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planet:the_black_moon

The Black Moon

Amelia Stroud and Crash McKill on the surface of the Black Moon

Orbiting the first planet of the Halna system, this large moon orbits its parent planet approximately once every nine standard days, and itself rotates three times every standard day. It has a highly eccentric orbit, whipping it quite close to the planet every four to five days before slingshotting it back out to it apogee. Its extremely rapid rotation has given rise to several theories that the moon is actually a captured planetoid or aggregation of matter from the asteroid belt, ensnared by Graveyard's gravity relatively recently (in cosmic terms).

The surface of the planetoid is covered in a carbon compound that gives it its name. It absorbs enough light that the underground facilities, a mining complex that was mined out long before Yamatai was founded and since abandoned, are actually kept at a decent temperature without much help. Although the moon lacks an atmosphere, the vast majority of the moon's surface is perpetually searing hot due to its rapid rotation and proximity to the system's large star.

By far the majority of the moon is barren and unoccupied. Roughly fifteen degrees “north” of the moon's equator are the remains of an ancient mining complex that has long since been defunct, but has served as an out-of-the-way settlement in recent years.

The facilities beneath the moons surface are basically one large complex of mining tunnels and occasional stations where the ore used to be collected and sent to the surface by large elevators. The new 'owners' of the facilities have since converted them into a large underground city, one of makeshift shanties and houses that line the tunnels, and large ship docks in the elevators. The planet has become a home for those who have a reason to hide since finding a single person in the long tunnels is near impossible without a significant bribe, and sometimes those bribes are repaid by being tossed into the hunter's graveyard. There is no true government in the colony in the shafts, though there are enough private weapons among the populace to discourage any invasion by a minor force. The only rules that are in the community are to not bring attention to the colony, and to respect your fellow denizens. This doesn't prevent the occasional body turning up along the shafts, but it is generally assumed that if you didn't prevent it yourself, you deserved it. Many criminal organizations that are beginning to blossom in the Yamatai Empire, as well as other organizations with an interest in the local area have a base here, and often recruit from the populace to pull off jobs that require a great deal of hands.

Among the groups that have a strong presence on the Black Moon are:

Only a small part of the tunnel system is actually settled. There are a number of abadoned and uninhabited areas of the network that have not seen regular human presence in years, and it is not fully known what lurks in these dark depths. Forgotten equipment of many types are common in these areas, as are stray animals and vermin that are beginning to adapt to their new environment. A careless traveller would easily find themselves lost in the myriad tunnels, or trapped, injured, or crushed by one of the increasingly unstable shafts collapsing on them.

Parent Planet - Halna I "Graveyard"

This terrestrial planet is very similar to a gas giant in the fact that its atmosphere is composed of very thick clouds, mostly of sulfur and carbon dioxide. The surface of the planet is hot enough to keep any sulfur on the surface liquid until a heat wave passes through the area to evaporate it, thus leaving most of the surface covered in sulfur pools, and some oceans of the substance. The only high points on the surface are the volcanoes that dot the surface of the planet, caused primarily by the tidal forces exerted on it by its unusually massive moon, which fuel the atmosphere with the occasional eruptions and reforming the surface with the lava flows.

The atmosphere is not conducive to most forms of life, full body suits are required for human-like forms to walk on the surface without suffocating or burning from the acid.

The planet gained the nickname “Hunter's Graveyard” from the inhabitants of its single moon, who often send undesirable people into the sulfur pools of the planet to 'lose' them, especially bounty hunters from governments who may be after certain members of the moons community.

Orbital Platform - Freethinker Station

After a number of accidents and near-catastrophes caused by the increasingly chaotic amount of traffic coming and going from the Black Moon, a small orbital traffic control station was commissioned by three of the most powerful gangs. It was completed in late YE 34, and orbits at a geosynchronous orbit directly above the Moon's colony, roughly 7,500 km above the surface.

Freethinker Station tracks all space traffic in the vicinity of the Black Moon and its parent planet, and directs vessels to appropriate docking berths on the moon below, as well as gives all departing traffic their exit vectors and permissions. It is not uncommon for ships to be placed in a “holding pattern” in orbit above Graveyard, only to be forgotten for hours or even days due to the disorganized nature of the traffic control practices.

The station is protected by the most powerful organizations in the system and their private fleets of defense ships and enforcers. Vessels that do not obey the (often delayed and unclear) instructions issued to them by the station may find themselves at the business end of a gun when they do land, assuming they are not shot down or chased out of the system. Those that operate the station, however, are smart enough not to draw unwanted attention from Yamatai, and typically treat any Star Army vessels which come through the system with the highest priority and the utmost (albeit sometimes token and insincere) respect.

The space station is tiny and very spartan, and patched together in a ramshackle design that does not follow any generally accepted safety code or design. Its transmission range is large, but its transmitters are of poor quality, plaguing most of its communications with loud bursts of static and interference.

It has a maximum crew of 12 people, but it is normally run by fewer than five. There are bunks, washroom facilities, and a galley for the crew, and they are almost always in a state of disrepair and neglect, Supplying these areas is usually left up to the crew serving aboard. The crews are intended to be rotated out twice a month, although due to lax enforcement policies, this frequency tends to vary, with some crews serving less than a few days, and others staying aboard for almost a standard year.

Spaceport

Landing Shafts

Concordia Veil docked in Eta Shaft, 7-C

The immense mining shafts of the Black Moon have been converted into docking areas for visiting spacecraft. Nine shafts are located in a rough grid pattern over an area covering an area covering about 625 square kilometers. The shafts are designated Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Eta, Theta, and Iota, with Beta being the largest one. Shafts Zeta and Iota are partially collapsed and too structurally unsound to be used. Each shaft is bored into the moon's crust to varying depths, and the walls are vertically lined with docking berths for small to medium-sized starships. Larger ships must remain in orbit and send landing craft down to the surface. The bottoms of the dock shafts are all littered with discarded junk, tools, parts, and various trash. Several of the shafts are so full of garbage that they are partially filled in.

Each of the shafts' landing pads are numbered from bottom to top with a number and a letter, with the number designating the tier, and the letter designating the specific pad. For example, landing pad 14-D would be on the fourteenth level from the lowest one. Some of the shafts' lowest levels are buried by trash and collapsed rock, the worst of which being Shaft Eta, whose first four tiers are disused.

The landing shafts are open to the vacuum above, so each berth is equipped with an adaptable docking ring that seals against the ship's hatch. They are all connected to articulated jetways that can be maneuvered to appropriate positions depending on the type of vessel, and the jetways lead to the spaceport concourse.

Large cargo is usually handled via large airlocks located on each tier. Large freighters that cannot make planetfall can be serviced via planetary shuttles making multiple trips, and smaller cargo runners can be serviced in their berths by hand trucks and crawlers.

Shaft Dimensions
Shaft Designation Width (m) Depth (km)
Alpha 562 4.3
Beta 575 5.9
Gamma* 510 2.2
Delta 254 3.5
Epsilon* 404 1.9
Zeta (Collapsed) (Collapsed)
Eta* 102 1.8
Theta 149 2.6
Iota (Collapsed) (Collapsed)

*Partially filled in with trash, true depth unknown

Concourses

The spaceport concourses are actually converted conveyor and sorting floors adjacent to the repurposed elevator shafts that now serve as docking ports. They are stacked on top of one another and numbered in the same manner as the landing berths that they serve. They are almost always abuzz with activity, and while the density of the crowds tends to rise and fall cyclically, being the most packed when the Graveyard planet is on the horizon (roughly every six hours), it is always a very crowded place. The concourses lack any real semblance of organization, instead being more akin to a large, open warehouse with massive support columns that run from the topmost floor all the way to the furthest depths. There are no windows of any kind in this room, and myriad tunnels branch off from them away from the docking shaft. Along the wall facing the shaft, at regular intervals, are old, ugly metal airlock hatches that lead to the berths, each stenciled with the alphanumeric designation of the berth that they lead to. No one party is responsible for maintaining the hatches' appearance, so there does not appear to be much of a standard across all of the stencilling. Some of them are faded and worn while others look brand new, and the lettering looks different on many of them. Some of them even have the numbers painted in multiple places, and occassionally in multiple languages.

Ancient, defunct conveyor tracks and sorting machinery are still in place in many of the concourse floors, although they serve no purpose any longer other than macabre reminders of the moon's long-forgotten original purpose. Sickly yellow and white floodlights are mounted in the ceiling high above and in some of the support columns, bathing the enormous open rooms in pale light. Many of the lights are in poor condition, either flickering dimly or are out altogether. Along the walls, next to some of the old machinery, and scattered throughout the crowds are always a handful of independent vendors hocking their shoddy wares and cheap trinkets.

Most of the Black Moon's overlords keep the concourses manned with anywhere from a handful to a near legion of armed guards that maintain order and enforce whatever the hottest law of the day happens to be. However, it is not uncommon for independent criminals to pose as “port inspectors” in order to gain access to docked ships so that they can steal cargo, parts, or hijack the ships themselves.

Cargo/Service Areas

Below the main concourses are the service areas, where fuel, scrap material, and other miscellaneous equipment is stored for servicing starships berthed in the landing shafts. Big service elevators give them access to each berth in their appropriate shafts.

Planetside organizations and competing service companies have divided up the available real estate amongst themselves for their use, but it is not uncommon for well-connected and wealthy starship owners to rent or buy sections of the storage areas for their own use, and keep them staffed.

Infrastructure

The Black Moon is powered by four powerful, ancient subterranean antimatter reactors located near Shafts Alpha, Gamma, Delta, and Eta. Most of their functional parts have been replaced repeatedly over the years, and keeping them running requires nearly round-the-clock supervision as well as a steady supply line of materials and fuel, either purchased from independent cargo ships or harvested from the nearby gas giant Agatha by the controlling gangs' private fleets.

The most powerful organizations on the Black Moon are the ones who control the reactors, as they are able to dictate the terms under which each area of the colony will receive the power they provide. As of YE 36, the On'nin Ikemen - 隠人イケ面 control Reactor 2, the Reds control Reactor 4, and the The Black Syndicate controls Reactors 1 and 3, although they do so via two separate “legitimate” shipping companies as fronts.

It is not universally understood how the ventilation system in the tunnels function, but it generally accepted that it is somehow controlled by an automated system deep in the mines that has not yet been discovered. A loss of power to any sector in the tunnels almost always results in a decrease in the system's efficiency or an outright shutdown, making the air in those areas highly dangerous to breathe due to the possibility of poisonous gases or a lack of oxygen.

Evidence of a system-wide network of water pipes can be found in some places, although it has not functioned in decades. Most areas of the colony are supplied by recently-constructed water supply systems, the most common of which is a central array of holding tanks from which water is pumped through elevated pipes to customers. Some of the more affluent areas can afford to maintain a reclamation and purification plant as well, reducing their need to constantly purchase new supplies.

Common Independently Contracted Jobs

  • Orbital Courier: Shuttle pilots that ferry cargo between the surface spaceport and large freighters in orbit, and occasionally change out the crews staffing Freethinker Station.
  • Gas Miner: Pilots that make regular trips to the gas giant Agatha and scoop its upper atmosphere for volatiles such as hydrogen and helium as well as antimatter for use on the colony, usually in the reactors that power it. These tend to be types of people who are either daring thrill seekers, are desperate to make some quick cash, or simply are too stupid to know better.
  • Scout: Pilots are occasionally paid to make systematic sweeps of the local area of the system and gather intelligence on interplanetary traffic, as well as reports on any anomalous activity on nearby worlds.

Quakes

Moonquakes are not uncommon on the Black Moon due to the tidal interactions between it and its parent planet, although its extremely rapid rotation helps to mitigate their intensity. Most of them are fairly mild, and long-time denizens of the Moon are entirely accustomed to the occasional vibration. The tunnels and subterranean structures were built with this phenomenon in mind, and are reinforced against all but the most violent ones. Because such devastating ones are so infrequent, occuring usually less than once every thousand years on average, damage to the structural integrity of the colony is very rare and typically easy to repair, although some of the oldest and most long-forgotten tunnels are either collapsed or in danger of collapsing due to neglect.

Areas of Interest

The Red Slavegirl

A two-story well-maintained former machinery tunnel reputed for its Nepleslian brandy and heavily-armed staff. Inside there is an old man telling some war stories and the bar is covered in ancient coins. The bartender is a disgusting-looking male Nepleslian with cybernetic eyes and brown hair. Near the barkeep is a Godwin Armories AM27 Anti-Material Weapon.

Ye Olde Den

A mid-size red-carpeted energy generator station famous for its Nepleslian whiskey and dancing bar girls. Inside there is often a dude selling Kaserine pills. The bartender is a creepy Freespacer with golden eyes and red hair and an extra set of robotic arms. Near the barkeep is a minigun (PDR 5). In YE 36, a simple bar brawl spiralled out of control, erupting into an all-out gun battle that ended with dozens of patrons dead or wounded and caused extensive damage to the establishment. While rumors and “eyewitness” accounts of what exactly happened vary wildly, with some being downright ridiculous, the most common consensus is that what started as a minor altercation spiralled out of control when a pistol wielding Iromakuanhe attempted to restore order by firing a warning shot at the brawlers, hoping to intimidate them into settling down.

The Pit

One of the deepest known tunnel systems located near the collapsed Zeta Shaft, The Pit is a labyrinth of excavated areas lit only by trash barrels and portable lamps that have been taped to crumbling supports, many of which are powered by splicing into exposed power cables. The most desperate denizens of the Black Moon reside here in shanty towns cobbled together with scrap metal and plastic sheets. The local population consists mostly of beggars, scavengers, and other “untouchables” unable to make themselves useful elsewhere on the colony, and is largely ignored by the rest of the moon's population. Disease and hunger are rampant here, as is crime such as murder and theft.

History

A Change In Power

In late YE 30, the radical left-wing group, The Guild of Cyberempathy, staged a hostile takeover of the local Halna crimelords' assets. The purpose behind this was two-fold: to abolish activity they believed to be unethical (such as slave trading), whilst monopolizing the remainder of the black market to fund their future activities. Despite the implied hostility of the takeover very little actual fighting took place; other than the most loyal of bodyguards, most of the criminal staff on Halna were more than willing to work for the highest bidder.

The Genocide at Halna

However, it seemed many of these criminals had connections with the Yamataian government. Not long after the takeover was completed a SAoY battle fleet jumped in, and proceeded to shoot down vessels in orbit without warning or a chance for them to surrender. Due to the high firing prejudice demonstrated by Yamataian ships, a large number of neutral vessels were promptly destroyed in the attack. After space superiority was achieved by the SAoY they then proceeded to breach multiple city blocks by means of aether bombardment, destroying a number of automatons and killing noncombatants. In support of this effort, power armor ground troops were also sent down to the surface to flush out and execute any remaining survivors.

A number of ship crews on shore leave realized what was happening and retaliated with nuclear demolitions, annihilating SAoY landing parties once a given sector was either evacuated or purged of survivors. Between the aether bombardment and nuclear devices, the main city was reduced almost completely to rubble and ground forces on both sides all but defeated.

Reconstruction and Response

Once recording of the battle and the ruthless assault were broadcast Yamatai received considerable political fallout for its butchery. Corporate donations and messages of support flooded in to aid the surviving 'Spacers and local Halna inhabitants rebuild the city. A memorial, the Tomb of the Libertarians was erected to honor the fallen locals and 'Spacers alike, which fought and died side by side during the battle. In response to this Genocide, The Free State mobilized in fear of further genocide.

The Second Invasion

Unfortunately the reconstruction effort was short lived as a second fleet arrived to clear the area of what survivors remained. The remaining 'Spacer garrison was allowed to leave peacefully, whilst the remnants of the Halna inhabitants scattered throughout known space; only one invasion was needed to demonstrate how vulnerable their so-called pirate haven really was.

The Aftermath

By the end of YE 30, Halna was a seemingly abandoned pile of rubble save for the memorial. Construction vehicles were the only sign of life after the battle, preserved perfectly in the void waiting for orders to rebuild that would never come. For months, hundreds of Star Army of Yamatai starships stood guard, poised to strike at anyone who would dare challenge their most recent conquest. Meanwhile, the Reds built a small supply base in the ruins.

Reconstruction (As of YE 36)

From YE 30 to mid YE 32, the Moon was almost entirely abandoned save for a small Reds supply depot hidden amongst the ruins left by the Freespacer Genocide in YE 30. Since YE 33, various enterprising groups seeking to conduct their activites without the prying eyes of the Yamataian government began to slowly migrate back. By YE 36, the “pirate haven” had been close to fully re-established, populated once again by the seedier elements of interstellar society. No central authority has as yet been established, and the various gangs that have a presence on the Black Moon continually struggle to gain dominance over one another.

OOC Notes

This page was originally created on 2014/08/05 06:50 by Floodwaters.

Artwork by Foxtrot813

planet/the_black_moon.txt · Last modified: 2017/08/12 10:03 by wes