Beyond the Black
Saturn’s largest moon is shrouded in a permanent orange atmospheric haze, hellishly cold (averaging 180 degrees below), and whipped by winds produced by tidal forces four times stronger than those influencing the Earth’s climate. On its face, it appears even less hospitable than the airless balls of ice and rock comprising every world between Titan and Mars. The meager sunlight reaching its surface is insufficient to grow any but the hardiest plants, the mostly-nitrogen atmosphere is dangerously toxic, and the surface is dotted with lakes and seas of liquid methane. In spite of all this, abundant hydrocarbons, a thick atmosphere, and diverse chemistry make Titan one of the few worlds in the system where colonists may rely entirely on local resources. Titan’s population is now over 60 million.
Social money and the microcorp system have led to some spectacular gains and failures. On the up side, Titan’s civil resleeving industry produces more morphs than Mars and Luna combined. Massive infrastructure programs have provided enough space for 60 million people to live comfortably on a hostile world. The Large Collider, the biggest particle accelerator ever produced, in polar orbit, enables physics experiments that can be performed nowhere else in the system. And two years ago, Titan dispatched the first conventional interstellar probe, the Aubade. It will reach Proxima Centauri in just under 20 years.
On the down side, Titan’s “body for every mind” law burdens the civic resleeving system with a lot of people who no one would ever have bothered resleeving otherwise. The failure of the Scoop project, an extremely costly attempt to build a pipeline from Saturn’s surface to low orbit, allowing massive gas extraction without costly atmospheric skimmer operations, stymied Titan’s ambitions to become a major antimatter producer. Titan does produce antimatter, but on a much smaller scale than was envisioned when the Scoop project began.
Commonly spoken languages on Titan include Norsk, Francais, Deut ch, Mandarin, Svensk, Dansk, and Suomi. Most citizens inhabit hazers, a tall, fineboned morph with very similar characteristics to the Martian ruster. Parapelagia for gliding and flying in the light Titanian gravity are a common biomod. Titanians do three years of compulsory civil service at the age of majority, with an emphasis on military and security forces except for conscientious objecters. Every citizen who has done military service is part of the militia and has an assault weapon in their home.
Located near Titan’s south pole on the shores of Ontario Lacus, a wide, shallow sea of liquid methane, Aarhus (population five million) was the first site of human habitation on Titan, chosen for its proximity to abundant hydrocarbons. The city is the physical hub of Titan Autonomous University (TAU) and hosts numerous other academic institutions, most notably Titan Tech, a major engineering school. Unlike Martian universities, which have few physical campus buildings, TAU and other Titanian schools draw many of their students from the widely scattered habitats of the outer system, where delays in radio communication make distance learning ineffective. Fully 20% of Aarhus’s population are students, many of them offwordlers.
Aarhus’s layout is typical of Titanian cities. Three central domes are surrounded by numerous smaller structures, including lesser domes, fusion plants, and industrial outbuildings, the most massive of which is the now-abandoned methane utility plant on the lake shore. The dome interiors are hung with lighting rods and heavily built up with tall, narrow buildings, most of which have upper decks where hazers on the wing and pedal-powered microlights can land. Exterior structures usually have outer walls built of ice for shielding and structural support with internal walls extruded from local silicates. Many buildings are a rich azure or other shades of blue for contrast with the ever-present orange glow of the Titanian sky.
Unlike most Titanian cities, Aarhus relies primarily on fusion power. Aarhus is the center of Titan’s native preservationist movement, which opposes inefficient use of native hydrocarbon resources due to possible long term effects on Titan’s climate.
New Quebec lies on a plain in the Aaru region surrounded by endless rippling dunes shaped by Titan’s powerful winds. The region’s diverse chemical resources supply the colossal nurseries that have made New Quebec the system’s largest single producer of morphs.
The city is 50 kilometers from Montmorency Lacus, a 20 kilometer-wide crater lake of liquid ethane and methane. Originally thought to be an impact crater, rare on Titan, geological studies later showed it to be the collapsed remains of an extinct cryovolcano. Situated in a rainy area, the lacus slowly drains over the crater lip at Montmorency Cascade, a 200 meter carbonfall that empties into a series of alluvial channels from which the Quebecoise pump its output for fuel.
Set near the equator amid the rolling ice hills of the Xanadu region, Nyhavn (population 12 million) is the largest city in the outer system and the capital of the Titanian Commonwealth. Nyhavn’s massive central dome, with its elegant blue towers and bioengineered parklands, rivals New Shanghai in size and ambition. Three surrounding domes and a sprawl of subsidiary structures are connected by high-clearance flyways, where ground vehicles and microlights form a steady stream of traffic at all hours. At the same time, the squalid blandness that prevails in the Martian suburbs and outlying souks is absent; the dwellings and neighborhoods of the Titanian working class display a riot of color and design, empowered by public fabricators limited by none of the enforced scarcity of Martian economics. For all its idealism, the Plurality is not immune to a desire to showcase its achievements.
Outside the city is a pipeline leading from the vast Tyska Lacus, 100 kilometers distant. Commonwealth Skyport, Titan’s principal spaceport, offers quick access to Commonwealth Hub, the Titan system’s long-haul space dock, located in geostationary orbit above the city. The surrounding countryside is dotted with smaller settlements connected to Nyhavn by trains and a well-developed network of surface roads.
Nyhavn is a major media center, with daily life closely attentive to the debates and decisions of the Plurality. At the same time, it is a cosmopolitan place, where Titan’s microcorp movers rub shoulders with visiting anarchist traders and (less commonly) legations from the inner system. There is an active underworld, despite the efforts of security forces, with the local [[St. Catherine Tong | St. Catherine Tong]] engaged in continual low-intensity warfare with triads from throughout the system.