THE SETTING

The year is 2089..
 
Severe climate change, national debts, and unemployment due to advances in automation have wreaked havoc on a global scale. Rising sea levels have swallowed many coastal cities, turning them into toxic zones dotting the seaboard and polluting the waters. With their planet dying, fear rules humanity. The poor are sick, weak, and dying.. The rich watch it all from towering cities, surrounded by walls and policed with military-like force. With not enough food or clean water to go around, most countries too small to defend themselves have been annexed, abandoned, or simply bombed to glass by their hostile neighbors.

 But there is hope…the stars…

Around 2024, several expeditions to various planets led to lengthy debates and legal battles over which countries would colonize the various planetary bodies.. but while the governments squabbled, the mega-corporations acted. Financially secure conglomerates began to capitalize on the planet’s vast wealth of open space, minerals, and most importantly it’s water. Solar mirrors were deployed and focused to melt the majority of the ice caps on Mars, and before long the terraforming process was well underway. Twenty years or so and a few trillion dollars later, humans were standing on the surface, breathing Martian air.

 With the governments of Earth left to their decaying rock, the corporations founded their own colonies and began exporting water, food, and metals to their Terran neighbors, and the word got out that there was a new frontier. And so came the masses.. Ships crowded with desperate folks seeking a fresh start turned colonies into towns, towns into cities, and a new way of life was born. A life of freedom, hope, and control over one’s own destiny.

The Colony

Ithemba Colony is located on the newly established frontier of the planet sharing the same name. The name derived from the Zulu language, meaning hope. The colony is safely tucked amongst iron-rich mountains and among valleys of natural resources. Owned and operated by Helix Co, one of the first companies to establish a mining base on Mars and set the pace for expansion throughout the rest of the stars. 

Helix attracted colonists from all walks of life to come and work for them, the promise of credits, adventure, and prosperity appealed to many. However, the fine print painted a far bleaker picture and those brought to the planet by Helix found themselves working to establish and work in a colony that was nothing like the picture that was painted. High colony taxes, poor treatment, and high crime rates would leave many desperate for something better.

The Goods

On Earth, the remaining countries control their populations with strict laws and propaganda. Things like drugs, weapons, and even pornography are outlawed…but colonists are happy to smuggle them in, and with the only public landing ports out on the frontier itself, the area is well known for having just about anything you could want. Local augmentation clinics will give you all of those hacking programs you need, hardwired straight into your brain for the right price… Firearms of all flavors are hawked in storefront shops… and sex is for sale around every corner.

The Jobs

Most citizens hold down three or four jobs, either filling in at a street-front cafe, hawking booze at the local watering hole, or playing bodyguard for some visiting tourists who want a taste of the frontier life. Rich folks often come out to Ithemba on vacation when they want to ‘slum’ it and experience the outdoors, seeking sin and burying themselves in debauchery they can’t find on Earth. The local Police only usually get involved if there is a murder, so robbery is common for travelers and visitors. Selling or trading drugs, ammo, sex, or favors of a more violent nature are common currency.

The Docs

Medical technology has grown beyond most sicknesses, and diseases are a Terran problem these days. Medical treatment and advanced augmentation procedures are one of the only highlights provided by Helix. The hospital itself is mostly automated, and a Doc-Bot will pull that bullet out of your ribs and patch you up in a matter of minutes, granted you stay alive long enough to make it there. You might be sore for a few days but between the meds they pack you with, and the stims you can purchase on the street, most injuries are minor hiccups in life on the frontier. This has led to brawls and stabbings and even shootings becoming commonplace methods for settling disputes, and the cops don’t seem to mind unless somebody dies.