Home to 40 million transhumans, Luna is one of the three centers of the inner system. While Mars is the most populous world in the solar system, with five times Luna’s population and a far more hospitable environment, several of the Lunar settlements are not only the oldest surviving human habitations in existence, they are also symbolically far more of a home to transhumanity. Just ask any Lunar, they’ll tell you, and with no shortage of pride.
However, there are also things they don’t like to talk about too openly. On Luna’s “near side,” anyone looking up can see the blighted Earth in great detail. While those of us from the outer system regularly deride residents of the inner system as living in the past and still beholden to the now-destroyed Earth, in a very real sense Mars is the new home of transhumanity, while Luna quite literally lies in Earth’s shadow. Elsewhere in the solar system, the Earth is nothing more than a distant dot of light. On Luna, the damage done to transhumanity’s home by the TITANs is clearly visible, as is the fact that on Earth’s night side, the once great seas of urban illumination have been reduced to a handful of baleful flickers that now mark the inhuman activities of a few hundred thousand TITAN-twisted monsters.
Sidebar: What's in a Name?
A few older residents of the solar system still refer to Luna as “the Moon,” but most know better than to do this on Luna or around Lunars. Even before the Fall, some residents of Luna resented this term as indicating Luna’s subservience to Earth. Whether someone called it Luna or “the Moon,” however, was largely a political issue and of little concern to anyone uninterested in the politics of Lunar settlement.
Unsurprisingly, all this changed with the Fall. In addition to the simple practicality of not referring to any world as “the Moon” when transhumanity now inhabits more than a dozen moons, calling Luna “the Moon” indirectly refers to Earth, and most Lunars do not enjoy being reminded of Earth’s proximity. Anyone who calls it “the Moon” on Luna or in any gathering of Lunars is most likely to be greeted with a stony and uncomfortable silence. Such people are regarded as boorish, unmannered, and ignorant by most Lunars.
The other term to watch out for is “Loonie.” Lunars use it a great deal, but non-Lunars should avoid it. It began as a pre-Fall pejorative and has been co-opted by the vast majority of Lunars. However, most Lunars react badly to non-Lunars using it. Older residents still remember it as an insult when used by outsiders, and younger residents consider using it as one of the cultural markers of being Lunar.
Life Behind the Curve
During the Fall, Luna was the easiest place to relocate refugees from Earth. As a result, more than half of the refugees who were physically evacuated from Earth ended up on Luna. Compared to Mars, Venus, and most of the other worlds and moons in the solar system, however, Luna is not a particularly hospitable place. It is an airless world that is exceptionally poor in hydrogen. The lack of a magnetosphere or atmosphere means settlements must be built underground or buried to protect them from solar fares and cosmic rays. To this day, overcrowding and limited resources continue to strain the Lunar economy and living conditions.
Unlike the stations in Earth orbit, Luna did not suffer the same severe economic depression in the wake of the Fall. It was saved in large part by the fact that Luna is a relatively wealthy world that is a system-wide center for both fashion and finance. The impact of the Exodus and Fall and subsequent re-allocation of transhumanity’s resources, however, means that Luna remains wealthy but also relatively static. While much of the solar system is in the midst of an unprecedented phase of vibrant growth, Luna remains stuck in a state of equilibrium. A significant percentage of the infomorph refugees and other members of the exceedingly poor who arrived on Luna after the Fall indentured themselves to Mars or found some other way off-world several years ago. An increasing number of young and ambitious Lunars have followed in their wake, seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Those that stayed remain impoverished with few new opportunities, as there is little job growth, and they remain in cramped conditions as well, since while several cities are being expanded, this expansion is quite slow. Unless they have a good job waiting for them there, few inhabit- ants of the solar system consider immigrating to Luna, as there are better options elsewhere. The Lunar cost of living is relatively high, and Luna already possesses all of the unskilled and semiskilled labor it needs. Most well-off Lunars aren’t interested in letting in more immigrants anyway, and the Planetary Consortium is primarily focused on increasing the Martian population. As a result, most new settlements under construction are being built by synthmorphs for synthmorphs. On the positive side, the cost of creating new living space and the limitations of local supplies of hydrogen and water means that the period of indentured labor an infugee must contract for in order to be resleeved is no longer than anywhere else in the solar system.
Luna is also not a center for new technology or cutting-edge science, since this world’s strict safety regulations and licensing have driven most hypercorps and other organizations performing various forms of research to other, more open worlds. Within the past fve years, the general opinion of Luna and Lunars by off-worlders has gradually shifted. Today, most off-worlders regard Luna as relatively wealthy, but not prosperous, and it is universally considered a conservative place. The stereotype of it being a world of bankers surrounded by clanking masses is increasingly common. This reputation for backwardness and conservatism is further reinforced by the fact that Lunars cling to Earth-based cultures far more than most other residents of the solar system. Luna is one of the few places where old holidays like the United States’ Thanksgiving or China’s Moon Festival are still widely celebrated. In a very real sense, much of the Lunar population is clinging to the past.
Luna isn’t devoid of innovation, however. The Lunar fashion industry continues to thrive and helps offset the idea that Luna is a backwater, at least among those who do not favor the fashion houses of Titan. The growth of the reclaimer movement has also renewed interest in and support for the Earth-Lunar system, drawing back some hypercorps and creating new opportunities.
Though Luna is home to more than 5% of the surviving transhuman population, it is also a world that has been touched deeply by its history and by the Fall. As a result, there is a distinctive Lunar culture and a set of attitudes that are relatively common among long-term residents. Although there are plenty of cosmopolitan, non-paranoid Lunars, the attitudes described below are sufficiently common that off-worlders visiting Luna should be aware of them.
One of the truisms of the post-Fall solar system is that Luna is the most paranoid of the major settled worlds. Both the nearness to Earth and the memory of the destruction of New Mumbai provide a more than ample reason for this paranoia. While most of the inhabitants of the rest of the solar system are content to believe that the TITANs departed the solar system through the Pandora Gates and will likely never return, many inhabitants of Luna either do not believe that they have all gone or worry about their eventual return.
Lunars still vividly remember how a single infected refugee coming to New Mumbai from Earth managed to spread an infection that transformed most of that city’s population into a single deadly exsurgent hive. This incident has made many Lunars somewhat nervous about outsiders visiting Luna and even about other Lunars visiting their settlement. These fears have given rise to travel checkpoint and quarantine procedures unparalleled elsewhere in the solar system. Politically, Luna is fairly conservative. Both the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance and the Planetary Consortium stations here (which are generally regarded as some of the most conservative members of the Consortium) are firmly opposed to increasing public access to nanotechnology or to performing research on AGIs or any technologies derived from the TITANs or “other non-human sources.” Lunar residents have passed laws stating that research on these or related topics cannot be performed on Luna or in Lunar orbit without serious restrictions, regular monitoring, and extensive safety protocols.
Lunars are a surprisingly insular people. While the residents of any single settlement are highly social, civic pride is especially strong on Luna, to the extent that most Lunars prefer to associate primarily with residents of their own city. Most often, this regionalism is expressed as friendly rivalries between settlements, but it can also easily become distrust. Tourism between settlements is somewhat less common than on most other worlds and individuals who move from one city to another often face a significant period of readjustment, especially if they do not openly embrace the culture of their new city. Different Lunar settlements also have different official languages, and the politics of language is still a major force on Luna. These rivalries are most evident between those cities that remain predominantly Indian in culture and cities whose populations are considerably more diverse.
Open ethnocentrism is widely considered to be rude and boorish, but more subtle tensions between Indian and non-Indian Lunars continue. There are also persistent tensions between the Sino-European settlements and the Pan American settlements, but the tension between Indian and non-Indian Lunars is the most obvious to outsiders. In general, tensions are significantly stronger between residents of settlements with different dominant cultures and languages. Lunars from settlements that share the same basic culture and language are far more likely to interact easily than those that do not, but even here, there is often some degree of suspicion and reserve.
Electronic interaction between Lunars from different cities is far more frequent than actual visiting, but when Lunars meet on the mesh, their city of origin is usually one of the first pieces of information they exchange. Lunars who keep this information out of their public mesh profiles are considered odd and potentially suspicious by other Lunars, especially Lunars who learn that this individual lives in their own settlement. In many mesh games, teams from one habitat regularly compete against teams from others, and in more free-form games, players from the same station are far more likely to ally with one another than players from different cities. Sports-based rivalries between different Lunar settlements are very popular and games between teams of two large and important habitats are well attended both by mesh and in person. Usually these contests remain relatively friendly; however, they have on a few occasions resulted in minor rioting. All of these attitudes are magnified when dealing with off-worlders, especially residents of the outer system.
Luna has no central government. Approximately 60% of the population lives in settlements governed by the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance, while the remainder live in settlements controlled by the Planetary Consortium or in one of the few small independent stations. Those part of the LLA have autonomy in their local government and infrastructure, though in practice there is little in the way of radical experimentation with social models, and most tend towards simple representative democracies, republics, or corporate hierarchies, with a smattering of technocracies, oligarchies, and autocratic systems. LLA members are bound to support each other and send reps to the LLA’s Council to vote on issues affecting all of Luna. The Consortium settlements are more answerable to larger Consortium and hypercorp interests.
Most of the laws put in place by LLA Council plebiscites are restrictions on potentially dangerous types of technology and research. Many Lunars fear that these laws are ignored in some of the more secure hypercorp-controlled stations on the Lunar surface. Most Lunars are rather cynical about both governments, but they are also aware that they live on one of the wealthiest and most secure worlds in the solar system. With the exception of some radicals and the more militant members of the lower classes, few have much interest in political changes that might challenge their stability and security.
As the oldest and most established world in the solar system, many transhumans look to Luna as a source for stability and new, if not revolutionary ideas. Despite not being at the cutting edge of science or technology and being a world that is no longer growing or expanding, Luna remains exceedingly influential. There are three particular areas where Luna is unrivaled in the inner system and important throughout the entire solar system: finance, fashions, and entertainment.
The Lunar banks are widely regarded as the most stable and reliable in the solar system. A foundation of the LLA’s power, these banks are also relied on by the Planetary Consortium and others throughout the solar system, and they in fact define the economic stability of the credit currency used within the inner system.
There are two types of Lunar banks, LLA banks and independent banks. LLA banks are closely linked to the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance, for whom they issue money and credit, manage interest rates, make investments, offer real estate services and insurance, and manage markets. Though they deal with other entities, they openly advise non-LLA clients (especially investors from the outer system) that in the event of a dispute between the LLA and the client’s polity, investors may have difficulty acquiring their funds for a time. These banks pledge not to confiscate or freeze the assets of anyone, with the exception of those found guilty of the most serious crimes, like habitat destruction or voluntary association with the TITANs, but they also are beholden to the directives of the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance. The LLA supports these banks and sees them as a powerful way to help maintain peaceful relations across the solar system.
Each of these Lunar banks also has fully independent divisions that owe loyalty to no political organization. Based on the pre-Fall Swiss banks, these independent banks are loyal only to their investors and vow to make their best effort to insure that clients can gain access to their funds even if open warfare breaks out between their polity and Luna. These banks also keep the identity of their investors fully confidential and will not release this data even to a court of law. They use the finest quantum encryption in the solar system to keep their records secret. They also transfer all secure information via defended wired and air-gapped connections, quantum-encrypted data chips carried by professional couriers, or quantum entangled communication. The only downside for this level of security is that these banks charge a significant fee for their services, making LLA banks more attractive. Some officials in the Planetary Consortium decry these independent banks as havens for the wealth of criminals. Many other prominent members of the Consortium, however, find them exceptionally useful and openly support their independence.
Both types of Lunar bank specialize in transferring wealth between the inner and outer system and converting between reputation and monetary economies. All of these banks have lucrative long-term contracts with firms doing business throughout the solar system as well as with ultra-wealthy individuals with diverse portfolios and interests. Martian banks have been trying to gain access to outer system business for several years, but the stability of the Lunar banks, combined with the fact that their arrangement with various outer system polities works well, has so far meant that Martian banks have made little inroads in these financial markets. The fact that tensions between the Planetary Consortium and most of the outer system run high only serves to make both LLA and independent banks more attractive to outer system clients. More recently, radicals within the Morningstar Constellation have also attempted to interest various outer system parties in Venusian banks, to no avail.
The only significant challenge the Lunar banks face is from Solaris. While Solaris is likely larger than any individual Lunar bank, the Lunar banks as a whole outweigh it. Nevertheless, the Lunar banks cannot compete with the plasticity of Solaris’s virtual structure and the hypercorps’ dominance in futures markets and info brokerage. Solaris is also less conservative in some of its investment risks, enabling higher payouts. While numerous other banks have attempted to mimic the Solaris model, a number of them are noteworthy for playing with high-risk investments, especially with exoplanet exploration and exploitation, which could lead to a cascade of failure and significantly shake up some economic markets. On the other hand, even the Lunar banks would be vulnerable to a resurgence of TITAN activity in the Earth-Luna system, especially if numerous habitats were affected, precipitating massive insurance payouts. The largest and oldest LLA bank is Chan-Davis Trust, established as a hypercorp investment house in 2026 and which was the first bank to establish offices in Earth orbit. Chan-Davis Trust maintains a moderate-sized independent bank, Fortress Savings. The largest independent bank, Cardison Limited, is now fully independent, having broken ties with the LLA bank Amelia Assets five months ago.
Sidebar: Async Bank Robbery
Subject: Immediate Aid Requested
Our efforts to track and identify a number of suspected asyncs were successful, but the results are unexpected and alarming. As suspected, these asyncs are working together, but not in a way we anticipated. They have converged on the settlement of Erato, Luna, with a specific agenda: bank robbery.
Previous attempts to rob modern Lunar banks have largely been stymied by stiff security measures and the use of unbreakable quantum encrypted transmissions. Our subjects, however, plan to use their collective async sleights to break the encryption and influence and read the minds of important bank officials. As these banks are likely unaware of the Watts-MacLeod strain and the existence and capabilities of asyncs, they do not have appropriate countermeasures in place for thwarting such a plan.
To complicate matters, these asyncs seem to be specifically be targeting Lunar banks under the direction of an anonymous client we suspect is in league with one of the Martian banks. We suspect this client hopes that the scandal surrounding such a robbery will help discredit all of the Lunar banks. This situation poses two credible threats. One, it could create financial chaos, putting the economic stability of the entire inner system at risk. Two, if the robbery details were to go public, and the existence of asyncs was unleashed in the media, this could lead to a wave of anti-async paranoia and witch-hunts on Luna and across the solar system. We need to scramble a team capable of bringing these asyncs in within a week, before they strike their first target.
The Lunar fashion industry is the dominant force in inner system style. Recently, however, Lunar fashion houses have experienced considerable competition from designers on Titan due to their increased use of active nanotechnology. The latest Titanian releases incorporate built-in hives and active nanoswarms for a wide variety of functions, leading to dynamic styles that are always programmable. Such clothing is restricted and difficult to acquire in the inner system, however, and so there remains a ready market for Lunar fashions.
More recently, the most avant garde Lunar fashion houses have broken new ground with lines that use magnetic and electrostatic fields to control the drape and movement of the clothing under all gravities. The promise that a suit of this new Any-Line clothing will look the same everywhere from zero gravity to Earth gravity, and in any habitable air pressure, has made them quite popular.
Luna also faces significant competition with Elysium fashions on Mars, but Elysium remains a more distant third in the ongoing three-way struggle for system-wide fashion dominance.
As the center for the majority of vids and vidgames that use live action, Luna holds a distinct position in popular entertainment. While most vids and vidgames are generated electronically, a significant minority of viewers and players prefer watching/playing those that involve images of actual locations and actors rather than computer-generated worlds. While there is no perceptible difference between live and artificial, older and particularly avant garde consumers enjoy the skill and tradecraft that goes into live action productions. Luna excels here because of the large number of parks, zoos, and biome reserves in the various settlements. Almost the entire range of biosphere environments, from the cold Russian taiga to steaming tropical jungles, can be found in the center of one of the various Lunar cities, and all of these parks are at least several hundred meters across. For anyone wishing to use an Earthly wilderness setting, Luna is an obvious choice. One of the current favorites for vidgamers is the Alien Raider series, where the characters are globe-trotting secret agents on Earth during the 1970s who are hunting hidden alien invaders. Created on Luna, characters in this game have a chance to experience adventures in more than a dozen widely different settings, from dense cities to frozen mountain tops to tropical islands and dense jungles. Lunar cities gain both revenue and prestige from allowing entertainment producers to use their parks for such productions.
The Verdant World
Lunar settlements are a study in contrast. With no atmosphere to protect against solar/cosmic radiation, the vast majority of Lunar habitats are underground, with a smattering of protective domes and tin cans on the surface. The Lunar surface itself is a never-ending drab expanse of gray rocks, dust, and craters. Though of interest to some tourists, the novelty quickly wears off. Almost anyone who spends a large amount of time on the Lunar surface applies an AR skin to the environment, giving it whatever appearance they choose.
Inside the settlements, however, the scenery is drastically different. Another aspect of the legacy Luna owes to Earth is how green and verdant Lunar cities are. When Lunar industrialization began in earnest in the second half of the 21st century, the first large settlements, including New Mumbai and Shackle, featured large amounts of plant life and a moderate quantity of animal life to help workers adjust to spending a year or more off Earth. The plants were also initially an important part of the oxygen and water recycling system. Since the Fall, improvements in nanotechnology have meant that the most reliable and efficient methods of life support do not require any living components. The tradition remains, however, and most Lunar settlements have consider-ably more plant and animal life than settlements on other worlds.
Today, Luna is home to the largest public parks in the solar system, as well as the largest zoos. Also, unlike those found in many settlements, Lunar parks are home to thriving ecosystems. Because India played such a major role in the initial colonization of Luna, many of these parks use tropical vegetation. Monkeys, ibises, tropical birds, non-poisonous snakes, and various other tropical animals are common choices for these parks. The central park in Erato can best be described as a small and moderately tame jungle. Erato and the other Lunar cities have made significant concessions to hygiene and practicality, of course, and so the animals living in these parks are either small and completely innocuous or genetically engineered to be relatively tame, somewhat more intelligent, and considerably cleaner.
Similarly, many Lunars have gardens and animals inside their homes. These also tend to be genetically modified or even partial uplifts, to better adapt the creatures to smaller quarters. Visitors from off-world are often surprised to find a grove of modified dwarf acacia bushes containing both a colony of dwarf lemurs and a nest of birds in their host’s living room. Some well-off Lunars have their dwellings modified to include tiny streams and ponds a meter or two in diameter, filled with fish and similar small aquatic life. Others exist simply as water for the various creatures that live with them. Most Lunars have at least one small pet. In fact, one of the markers of feeling a connection to Indian culture on Luna is keeping a pet smart monkey.
Exercise and Flight
Unlike most of the rest of the solar system, Luna had a large population before the Fall. One of the more unusual holdovers from pre-Fall Lunar culture is the Lunar emphasis on physical activity. In the middle of the 21st century, a regular program of vigorous exercise was necessary to preserve strength and bone density when living in a low gravity environment. Today, almost every morph is immune to all forms of low and zero gravity degeneration as well as involuntary obesity and other similar physical problems, but the focus on exercise remains an enduring part of Lunar culture. In part, this is because Luna offers a form of exercise that can be only found on low and zero gravity worlds: flight.
At the heart of both Nectar and Erato are large open spheres with many hundreds of meters of open space and a multitude of trees and tall buildings. For many Lunars in both cities, strapping on a pair of lightweight wings is both an enjoyable form of exercise and a useful method of transport that avoids the crowded streets and skywalks. Almost every tall building in Erato and Nectar contains large open balconies designed for fliers to land on. Other settlements like Shackle are less open, but flight is still common in parks and large public spaces there. More recently-constructed Lunar settlements usually feature large, open areas filled with shops and dwellings, with at least one large arena where people can fly for exercise and fun.
Almost every Lunar has tried flying and more than one-third of all Lunars own their own wings and use them regularly. Morphs with wings are also a growing trend. Aerial team sports are also popular on Luna, with an aerial version of soccer drawing massive crowds in the settlements where Indian culture still predominates.
Hydrogen and Helium-3
Compared to much of the rest of the solar system, Luna is a relatively resource poor world. Lunar soil can easily and cheaply be processed to yield large amounts of aluminum, glass, iron, magnesium, titanium, and oxygen. However, it is very poor in heavier elements. Also, the only native Lunar supplies of water and hydrogen consist of the small amounts of ice found in deep craters at the southern pole, just as the only supply of helium-3, used for nuclear fusion, is present in tiny amounts that can be reclaimed from the upper layers of the Lunar regolith. Both of these resources are exceedingly limited. Current projections suggest that existing water supplies will run short in no more than 40 years, as the small but inevitable losses in recycling leach this water away into the vacuum of space. Helium-3 reserves are also predicted to run short within 20 years. As a result, Lunar planners understand that in less than half a century Luna will be dependent upon imports of water—and imports of either deuterium or helium-3 considerably sooner.
As a world where much of the population faces the grim reminder of Earth’s fate every time they look overhead, Lunars distrust the idea of having to rely upon regular and continuous imports to survive. Instead, several Lunar banks are working together to implement an ambitious plan to purchase an ice boulder at least 2 kilometers in diameter from the outer system, most likely from one of the mining corporations working in the Main Belt or Saturn’s rings. In this case, the boulder would consist of a massive conglomeration of ring particles pressed together into a single huge block of ice. The Lunar banks would then pay ComEx to deliver this massive block of ice to Lunar orbit. At this point, the plan is to encase it in a thin but impermeable membrane to keep it from subliming into space and then gradu-ally take fragments down into specially-constructed subsurface storage tanks. This ice would then provide Luna with sufficient supplies of both water and deuterium for the next several centuries. Though quite expensive, the Lunar banks have all agreed on this strategy, which also has the backing of most of the Lunar population. The rationale behind this plan is two-fold. On an immediate and practical level, it means that Luna will not be dependent upon any other world or corporation for vital resources, preventing anyone from attempting to influence Lunar policy. However, the unspoken reason is the pragmatic realization that in the event of another emergency like the Fall, having to rely upon supplies of water or fusion fuel that are hundreds of millions of kilometers away could be fatal.
Wealth and Poverty on Luna
On Luna, wealth is ultimately represented by one scarce commodity: living space. Every cubic meter of living space must be dug out of the Lunar regolith or rock and so dwellings are typically small, except for the ultra-wealthy. A few of Luna’s wealthiest and most famous or politically powerful residents live in their own small cavern villas, the largest of which are several hundred meters in diameter. Even more than elsewhere in the solar system, such private habitats generate a mixture of envy and anger among poorer Lunar residents.
On the opposite extreme, the poorest Lunar residents are infomorphs and synthmorphs. There are actually few infomorph refugees left on Luna, with the exception of some placed in dead storage and forgotten about, as most have immigrated to Mars or Venus, where there is more work and obtaining bodies is far easier. Instead, most of the Lunar poor are “clanking masses” inhabiting cheap case synthmorphs on the edges of Lunar cities. When Lunar cities expand, they first dig new tunnel complexes. These roughly-finished tunnels are equipped with light and electricity for the use of workers and construction drones, but are not yet sealed and remain in vacuum. Since Lunar settlement expansion happens slowly, the clanking masses occupy these tunnels en masse. Transforming these rough tunnels into habitable living space is unfortunately expensive, and represents the majority of the cost needed for someone inhabiting a synthmorph to obtain even the cheapest biomorph body. The habitable regions of Luna are currently full and expansion is slow, so the clanking masses may have to wait months or years before they will be able to upgrade to a biomorph.
One cheaper and quicker alternative to excavating new habitats underground is to bury a surface settlement instead. Simply inflate a balloon or metal structure, or cap over a crater, and then bury it under several meters of regolith. Though these mound dwellings are considered unsightly by some Lunars, there is no question that they are helping to relieve population pressures.
Prejudice against synthmorphs is higher on Luna than on almost any other large and cosmopolitan world or habitat. Though there is little support for this belief, most Lunars assume that synthmorphs are more vulnerable to infection by TITAN viruses. The majority of Lunars also consider people who either prefer synthmorphs or are forced to sleeve in them due to poverty to be inherently lazy, unreliable, or more prone to violence and antisocial behavior. This Lunar biochauvinism extends from synthmorphs to include a distrust of AIs, AGIs, and infomorphs. AGIs remain illegal on most Lunar settlements and infomorphs are not granted equal government representation or allowed to vote, and face other legal restrictions as well.
While Lunar habitats allied with the Planetary Consortium adhere to the standard Consortium principles of morphological freedom and prohibit discrimination based on morph type, the LLA settlements typically ignore the issue and turn a blind eye to it. Many Lunars not only freely snub anyone sleeved in a synthmorph, they also find subtle ways to discriminate against them. Unlike much of the rest of the solar system, this prejudice even extends to various moderate and high-end synthmorphs. Someone who is wealthy enough to afford a biomorph and who still chooses to sleeve in a synthmorph, no matter how pricey, tricked out, and customized, is regarded as an extreme eccentric by most Lunars. The more prejudicial Lunars consider them to be potentially unstable and dangerous, sometimes responding with open fear or contempt. Not all Lunars hold these views, and many are at least polite enough not to express them, especially to visitors, but transhumans from other parts of the solar system are often shocked to experience such open biochauvinism and discrimination. Consequently, many members of the clanking masses on Luna consider immigrating to Venus or Mars, and some do. Over the past decade, however, there has also been a growing synthmorph pride movement on Luna. The largest group, known as the Steel Liberators, are gaining widespread popular support among the Lunar poor, but most other Lunars regard them as dangerous radicals. The Steel Liberators agitate to improve living and working conditions for the clanking masses and also encourage poor Lunars who have gained enough money to trade in their case morphs to choose a higher-end synthmorph rather than a splicer or basic pod. The leaders of the Steel Liberators are all sleeved in various high-end synthmorphs. This cause has recently been picked up by a popular Lunar synthmorph band called Chrome Freedom, whose songs are known for their radical lyrics and whose shows are exceedingly popular with both the clanking masses and with young and rebellious members of the Lunar middle and upper classes.
In a few settlements, tensions between synthmorph pride advocates and young biochauvinist Lunars has escalated into violence. Some anti-synth bigots have taken to going into synthmorph living areas and attacking the residents. Since many synthmorphs live in vacuum to keep costs down, the attackers wear specially-modified vacsuits that block sensors from seeing into the helmet and that inhibit any radio signals coming from the wearer. The attackers don these suits in shielded rooms that are regularly scanned for any recording or broadcast equipment. These vacsuits also make the perpetrators effectively indistinguishable from one another. In the few cases where these hooligans have been arrested, skillful lawyers successfully argued that the crimes were not serious enough to warrant any form of mental intrusion to determine the exact events of the crime. As a result, the attackers were let off with moderate fines and probation. These crimes and the lax sentences are a major source of anger and resentment by the Lunar poor.
Luna is simultaneously someplace where it is very difficult and very simple to engage in various forms of illegal and covert activity. Like every other settled location in the solar system, privacy and secrecy are largely illusions in Lunar urban areas. On the surface, however, if someone is in the shadow of a large rock, they cannot be observed from orbit and there are few monitors on the surface, because of the necessity of replacing them frequently as they are gradually destroyed by solar radiation. Also, tunnels in the Lunar rock that are not monitored by a host of worn and embedded electronics are among the most secure and secret locations in the solar system. In addition, Luna’s escape velocity means that even small personal rockets like the rocket pack can carry private individuals and small cargoes into orbit to waiting ships. Like all other worlds and settlements with an old or transitional economy, Luna has a thriving black market in various forms of nanotechnology. In hidden caverns or small, privately owned habitats located dozens of kilometers from major settlements, criminals manufacture prohibited or restricted goods and either smuggle them into habitats in shielded containers or send them off-world. Most types of smuggling would be relatively easy to stop, but the gangs and cartels bribe Lunar officials and avoid dealing in heavy weapons or other highly illegal goods so as not to bring unwanted attention.
Most of the major crime syndicates have a presence on Luna, from the Night Cartel and triads to the ID Crew and Nine Lives. The Organization, prominent in the orbital areas of the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance, is also represented here. More common, however, are smaller ethnic-based tribes and gangs, typically controlling the crime in their particular community or settlement. Many of these gangs are linked to a larger cartel, running their smaller operations and serving as a picking ground for new recruits.
Violence and Weapons
Much of the more general Lunar paranoia is focused on damage to habitats. Although there are dozens of small settlements, almost three-quarters of the Lunar population lives in half a dozen cities that each are home to more than two million inhabitants. Since most of these inhabitants are sleeved in biomorphs or pods, serious damage to the habitat could result in thousands having to be resleeved, something that many of the poorer residents could not afford to do in anything other than a synthmorph. To many Lunars, the threat of major sabotage means a future as an infomorph or synthmorph, and both options are considered repugnant. As a result, fear of violence to habitats is especially strong. Also, many Lunars worry far more about serious property damage than they do about personal violence.
Lunar weapons laws reflect these concerns. Lunars are free to own knives and other unpowered weapons. Non-lethal powered weapons can be obtained with a special license that requires proof that the owner does not have a criminal record or a history of contact with neuropathic virii. Any weapon that is even remotely capable of opening a habitat to vacuum, however, is strictly forbidden. Also, any action that risks habitat safety is punished even more severely than it would be in most of the rest of the solar system. Deliberate actions that pose a serious risk to habitat security usually result in either mental reprogramming or heavy fines that include mandatory loss of morph and indentured service as an infomorph with severely restricted freedoms. If the offense was not deliberate, punishment typically includes either a heavy fine or immediate exile from Luna, assuming the individual can find a destination willing to accept them.
There are several hundred Lunar settlements. The three largest settlements—Erato, Nectar, and Shackle—are home to half of the Lunar population, and the next three largest contain another quarter. The remaining settlements are a collection of independent city-states, hypercorp-owned settlements, private research stations, and a few compounds owned by eccentric cults or ultra-wealthy individuals. The largest of these smaller habitats have populations of around 100,000, while the smallest are home to less than 1,000. Most of these settlements are located along the skyhook track that encircles Luna, and the few that are not are especially isolated and generally do not welcome visitors.
Some of these settlements are research and manufacturing facilities owned by hypercorps. There are persistent rumors that various forms of restricted research occur in these settlements, despite strict Lunar laws to the contrary. Many Lunars assume, often correctly, that most hypercorps pay far more attention to their own interests than to the wishes of the general transhuman public. The persistent rumor about attempts to transform spherical volumes of the Lunar crust into a “Jupiter brain” is only one of many of these unconfirmed rumors.
Luna has the standard array of monitoring satellites and small private and hypercorp-owned zero-g manufacturing facilities and research stations found around all settled worlds. However, Lunar laws against many types of cutting-edge research mean that there are considerably fewer research bases than around most worlds, or at least fewer of them that allow anyone outside the hypercorp any information about their research. The total orbital population of Luna is 3.4 million, with the vast majority located in the large station at the top of the Lunar skyhook—Selene Station. Approximately half of these stations owe allegiance to the Planetary Consortium and half to the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance.
There are three forms of long distance lunar transport on Luna. The fastest are the various rockets, rocket packs, and rocket buggies used to move swiftly around this relatively small moon. Lacking air resistance, it is generally possible to travel anywhere on Luna by rocket in less than two hours. Rocket transport is currently the most common form of transport on Luna. Subshuttles are the newest, safest, and most comfortable method of lunar transport. LLA construction crews are busy building maglev tracks between the various Lunar settlements. These tracks consist of shallow trenches dug into the Lunar soil which are then covered with half-tube aluminum sheeting and several meters of dirt and rock for protection against solar flares and micrometeors. When completed, subshuttle tunnels are 10 meters in diameter and are fitted with tracks to carry two maglev trains simultaneously. Moving in vacuum and floating on superconducting magnets, these trains travel at speeds of 1,500 kph. Subshuttles are fast, comfortable, and easy to use. Passengers enter in stations not all that different from Earthly train stations built before the Fall, and climb into comfortable train cars that carry them to their destination in between 20 minutes and three hours.
As a whole, Lunars greatly prefer subshuttles to rockets, but the subshuttle network is currently limited and incomplete. At this point, subshuttles run between each large city and most of the smaller settlements within 2,000 kilometers. However, these networks have not yet been hooked up to one another. Lunar transportation officials expect that these local subshuttle networks will be connected within two years. Once completed, no city on Luna will be more than four hours from any other by subshuttle. At that point, officials expect lunar rocket traffic to decrease by at least 60% as most Lunars switch to using subshuttles. The first part of this subshuttle network to be completed will be a band of tunnels circling Luna that follows the path of the Lunar skyhook. More than one-third of this equatorial tunnel has already been completed.
The remaining type of transport is the slowest and least popular but also the cheapest—lunar buggies. These simple wheeled vehicles are popular with prospectors, security agents, and everyone else who must spend time exploring the Lunar surface. Most are equipped with magnetic shielding to protect against solar flares, but many Lunars still regard these vehicles as inherently unsafe and unreliable. Part of this attitude comes from the fact that when someone is out on the Lunar surface and more than a few kilometers from a settlement, they are far from help. Even a rescue rocket can take almost an hour to launch and find a safe nearby landing site.
Sidebar: Skyhooks and Mass Drivers
The Lunar Skyhook is a tether that extends down from Selene Station in Lunar orbit to surface level. Since Selene is in a non-synchronous orbit, the skyhook is essentially a mobile space elevator, dragged periodically around the equator. This setup bypasses the restrictions a stationary space elevator would have, where Luna’s slow rotation would require an exceptionally long cable extending 50,000 km or more to the Earth-Luna L1 or L2 points for stability. Instead, the rolling moonstalk is a short 10,000 kilometers in length.
The Skyhook is actually four carbon-nanotube cables bundled together, each carrying a non-stop stream of climber cars with passengers and cargo. The cables are latched onto a mobile base platform that circle Luna on a dedicated track. This platform moves rapidly across the surface, keeping pace with Selene’s orbital velocity, a zippy 344 kph. Loading stations located near major settlements and key junction speeds allow descending cars to slide off on parallel tracks and decelerate, or boost ascending cars up to pacing speed to catch the hook and begin their climb. The climber cars are powered by microwave beams with solar backups. The lack of atmospheric friction and low gravity means they can punch up to high velocities very quickly, in excess of 2,000 kph, going even faster as they climb out of the well.
Travel time to and from Selene is under 5 hours.
The Skyhook presents a fast and affordable option for getting into orbit, and is a much cheaper (if slower) alternative to rockets. This means that the Skyhook is the primary travel method used by common Lunars to or from orbit. When it comes to cargo shipping, however, mass drivers are also an affordable option.
Small mass driver assemblies (~200 meters in length) are not uncommon at most medium-sized and larger Lunar settlements. These large railguns can launch small packages of cargo into orbit cheaply and at a high rate. Disposable launch containers protect the cargo from acceleration stresses, detaching from the package when it reaches orbit, where it is collected up by an orbital-based catcher system. This system is used to transfer cargo to orbital stations or shipping relay points, as well as to launch drone spacecraft and small satellites. Most mass drivers are not suitable for launching transhumans into space, however some longer assemblies designed to keep g forces down to acceptable levels can be used to push people into orbit if necessary.
The importance of the Skyhook for Luna’s economy and the potential for abuse with mass drivers means that both systems are guarded with typical levels of Lunar paranoia.
Despite the standard safety protocols to protect against the hazardous environment, Lunars or their bots still occasionally go missing on the surface. As many valleys and craters aren’t visible from overhead satellite view, it’s sometimes impossible to tell what happened to these missing people or bots without sending someone or something to look or them. Most of the time, the disappearance is caused by some mixture of accident and carelessness, or the occasional murder. In these cases, the body is usually fairly easy to find. However, on rare occasions the person simply vanishes. Usually that means nanoplagues got them.
One of the gifts the TITANs left the residents of Luna was a bombardment of missiles carrying payloads of nanoswarms. Some of these nanoplagues still lay dormant on the Lunar surface, waiting for some unlucky morph or drone to wander into them and fall victim—or worse, get infected. Carrying nanodetectors is a common precaution for surface activity, but sometimes these warnings come too late. This sort of infection is still a regular, if rare, occurrence, with a new incident every few months. Lunar vids regularly feature innocent or even heroic characters being transformed by the haunting nano-virus into unknowing agents of the TITANs. These secretly infected characters go about their daily lives as the nanoplague gradually rewrites their mind until they become monstrous and deadly killers. Several Lunar psychologists attribute the particular public fascination with such characters on Luna as evidence of continuing cultural trauma due to the horribly visible evidence of the Fall that all Lunar inhabitants must deal with whenever they look overhead.
In truth, exsurgent virus breakouts on Luna occur with alarming frequency. These are typically initiated when an individual or bot becomes infected with one of the TITAN nanoplagues still lying on the surface. Careful analysis of these infection incidents has pinpointed several distinct trends. Most of the infected tend to establish a small base of operations from where they can “recruit” others. Given the ease with which oxygen can be extracted from lunar soil, any exsurgent with access to a lunar vehicle with a small fabber and a functional nuclear battery can create a small habitat. Sometimes a single exsurgent with no equipment can manage this using only its inhuman augmentations.
Once the base is created, the exsurgent lays down more nanovirii in areas likely to be visited by prospectors, tourists, and other individuals who explore the surface. Over the course of several months, or even several years, the number of exsurgents in a single area grows through this method. At least two large exsurgent pockets of this type have been detected and destroyed in the past two years; there is a distinct possibility that others exist, still hidden. The exsurgents in one of these pockets began kidnapping transhumans and programming them with basilisk hacks that caused them to perform various destructive actions when they were back in their home habitat and were exposed to some common event, such as a vacuum readiness drill. This pocket of exsurgents was only discovered and destroyed when officials began correlating the movements of all the affected individuals and carefully exploring the portions of the surface all of them had visited.
The other exsurgent pocket struck in a far more direct fashion. Four years ago, these monsters attacked Nectar, using their inhuman async abilities to block sensors until they began their assault. While the exsurgents were all destroyed and their base found, they managed to open two habitat tunnels to vacuum, killing more than 100 and infecting dozens more with nanoplagues.
To prevent dormant nanoplagues or infected individuals from entering any Lunar habitats, everything entering any habitation from either the surface or off-world must undergo careful screening for the presence of active nanoswarms or plagues. Though such scans are common for any off-world immigrant elsewhere in the system, on Luna the scans are more thorough and are performed on everyone who visits the surface or travels to another settlement.
This screening requires less than a minute per individual, but while it takes place the subject must wait in a heavily armored room, monitored by powerful automated weapons. Attempts to evade this process or any aspect of the quarantine and scanning results in the individual being arrested or killed.
It is worth noting that these security measures are not always effective at detecting infected individuals. Several strains of the exsurgent virus are known to alter the victim and then go dormant, leaving no detectable trace of the infection. This is particularly true of the Watts-MacLeod strain. This has allowed some infected individuals to enter Lunar habitats and cause problems. On the positive side, these exsurgents are typically no longer infectious to others, though some have found ways to recreate the virus once inside.
//Excerpted from a post circulating on numerous Lunar mesh forums//
Are we asleep or just deluded? Do we have a death wish to end the most pure remnants of Earth remaining? Are we, by our own apathy and lack of vigilance, bringing about our own destruction? Can we be so lax that we invite ruin into our communities?
We’ve seen the results of giving scientists too long a leash. We know the risks of letting our borders go unwatched. We know what damage a single infected person can do. The danger posed by these threats stares us in the face every day. It may still be lurking there, just next door. To truly defend ourselves, we must stand united. We must be a community with shared values and interests. We must remain the culture of Earth. But our integrity, our wholesomeness, is being undermined every day. Divisive elements are burrowing into the foundation of our society, undermining our strength, making us weak and vulnerable.
Look around, fellow citizens of Luna! We have Martian nanotech being imported and used at Feynman, the same nanotech that killed millions not more than a decade ago and left its scars even here! We have animals, animals being used for experiments and then let loose to run our streets, breathe our air, and suck up our precious resources. These are the same animals that for centuries our forbears guarded against since they brought disease and pestilence, and now we allow them to share our cities!
Strangers walk our streets. Once, neighbors knew each other and communities were bonded together by mutual trust and appreciation for traditional values. But those have gone by the wayside, swarmed under by synthetic criminals, disease-carrying animals, and foreigners who blatantly flaunt our laws.
We are making a call. A call for all right-thinking, well-meaning, and concerned Loonies to band together, join the Lunar Citizens Alliance, and start a revolution that will keep our way of life secure from the threats that menace it!
Sidebar: Exsurgent Hunt
We’ve confirmed traces of an active exsurgent pocket near Copernicus crater (see attached data analysis reports and missing persons reports). Evidence suggests between 3 and 5 exsurgents. I need you to scramble your team, scout the area, locate their base of activity, and neutralize the threat.
The New Mumbai Containment Zone
Before it was destroyed by two large fusion bombs, New Mumbai was Luna’s primary helium-3 extraction facility and a thriving colony of 50,000 that had rapidly expanded during the early portion of the Fall to hold an additional 380,000 refugees. Unfortunately, at least one of these refugees was infected with an exsurgent virus when they fled from Earth. Though the first generation of quarantine measures was in effect, this infected individual managed somehow to slip through. A few weeks later, more than 70% of the population of New Mumbai was secretly infected, with no one the wiser. At a certain point, however, the virus went active and simultaneously took control of these victims. Experts in exsurgent activity are certain that the virii exchanged covert signals that allowed them to coordinate their takeover. Once the virii took control of their hosts, surviving records from New Mumbai indicate that the city was swiftly conquered. The exsurgents either killed or infected all of the remaining transhuman inhabitants. Although a few thousand uninfected residents escaped and at least 10,000 more are assumed to have barricaded themselves in various secure locations, the exsurgents took control of the entire city in less than one hour. Orbital imagery of New Mumbai revealed that many of the exsurgents rapidly moved to the city’s various transport facilities and were clearly preparing to attempt to travel to other Lunar cities. Rather than waiting to see what they would do, Lunar authorities dropped two fusion bombs on New Mumbai less than two hours after the beginning of the exsurgent takeover. The resulting blast incinerated the city and produced a crater almost 10 kilometers across and 25 meters deep, surrounded by a zone of melted and scorched rock more than 100 kilometers across. The official story is that the blast destroyed all exsurgents. Unfortunately, the official story is wrong.
The region around New Mumbai remains under quarantine and off limits, enforced by automated LLA defenses and drones, and will likely remain so for several decades. Firewall has made some efforts to send reconnaissance drones and nanobot swarms in to assess the situation, however, and has found signs of lingering exsurgent activity. Our analysts think it’s likely that approximately two dozen exsurgents still survive, deep in the lowest and most protected portions of the underground city. These must be somehow robust enough to resist the radiation, and there is no saying how the virus may have altered and changed them. Even more disturbing, however, is the report from a Firewall async who participated in a low scouting flight over the crater. According to her report, she experienced odd feelings of some sort of presence down in the ruins, reaching out to her. Given the distances involved, this presence must have impressive async abilities and power.
Firewall is currently crafting new containment protocols for this threat. There is significant concern that we may soon see an exsurgent outbreak here, possibly reaching out towards one of the three small Lunar settlements that are within 1,000 kilometers of the ruins of New Mumbai.