ENTRY 113: Hope’s End
Habitats fail. Life goes on. Hopewell habitat was a mid-size belter colony established on the asteroid 5475 Hanskennedy. Reasonably self-sufficient, Hopewell had not yet established full trade and social links when comm systems went dark. No one investigated checked to see how the station was doing for nine years.
Contact finally came from an exploratory mission out of Eros, a small but fully-equipped military expedition designed to chart out the station for possible scavenge or recolonization. Fearing a possible remnant of the TITANs, the Red Zone forces exercised an extremely cautious approach, sending out robot probes to tap Hopewell’s computer system from outside.
What they found was a feral colony—most systems in good condition, maintained by automated machinery and routines, but the population reduced to savagery. Of the two hundred and sixty original colonists, perhaps thirty remain, split into three social groups. Faced with legitimate (if feral) owners rather than an abandoned station, the Planetary Consortium moved in, establishing a permanent observation post so that sociologists could study the phenomenon.
The oldest of the survivors appears to be a female in late adolescence, with only limited knowledge of how to interact with the station’s systems, and no access to its higher functions. This, along with supplementary evidence, suggests that some violent unrest led to the death of the entire adult population of Hopewell early in the life-cycle of the colony, leaving the children to fend for themselves—growing up and starting to have children of their own.
While some transhumans protest this “natural experiment,” what interests the Planetary Consortium sociologists is that despite the name, the inhabitants of Hopewell—known generally as “Hope’s End” on the Mesh—have only really been limited by what they can access through the station’s data archives. The first generation residents have self-educated themselves on maintenance, first-aid, basic chemistry, language, music, philosophy, and self-government; their only real limitations in this regard are the checks that their parents and guardians imposed on “restricted” material—including all but the most basic sex education, pornography, pharmacology, and any advanced medicinal knowledge, as well as the administrative controls for the station and certain "subversive" political ideologies and technologies. As such, while conversant on how to replace and clean an air filter, a Hope’s End feral has limited knowledge of childbirth procedures and no knowledge of recreational drugs beyond nitrous oxide, which is one of the principal forms of entertainment.
- Jhil Nightbreaker wants to stage an intrusion that will bust open the “natural experiment” at Hope’s End, but she needs a little help—a group of go-to transhumans willing to sneak about the observation post and plant a virus that will unlock the restricted portions of the Hopewell database. Of course, all they have to do is sneak past the Red Zone security while Jhil sets up a diversion…
- After nine years of automated labor and only minimal maintenance, several of the key life-support systems of Hope’s End are near collapse. To preserve the “natural experiment,” the sociologists need a stealth team to sneak into the station through a forgotten airlock and perform critical upgrades. Fortunately, the administration area was off-limits to the children and is mostly intact, so the PC’s only difficulty will be getting in and out of their quietly. Unfortunately, one of the social groups is rabidly xenophobic and will turn their improvised weapons on any outsiders they run across along the way…