The Conclave Drift. The jewel at the heart of the Associated Worlds, it is the heart of the Accord community; the seat of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, the most comprehensive center of interpolity diplomacy in the Worlds; an unofficial cultural, commercial and financial capital for hundreds of species and star nations; and the most tightly packed polyspecific community anywhere in the known galaxy.
Located very close to the center of the Worlds – just one gate away from Eliera, Palaxias and Cinnaré by arterial – in the Accordance system, the Conclave Drift is also at the heart of Imperial space. While system security is provided by detached units of the Imperial Capital Fleet under Conclave authority, the system is legally neutral territory open to the passage of all; the diplomatic vessels of even the Empire’s avowed enemies are permitted free passage to Accordance, in peace or war.
(The Drift owes its location to the willingness of the Empire both to provide an otherwise empty – except for a few support facilities – star system to house it, to accept the principle of free passage to and from the Drift, and to defray by far the largest part of the construction expenses and operational overhead. Much of this, in practice, was paid for by private interests which foresaw the advantages of such a hub, and indeed, the Empire’s commerce has reaped considerable benefits from playing host to the Conclave and its hangers-on.)
The Drift itself orbits 52 million miles from the hot, white star Accordance. It is the largest drift-habitat ever constructed (excluding the hexterranes at Corícal Ailék) at 36 miles long, a gleaming, fluted flame lily against the void of space.
The stem of the lily hosts the drift’s microgravity infrastructure, a short mile-long stalk. Most visitors to the Drift will dock here, at the far end of the Stem, and take a transport pod to their intended destination.
Abutting the utilitarian Stem is the Conclave Mall, a wide habitat ring clad in shimmering gold cerametal plating. It contains the heart of the Drift’s official functions; the offices of the various organizations attached to the Conclave, embassies and offices from the various polities represented in it, offices of the largest starcorporations, and a few restaurants, shopping districts and private residences for the Worlds’ elite. While most of the Mall is maintained as a compromise mid-range oxygen-breather environment, of note are the Alternate Environment Sectors between the 40 and 160 meridia, for the use of species preferring ammonia, halogen, methane, sulphide, or hydrogen environments. The spin gravity is maintained at a third of standard (“just enough to keep your feet on the floor”), in deference to the aquatic and aerial members of the Conclave, and the simulated day-night cycle matches Imperial Standard Time.
But with a few exceptions (such as the Crescent Bar – one of the galaxy’s largest hotels, with an open-air bar which crosses the entire width of the Mall, which most of the unofficial business of the Worlds passes through at some time or other, and which still maintains a welcoming atmosphere, an excellent cuisine, and an unmatched drink selection – opposite the Conclave Chambers at the 180 meridian), the businesslike and relatively ascetic environs of the Mall are not the reason why travelers for pleasure should visit the Drift. The excitement happens in the Petals.
The “flower” of the Drift, the Petals, curves outwards in a single sculpted megastructure 32 miles from the ring of the Mall to its open end, its polished silver cerametal coating gleaming white in the light of Accordance. While the structure of the Petals itself contains transport systems and other low-level infrastructure, within it is the true bustling city of the drift, the Enclaves. Every polity associated with the Conclave is permitted to claim an region within the Petals, which it may then develop as it sees fit; a bustling throng of miniature cities in myriad architectural styles and environments, home to nearly 20 million embodied sophonts. The Enclaves never sleep – following an early-established custom, there is no alternation of day and night in the Petals – and at any time of the cycle, business is done, entertainments are to be found, meals to be had, and there is always something to do.
While there are tens of thousands of places to visit in the Petals, here are some of our particular favorites…
– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Conclave Drift