I have a fun and unique opportunity in the realm of Fan Fiction: Chris Roberts, creator of the Wing Commander and Privateer series of space trading and combat simulations, as well as Starlancer and Freelancer, is busy creating a new, entirely crowd-funded, space combat simulation complete with MMO elements called Star Citizen.
I am an original backer, as is a real world friend of mine. Both of us have been called Vikings by friends and acquaintances due to our distinctly Celtic/North European appearance and penchants for wild beards. As part of this mini “cult of personality”, we jokingly decided to call our little clan in the upcoming game the “Bearded Space-Viking Collective” or BSVC, for short.
The opportunity comes from the unprecedented access to game lore the creators are giving backers prior to any form of release. They even created a “Writer’s Guide” to give those of us who like to write stories the same information used by the game designers in writing their own stories.
With that in mind, and my love of creating worlds and characters, I decided to go ahead and turn BSVC into something more than just an amusing anecdote. Therefore, I have begun to flesh out the history of BSVC and where the name actually comes from. I will also be writing several short stories to flesh out my own in-game character, Erik “The Cat” McKetten. For now, here is the brief history of BSVC I have come up with:
The Bengtsdotter-Stendahl Voyage Corporation
Founders: Niklas Bengtsdotter, Erik Stendahl
Original Members: ~300 separatist colonists.
Niklas Bengtsdotter and Erik Stendahl grew up together on Terra. Their fathers, Mitchell and Jose, met during the Second Tevarin War – Jose Stendahl was a bomber pilot and Mitchell Bengtsdotter a Marine. After Mitchell’s drop-pod malfunctioned, slamming him into the surface of a disputed planet without slowing, Stendahl responded to Bengtsdotter’s emergency beacon – putting himself and his ship in danger to rescue the wounded Marine. Bengtsdotter survived the crash with the loss of one leg. Stendahl and Bengtsdotter became fast friends, an enduring friendship that outlasted the war and their enlistments. The two decided to settle on Terra III, where they found work for a small planetary shipping corporation, met and married their wives, and had children.
The war, and the Empire’s treatment of Bengtsdotter after his injury, left both men with bitter resentment towards the UEE. Bengtsdotter was given the most basic replacement limb available as part of the standard, and much maligned, health plan for wounded veterans. Mitchell was expected to pay for any upgrades he desired. The prosthetic leg was a low-end, mass-produced, robotic limb with limited movement and no neural control. It became a constant reminder of the sacrifice Mitchell made and the lack of appreciation received.
In time, Mitchell and Jose blamed the Empire for the war, even though it was the Tevarin who started both wars. The two men felt the conflicts would have been avoided if it wasn’t for the UEE’s aggressive expansionist policies.
When the Separatist Movement gained traction on Terra in the 2630s, Mitchell and Jose were inaugural members. The movement failed, rumored at the hands of UEE Advocacy Agents, and many of the members – including Mitchell – were arrested as terrorists. Jose lobbied unsuccessfully to get his friend released, spending much of his and Mitchell’s life savings in court and attorney fees. Mitchell died in prison three years after his arrest, and Jose died poor in a UEE Veteran’s Home.
Niklas and Erik were raised in a very anti-Empire environment. Their fathers often railed against the practices of the Empire, and how the galactic expansion of humanity, the unification of all members under one banner, and the inclusion of aliens in their society combined to erode any sense of cultural identity and individualism. This, coupled with the boys’ fascination with Ancient Earth History, led to the idea of the Bengtsdotter-Stendahl Voyage.
Niklas and Erik became enamored with the romantic notion of their Scandinavian names. Centuries away from Northern Europe, and generations away from their progenitors, the two boys were Northern European in name only. The glamour of their cultural heritage appealed to them, however. It was Niklas who first suggested that, like their ancient ancestors, the two should “go a viking” and found their own colony outside the UEE, using the Viking system of governance as a model.
As teens, the idea was nothing more than a fantasy. But, as the harsh reality of adulthood claimed a firm grasp on their lives, the fantasy became more appealing. The two began to seriously consider the idea after their parents died and left them with no real tether to Terra.
It was clear from the start the men could not afford the voyage – they couldn’t even afford passage on a ship. They toyed with the idea of hiring themselves onto a ‘forming expedition – trading indentured servitude for a chance at their own plot of land on a newly terraformed planet – but tossed it out the airlock. They didn’t just want property on the fringes of space, they wanted to form a new type of society.
They found their answer within the remnants of the Separatist Movement. The disenfranchised separatists felt much as Niklas and Erik, and soon drunken musings became serious discussion. In 2647, Niklas and Erik registered the Bengtsdotter-Stendahl Voyage Corporation (BSVC) with the UEE Trade Commission. The formation of a corporation allowed the two to seek investors with the ultimate goal of purchasing at least one ship and hiring others to fly the corporation members to a new uninhabited or sparsely populated planet. For the investors not seeking to be a part of the new community, BSVC offered exclusive mining and trading contracts. In 2656, nine years after the initial registration of BSVC, the corporation had obtained the necessary funds for the expedition. The Bengtsdotter-Stendahl Voyage would become a reality.
BSVC settled on an relatively uninhabited planet in the Min system. Min was chosen for two main reasons: one, it was in unclaimed space and belonged to no specific government; two, it was only two jumps from Terra and therefore the cheapest system to meet their requirements.
Niklas Bengtsdotter and Erik Stendahl, along with two hundred eighty-seven other would-be separatists and colonists, founded the city of Breidablik (later shortened to Breida) – named after the mythical home of the Old Norse God, Thor – in 2657. The colonists decided to retain BSVC; the corporation became an integral part of the colony’s early existence.
As the decades, and eventually centuries, went by, BSVC became less a company or colony, and more an almost cult-like clan. The romanticized Viking governing style, which allowed for much personal freedom while at the same time requiring obedience to the corporation and it’s CEO, or “Jarl”, created an atmosphere of familial responsibility between all members.
But Breida was not Utopia. The Min System was one of several lawless, ungoverned systems on the fringe of UEE territory. Pirates, criminal organizations, fugitives, and alien expatriates made it their home. And the leaders of BSVC found their Viking-style system of governance gave them much leeway in what was considered legal and what wasn’t. The ultimate rule was simple: do not harm other BSVC members, and do not unilaterally engage in actions which could bring harm to other members. Those who had ships began to “go a viking” at the pleasure of the Jarl or Thanes. Raids on other settlements, planets, and shipping lanes were not uncommon, provided they were approved of by the leadership. A small tax was applied to anything looted – the money going into the BSVC coffers, ostensibly for the benefit of the entire corporation.
BSVC earned a reputation for being ruthless in battle, but fair in trade. With the passing of time, and the subtle cultural changes time brings, the original name and mission of BSVC was forgotten. A new name came about, brought on by the allies and enemies of BSVC. The name may have been intended as a slight or joke, but BSVC members embraced and adopted it for its simplicity and acknowledgment of a common physical affectation of the male members: they became the “Bearded Space-Viking Collective.”
Over two hundred years after its founding, BSVC was a quasi-criminal organization running Jord, the planet the original colonists first settled on. BSVC engaged in all endeavors, some legal and some not so legal. But the Jarl and his Thanes always managed to keep their Thingmen in check and prevented them from engaging in any activity which could bring the wrath of the UEE, the Xi’An, or Banu authorities.
Until the year 2919, that is.