Beyond the Black
Once thought of as gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune differ from the larger planets in that they contain large amounts of water ice, methane, and ammonia and have rocky cores at their centers. This region of the system is sparsely populated. Uranus orbits at a distance 10 AU beyond the orbit of Saturn, 20 times the distance of the Earth from the sun.
Uranus, the coldest planet in the solar system, is a blue-green sphere of ice and gas. Seen from afar, it is virtually featureless compared to Saturn and Jupiter, but up close subtle cloud formations and a tenuous ring system may be observed. Probably due to a collision with an Earth-sized world when the solar system was young, Uranus rotates on its side, such that one pole faces the sun for 42 years at a stretch, and its moons orbit at a sharp angle to the solar ecliptic.
At the time of Eclipse Phase, Uranus’s south pole is experiencing its south polar mid-spring, during which thick methane clouds darken the polar atmosphere. It may be the unusual tilt of its axis and the accompanying strange seasonal weather that give rise to the unconfirmed rumor that the alien traders called the Factors have created a settlement hidden in Uranus’s atmosphere.
Chat Noir and Fissure gate
Located on Oberon, this is the Uranian system’s primary long haul spaceport, with a permanent population of 8,000. Chat Noir has fairly advanced egocasting, resleeving, and manufacturing facilities for a frontier outpost and is operated by several collectives of anarchists. The reason for all the infrastructure is Fissure Gate, the only Pandora Gate in anarchist hands (despite several Planetary Consortium expeditions to wrest control of it).
Fissure Gate was discovered by a prospecting expedition from Chat Noir, then a tiny outpost. Seeking deposits of the useful carbonaceous ices that make up about 20% of Oberon’s mass, they instead chanced upon subsurface radio emissions near the foot of Mt. Hippolyta. After using triangulating the source, the prospectors landed and used subsurface imaging gear. What they got back was a blurry image of a rock fissure containing an ambiguous mass of mixed density and an extremely dense, possibly metallic object with a shape too regular to be anything but a structure or large artifact—all under 500 meters of ages-old frozen cryovolcanic outflow. The gate at Pandora was already publicly known at this time, so the prospectors drilled down, suspecting they’d found an alien artifact. They were not to be disappointed, although the discovery yielded gruesome salvage: the barely recognizable corpses of eleven gatecrashers.
Why and how the Fissure Gate was erected under the ice remains a complete mystery. At some recent point, however, it was completely buried, with only a thin pocket of space between it and the surrounding ice. When the eleven emerged, buried in an airless space beneath 500 meters of ice, there was barely room to move, let alone escape—but the gate wouldn’t let them back through. Several of the crew had recoverable cortical stacks. This lucky handful are now prominent citizens of Chat Noir, but none plan to resume gatecrashing as a career.
The Fissure Gate remains in anarchist hands, operated and defended by the Love and Rage Collective. The gate is made available to almost anyone unless their rep score is tanked or they are pursuing commercial interests (ruling out most hypercorps). Support for gatecrashers is minimal—traverse the threshold at your own risk. Any discoveries made via this gate, however, must be shared for the collective good of transhumanity.
Titania and Oberon
Uranus’s two largest moons are sparsely populated, with only about 10,000 transhumans living on each body. Most stations are mixed dome and beehive settlements and range from hypercorp communications and research outposts to autonomist freeholds. The pair are more chemically complex than most moons in the outer system, consisting of about 30% rock, 20% methane and similar carbonaceous ices, and 50% water. Titania is home to a spectacular canyon that rivals the Martian Valles Marineris. Several settlements on Titania cater to tourists from the inner system and the gas giants, who visit for rocketing, mekking, and other sports in the canyon.
One of two major strongholds of the ultimates, Xiphos is a Hamilton cylinder orbiting in the Uranian ring system. Though most of the tech underlying Hamilton cylinders is open source, the station’s frighteningly efficient weapon systems are not. Rumor has it the ultimates traded some major favors to Gorgon Defense Systems in the process of building this station. Where Aspis, the ultimates’ inner system habitat, is a relatively open place, used by the Ultimates for contact with potential mercenary clients, Xiphos is off limits to anyone not of this faction. The rumored population of ultimates here is only about 10,000, but the ultimates purchase a large number of infomorph indentures from Mars. Although there are no reports of any of these indentures returning, rumor has it that the ultimates download indentures serving in sensitive areas into deaf, visually limited flats with no AR implants and limited mental capacity.