Hazardous-Condition Salvage Reclamation
Hazardous-Condition Salvage Reclamation (HCSR) is a profession that, as the name implies, involves for-profit salvaging enterprises specializing in reclaiming salvage from environments which would normally be considered hazardous for humanoid life. This is in contrast with organized efforts by militaries or non-governmental organizations sweeping battlefields, as these serve non-economic purposes. In practice, HCSR activities typically takes place on the battlefield, though HCSR specialists are also known to recover downed vehicles from the Distal Tesseract or the bottom of the cube-wide oceans of the Western Tesseract as well. HCSR activities include elements of hazardous material identification and handling, cargo hauling, negotiations, sales, and (potentially) light combat.
HCSR crews usually consist of airship pilots, navigators, EOD specialists, mechanics, financial experts, and soldiers of fortune. For command staff, business acumen, negotiation skills, and a keen eye for risk assessment are essential qualities, as HCSR operations must strike a balance between the potentials for both danger and profit; some of the most renowned HCSR operators were previously insurance actuaries.
Payment & Reimbursement
HCSR crews make most of their money directly through salvage contracts, though direct resale of rare components and materials is also a viable path to profit. Within crews, pay structures differ - a cushy government contract might allow for an annual salary, but wholly private operations might pay hourly or through shares so that a poor season doesn't bankrupt the operation.
Because the Manifold is a sealed space and much of the limited resources contained within it remain the subjects of fierce international competition, every nation within the Manifold has a strong culture of recycling, repair, and reuse. Sustainability is a matter of serious economic and military importance. HCSR operations are one aspect of this culture, allowing nations which hire HCSR crews to recover resources lost to accident or attrition and, potentially, deny these resources to competitors.
HCSR operations face mixed perceptions within society. While the limited nature of material resources within the Manifold requires that all industrial societies engage in some form of salvage, salvaging from a battlefield can be seen as theft from the owning military at best and grave robbery at worst. For this reason, HCSR operations usually negotiate battlefield salvage contracts very carefully and have very strict policies regarding the recovery of bodies or of items which might hold sentimental value (i.e. personal papers, photos, and keepsakes). Conversely, HCSR operations working to recover salvage in other environments (i.e. exploration craft) are held in high regard, as these frequently come to blows with pirates and are often the last hope for those wanting to discover the final fate of loved ones in remote regions of the Manifold.
HCSR operations are most intense within the Medial Tesseract, as this is where the most military action takes place, though every tesseract has some degree of HCSR activity within it. Competition between crews in the Medial theater is fierce, forcing newer and more cautious crews into the periphery. Most HCSR crew members are adult males aged 20 to 40, with either military experience or strong mechanical aptitudes. While almost every household engages in some form of recycling, and most people will acquire scrap during youthful adventures or to supplement their incomes at least once in their lifetimes, professional HCSR crews are a rare breed, accounting for around 1% of the general population.
Dangers & Hazards
HCSR operations often take place on battlefields, with many regions of the Medial Tesseract being under a near-continuous state of military conflict. This can put HCSR crews in direct danger of attack, whether intentionally by enemy factions or unintentionally by allied factions. Even when not under fire, there is always the danger of unexploded ordinance from battles, as the Manifold is an enclosed space and stray shots don't simply disappear into the ether. Wrecks may conceal chemical and biological threats (such as Billowing Hate spores), and some regions of the Manifold are dangerous by nature (especially cube layers close to the Distal Tesseract). Air pirates (such as the Avarix Corps) and some unscrupulous mercenary crews will actively hunt HCSR crews returning to base to steal their hard-harvested loot.
Raw Materials Gathering
While all nations with the Manifold conduct HCSR operations, both through private parties and with specialized units within the armed forces, organizations often find themselves at odds with HCSR crews seeking to 'steal' damaged or destroyed hardware from where it fell. While HCSR activities are not strictly illegal, they may be considered theft by interested parties if the crew's leadership hasn't made the right connections or paid the appropriate bribes. Biological materials are strictly regulated by customs authorities, as these present the risk of becoming invasive species or spreaders of disease. Weapon systems which present an unreasonable danger to the public (such as large missiles) may also be confiscated out of a desire to prevent proliferation. Depending on the jurisdiction, salvage and monetary instruments recovered through HCSR activities may be subject to import duties or taxes.
Famous in the Field