Beyond the Black
The closest planet to the sun has a mass comparable to Luna but is a great deal denser due to its iron-nickel core. Mercury rotates slowly and has no atmosphere, so that its day side is hot enough to melt most metals, while its night side is bitterly cold. Because it lacks many of the elements needed for transhuman colonies to be self-sufficient, Mercury is sparsely inhabited, save for a handful of solar power relays, a few underground mining stations, and a single large surface mining concern, Cannon.
Resources and economics
Most of Mercury’s economy is based on mining. Iron, nickel, and other metals make up 70% of the planet’s mass, making it the richest source of ferrous metals outside of the asteroids. Mercury also does a brisk business in relaying solar power and serves as a jumping-off point for solar research concerns unwilling or unable to support stations in the solar corona. Mercury has limited Helium-3 deposits, although these are predominantly mined for local use. It is an open secret that several powers have antimatter production stations here. Officially, these stations are massive solar power relays, but the immense toroid particle accelerators and large spherical magnetic containment units required for antimatter production and storage are nearly impossible to disguise.
The only known site of TITAN activity on Mercury during the Fall, Caloris 18 was a sparsely-crewed solar power relay station belonging to Lukos, a now-defunct Russian corporation. Vanya Ilyanovich, the AGI administering the facility, rounded up all of the station’s transhuman inhabitants and fused their morphs into a gigantic, centipede-like abomination before destroying itself in a failed attempt to merge consciousnesses with all of the minds in its creation. Since then, Caloris 18 has been under strict quarantine.
Mercury’s largest surface settlement is a city-scaled solar-satellite-powered mobile mass driver that crawls along the cool side of the planet, flinging apartment building sized ingots of extracted metal into space. The habitat is owned almost entirely by the hypercorp Jaehon Offworld, which built Cannon with backing from Lunar banks looking to diversify in anticipation of a post-He3 Lunar economy. Most of the 10,000 inhabitants are Jaehon employees, and security is tight. Cannon makes a long loop of the heavily-mined Caloris basin during the long Mercurian night before following a route that takes it around the planet’s northern hemisphere, avoiding the blasting rays of the sun. Along the way, it stops at a series of mining operations, collecting the gigantic ingots for launch into orbit.