elite policing unit has only increased over the years. The Advocacy’s most gifted pilots constantly jockey for the chance to fly the unit’s modified Origin M50s equipped with loadouts tailored towards swift interdiction and criminal apprehension. For daring criminals, eliminating a Bolt ship might earn them a hefty payout from the underworld, but capturing one of these lightning fast dogfighters is rumored to fetch an even greater price on the black market.
Considering the success of Bronson’s Bolts, many security experts are surprised that it took the Advocacy so long to create a specialized interdiction unit. However, institutional evolution is slow and often only spurred on by a crisis. The creation of Bronson’s Bolts is no different in that it was the embarrassment of Kellar’s Run that forced the Advocacy to reevaluate its practices.
The Kellar Calamity
SSA Gratia Bronson knew the Ellis system better than any other Advocacy agent. She patrolled its thirteen planets and five jump points for seventeen years, always keeping track of the best routes across the system. In her spare time, she honed her piloting skills by flying the Murray Cup course and paid out-of-pocket to modify her Advocacy-issued Aegis Avenger. All these factors converged on May 20, 2931 – the fateful day she encountered infamous outlaw Dean Kellar.
On the run for murdering an undercover Advocacy agent, Kellar had already fought the Advocacy and outraged other outlaws across three systems, killing five, when his souped-up Hornet entered Ellis. SSA Bronson immediately sprang into action. With help from local law enforcement and comm relay data, she quickly intercepted and engaged Kellar. The two tussled across the system with Kellar disengaging and fleeing anytime Advocacy reinforcements arrived. Wherever Kellar dropped out of quantum, SSA Bronson would be the first Advocacy agent appear. The upgrades she’d made to her Avenger allowed her to keep up with the fugitive, but also put her in a precarious position. As the only Advocacy agent able to keep pace with Kellar, her ship was taking a beating.
Their longest engagement occurred near the Ellis-Taranis jump. For over ten minutes, she alone kept Kellar from escaping into Taranis. Additional Advocacy agents arrived in time to watch Kellar use his last missile to destroy SSA Bronson’s heavily damaged Avenger, though thankfully she managed to eject in time. Kellar’s run eventually ended in Nexus when civilian Anna Flynn fired the shot that killed him.
An Advocacy investigation into the embarrassing incident resulted in a report that made several damning determinations, one being that Advocacy agents were simply outmatched and overpowered by Kellar’s modified Hornet. The report concluded that if the Advocacy wanted to deter dangerous outlaws from attempting to escape their agents, they would need faster ships. After reading the report, Advocacy Director Renzo Berlanga convened a commission to investigate the issue and find a solution.
Birth of the Bolts
Then Assistant Director Thomas Carmody chaired the commission, which conducted interviews with agents across all ranks, consulted experts, and investigated several incidents where Advocacy Agents had been killed in the line of duty. The commission drew up several proposals and furiously debated their merits until they finally settled on proposing a two-pronged approach.
First, the Advocacy would identify agents who displayed exceptional piloting skills and give them advanced training. Second, they would provide these agents with extremely fast ships better suited to chasing down criminals attempting to outrun the law. In the past, agents could make unreimbursed upgrades and modifications to their standard issue patrol vessels if they were registered with the Advocacy. As the actions of SSA Bronson proved, one of these privately tuned machines in the hands of a highly skilled pilot could be incredibly effective. The commission’s recommendation would standardize these after-market upgrades and budget for a dedicated unit of specialized ships. Director Berlanga approved the approach in 2936 and the search for pilots and the ideal ship began.
The Advocacy secretly met with ship manufacturers and presented their parameters. To the surprise of many, Origin Jumpworks’ pitch of the M50 seemed to satisfy all requirements. This modified version of the M50 wasn’t the fastest or most powerful ship proposed to the Advocacy, but with the right loadout, it balanced both better than the alternatives. The commission worked closely with Origin on minor tweaks before bulk buying a shipment for their new elite unit. Details about the modifications remain classified, and though a few of these ships have sadly fallen into the hands of outlaws, no one has been able to replicate the changes on a standard M50.
In 2938, the Advocacy quietly deployed members of their new unit into Magnus, Nexus, Fora, and other “high crime” areas under the direct command of Bronson, who was promoted to the rank of SAIC. To set them apart, the unit’s M50s were emblazoned with a lightning bolt, which is how they earned the epithet Bronson’s Bolts.
Besides not sharing specifics about the Bolts’ M50s, the Advocacy refuses to disclose the number of active agents assigned to the unit or where they are deployed. The Bolts have been spotted frequenting Nexus, policing the chaos caused by Charon’s civil war, and patrolling systems with jumps leaving the UEE. The Advocacy appears to revel in the mystery surrounding these agents, hoping that the unit instills in outlaws a fear that at any moment one could appear like a bolt out of nowhere, ready to bring justice down upon their heads.