Lunar Warrens

The massively overcrowded refuges built on Earth's Moon after the Great Expulsion

Lumar Warrens under construction
Image from Steve Bowers
Lunar Warrens under construction near Chang-e, using a triangular hub formation

The Great Expulsion forced approximately 5 billion people off Earth in 19 years, from 621 to 640 AT. The majority remained in cislunar space, either in orbitals such as the Bracelet Band or lunar colonies, which received about 2 - 2.5 billion each. The remainder fled throughout Solsys or even to other star systems. Those who settled on Luna, favoring greater material wealth over political independence, usually found themselves living in dense tunnel networks of hastily-built habs: the infamous Lunar Warrens.


The task of housing ten to twelve times the lunar population of 621 AT as fast as possible was daunting, especially given the decrepit, post-Technocalypse state of cislunar industry and the lack of support from the rest of Solsys. The previous decades had allowed for some recovery, however the industrial capacity of 621 was a shadow of that in 564. Furthermore, the technology available to humanity had regressed to that of the early 400s if not earlier. Self-imposed proscriptions against AIs, DNI, and self-replicating industrial technologies (e.g., Von Neumanns) further hindered productivity. Nonetheless, cislunar industry was not incapable of handling the Great Expulsion, especially with technological and material aid from GAIA.

Habitat expansion and construction to house billions of refugees required a multi-pronged approach. Firstly industry and the workforce had to be expanded (the refugees would provide part of the solution to the latter). Secondly, the habitats would be masterpieces of frugal engineering (or "barebone travesties," in the words of politer refugees). Generally the simpler and easier the habitats were, the less effort was required to make them en masse.

Virtually all lunar colonies resorted to warren construction. Even Copernicus, which was a completely domed, air-filled crater 93 kilometers in diameter, could only fit about 10 million people without turning itself into "a warren with a high roof," to quote one Copernican argument. Since a major colony like Copernicus might receive over 100 million refugees it needed more room made possible by warrens.

By the end of the Last War, Luna had absorbed merely 200-250 million refugees, but eight years of industrial expansion meant it was ready for the remainder. It was thought that they could be accepted by 636-638 and then work would shift to improving living conditions, but the distraction and damage of the Moon Wars (629-640) delayed completion of sufficient lunar habitat space until 640.

It is noteworthy that the lunar warrens were not the result of any centralized program. While some colonies copied warren templates used by others and GAIA supplied numerous modules to her own template, each colony responded with warrens as made possible by its domestic industry, economy, technology, and workforce. The Technocalypse had taught a harsh lesson in the dangers of integrated economies and by 621 AT the lunar colonies were unwilling to work together beyond a certain limit. The primary forms of cooperation were on three unrelated levels: coordination with the Treaty Org and GAIA to receive refugees at a sustainable rate; trust networks of colonies for trade and specialization; and use of international cislunar infrastructure like mass drivers, orbital elevators, and surface transport.

Part of the Treaty Org's memetic assault package throughout the Moon Wars was the need for greater centralization to eliminate wasteful redundancies. Ironically, the Wars started to speed refugee housing efforts ended up slowing final settlements of refugees on Luna. And far from putting the Treaty Org in a pre-eminent position in cislunar space, the Treaty Org was reduced to a second tier polity.


Warrens varied enormously between lunar colonies, but were all impacted by similar key factors.

They tended to be made of cylindrical tunnels (to lower stress from air pressure), stacked close together in parallel. Most often these tunnels were placed on the lunar surface in shallow trenches before being covered in 2-5m of regolith for radiation protection. Rarely were they subterranean despite some modern portrayals.

Though many historical descriptions emphasize the warrens being packed together like stacks of pipes, in practice warren tunnels were spaced to give sufficient room for radiators, light collecting mirrors, solar panels, and so on. Depending on the warren's latitude (higher latitudes required greater spacing), this could result in tunnels being spaced apart by up to 5 or 10 tunnel diameters.

Manufacturing techniques varied widely due to differences in lunar colony economies. Sufficiently advanced projects employed synsects, bicameral von Neumanns and mobile forges to excavate, process and fabricate warrens in situ. Less advanced or more technologically paranoid colonies favored bulk processing of regolith for metals in central refineries followed by conventional metal working techniques: casting, stamping, rolling, forging, friction stir welding, etc. to produce warren modules in an assembly-line fashion. Some colonies assembled modules complete with fittings and utilities, others left installation of these to early refugees.

Materials used in warren construction also varied. Most were built from aluminum and steel alloys; a typical module might have a nickel-iron hull with pure aluminum coating for corrosion protection, magnesium-alloyed aluminum water piping, pure aluminum wiring in spun basalt jackets and ceramic conduits, aluminum air ducts, and so on. Less common was to fabricate fibrous materials from Luna's common elements. When combined with heaped regolith (or solar-fused regolith bricks, mining tailings, etc.) to provide pressure and durability, these fabrics could be rapidly inflated into larger public spaces or quickly-deployed warren tunnels. The shortage of polymers led to the use of metal foils, sprayed metals, or melt-poured sulfur to seal the cloth airtight. Mineral, glass, and ceramic cloth were also used to form sand bags to keep loose regolith from sliding off warren structures.

Even furnishings were dictated by the limited ranges of materials: aluminum or steel frames, inorganic woven cloth, and so on. A pillow or duvet might have a cover of silky spun basalt fibers, be stuffed with mineral wool fluff, and be given the lightest spray of inorganic polymers for dust and splinter control. It was common for warren dwellers to use human hair as substitutes to sometimes-irritating inorganic fibers.

A major issue was the shortage of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen on Luna. Refugees were strongly encouraged to bring 2-3 tons of hydrogen and nitrogen each, something that GAIA supported with both deliveries from the asteroid belt and Earth. Ammonia was a popular medium for the elements since it could be readily combined with Luna's abundant oxygen to form water and release the nitrogen needed for a habitat's atmosphere (as well as fertilizers for farms and a multitude of other uses). Carbon was found in adequate quantities in a few impact craters apparently made by carbonaceous impactors, but Selenian control of those was the basis for the Third and Seventh Moon Wars.

These shortages would lead to very frugal utilization of related materials. Warren atmospheres were very dry, unpleasantly so, and usually below 1 bar of pressure. When vat-grown foods were not available, aeroponics were favored over hydroponics or aquaponics. Organic polymeric materials were always scarce. Bathing was infrequent for warrens with cruder recycling technology. At the completion of the Expulsion when GAIA decommissioned several Earth-launch megastructures like space elevators and Lofstrom Loops, the megatons of carbon were donated to cislunar habitats, alleviating some resource shortages.

After the Moon Wars, one of the largest space-based actions of the seventh century was the Luna States' 644 capture of a carbonaceous Earth-crossing asteroid, which was anchored to the L1 lunar elevator. This made over five gigatons of carbon and lesser amounts of nitrogen and hydrogen available to the moon. Like most Earth-crossing asteroids, it had been settled centuries before and lost in the Technocalypse. Cleaning it of swarms and then escorting it to cislunar space in the face of rogue proto-wars cost the combined militaries of Luna dearly but gave the population much-needed volatiles. Because of the high cost of the asteroid capture cislunar space thereafter favored solar wind scoops, but those were much less productive. The Alpes Water Alliance broke the cislunar drought in the ninth century with several comet captures.

Another factor was gravity and its health impacts. Poorer habitats resorted to widespread genetic edits to provide low-G tolerance even at the risk of riots by refugees still emotionally scarred by problems with genetic alterations from the Technocalypse. The poorest - or most callous - colonies didn't bother with either option and allowed public health catastrophes to develop among refugees. Sick, osteoporositic refugees were vulnerable to riot police in power armor.


Lunar Warrens N Hemisphere
Image from Steve Bowers and Mike Miller
Minimal Lunar Warren configuration in Northern Hemisphere

Key to above diagram
This is a line drawing overview of a minimalist warren located on Luna's northern hemisphere at 45 degrees+ latitude. It includes two duplicated sets of warren tunnels that can be repeated ad nauseum. Features:
A - There are two sets of 5 lines marked "A." These are the 3-meter diameter, 300-meter long warren tunnels. Every 6-meter length is a notional "module" in the unbroken pipe, holding an average of 4 occupants, so each of the 5 tunnels holds about 200. The two sets of "A" tunnels pictured thus have 2000 refugees.
B - The line on the right end of the "A" warren tunnels is the 6-meter diameter, 225-meter long buss tunnel. Putting warren tunnels on one side of the buss tunnel simplifies buss tunnel manufacturing slightly. They have an airlock at their free end. The buss tunnels interface the "A" tunnels with "C" radiators and "E" solar arrays, having such features as heat exchangers, fans and air filters, water pumps, and so on.
C - The two dotted lines running north-south are the radiator arrays for the habitats. Each dotted line consists of 10 white vertical panels 10 meters wide by 30 meters tall, with space for utility vehicles to drive around their base. At 300K radiator temperatures, one row can dissipate about 3000kW of heat. They are arranged north-south to be edge-on to the southerly sun for most of the lunar day.
D - This shaded line is a 12-meter diameter (shown oversized against the scale) commons tunnel with interior rail lines, cafeterias, and other ration dispensing areas (e.g. clothing).
E - This horizontal dotted line represents the south-facing solar arrays, also vertical panels like the radiators. They provide a measure of shade to the "A" tunnels immediately north of them, but not the entire warren set.
F - F is for Farm. The much-higher lighting demands of farm modules (hundreds of watts per square meter of hydroponic tray) makes it easier to use windows or skylights during the day, and thus these modules are not buried and located south of the shading D commons tunnel.

Lunar Warrens layout
Image from Steve Bowers and Mike Miller
Minimal Lunar Warren internal layout

Key to above diagram
A minimalist warren module, 3m in diameter and 6m long. (This is not actually a separately-built module, just a designated stretch of continuously-welded warren tunnel.) Shown in cross-section (left) and overhead (right) perspectives.
- Overhead utility delivery lines (electrical, water, fresh air, etc.) exposed for easy maintenance
- Under-floor utility return lines (primarily gravity-fed sewer)
- Passageway, 1-meter max width
- Bunks, 1-meter max width by 2.5 meters long. Positions are nominal and may include vertical locker (up to 0.5 meters long) at one end, depending on height of refugee (see "R"). The bunks often folded away or served as counters, tables, and desks. Space underneath them might be enclosed in cabinets or other storage space.
- Edge of transverse sheet aluminum or sheet steel privacy barrier between "modules." Marks width of passageway.
- Optional privacy curtains, usually fiberglass. Often subject to wear and damage from passageway users.
- Optional sink, cabinetry, counters.
WC - Optional water closet. In warrens with public facilities, this was storage space or eliminated to shorten a "module."

The simplest and archetypal design of lunar warren, used by the least industrialized or most callous colonies, was comprised of long strings of cylindrical metal modules, typically 3 meters inner diameter and 5 meters long for 3 to 6 residents. The modules lacked individual airlocks. Instead, they were simply welded end-to-end into tunnels up to a kilometer long. They were joined to common "buss tunnels" at one or both ends (depending on resource allocation). Transverse sheet metal partitions 2 meters wide from one side of the tunnel marked off a "module" while leaving a passage that was a maximum of 1 meter wide. Typically no doors were installed in the passage and no longitudinal partition was present to grant privacy from the passage, so hangings of cloth and other spare materials was common. A false floor half a meter above the bottom of the cylinder was installed to give a flat floor, with waste water pipes housed below this.

Utility lines (electrical, data, water, air) were overhead and exposed for easy access. In these simple warrens, electrical lighting was preferred - electricity was rarely in short supply and electrical lights were easier to build than skylights and sun-tracking mirror arrays. Separate air return lines were not present. Instead, stale air was returned along the open passage, driven by the pressure of fresh air. Air generally provided temperature control, too, since few warrens were power-starved and thus could afford to rapidly circulate air through central chilling plates in the buss tunnels. However, a fully-populated, single-ended warren tunnel over 300 meters long tended to be uncomfortably warm at the far end from the buss tunnel. The necessary depth of regolith shielding was extremely effective insulation even in the lunar night.

Buss tunnels were larger in diameter than residential modules, keeping the same cylindrical format and still lacking any partitions other than hatches to the residential tunnels. Transport along the buss tunnels was much easier, with some wealthier warrens able to build rail and other forms of rapid transport into their busses. These tunnels connected hundreds of residential tunnels together, as well as the farms, air scrubbers, water purifiers, fab labs, shops, offices, medical centers, exercise/recreational facilities and many other facilities the warrens depended on. They also provided the government with enormous control in case of riots or crime because the buss tunnels and connectors were choke points.

Despite such control, these simplest of lunar warrens were also one of the major triggers of riots and revolutions during the early Moon Wars. Their non-redundant, vulnerable design accounted for millions of civilian fatalities during the Great Expulsion and Moon Wars. It was too easy for a small fire to start a stampede through very narrow passages that ended in tragedy. The lack of airlocks or bulkheads except at buss tunnel connections meant minor damage could turn disastrous and prevent responders from containing the problem while it was still minor.

In less advanced warrens, maintenance was an enormous labor sink. The dumb metal hulls and conduits were vulnerable to corrosion (despite care in alloy selection), wear, and simply leaks from poor assembly. The lack of smart monitoring systems meant manual (or bot) inspections were critical, as were repairs. The extreme poverty of warren inhabitants tended to result in illegal taps on utilities, which caused further damage to systems.

An oft-forgotten major issue was one of organisation. All the industry mustered by a colony would have been no use if there were not effective administrative and governance organisations in place. The approaches different Selenian nations and warrens took to this issue were varied, if not to the extent of the Bracelet habitats. Contrary to popular myth, totalitarian autocratic or oligarchic rule was not the norm (though at least one fifth of warrens could be described as such). With few exceptions these regimes quickly changed or failed, either due to unregulated mismanagement or as the already high social tension was pushed beyond breaking point. However life in the warrens was decidedly less liberal than the terrestrial nations the refugees hailed from. Collectivist single-party rule and meritocratic technocracy were the most common political systems, though like the Bracelet Band few societies would last through the Dark Age without frequent, significant change.


Most lunar colonies provided better warrens than the minimalist version described above. Available technology was one decisive factor in determining the quality of warrens, as was the economy of the colony. Most warrens were ever-evolving, too. A colony that used minimalist habitats in 622 AT might be mass-producing much better warrens in 625 as its industrial expansion efforts bore fruit. Other warrens remained minimalist until after the Expulsion, while some were never so spartan.

Closed Ecological Systems were commonly a first target of improvement: minimalist life support systems were fragile with frequent catastrophic failures. Next, food production, microbiomic and low-gravity medicine, and waste disposal became the principal focus of the simplest warrens.

Indeed, food production was often a key factor in determining the quality of a lunar warren. Poorer societies had little more than vat-grown synthetic tissue which was nutritious but made for a bland and limited cuisine. Richer warrens were able to adopt meatshrooms, deliplants, plant and animal aquaponics, open field soil farms, and other food production techniques. Supporting industries were also important: in colonies where automated food processing was rare, refugees found gainful work processing raw foodstuffs into flavorful meals rather than minimal rations, or by growing specialty crops like herbs in private gardens (or vats, or forges). The Copernicus colony garnered significant wealth both because its vast farm fields (under a worldhouse roof) were a tourist attraction and because it exported spices, flavorings, and vat templates that so many colonies had neglected in their food production.

Size and habitat layout were other common improvements. A 4- or 5-meter diameter cylindrical module greatly eased crowding problems even, ironically, when refugee density was higher. There was room for larger passages and thus fewer fatal crushes; room for installation of better privacy barriers, even if the residents improvised fused regolith bricks; greater atmosphere volume to handle leaks; and so on. Some colonies - notably (or notoriously) Aldrin - had the industrial muscle to mass-produce 10-meter tunnels with which to buy the loyalty of their refugees.

Improved module designs allowed for more complex configurations than simple end-to-end tunnels. Connectors were developed to allow modules to attach at any angle and for multiple modules to connect at a junction. Parallel traffic lines, courtyards, multiple floors and large open areas all became staples of richer warrens. Roughly the upper 66% of lunar warrens (as judged by per capita wealth) completely isolated each module by airtight bulkheads, which allowed easy containment of damage. The poorer warrens did not because conventional metalworking techniques required numerous operations to complete the complicated bulkheads, multi-faceted connection nodes, and airlock systems of wealthier warrens - it was simply easier to roll metal cylinders and weld them into unbroken tunnels. On the other hand, nanoforges and other assembler technologies cared little whether they were printing convoluted or simple shapes.

Utilities were also popular targets for improvement. Adding closed delivery and return lines for water and air improved control of the environment. Better waste return lines also improved recycling efficiency and reduced or eliminated the need for "muckers," workers tasked with recovering sludge in pockets and corners of warren modules. Temperature control systems, especially cooling, significantly improved quality of life in the warrens. (Inorganic, hydrogen- and carbon-free coolants like sulfur dioxide, sulfuryl chloride, and sodium-potassium alloys were favored despite the risks they posed if they leaked.) Increasing atmospheric pressure to 1 bar and raising humidity were also popular upgrades, but required larger inventories of nitrogen and water, good seals, and excellent recycling.

Amenities were another popular area of improvement enabled by a more diverse industrial base. With improved recycling technology, a warren module could make excellent use of its small water inventory, even allowing regular showers. Simple appliances like refrigerators and ovens helped refugees' sense of control over their lives, reducing the need for communal dining or eating pre-cooked rations.

With more room came the opportunity for communal areas, such as large domes, conjoined banks of cylinders, and other spaces. Depending on the wealth of the colony and refugees, these might be minimal spaces intended to use economies of scale for feeding, bathing, and working, or there might be elaborate parks, farms, and market spaces.

A popular warren improvement after basics were addressed was rotating track habitats. These were trains (maglev, usually) running in banked circles to supply a desired simulated gravity level for the health of the Terran residents. They typically ran in tunnels of fused regolith for shielding and used a system of transfer cars (small trains running on concentric tracks) to move residents between the rotating and non-rotating parts of the warren.

Industry available in the warrens varied enormously. Given the ever-present risk of plague in the Dark Ages few maintained more than a handful of full-autofabs (those that did had to practice strict plague-prevention measures). However limited public fabs were a staple of richer warrens; it was often useful to allow refugees to have local production and repair shops to improve their standard of living without micromanagement by the colonial government. The most advanced warrens had sufficient wealth and anti-plague measures to put a basic fab in each home, significantly improving industrial capacity and quality of life.

Radiators varied significantly. While the crudest warrens might simply allow passive circulation of habitat air into radiators in shaded areas, most tended to use safer two-stage cooling with some isolated coolant being sent to radiators after chilling the warrens at cold plates and air handlers. Modestly improved technology enabled sun-tracking radiators that presented their edges to the sun. Some warrens were even artistic: Yueyuan used rivers, troughs, fountains, and falls of molten potassium and potassium-sodium alloys to decorate the surface of the colony. If sufficient labor and radiator capacity were available, habitats might also use diurnal energy stores like underground "cold reservoirs" of chilled rock to help moderate daytime peak temperatures.


Cislunar space had mustered an enormous industrial effort to house, feed, and clothe billions of refugees. While the GAIAn component of that industrial base disappeared (from human use, at least) in 640 AT, the resulting space-based population still had a lot of manufacturing muscle intended to build habitats. The exponential growth of the workforce and industry peaked at the end of the Great Expulsion, not earlier. After the refugees arrived, this industry shifted to improving the warrens.

Over the next century the lunar colonies concentrated on growing the warren economies, first focusing on habitat sophistication and later more complex consumer driven economies. By 740 AT, the average Selenian (refugee or native) had more than ten times the average habitat volume as in 640 AT. Further, most warrens had solved the major medical issues of microgravity environments using a combination of track habitats, pharmaceuticals and genemods. Those who preferred local gravity embarked on major projects to replace their warrens with much larger open domes and other conventional Selenian habitats.

The Luna States also continued shipments of materials to orbital habitats throughout cislunar space. Even if the habitats could not afford the raw materials, most lunar colonies were willing to donate materials to the desperate orbitals partly out of altruism and partly because it made the orbitals dependent on Luna. Luna might have been desperately short of volatiles but it could supply gigatons of oxygen, silicon, and metals, and it was not starved of power for the mining or launching operations. With access to lithium, boron, and other light elements, Luna was also able to breed tritium, which decayed to useful helium-3, and also could produce some amat. The chronic trade imbalance in favor of Luna was one of many reasons orbitals were some of the worst-off refugee polities after the Expulsion.

An issue that continually stifled growth of lunar habitats was lack of volatiles. New worldhouses could not cover thousands of square kilometers like Copernicus for lack of nitrogen to build a safe atmosphere; even conventional habitats were restricted in size. Hydrogen was also in short supply and one of the most profitable exports for the Lagrange habitats besides the fruits of their cheap labor was hydrogen scooped from the solar wind. Dark Ages-era conflicts near Earth tended to be skirmishes to claim salvage rights on a failed habitat so a polity could acquire their nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen.

Despite these bottlenecks, few true lunar warrens existed by 850 AT, and those that did had drastically lower population densities as so many former residents moved to conventional habitats in their lunar colonies. When the Alpes Water Alliance opened the flood gates (so to speak) on cometary and asteroid resources in the late 800s, warrens virtually disappeared. A few survive today as tourist facilities or as residences of extremely nostalgic Selenians.


Copernicus: A physically enormous colony, Copernicus was a tour de force of pre-Technocalypse engineering and industry: the largest "domed" crater built to date. The dome was actually very low in profile, just enough of an arch to carry its own weight in case internal air pressure was lost. Von Neumann swarms lined the crater, built the dome, and produced oxygen from local soils. About 100 gigatons of nitrogen and oxygen were required to fill the 93-kilometer diameter, 10-kilometer dome to 1 bar of pressure, and the dome was multi-layered, self-repairing quartz that was nearly as massive as the atmosphere below it. The crater floor was gradually turned into a paradise of gardens, forests, and agricultural regions. Smart coatings on the dome and fusion-powered luminaires maintained a 24-hour day/night cycle for the ecosystem within it.

The lunar colony behind such a great work was predictably wealthy, advanced, and populous. Copernicus weathered the Technocalypse intact with little damage to its dome or ecosystem, though its industrial sector and economy were in tatters. The defensive programs needed to weather the swarms and plagues that persisted after the Technocalypse helped give it focus and recover, and the colony was a cornerstone of the cislunar recovery.

The announcement of the Great Expulsion brought mixed reactions from Copernicans, but the colony was integrated into GAIA's defenses and dependent on trade with Earth for volatiles. It was simply too vulnerable to join the Treaty Org in the Last War. Therefore, Copernicus planned to cooperate with GAIA, recognizing that its 20 million residents would be joined by nearly 200 million refugees. Since the domed crater only had about 7000 square kilometers of floor space and the Copernicans were unwilling to urbanize their farms and forests, the colony resorted to warrens.

Image from Mike Miller and Steve Bowers
Copernican Warrens. The 1.8-kilometer diameter hexagons were eventually encircled by 2-kilometer diameter track habitats. The hexagons were then connected by separate transit tunnels built with the future track habitat in mind. Buss tunnels formed the hexagon and star that crossed the interior of the town. Warren tunnels were uniformly arranged north to south to minimize solar exposure and each end of a warren tunnel ended in a buss tunnel. About 25,000 people were resident in each town.

Key to above diagram
A - Warren tunnel. These were made of 5-meter diameter, 10-meter long modules that held 3 to 6 residents (typically 4). While connected end-to-end with neighboring modules and having a nominally public passageway, the modules had 3-meter diameter parallel traffic tunnels (E) used by two rows of adjacent warren tunnels. Each module mounted vertical sun-tracking solar panels (2m wide x 5m tall) to charge local and buss tunnel (B) batteries, while radiators were mounted on shaded sides of buss tunnels. Up to 50 rows of the warren tunnels were strung between buss tunnels to house the 25,000 residents.
B - B is for buss tunnel. These 15-meter diameter tunnels served as public spaces, footpaths, and central utility interfaces. Their role in distributing air, water, and coolant made them ideal sites to install higher temperature (400K) radiators on their shaded flanks.
C - Vertex Dome. Six of these 50-meter diameter spheres provided public atria, shops, ration distribution centers, and business space. Roles varied from town to town. Unusually, Copernicus excavated pits for these to bury them under a sufficient quantity of regolith that balanced their internal air pressure. This was done because the big domes were made of thick basalt bricks and rendered airtight with a spray of aluminum, but they had very little tensile strength and thus relied on the surrounding regolith.
D - Town center. Unlike the vertex domes, these centers were simply row after row of merged aluminum domes forming a flat-roofed hexagonal public space up to 200 meters in diameter, which productive towns would often expand into more parkland or shopping plaza.
E - Transit tunnel, 3-meter simple tunnel. Easily room for 2-abreast movement.
F - Extension module, various forms as purchased by refugees. Used for gardens, additional living space, workshop, store, observation dome, etc.
N - Connecting node. This 4-meter node has 4 to 6 standard, 2.5-meter connection doors. Four horizontal doors were present (and typically under ceramic cloth insulation if not used), while optional roof and floor doors might be installed to access overhead or underground extensions. The primary use was to connect two warren modules (A) to the traffic tunnels (E), and secondarily as an airlock. Hardworking refugees might afford expansion modules (F) attached to unused doors.

The Copernican warrens were some of the more pleasant refugee habitats during the Expulsion. The colony had the industrial technology to process regolith in situ and lay down extruded, printed modules from bicameral Von Neumann bots. The modules were relatively roomy (5 meters in diameter and 10 long for three to six refugees) and had separate nexus / airlock nodes between every module so refugees did not have to walk through neighbors' modules to reach buss tunnels. Warrens were grouped in hexagons of 1.8 kilometers in diameter with the expectation that they would be gradually encircled by track habitats. Within each "warren town" were several inflated domes holding public spaces for restaurants, shops, and autofab areas. Excellent utilities and advanced recycling systems kept the occupants comfortable. They were not the roomiest or best appointed habitats, but the main dome was a counterbalance to the claustrophobia and sterile town public spaces.

The warren towns, which might have up to 25,000 residents each, also served as excellent means of controlling refugees since they typically had limited connections to larger transport grids. Like many lunar colonies, Copernicus was worried about refugee behavior. While it had a multi-path plan for educating them, putting them to work, and otherwise integrating refugees into lunar society, some security precautions seemed reasonable. The colony was morally opposed to pervasive surveillance of the sort used by Armstrong and especially Aldrin, but did put numerous security bots and personnel to work patrolling warren towns.

However, Copernicus had few significant refugee problems during the early Expulsion. The majority of problem cases were simply unhappy, mentally unbalanced, or incorrigible individuals. The naturalization plans had largely worked and the early refugees were both grateful for a decent standard of living compared to other colonies and ready to assist with housing the flood of refugees still to come. A willingness to work with the Treaty Org thus gave the false impression that Copernicus was neutral in the Treaty Org-Selenian tensions.

Like other successful colonies, Copernicus granted refugees access to tools and spare resources to improve their warrens. Guidelines from residents led to refugees engaging not just in expansion of their habitats and manufacturing luxuries, but also in module-decorating contests that pitted town against town, regolith sculpting competitions, and "creativity contests" where developers of (for example) inorganic paints and new food templates were rewarded.

Ironically, the source of the colony's minor refugee riots and revolts were its reward policies. Copernicans had to suppress xenophobic tendencies to even allow refugees into the domed crater, with the extreme fringe of the colony demanding near-complete isolation of the "scruffy dirtsiders." Laudably, they overcame these attitudes and ensured access to the vast low-G park land and even turned it into a reward system. General access was a matter of purchasing tickets through work and other community contributions, while greater rewards offered residency in the apartments on the vast, sloping crater walls. Refugees perceived the rewards as uneven with respect to their labors and sometimes led civil disobedience campaigns when complaints by other channels failed. Overall, the domed crater and jealous protection of it served as a wedge between colonist and refugee relations for decades, until many of the Copernican warrens had been replaced by dome-and-track habitats.

Freestead: This minor Farside facility started as a remote annex to the great second and third century AT Farside observatories. If Freestead had been better known it would have been a posterchild for the worst travesties ascribed to lunar warrens.

Freestead, formerly possessing such creative names as "Daedalus Observatory Neutrino Annex [DONA]" and "Workshop-3 North," originally included a deeply buried neutrino detector and machine shops that generated too much vibration to be close to the lunar telescopes. In the fourth century, it gained an enlarged habitat for visiting astronomers and - being close to an asteroidal deposit of carbonaceous material - a small mining operation.

The outpost became a genuine colony as it accumulated Technocalypse refugees in the sixth century. Because of paucity of surviving records, it is not certain why they congregated at Freestead, though it is suspected that word of mouth from the skilled workers already on site attracted a certain demographic. This was a collection of backyarders with diverse skill sets and diverse template libraries for autofabs.

They persevered through the Technocalypse and Recovery, and eventually coined their small colony "Freestead," which attempted to embody the highest ideals of libertarianism (as perceived by the settlers). The central government was nonexistent other than when the people voluntarily acted in concert, and otherwise residents took care of themselves. Trade and law was a matter of voluntary agreement between residents with disputes settled by residents of high reputation (and the occasional shooting to prune out bad seeds - the colony only worked if the residents were like-minded.)

The period of 575-622 AT was considered the high water mark of Freestead and its libertarian experiment. Its population of some thousands and relatively advanced (if small) industry made it a welcome neighbor in a time of trials. When the Great Expulsion was announced, Freestead braced for its small share of refugees and designed what it considered a reasonable emergency habitat.

The initial Freestead warrens were based on modules 4 meters in diameter and 10 meters long, branching from buss tunnels in an organic, plant-like pattern of "trunks, limbs, and stems," with modules being the "leaves" on the stems. Each module had its own airtight hatch and basic utilities, but were rather barren with the expectation refugees would work to fit them out and improve them in the work programs that had been sketched out by citizen committees.

By immediately accepting refugees in 622 AT and having little clout on Earth, Freestead was deluged with the most defenseless, least-prepared individuals that GAIA's forces could scrape out of arcologies and protected zones. Their mindset was utterly alien to Freestead, which offered none of the regulations, enforcement, entertainment, or incentives they were familiar with, and they had few of the skills needed by a vacuum colony. Many languished in the barren warrens and subsisted on minimal rations because Freestead's residents would not coerce them, which was anathema to the colony's beliefs. Some were motivated to work by utility shortages (the colony had planned on more refugee contributions) but those refugees responded poorly to what they perceived as threats to their lives and the lives of their family.

There was a group of refugees willing to work, just as they had on Earth. These ecological engineers, arcology administrators, virch gaming guild leaders, and other hardworking people took Freestead's educational courses and aimed to carry their own weight. They were lauded by residents as examples of how every refugee could thrive in the colony. However, they still came from an alien society and some exploited the lack of regulations and law enforcement oversight. A notorious exploit was the use of their social credit and surplus rations to produce recreational pharmaceuticals, food, virch space, and other luxuries in Freestead's forges for resale to other refugees, setting up a "black market" that operated completely in the open.

It was a small step from those markets to establishing enforcement rings to collect overdue payments; pimping; loan sharking; and other organized, abusive activities that would have been criminal in other colonies. By 625 AT, the steady arrival of criminals among refugees provided their pioneering predecessors with the manpower needed to exert de facto rule over the entire colony, against which the poorly organized residents were unable to defend themselves. (Freestead's standard response of shooting troublemakers did not work well when the troublemakers were wealthy, charismatic, and well-liked, which led to delayed recognition that they were troublemakers. That delay allowed the problems to acquire larger groups of guards and more political clout than any resident who might remove them.) Many residents fled to neighboring colonies while gangs carved up Freestead in the late 620s.

The new kleptocracy that ruled Freestead continued to accept refugees, who were recognized as a source of wealth and labor. Less-skilled autofab operators and continual diversion of colonial industrial capacity to luxuries meant warrens were pared down to the "minimal" design, which worsened living conditions and safety. Though overshadowed by some larger colonies, the overheated, food- and volume-starved warrens of Freestead were some of the worst in 630 AT. The early Moon Wars' brutal amat exchange left the colony without vital supplies. Several panicked riots were addressed by blowing buss tunnels, which crippled the colony's utilities and led to over 120,000 deaths in about a month - 97% of the population. "Compassionate intervention" by neighbors claimed the colonial site in 631. Survivors were evacuated (often to penal colonies) and the site salvaged of useful materials. It was operated as a mine until 655 AT, when its small carbonaceous chondrite deposits played out.

Dinboche: Equatorial settlement which expanded enormously with the excavation of the warrens, and which rose to infamy due to a spate of terrorist attacks during the Dark Ages. More details here.

Indonesian Corporate Development Farside: The ICDF was notorious before the Technocalypse for the lip service it paid to sophont rights. At various times through its centuries of history, it was condemned for abusing space-adapted humans, rianths, and other intelligent workers. ICDF was fast to adapt profitable new types of workers and slow to grant them rights. But the Development never quite strayed into behavior that would have resulted in intervention by other polities, especially its close cislunar neighbors. On the other hand, it often endured consumer boycotts and cyberattacks, the latter being popular as a means for angry activists around Solsys to express their displeasure with the colony.

The very cybersecurity necessary to protect ICDF from protesters helped it weather the Technocalypse. Its large mines and heavy industry were critical for the Recovery. The shareholder-resident aristocracy that developed in the colony sat on a pyramid of industry that gave them some of the highest standards of living in cislunar space during the Recovery. Their innovations in bot and vec control and cybersecurity were widely licensed on Luna as more technophilic colonies sought to rebuild with safe automated industrial technologies.

ICDF residents were of mixed opinions about victims of the Expulsion, and the consensus that emerged was one of the least pleasant Selenian attitudes toward refugees: not xenophobic per se, but rather intense selfishness that manifested as unwillingness to share the prosperity of the colony, which combined with a willingness to exploit the desperation of refugees to form a cheap workforce. Refugees would be dumped into minimalist warrens, charged for utilities and rations, and work off their debt. The leadership envisaged an entire economy of carefully-metered luxuries for the refugees, one where they (the leadership) controlled the means of production, ran the police, operated the shops, and (unofficially, of course) ran the gangs.

Throughout the early Expulsion, ICDF's warrens were among the worst slums. They were small-diameter tunnels with few separate traffic tunnels and thus prone to crushes at shift changes. Poor construction standards led to numerous failures of seals; thousands of refugees were dying per quarter in the late 620s simply from bad construction. Most of the warrens were overheated, low-pressure environments short of food and water.

Since the residents had planned on tapping humanity's greedy nature, the warrens were quickly dominated by government-backed gangs that kept order and found innovative ways of squeezing income from the inhabitants. These were derogatorily referred to as "trustees" by refugees. Predictably, violent crime was high. Some warrens - those of "sellouts" and trustees - were larger and better appointed as the ICDF residents used a heavy handed reward system.

ICDF never put the effort into security that other colonies like Aldrin did. It was content to use human gangs and security personnel to intimidate refugees into good behavior. The traffic control enabled by the isolated warrens allowed security to simply seal off (and, if necessary, depressurize) a rebellious district. Patient revolutionaries were thus able to build an elaborate organization, plan carefully, and finally overthrow the colonial leadership in a bloody 630 AT coup.

Unusually, the revolutionaries had received support from other Selenians and the Treaty Org. While not coordinated, both factions agreed that ICDF's government was despicable, and both wanted the colony's industry and mines on their side. The revolutionary government might have swung in either direction, but the Treaty Org's destruction of so much lunar infrastructure in late 630 AT resulted in seven million deaths in the ICDF warrens - 40% of the total. Thereafter, the colony was morally a staunch supporter of the Selenians but, in practice, neutral because all its energies were focused on improving its warrens.

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Development Notes
Text by Mike Miller
Initially published on 18 May 2016.