Into that Vast Expanse
Crew and Culture of The Bottom Line
The common crew of The Bottom Line are more than shipmates—they are a community. For generations they have lived and worked together aboard the ship, engendering a closeness that insulates them from the cold void of space.
For a list of the command crew who are characters in the game, see here.
When the first Raethos progenitor was granted a Trade Warrant and took command of The Bottom Line, the ship was almost entirely uncrewed. To swell the ranks, he recruited his initial crew mainly from the dregs of the lower Scintilla hive levels. The close-knit culture of interdependency required for hive living gave the crew an edge and helped counteract the lack of experience that most of the planetbound crew shared.
In addition to the crew drawn from the lower hives who were largely unskilled, The Bottom Line also recruited several thousand individuals with starship experience. These people made up the officer ranks and even some command positions, though most of the higher ranks were filled by members of the Raethos family or allied clans.
The distinction between the Scintilla crew and the officer class established a pseudo-caste system aboard The Bottom Line. Within a few years of its rechristening, the ship saw the arrival of its first generation of newborns. Those children born to the upper ranks received tutoring and religious instruction, while those in the dregs of the ship were encouraged to take up manual labor as early as possible. As the ship’s population began to approach self-sustainability, the social strata solidified into the pattern still present in the ship today. While upward mobility is not impossible (and has been made more common following the Dark Voyage), generally crewmembers remain in the same roles their families have held for generations.
Customs and Traditions
The culture of The Bottom Line has gone through a bottleneck since the Dark Voyage as the crew number shrank, followed by an explosion of new customs when the numbers were renewed. Many of the new crew found integration difficult given both the close-knit nature of the existing community as well as an inability to relate to the harrowing experiences suffered during the horrific warp incursion. (Those crewmembers coming from the abandoned Emperor’s Bounty, on the other hand, found it very easy to relate.)
One of the newer traditions is a more humane treatment of the mutants and servitors aboard the ship. Both of these sub-classes swelled in number as a direct result of the warp incursion, and there is not a single surviving crewman who does not count a loved one among their ranks. Consequently, the Twistcatcher has put aside his servo-whip for all but the most dire of occasions and now lures the hull denizens with a concoction known as Mutant’s Milk. The servitors are classified and stored according to their former names rather than serial number, and are given affectionate designations when their original names cannot be remembered.
For human crew, one traditional hazing ritual involves the endurance of cold temperatures (a reference to the Raethos icicle). The longer an individual could endure, the more respect they accrued from the senior crew. This originally involved being sent naked into cryo-storage, but recently the practice has begun to shift to being locked in a slowly emptying airlock with nothing but an oxygen mask. Both practices are officially discouraged, but the second carries a much higher penalty when caught.
One aspect of crew life that has remained constant since the early days has been the uneasy attitude toward the machine spirit that haunts The Bottom Line. All crew quarters are outfitted with night-lights to keep the darkness at bay, sometimes with two or even three backup power sources. The more superstitious crew refuse to enter the maintenance shafts without first offering a prayer to Mars, and even the most level-headed ones balk at traveling certain corridors alone. All unexplained phenomena aboard the ship are attributed to the spirit, including those that might better be blamed on tricks of the eye or the Void.