CCN announces the first Assembly of the Leaders of Colonia
As the Adder speeds across the airless landscape of Colonia 2 A, I am reminded by how far we still have to go. This planet is not even named, and yet it hosts the administrative hub for the Colony.
The planet below me is bleak. A casual observer would be forgiven for thinking it an icy world – but it is pasty, dusty rock that stretches to the horizon.
I’ve been invited by Dalilah William, Compatriot of the Colonia Council. The Council has achieved an impressive amount in its short tenure as stewards of the Colonia region. The administrative body, they have established subsidiaries in all areas of Colonial industry, mining and research, with several new bases dotted around the Nebula. They have also overseen the construction of the well-known Colonia Connection outposts – the very first pan-galactic shipping lane.
I’m here to view their latest project. It is the construction of a council chamber at Colonia Hub, which will shortly play host to a gathering of some of the largest powers in Colonia.
I ask my pilot how far to the base.
“Just beyond Qwerty’s Cone, there,” she replies, pointing. Following her finger, I see an impressive cone of white rock stab at the purple sky.
Colonia Hub comes into view for the first time as the Adder crests the ridge. It’s nestled in a shallow basin, surrounded by mountains. The low, huddled offices of the base cluster around one or two tall towers.
Colonia Hub is, externally, starkly functional. Exposed piping juts out of the side of squat, black architecture. Piles of construction materials lie around, unused. It’s strange to think that this place–the very first surface settlement ever constructed outside humanity’s back yard–holds so much promise.
Qwerty’s Cone looms the closer we get, pointing straight up at the deep blue gas giant around which this rock orbits. Tidally locked, they’ll never separate when viewed from the windows of the settlement. The cloudy purples of the nebula above, teeming with stars, bathe the whole scene in ethereal light. It is difficult not to feel the creeping excitement of building a new world out here. It is a beautiful, and perhaps slightly humbling, sight.
As my ship’s landing gear makes its clunking contact with the pad we are hailed by traffic control.
“Looks like someone is anxious. Ms William is expecting you just inside.”
Thanking the pilot, I head down the ramp.
Ms William is an impressive figure. She has a quiet, gentle demeanor, and a voice whose softness hides a steely determination. She shakes my hand briskly, leading me to a waiting surface recon vehicle.
As we weave our way through the buildings, she animatedly fields my myriad questions on the various structures outlined against the purple sky.
“That’s the office of the Colonia Nebula Project,” she confides. “All cartography. They do amazing things with data from explorers. I try to understand what they’re mapping but it’s beyond me, truth be told.
“Over there are the Miners and Rockrats offices. They’re mapping asteroid belts and such…”
She continues pointing them out to me, clearly proud at the breadth of activity here. The Exploration Wing, the Militia headquarters, the Geographic Survey Project… It’s clear that this humble outpost is a bustling centre of work.
Our SRV approaches the tallest building and is swallowed by inky shadow. Without an atmosphere to diffuse the light the shadows’ edges are razor-sharp.
We disembark and pass through an airlock. This building seems less functional, somehow – the corridors are wider, and as my Remlok retracts I smell fresh paint.
“The work teams are still here, putting the last touches in,” she continues. “The holovid projectors were installed just last week.”
Evidence of this is clear as I spot a few finishing materials that have yet to be removed, stuffed into corners. One final set of doors hisses open as the familiar echoes of people in settlement halls cease abruptly. I suddenly find myself in a cavernous space.
“…And here we are. The Colonia Assembly.”
It’s a huge amphitheatre, the ceiling lost in the gloom several storeys above. In the centre is a bare space adorned with a simple dias. Rising up around this central space are rows of stark benches built on tiers of greenish-white stone. Inset into these, at regular intervals, are clearly divided workspaces, complete with individual holovid projectors.
“The delegates will sit around here,” Ms William is saying, motioning to the hulking benches. “One from each faction. Some will be the leaders, some the nominated representatives. Each is fully equipped for holo presence should any delegates require virtual attendance.” The pride is clear in each detail she provides.
“Truly impressive. You could almost fit the entirely of Colonia in here,” I reply.
“At present, yes. However, the Council has received hundreds of bids and notifications from interests with the means to establish a presence within Colonia. If any of these manage to gain a foothold out here, then they’ll have a seat in this chamber.”
She pauses, smiling slightly. ”As you can see, we’ve enough room here to house the dreams of many.
“We have ambassadors from the Earth Expeditionary Fleet, Aurora Colony, the GalCop Colonia Defence Commission, the Explorers’ Nation, the Knights of Colonia Karma, the TCForces, Colonia Exploration and Research, Asgard Research, the Rock Research Ring, the Sovereignty, the Order of the Wandering Siamese and PAX, already registered, just to name a few. It is expected that many of them will be the first to sit on the Assembly.”
“What role will the Colonia Council or the CCN play in what takes place here?” I ask.
“None. The CCN will host the Assembly, but they have no power over what takes place here. It is their wish that the Nebula be colonised peacefully, and they believe communication in a neutral forum is the key to achieving that. The faction leaders are the future leaders of Colonia – this Assembly will be sovereign. We are merely providing the means by which such a large and diverse collection of interests might have civil discourse on neutral ground.”
I wander into the centre of the huge space, running my hand over the central dias. It is hard not to feel the sense of anticipation; the sense that incredible things will happen here. Ms William watches from the entrance, smiling slightly, her hands clasped behind her back. The near silent and introspective tour of the Assembly under her patient observation marks the end of my visit.
As I leave the facility shortly after, I can’t help but feel excited. I listen to the playback of my recorder as we broke orbit.
“…we’ve enough room here to house the dreams of many…”
We’ve been given an empty canvas, out here in the depths of space – ours to draw upon. What hopeful tapestry might we create?
Images courtesy of Qwertyuiopas and Qohen Leth