Tuesday, April 30, 2013

120: The Plutonium

ENTRY 120: The Plutonium

Death is still with transhumanity. Some egos don’t want to move on to new bodies; others just can’t afford to. Either way you cut it, death leaves a body behind. Even in a generation where bodies are regularly recycled, there are those that ascribe to traditional notions of corporeal interment, who wish their physical remains to remain unperturbed.

So there are small graveyards and necropolises that dot Luna and Mars, well outside the projected expansion zones of habitats. One transhuman’s biohazardous waste/former evolved plains ape is another transhuman’s treasure however, and many early graves have been uncovered and dug up, sometimes by people looking for scrap and biologicals to recycle, others by academics studying the effects of transhuman decomposition in different environments, or by vandals offended by the waste of time and materials. So for those dedicated enough to die and determined not to be disturbed, they had to get creative.

Originally designated 2212 Hephaistos, an Apollo asteroid and Near-Earth Object, for the last six years the minor planet has been carved into a funerary complex-cum-toxic waste storage materials facility, carved by telepresence robots into an elaborate Neo-Grecian temple with additional Roman, Etruscan, and Byzantine elements thrown in for good measure. Even in the future, industrial processes leave a lot of chemical and radioactive waste that cannot easily be converted, repurposed, or disposed of; the genius of The Plutonium Corp was to find a market where a ten-thousand-year half-life was desirable.

Clients purchase space and are stacked in individual crypts and mausoleums, right on top of spent fuel rods and piles of radioactive multicolored sand and glass scraped out of lunar craters from early nuclear-launch craft. The whole facility is opened to vacuum, with no life support and no power, just a maze of narrow passages disappearing into the dark in the rock, with corpses arranged as artistically as their interment contracts allow. Plutonium Corp does a bit of side-business in guided telepresence tours, usually for family members, but otherwise Plutonium is pretty much a dead rock with no permanent staff.

Using The Plutonium

This is your basic dungeon in space, with a couple twists: it’s abandoned, cold, hideously radioactive, in hard vacuum, and far enough away from major habitats that rescues are likely to take weeks—if they’re launched at all, given that by broadcasting a distress call you’re basically admitting to being a graverobber or illegal scrap merchant. On the other hand, anybody concerned enough to be buried in the Plutonium is wealthy or connected; the radioactive materials themselves have some worth, even if only to build dirty bombs; and of course there’s no telling what else Plutonium Corp may be hiding in their vaults—social stigma against violating gravespace being an interesting additional level of security.


  • A distress call goes out from the Plutonium. The nearest habitat feels the need to investigate, but has no authority and no burning desire to stage a rescue, but Plutonium Corp posts a bounty and together they outfit a ship to investigate, complete with all the rad-resistant vacuum suits and other gear a group would need to survive within the facility, at least for a little while. Now all they need is a group crazy enough to go see who it is and why they need help…

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