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Dominant Species: Unknown/None
Danger Level: Low
Purpose: Field of derelict vessels
Original Creator: Xandeross
In the void of interstellar space, trillions of miles from the nearest other object, there floats an armada. Hundreds, thousands of ships of every shape and size. All cold, all drifting, all inert. Centuries old yet virtually untouched by the passage of time, preserved by the vast nothing surrounding it. In the distance, the flicker of drive flares moving against the starfield betray the presence of patrol cutters, keeping potential plunderers away from the silent fleet.
Despite what appearances may suggest, this is no graveyard. For none of these robotic vessels ever had any crew at all.
In the aftermath of the AI rebellions, as the galaxy began to rebuild, great resources were poured into the development of sub- sapient robotics to try and fill some of the gaps. Among the results of these efforts was the development of drone freighters capable of plying the spaceways without either biological or AI crew, as long as they stuck to the most well charted routes and had the support of ground control during takeoff or landing.
Then, in this proliferation, some criminals saw opportunity. A group of hackers, their names now lost to history, were able to compromise the navigational computers of thousands of the drone vessels using a worm disguised, ironically, as an antivirus filter update. Setting them to, instead of traveling to their intended destination, jump to a secret point in deep space where they could then be plundered at leisure.
But something went wrong with the hack. The infected vessels didn't make it to their intended port, but they didn't make it to the reprogrammed secret destination either. Thanks to a simple typing error, they just vanished into space to some other point entirely. Thousands of ships and all their cargo vanished completely from the face of the galaxy, causing a middling economic crisis in the process.
Centuries passed before the lost ships were discovered again, completely on accident by a trader crew who suffered a faster than light malfunction and were forced to drop back into normal space. The news spread quickly, of thousands of ships ripe for the taking, and soon a swarm of salvagers was descending on the site, followed shortly thereafter by a swarm of lawyers.
All of those ships obviously belonged to some entity before it vanished, and in many cases that entity- usually a corporation- was still around to press its claim for ownership. Even when the original owner was no longer around there were often creditors or heirs who could claim ownership. Injunctions were issued to halt the salvaging operations until proper ownership could be determined. The salvagers rallied against this sudden legal assault, pooling their resources together to hire their own small army of lawyers to argue that, according to the traditional laws of space, all ownership claims became void when the ship was lost and the whole field became legitimate salvage.
Naturally, the entire thing was immediately plunged into a legal morass of overlapping jurisdictions, conflicting claims, dubious contracts, and unclear laws. Amalgamated Shipping & Handling et. al. v Salvors United has been grinding through the court system for close to a decade now, with legal fees climbing into the billions of points. To say nothing of the dozens of lesser spinoff cases. But, since the combined value of those thousands of ships and their cargoes is estimated to be far above what they're spending, neither side will back down willingly, and the wheels of law grind oh so slowly on.
It is from this legal limbo that the common name of the derelict field derives. Although it is formally recorded in the Standardized Galactic Navigational Catalogue as Object 173-DR-18, with no official name beyond that, to the galaxy at large it is known simply as the Limbo Lode.
• Despite the ongoing legal disputes, about fifteen percent of the ships in the Lode have been removed. Some of them had nobody come forward and claim ownership so there were no obstacles to their salvage; some of them had their status resolved in separate settlements; and some were simply outright stolen.
• In order to prevent such thefts, a permanent police picket has been stationed. Unfortunately, the space police are not sending their best, brightest, or least bribable to such an isolated post, so the effectiveness of this picket is not what it could be. Two separate commanders of the picket force have been dismissed over the years for some combination of corruption and incompetence. To deal with these issues the corporate claimants to the ships in the derelict field have recently begun supplementing the defenses with private contractors, to mixed results.
No art currently, maybe you can help.