Saturday, October 21, 2023

Isotelus Complex (Mothership? Eclipse Phase?)

Isotelus Complex is an in-progress bipartite colony on/over the Jovian moon Callisto, under the purview of the "Regional Authority" (RA), manager/holders of a variety of habitats in the area. Isotelus is largely paid for by a public/private partnership with the Yosef Industrial Concern, who offered startup capital in exchange for a substantial cut of the expected mining profits.

The Complex comprises a orbital habitat, a space elevator, and a groundside colony, currently in progress. The majority of the population lives on the orbital habitat and the surface colony. Simultaneously.

After a 6/5 vote by RA/determination (and months of discussion between RA/consensus and RA/dissent), it was decided that all working citizens of Isotelus would be uploaded and forked. Most work both in orbit (operating their baseline bodies for maintenance, shipping, loading, and administrative tasks) and groundside, loaded into chitinous, bear-sized labor forms.

These labor forms are built to survive the hostile conditions of the Callisto surface; defense against radiation, a hardened exoskeleton to maintain internal pressure, and a set of grown or implanted tools and communication devices. In optimal conditions, a labor form breathes exactly once every 29 hours.

Wide, low homes of labor forms line the northern edge of the planned colony, where construction efforts are at their peak. This subcommunity ("the Bucket", either in reference to its various craters or because "that's where you put crabs") also maintains a minor population of baselines, for supporting tasks - a variety of derogatory terms exist for this population among those in orbit.

Once a year, the orbital habitat doubles in population as the groundsiders are given their vacation hours. Office workers ride to parties on the back of themselves, play a variety of asymmetrical sports, and try not to think about what it means if your counterpart doesn't show up.

Crime, and the Other Thing

Nothing should go up or down the space elevator except for workers and parts for the surface. Of course, there is a booming trade in smuggling absolutely anything else - people creep up or down in boxes to meet their counterpart outside the allotted vacation, send (deeply confused) doctors, (barely helpful) medicine, and (stolen) organs down to provide illicit healthcare to labor bodies, hide illegal drugs in the walls of boxes, and all the other things you'd expect them to do.

Mismanagement of company-provided infrastructure, attempted escape from contracted work, assault, and all other crimes are handled not by the Regional Authority, but directly by ComSec (a franchise of a subsidiary of a subsidiary of the Yosef Industrial Concern), who are free from the upload requirements, and thus nearly all baseline and nearly all wandering the halls of the orbital station in their yellow raincoats.

They are explicitly, entirely, focused on the success of the Concern's investment, and nothing else.

The Ways This Will Go Wrong

Officially, the Regional Authority's 33-person administrative body is entirely in control of the Complex, ensuring measured, representative governance with quotaed sortition and adversarial decisionmaking. In practice, the Concern owns the police, owns the labor bodies, owns the materials used to build the station, and is starting to get nervous about exceeding the budget.

So, despite their required placement in administration, the place of the labor bodies on an inhabited Callisto is, to put it lightly, in flux. It is a common refrain in the literature of dissident groups that every single one of them is certain to have a captive bolt pistol pressed to the back of their shelled heads when the job is done.

That might not be true; it's inefficient, after all. It's more likely that the Concern will treat them like anyone else unemployed - a simple choice of "leave now, or sign another contract". The fact the labor forms couldn't fit on any ship out, don't know anyone who isn't working onboard Isotelus, and have only now paid off their fees for upload is not the Concern's problem. Sign, or leave.

The first wave of groundside colonists is coming soon. Positions from doctrinaire Marxism-Palladeism to leaving the surface purely for labor bodies are sprouting in orbit. The space elevator is hitting its maximum safe stress level with every launch. Six ComSec men spaced a dock worker. The impression contracts are ending soon and not a single person knows how the Concern plans to keep the station staffed.

And it's only going to get worse.

1 comment:

  1. Oh this is hecking cool. If you do do a zine and are in want of an editor, I uh know a guy


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