Colonia, Here and Now is a new series in which we visit each settlement in our Colonia Nebula, learning what life is like for those who live there and discovering what they offer to travellers. In this first edition I visit The Pit, located within EOL PROU LW-L C8-133.
At just under 22,000 light years from Sol, The Pit is one of Colonia’s most developed extraction centres. An orbital station ably managed by Compatriot Laverne Rice of the Colonia Mining Cooperative, it has grown in short months to be an essential link in the chain of primary industry building the Colony’s infrastructure.
I’m greeted upon my arrival by Guyard Lanc. Of the 2,000 souls aboard this station, Lanc is the operating officer of the Colonia Mining Cooperative. As the de facto ambassador he shows me the changes to the donated port: from the communal mess, to the shrine of Randomius, to the newly reactivated command center, finally ending at the processing facility, which he says is his favorite section.
He stands with his arms folded, beaming at the automation of the bauxite processing station. Behind a glass wall, the androids and metallic arms work the raw material into cargo.
“Child, I not saw android. Programmed all,” he says while he watches his repatched and repurposed army move through the zero-g refinery. “Colonia need goods we ship. Bauxite, cobalt, rares. Need a lot.”
The androids and arms intertwine with enough precision to form a rolling circle with the speed of a factory conveyor belt, endlessly processing and packaging while they float through the chamber in a fluid coil. Containers are filled, taken directly to the docking bay, and returned. Not a moment is lost.
The markets at The Pit reflect this activity. Foods and luxuries fetch a premium here, although savvy traders can pick up minerals and metals at a discount. Somewhat surprisingly for a mining platform, The Pit features a buzzing passenger transport trade, with inhabitants flush with mining revenues keen to see the galaxy and visit friends in the Bubble. Universal Cartographics also maintains a small office here with an uplink to their network.
There is little manufacturing or engineering, though – visiting pilots won’t find any outfitting facilities, though the station does offer repair services.
Lanc is proud of his work, as he should be. Not many see the processing facility, he tells me in his Ikpenonesian dialect. I hear this terse speech throughout the halls of The Pit as I talk with the inhabitants. A sizeable portion of the population seems to be a part of Lanc’s expeditionary group from Ikpenones.
Not all work for the Colonia Mining Cooperative; rumour has it that the No Look Here Gang run a thriving black market at the outpost, and have been known to solicit passing pilots into less-than-legal jobs.
I ask Lanc why would he want to leave the bubble.
“From where I from, knowing good fixing get you dead by Party. The same if you help Fed. Me? both.” He smiles, his eye on the ribbon of metal, plastic, and ore before us. I ask if he fears retribution for admitting both. “I hide then. No need hide here.”
We stop at a bay door, which hisses open. In the outfitting bay beyond sits a Python, battered and pummeled from the thousands of light years of travel. Floodlights shine across the whole of its surface. It is covered in hand-drawn symbols and names, one of which is of Lanc’s, he later points out.
“250 cattle boxes. Two each. Good shield. We prayed again, we make supercruise. Again, frameshift. Again, GalNet. We see Jaques, so we go.”
Lanc tells me of the journey, and the perils. He explains the customs of his city and how they have found a new home in The Pit. I am struck by the bravery and resilience shown by these people.
I promise to visit again, after I finish my trip around Colonia. As I leave, he produces a coin and presses it into my hand just before I head up my ship’s ramp.
“Randomius show you Colonia. You’ll give me back coin.”
Photography credit: Cmdr Sparkles