With time, new refugees from Earth became unwelcome. They risked bringing Earth's new incurable plagues. As a matter of survival, the colonies quarantined and became ferociously independent of Earth. New Terran refugees were sent back. Like the settlers who ventured to North America a few centuries ago, these desperate people took a huge risk in the hope of creating a better life. They installed the crude, recently invented anti-matter drives of their time on old interplanetary ships not designed to handle their great power... and on these "Mayflowers" they set out for the stars.
Now, in the twenty-third century, humankind is even more technologically advanced, the master of a vast territory. But it is also fractious, chaotic and culturally regressive.
A secretive agency created by worried governments to find out all they could regarding "The Divinity Cluster" and its implications. The Lunar-Terran Federation designated them under the code "The Orchard". They are to accomplish their mission by looking for clues of alien intervention in human affairs. Also, they are to control people who are meddling or making progress in this area.
Lucretia's father, Darius was a leading member of the Orchard. Luc herself is aboard the Tulip as a helpful spy and is an Orchard member out of a sense of duty to her father. Since Dante's Bounty Hunter missions traverse the "Known Worlds" and beyond, there is a high probability that more on the Divinity Cluster will be revealed.
When Dante's wife, Penny, realized that she was pregnant with Travis, she conducted what she believed were benign genetic experiments on herself. She was under contract with "The Orchard" to work on the Divinity Cluster genes before they were known to be particularly significant. She believed the attempt to trigger the newly discovered alien genes had no effect.
These two facts led scientist to come to the rather inevitable conclusion that these "alien" genes were deliberately set only to be triggereable by humanity when it reached a high level of evolution. It is believed that the "alien presence" that implanted these had plans for humanity once it became a highly scientific culture. The plans are unknown but "The Orchard" was created to answer this question by looking for clues of alien intervention in human affairs so as to answer that question and control any people who were meddling or making progress in this area.
"The Raiders" were formed from the once mighty Terran military. They originated with a Special Forces unit called "Black Ops." They were also subject to covert bio-military experiments that killed many and left the survivors sterile. The experiments proved an embarrassment to Civil Authority and the survivors were denied help, let alone an admission of culpability or an apology. They revolted, began raiding local worlds to take care of their needs and bonded against all civilization in the process. A less than merry band of outlaws, their raids were bloody, designed to exact revenge on the rest of humanity. Because they could not reproduce as a result of these experiments, "the Raiders" stole young children to continue their cause.
Early in their history, "the Raiders" tried to take over Mars but after many battles, the Martian military could not be defeated. "The Raiders" made a conscious choice after that to exist as a nomadic culture, feared pirates who's ships could assemble as floating cities (called "Gatherings" ) and break apart to stage raids when needed. They organized large-scale criminal activities involving drugs, weapon smuggling, extortion and futuristic rackets, such as illegal genetic manipulation.
The Raiders are divided into many factions, known as clans. Sometimes there are battles between the clans and vendettas to be settled. But when outsiders threaten, the clans unite.
"Raider" vehicles are sleeker than shuttles and are reminiscent of 20th century fighter jets, except that the vehicles operate inside and outside of atmospheric environments. They mount a variety of weapon turrets. They also have aerodynamic surfaces (like wings or rudders) to make them more maneuverable and thus capable of attack, in an atmosphere. They are hybrid atmospheric/space vehicles with small nuclear rocket engines and some wing surfaces.
The Raider vehicles descend from orbit, raid an outpost, then head back with their goods. When in space, "Raider" vehicles can join together to form a huge body capable of interplanetary travel. These larger bodies are thought of as "Raider cities." The "Raiders" cannot obtain the thousands of graviton coils necessary to equip this whole structure so they instead slowly rotate their "Raider cities" to provide artificial gravity.
Dante's ship, the Tulip, is central to the series' design. The Tulip was once a luxury liner capable of doing the many month long journey on the orbital arc between the Moon (transit station for Earth) and the colonies on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn (approximately 150 years ago). In it's time, the Tulip was the equivalent of the great luxury steamships in the early 20th century; designed with chandeliers, posh woodwork, Victorian staterooms to brass rails and red velvet.
The combination of Victorian decor and high-tech equipment in the Tulip is bizarre. In its early days, artificial gravity was provided by a large centrifuge, which still spins inside the Tulip for no particular reason. At that time, "up" and "down" were different. This accounts for some of the strange angles and orientations of the corridors, staircases and rooms in the ship
The Tulip was decommissioned after 80 years of service and rotted in Jupiter orbit for another 50 years, too old to be stripped for valuable technology. The Tulip was eventually acquired for scrap by Rudolpho, whose salvage crew began taking her apart. Rudolpho then fell into the bounty hunting business. Rather than build a proper ship for the purpose, the wealthy but cheap Rudolpho stripped an outdated military ship (also in the scrap heap) grafted some of its equipment onto the Tulip, and then handed the final piece of work to Dante.
Most space vessels travel only within the solar system. To do so they use plasma propulsion systems powered by thermonuclear reactors. This allows voyages to even the outer planets that last only a few months. The Tulip's uses this sort of propulsion for interplanetary travel.
The Tulip has a main bank of thermonuclear rockets on one end. When they are turned on, they propel super hot hydrogen out from huge rocket nozzles. When the engines are turned on to full power, a shock wave rides out with the hot hydrogen.
The crew refers to this propulsion system as the "main engines" or "the mains". To distinguish these rockets from the interstellar system discussed below, the crew refers to the interplanetary rockets as the "thermonuclear engines".
To maneuver, the Tulip has several small rockets positioned at various points on the exterior of the hull. When these fire, they rotate the Tulip to face in a new direction. The main rockets then fire to propel it on the new course. When the Tulip is approaching a planet, its engines will face in the direction of travel. They will fire to slow the ship for insertion into orbit. The crew refers to these rockets as the "vectoring rockets" or "maneuvering rockets."
Interstellar propulsion systems are also available. These systems are based on matter/antimatter reactions. These engines are many times more powerful and efficient than thermonuclear engines, but they are also extremely dangerous. A large amount of antimatter has to be contained in a magnetic field because, should any of it come in contact with regular matter, an enormous nuclear explosion will result, annihilating the space vessel and anything near it.
These systems are assembled and fueled in special space stations that orbit near the sun. They use enormous arrays to collect solar energy. These great amounts of energy are used to produce the antimatter. Once a system is fueled, it is fueled forever. The only way to safely dispose of the antimatter is to run the engine or to send the whole apparatus crashing into the sun.
Dante's niece, Percy Montana is a survivor of the "Raider" assault that killed her parents. Dante is the only relative she has in the universe and for 10 years Percy has trusted him like a father. They haven't been apart since. As a key member of her uncle's bounty hunting crew, Percy has a genius level understanding of things technical. She (along with the computer Caravaggio) maintains the functions of the ship. Though more or less an adult, Percy suffers lingering trauma from the death of her parents. Her childhood and teen-aged years were forever robbed from her by the Raiders. She has developed a cheeky, smart-ass attitude to authority like her uncle. She is highly intuitive and inventive when it comes to her job aboard the ship. Percy's wild-eyed, "more adult than adult" youthful confidence and unusual intelligence often get her into trouble. But her quick tongue and daring intuition provide her with the means to squirm out of trouble just in the nick of time. She's cynical, a tomboy who can switch over to feminine charm in the blink of an eye. She has a sometimes predatory sexual awareness. Percy's sexual edge is an ongoing, alternately dramatic and humourous issue between her, her bewildered uncle, and the rest of the crew. After Percy's time in hyperspace and the loss of her uncle, the conflict is now transferred to her cousin Travis, the new pilot of the Tulip and leader of the starhunters.
Lucretia 'Luc' Scott, mid-thirties, is a new member of the Tulip. A munitions expert, Luc is appointed by Rudolpho as Dante's partner in making criminal arrests. She is also the ships unofficial science officer. Dante is made to understand that she was assigned by Rudolpho, the owner and director of the bounty hunter operations, to assist their profitability. But he soon suspects there's more to it than that. Luc is a decorated former Space Marine Ranger and possesses a wide ranging knowledge of clandestine military activities.She is tough, disciplined, intelligent, and ruthless operative for an ultra-secret quasi-military organization, known as "The Orchard". She has been charged with gathering information about the possibility of a secret alien presence in the galaxy and has been secretly assigned to Montana and his crew because of the random nature of the operations. She is on a long range mission to find evidence of certain alien artifacts and the reason for their presence.
Caravaggio is the ship's 150 year-old AI unit manifested as a hologram. Caravaggio is an icon of the entire ship's computer systems and exists only in electronic form. Since Caravaggio possesses the entire scope and breadth of human knowledge, he doesn't suffer fools lightly. This aspect of his character reflects the fact that, in his former cybernetic life, when he ran the Tulip as a once great luxury liner, his software was configured as a Parisian "Maitre D'". Although he was minimally retrofit to support the ships current bounty-hunting function he still maintains the haughty superiority of his former ego. Caravaggio has a sharp, witty tongue and freely uses it to criticize whomever he "feels" like. He has a running, combative relationship with Percy mainly because he is in constant need of maintenance. He frequently advises the troubled and troublesome Percy about the ways of the world and the unreliable human psyche. Caravaggio's need for repairs and upgrades occasionally compromise their safety, with unforeseen results.
Rudolpho DeLuna, mid-fifties, is the crew's dispatcher. Earth-based, the gruff, irascible, and no-nonsense Rudolpho also owns the ship that Dante, Percy, and Luc use. Rudolpho is owed plenty of back payments on the Tulip, and constantly hassles Dante and the others to take on more assignments. Like a slumlord, he repeatedly deflects pleas from Dante about more money to fix up the ship. Rudolpho also provides the initial profiles that set up each episode's new fugitives. Of course, Dante has no choice but to accept every bounty. Rudolpho returns in season two humbled by economic hardship (three ex-wives and several children who require financial support). He reluctantly joins the crew of the Tulip in their bounty hunting missions.
Darius Scott, mid-fifities, is Luc's brilliant, arrogant, controlling father and is the senior executive in "The Orchard". Darius's obligation is to find out what the purpose was in placing these alien genes in the human genome and to control the outcome for the "good guys". One cannot tell if Darius has become so ruthless in his search for answers, and for control, that he's no longer one of the "good guys"; or if his willingness to sacrifice those nearest to him is simply the inner strength of a man seeking the greater salvation of humanity.
Travis Montana, mid-thirties, is a haunted and hunted bounty hunter, piloting his ship the Tulip through space with his small crew of social misfits in pursuit of interplanetary criminals. Travis suffers frequent bouts of guilt about his "Raider" past and tries to keep the violent nature he cultivated there in check. He has also vowed to find his father Dante, who we met in the first season as he embarked on interstellar travel to hunt for criminals and search for his lost son, Travis.
Callista 'Callie' Larkadia, early thirties, is a weapons expert and former Mars Federation special forces officer. Callie is a survivor with an uncompromising streak and something to prove. She has joined the crew of the Tulip and turned to bounty hunting for a dual purpose; as a means of using and preserving her martial and military prowess; and as a repudiation of her privileged past which was in conflict with her own social and political ethos. As a result of this rejection, Callie has been disowned by her parents. Callie’s quirky pathology allows her to fit right in with Rudolpho and the rest of the Tulip crew, not withstanding some personal idiosyncrasies. Decidedly practical and straightforward, Callie finds it difficult to understand Percy, and has a strained but grudgingly respectful relationship with Marcus. It is Travis that her conflicted feelings about her femininity and her identity as a woman come into play. And like many others on board the Tulip, Callie is also hoping to find what she’s been missing for so long; a family and a home.
Marcus Fagen, early twenties, is the ship’s technical expert with a penchant for exaggeration that sometimes drives the other crew members to distraction. He has played both sides of the law and was in fact rescued by Travis from the "Raider" gang and brought on board the Tulip.