Express Boat Network
- This office maintains the sprawling express boat network which provides communications between the stars for government, industry, commercial enterprises, and private individuals.
- The network moves X-mail, Xmail, or Express Mail, the term/s for interstellar mail carried in-between the stars (...and their associated mainworlds) by various kinds of mercantile starcraft.
- X-mail is normally transported by X-boats although subsidized merchants, tramp freighters, couriers, and many other kinds of vessels may take mail contracts.
- X-mail is often exchanged via Postal Unions and Free Trade Zones.
- X-mail is a kind of cargo often carried in Mail Vaults or secure Staterooms.
The Express Boat Network: Like the arteries and veins of a body, the express boat network binds the Imperium together by providing worlds with a constant flow of information and communications for official, commercial, and private purposes.
This system has three basic components:
Each performs a different purpose, and each has its own niche to fill within the whole program.
The express boat (also called an xboat) is a small, fast ship filled with a pilot compartment, message data banks, and jump drives. The fit is so tight that there is no room even for maneuver drives. Each is capable of jump-4 (four parsecs per week); it jumps, relays its messages to the station on arrival, and then waits to be picked up by a tender, to be refueled and sent on its way with a new load of messages. The local station, meanwhile, accepts messages, encodes them, and transmits them to a tender at the edges of the stellar system. Messages brought by the arriving xboat and intended for further down the line are consolidated with the new data and all are sent on to another xboat already fueled and standing ready to leave. The entire network operates like the pony express — messages are always moving at top speed. Transfer time for messages from one xboat to another can be as short as ten minutes, and is rarely more than an hour.
Xboat Tender Specifications
The express boat tender is responsible for servicing the xboats when they arrive. It constantly roams about the stellar system, picking up newly arrived xboats, refueling them, performing minor maintenance operations, replacing fatigued pilots, and generally seeing to the welfare of the xboat station. The tender also carries data banks which relay messages to the xboats just before they leave for the next system. It also carries replacement pilots for the xboats.
The scout/courier is the final part of the network, although this type of ship is not restricted to working with the express boat system. The xboat network is a general framework of routes connecting major worlds and population centers with other similar worlds. Economic considerations make it impossible for the network to reach every single world in the Imperium; the scout/courier is used to fill the gaps. When a message can no longer be forwarded by xboat along the major routes, it is transferred to a scout/courier which then carries it to the specific world in question.
- Main routes are plotted to come within several parsecs of every star system in the Imperium, so the added transit time is rarely more than an extra three or four weeks.
The X-boat network is a vital part of maintaining communications throughout the Imperium.
- The express boat (abbreviated X-boat) system, established originally in 624 and expanded to cover the entire Imperium by 718, cuts this communication time by nearly 75 percent. Selected locations along major trade routes are established as sites for express stations, which are orbital facilities which service and refuel the X-boats on their communications runs.
- It can literally take months to years for information to cross Imperial-controlled space. Some estimates state that it can take up to four years for information to travel from the Imperial core to certain border areas.
- (624): The Express Boat Network is first set up and made operational.
- (718): The system matures to cover all of Imperial Space.
- Imperial Navy (IN)
- Imperial Army (IA)
- Imperial Interstellar Scout Service (IISS)