Cis-Luna Bracelet Band, The
Refugee habitats in the Earth Moon system after the Great Expulsion
The Bracelet Band The Great Expulsion saw the remnants of Earth's post-Technocalypse population forced off world. The majority of these, some 4-5 billion, were moved to cis-Luna habs or Luna itself. An estimated 2 billion were sent to the habs, their effect on cis-Luna culture would be profound, and long lasting.
Shortly after GAIA's announcement she began to ramp up her industrial assets in the main belt. Within months petagrams of material began flowing towards Earth, riding low thrust beams into high orbit (this would be the largest single megaproject seen in the system for centuries). There GAIA's Neummans began a huge industrial operation, constructing the interplanetary shuttles and hab infrastructure needed to move and house so many sophonts. Many were surprised at the hab construction, presuming that GAIA would be concerned with the possibility of deliberate deorbiting. Other's took it as a sign of how sure GAIA was in her position of supreme power in SolSys, that she'd be able to deal with any issue long before it was a real threat. This display of power was resented by many; life in the post-technocalypse age was difficult with remnant swarms, plagues and disorder spread throughout the system. GAIA's mass infrastructure projects displayed how easy it would have been for her to clean up Solsys completely, yet she declined to do so in favour of 'languishing in the trees and seas' as one Jovian League Senator put it. As the months wore on and the habs took shape they came to be known by the refugees and Cis-Luna culture as the Bracelet Band.
Hab Design The habs of the Band were of relatively simple design, albeit impressive in quantity and scale for the time. They were nearly all Stanford Toruses, with no two being exactly the same in size (though variation was low). A typical hab was 12 kilometres in diameter, 1.5 km wide and 300 m thick. 80% fell within 10% of these specifications; of the outliers the biggest was Skyberia at 27km in diameter, the smallest at just 4 km was Agrology Collective Domicile C. Orbits varying from 55,000 - 70,000 km required thick hulls to alleviate the issues of radiation on the residents. Over ten tonnes of material was placed over each square meter of hull, though some habs were inexplicably constructed with less (for this reason hab Nova Zealand would later become the leader in rad-resistance and DNA repair genemods, resulting in strong genetekker relations).
The population density of the Band, like many of the refugee settlements, was high. GAIA packed between two and four million people into the standard sized habs. The rate of emigration off Earth meant that a whole Bracelet was filled each week; by the end of the Great Expulsion 693 had been completed. The interiors were cramped spaces with few large open areas. Contemporary records show the environments as forests of floor-to-ceiling buildings of all shapes and sizes. These were densely connected by bridges, mezzanines and transport tubes (even the small number of aquatic clade habs were designed like this, albeit submerged in water). Technology-wise GAIA promised the habs to be both economically self-sufficient and resistant to the plagues of the Technocalypse. Many accounts indicate that the Bracelets were considered a far more desirable location than other refugee settlements (such as the Luna warrens), some popular perceptions went so far as to view the Bracelets as being on par with those of the Nanotech Window. These rumours were quickly crushed in the first few months of emigration as, to the dismay of some refugees, the immunity of the habs was ensured solely through anachrotech. The technology of the Bracelets was far from sophisticated, from the hydroponic farms to the factories of dumb robot arms little was present that wasn't centuries out of date. However whilst many balked at this (especially the surviving cyborg factions who could rarely interface properly in their new homes) most appreciated that GAIA had fused more modern methods, materials and other processes to ensure the limited technology was highly durable and efficient.
Life in the Bracelet Band Culturally and economically the Band remained a backwater for a long time, despite its large population size. The industry of the Bracelets was so simple (even by Dark Age standards) that fully half of the population were required to work daily to keep the basic functions running (power, food, atmospherics etc). Food production especially took up a huge share of energy and labour. 1,000 cubic meters of hydroponic and vat-tissue systems were required to feed one sophont (smaller volumes could be used but at a cost to nutrition diversity and redundancy), consequently 10-25% of the interior volume of a standard hab was given over to food. Later, as migration and trade increased in the Band this would shift as some habs became more economically specialised.
Due to the low levels of automation and sudden movement of a largely unprepared population within the first generation thirty four habs had completely failed, leading to the deaths of nearly 100 million at the hands of conflict and a failing environment. Scores more would limp along for centuries, barely surviving (and occasionally collapsing). Daily life varied between the hab cultures but long, regimented work shifts in key industries was typical for a Bander. Some nations, like the Church of Calm Austerity, spread out the work amongst the entire population in an authoritarian manner (granting each citizen more free time for simple leisure and religious observation). Others like the Pacific Artisans embarked on crash projects to increase automation and decrease labour requirements for basic hab functions (two PA habs would later fall, one from malware infection and another from ecological mismanagement, with a third experiencing a violent coup by the Neomixecon faction).
Those habs that did survive, and later thrive, generally possessed the most organised of social and political systems. The first arrivals to the Bracelet Band tended to be groups previously united by political, cultural or cladistic identify (though <4% of refugees were of clades other than baseline or nearbaseline human). In some cases entire arcologies were transported at once to the same hab, in others nations were divided up into regions with each sent to a different hab (such as the nation of Chile and its successor states). It is commonly thought that this was a positive decision on GAIA's part as these groups already had political systems in place that could better weather the transition. This accounted for a minority of habs however, most were a melting pot of people's with little previous interaction. Many groups took the time between receiving their immigration orders and arriving in-hab to organise. Some did so successfully, many did not.
The Treaty Org took an active interest in the Bracelet Band. All of the habs were offered membership to the Org, though practically only the most powerful polities could claim any sort of influence. Mostly pressure was put on the Band by the Luna authorities to alleviate some of the suffering in the warrens by taking on more refugees. With some notable exceptions these requests were refused as the habs, despite being more advanced and comfortable, were very stretched for resources. This issue created a complex web of tension between the Band, the Org, the Selenians and the Warrens. During the moon wars only a handful of Bracelet Band habs participated (though many more announced solidarity with some of the combatants, lacking funds to do any more). Only one polity sided with the Selenians; the Atacama Tribal Republic, who strongly protested the 'imperialism' of the Treaty Org and the 'entitlement' of the refugees. For a while it seemed like fighting would reach the Band itself, particularly as the ATR was in a lower orbit and would periodically pass close-by Org member habs. In late 629a.t. a conference held at the neutral North Star Sea Kingdom saw the signing of a declaration that would prohibit Bander habs from conflict anywhere outside the Lunar volume (rumours that GAIA was planning a harsh intervention on those that might endanger the Earth with a Kessler event are attributed as the key driver for all sides signing).
Band involvement in the war would be short lived however, after the catastrophic amat attack on Lunar industries that left over one hundred million dead all involved Habs pulled out of the conflict (many would pull out of the Org all together). The effect this had on the later war is remains unclear. On the one hand the Bracelet Band habs contributed a large pool of labourers for the Org war effort, however this was mitigated by the primitive technology of those industries. Politically the move created a long lasting rift between the Band, the Org and Luna authorities. One that would not begin to heal until long after the formation of the Luna States.
History The Bracelet Band was not a long lasting organisation compared to many other examples in Terragen history. Political and cultural factions especially experienced frequent collapses, merges and reforms during the Dark Age. Noted Second Fed historian Voyeur of Suffering comments that the half-life of Bracelet Band polities was 65 years, all the way up to the formation of the First Federation. Consequently barely a score of Band cultures made it to the end of the Dark Age without major change.
Political consolidation, either by centralist nations or supranational organisations, would be a constant positive trend in the Band. Immediately after the Great Expulsion there were approximately 200 nations spread between the habs, most newly formed by people's drawn together by the GE. By the formation of the First Federation this number had reduced to 15 (some of which were transapient protected). There are several contending theories for the main driver of this trend; Space Adaptationalists argue that political instability in the Band was due to the inexperience of the refugees at space-based life. Everything from high density living to needing to actively maintain the environment pushed ideas of national identities to the limit. Sociogeographers reject this theory, pointing out that arcologies and ecological management infrastructure were common on Earth pre-Great Expulsion, even pre-Technocalypse. They propose that the simple fact of radical change in geography was enough to shatter cultural identities. They point to examples where entire cities were moved en mass with no concern for the local history and cultural values of each city district. Other historians more focused on the Dark Age as a whole point to the importance of economic trust networks as a mechanism of surviving remnant plagues and swarms. Whichever reason truly was the main driver, if one exists, all agree that the Bracelet Band was an oddly dynamic environment for a period of history generally viewed as stagnant.
On the eve of the 9th Century, unbeknown to any but a few at the time, the first indigenous ascension occurred in a Bander hab; an entity identifying itself as 'RedHax'. Prior to this records indicate little significant transapient interference. The nearest S1 powers were concentrated in the Luna volume which, according to a later interview with a copy-descendent of a treaty-Org hyperturing, was due to the Bands being considered neutral ground. Whilst the credibility of this interview has been questioned historians have supported the idea that transapients avoided taking control of the habs for fear of open conflict over the potentially huge economic gains. RedHax is believed to have originated as a semi-sentient AI created for ascension by the Institute of Conservative Change (a research organisation renowned for painstakingly careful methods that, while inefficient, enabled them to develop technology without plague/swarm infections). RedHax was handed over Chairwomanship of the ICC and through it she began to gain influence in three Bander nations with heavy ICC presence: Mutual Halthetica, the United Aquatic Emirates and Frent. Like many transapients of the time she worked unannounced, though she did little to quash rumours circulating thanks to ICC's notable progress in safe technological development. In 818a.t. she publically introduced herself to wider SolSys culture and enjoyed a successful memetic campaign that painted her as a 'true Bander'. Over the next few years she enacted a political and economic plan that saw the three ICC nations consolidated it to one: Phoenix. As the Dark Age drew to an end this nation and its transapient leader would be amongst the founding signatories of the First Federation.
The first century of the First Federation was a renaissance for the Band. With the increasing sophistication of technology (made possible by co-operation and final superiority over the remnant plagues) the Band emerged as an economic powerhouse. Given the high population numbers and concentration of industry even minor improvements in technology resulted in huge gains. However this golden age was not to last. Towards the end of the First Fed, Band culture had all but disappeared as many habs used their newfound industries to perform radical redesigns, even going so far as to dismantle their homes to build better ones from the ground up. Balkanisation occurred as peace and prosperity weakened the ties made between peoples out of desperation, at the same time the structure of the First-Fed provided all the high-level government needed. The Age of Expansion saw the biggest decrease as tens of millions emigrated by comms-laser, ship and later wormhole. RedHax herself emigrated in 2329, setting off with the intention of forming an interstellar fief (in some cases entire Phoenix derived nations uploaded to follow). In the Current Era only forty two Bracelets remain, most operating as museums and pilgrimage sites for tourists to SolSys. Less than five can truly claim a cultural or political lineage stretching back to those scared refugees of the Great Expulsion.
Notable and notorious Band Nations Theocracy of Yshh: Founded in 699a.t. after an election in hab Kuro saw the Yshhian party win 87% of parliament's seats. Kuro had been economically struggling for decades, two famines had led to over 400,000 dead. The cause of those famines was found to be a black rot variant, a discovery that quickly dried up all external trade. One of those famine victims was a superior by the name of Erwyn Yshh. He would later preach that the famines, the expulsion, even the technocalypse should be revered as Holy. Terragen kind, he claimed, was born to thrive in adversary, safety made it weak. Though he died in 670a.t. he left behind a rapidly growing religious movement. Yshhian beliefs that dangerous times should be embraced, whilst marginally self-destructive, did provide the motivation needed for Kuro to avoid total failure. With the election of the Yshhian party Kuron society was reformed into a theocracy headed by the 'Tempered', a council of religious leaders. Over the following century twenty four habs would be consolidated into the nation (mostly quarantined nations that were close to failure and had little choice but to accept Yshhian aid and preachers). Life in the theocracy was harsh, as fitting doctrine. Safety procedures were often lax leading to high industrial death rates (consequently population control measures were also lax). The most iconic aspect of Yshhian culture was the development of the Agony Catacombs. Vast, labyrinthine sections of lower hab levels that would be engineered for painful and humiliating scenarios. These were used by the ruling hierarchy as assessments for key bureaucratic positions; in one infamous case a new initiate to the Tempered had to finish her ordeal by choosing whether or not to burn a warehouse of vital medical supplies or her eldest daughter. By the first federation the theocracy waned as other nations took advantage of the return to high-tech life. The Yshhians fell apart into squabbling factions that would later be assimilated into more prosperous polities.
Neomixecon: Originating from a Pacific Artisan hab this political movement came to dominate over fifty habs (to varying degrees). After the disastrous attempts by the PA to rapidly recover lost technology the neomixecon coup worked to base their new regime in pragmatism. Seeing the disarray of many habs, not only in the Bracelet Band but throughout SolSys, they believed that the optimum strategy for surviving the times had yet to be found. Wary of committing to a singular cause they set about dividing up their territory into semi-independent regions, each designed to practice a different form of social organisation. Above all regime members would supervise, study and overrule if needed, beyond that regions were encouraged to explore the full scope of their experimental set ups. One third of neomixcon territory at any one time was experimental, the rest would follow whatever societal structure had so far been judged 'best' by the regime. Neomixecon society was therefore in a frequent state of flux, instituting large changes every few years. Some experiments would be minor tests of market regulation or forms of oligarchy. Others would live on in infamy, such as a region populated exclusively by young children provided with Aldrin tools. As different cultural groups took what they needed from the experiments and slipped out of regime control (rarely violently) the neomixecon regime faded into obscurity in the mid-8th century.
UpperBlossom: Among the smaller habs at 5.5km in diameter UpperBlossom would become a place of renown in the Band, frequently portrayed in various fictional productions. Initially the hab started out like any other; a collection of refugees (in this case 900,000) given a short amount of time to organise into a political group, trying their best to survive. Like many less fortunate habs it limped from one economic crisis to the next. In 684a.t. newly appointed Governess Ito Rin sought to change this, after rising to prominence as a successful business women she laid out a plan for UpperBlossom to corner several niche markets. Her plan enjoyed a modicum of success, her government grants aided many hab businesses in branching out into the wider Band. The greatest success came in 711a.t. At an inter-hab conference to discuss resource issues Ito was surprised to find that one third of habs were struggling with population control, one in twenty severely so. When she realised that many of these habs were among the richest she immediately called her staff to write up a new set of grants. By the end of the year UpperBlossom spawned the industry that would come to define it: cryovaults. The service was simple; UpperBlossom companies approached rich habs with high population numbers and governments unwilling to use harsh measures (a market estimated to cover 14% of Band GDP). In return for an annual fee excess citizens, particularly the elderly, would be transferred to UpperBlossom and stored in cryostasis to await better days. Many politicians were skeptical at first but it transpired to be a popular plan among the citizens. It was considered to be a humane approach to the burden of the sick, the infirm and the unnecessary. Over the following decade UpperBlossom would take 500,000 citizens for the vaults. The industry flourished and even began offering premium services to the rich and powerful who sought to skip past the Dark Times. By the 9th Century the hab had become known simply as "The Vaults", it's 300,000 strong population almost all working to service 25 million sleepers. In the First Fed era the Vaults were opened, not all survived the process (records are incomplete but suggest 70-85% survival rate) but those that did woke up to a much brighter world. The hab was abandoned, save to be used as a museum for nearly two thousand years.
Reef: The largest aquatic hab at 17km in diameter. Reef was home to mer-folk, dolphins, amphibian tweaks and aquatic vecs. One third of its 400 metre tall interior was filled with water. Uncommon amongst the band habs Reef was home to a vibrant aquatic ecosystem with tens of thousands of species living in the sea. Aquaculture became a far greater source of food than hydroponics, whilst ecological maintenance of the ecosystem was very labour intensive Reef would later capitalise on this through trade in luxury, rare seafoods. The history of Reef during the Dark Age was quite peaceful and prosperous, due to good management and trade relations it rarely dropped out of the top 10 richest habs (after gaining membership to the United Aquatic Emirates it rose to the top 5). This wealth was used wisely, mostly re-invested in infrastructure. These improvements became famous within SolSys when in 755a.t. Reef embarked on its "beautification" initiative. Over the following two decades extensive work would be done to make the hab an aesthetically pleasing home. To that end mass plumbing networks were used to create a plethora of artfully crafted waterfalls, reservoirs and riverways. Outer surfaces of buildings were painted in screens to display soothing visual scapes. In the current era Reef still exists (moved to Earth's L5 point) and is a pilgrimage site for the myriad aquatic clades that trace their lineage to its sea.
Cappalchia: For a time this nation consisted of two habs descended from a Cascadian arcology. Cappalchia has been the subject of many historical studies as an example of how political strife in a mobile hab culture can be alleviated by migration. The two habs were united from the expulsion, sticking together through shared government, legal and economic systems. The unicameral congress that oversaw the nation was an oddity for the time; it operated under direct liquid cyberdemocracy. In this system each citizen possessed one vote and each government proposal was open to be voted upon by the entire nation. To solve the issue of voter turnout and the effort required to keep abreast of all policies citizens were able to delegate their vote to any other on a permanent basis (reserving the right to recall it at any time). Proxies could in turn delegate the votes that had been handed over to them. The effect of this was to create a hierarchy of representation. Citizens could track where their votes were via the govnet and were alerted whenever their vote had been delegated or cast. A 24 hour cooling off period was enacted for each policy so that citizens could revoke their vote if they disagreed with their proxy. Only congressional representatives could propose and debate policy, these were elected for six year terms with one third of the house elected biannually by preference vote. The system worked well for a time, however strong factions developed and by 680 AT Cappalchia was politically polarised between two parties. Social tension was high but remained manageable as, with no top-down organisation, migration worked to separate supporters of either party into seperate habs. In 701 AT the nation formally split, becoming the Republic of Cappalchia and Democratic Cappalchia. The legacy of the nation was long lasting, its political system spread in the first fed period adopted by many member states.
Text by Ryan B
Initially published on 31 March 2016.