Strontium-9000. It is as unique as it is valuable; constantly unstable, it exist in an eternal state of flux. It appears completely impervious to changes in temperature, gravity, pressure or any other outside influence. And it is only available from one place in the whole universe.
A typical Hell Station mining platform at work
This rugged gas mining station hovers on the outer rim of Malebolge, a Gas Giant (UPP D9C0215-B) and sole source of Strontium-9000. This is the fifth planet in the Ptolomaea System, itself named after the third planet (UPP C667677-A) and home to a race of intelligent winged serpents.
This is Rig 5. Come in Hell Station. This is Rig 5. Something is trying to get inside. Repeat, something is…….
Hell Station itself is nominally classified as a D quality Orbital Starport though entry is difficult due to the Hellstorms (as they’re nicknamed) and highly corrosive & insidious atmosphere. Only those with the Pilot-2 skill or better are permitted entry. All others are directed to Ptolomaea’s type C Starport instead – no exceptions.
Just because you live in a universe populated by aliens and power-hungry mega-corporations doesn’t mean there are no more conspiracy theories.
Hell Station is home to around 300 staff on a rolling 6 month tour of duty. Almost half of these are gas miners who control the multitude of pipes, pulleys and rigs that surround the Station itself. The rest are made up of hardy engineers, a small contingent of corporate scientists & administrators and a surprising number of ex-Army & ex-Marine personnel who operate as police and security for the Station’s inhabitants.
It goes without saying that the work is dangerous, but the pay and perks attract folks from all walks of life and race. Pay is three times standard rates and includes free Middle Passage on the Minneapolis transporter to any destination within Jump-2 distance at the end of every tour of duty. All staff must take a minimum of 3 months’ unpaid leave after each tour with pickup schedule and return date agreed in advance if they wish to take another tour. Despite the risks, many staffers return – after all, where else can you get 18 months’ pay for 6 months’ work?
You remember what happened to the last guy who asked what they use Strontium-9000 for? No, neither do I…
The risks on-board station come in many forms. The station itself, like many rigging platforms, is home to far too much testosterone and that brings its own troubles. Add to that the persistent risk of sudden and catastrophic engineering failure, corporate spying and sabotage, invasion by pirates (or worse) and all kinds of weirdness caused by handling unstable isotopes in the wild and rarely a day goes by where something doesn’t happen. In Hell Station, a good day is one where there’s no blood to clean off the walls. A bad day is one where there are no walls left to clean.
Next: The surrounding planets.
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