New Providence, “fuel tank of the galaxy”. After a long-range interstellar probe found traces of precious Nitrium, a colony of brave pioneer families made the long journey from Earth, financed by the incredibly wealthy Rinehart Corporation. As far as anyone knew, it was going to be a one-way trip, gambling hundreds of lives and almost all of Earth’s Nitrium to get them there.
Nitrium, the fuel that makes interstellar travel possible. Found only in trace amounts in meteor deposits on earth, so the chance to find a rich source of this rare mineral was too good to pass up. What those daring colonists found was beyond anything they could have hoped for: New Providence had enough Nitrium to make interstellar travel a sustainable reality.
Despite harsh conditions and hostile alien life, the colony thrived. It grew so large that an administrative board headed by a governor had to be assembled to manage its affairs. Soon, the population stratified, with the colony founders becoming the new ruling class. Meanwhile, indentured workers still struggled to pay off the enormous cost of their flight and lived in poverty.
The Justice Engine
In order to guarantee fairness, The Justice Engine was created. As a powerful specialist AI programmed to arbitrate any disputes, it was designed to be impartial and incorruptible, a judge and jury beyond any of the petty bias and fallibility of a human arbiter. The physical manifestation of The Justice Engine is the group of troubleshooters and enforcers known as Peace Keepers.
With New Providence now effectively strip-mined and the Rinehart Corp’s Nitrium refinery destroyed by a terrible industrial accident, the Founders of New Providence are going home. The Martian Princess, a gleaming new starship, has arrived for the decade-long journey back to Earth. However, berths are limited, and not everybody will be able to afford a ticket. When the wealthy and privileged fly away, what will become of those left behind?
When it was carried to New Providence from Earth by the founding families, The Movement was little more than a lifestyle philosophy, but it has grown into much more. Movement training has become a sign of importance and prestige, something shared by the founders and their children, not least because it is too expensive for common miners to access it—ironic considering it seems to confer some resistance to nitrium poisoning. As a result, though it is little more than a formal set of meditations and exercises, to many on New Providence The Movement has taken on an elitist air, perhaps even sinister.
Keepers of the peace…
While the Justice Engine is guaranteed to make fair decisions, it exists only as software. It needs a physical presence to ensure that its judgements are carried out. Robotic servitor robots can only do so much, and so the Peace Keepers were founded. Equal parts police officers, bounty hunters and frontier marshals, the “PKs” protect the colonists from all threats, aided by the strict law that forbids any non-PK from carrying a firearm.
When she was just a little girl, Rose was orphaned in a flash of terrible light. The same refinery explosion that halted Nitrium processing on New Providence also took Rose’s parents from her, along with countless others. Raised by The Movement, she forgot most of their teachings as she grew into adulthood and became a simple farmer, tending the gardens that feed Land’s End. Now, however, with everything she loves in danger of annihilation, those long-ago lessons are coming back to her.
Born into privilege as a member of one of the founding families, Wolf could have had an easy life in First Landing, but he needed more. Early in his life he exhibited a great talent in the Movement Games, particularly the shooting contests. As an adult, he leads the thrilling but dangerous lifestyle of a Peace Keeper bounty hunter, scouring New Providence for its worst criminals. While he professes to care deeply about the law and public safety, it may be the thrills and the money that really excite him.
Doc is yet another of the many colonists who lost everything the day the refinery exploded. A former hardworking Peace Keeper with a reputation for bringing in every bounty alive without resorting to deadly force, Doc was out on a job the day the reactor failed. In a flash of light and hail of poison, his family was gone and he was alone. Since that day, Doc has lived alone in the wasteland, finding comfort in his Movement beliefs and researching a cure for the nitrium sickness that plagues so many miners.
Searching . . . . . . .
Search failed. No record found.
No person of this name is registered in the colony database.
Bringers of mayhem…
The situation on New Providence was already tense. With the Martian Princess arriving in orbit and mass protests about the limited berths and prohibitively expensive tickets, the atmosphere across the entire colony is volatile. Then, during the NP27 News Providence broadcast of the governor’s speech, something strange happens: the signal is hijacked, and a cryptic message declares that it is “Zero Day”. The uprising has begun...
Not every Peace Keeper is a hero. Some misuse their authority and are purged from Peace Keeper ranks, but nobody has ever betrayed the Justice Engine like Zero. Joshua “Zero” Fuchs wasn’t collecting bribes or dabbling in petty extortion: he was a multiple murderer, actively undermining the stability of New Providence with a campaign of death and torture. Prison barely slowed him down; he now rules a brutal gang of convicts known as the Jackals, promising violent retribution against the ruling elite.
The aptly-named Malady is a sickness that infects New Providence. She is a woman without a name and without a past, without even fingerprint records. Her lack of an identity is no doubt thanks to her skills as a hacker; all attempts to discover her origins have ended in dead ends, wiped files and corrupted data. Malady is currently wanted on dozens of charges for data crime, hacking, fraud and impersonating a Peace Keeper.
In Land’s End Prison there are only two types of people: predators and prey. The predators at the peak of this ecosystem are the Jackals, a vicious criminal gang led by the man who calls himself Zero. Under his ruthless but efficient rule, the Jackals have become more than just a gang of thieves and murderers. They have become an army.
When residents of New Providence tell stories about Ghosts, they aren’t talk about the supernatural. Even so, their stories fill listeners with fear. Land’s End is not the very bottom of the colony’s social ladder; those who go bankrupt or lose everything to drugs or gambling may still fall further. These people are known as Ghosts, former miners who now live in the wastelands, carrying illegal firearms and growing sicker every day from the poisonous nitrium particles they breathe in. They are united by a single purpose: either find a cure, or take revenge against the colony that failed them before they die.
If New Providence has a boogeyman, it is named Kurtz. Once a wealthy and sought after surgeon, a near celebrity in First Landing, Kurtz’s fall from grace was sudden and complete. His research into nitrium poisoning was revealed to involve deliberately exposing patients to it in the hope of triggering mutations. When he was then implicated in the disappearances of several children, he vanished before the Peace Keepers could arrest him. Kurtz’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Where the action is…
While the Founders enjoy an easy life in their gleaming glass towers, Land’s End is where the work gets done. Huddled between cliffs on one side and the toxic wasteland of Beacon’s Field on the other, the people of Land’s End have very little, but they are proud and close-knit. In addition to the business of Nitrium mining, many of the people here have turned to farming, growing what little food they can in the alien soil.
Land’s End was not the first mining colony on New Providence. The first was Beacon’s Field, named after the historic navigation beacon used to lead the colony ships that the founders arrived on. Beacon’s Field was lost in one terrible moment on a day known as The Fail: the main reactor in the neighboring Rinehart Refinery suffered a catastrophic meltdown, scrubbing away all life in a radioactive gale and then burying their bodies under a layer of highly toxic nitrium sludge. The survivors founded Land’s End, but some desperate people with nothing more to lose are said to scrape out a living in the wasteland.
The blasted shell of the Rinehart Refinery still stands. Where once robotic workers worked tirelessly to refine delicate nitrium, hand-mined nitrium crystals into usable starship fuel, there is now just a deserted ruin. Nobody can live there because of the high level of nitrium poisoning, so it is the domain of nothing but derelict robots. After the explosion, Rinehart Corp judged that there was too little nitrium remaining to warrant the cost of a new refinery, so nitrium extraction on New Providence has slowly been winding down.
Far away from the dusty Nitrium mines that brought New Providence such wealth, the colony’s founders now live in gleaming luxury amid the glass and steel towers of First Landing. Recently, this idyllic life has been disrupted by angry protesters demanding fairer working conditions and an equal chance to get aboard the sleek starship that hangs in the sky above First Landing.