The Shattered Ring
Atlantis is an unpredictably moving giant starship. How the ship functions is unknown and there is disagreement among the populace about the wisdom of meddling and investigation. According to some Atlantis is the origin point for human habitation of the Cluster. It is unknown if whatever controls it is truly sentient, or for that matter slipstream capable.
No-one knowns why Atlantis was built, or what now controls the ship. What is obvious is that Atlantis actively looks after itself and its human population, maintaining its systems in working order, and ensuring that the inhabitants are fully supplied with any raw materials needed.
The ship travels around it’s home system at unpredictable intervals, but always with a specific destination in mind – whenever a raw material might be running short, the next stop will be an asteroid or cometary fragment that contains an abundance of that resource. Automated refining machinery on Atlantis’s hull will latch onto the target, and it is gradually consumed over the course of weeks or months. The resulting elements are then either used either to maintain Atlantis itself or provided for the population to be used at they see fit.
From end to end, Atlantis is over one hundred and ninety kilometres long, and up to forty kilometres in diameter, a truly massive starship of unknown origin. The core of the ship presumably contains all of the control machinery – power generation equipment, refineries and auto-factories, life support machinery, fuel tanks and of course the huge engines that move it around the system.
The entire outer surface is covered in multiple overlapping habitation domes, two hundred and ninety-three in all, each approximately ten kilometres across. The ship produces its own gravity through unknown means, pulling down towards the centre of the ship, so the inhabitants have a constant view of the stars.
Atlantis is maintained by automatic workbots of various kinds, that see to the upkeep of the physical infrastructure of the starship. These completely ignore the inhabitants of the domes, and if obstructed in their duties will simple move on and return at a later date to complete their tasks.
The domes of Atlantis house a number of different kinds of environment. Many are of a standard temperate climate, suitable for farming or habitation by the Atlanteans. However others are home to more exotic habitats, including dense tropical jungles, scorching deserts, and even oceanic biospheres.
Previous attempts by the Atlanteans to utilise these non-standard domes for their own purposes have always been unsuccessful. While the ship’s workbots will tolerate sustainable usage of these domes, any attempts at wholesale clearance simply results in all unguarded human artefacts being dismantled and returned, in pieces, to the nearest population dome.
Three of the domes are completely sealed and opaqued, the airlocks welded shut and barricaded by the ship’s workbots for reasons unknown.
The inhabitants of Atlantis are a prosperous people – although they still have to grow their own food, create their own technological devices and manage their society, they are freed from much of the harder work of other cultures because the ship itself always provides the basic raw materials in effectively unlimited quantities.
Living in a purpose-built environment carried its own problems, however – in particular the finite nature nature of their living space means that Atlantis has always been in danger of overcrowding, and social tensions resulting from the enclosed habitat are never far from the surface.
Atlantis’s unique societal structure reflects the compromises needed to handle this tension – it is a matriarchal culture, where women are almost always the ones in a position of power. This it a natural result of the pressing need to keep the birth rate stable – having the female half of the population in charge makes it far easier to keep the number of children born in check.
After the devastating rebellions of a century ago, men were theoretically granted equal standing with women. In practice however many of the ancient restrictions still apply – in particular, almost 40% of the domes are reserved solely for the use of women, with no men allowed entry.
Only the advent of Slipstream travel allowed this unequal situation to continue – it has often been joked that men are Atlantis’s main export, and this has a ring of truth to it. Troublemakers are often encouraged to emigrate, and their travel expenses are covered by the state. Many mercenaries and adventurers throughout the Shattered Ring cluster are ex-Atlanteans in search of broader horizons then their home can provide.
Sports also play a central role in Atlantean culture, partly because they allow the release of tension and even violence in limited, controlled manner. A number of martial arts have been developed on board, such as Atlantean Deck-Fighting, and many emigrees are skilled in close combat. Team sports are also popular, although many visitors are shocked by the levels of violence displayed – minor injuries are commonplace, and even more serious injuries excite little comment from the locals.
work in progress
work in progress
Technology Rating: 0
Environment Rating: 2
Resources Rating: 2
- Highly matriarchal society
- Divided over the future
- Inscrutable and mysterious – The Great Unknown
DANGER! WORK IN PROGRESS! HARD HATS MUST BE WORN ON THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES.
Life aboard the Starship Atlantis
The Starship Atlantis is home to approximately three million individuals at any given time, although it only has comfortable housing for approximately two and a half million. Overcrowding and the impossibility of further expansion means constant and steady migration to the rest of the Cluster, which has led to Atlantean enclaves throughout the habitable systems. Unfortunately, as Atlantis has little to offer in trade, those who leave are frequently forced to become indentured servants in payment, and are considered of low quality as a result of a persistent cultural tendency towards a poor working ethic. Stringent laws, rules and regulations aboard the Starship are entirely unable to prevent the inevitable climb in population, and imports of contraception are absolutely critical to the social stability of Atlantis.
The automated systems of Atlantis, which operate at a technological level far above that of any observer to date, provide a consistent and plentiful supply of food, water and oxygen for the population on board, either recycling waste products with incredible efficiency or synthesizing whatever is required from raw materials. These materials are acquired by the ship itself, which moves about the system gathering matter from celestial bodies as it requires it.
This permanent state of abundance has had severe social and cultural ramifications for the Atlanteans themselves. Never having had to work to provide the means of their own survival and lacking substantial external stimuli (Atlantis lacks a real export, so whatever entertainment it has brought in from outside is of extremely poor quality and limited in quantity), the Atlanteans have instead resorted to complex internal politics and intrigue that appear phenomenally petty and banal to outsiders. The art and poetry of Atlantis is typically lacking in inspiration, and is often either intolerably tedious and repetitive or abstract and surrealist. Substance abuse is a persistent problem, with alcoholism becoming endemic (alcohol being the only drug that can be produced aboard with any ease, although some imported psychotropic fungi are periodically found in ventilation shafts). The discovery of unregulated stills in whatever free space is available is so common as to be no longer newsworthy. The elder generations aboard are in a perpetual struggle to overcome the high levels of discontent amongst the younger generations, who have resorted to forming gangs and antisocial behaviour, all too frequently including outbreaks of violence. To cap all of this, the combination of substance abuse and lack of diversion has resulted in a serious an ongoing population explosion.
The social problems of generations of individuals sharing an unchanging environment is almost impossible to ease aboard Atlantis itself, and so there is immense pressure to emigrate to the rest of the Cluster. This is problematic, as given that Atlantis exports nothing worthy of note there is very little incentive for outside ships to visit Atlantis, remote at the end of the Cluster as it is.
Atlantis’s primary form of entertainment is sport. Atlantis is host to a broad variety of sports and martial arts, which have each been developed in the confines of some of the ship’s cavernous holds. Forms of football and rugby are hugely popular, with massive (and highly tribalized) bodies of fans supporting rival teams, which has the unfortunate side effect of leading to widespread riots after every major fixture. Atlantis can boast some of the Cluster’s finest wrestlers, boxers (primarily bare-knuckle) and martial artists of a dozen styles, both home-grown (including Atlantean Deck-Fighting) and imported.
So important are sports to Atlantis that they are effectively the primary export of the great ship. The majority of sports played with in the Cluster have Atlantean origins. The people of Heorot are very fond of contests of any variety, and so will often front the funds for arranging fixtures either on Atlantis or on Heorot. The winners of these contests, if Atlanteans, often trade whatever winnings they secure immediately for passage off-ship to another part of the Cluster, which further fuels the intensity with which Atlanteans pursue sporting glory.
The preponderance of aggressive sports such as wrestling, boxing and martial arts aboard Atlantis (which helps relieve the political tensions and youthful aggression so prevalent aboard the ship) has left the Atlanteans as some of the most fearsome hand-to-hand combatants in the Cluster, and many are hired by the Heoroti, wealthy families of the Sundered Ring or the Helium Lords of Turbine as personal trainers. Heoroti Lords and Ladies have even been known on rare occasions to adopt promising Atlanteans into their halls (subject to strenuous tests of courage, honour and skill, naturally) as retainers and members of the Warrior Caste, an event that will be spoken of with some awe amongst the youth remaining aboard Starship Atlantis.
Atlantis operates on a democratic system and is ruled by a Council of elected representatives. The Council’s primary roles are to negotiate with traders from the other parts of the Cluster and to arrange sporting fixtures with external sponsors, as many of the Starship’s laws and regulations have been in place without substantial change for years. The Council also attempts to control Atlantis’s substantial social problems, which means the position of Councilor is not taken on lightly.