Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Solomon Station Preview Part III: Layout

Levels, Decks and Districts

Solomon Station is arranged vertically, along the Well. Its neighborhoods are arranged into multi-story Levels, most accommodating several decks (each deck is about equivalent to the story of an Earth skyscraper). Each Level is color coded, with an instantly recognizable artificial sky playing on flat panel holo-displays built into every ceiling on the Level, and color coded decorations built into the bulkheads and portals help identify Level as well. Traditionally, the higher the Level, the higher the standard of living and the wealthier the tenants. Despite the class divisions implied by these levels, its not uncommon to see wealthier station inhabitants on lower Levels. Parents will often take their children on family excursions to different levels to enjoy the light of a different false sky. Only Below Decks Charlie is off-limits to non-essential personnel, because of the hazardous work being done down there.

The station celebrates holidays by altering the artificial sky. The July 4th night-cycle is a spectacular, 12 hour long fireworks extravaganza. January 22nd, the Roe Anniversary, is marked by high resolution time lapse footage of a developing fetus, bathing the station in blood red and soft pink light. Thanksgiving is a holographic autumn, and it’s always a white Christmas. The station also celebrates the March 15th anniversary of the Sacajwea’s first flight by converting all the station’s screens to spectacular, color manipulated star-scapes.


Color and Artificial Sky

Number of Decks In This Level



Violet. Earth twilight or sunset.


Elite neighborhoods for the wealthy. Mansions, shopping, mega-churches.


Indigo. Earth twilight or sunset.


Primarily housing for the station’s engineering and scientific community. Several universities and tech schools.


Blue. A pleasant summer day somewhere on Earth.


Primarily middle and some upper class housing. Several churches, schools, hospitals.


Green. The Aurora Borealis, seen from Kodiak Island, Alaska.


Agricultural and hydroponics, several ‘micro-parks’ and small public baths. Emergency o2 scrubbers and algae tanks.


Yellow. Close satellite views of Sol in visible light.


Lower-middle class housing. Large population of recent immigrants. Large Wrench community. Some decent libraries and cheap theaters.


Orange. Earth sunrise.


Poor areas. Some ‘rehab’-ed shopping areas and surprisingly good, affordable restaurants.


Red. Earth sunrise.


Governmental and beauracratic areas, several elementary and high schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

Below Decks Alpha

White. An Earth blizzard.


Tourist areas. Commercial starliners and most private ships dock here. Hotels, shopping, entertainment, all at premium prices.

Below Decks Beta

Grey. An Earth rainstorm or thunderstorm.


Stores and grain silos. Emergency o2 scrubbers. Fuel depots. Zero-gravity repair bays and shipyards.

Below Decks Charlie

Black. No false sky, just ambient lighting.


Refinery and heavy machine level, space docks for industrial starships and fuelers. Refining booms and harvesters.

Individual districts within a Level are arranged radially around the central Well. Districts are usually named for conservative politicians, moderate Lifer activists and Christian authors and artists from the Protestant Reformation through to today.

The Card District, named for ultra-conservative science fiction author Orson Scott Card, dominates Yellow Level and has been home to a thriving Mormon community since the stations founding, a sort of Enclave within an Enclave. Several of the most conservative voices on the Council of Mothers call Card District home, and the district serves as their power base. Station law allows the practice of polygamy, which spurred the immigration of ultra-conservative Mormons early in the station’s history- a migration that virtually gutted the religion’s presence on Earth.

Most of Solomon’s Wrench community also lives on Yellow Level, in a crowded and rambunctious residential district nicknamed “The Toolbox”. Located along the curve of the station’s outer hull, the Toolbox is designed to open into space. During Wrench holidays, warning klaxons blare for up to an hour, before the depressurization bulkheads slide into place, separating the Toolbox from the rest of the station. The outer hull slides open, giving the space-born Wrench a day to play in hard vacuum. Ordinary humans either clear the district or gear up for an EVA whenever the Toolbox opens.

Other interesting districts include:

Harvey, located in an isolated part of Green Level, is protected by heavy, fire-proof emergency bulkheads, and remains perpetually sealed from the rest of the station. Harvey is one of the few places on station without the omnipresent kudzu. Harvey is home to Triumph Hall and Victory Hall, the two live-fire training centers for the Solomon Fire and Rescue Department. The two modular halls can be reconfigured to mimic the layout of any building or environment on Solomon Station.

Gensen, on Blue Level, is an educational district, and home to the best schools on station. Nearby, several pediatric and pre-natal hospitals, founded by the Council of Mothers, serve the station’s families. Some of the best gene-labs on Solomon are found here; the district has several facilities dedicated to the care of Solomon’s post-human community.

Gentry, on White Level is a prestigious shopping district catering to tourists. Gentry is home to salons, boutiques, and designer clothing stores. It’s also home to the largest Baby, Belly, Blankets franchise on station, a two story behemoth catering to the needs of the station’s mothers-to-be.

Le Hay is sandwiched between Blue and Indigo Levels, and hosts several colleges and technical schools. Le Hay is also the location of the Galactic Studies Group, a Lifer-run think tank dedicated to examining Lifechained artifacts. The GSG has some War-era Artemis-tech on site, as well as a few pieces of Senator xeno-tech bought on the open market.

McCorvey, named for the bones of the district’s most famous ‘resident’ is located on Indigo Level. After her death in the 2030s, the pro-life activist Norma McCorvey (who was once the plaintiff in the Roe vs. Wade case under the pseudonym Jane Roe), was disinterred and her bones carried to Solomon. Her crypt was built against the Wall, and is the centerpiece of Solomon’s museum district. McCorvey hosts the Roe’s Tears Museum, a comprehensive history of abortion (and the reasons behind the Evangelical Exodus to Solomon). Despite the accomplishments of Solomon, the Museum focuses heavily on the crimes, scandals and atrocities committed by Christian America. The history of Solomon goes virtually unmentioned in its premier museum, in favor of propaganda.

Ramirez, located in central Orange Level is one of the station’s older habited districts. Its first citizens were primarily South and Central American Evangelicals, who won citizenship aboard the station in complex, mega-church run lotteries during the early 2050. Strong pioneer spirit and Hispanic pride are the dominant emotions driving Ramirez. The system-famous Abuelita’s restaurant chain (long regarded as the best Mexican food in Jupiter-space) got started here.

Reagan Center, which surrounds the Well on Red Level, is the center of station government. Several courthouses are found here, as is Peace Hall (police headquarters), Serenity Hall (the fire department’s central HQ), and Station Control, the Solomon Station equivalent of a city hall.

Thurmond, located in Grey Level is the center of Solomon’s rather rudimentary cybernetics industry. A few full disassembly parlors serve the maintenance needs of the station’s full conversion cyborgs. Three or four cyber-clinics in Thurmond offer full conversion, but most facilities are limited to repair and upgrades. Thurmond is home to a thriving trade in black market cyber-weapons, most smuggled in from the Belt.

Station Laws and Crime

Compared to the superbly trained and equipped Fire and Rescue Department, the station police force is trained to only baseline competence and equipped with whatever scraps are left over from Solomon FD’s annual budget. Constantly overworked and ill equipped to deal with serious crime, the local police force often rely on vigilantes and Block Mothers in the community to solve any crime much more serious than shoplifting or a stolen ‘machine’.

Most crime on Solomon tends to be fairly minor: petty theft, domestic violence and minor assaults are common, and most of Solomon’s citizens are fairly law abiding. Social pressure and the threat of a career-ending censure from the Council of Moms keeps most of Solomon’s citizens in line. However, Solomon is home to over 50 million souls, and due to sheer weight of numbers means the station has more than its share of drugs, murders, rapes and felony assaults.

Solomon Station maintains several large brigs across Red and Grey Levels, but is ill-equipped to handle long term custody of prisoners, and the station maintains contracts with for-profit prisons on Diana and Earth-side to imprison any one sentenced to more than a year in the brig. Most crimes are punished with censure and long terms of community service, or by confinement to quarters. Solomon Station’s legal codes allow the death penalty for only a handful of crimes: the willful murder of a child (which by Lifer standards includes abortion), the murder of a station police officer or firefighter, sexual assault of a child, or arson. Condemned criminals are spaced- anesthetized and then launched out a Black Deck external airlock and into Jupiter’s gravity well. The last such spacing was carried out in 2103.

Police Chief George Ortega

George Ortega is the older brother of the station’s current mayor, and the battle-scarred old Wrench was appointed by his ‘baby brother’ as head of Solomon’s poice force nine years ago. Since his appointment, George has attempted to modernize and expand the station’s relatively primitive police force. Though it offended the station’s sense of sexual modesty and decorum, George Ortega established a sex crimes unit as part of the station’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), even hiring a few former Fed-Gov techs to provide the necessary know-how.

More controversially, Ortega personally approved the visas for a trio of Covenant doctors to train his investigators in handling sex crimes investigations; though the women were not technically abortion providers, and wore the golden bionic arms of civilian medical techs, their arrival sparked three days of protests and near riots. JP Ortega backed his older brother’s modernization initiative, though squabbles with the Council of Moms over the issue cost him dearly. Ortega knows that if his brother is voted out of office next year, his career is over.

Ortega is most often found at Peace Hall, the station’s police headquarters, centrally located on Red Level. He lives alone in a dreary apartment a few blocks away, above a Mexican food kiosk- the real reason he picked that address. When she’s in the solar system, Ortega rendezvoused with a Sequence scout/navigator named Cha-Sa-Fel. She usually hires on as a guide for exploratory vessels heading into the Galactic Core, and as such is usually only in town for a few months at a time, every 3-5 years. Somehow, the dour old cop always knows when she’s heading back, and manages to schedule his few vacations to coincide with her arrival, even when she turns up unexpectedly.

Fire Chief Louis Salvador

Chief Salvador is an old Wrench fire-fighter, harder than carbon nanotubes, and marked by gnarled silvery scar tissue, the result of a plasma fire aboard The Laughing Elephant back in 2089. Salvador has run the station’s fire and rescue department nearly single-handedly since the 2090s. He holds his department to impossibly high standards, and has blacklisted hundreds of otherwise qualified candidates for a FD appointment based on gut instinct alone.

Salvador refuses to hire anyone he doesn’t trust one hundred percent, and refuses to play politics with his department. Two years ago, he brutally beat one of Randy Jammner’s loyalists rather than allow the well connected Wrench into the department over his wishes. Instead of getting fired, Salvador became a local hero, and only strengthened his position in the FD. He is virtually untouchable, and no matter how the 2108 elections turn out, he knows his position is secure through sheer force of will.

Immigration Restrictions

Solomon prohibits the entry of any thing it considers dangerous to station morale and well being, which may range from aliens or post-humans with potentially hazardous powers to ideas. The following are banned from legally immigrating, or even setting foot aboard, Solomon Station.

  • Neo-Witch Midwives or any other known abortion provider, whether or not she possesses ob-nan cybernetics.
  • Any current or former member of the Choicer Woven Circle.
  • Any Choicer military officer above the rank of 0-5.
  • Known homosexuals are allowed on station as tourists, but are not usually approved for permanent resident status.

  • Any Powered Hero with Shooter Type talents or any Psionic with any kind of pyrokinetic or heavy energy manipulation abilities. A handful of Shooter Type Powered Heroes serve with the Solomon PD; these native superhumans only manifest non-flammable force-based energy blasts, less dangerous aboard station.

  • Full Conversion Cyborgs with onboard weapon systems are required to remove the components and submit to a full system diagnostic before boarding. Despite being a Lifer flagged station, characters with levels in the Closer Advanced Class are always prohibited entry.

  • Choicer and non-Christian Psionics with telepathic or empathic abilities are forbidden entry. Mediators are also refused entry; the station council is justifiably afraid of Choicer memetic warfare efforts and their effects on station morale.

  • Choicer characters who have mastered any Object Philosophies are similarly forbidden on the city. The station government may make exceptions for tourists with non-combat, minor Philosophical talents. However, despite the ban, Solomon Security has no real way of screening for Philosophy practitioners other than self reporting.

Travelers to Solomon are prohibited from bringing weapons of any kind aboard station. Flammables and volatile chemicals are only allowed aboard under tight control and only after the importer pays hefty surety bonds. Paper is forbidden- it is both an ignition hazard and unnecessary in the all-electronic future, a waste of precious space. Beauty products and household chemicals must be carefully screened, so not to disrupt the station’s artificial ecosystem, and are often confiscated at the immigration checkpoint. The Council of Moms periodically attempts anti-pornography and anti-Choicer entertainment crusades, with predictably minimal effect.

Childhood and Education

As a pro-life colony, a huge portion of Solomon’s population is under twelve. Huge families are the norm; the station’s Council of Mothers encourages steady population growth- most of the stations middle class have 3-5 children, and the wealthy significantly more.

Each district is peppered with dozens of elementary, middle and technical schools. By long standing tradition, these public schools follow specific naming conventions. Kindergartens, pre-schools and elementary schools are named for Old Testament prophets and heroes; middle schools are named for New Testament and early Christian figures, while high schools take their name from medieval and modern Christian heroes and theologians.

Education is strange on Solomon, and more than a little schizophrenic. Through their high school graduation, children are steeped in Young Earth Creationist dogma- the Earth was created by Yahweh little more than six millennia ago- and are taught a distinctly biased, Christian view of history. However, Solomon has a top flight technical education and physics program that has little time for superstition. Teenagers enrolling in one of Solomon’s many universities are expected to have (somehow) acquired a technical education equal or better to most Choicers by the time classes begin for the first semester.

Solomon’s most prestigious university is the centerpiece of the Mormon section in Card District: the New Brigham Young University (NBYU) is a 22nd Century counterpart to Utah’s prestigious college. NBYU is known for its top flight physics, astronavigation, and xeno-tech departments, and in terms of job prospects, its graduates compare very favorably from those hailing from Harvard. Most NBYU graduates stay local, finding careers in Solomon’s volatiles refining or stellar aviation industries.

NBYU makes efforts to recruit some of the best scientific minds in Earth space, including many thinkers and scientists from Choicer America. In contrast to the rest of faith-based Solomon, many of NBYU’s intelligentsia are atheists (and even a few iconoclast pagan ex-pats, living out in the Black among the Christians). Most have employment contracts that keep their names off the censure black lists. This makes NBYU a haven of sorts for free-thinkers, and a constant source of irritation to the Council of Moms.


As space starved as Solomon Station is, its inhabitants have been forced into more sedentary and less equipment intensive pursuits than Diana’s inhabitants. Theaters are popular, and hundreds of small movie houses and live stages can be found on every Level; few seat more than 100 patrons, and most consisting of only a single screen. Finding a theater playing a recent film can be a challenge- most theaters choose their play lists more by their owner’s whim than any real schedule.

Plays and live entertainment are popular; most local bands play cutting edge smartlight instruments almost as good as the real thing. While many local blues trumpeters dream of one day visiting Earth and putting their lips to the brass of a real, hard-tech trumpet, the cost of importing instruments to the station is prohibitive for most.

Dreamscape is intensely popular, but due to the expense in maintaining FTL communication links, most Dreamscape servers are purely local. A few servers are linked to similar servers out in the Belt, but most are limited to gamers in Jupiter-space. Offline, Solomon’s citizens pass the time with word games and logic puzzles; despite the old Evangelical distrust of gambling, poker is a major pastime, though gambling is a misdemeanor on station.

Public pressure and the threat of a one month censure for sloth or gluttony forces most of Solomon’s adults into small gyms. Like everything else, most of Solomon’s gyms and weightrooms are microscopic, just big enough for one or two athletes at a time to work out, in uncomfortably cramped quarters. Most decks offer hundreds, however, though finding an unoccupied workout spot can be an irritation. Most fitness centers also offer treadmills fitted with full holo-suites, to simulate running through a natural, Earthlike environment. Similarly, resistance pools are designed to mimic an ocean in a space only a little bigger than most Terran bathtubs.

Team sports are almost non existent on Solomon for two reasons. First, it’s hard for competing teams to get to Solomon; the expense of travel to the station for away games would bankrupt most pro sports teams. Second, Solomon’s quarters are too tight for practice areas or pro-quality sports arenas. That said, individual, amateur level sports are common, especially ones that require small arenas and simple equipment. Racquetball is extremely popular; wrestling, MMA fighting and Rescue Judo have their fans. Half-court, 3 on 3 basketball is the station’s favorite sport. Every school, business, church and even most private families field several teams of amateur ballers.

There’s a station-wide obsession with Lifer Idol Singers; it seems like every flat surface that isn’t buried under kudzu is papered with holofoil stickers and holographic pin ups of the latest spritely young diva. Strangelet’s the current dream girl; this summer, she’ll be returning to Solomon after a year long tour of the Big Black.

Heather Marie Vickers, Codename: Strangelet

Nineteen year old Heather Vickers has been a performer since she was five, and is already a multi-platinum recording artist. As Strangelet, the perky little blond is one of Earth-space’s most powerful superhumans, a being of pure light, willpower and energy who can soar through ITF space under her own power. There’s also a very good chance that Strangelet is the first True Post-human (see the revised Otherverse America core rulebook) of the Lifer nation.

Fortunately for the Choicer Covenant, Strangelet has channeled her impressive superhuman gifts into her career as an Idol Singe rather than as a combatant. At thirteen, she released Non-Lethal Sanctions, a collection of old Lifer protest songs and combat anthems re-mixed into electro-pop, which became the definitive sound for that Summer of Rescue. Each succeeding release has been bigger, and she’s even crossed over into the Choicer mainstream, converting a few pagans in the process. Two years ago, she took a sabattical, heading out into Phallus Space under her own power. The energy being has made good time, and is en route from the galactic core, her head filled with an entire catalogue of new song, all of which she’ll premier at this summer’s Resk-Fest aboard Solomon.

What ideas she’s bringing back from the core is anybody’s guess. Even before her extra-solar sojourn, Strangelet was an iconoclast. She counts Makepeace Lacy, the disgraced creator of the Neverborn species as one of her favorite authors, and has spoken openly against the Lifer military. A few extreme voices within the Lifer AOG would like to see her dead, but nobody is sure if that’s even possible anymore.

The Wrench living on station have a slightly greater degree of freedom than their human neighbors. They can simply step out of an airlock and into the depressurized Well anytime they want privacy or the simple pleasure unaided flight through deep space. Wrench children zip like porpoises through the crowded air space surrounding Solomon station. Evolved Wrench teenagers, who’ve pushed their gifts to the fullest, race their friends into the Belt, or skim the icy atmosphere of Ganymede after classes let out for the day.

Regular Visitors

As the last inhabited human outpost before the Big Black, even spacers who normally want nothing to do with the Lifer nation are forced to use Solomon as a way-station and refueling depot. Billions of tons of cargo come through Solomon each day. Freighters from the Asteroid Belt, carrying raw ores for processing, luxury yachts from Earth, ferrying in blue-haired Lifer touristas, Stonecutter merchant sloops, bringing in ultra-tech from beyond humanity’s stars…..

Some regular visitors to the station are described below. These ships might be docked alongside Solomon Station at any time.

The al-Bīrūnī, is registered to the Belt. The refinery ship assists with collecting volatiles from the upper atmosphere, and is a familiar sight for the Wrench working the Below Decks refineries. The ship’s captain and first officer are husband and wife, Thomas and Jessica Shawki, who make their home in one of the more liberal asteroids. The couple are popular with the Wrench community because they usually smuggle in Choicer movies when they come aboard.

The Lizzette Barnes is a gambling yacht that makes regular 2-3 day tours of Jupiters moons. Passage aboard the Lizzette is priced to remain an affordable vacation for Solomon’s middle class population. The three day tour is a non-stop buffet and has an excellent open bar- more of the ship’s passengers come aboard for the free food and liberal amounts of booze then for the gambling. The Lizzette Barnes is captained by an assortment of former military fliers and Islamic retirees from the Belt’s space program.

The Samantha Dacoveney is named for Ellen Dacoveney’s first child, her infant daughter, who never made it to three years old thanks to dumb, tragic luck. This silver-hulled luxury liner can carry 3,200 passengers on the tourist circuit between Boston and Solomon using a non-ITF ‘slow drive’ that can make the journey in about two weeks.

The Trockman is a grungy old cargo hauler flying the Lifer-American flag, registered out of Pensacola. The Trockman usually hauls foodstuffs (grains and citrus mostly) to Solomon, and volatile fuels back to Earth. Its captain, Sammy MacDonald, is a former Lifer pilot, and its rumored he occasionally smuggles Lifers to and from Solomon for the right price.

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