Things to See, Places to Go (10)

Ochemír Station: The first thing to notice when you board this massive skyfarm cylinder, parked in the Eliéra-Elarion L4 point, is the humidity. It’s downright wet. (A local fashion outlet, Ochemír Silks, offers a complimentary change of clothing to visitors, who are heartily recommended to take up the offer.) From docks and locks, through station control and the habitation sector, and even the factory torus, you can expect to feel moist, and see condensation.

It turns out that it’s very hard to avoid that, short of using completely separated life-support systems and internal airlocks, if you want to put a swamp in a space station.

For that is the purpose of Ochemír: as the leading supplier of dyanail and mahardyanail products to habs across the Orbital-Seléne Alliance and beyond, the main body of the station is an eight-mile cylinder whose floor is covered with shallow water and the finest synthetic mud, painstakingly crafted from selenic regolith and periodically refreshed with biowaste again imported from across the OSA. And that means entirely covered – even the windows, albeit the wet windows are covered in clear ponds, surprising visitors occasionally with the giant shadow of a koi swimming past, sun-side.

Of course, within the cylinder the station’s own products are widely used; paths of mahardynail separate the individual groves and towers of it hold sensors and cameras; water is recycled and special nutrients are added through pipes likewise; dyanail shacks house robot hotels and local facility nodes; and even the harvesting and maintenance drones run on dyanail rails.

Meanwhile, the factory torus processes the ongoing perpetual harvest into all manner of products: raw wood, laminate, bioplastic, ethanol, charcoal, and other carbochemicals, foodstuffs, paper, dyanail silk and raw fiber, and myriad hand-crafted products.

A fascinating visit for anyone interested in industrial ecology, wet-phase life support engineering and construction, spacer history, or merely unusual habitat designs.

 

Things to See, Places to [Not] Go (6)

Brak Tífel: A gas giant moon in the Rilni (Magen Exodus) system, Brak Tífel was once a promising terrestrial world in development, until errors in its late-stage ecopoesis led to it becoming a world which was entirely livable, but not particularly desirable: an erratic diurnal temperature cycle that gave it both days too warm for practical habitation and nights too cold likewise, desert terrain broken only by the most resilient and hostile scrubby brush, and so forth.

These errors could, perhaps, have been corrected by further work, save that Brak Tífel had the misfortune to be located near the borders of the Magen Corporate. Seeing an opportunity for profit – and a loophole in the Accord on Colonization which, at that time, established no ecospheric protections for ecopoesed worlds – Brak Tífel was acquired at a bargain price by a Magen corporation, Impalpable Waste Management, JSC.

Since then, daily loads of garbage rain down upon Brak Tífel’s surface: while most polities in the Accord have learned to take care of their planets, there remain a regrettable number that lack suitable recycling technology of their own, are unwilling to suffer the expense of purchasing or operating offworld recycling technology – or have technophobic or regulatory objections to such – and are quite happy for externalities to exist so long as they need not look at them.

Thus, Brak Tífel is today a grotesquely polluted, highly toxic wasteland of space junk, radioactive, biological, nanological, and chemical waste, scrapped machinery, abandoned cargo, ore slag, and anything and everything else that people will pay to have put a long, long way away from anywhere they’d have to care about, whose lye-choked seas and foggy green atmosphere should be taken as a warning – as indeed they are by those commanding the garbage freighters, who prefer to offload their cargoes without the necessity of landing.

The inevitable local population consists mostly of unbonded mercenaries doing hostile-environment training, and squatters with nowhere else to go that even Márch won’t accept. The former have protective equipment and attitude problems; the latter have tumors and previously unheard-of diseases. Neither make for good company unless you’re looking for someone to shoot, and even then, the planets in Chapter Three offer the same with less chance of unwanted teratogeny.

– Worlds Not to Visit: The Galaxy’s Worst Places,
Grotesquerie Press, 7719

Things to See, Places to Go (5)

Kuramesu Drift: A modestly-sized modular drift-habitat located in the Omane (First Expanses) System, at the Solar-Diageri (Omane IV) trailing libration point.

Kuramesu Drift is an independent drift, unaffiliated with any of the polities or law providers of Omane Actual, the freesoil world with which it shares a system. Rather, Kuramesu Drift is chartered to the Microstatic Commission, providing a data haven and negotiation space for the Worlds’ many micronations and small freeholds to play politics out from under the eyes of their much larger cousins. Omane, one link outside the Empire’s border, protected from intimidation by other polities by its position in an isolated loop route only accessible by passing through an Imperial border world – Ionai (First Expanses) – and yet only 13 links from the Conclave Drift by optimal routing, is essentially perfect for these purposes.

Naturally, Kuramesu Drift has a very high density of spies per capita. In fact, gentle reader, you may find it easiest to assume that everyone not an actual delegate or you, yourself, is a spy for someone.

The drift is, however, well worth visiting for reasons other than espionage. The lifestyles of even minor notables ensure that Kuramesu Drift is blessed with excellent shopping districts, banking facilities, and cultural events, including a spintronic symphony orchestra, tholin baths, and microgravity ballet, and the Commission offsets the running costs of the Drift by renting out their facilities to a variety of conferences (especially those seeing an advantage in a location near, but not within, the Empire) and conventions when they are not otherwise in use.

Meanwhile, the Agent’s Rest offers one of the finest polyspecific selections of liquors and other hedonics to be found in the central Worlds. Just don’t ask for a double – everyone’s heard that one already.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Ecumene

Things to See, Places to Go (4)

Teralu Startown: The single-system Teralu polity, in the Magen Exodus, once signed a contract with the Empire to maintain a starport on the populated world of their system, Teralu Actual, making the usual concessions with regard to starport extrality and to freedom of passage. Later, after the coup of 5942, the new Teralu government – now on unfriendly terms with its large neighbor – no longer wished for the arrangement to continue, but were unable to repudiate the contract (good for several millennia); the Empire, as ever, holds what it has.

Hard times, though, were thought to be incoming for Teralu Starport, and for the downport, that turned out to be the case: the new regime had much less use for interstellar commerce and those who engaged in it, and Teralu Down remains today a stripped shell of its former self.

The same, however, cannot be said of Teralu Orbital. Positioned as the Teralu system is along the Mercantile Corridor, and at an intersection of local stargate routes, the ciseflish entrepreneur Rilman min Kinethill rented – at a remarkably low rate – many of the now-unused vast transshipment warehouses of Teralu Orbital, filling them with used freight containers eminently suitable to be cut and refashioned into prefabs, and provided them with independent utilities at his own expense, before offering these volumes for rent at low rates.

Thus, Teralu Orbital now plays host to one of the most flourishing startowns in the inner Worlds, offering in addition to standard starport services everything in the lines of taverns, caravanserais, hotels, flophouses, gambling, trading both speculative and slash, hiring, brawling, negotiable affection, hedonics, junk dealing, street food, scratch medicine, and other such services that a jaded crewsoph’s heart might desire. This is no Nepscian red-market, though: personal security and contract enforcement are vigorously provided by min Kinethill’s chartered mercenary company, the Gray-in-Gray Cloaks. Min Kinethill himself retired from hands-on management some years ago, but maintains ownership of the operation and continues to keep an eye on local affairs from his personal aerostat on Cerise (Banners).

It’s well worth a visit, both to take in the thriving – and often sweltering – atmosphere, and to see the unique architecture created by the local residents. Don’t bother with the planet below, though: the locals are unfriendly, and the local color dull, at best.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Ecumene