(A location I whipped up for my campaign, which turned out to have some interesting depths...) Mathias Chikawe Station, called ‘MC’ by its inhabitants, is an Argonaut Bernal sphere orbiting inside Saturn’s rings. Habitat MC is located within the 325 km Encke Gap, orbiting close to the inner edge. The “nearest” (in terms of delta-v and accessibility) habitat is Izulu (Pan). About every 340 days the habitats come close, and then visitors cross between them for a joint carnival. Since the habitat orbits almost exactly along the ring plane the rings are a bright line bisecting the universe rather than a surface; close to the inner edge of the gap the 30 meter width of the rings suddenly look like an infinite cliff of drifting ice. The original settlement consisted of Research Outpost Encke 2 (an international, Argonaut-aligned research station), the smaller Priyt 4 (a prospecting outpost of Evraz Space, an international mining consortium) and a number of refugee ships fleeing from threatened habitats. As the scope of the Fall became apparent a joint decision was made to try to survive independently. The habitat was named after the heroic Tanzanian engineer who saved thousands of lives at the top of the Kimanjano beanstalk during the Fall. His friends within the Argonauts renamed Research Outpost Encke 2 after him as they set out to enlarge it to a real habitat. The first priority of the renamed station was to create living space; from AF 1 to 2 the basic Bernal sphere emerged and was seeded with a lush biosphere. The original space stations were largely dismantled and integrated into the habitat axis assembly. These days they mainly remain as a museum, storage space and docking structure. The habitat is 1800 meters in diameter, with an internal equator gravity of 0.64g due to the 1.25 minute rotation period. Much of the settlements and work occur closer to the axis, enjoying lower gravity. Light is provided by fusion-powered sunlamps strung out along the axis, surrounded by the rain sprinkler system and main mesh nodes. Surrounding the main habitat is a thick ice/water shield, protecting it from impacts and radiation but also providing plenty of reaction mass: when designed, the intention was always to make a potentially mobile habitat. From the outside the habitat appears as a featureless white sphere. The interior is a tropical jungle. Local biotechs have gone wild with phosphorescent plants, networked insects and unusual fungi. Beetles with random words crawl over the vegetation; hummingbirds activate and deactivate shining flowers. Kapok trees dominate the emergent layer, reaching heights of 120 meters or more. Under them lies an extensive a canopy layer filled with epiphytes such as ferns, orchids, bromeliads and rattan palms. Enormous interlocked engineered banyans link the canopy and dominate the understory layer. These banyans can easily be engineered to form perfect foundations for treehouses, especially since many are automatically reinforced by nanomachines with fullerene struts and fibre optics: the trees house dispersed mesh nodes that both report on the ecological health of the surroundings and provide service to nearby equipment and organisms. The habitat is currently lightly populated, with only 25,000 inhabitants. Partially this is by choice, but it is also due to the limited capability of building morphs within the habitat – most newcomers arrive by shuttle rather than egocast. There are three “villages” where most people live, Mandera, Bungu and Yeondo. They are located 120 degrees apart, formed out of small arcologies and banyan treehouses. Between them and outlying settlements, villas and the poles are winding bike paths. Heavy transport usually is sent underground through a subsurface light railway system. Numerous rivers meander through the jungle to the equator, where the water is recycled underground. Punting along the rivers is a popular pastime. At the “north” pole the university campus climbs. It starts as a series of terraced buildings in a vaguely Mediterranean Escher style, and continues all the way up to the rotation axis. As gravity becomes weaker the architecture becomes wilder. Buildings hang from each other or cables from the axis, and the “crow’s nest” resleeving facility is just connected to the rest of the buildings by what looks like a precarious rope bridge. At the axis itself the university complex has engineering bays, large scale autofactories and equipment used in space research. This is where most work on developing new habitat construction methods is done. Many constructions are launched to the outside of the habitat where they are tried. Various escalators, elevators and ropes help movement. Society MC is an anarchy, but like in any anarchy some people are more equal than others. The setup consists of three poles of informal power: the Habitat Commune, the Safety Commune and the Research Commune.
- The HC is composed of representatives (either elected, holding high rep or self-selected with nobody complaining) who organise the running of the habitat, mainly by coordinating various workers councils involved in maintenance, traffic, ecology and energy.
- The SC handles the security by organising and supervising the habitat volunteer militias (there is a great deal of overlap between the physical, biological and informational militias). Most of the time security appears extremely light (the customs check at the docking hub is run on a honour system: “please tell station representatives about any dangerous goods and weapons”), but there are enough hobby-paranoids and hackers around to make the de facto security pretty effective when coordinated. Most of the time the SC just makes sure the hacker one-upmanship doesn’t get out of hand.
- The RC is running the “university” of researchers and engineering projects employing most people. Within these projects the Hamilton Cylinder project has by far the highest prestige and influence. It is run by the Wallbanger Council, an informal network handling the project open source style. The WC has significant power: if its members think something needs to be done they have a good chance of convincing the RC and likely the other main communes.