SPACE VSS – Anomalous Readings

MES Domain Code:

NY-004-D, Children of the Lost Eden

VSS Name: Anomalous Readings

VST Name: Jillian Christensen

VST Email: [email protected]

System Name: The Caldera System

Verge or Expanse: Verge

System Number: NY-04V

Theme: Exploration, both external and internal. Insurgency against the MegaCorps and Empyreal Protectorate. The mysticism of the stars. Being  a big damn hero.

Mood: An optimistic descant of exploration above the somber, merciless rhythm of the daily grind. The high, eerie note of terror shattering the chord of the familiar. The staccato beat of corporate greed counterpoised with the improvisations of the supernatural.

The Elevator Pitch:

Welcome to Augustus Station. The locals clock in, mine some ore, clock out, drink a beer, tuck in their children and go to sleep. They don’t need much out of life but a functioning sonic pick, a good hot bowl of rations, and a spouse that’s warm.

But not you. You’re different. You look out the windows of the station, away from dirty miners and equally boring grey walls, and see an endless landscape of surprises waiting just out of reach. You heard the tales of the Silent War. You can see the hands of the MegaCorps controlling your teachers, your doctors, your station’s officers. You see the Empyreal Protectorate try to close the shades. But you still look out.

From the welcoming aquaria of Hestia, to the dazzling white Salome, to the Delphic fires of Mishal, there is an entire system waiting for so much more than the pick and cargo hold. Augustus Station may be where the oxygen is plentiful and rations edible, but your heart is out there–in the Caldera.

Traditional Setting Elements (Scale of 1-5):

Action (Combat and challenges): 3

Character Development (Personal dilemmas and choices): 5

Darkness (PC Corruption): 3

Death (PC Death): 2

Drama (Ceremony and grand story): 5

Intrigue (Politics and negotiation): 4

Manners (Social etiquette and peer pressure): 3

Mystery (Enigmas and investigation): 4

IE Specific Elements:

Politics (Spectrum of local political play): 3

Technology (Confluence of infrastructure and local tech level): 3

Science (“Soft” to “hard”): 2

Supernatural Tolerance (Level to which Supernaturals are integrated): 4

Define the Primary Setting: An executive summary of the location of play.

Augustus Station: (Primary Setting, 500 miles from surface of Hestia)

Built by the Aquila Mining Combine in SY 4060, the station is a circular station composing of a center disk surrounded by an outer docking ring connected to the main disk by four arms. Four pylons connect to the outer ring for large vessel docking. The Main Disk is about a mile square and is separated into four levels: Command & Control, Recreation & Community, Habitation, and Station Ops. The Docking & Storage Ring is two miles long and modular–the Northeast and Southwest sections of the ring can be detached and operated separately as large cargo holds about 1000 feet square. The large docking pylons are immovable and each contains its own flight control center. 

Appendix I: System Timeline

4015: The Expeditionary Force spots a nebula approximately 25LY from Outpost 381 and dispatches the Wright, a light cruiser, to scout it for possible habitation.

4017: The Wright compiles its findings and names the system Caldera, noting that the main star gave off a blue-white light much hotter than expected. The six planets orbiting the star are all given names related to fire or light.

4030: Aquila Mining Combine, a subsidiary of OMCon, shows interest in the new system and acquires mining rights to the planets. The seeder ship Iapetus is dispatched with 2,500 volunteers, mostly miners, engineers, and their families to Hestia, the only planet confirmed habitable by the EF.

4028: The Silent War begins as the Iapetus parks in orbit around Hestia. Outpost 381 is sacked and destroyed by the Silent. Advance teams begin operations mining water on Hestia, gas on Shulamit, and minerals on Mishal. Hestia’s teams soon encounter the native Tar’atheth, an aquatic humanoid species. The Tar’atheth claim to be remnants of a failed EF expedition sometime in the early 3000’s. Now adjusted to the jungle climate and oceans of Hestia (which they call Adamu), they number less than one million and live in several interconnected cities underwater. Water mining operations halt.

4030: The first incident of Silent forces encroaching on the Caldera. Silent ships destroy a cargo ship carrying metallic hydrogen from Shulamit to the Iapetus. The escape pod failed to engage and the crew was lost. AMC security tows what is left of the cargo ship to the Iapetus While investigating the attack, several researchers are infected with the Red Plague, including a Thyrsus Mage now known as The Avatar. In a sixteen-hour swath of devastation, The Avatar channels a host of spirits into the ship and crew and decimates them. He is eventually exposed to vacuum and killed when his family sacrifices themselves by detonating their living quarters.

4032: Construction begins on Augustus Station from the remains of the Iapetus and ore from Mishal. 500 people petition AMC and the Tar’atheth to set up a small farming colony on the northeastern part of the explored continent. Farming rights are granted and Pax is settled. Another cargo ship is destroyed between Shulamit and its moon, Eve by Silent raiders. AMC sends orders to scale back Augustus Station and to colonize Hestia.

4040: The Paxtown Incident. The Red Plague resurfaces planetside as an Iron Master Uratha enters Kuruth on the shore of Pax Bay, the site of a trading market between settlers and native population. 25 people were killed in the attack, and the Tar’atheth retreat underwater.

4045: The last of the Pax settlers dies. AMC still pushes for colonization of Hestia. Work on Augustus Station slows to a crawl as the Iapetus’ senior staff is recalled to the Expanse. About 1000 people are left stranded in the void.

4060: The AMC ship Atia appears from the Stygian Gate found in the Caldera system. The ship reports that the Iapetus/Augustus Station seems about 40% completed and deserted. It is rumored that those who did not die aboard took cargo ships and set out for unknown space. Directed to avoid settlement on Hestia, work begins in earnest to construct Augustus Station.

4064: Augustus Station is completed, and mining operations on Hestia, Mishal, and Shulamit restart. The Unions send representatives to Augustus Station.

4070: The first openly Supernatural being, a Veiled Mastigos known as Eclipse, begins a therapist practice on Augustus Station. The miners are skeptical.

4090: About 100 people set out to colonize Ignis’ moon, Salamander. Thought to be a possibility for terraforming and biofarming due to it’s large, dark plains, colonization efforts fail when a tear in one of the temporary housing units explosively decompresses.

4096: Virtue’s Daughters, a Nebula Court Motley, attempts to set up a freehold on Salome. It is abandoned 16 months later.

4117: Chronicle Start.

Appendix II: System Composition – The Caldera Nebula
Star: Bethrezen, an F4V, blue-white subgiant star found 250LY from the nebula. Planets: 6 – Agni, Mishal, Hestia, Ignis, Shulamit, Pele

Agni: (3 LM, or 33.5 million miles from Bethrezen) A barren, rocky world too close to Bethrezen to harbor organic life. No atmosphere, continually whipped by solar winds and blasted by radiation. Tidally locked to the star, temperatures can range from 1000F on the sunward side to -280F on the night side. No moons. Length of day: 1,408 hours. Length of year: 87 days

Mishal: (6 LM, or 67.1 million miles from Bethrezen) A turbulent, volcanic world of molten metals. Mishal’s thin atmosphere of a helium-nitrogen mix is poisonous to Terrran-based life forms but in small doses can be a narcotic. Temperatures range from 864F to a balmy 250F. Length of day: 30 hours. Length of year: 224 days

One moon, Pyrrhus (175,000 miles from Mishal) mostly iron, copper, and magnesium. No atmosphere.

Hestia: (8.5 LM, or 95 million miles from Bethrezen) Habitable planet, oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. Enveloped by a thickening layer of clouds, Hestia’s composition is roughly 75% water, 25% land. Land is covered with verdant jungles and rainforest; oceanic life is abundant. Only the extreme north and south are dry with a very narrow plains-type band between dry steppe and jungle. Oceans are varied and teeming with life, most notably the humanoid Tar’atheth, amphibious in nature and greatly preferring to live undersea in city-states. Marked as a “high-profit” world by Aquila Mining Combine, operations were halted shortly after Augustus Station started operating. Length of day: 24 hours. Length of year: 365 days.

Two moons, Gregania (200,000 miles from Hestia) and Tarpeis (350,000 miles from Hestia), both rocky moons with little distinction.

Augustus Station: (Primary Setting, 500 miles from surface of Hestia) Built by the Aquila Mining Combine in SY4060, the station is a circular station composing of a center disk surrounded by an outer docking ring connected to the main disk by four arms. Four pylons connect to the outer ring for large vessel docking. The Main Disk is about a mile square and is separated into four levels: Command & Control, Recreation & Community, Habitation, and Station Ops. The Docking & Storage Ring is two miles long and modular – the Northeast and Southwest sections of the ring can be detached and operated separately as large cargo holds about 1000 feet square. The large docking pylons are immovable and each contains its own flight control center.

Ignis: (43.3 LM, or 502 million miles from Bethrezen) Gas giant, a deep red in color due to massive amounts of red phosphorus and sulfur in the atmosphere. High winds carry cloud bands around the planet at speeds of over 275 mph, and the planet has been flagged for dangerous atmospheric conditions making exploration impossible. Length of day: 10 hours. Length of year: 11 years.

Three moons; Phoenix, Salamander, Drake. Phoenix (220,000 miles from Ignis) is an active world with over 300 active volcanoes and daily moonquakes which dramatically alter the landscape on a regular basis. Salamander (420,000 miles from Ignis) a massive metallic world

with polar ice caps and large, dark plains. Salamander was thought to be habitable up until SY4090 when colonization efforts catastrophically failed. Drake (664,000 miles from Ignis), the smallest of the three moons, is tidally locked and one side continually faces Ignis. This side is blasted by radiation and deeply scarred by craters. The night side of Drake has yet to be explored.

Shulamit: (85 LM or 950 million miles from Bethrezen) Gas giant, marked as suitable for gas mining by Aquila Mining Combine, is a greenish white due to layers of metallic hydrogen, liquid hydrogen and helium, and neon and argon gases in the atmosphere. Shulamit is a relatively calm and stable giant with a rumored pressurized carbon core. Length of day: 17 hours. Length of year: 30 years.

Two moons, Salome and Eve. Salome (1 million miles from Shulamit) is a dazzling white moon, its color stemming from a silicate soil which reflects the blue-white light of Bethrezen. Salome is home to the silicon-based “baubles.” Long strings of glass-like beads, the “baubles” cannot (or will not) communicate with Terran-like beings and ignore any forays into their territory. Eve (1.5 million miles from Shulamit), in comparison is darker and less exciting, a stable iron core surrounded by rocky deposits.

Pele: (213 LM or 2.3 billion miles from Bethrezen) Thought to be a captured exoplanet, Pele’s angled orbit and erratic wobbling was first noticed when Hestian natives described “the mad star” in the sky, a dark sphere with bright red cracks mottling the surface. Aquila Mining Combine describes the planet as unstable, with anomalous readings in both radiation and magnetic field strength. Length of day and year are yet to be measured.

Appendix III: Life on Hestia/Augustus Station:

Most denizens of Augustus Station were of the Huddled Masses/Conformist origin groups. Coming to the station with the Aquila Mining Combine ship Atia in SY4060 to mine gas from Shulamit, minerals from Mishal and water from Hestia, the crew built the station in a little over 18 months and immediately set to work. Led by a station chief who sent reports back to Aquila Mining, a security chief who kept law on the station, and a medical chief who supervised the well- being of the miners and their families, this triumvirate council still serves as the means of governance.

Miners and their families make up the largest population of the station, about 60%. Strong, durable folk who believe strongly in a hard day’s work, the Mining class doesn’t get the pay nor care they should receive, but makes-do nonetheless. Talents in Crafts, Survival, Weaponry, and Socialize are prized. More intellectually-focused individuals may find advancement among the Support Staff.

The Support staff is the second largest population, with about 30%. Made up of skilled professions and trades, these people are responsible for keeping the station and its denizens running. Talents in Academics, Investigation, Athletics, and Persuasion are prized.

The Officers are the remainder of the population, and they are the law and security forces on the station. Aquila Mining Combine keeps its’ own security staff rather than relying on the military for its’ operations, though a few ex-Marines have found homes here. The officers in Command & control keep the rest of population attending to their tasks smoothly and efficiently, and are paid handsomely to do so. Talents in Politics, Firearms, Intimidation and Subterfuge are prized.

Economy:

All but the richest classes on Augustus Station are paid in AMC Credits, to be used at the station’s stores and recreation centers. A local Merchant Union does keep a limited amount of other currencies on hand, but the inflation rate is usually astounding.

Travel:

The Stygian Gate is overseen by Augustus Station security, and the control stations in Arm 1 govern the traffic in and out of the gate. Station weaponry is starting to outdate while pirates get craftier.

Travel to and from planets is accomplishes by the detachable cargo ships of the docking ring, which are capable of near-light speed. Forays to Hestia and the inner worlds may take a couple of minutes, the outer worlds anywhere from 45 minutes to 5 hours. Around the station, there are people movers, small trams which ferry people to the docking ring and back, and elevators between the decks of the main disk, but most transportation is by foot and certainly anywhere in the station can be reached within 30 minutes of travel.

Hestia’s underwater city-states are inhospitable without the right equipment, but their overland and island colonies are reachable by boat and bridge systems from the mainlands, welcoming visitors for extended stays, but never permanent ones. Overland, a few trucks and hoppers made their way from Aquila HQ, but since Hestia’s water-farming has slowed, many simply dry-rot in storage.

Technology Level: 2. The average citizen of Augustus Station has access to their mining tools, the station’s ration dispensers, ionic showers, datapads, and perhaps a personal communication device. Officers may have access to a weapon, specialized medical or scientific tools and some recreational technology.

Supernatural Considerations:

Augustus Station has supernatural citizens, and this far away from the Expanse, they may live openly and mostly without harassment. Aquila Mining Combine releases no statement about their involvement with supernaturals.

Aboard station, the Unions exist for anyone looking to add that dimension into their lives. Union members are offered training, access to technology, and the possibility of emigration to other worlds in the Verge or Expanse. The Union Board is prominently displayed on the walls of the Recreation and Community Deck, and jobs come and go frequently.

Currently, there is no supernatural leadership aboard Augustus Station, as there is no current community of supernaturals.

Places of Power in the Caldera System:

Hestia’s sentient life and the animistic religion of the Tar’atheth make it the richest in terms of spiritual energy. Natural Loci are prominent, as well as Geomantic Nexi. Essence and Mana are available, but not abundant. Hollows have not been found on Hestia, but neither is anyone looking for them.

Salome, the beautiful white moon of Shulamit, conjures up enough desire to be sacred to the Changeling’s Nebula Court. In 4096, a small motley of Nebula Court changelings attempted to set up a private habitation in Salome’s Crater D7I4, but most moved on a few years later when they discovered Salome’s silica surface and “baubles” inspired far less desire up close than from afar.

Pele is constantly rumored to be something special – a Thurisaz ship, an ancient and powerful Vampire who has melded with stone, an Archmaster’s private planet of magi-scientific experiment, or a rogue, terrifying Idigam feasting off the terror of deep space.