Tuesday, March 28, 2017


(From p. 126-27 Sunward)
"Phobos orbits Mars about every 7 hours and would
have destroyed the space elevator within a week of
it going up if they hadn’t done something about this
sucker’s chaotic orbit. Now Phobos orbits the straight
and narrow and is crawling with Cognite employees.
Cognite has a controlling interest in Phobos, sharing it
with with several other corps, including Direct Action,
ComEx, and Eng/Dilworth, an IT firm specializing in
automation and security for orbital stations.
Phobos is where the project that created the
Lost generation got its start; the first crèche servers
were located here. Cognite’s Wauxhall Institute was
involved in the Lost project and is also rumored to be
taking part in experiments with the Watts-MacLeod
strain of the exsurgent virus."

Phobos is similar in composition to a D-type asteroid, with numbers of silicates, carbon and oxides with organic chemicals, and sub-surface deposits of water ice. Phobos also has a very low density, as it is a “rubble pile”, not a singular body of rock but many smaller ones held together by gravity, though colonization efforts have taken great pains to stabilize the asteroid.

Cognite’s primary outpost here is Wauxhall, home of the touted “Wauxhall Institute”, a dome settlement built into the massive Stickney crater on the surface of Phobos. The dome features many arcology structures which span the entire height of the space, with gaps between individual structures for air vehicles, trams and walkways. Wauxhall features a high degree of open space for a microgravity habitat. Rumors say that Cognite originally planned to utilize utility fog in the hab to simulate gravity, but after the Fall such technologies are highly restricted. Wauxhall is host to Cognite’s major central “offices”, and most of their more public industries - such as nootropic and cognitive enhancement research, while their more secretive projects are hidden away either in deep interior labs or on other outposts. All in all, several thousand Cognite employees and contractors and their dependants live in Wauxhall or it’s connected interior structures. Also, due to the volume of complaints and controversy directed at Cognite - as well as their own aloof and concealed nature, Wauxhall is host to a branch office of Oversight, staffed round the clock by tactical response teams of auditors and security contractors who keep an eye on Cognite, along with a small team of PR officials who work to prevent frivolous slander against a major player in the Hypercorp Council.

Wauxhall is an interesting habitat. It’s interior structures are designed with a very “Neo-Victorian” aesthetic, combining classical European neo-gothic or neoclassical architecture with Middle Eastern or Asian influences. Structures are artistically reinforced with visible cast iron or steel, various spires and columns are visible as accents, and many facades are covered in a reddish “brick” made from materials from Phobos. Ornamentation is everywhere, with tightly packed designs which verge on cluttered. Elitism is a large part of the corporate culture within Cognite, and verticality plays a large roll in Wauxhall. The higher “up” you live or work, the more important you are in the company. The core employees of Cognite (execs and scientists) also are very showy about their intelligence and creativity, littering their casual conversation with technical and philosophical jargon to appear more intelligent, and public displays of art are highly common and encouraged by the company. Contractors and support staff are less caught up in this particular aspect. Almost everyone in Wauxhall, however, projects as air of austerity and gravitas. People are aloof, polite and avoid open displays of emotion or even most body language. In Wauxhall, you never know if you’re being studied or analyzed, which creates a sense of social propriety (and paranoia). Social or mental problems are also kept under wraps, as it could end up with a quick trip to psychosurgery under orders of the company - something many employees are paranoid about. Emotional dampers are highly common.

Wauxhall is broken up into several broad districts and neighborhoods, typically by function and facilities, though some of these areas may be striated along the vertical axis.

  • Undertown is the colloquial name given to the lowest levels of Wauxhall and the warren of tunnels dug into Phobos beneath it. This area houses most of the distributed infrastructure of Wauxhall such as water reclamation, power distribution and other vital components. Many sectors of undertown are poorly sealed or even open to vacuum. This area is home to the synthmorph indentures who serve as vacworkers and support staff to Cognite. Contracts with Cognite are a double-edged sword: they almost always feature mandatory (albeit “temporary”) behavioral modification with open clauses for further psychosurgery, and the Muses the company provides are loaded with behavioral spyware like a Monitor AI - but on the other hand Cognite offers great mental health coverage and access to recreational simulspace. They also respect company loyalty, the most talented and loyal indentures can end up hired into better contractor positions within Wauxhall itself. 
  • Londinium, Germania and Gallia are the three primary arcology towers, arranged in a rough triangle around the crater, reaching from the floor all the way to the surface of the dome. The outside of these circular structures is adorned with various accents in the style of the rest of the hab. Apartments ring the outside of the building, with the center being a mostly open area layered with transportation methods and zero-g gardens and art installations. Occasionally floors of housing space are replaced with rows of shopping arcades containing basic necessities and supplies sold through Cognite after strict screening, or other recreational facilities. The quality of the housing sharply increases based on the height in the buildings, with the lowest floors little more than single-occupant capsules, and the upper layers having single apartments which constitute one apartment for a senior executive or researcher and their family and personal staff. The very top levels aren’t housing, but rather extravagant dining destinations which extend above the layer of the dome to give a breathtaking view - many high-powered Cognite meetings take place in these locales. 
  • Metaversal Studios started as a nickname, but became a semi-official title for Cognite’s VR division after a partnership with Experia. This tower focuses on the design and programming of various cutting-edge recreational and educational simulspaces, which push the limits of modern hardware for more realistic experiences. Simulspaces are coded, tested and fixed here, before being mirrored to Experia media servers for mass consumption. Cognite employs small legions of infomorph indentures as beta testers and QA contractors. Due to the highly advanced nature of the simulspaces being constructed here, Cognite also experiments in high end computer hardware. The lower levels of Metaversal are dedicated to less “advanced” jobs in “edutainment” vids and vidgames, or development of skillsofts. This zone has a volume of Experia contractors and representatives, who often bring their own flair to the compound.
  • The Candy Factory is another colloquialism. Officially, it is Cognite’s “Pharmaceutical Research and Design Division”. This section of the company is responsible for one of Cognite’s biggest sellers, nootropics. Built of several structures, this area of the hab is a study in contrast. The pharmacists, chemical engineers and research doctors developing or testing new drugs work in sterile, white-walled labs, while the upper layers are staffed by many of Cognite’s overworked marketing and public relations employees, trying to develop new tactics and plans to sell the drugs once their blueprints are encoded to be distributed. Experimental AR graphics and displays run wild on the upper floors, and it is a common joke among the scientists that the guys “upstairs” consume most of their products in order to stay on top of their game. 
  • Teatown is the name for Cognite’s “Cognitive Enhancement and Morphological Development” department, with the name coming about after the Fall and the rise of the “Black Kettle” morph growing operations on Mars. Here, Cognite develops and updated a number of cognitive implants and genelines, including their original variant of the popular Menton morph. Cognite is also feverishly trying to reverse-engineer the Hyperbright morph after Acumenic “embarassed” them with the Bright habitat. It is also known that Cognite also produces a modernized version of the Futura morph used by the original Lost project here, for “internal uses”. 
  • The Think Tank is one of the most centralized and secured structures on Phobos. The building has a dark, bleak exterior at odds with much of the other architecture on the station. It is insulated from many external mesh sources, and has a large airgap. This is because this is where Cognite does it’s “public” AI research, developing the latest templates for Muses and other specialized AIs, while they leave their more advanced (and secretive) research to other stations. Think Tank additionally works on forking work-groups and hives, especially the “autocratic” style which is currently popular with Cognite’s executives. The Think Tank has also been experimenting heavily with cyberbrain emulation states, and Infomorph/Eidolon designs - including Cognite’s special “edits” for Infomorphs to encourage productivity in indentures. 
  • The Morgue has no official name. It is Cognite’s cold storage center. After the Fall, Cognite was one of several corporations who began to buy up the massive stockpiles of Egos in dead storage, and begin processing them for indenture contracts. In addition to the massive racks of cold storage servers, there are also a number of Simulspace servers to process prospective indenture candidates. Most people find Cognite’s particular practices of indentureship particularly unpleasant, so this structure is heavily secured and secretive, with security personnel watching the location around the clock. Cognite doesn’t just store infugees here, they have several contracts to hold criminal Egos in some very secure servers at the heart of the Morgue. Due to secrecy, rumors abound about the Morgue, even among employees; possible ego trafficking with the ID Crew or Nine Lives, imprisonment of captured Egos of Lost Project subjects, or even that the Morgue contains a boxed pre-TITAN Seed AI.
  • St. Dymphna Mental Health Research Center is a pyramidal building built as a kind of miniaturized arcology. Here Cognite performs much of it’s psychosurgical and psychotherapy research. They also develop therapeutic simulspaces to help patients. Most of the work here is oriented on research, and so Cognite takes on a limited number of “patients” but is known to occasionally work on high-profile mental health cases for the publicity. In the lower levels of St. Dymphna are the Infolife and Uplift wings, which experiment on cognitive development, modelling and treatment for non-human cognition, with tales of unethical experiments often thrown around in Mercurial circles. Cognite also is known to dabble in psychosurgical loyalty modifications and interrogative simulspace and psychosurgery techniques for the Planetary Consortium here. 
  • Youth Cognitive Excellence Center (YCXC) is a private educational institution run by Cognite. Here Cognite specializes in the teaching of young people to best stimulate their development and maximize aptitude potential through a variety of experimental educational techniques. The YCXC was popular among Hyperelites and upper class Martians in the immediate aftermath of the Fall, but business waned after the Lost Generation fiasco. Now a majority of the student body are children of Cognite employees or contractors, who get a large discount on enrollment. Some of the students are also Cognite “projects” also. The YCXC was responsible for the rough educational planning of the Lost and some of their creche server environments, but had little to do with the execution.
  • Phobos Circus is the name of the circular district which rings the perimeter of the dome, and is home to what passes for the larger scale entertainment and recreation in Wauxhall. The Phobos Circus is also host to “embassy” or branch offices of affiliated hypercorps and Cognite subsidiaries. Here, there are a number of restaurants, cafes and teahouses, and large scale physical entertainment or exercise - such as zero-g soccer and racquetball. Independant shops sell goods imported from other locations, typically Mars, though at significant markup due to Cognite fees. There are several art galleries and museums here, all sponsored by Cognite, and it also contains the Wauxhall Theater, with a Cognite sponsored troupe who perform microgravity versions of many classic plays - though it is also host to other experiments in performance art, especially performances made possible through the kinds of technologies Cognite works with. 
  • Wauxhall Institute is the center of Wauxhall, located in the smaller Limtoc Crater inside Stickney. Here, Cognite’s scientists conduct their most advanced and bleeding edge research, though almost the entirety of these projects are strictly theoretical. Actual practical research is done on other Cognite stations. This is also where Cognite’s executives, including their board of directors, meet - either remotely or in person. The Wauxhall Institute is linked to all other Cognite “offices” around the system. Also contained in this region is Wauxhall House, which is the administration center for the station, and contains many primary infrastructure functions, such as Ego Casting and Resleeving, and is where the Oversight branch office is based.
  • The Dimondium Palace is the nickname for the orbital tether cluster held in orbit directly above Wauxhall as a spaceport and redundant communications hub. The nickname comes from the variety of windows and viewports to observe both Mars and Phobos as well as the space traffic. Dimondium also has a couple of rotating clusters and rings for certain kinds of work which must be done in “simulated” gravity. Shuttles to Mars and other stations on Phobos are most common here, but there are also regular movements to other major martian orbital habs. 

No comments:

Post a Comment