Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Moon River

Beneath the crust of the rockier, more stable moons of every solar system within the Connected Territories there is a buried watercourse that flows ever onwards like a concealed, secret river. This Moon River crosses over into nearly every settled system of the Known Worlds and forms a unique and very specialized sub-network amongst the populated regions of the Macrogalactic Diversity. People have been coming to the Landings and Mansions of the Moon River for thousands of years, some to give back, others to take away, all have their reasons and the silent custodes of the Lunar Precincts respect privacy more than most other security systems. It is Tradition amongst the Lunar Precincts that one may wear a mask, assume any name, adopt any identity. Such distinctions are not considered important in these places.

Inner Basin
The innermost lunar body within a particular system is referred to as the Inner Basin and it is a place of many shrines where the Public are free to come and go as they please and the Life Vaults ensconced deep below the waters are likewise freely open and made available to Public Access. Transparent shellboats, sleek vaporetto rivercabs, steam-spurting jellyboats, elegantly enclosed Hargon-crewed gondolas (highly regarded for their discretion), crabsails, krillkayaks, shrimpboats, icthyform biocabs, and other forms of transportation crowd the Landings and the Piers that jut into the waters of the Moon River. Some take passengers to the Vaults as a religious observance, others do it for profit or just to keep tabs on who is getting what from where and for whom. The Landings are colorful, softly luminous spaces strung with cultic propaganda, revolutionary placards, pithed memetic debris, orchids, dataclouds, solorphans, urchin-gangs and castoffs who make their way as street-performers, tourpredators, fleshpurveyors, or sources of contraband infections. These are hustling, bustling regions of intensely concentrated human activity and they attract actors, poets, suicides and worse. Genethieves are as thick as fleas on a bloatbeast--each one skimming the ambient residues and traces for some hint of a big score--some unique sequence or unreleased private stock that undercautious messengers or compromised couriers might spill from time to time.

Fraud, illusion and deception are expected within the Lunar Precincts, as are wandering masses of phantasmagoria, spontaneous downloads, mindsets, lingering wisps of tropic contaminants, low memes, illicit dreams, teleporn, psychomotive artforms, pygmalionisques, mirror-faced odalisques, lunaraiads, nymphs, freesprites, and more. Emotions run riot within the Lunar Precincts the way that colors cascade across the spectrum during the gaudiest festivals of the lowest canals during Mardi Gras or Carnalval combined, and only the Courtyard of Daldrume's Portico-District can rival, let alone out-do the Lunar Districts in terms of the emotional toll they can take on the unprepared, undefended and non-inoculated.

Lunar Precincts
Each lunar body hosting a section of the Moon River is divided into a number of Lunar Precincts, each of which in turn is divided into Eight Phases. Each moon can be divided into as many Lunar Precincts as the size and development of the particular lunar body and its resident culture warrants or requires. Most often it is somewhere between one to eight or even twelve such districts, though a few particularly large and heavily settled moons have as many as 28 Lunar Precincts. The sub-sections of each Lunar Precinct, the Phases, are a named after a convention adopted from the assassinated Romatique Javrinay who first proposed the scheme in a poetilemic memescript that has since been mostly deleted or excised. The Phases are as follows: New, Waxing, First Quarter, Selenic (orWaxing-Gibbous), Full, Hekatic (or Waning-Gibbous), Third Quarter, Balsamic. There are some variations from solar system to solar system, of course, especially in terms of accepted mythological correspondences and so forth, but the over-all scheme has endured for several millennia and is firmly entrenched as a Tradition amongst the Established Worlds and Polite Society.

Mansions, Repositories and Parlors
The niche-communities of the Moon River, the so-called Mansions, are bubbled-out of the surrounding polybonded rock and ultragenative biosheath. No two Mansions are allowed to be the same, so no new ones are allowed to form unless and until they can prove that they have developed and stabilized a unique subculture. Sociatrists, demogogues, prophets and activists from across all the Known Worlds journey to the Moon River, often at great expense or through difficult trials (according to their press releases usually) in order to compete to establish their own petty utopias and promised lands within the pocket-realms of the Mansions. There is a lot of gambling involved, and most of the sharper operators host lotteries to help finance their efforts.

All throughout the Moon River, Repositories and Depositories are scattered randomly like pimply-nodes of accessionflesh or cullpods. These are completely deregulated access points for anyone to donate genomic material of any type, kind or sort whatsoever into the Public Domain. These sites analyze, sort and forward on the samples to the deeper authorities within the Life Vaults and the overall process can take upwards of several seconds to run its course. Once donated, there is no way to retract or withdraw the genomic sequence. If the donation conflicts with a Registered Lineage or Template, or runs afoul of a previous claim, it is placed into stasis and legal proceedings commence. Immediately. The Custodes of the Lunar Precincts will secure the donor and their case will be taken before a Magistrate as quickly as possible, even in the midst of a major festival. Genethievery or sequence-poaching is a serious crime and a conviction can lead to being Sphered in some particularly egregious cases.

The Transfiguration Parlors of the Lunar Precincts are notorious havens for every sort of hackwork genartistry, deliberate disfigurement, cybrist implantation aesthetics, retrocladic tweakers and worse. These are places where the bored, destitute and desperate come to rewrite their pasts, revise their memories, transform their bodies and remodel their personal genome. One can truly begin a new life by overwriting their past, but for all the romantic notions promulgated in vidramas and download tracts, the cold hard truth that follows in the wake of having sacrificed one's previous identity and existence can lead to depression, melancholia, and identity-shock that is far worse than the original motivations for making the change in the first place. It is perhaps no big surprise that there tend to be a vast array of cultists, indenturists, and blank-heads clustered around the stimbars and less reputable dives of the purple light districts, just past the safe zones favored by the tourist-groups and under-paid guides.

The Parlors are required to flush-out their Steganographic Psychefilters after every customer or face censure, delicensing or worse. Identispectors prowl the purple light districts, keeping tabs on the Parlors and making sure that things are on the up and up. But from time to time someone gets an idea of how they can game the system, create unlicensed duplicates, illegal knockoff-clones or just distilled extracts of supposedly erased personas. Others have been caught attempting to steal the surrendered and supposedly erased identities of their former clients, most of those convicted of this sort of trafficking have been rendered non-persons.

A Living Sub-Lunar Wonderland
It is a peculiar environment, this massive, circulatory system of water flowing in microgravity. Aeration vents, fluctuating valves, irrigation capillaries, mechanocilia, and colonies of specialized organisms all play their part in maintaining the ecology and the eternal flow of this networked river that flows outwards beneath the cratered crusts of the major moons of each inhabited (and some that are allegedly barren) solar system.

Bioluminous corals, sponges and vast skeins of kelp, bacterial strands, and other exotic aquatic lifeforms proliferate throughout the various depths of the Moon River. The waters flow faster towards the surface, and tend to be more sluggish and dark the closer to the core one goes. The shafts, mirrors and other sources of light only penetrate so far into the deep, murksome gloom of the deeper lunar waters and the boats and divers that travel these depths tend to bring their own lightsources, often relying on intrinsic modifications to their own or their vessels' physiologies and structures. The Hargon are particularly well-adapted to these sorts of environments and they are amongst the most likely to be encountered genocultures inhabiting the various Lunar Precincts of the Moon River.

The Gene Banks maintain offices within each of the moons of every system, but their primary offices are usually located in orbit around the most heavily settled and developed worlds, especially Core Worlds like Riskail. Each lunar body connected into the Moon River is a direct extension of the Life Vaults established during the latter days of Prehistory and acts as an independent repository for the accumulated genetic heritage of all who come after, regardless of distinction, nomenclature or designation. Technically and legally, anyone can come unto the Life Vaults and avail themselves of the Public Domain information, records, genomic profiles, registrations, raw plasm, seed-stocks, open templates, open designs and other resources completely regardless of creed, consicence or social status. They do not require a Gold Sequence, nor do they need to prove their Inheritance to access the Public Domain sectors of the Life Vaults. They just need to find the way to the Moon River, perhaps with the assistance of a Guide or one of the various Tourist Groups. Of course the actual reality of how this plays out can be a bit well, let us just say complicated...

Moon Gates
At regularly spaced intervals within the great sloping rings of the equatorial sub-lunar waterways there are river gates that lead onwards to the precincts of the next lunar body in the system. It is by way of these Lunar Gates that one might take passage from the innermost moon to the outermost moon, remaining entirely within this particular network.

Outer Basin
The Outer Basin of each system is located upon the outermost moon within the solar system. This location is likewise heavily encrusted with shrines and depositories, but unlike the Inner Basin, these areas feature gates that lead outwards to the Outer Basins of other moons in other solar systems. It is by way of the Outer Basin gates that one might travel across various Orbital or Spectal Zones and gain access to gates that open into solar systems around very different sorts of orbital regions or stars than where one originated. This is a time-honored and traditional means for making the transition from the predominently K-sequence stars of the Connected Territories to the older, G-sequence stars of the Cirruspheric Communities or the Deep Domes of the F-sequence and hotter stars, such as the Monarchist Enclaves that settled beneath the harsh surface of Yillon. It can take a long time to get somewhere in particular, but it is far more discrete and pleasurable than taking the much more Paparazzi-monitored and underclass-crowded Pararail, let alone the far more dangerous Gate Roads or the even less direct Aquaducts.

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