Beyond the Black
The first planetary body to host permanent human habitation, Earth’s sole moon is home to the second largest population of transhumanity on a single planet and remains a lynchpin of culture and economic activity. Lunar history has been shaped dramatically by the Fall. Before the need to evacuate Earth arose, it was expected that the Moon would remain largely an automated mining concern, never attaining a population of more than a few million. Luna was never seen as an economically viable location for colonization, the focus instead falling on Mars and the outer system.
When the Fall came, every polity that couldn’t hope for a shot at Mars or elsewhere set its sites on Luna. The Indians were the only great power that had invested heavily in Luna. The other three major settlements, Erato, Nectar, and Shackle, were multinational and hypercorp concerns with no strong national affiliations. These three cities swelled overnight into polyglot refugee camps, while the Indian settlement, New Mumbai, was nuked black by the corps when it became apparent that a TITAN infection had taken hold there.
Bereft of nationhood, Lunars developed their own resourceful, tough-minded culture which has emerged as a counterbalance to the radicalism of the outer system and the excesses of Mars.
Transportation on Luna is largely by suborbital rocket, although trans-sonic bullet trains also operate along shorter routes. The major space port is at Nectar. There is also a skyhook—a massive orbiting satellite spaceport that drags a massive tether, which acts as a space elevator along a track running across the Lunar surface south of the equator. As a result, many smaller cities lie along the skyhook track.
Nectar is one of the three fashion/design capitals of the system (along with Noctis on Mars and Extropia). The Lunar design houses have two major advantages: an inventive population and a low planetary gravity that makes it easier to design for the low gravities that prevail in much of the system. Some habitats elsewhere in the system even choose a rotational speed that simulates Lunar gravity in order to get the greatest benefit from Lunar designs.
Although it’s not the richest place to mine He-3, Luna has such good infrastructure for extraction and distribution that it more than makes up for the fact that Luna is very poor in hydrogen for more conventional forms of fusion. Unlike the vast reserves of the gas giants, however, the amount of readily extractable He-3 in the Lunar regolith is finite. Some of the richer deposits are already tapped out, and concerned Lunars consider their world’s future after these deposits are exhausted a major issue.
The Lunar banks are the oldest (and thus richest) in the system, though hypercorps like Solaris are close on their heels. Interestingly, the rise of the reputation economy in the outer system has not presented as much of a problem for these banks as one might have expected. Lunar banks got hip to the reputation game long before the Martian financial institutions and moved in to capitalize on it immediately. By the time Martian banks knew what was going on, Lunar financial institutions had struck deals with the Extropians and dominated all of the points of exchange where favors could be bartered for cold, hard cash between inner system corp types and outer system anarchists. The same genius fueling Lunar design created a complex barter to cash network that almost everyone uses. While some autonomists find it infuriating that they have to deal with a monolithic banking system to get by in the inner system, others are simply happy to deal with the Lunars instead of the Martians for this service.
Erato (population 5 million) is a major mining center consisting of a series of heavily shielded surface domes and a vast underground city. Erato is centered around the Eratosthenes crater on the southern edge of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Showers), in the northern hemisphere of the Terra-facing side of Luna. Erato has access to both the rich titanium deposits of the Mare Imbrium and fields of Helium 3-abundant regolith.
Erato is one of the oldest mining settlements on Luna and one of the first to become commercially viable. As such, many of the Lunar banks are centered around this city. The vaulted heights of the Great Cavern of Erato, originally excavated by a Sino-European conglomerate, reach a height of 1.5 kilometers at the apex, leaving room for a teeming city of gardens and towers grown from Lunar silicates and industrious nanites, lit from above by sunlight entering via great mirrored vents.
Nectar (population 9 million) lies about 100 kilometers due east of Theophilus crater on the Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar) in Luna’s southern hemisphere. Nectar is a design powerhouse, home to the great Lunar design houses that set fashion and design trends for much of the solar system. Due to its location relatively close to the Lunar equator, Nectar also hosts Luna’s primary long-haul space port and is on the pickup path for the Lunar sky hook.
New Mumbai containment zone
The incineration of the New Mumbai colony with nuclear weapons during the Fall to prevent the spread of TITAN infection left a scorch mark roughly 100 kilometers in diameter on the face of Luna that is still visible from high orbit. The colony was a heavily automated Helium-3 mining station, located in the midst of rich Helium-3 fields on the edge of the Mare Moscoviens. It remains a heavily-patrolled quarantine zone to this day.
Shackle (Shackleton-New Varanasi)
Shackle (population 6 million), built in and around the south polar Shackleton crater, is centered around one of two major water extraction operations on Luna. New Varanasi, the city of temples, is the most impressive section of the city. Shackle was the other major site of old Indian influence on Luna, and with the destruction of New Mumbai holds special importance to descendants of the Indian diaspora. New Varanasi is a monumental artificial cavern complex with an intricate canal system fed by melted ice from the polar caps above. As a source of lifegiving water, it now holds the same importance to the Hindu faith once ascribed to the River Ganges on old Terra. Survivors of other Indian religions, such as the Jains and Sikhs, have also made their temples here. This makes Shackle a major pilgrimage site; tourism is the major industry after water extraction. A small herd of Indian elephants is a major attraction, and the elephant god Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles, is extremely popular on Luna, even with non-Hindus.