dark future - Wrought in Ash
This has been slowly written since about 1992 or so…it isn’t all that elegant or great.
many dates and timelines are inaccurate with my “mature” re-imagining of this setting.
perhaps we can re-write it together.
>>>here ends disclaimer<<
Sol -3 “Earth”
The Earth of 2238 is a very different one than that of today. Beginning in the roughly around 2030, the planet began to experience a series of environmental breakdowns. Deforestation, strip mining, pollution, severe ecological depletion, and radioactive waste leakage were some, but not all of the culprits. The world fought back in subtle ways, beginning with strange weather patterns. The global pattern of rainfall changed. Leaving some areas barren, or dropping so much water or snow down that humanity was forced to concentrate itself in larger and larger cities. Hurricanes of unprecedented force struck the coasts of nearly every continent with alarming frequency. The “Big One” of 2038 triggered a tsunami of biblical magnitude that virtually swept many islands of the pacific clean of human presence, not to mention the massive destruction to the US state of California.
To First, block style housing developed, thousands of buildings, each massive structure designed to weather the severe weather now common, holding tens of thousands of people. Later this evolved into the Arcology, one massive structure capable of supporting over a million people, or more, the largest built in the mid 2040’s in the Peoples Republic of China could sustain over 50 million.
When people had finally shrugged off their discomfort at living in such close quarters with one another, the plagues hit; the first, Ebola Zaire, in 2041. Spreading like wildfire in the tight environments of the Arcologies, APUC, TARP, Tranquility Fever, these were but a few that seemed to come vengefully out of the blasted ruins of Earth’s ecosystem. Over two out of three people died in the span of a single generation. The population dropped from nearly 11 billion to less than 4 billion. Families were broken and scattered. In some places, entire Arcologies were burned to control the spreading. Finally, the UN sponsored Space Station Unity brought forth a broad spectrum anti-viral agent that proved to be effective and soon the plagues died back.
Some were affected more than others, but everyone felt the loss. The worst of these types, and those that had grown up in the terror began to express their dissatisfaction. The Riots of 2064 will never be forgotten. Angry hordes of people who had nothing left to lose tore the system from its foundation, and another billion died. The UN crumbled, larger states such as the US, the EU and the PRC, just up and blew away. Religious zealotry saw a resurgence of popularity hearkening back to the days of crusades and worse. The chaos lasted for months. Using the riots as cover, Corporate war was waged across the Earth. It blossomed from ‘paper struggles’ and Wall Street Warfare into full insurgent conflict. Each corporate entity, diversified, efficient, and and employing extreme business continuity practice represented the only reasonable governance and social structure available to many. In the tide of madness, showing up to work eager to perform provided an anchor of many to those who simply had nowhere else to turn. This only aided the collapse as these newly empowered entities free of oversight, regulation and most importantly, prosecution sought to expand their holdings and markets in any way imaginable.
From the ruins sprang a new government. The newly forming Industrials saw the profit in having a global government with corporate ‘advisers.’ Built on the foundations of the older systems, and with resources that came from the coffers of the corporations that were able to ride out the storm. The General Council of Earth States was founded in 2068. Driven by profit/result oriented goals, the corporate sponsored GCES stepped in and began a program that included some social reform and reconstruction. Other goals, however, were less humanitarian. A replacement to the working class ghettos of the 18th Bonded Employees, one who has given up their global voting rights to another group be it corporate, religious, or other in exchange for the necessities of life, money, or commodity. These low-class neighborhoods full of the idle often turned into near war zones, barely policed by the regulating organization provided that and “damage” wasn’t leaking out of the immediate area. The best of these “bondies” were used as fodder for corporate ranks. Meanwhile, the corps with the most bonded employees were able to exert their will directly on the GCES, a much more efficient and direct method than the archaic lobbying once employed.
Programs of intense research into manufacturing and science were implemented. By 2075 there was a heavy human presence inside the Belt and on near Mars. Moon bases were established and micro gravity manufacturing was proving to be vastly superior to Earth based manufacturing. The original research stations that had orbited earth for decades, crippled by budgetary restrictions, politics, and public opposition, all of a sudden exploded in size and resource at exponential rates. The sky became hazy with the silvery motes of the Orbitals. In the meantime, the Industrials continued to wage their wars. Suppressed by the corporate controlled media, and ignored by the corporate funded GCES, the Industrials fought each other in some kind of shadow war that left no one neutral. The vicious infighting and so- called ‘black operations’ have left scars that carry over to the present. A pile of slag the size of New York City rests in the bottom of the Atlantic, plainly visible from orbit. There is a rent on the surface of the moon, 965 kilometers long, which still faintly clicks with radiation. The Martian moon, Phobos, has been sent into a four hundred year elliptical orbit that will eventually end in the sun. Once the Madagascar fusion reactor cluster provided power to three continents, now vegetation has finally claimed a toehold on the coastline of the expanse of blackened scree that was once the last bastion of African biodiversity. These are but a few of the visible effects that Industrial conflict has left. The conflict continues.
The physical condition of the Earth is very poor today. The equatorial region, ranging roughly from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, is virtually lifeless. Central South America is a desert, and Central Africa is a burnt blight. Sea levels have risen and the coasts of all land masses have changed significantly. Inland seas have formed in the lowlands and valleys of several continents. The air is toxic and can only be tolerated for a few hours at most, without requiring later medical treatment. Humanity is restricted to live along mountain ranges, and near the poles. Antarctic cities have sprung up under huge domes of polarized crystal to prevent UV burn. The Interface Needle at the pole stretches 200km into the void from the very bedrock of Antarctica to the counter-anchor asteroid station Faithleap. The sky above is clotted with the presence of the Orbitals, the enormously extensive stations actually cloud out the sun at times. Other impressions humanity has left upon the Earth can be seen everywhere. The ruins of cities, the plains of glass. Marks left by conflict and accident. It has been theorized that by the year 2500, the planet will be unable to support a biosphere or ecology of any kind unless drastic actions are taken.
With the discovery of the Bowman Field Effect in 2078, exploration and exploitation extended into the whole of the system and beyond. Probe fleets were derived from existing planetary information relays and independent robotic arrays then were dispatched at speeds greater than light. These fleets cleared the Oort cloud in 2079 and set out into interstellar space. The first manned ship, the Hermes, broke the light barrier in 2080. Its speed peaking at 1.33 , 19th and 20th centuries gave way to the times the speed of light, it crossed from the L5 LaGrange factories to Mars polar orbit in 44 minutes, 31 seconds. Not long after superluminal ships began to stream from the newly fabricated orbital shipyards around the Earth and its Moon. By 2083 reports from the probe fleets began to flood in. In late 2083, scans from Beta Hydri -2 were received. The world was teeming with life, the atmosphere was within human tolerance, and it was only 19 months off by the fastest superluminal ships. Thus began the Colonial effort.
The Colonial period history was both inspiring and frantic. The first colony effort centered around Beta Hydri -2, dubbed Starbright by the GCES survey ship, Ranger. Production of settlement materiel went into high gear. Massive colony boats were made from hollowed out asteroids fitted with life support and drive systems. Each ship was capable of carrying upwards of fifty thousand people in huge suspension chambers. By the year 2096, twelve were ready for travel. People were lifted en masse from Earth and crammed into these ships. Their departure inspired system-wide party that lasted for a week. People were excited by the prospect of establishing other worlds that perhaps were not in as bad shape as they were at home, a new frontier, a second chance.
Following the Starbright colony effort, and the discovery of the Nimbus and Arroyo systems, colonization became fast and furious. In addition to the main GCES colony worlds, corp. Industrials started their own efforts privately. Religious cults vacated the Sol system, to escape persecution, or to try and forget their connections with unbelievers, heretics and other wackos like themselves. Private individuals started starship sharing finance to get hold of enough money to go out on their own as private prospectors, explorers, and occasionally as freebooters. From these private enterprises small commercial enterprises and corporations grew, as well as interstellar trade and commerce, extra-solar activity began to surge. It is estimated that between 2095 and 2120 nearly five hundred thousand Bowman Effect Drives were retrofitted onto existing subluminal ships.
Out of seemingly nowhere, in 2116, the GCES introduced a measure to allocate funds for a new branch called GC Enforcement. Included in this was a military force patterned after the classic Naval Forces model of the 16th, 17th legislation and the force was created in a matter of months. GC Enforcement was described as a combination of a interstellar military and police force, and also included a provision for general ground troops referred to as the Colonial Marines. A decommissioned subluminal freighter was overhauled and retrofitted with heavy weapons, a newly designed Bowman Field Fusion reactor/ super-luminal drive. Dubbed the Athena, manned by 60 Naval personnel, carrying a complement of 2400 Colonial Marines in suspension, it left dry-dock and set course for Starbright at an astounding constant 1.3g acceleration. Its maximum speed was considered classified at the time.
The reasoning behind this move by the GCES was kept unclear for some time until a private prospecting ship was turned away from the Beta Hydri system by the Athena apparently in deep orbit about the star. Rumors spread, the colony at Starbright was in revolt, but there were no public announcements by the GCES. Four more retrofitted freighters were launched, each bearing a similar load of troops. In 2117 the public got wind that the L5 conglomerate shipyards started production of the first GC Enforcement warships, the Republic Class Cruiser. The statement that included this announcement also referred to some ‘difficulties’ that were being experienced in the Beta Hydri system. Speculation, rumor and protest ran rampant. A public announcement three days later explained that there had been a revolt on Starbright, the colony and 18th centuries. The bill was hammered through was in the hands of rebels, and GC Enforcement along with the Colonial Marines were moving in to restore control of the colony to the GCES. The first Colonial War had started…and ended, before the public was aware of any problems.
The five GC ships that had been dispatched to Beta Hydri arrived in early 2117. The troops were revived and they descended upon the colony. Two days later, the capital city, Beydris, was under the control of GCES forces and the Colonial Marines with “minor casualties” on both sides. The revolt seemed to be at an end.
Two months after, the colony was reopened to interstellar commerce, and by the end of 2118 was a regular stop for many freighters and private mining vessels. Two GCES craft returned to Earth, two were sent to the new colony, Nimbus, for ‘security’ purposes, and the Athena remained in orbit over Beydris. Stories of the brutality of the GCES Enforcement Marines, and subsequent execution of rebellion leaders and personalities escaped the Beta Hydri system, and sympathy grew back on Earth, and in the private colonies. Resources and support trickled to Starbright, and passions ran hot. On the 1st anniversary of the revolt, without warning, the Athena disappeared in a flash of fusion fire.
When word reached GC Enforcement: Command in 2120, nearly 2 years later, it dispatched the Republic Class cruiser Ardent to the Beta Hydri system. The Ardent was considered the Flagship of the GC Fleet. Like all Republic Class cruisers, the Ardent was capable of maintaining a constant 2.1g acceleration, achieving a top speed of 5.8 times the speed of light, and carried a crew of 64 Naval personnel with 192 Marines as general security and ground troops. It arrived in the Beta Hydri system in late 2121.
The Ardent came in ‘hot,’ a term that refers to its combat readiness. It was traveling at a cruising speed of 2.5C, and had two torpedoes loaded, ready to be energized. The Ardent was past the orbit of Beta Hydri -3 when it sighted the four freighters in orbit of Starbright. The captain of the Ardent, Johan Preuss, was informed of the presence of torpedo tubes that had been bracketed onto the freighters, heavy armor plate, and modified mining laser arrays. The Ardent slowed to subluminal speed and opened a communications channel to the freighters, to demand they power down their cores and prepare to be boarded. History is unclear exactly as to the course of events that followed this action, but it is very clear about the outcome.
Roughly ten minutes later, the Ardent was establishing orbit about the planet Starbright, with slight cosmetic scoring by laser fire. Of the original four modified freighters, one was completely gone, vaporized by its own fusion core after a direct hit by a torpedo salvo. One ship lay crippled and tumbling in Starbright orbit, power, weapons, and drive systems lanced by ultra- precise multi-frequency laser fire. One freighter was on a slow course for deep space, sterilized by a near miss from a fusion tipped torpedo. The last freighter achieved superluminal speeds by nearly destroying itself in a suicidal slingshot maneuver around a gas giant. When the Ardent entered Starbright orbit, it issued an ultimatum, backed up with a 5-megaton fusion warhead detonated in the upper atmosphere 50km kilometers over Beydris. Once again revolution was halted, but this was not the end of the Colonial Wars.
War broke out on Nimbus, and again later on Arroyo. In the meantime, the people of Starbright never forgot their past, and there has always been a strong Marine presence there to counter the possible threat of violence. Corporate war has broken as well, more than once have obvious military activities taken place under corporate flags. GC Enforcement turns a blind eye to the Industrials and their activities, except when it becomes obvious that it has grown out of control. When this happens they are quick to act, and they act decisively. On occasion, GC Enforcement is reminded who they work for as well. Both Marines and GC Fleet personnel have been forced to stand aside and watch atrocities and injustice. Sometimes they are forced to participate.
These types of activities are not the only incidents to surface, stories floated back to the Sol system, and the GCES. Stories of corporate sponsored stations and outposts, places that did not care what you did with what you bought, as long as you paid for it in cash. Stories of piracy, and of private fleets of warships protecting private colonies where pirate organizations were based. Stories of entire colonies just up and vanishing between freighter visits. The stories only grew wilder as humanity expanded further from Earth and the developing Core worlds. There were countless incidents, actions and reactions in the next 80 years, so many in fact that it is impossible to say which have become important and which are irrelevant. The Industrial presence has grown ever greater, there is no official record on how many Corporate based outposts and colonies may exist, but there are enough so that trade routs and patterns are impossible to trace.
In addition to the Industrials presence, the countless unsponsored colonies, and private stations have grown to incredible numbers. The Lethetic Core: Origin at the Vector Research Academy has given the estimate of over 177.9 billion unregistered humans to be scattered in over five million cubic light-years of space. This added to the 280 billion estimated population of GCES controlled space, is still a minuscule presence in the vastness of its own territory. The Origin Core has also calculated that humanity knows less than 0.2% of the stellar geography that it claims hold to. The implied message behind this is, there is a long way to go, much to learn, best to watch yourself.
Major Colonies and Core Worlds:
Beta Hydri -2 “Starbright”
Settled in 2099, this is the first, and largest extra Solar colony established on a planet. Located in the Beta Hydri system, Starbright has a population of slightly more than 2.5 billion. Discovered by an unmanned probe fleet, it was the first habitable world found within 50Ly of the Sol system. Starbright is a wet world with abundant oceans. The indigenous life is tame, and comes within a 0.7% biochemical match to earth based life. Thus a great amount of Brighter food is imported to earth as delicacies. First time visitors to Starbright often get a mild illness associated with the new viral and bacterial flora of the planet, but it is usually not serious and goes away in a few days. It has no moons, and appears to be mild in its geological activity. The Brighters themselves feel lucky to have found the planet.
There is little notable about the system, it is a fairly normal as these things go. There are two other terrestrial bodies, and two fluid bodies. No debris fields or other navigational hazards exist. There is a secondary GC Enforcement Platform in orbit around the outermost gas giant. It serves the Colonial Marines as well as GC Fleet vessels. Approximately 120,000 personnel, both Military and Civilian, currently man it. The Platform also serves as a refueling bay for all interstellar traffic. The presence of several major industrial platforms keeps trade brisk, and people employed. Bowman Theoretical has a major research/manufacturing station in system orbiting the innermost planet, Radiance. The facility also has extensive manufacturing capabilities as well. It is well known throughout known space that Radiance produced Bowman Effect Drives, and Bowman Field Fusion Cores are some of the best-made ship components available.
C1 -5 “Nimbus”
A colony in the C1 system. Established in 2102, it is considered the gateway to the Core, and the settlements towards the galactic center. There is currently a population of nearly one billion on Nimbus. It is the fifth planet of seventeen in this system. The world itself is a hazy hell, the majority of the water of the planet being in the atmosphere, wet mists, and near continual rain is common. Settlements are usually at least partway underground, and indigenous life is fairly hostile. There are Marines stationed in every settlement to deal with local wildlife, particularly the enormous mollusk-like predators that seem to fade in from the desert to attack anything that has a heat signature at night. The planet has frequent electrical activity and is clouded nearly continually by intense magnetic fields generated by these atmospheric quirks. This lends the surface of the planet spectacular light shows day or night. From orbit, the surface is continually glowing and churning.
The most notable thing about this system is a cluster of Gas Supergiants in the outer orbits of the system itself. Also due to presence of the five fluid bodies it is a prime refueling station, and interstellar commerce tends to congregate there before heading to earth. Due to the abundance of fuel, the system is also the one of the primary staging facilities of the GC Navy outside of earth. The massive outpost, called Terralyn Station, holds nearly eight hundred thousand personnel, and can dock one hundred ships simultaneously. It also has full Class I dry- dock capabilities.
Broward -1 “Arroyo”
Settled in 2106, it has a population of nearly five hundred thousand. Arroyo is located in the Broward system, orbiting close to its ancient star, the planet has grown capable of supporting life in its old age. It is the first planet from its home star. The planet has been harrowed by the billions of years it lived close to its mother. Its surface is torn and rutted hence the name. It is theorized that an ice asteroid, or a comet must have impacted with the planet within the last few billion years, for it has developed a biosphere that is not exactly suited to its location. The feature that first attracted survey ships, was the availability of heavy metals, it was rare for a world with a breathable atmosphere to be so abundant in the heavier elements.
There is little open water, and if there were, it would be intensely poisonous due to the concentration of the elements in the ground. There are great subterranean water processors that gather and purify water for the population. The colonists are also required to undergo treatment to prevent heavy metal poisoning twice a year as they grow from children. The planet itself is a great rolling plain, dotted with hill, and mountain ranges. The indigenous vegetation is tough and spread everywhere, there is not enough sun to support anything larger than a small shrub. The world is bathed in a warm red glow from the sky-dominating sun that even in the heart of night, never really passes. The animal life here is all small, no larger than a few kilos, and harmless though resilient for the most part.
The planet itself is becoming riddled with mines and the equator has been fitted with a huge inertial launching system to throw cargo off the planet into solar orbit, to be picked up by ore processors and taken wherever. The Arroyo system is also the home of the Arroyo Mercantile and Mining Company. It is one of the largest mining companies anywhere, working under contract from the GCES, they perform nearly 25% of the out-system mining operations for Earth.
Their fleet is based here, and ranges up to a thousand light years away for mining activity. At 40 million tons of displacement, an Arroyo Mercantile and Mining Remote Mining Platform is the largest interstellar vessel design in operation. Many alerts have been falsely sounded when one of these behemoths drifts in from deep space to a minor colony system. They resemble a city mirrored in a dark lake from a distance, structures rising out from the flat plain of steel. The dim, infernal light of the Fission/Fusion furnaces gives this image an eerie life.
Tau Ceti -4 “Mariu Glade”
Colonized in 2141, and located in the Tau Ceti system, it represents the end of the GCES colonial effort. Expenses had risen too high for the GCES to manage. Industrials saw greater profits in smaller dedicated stations or outposts. Colonization was opened up to private citizenry and regulated loosely by the GCES. This lush Eden of a world had the last of the heavy colonial resources sunk into it, in an attempt to avoid the mistakes made on the previous colony attempts. Rapid colony boats brought settlers here from the Sol system at a staggering rate, hoping to get in before the budget was cut and the program was canceled.
Thirty one pre-fabricated cities were dropped from orbit, each capable of holding ten thousand people. Only eleven were filled before the colony boats were decommissioned. These ships now orbit Jupiter along with thousands of other mothballed ships. In the meantime, the forgotten cities as they are known, were rapidly overgrown by the forests and jungles of Mariu Glade.
Nearly forgotten in the post-colonial era, the colonists of Mariu Glade worked hard to survive. The native life there is varied, some of which does not particularly take well to human presence. The vegetable and fungal forms of some of the animals need a warm-blooded host to reproduce in. Although not a viable host, humans seem to attract their attentions well nonetheless. They defeated this threat, however, and developed an industry in the process. A rich and diverse biological resource, the colonists learned to explore the variety of life, and its byproducts. By the time the GCES saw fit to revisit the planet two decades later, they found a thriving colony that had increased its base population geometrically. They also had developed a highly advanced biotech industry that they had torn out of the planet, and they were deeply enmeshed in local commerce of their near space region. In fact, it was realized that some products of Mariu Glade had already been received well by other colonies, and even Earth itself! More importantly, they had more or less organized themselves into a fairly corporate structure.
When Core based Industrials arrived to open trade negotiations, instead of muscling their way into lucrative contracts legally binding for a decade or more, they found the private enterprise of Mariu Glade waiting with lawyers schooled in GCES and Core trade law. Mariu Glade Pharmaceuticals in particular had already had dossiers made up on each advancing Industrial and had pre-selected likely candidates for not only strategic alliance, but also for hostile takeover.
Currently Mariu Glade Pharmaceuticals is one of the largest Industrials not based on Earth. It is rumored that several of the forgotten cities have been converted into genengineered organic production facilities. This colony is extremely wealthy, and is the only world other than Earth that is able to afford a Polar Interface Needle. This is a slim link between the surface and the orbitals, which effectively cuts the cost of interface transport to point where anyone can afford to get anything out of the well.
Other notable settlements and stations
Wolf 219 -1 “Char”
Located in the distant Wolf 219 star system, the mysterious planet Char was found by pure chance. It is a captured rogue, locked into eons long orbital cycle that runs it into the system every 2300 years. The planet itself is probably older than it’s warden star, caught by the pull of a young star, too hot to have a planetary system of it’s own. The feature that made it attractive to the survey ships that visited it was the presence of a series of craters and fissures in the bedrock of the planet. Further inspection warranted a closer examination. The landing parties that were sent down in 2148 discovered something. A GC Enforcement drone interdiction picket fleet was dispatched to warn off or destroy incoming vessels. That interdiction picket has remained until this day. Needless to say, rumors still surface as to exactly what was found on the surface of the ancient planet.
Established in 2122, Cruxis was originally a settlement of persecuted Buddhists from an obscure region of Earth formerly known as Tibet (now a smear of thermal- glass in the Himalayan mountains). Roughly eight hundred monks and thousands of assorted followers were smuggled outsystem by sympathetic family owned transport vessels. They struggled long and hard to build a community out of the hard rock escarpments and frigid barren plains that make up much of Cruxis’s terrain. With the weather, unknown wildlife, and erratic at best supply schedule they struggled for their lives. Through disease and hardship, somehow they managed to coax an existence out of the planet.
Today, Cruxis is considered an open world, with no special permissions required to enter or exit the system, or indeed walk the surface of the planet itself. It harbors countless persecuted, shunned, and hermetic persons of all backgrounds. It is a kind of constant symposium of religious and philosophical thought, education and discussion. Although there is no government per se, a type of “senate” exists chaired by the 19th Dalai Lama, which meets only 3 times per year. The majority of stately affairs are handled at these times. GC Enforcement troops are not welcome on Cruxis, but no attempt is made to remove the minor garrison that is present. Local law enforcement is nearly completely unnecessary, however there are 7 Marshals invested with the authority of the Senate. Most of perform their law enforcement duties only part time. There is also a militia which trains several times a year but has never been pressed into active service and is viewed as a sort of vacation by those selected to join it. Natives of this world display a tolerance and depth of understanding to a level reserved normally for only the most spiritually advanced.
“Korsus” or “Sutter’s World”
Founded as a colony in 2162, it was a joint venture between Itzamna Technologies and the GCES. It started out as a relatively featureless, barely tolerable rock, and a colony processor system developed by Itzamna was sown. In 5 years, it was transformed into a relatively featureless mostly tolerable rock. Dubbed “Korsus,” prefabricated cities and industrial facilities were installed from orbit. The colony developed and prospered as a heavy industry center, with extensive mining and manufacturing facilities. The population grew as a transient workforce arrived, drawn by numerous jobs, but it held little promise as a colony world.
The jobs were rough, and needed a hard person to do them well. Crime grew to some of the highest levels anywhere in GCES controlled space. Criminal syndicates from off planet moved in, and found a developing network already in place. Some small conflicts arose, but soon they were given a common enemy. A detachment of 2,000 Colonial Marines was permanently stationed on the planet. A flotilla of fast GC Enforcement Corvettes and Frigates to control smuggling and piracy were also dispatched. It became known as a generally unsavory place which was not for Dalai Lama, which meets only 3 times per year. The anyone but the toughest, meanest, and most ruthless.
In 2180, Commodore Randal Jordan Sutter and all the “ships-of-the-line” from the 3rd GCES Enforcement fleet mutinied from GC Enforcement. They left the Tau Ceti system being harried by the remainder of the 3rd fleet, and vessels of the 6th and 17th. In 2193 the majority of the force arrived in the <name> system and promptly erased or captured all GCES and Itzamna presence from Korsus’s orbit, and then surgically removed surface installations that could have been threatening, including approximately 1,800 of the Colonial Marines stationed on the planet. The Survivors sought cover in the population of the planet, each with a bounty on his or her head.
The GCES made several military attempts to dig Sutter out of Korsus, but the man was a brilliant military commander before he left the GC, and the crime syndicates on the planet, and beyond threw their support behind him. Met with ex-Naval forces, Smugglers, Pirates, and vessels of unknown design, each GC Enforcement attack was beaten back. Korsus became known as Sutter’s World after a few decades, he was virtually a king there. Amnesty was declared for any fugitive of the GCES. The bounty on Marines was extended off planet. Trade was steady, and the place actually managed to stay intact without any official support from the GCES. Economic and political sanctions failed, for the mighty Industrials still work with profit oriented goals, and Sutter’s World manufacturing is cheap and of good quality. It has access to goods and processes not necessarily available or inexpensive in Core space. Smugglers, and Industrial vessels made regular stops there. The world never truly prospered, but it has always managed to hold out against the odds. On GCES charts, the world is titled Korsus, but it is never referred to in that manner. A 15 Light year buffer has been established between Korsus and the nearest GCES controlled territory, this region is the zone between GCES territory and Unregulated Space.
Sutter disappeared in 2216, and control of the planet has fallen into the hands of the syndicates. The bounty of Colonial Marine heads still is honored. Occasional crime wars crop up, but they are minor, and die in the face of larger threats. The syndicates maintain a loose hold on their planet, but bring down any opposition with an iron fist. However, rumors still surface to this day; Randal Jordan Sutter is still the king of Sutter’s World.
Penal Colony “Melchior”:
Penal Core Training Facility “Melchior Prime”:
Outpost “Quietus Station”
The GCES: Enforcement branch of the military, in an attempt to stem the tide of piracy, smuggling, and illegal Industrial trading stemming out from Unregulated Space, established Quietus in 2091. The station itself is an old, first expansion colony boat, a hollowed out asteroid about 6 kilometers in diameter. This was moved into section of dead space, stripped of motive systems, and the interior was completely redesigned. Modern systems were installed as well as a special fusion furnace designed to have minimal, if any quantum emissions. The surface of the asteroid was smoothed out and sheathed in heavy cerametallic plating. Weapons systems were installed in pillboxes and cupolas; torpedo and docking bays were bored through the skin. A full class 3 dry-dock/shipyard capable of handling any ship of “destroyer” size or smaller was also installed. Over all of this, foamed EM absorbent materials were layered, giving it a near invisible sensor profile. The finishing touch was an extremely sensitive sensor web laid over the surface.
Quietus has a permanent population of 15,000 and is capable of supporting 25,000 people. Renewable food and life support resources keep it free of regular freighter stops. It even has the resources to build a frigate class ship if the need arises. It can produce single use weapons (such as torpedoes and missiles) in quantities great enough to sustain its own magazines, as well as rearm vessels under its support. It can field a battle group of four “Helix” class Corvettes and two flotillas of Fast Patrol ships.
The GCES has Command branches for each division of GC: Enforcement. These serve as the command and control centers for all anti-pirate and anti-syndicate operations through frontier space. Together, they coordinate the containment/counter-criminal activities for the GCES. This is often where elite intelligence and navy officers cut their teeth for field operations.
Fomalhaut -2 “Shiva”
This is a recently established station, if one could call it that. The Shiva colony is more or less a cluster of hardened mining stations floating on the surface of a magma ocean. Shiva is a superdense world, located in the young Fomalhaut system. The planet itself exceeds the theoretical size and mass limits of any terrestrial world. It has a diameter of nearly one hundred thousand kilometers, and is incredibly unstable. Asteroid sized chunks of matter commonly blow off the surface at velocities fast enough to send them into orbit, enough so that it requires heavily armored ships to get anywhere near the station itself, let alone a stable course around the planet. The Shiva colony exists in a Bowman Field that is over 5 kilometers in diameter, and keeps the station clusters from being torn apart by geological activity, or crushed by the 27g gravity field the planet produces. The day-to-day operational costs of such a place are staggering. This joint effort by Tetsu no Oni Corporate and Coherent Light Ltd. is searching for theoretical elements that could only occur naturally on a world like this, deep within a star, or a gas giant. The expense is enormous, and casualties are high. So far there has been a steady flow of heavy elements and radioactives from the surface since the third week of operation. In quantities enough to drive down the price of such on the open market by several thousand credits a kilo. Their discoveries have been kept classified, but rumors are surfacing of advancements in material science that will put the competition behind them for decades, if not centuries.
A region of space, originating at Korsus, or Sutter’s World, and extending in a 20° cone away from GCES controlled space. Unregulated Space is home to unchecked and uncounted pirates, smugglers, and crime syndicates. It is their home and haven. The GCES has given up trying to regain control of this area, and has instead adopted a policy of containment. Before the ‘liberation’ of Korsus, this volume of space was known to contain at least three habitable planets, each planned for colonization, and one private colony. Undoubtedly, in the minds of the more naive members of the GCES, these have been converted to some depraved, sinister purpose. One fact that lends little credit to that viewpoint, is the fact there appears to be a thriving manufacturing industry, and regular trade with Industrials who are less scrupulous than perhaps they should be. Little is actually known about the interior of Unregulated Space, and GC Enforcement: Intelligence does not care to comment on the matter. “Vector Reseach Academy”: This is the site of the enormous Lethetic Core: Origin, the largest venture into Artificial Intelligence anywhere. The AI takes up the entirety of the Vector station core, which is nearly two kilometers in diameter. The Vector station itself is the largest non- system based station anywhere. Housing 8.3 million people and having a diameter of nearly 25 kilometers, it could be considered a colony unto itself. The station boasts the most extensive theoretical physics research laboratories in zero G, as well as extensive facilities for research into any field imaginable.
The station itself started out as a small outpost with the GCES established to monitor Industrial expansion into non-GCES controlled stellar regions. As GCES control spread into the depths of space past the station itself, it was appropriated into the GC: Sciences division, which determined that its isolation was perfect for experimental high order AI research. The justification was such, that if a Lethetic Entity were to become dangerous, the damage would be restricted to a confined area. As a precaution, old style manual cutoffs are installed in key locations throughout the station. Another interesting feature of the station is that it has two completely independent computer networks and power systems. Again, this was installed to prevent any possible accidents or difficulties with a Lethetic entity.
The Vector entity itself is a seemingly ponderous, albeit vastly intelligent, personality. Currently its only job is to speculate and theorize which it does with apparent childlike hesitation, knowing what is expected of it, but uncertain as to how to proceed. Popular science entertainment programs broadcast throughout core space often feature Vector as a guest commentator or narrator much to the excitement of the viewing populace. Speculations, comments, and theories it presents with a quiet but clearly excited air that many find endearing. Free Station “Vhaas”: Sometimes a place comes about that is utterly bleak, utterly dark, and utterly vile to its very core. The phrase “the Black Hole of Calcutta” was used for one such place on Earth, centuries ago where lives were cheaper than bread and more plentiful. Vhass Station is another such place.
Vhass Station is not a true station, instead it is a captured planetoid, hollowed out from the inside by miners in the early stages of the Colonial Period. It was once a plentiful source of titanium and tungsten, one of the ‘classic’ jokes heard on Vhaas refers to the fact that most of the ships of the line of the GCES Navy were once torn from the vacuum sucking rock of the ‘station’ itself.
Later, around 2134, those same miners made it a birthing colony to establish a permanent hold in the area for their children and a base of operations. Through an allegiance of convenience, it was also used as a refuge from the early attempts to curb interstellar piracy by the very elements being sought out by the GC: Enforcement Branch.
These two elements lived in relative harmony for a few years, as the line between pirate and prospector sometimes blurred. It grew into a thriving frontier trade center, and at one time was reputed to have the best medicinal facilities outside of the rim. As time passed, however, the more family and legitimately minded miners became intolerant of their neighbors and in a swift action forcibly evicted them from Vhass. Many pirates lost their ships and personal assets, being forced into a freighter of questionable integrity and towed off into known GCES: Enforcement patrol routes.
The mining colony prospered and grew for the next few years, then, at the end of 2141, the pirates returned. Approaching by stealth, the pirate forces destroyed the external communications transponders and cut the umbilical to the docking facilities. They then took their revenge.
In what can only be described as a high tech Viking raiding expedition, the station was literally raped, end to end. Equipment, people, supplies, and anything with conceivable value was taken, destroyed, or abused to point that it was at best near-useless. The coup de grace was less an act of mercy than it was a fumbled attempt to erase the evidence.
A dirty, old style thermonuclear warhead was detonated on the surface in an attempt to crack the shell of the asteroid. It only succeeded in destabilizing the orbit of the asteroid itself and throwing the primary power source of the facility, a hot twin tokomak helium breeder, on the path to criticality. The 110 Gigawatt generator never went critical, but a plume of gamma radiation set the rock itself on fire before it scrammed. Then, using the stations own tugs, Vhaas was pushed onto a course, which if uninterrupted, would have in it arriving in the Great Magellanic Cloud sometime just before the last star succumbs to entropy. The pirates then left the asteroid for dead. In the eight years that followed, the population managed to keep themselves alive by cannibalizing whatever they could to keep life support and food production facilities operational. The populace, simply trying to survive ignored the residual radiation levels, and the resulting birth rate decline and increased of incidence of birth defects, cancer, and other horrible effects of the gamma burst.
A Privateer flotilla, damaged in flight from a raid into Core space and having key crew members that once participated in the vengeance, sought out Vhaas as a point of refuge and repair with the intent of using the facilities for their needs. Instead, they found a nearly restored platform with a growing population. Needless to say, they fell on the station and took it as their own.
The Vhass population already on the brink of terrible circumstantial demoralization was subjugated quickly and bloodlessly. Their technical skills and repair abilities were immediately applied to repair the damaged vessels and in some cases improve them using knowledge gained only from strife and harsh experience. The pirates never left, and instead staged raids and forays into GCES Core space. Later, in the mid 2150’s, the Syndicates, that alliance of mysterious pseudo industrial criminal organizations, entered “negotiations” with the controlling personalities of Vhass for the use of