- Published: 26 March 2020
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Settlement And History
Prospero was the first inhabited world in the sector. Technically, the world was settled before the start of the Colonial War, as the first settlers arrived the year before the outbreak of the war. They decided to evacuate shortly after the Chinese incursion at Alpha Centauri and the colony remained abandoned for its entirety. It was not long after the Treaty of Mars was signed that many of those same settlers returned to restart their colony.
There are many reasons why Prospero was such an attractive candidate for colonization: proximity to the nucleus of the newly formed Terran Sphere, agreeable climate, and high biocompatibility with terrestrial life are among them. The truth of the matter is that Prospero is special. Most would consider it to be among the most beautiful worlds in the Terran Sphere, with lush green vegetation, bright azure skies, and a brilliant yellow sun. The world seems saturated in color. But this is not the true reason for the world’s appeal. Instead the world is home to what is known as the Prospero Effect. A sense of tranquility seems to pervade the air here. Those on planet report higher levels of contentedness and peace of mind than elsewhere in the Terran Sphere. The effect isn’t only psychological. Other studies have confirmed that Psionics recover faster from using their arts, and injuries heal faster at a small but statistically significant rate. Despite many studies documenting its effects, no one is quite sure of the cause.
Thanks to the Prospero Effect, the colony has gained a reputation as a retreat for the wounded, or simply those seeking something higher in their lives. Several branches of Ascendantism consider the world to be sacred including the Tóngxīnfǎ (Corebook, p101), which became a sizable minority on the planet prior to the War. Alongside the retreats, shrines, and temples that beckon to pilgrims, the Altaira Academy was considered an elite school for the Psionic arts. There were also a number of cutting edge medical complexes, including a TSN facility, that leveraged the unique circumstances of the planet for the benefit of their patients.
There are some enclaves scattered throughout the countryside to support the pilgrims and other seekers that make their way to the planet. Most of the population had settled in and around Cape Nielsen, with the city of the same name serving as the capital of the colony. The sprawling town hugs the coastline of the cape; meandering down to the beanstalk footing at its southern tip. Nearest to the Beanstalk footing is the area known as South Port. The district is the industrial section of the city, home to heavier fabrication shops and transient housing for business and other temporary visitors. Above South Port, on the eastern inner edge of the Cape is the neighborhood of Bayside. Considered one of the cultural centers of the city; it hosts various marinas, boardwalks and public beaches. The outer edge of the cape has been set aside for Ocean Dunes Park, a natural preserve overlooked by various residential high rises. Continuing north is the city’s Chinatown. Although exclusive ethnic enclaves are rarer on Colonial worlds, Cape Nielsen’s community was founded by refugees from areas of China devastated by the Bombardment who wanted to preserve their cultural identity. Many of the first Tóngxīnfǎ shrines were raised here, and the community was important to this branch of Ascendantism. Finally, in the hills overlooking the Cape is Carpentier Heights. Often called simply “The Heights”, various hospital complexes, treatment centers, and laboratories that make up the heart of the medical community on the planet are interspersed in the suburban neighborhoods that dot the hills.
The city was a beacon of the visual arts, whether it was Ascendant iconography, avant garde galleries, or the murals and graffiti that dot the cityscape. Many prominent artists of the Terran Sphere have lived or worked here since its founding. The celebrated artist Marcos Li remarked: “I could have watched the waves breaking on a dozen different worlds, but when looking out across the ocean here, I was compelled to stay and tell the story of those waves. I’ve never looked back since that moment.” Although the visual arts were always at the head of the table in Cape Nielsen, other artists always flowed through the city like the waters of the bay, seeking their own insights; poets and playwrights, musicians and mystics, all looking for a whiff of inspiration in Prospero’s air. It’s understandable then that while the planet was largely evacuated prior to falling into the hands of the Shohan, its loss was second only to the defeat at Artemis III as a blow the Terran Sphere’s morale. Indeed, the final battle there strained its defenders past the breaking point.