- Published: 26 March 2020
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New Detroit is the current flashpoint between Terran Sphere and Shohan Forces as they battle for control of the sector. Once an exemplar of the Terraformer’s art, and a training post of the Terran Sphere marines, Shohan missteps on the planet have created a revealing ecological catastrophe and an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
The Bunyip System
The Bunyip system is somewhat small, with a star that is less massive and dimmer than Sol and 5 planets revolving around it. The first 4 are rocky worlds. Black Rock, the closest to the sun, lives up to its name as a blasted rock. Further out are two venusuvian hell worlds of Mojave and Sonoran. The final rocky world, almost at the edge of the Star’s grav limit, is New Detroit.
New Detroit, a super terrestrial world with a surface gravity of 1.21Gs and a 28 hour rotation, is the primary life-bearing world in the system. Despite its distance from its star, the world hosts a diverse range of climates across its 11 continents. The largest of these is Cadillac; officially named for the soldier who built the original Fort Detroit, not the Automotive brand. Cadillac is slightly larger than Eurasia by land mass and stretches from the northern to the southern pole as one unbroken land mass. The continent also boasts the longest river in the sector, the New Mississippi, running from the southern highlands to the northern Pontiac Bay in the upper northern latitudes. The entire river system is 5 times the length of its namesake on Earth, and some aquatic species will swim the entire length in order to return to ancestral spawning grounds.
The planet does not boast any natural satellites, although during the Terraforming process a mirror array was stationed in orbit to provide the semblance of moonlight over sections of Cadillac for the sake of imported Terran species. Due to the lack of natural moonlight, a significant evolutionary divide has developed between daytime and nighttime ecologies. Many species are only active during one or the other, and choose to burrow or retreat to some kind of protective lair to hibernate in their off cycle. For the night time ecology, it bears many similarities to cave ecologies: loss of pigment and poor eyesight being the two most common adaptations. Enhanced hearing, echo location, or sensitive whiskers that can track air currents are other common adaptations. On both sides of the divide predators will frequently evolve methods to track sleeping/hibernating prey to their lairs and strike while they are vulnerable.
The final world of the system is the gas giant of St. Clair. The gas giant orbits outside of the grav limit of the star, which has made it a useful shortcut for ships arriving at the right time. When planets are positioned correctly, they can surf to the system, maneuver outside the grav limit, make the hop to St. Clair’s grav limit and then dive back into the system towards New Detroit. The planet’s largest moon, Hazen, is mostly ice encrusted, but despite the overall frigid temperatures, it has developed a sparse ecosystem and even a thin but breathable atmosphere. Prior to the war, there was some ecotourism to the moon, but the few permanent settlements there were abandoned as the Shohan came closer to the system. Port Lernoult orbited at the edge of the planetary grav limit to act as a stopover point for travelers, but was abandoned during the retreat from the system.
History and Settlement
New Detroit is one of the older colonies in the sector. The colonization process began soon after the Treaty of Mars was signed and the Terran Sphere was established. Biogenesis, then a fledgling firm with lofty ambitions, took on the terraforming contract. Their work on the interface between the native ecology and Terran imports helped make the firm’s reputation, and even today is seen as a masterpiece in grafting an entire new branch of life on to an already established world. Even today, students of the terraformer’s art come to the world to study the work done on the planet, and Biogenesis has maintained a regional office on planet.
The colony was originally conceived as a refuge for many of the displaced groups looking for homes in the Colonial War’s aftermath. Additionally, the Terran Sphere Navy also saw value in establishing itself in the system, using it as base of operations on the opening frontiers of the Terran Sphere. The frontier has moved on, along with many of the Fleet’s ships with it. However the climate diversity made it appealing to the Terran Sphere Marine Corps, as it offered a wide variety of environments in which to train for ground operations. Fort New Detroit, the colony’s principle settlement, has grown up around the training camps that operated here, and the world remained a popular place for retired TSN personnel to settle down.
The city that grew up around the fort is a orderly town, spreading along the banks of the New Mississippi. While Fort New Detroit was the largest settlement, the colony has diverged somewhat from the standard colonial model of a mega-metropolis that holds the overwhelming bulk of the planetary population. Instead, there are a number of mid-sized cities, mostly scattered up and down the New Mississippi. Among these cities are New Memphis, Hawking Falls City, and New Baotou along with a number of smaller towns and villages. The proximity of all of these to the great river system of the New Mississippi makes riverboats and barges of all sizes common along its length.
Beyond the terraformers and the military, the economy of New Detroit was diverse but fairly typical in other respects. There are a few robotics subsidiaries and a number of firms focused on R&D for the Terran Sphere Marines, but nothing that truly rose to exceptional prominence in the Sphere. The most notable exports for the colony are agricultural products such as coffee and wine that have benefitted from the planet’s unique terroir.
The New Mississippi Blues
The colony was the last world to fall in the sector as part of the Shohan Advance. Unfortunately, during the final push into the system, the Shohan were able to ambush the transport fleet sent to evacuate the system before they were able to reach the planet. This has left most of the population trapped on New Detroit.
As the last fleet elements were forced out of the system, a Shohan occupation force settled into orbit around the planet. This is where things went awry for the Shohan. In their first act, the Shohan sent a force to the Biogenesis headquarters. Reports are sketchy but by all indications, the Shohan rapidly retreated from the installation and the installation was destroyed from orbit shortly after.
If the Shohan hoped to prevent subsequent events by destroying the Biogenesis facility, it’s clear that they failed. In the months following the event, the Shohan mainly stayed in orbit around New Detroit, aside from a few raids intended to destroy weapon caches and disrupt the surviving marine contingents on the surface. In the meantime, the colonists began to notice strange plants blooming in their midst. These plants had sharp, shiny blue-black leaves and pale, iridescent stalks. At first this was only a few plants sprouting in the ruins of the Biogenesis base and the surrounding environs. The invasive organisms have spread exponentially since then. Half of Fort New Detroit has now been consumed by strange forests that echo with the cries of dangerous feral beasts that have sprung up from nowhere.
Worse still, the Blue Zones, as the colonists have come to call them, have been spreading up and down the New Mississippi river system, threatening the rest of the colony. In the months following the Shohan possession of the system, the colonists have found themselves pressed between the Shohan and the Blues, and it is cold comfort to many of them that the Shohan seem to struggle against the Blues as much as they do. From what colonists have seen, while they can subdue the Blues and even exert some control over the strange ecology, it has also been clear that doing so requires their full concentration; if it wavers, they’ll be viciously attacked.
Since the Terran Sphere was pushed back from the system, the defense of the planet has fallen to militias raised from the large number of former fleet personnel that have retired here. Thanks to the prior military background possessed by a significant fraction of the planetary population and the myriad training stations on the planet, the militia is fairly large, well organized and decently equipped. The local R&D facilities have even turned out arms and armor customized for their use. Unfortunately, many of the militia members are older, even by the standards of the Terran Sphere, and a significant percentage of the industrial G3Ps and other manufacturing capacity was lost to the Blue contaminated areas of Fort New Detroit. Overall command for the planetary defense is held by Commandant Maximillion Tanaka, formerly Commandant Emeritus for Fort New Detroit and widely regarded as one of the most experienced ground forces commanders in the Terran Sphere. Ironically, for a man hoping to enjoy a quiet retirement, he now finds himself in command of one of the largest ground force operations ever mounted in the Terran Sphere.
Currently, the militias are roughly the equivalent of 2 TSN divisions of personnel. Structurally, the bulk of this are infantry, but they’ve been able to put together an understrength wing of air support, and a larger group of river patrol vessels that are primarily tasked with monitoring and containing the spread of the Blue ecosystem. Somewhat ironically, the River Patrol actually has one of the lowest percentages of ex-Fleet personnel. A large portion of its manpower is actually drawn from the planetary forestry and firefighting services. Its members grimly attempting to burn out new growths of the Blues before they become too deeply rooted or inhabited by more advanced organisms. One of the challenges that the Commandant and his staff face is that while his officer cadre is strong up to the company or even battalion level, there’s a lack of experience running larger ground forces. The militias have compensated to some degree by utilizing more intercompany networking, but it remains a work in progress and the Commandant is looking for personnel that can fill some fairly large holes in his org chart.
The militias may be well organized and well armed, but they are facing some significant threats. In addition to the environmental hazards posed by the Blues, the Shohan still retain the orbitals and have spread a heavy ground presence on the planet. No one is sure if they’re working to spread the Blue, contain it or simply monitor it, but their forces are most concentrated in the regions where the Blue ecology has established a foothold. Whether because of their soldiers’ proximity, or some restraint regarding the contaminated regions, the Shohan have refrained from orbital strikes in the areas where the Blue has established itself. Other places have not fared so well, and the city of New Baotou has been reduced to craters by the Shohan dreadnaughts. As a result, a large portion of planetary population has holed up in areas like the edges of New Fort Detroit and the outskirts of other Blue zones. The Shohan periodically attempt to dislodge these enclaves or attack the militia teams sent to contain the spreading Blue Zones.
Despite the twin threats the Colony faces, there’s at least some good news on the horizon: they’ve held on long enough for the Terran Sphere to regroup and win some fights for a change. At long last, the cavalry's here.
Battlefield: Diving Deep (GM Information)
The second battle in the Bunyip system was indecisive. Called the Battle of St. Clair by optimists in the Fleet, the Terran Sphere forces under the command of Admiral Zehun were able to regain control of the planetary system of St. Clair, its moons, and its port station. Additionally, they’ve been able to establish sporadic contact with the Colony, enough to get a sense of the picture on the ground. However, they were unable to dislodge the Shohan from their position over New Detroit and the colony is beginning to face serious shortages at all levels. Fortunately, the admiral and their staff have a plan to finish the job.
In a few months time the orbits of New Detroit and St. Clair will bring them into a close alignment. Before then, Fleet engineers are rushing to repair and upgrade the massive transit lasers once used by the station to push light luggers inward. Meanwhile, the Terran Sphere is planning a relief drop to the colony to deliver critical supplies, troops, and a small cadre of scientists to help study the Blue Zones. As envisioned by Fleet planners, the heavier fleet elements will dive from St. Clair to Bunyip’s grav limit, launch a raiding force of Dragons and Bridgehead shuttles, before retreating to St. Clair and repositioning themselves along the grav shore on the opposite side of the planet to pick up the raiding force and dive back to St. Clair once more. The Dragons will be charged with covering the Bridgeheads as they make the radical deceleration maneuver needed to land on the planet, then scatter before the Dreadnaughts can fire on their landing zones. Once the Bridgeheads have made their landing, the Dragons will have to make their way out to the rendezvous point at the grav limit.
The resupply operation carries some significant risks. On approach, the ships are likely to face volleys of fire from the Shohan Dreadnaughts with limited ability to maneuver. They’ll have to trust their speed and their force fields to carry them through the barrage. Even on the planet, the LZs for the the ground force are all in Blue territory, hoping to capitalize on the Shohan reluctance to bombard these areas. The Terran Sphere marines and their auxiliary crews will have to make a quick march through the hazards of these zones to link up with the planetary militias. Up above, the Dragons will still need to extract themselves from the the engagement. For them, the most dangerous possibility is that the Shohan may use their jump drives to leapfrog ahead of departing forces, give themselves enough time to clear whatever disables the Shohan post jump and re-engage the fleeing craft; turning the quick raid into a gauntlet. Mission planners hope that the presence of heavier fleet elements waiting at the grav limit will deter this to a degree.
And of course, the is only the prelude the main event begins a few months later...
Beyond providing support to the beleaguered population of New Detroit, the primary objective of the resupply mission is to keep the Shohan focused on the planet and away from the work being done at Port Lernoult. When the system fell, the station was abandoned. The Shohan did a cursory job punching holes in it to disable its systems, including the transit lasers that were used to push light luggers in system and brake those coming out to the station. Now fleet technicians are working round the clock shifts to repair these behemoth laser rigs and upgrade them for Admiral Zehun’s plan. It is imperative that they finish on time for the close opposition (when one planet comes between another and its primary) of New Detroit and St. Clair, for there is only a short window for the attack to commence. A Shohan raid that managed to inflict additional damage to the transit laser complexes has the potential to be devastating, and it’s the duty first of the groundside fighters and observers to keep their attention, and then of the fleet elements guarding the station to prevent that from happening.
Admiral Zehun and their staff hope that with support from the Transit Laser Array their fleet can finally drive off the Shohan forces. If the Shohan commander is worth their salt, they’ll take steps to mitigate the Laser Array’s effectiveness. This could be a counter attack on the station that defending forces have to drive off. It might mean detailing a dreadnaught to jump out between the Port, and the raging battle and hold open a hyperspace portal that can absorb incoming fire. A final possibility is that the Shohan attempt to either maneuver through the Terran Forces, or even jump if necessary to the far side of New Detroit, imposing the colony between themselves and the Station’s fire. The player and GMs should feel free to consider these and additional options.
That’s Why They Call it the Blues (GM Information)
Even before the final battle, any science teams that make it to the ground during the resupply run are going to be working on determining what is going on with the Blue ecology that is creeping across the planet. Whatever happened at the Biogenesis facility, the site and all its data are gone. The remaining management at the firm’s headquarters claim they don’t know anything about what might be going on, and all indications are that they are telling the truth. Survivors on world might know some details or might be able to direct players to off site backups that, while deep in the Blue Zones, would likely still be intact. Initial examinations of Blue organisms show some similarities with the Shohan, but also distinct differences. Like the Shohan, the organisms from the blue Ecology apparently encrypt their genetic information, and there are indications of an unknown nanotechnology operating in the Blue ecology. However, that nanotechnology is significantly less organized than what the Shohan possess and shows no ability to sustain itself outside of living tissue.
So what is the Blue and how are the Shohan related to it? Here are some possibilities:
- Everything is going according to plan for the Shohan. The Blue Zones are Shohan Creches and the Ferals are either young Shohan or young Cerberi. The entire process is intended to winnow them until only the best survive to be brought into the Shohan Assembly.
- Those concerned that the Shohan are only a mask, servants of nanosync ecology, are correct. New Detroit is a colonization effort, only something in the work Biogenesis did is interfering with the process and the nanosync here has gone feral. Possibly, The Shohan Ecology realized this at Minerva and recognized it as a threat. In that case, New Detroit is a test study as they work out countermeasures.
- Alternately, New Detroit has long been regarded as a model for terraforming and helped make Biogenesis’ reputation in the industry. What if they used something they’d discovered, either on planet, or elsewhere to achieve such remarkable results? Perhaps the Shohan recognized this helping hand and consider it to be a threat, not just to themselves but the entire Fourth Population. Their foray into the Biogenesis labs might have awakened something they truly have no idea how to handle. They are doing their best, for now, to contain the situation before it blows up even further.
- The Shohan intended to make the world their new capital in the sector. Destroying the Biogenesis facility was only a means to stamp their claim upon the world. For some reason, however, the nanosync has stopped responding to their commands. An Altered is spreading the Blue Zones. Once one of the terraforming scientists at Biogenesis, he’s been driven mad during his alteration. In his madness, he sees this as a glorious rebirth for the world and humanity. The “Ferals” are other Altered on the planet. For some reason, the Blue Zones call to them and many have joined his cult.
Regardless of its origins, even if the Terran Sphere is able to liberate New Detroit, the clean up effort to contain the Blues will take years, possibly even decades.
[Black and Blue and Red All Over]
[We’re On the Clock Here, People]