Where it All Began
For many citizens, the name Drake Interplanetary conjures up images of ships whose silhouettes don’t look aerodynamically balanced. And the ne’er-do-wells and criminals flying them. Pirates. Drake hasn’t helped change this perception by naming its ships things like Cutlass and Buccaneer. And their the cheesy billboards featuring overly endowed woman, dripping sex appeal all over the newest starfighter they’re showcasing, doesn’t help much either. When you’re not seeing Drake’s in-your-face adverts, it’s yet another newsvid about investigations into their criminal ties.
Drake’s keystone design is the Drake Interplanetary AS-1 Cutlass. Incredibly inexpensive, Drake Cutlasses are used across the galaxy for thousands of different roles. From search and rescue ambulances, to mining prospector conversions, to short hop food transports. The modular nature of the Cutlass means it can be anything to anyone. Including those skirting the law.
Beyond its modularity, the Cutlass’ claim to fame is that it’s built from common parts. This makes it an affordable ship to replace for those who are living a lifestyle that no longer offers the benefit of purchasable insurance. Drake Interplanetary incorporated soon after the success of the Cutlass. Lead designer Jan Dredge became CEO, with a seven member board, consisting largely of aerospace engineers who had worked on the project.
Drake is not the surname of anyone involved in the project; it was selected as an acceptably “smooth-sounding” name, chosen specifically in the hopes that it would make their spacecraft more appealing. This was the first of a series of money-over-all decisions that would quickly come to define the company.
Drake Sets Up Shop in Magnus
Another factor that swaying the UEE’s belief that Drake is in some fashion associated with criminal activity, was their decision to locate their corporate headquarters and key factories on Borea in the Magnus system. At the time, Magnus was a desolate and lawless system, peppered with ghost towns and people living on the fringe of the space frontier. Locating on Borea, was yet another seed planted in the garden of their outlaw image. Regardless of the UEE’s assumptions or those of more polite society, within five years Drake was the fifth largest spacecraft manufacturing concern.
However, with the galaxy in a relative level of peace, or as close to peace as it had ever been – Vanduul raids at the time were disorganized and the UEE military was in the middle of a several year stand down. Who was buying thousands upon thousands of Cutlasses? The answer, of course – pirate organizations. The affordability of Drake ships created readily replaceable spacecraft that fit a pirate’s budget, and thanks to its larger-than-average cargo hold , they could also transport pirate booty.
It eventually became clear, though not publically acknowledged, that Drake had made a deal with the devil … but the money was too good to turn back. It’s rumored that in looking toward future, CEO Dredge is authoring a plan to streamline their spacecraft lineup and clean up the company’s image. A daunting task for the modular, boxy Cutlass, Caterpillar and Buccaneer! And then there’s those ship names. Only time will tell.
For a time, Borea – Magnus II, was a barren desert world — the effects of terraforming had not yet completely transformed the planet, and a ten-year period of extreme solar flares hampered its transition to a temperate world. This increased the decay of the UEE facilities and generally reduced overall interest in resettling Magnus. The result was an eerie, depopulated ghost world with declining structures full of refining and shipbuilding equipment considered too expensive to move elsewhere. During this period, the system’s population declined to less than 3,000, most of whom had no legal right to their encampments.
Drake’s decision to locate the headquarters and primary factories on Borea, eventually helped to revitalized the landscape. Vast tracts of empty warehouses and rusting construction yards have been modernized and returned to life from building Cutlasses and Caterpillars. All’s well that ends well and good on Drake. But personally, I’d have started job hunting when the news came around about where the offices were going.