Cape Verde Stronghold

Description

Part of the Consortium’s ‘Iron Quad’ of strategic facilities in YZ Ceti system, Cape Verde handles military R&D into chemical and biological weapons. Central to non-ballistic warfare (NBW) capabilities, high-security labs develop deadly pathogens and chemical agents here. Externally black-plated to withstand YZ Ceti’s flaring, Cape Verde Stronghold is a small but intimidating sight. Those who visit do so for business rather than pleasure.

This is a well-guarded place with clearly marked boundaries between public and private zones. Reminders of the station’s unique function are never far away: corridors are punctuated by emergency hazmat suit storage, biohazard signs adorn sealed security doors, and Lounge gossip often includes surreptitious rumors of gruesome experiments.

Whatever their role; those who spend time here try not to dwell on the horrific details of the station’s Catastrophe experience. A deadly outbreak of untreatable ‘Ultra’ Septicemic plague resulted in a 100% mortality rate. Many cycles of quarantine followed, with the Consortium only recently re-opening the station and its unique lab facilities. Some say the revival of this research center is evidence of the escalating arms race between the two great powers, while others label it a realistic precaution against potential future threats.

Either way, those who walk Cape Verde’s corridors today know they are only one, accidental or deliberate, containment failure away from a similar fate to that suffered by Verde’s Catastrophe-era inhabitants. Rules and regulations are taken rather seriously here.

Statistics

System: YZ Ceti
Affiliation: Consortium
Level: 19
Legal: Strong
Orwellian: High

Areas

Bank (Consortium Prudential Trust Bank)

Cape Verde’s branch of the Consortium Prudential Trust Bank is predominantly automated. The row of sluggish and unreliable terminals regularly tests the limits of their users’ patience.

In the waiting area, an electronic board announces estimated wait times for a free terminal. Many of those waiting are members of the station’s science teams, here to send interstellar payments to families on home stations.

You may transfer your account to this Consortium bank for 1412 credits

Brig (Cape Verde Lock-up)

With Cape Verde’s strict legal policy, the Lock-up is rarely empty. An opaque screen divides the reception area from the holding units behind.

Verde’s Brig features a communal, glass-fronted cell for shorter holdings as well as smaller, individual units to the rear. Although traditional criminality is relatively low here, it’s not unusual for residents and visitors to unwittingly find themselves in breach of the station’s strict hazard protocols and end up here for a short while. The authorities are clear on this: nothing teaches careless folk about safety protocols better than a stint in the Lock-up.

Clones (YZ Ceti Reproductions)

Oval pods rest on 45-degree angled support struts, each one fed from above by a series of pipes and tubes. Some are internally-lit, with an eerie yellow glow illuminating a serenely-still occupant floating in the murky gestation fluid. But look closely and you’ll see signs of life: a chest rises and falls to the rhythm of the breathing-regulator; and fingers twitch occasionally as central nervous systems are tested and calibrated.

Despite having to jump through stringent security hoops, YZ Ceti Reproductions does a roaring trade on Cape Verde. Well-paid research staff often invest in a clone here, while many of the botched or failed gestations can be sold for a handsome fee to the station’s labs. They may not be fully human, but they’re not far off; and that’s pretty useful for those who want to test the effects of the recently-discovered pathogens.

Available Clones

NPCs

Decommissioned Area (The Testing Rooms)

A heavy-duty metal door marks the single point of access to The Testing Rooms. Two heavily-armed military guards stand watch outside, sporting biohazard-grade uniforms and full-cover gas masks clipped to their supply belts. Those who pass will notice that their every footstep is tracked by the buzz of a security camera’s motorized swivel.

The Testing Rooms are Verde’s defining feature: 12 high-spec research laboratories in which some of the Consortium’s most brilliant minds advance knowledge of chemical agents, deadly pathogens, and their potential offensive applications. Access is strictly controlled and denied to all but-high level personnel.

NPCs

Employment (Verde Vocations)

Verde Vocations handles traditional employment options, offering a Career Advisory and Side Jobs counter. Although specialized research roles aren’t advertised here, there’s still plenty of work for those who want it on this purposeful station.

Behind the two reception counters, a series of glass-backed booths have been assembled. Inside, nervous applicants shake the hands of prospective employers and sit down for their job interviews. For Security reasons, simple support roles are automated on Cape Verde to reduce the likelihood of data leaks and code breaches. But with YZ Ceti having fairly abundant natural resources, there’s always strong demand for mining and extraction professionals here; Verde’s labs consume huge amounts of raw and processed materials.

NPCs

Career Advisory

The Career Advisory features a row of info terminals, offering users personality questionnaires and aptitude tests to discover their ideal career path.

Discreet Work

An old-fashioned noticeboard hangs from the wall, with small scraps of synthetic paper pinned to it. Most feature only an ambiguous phrase about the nature of the work being offered, dealing in euphemisms such as "ex-husband problem-solver needed" or "lock specialist required".

Side Jobs (Casual Work Board)

A large board on the wall lists details of available short-term assignments, occasionally updated by an attendant. Disappointed job seekers groan as one of the better-paid offers is removed and replaced with a more menial and less-rewarded one.

Name Description Credits Statistic
Anti-cloning Campaigner Brother Nicholas needs help collecting signatures for his petition. Are you persuasive enough for the job? 80 4x Social
Flare Forecaster YZ Ceti's flaring is a nuisance for transit through the system. Are you up to the task of forecasting upcoming flare activity? 75 4x Intelligence
Lab Waste Handler Verde's labs produce a lot of waste. A bit of muscle is always needed to help shift it. 85 4x Strength
Rad Damage Assessor Flare radiation damage in the Port needs assessing. Ever used a Geiger counter before? 80 4x Stamina

Government Center (Station Hall)

Station Hall is an orderly facility spread across three levels. Senior Consortium officials visiting from Sol and Alpha Centauri are often seen in the vicinity.

Verde is a vital strategic facility for the Consortium and, as such, liaises frequently with top-ranking leadership figures. At least once per cycle, senior military commanders are given a guided tour of the station’s latest projects, running various tactical simulations informed by breakthroughs in pathogen handling and deployment.

Gaule inspection teams are also given occasional, and rather restricted, tours of the facility as a condition of the Nouveau Limoges accords between the two great powers. Although contentious, it’s hoped that this somewhat tokenistic effort at transparency will nonetheless reduce the risks of future conflict. Managing these various activities is a key responsibility for Station Hall.

NPCs

Gym (Verde Workout Zone)

The Verde Workout Zone is a boxy recreational center mostly used to offset the muscle wasting that the station’s relatively weak spin gravity causes.

Sweaty bodies huff and puff as treadmills whirr and weight stacks clank in the Gym’s noisy interior. A couple of wall screens on the far side offer distraction for those who want it. One toggles through short news reports on events in neighboring systems, while the other streams incessant adverts for all-inclusive packages to Cirque Centauri, hoping to persuade fatigued scientists to part with their hard-earned salaries.

You must have minimum combined physical stats of 75 to avoid injury at this gym.

NPCs

Inn (Downtime District)

The Downtime District is a small square deep in the belly of the station with three functional offerings; the Room & Rest Hotel, Good Cheer Tavern, and Friendly Faces Lounge.

The Downtime District is Cape Verde’s idea of a good time; a strictly regulated, well-observed, corporate-feeling sort of place, where you can gently unwind but never really let loose.

Despite the ostensible fun-motive, even here safety and security comes first. Closing times are strict, the order of multiple drinks solicits a cautionary word, and mixing with strangers is subtly discouraged. Everything possible is done to ensure that the judgements of high-ranking officials won’t be compromised by a foolish quest for fun.

Bar (Good Cheer Tavern)

A small, rather sedate Bar in which off-duty research staff in stained lab coats sink a beer whilst thinking of friends and family on distant home stations. High plastic stools are bolted to the floor, running along the chrome bar counter at regular intervals.

Despite the risks of inebriation, station bosses know that even military scientists need to unwind. The Good Cheer Tavern offers a place to tell goofy science jokes and regale colleagues with tales of spectacularly failed university experiments from days gone by.

Menu

NPCs

Hotel Rooms (Room & Rest Hotel)

Mostly clean but largely unadorned, the Room & Rest mainly hosts those who visit Verde for business; Consortium military, lab contractors, equipment salespeople and the like.

Although somewhat cramped, every one of the Hotel’s rooms boasts a functional dawn simulator to ensure guests wake with a clear mind and positive disposition. Beds also feature scented headboards which in theory should calibrate to complement guests’ moods, but in reality spew the same cloying, chemical odor at all segments of the day.

Prices

  • 1 day: 141.20 cr
  • 5 days: 564.80 cr
  • 10 days: 988.40 cr
  • 30 days: 2541.60 cr

You should have minimum intelligence of 25.5? to avoid injury while reading.

NPCs

Lounge (Friendly Faces Lounge)

The Friendly Faces Lounge is little more than a collection of curved foam chairs and snack vending machines, bathed in warm orange ambient lighting.

This place is mostly frequented by lab technicians winding down after shifts with a game of 4-way battle chess or poker-cribbage. But despite the low-key activities here, a surveillance camera still sweeps the room relentlessly from its perch in the corner.

You should have minimum social of 25.5? to avoid injury while socializing.

Market (Cape Commerce Hub)

All trade activity is routed through the Cape Commerce Hub; a series of narrow corridors lined on either side by compact retail units. Wares range from specialized lab tools to everyday essentials. Those buying weapons are closely watched; such transactions always trigger a background check by observing Security agents.

Many on Cape Verde are either employed directly by Consortium military R&D, or sell goods and services to those who are. As such, this is a working station without the extremes of poverty which might be seen elsewhere. And where the credits flow, the traders follow. Verde’s Commerce Hub has a reputation for being a well-stocked and reliable place to buy and sell items.

NPCs

Public Market

Citizens queue to submit their wares for sale to the public market, waiting for them to be approved for sale by an attendant. Recent listings include exercise wrist-weights, toothbrush battery packs, and a small hydroponic plant tank.

Storage

A row of reinforced lockers occupies a tucked-away unit at the rear of the Commerce Hub. A small electronic pad regulates access.

  • Small (50): 353 cr
  • Medium (150): 847 cr
  • Large (500): 2,118 cr

Vendors

Signs flicker into life as the market's regular vendors open up their stalls for another day of business. Some wait patiently inside for customers to enter, while others stand in the walkway outside beckoning passersby to peruse their wares.

Port (Cape Verde Spaceport)

This lively Spaceport can be tricky to navigate. Thankfully, colored markings on the regocrete walkway floors help to lead the lost to their desired destination. Blue lines are for Local Shuttles, Yellow for the Shipping Bay, and Green for the Docks.

From the station’s exterior, Verde’s Spaceport is marked by a series of protruding docking arms and black-plated blast doors that yawn occasionally to welcome shuttles into one of the internal airlocks. Everything proceeds under the watchful eye of a protective Consortium Battlecruiser, passing by at regular intervals.

NPCs

Docks

The Docks’ upper decks handle the passage of private ships; usually belonging to those here on business. The personal shuttles of senior Consortium military figures are a particularly common sight here.

But the lower levels are mostly designed for the efficient distribution of boxes, and aren’t particularly pleasant as a result. Despite the workers’ ear protectors, the constant rumble of belt cogs is deafening. Lights flash orange then green to indicate the stop-start of the imports belt, and wall displays refresh constantly with numbers that reflect freighter unloading progress.

On the lower floor, automated conveyors bring crates and barrels on-board, loaded from supply vessels locked onto Verde’s external docking arms. Inside, moving belts jerk to a halt sporadically when contents scanners suspect an anomalous cargo. After what is usually a quick investigation, customs officers signal to restart the belt. Cape Verde Stronghold produces little of what it consumes, but thanks to this sleepless corner of the Port, it rarely suffers shortages of any form.

Local Shuttles (The Shuttleport)

The Shuttleport’s main lobby features a large glass viewing panel on the far wall. Depending on the local flare forecast, it may or may not be covered by an external radiation shutter. But when it’s open, the view is spectacular. The fiery, red ball of YZ Ceti looms large, its brightness constantly fluctuating with the intense eruptions animating its surface. Even the most frequent of the passing travelers still pause here to marvel in awe at it.

Cape Verde’s Shuttleport runs out of a busy terminal that offers connections to the rest of the so-called ‘Iron Quad’ stations. There is regular exchange with the robotics and droid researchers on Asimov and supply missions that arrive via the Jump Gate. Mining executives are also often seen on these local transports; they know there’s a strong demand for resources in this system and YZ Ceti has plenty of viable belt reserves.

NPCs

Shipping Bay (Parcel Depot)

Verde’s Parcel Depot is a fully-automated service running out of a somewhat dingy room nearer to the station’s center, where weaker spin gravity makes many slightly nauseous. Residents shiver in the unheated room, waiting to complete their shipping errands.

To the left of the room, citizens complete ID checks using document and retinal scanners; then collect packages from a hatch below. To the right, a self-service machine equipped with scales, contents scanners and a payment pad serves those sending items. Occasionally an item is rejected for failing a contents check, prompting the appearance of a Security officer who summons the nervous owner for questioning.

Residences (The Hab Deck)

A single arcade of functional pre-fab living units houses Cape Verde’s modest permanent population. On the joining walkway, there’s a makeshift bench and a hydroponic tank with a tired-looking crocus plant.

Many of those who perished here during the Catastrophe were eventually found on the Hab Deck; their swollen and deformed bodies only partially decomposed due to offline heating systems. Despite the clean-up, many residents here today make extra efforts to dissociate knowledge of such scenes from their current home; a decorative ornament or plant can make all the difference.

Ruins (The Old Chemical Stores)

Verde’s Ruins are located on the site of its old chemical storage facility, which was moved due to contamination when the station was reopened. The area is still polluted with hazardous chemicals which only the insane and desperate would risk exposure to.

Although post-Cat quarantine procedures killed off the bacterial elements which caused Verde’s total mortality rate, some chemical agents remain here as they have been since the original containment failures of the Catastrophe.

Smaller reserves of nerve, blood, and choking agents in both liquid and solid forms can still occasionally be found, and deaths among scavengers and even the better-equipped syndicate teams who frequent the Ruins are not uncommon.

NPCs

The Wrecks

The upper levels of the Old Chem Store attract risk-taking scavengers who will gladly take a severe caustic burn in return for a finding an overlooked vial of Cyclosarin or Chlorine gas. Even a 2 ml ampoule can fetch a good few credits on the nearest Freebooter station. But, often equipped with only a low-grade gas mask with a long-expired filter, many of these scavengers perish before seeing any returns for the risks they’ve taken.

As well as the usual scraps of materials and unclaimed items, the Wrecks here also carry both the lethal threat and lucrative promise of chemical reserves. Those who hope to sell such wares on the black market afterwards must contend with the many Security forces that monitor their activities closely.

The Wilds

Verde’s Wilds are on the most heavily-contaminated deck of the old Chemical Stores, where faulty temperature controls and damaged venting conspire to concoct a highly caustic and unpredictable gas mix. Only the maniacal and the suicidal would come here.

These dark and dusty former stores are littered with the bodies of those who underestimated the hazards of this place. Or at least that’s the official line. More conspiracy-minded residents posit that these areas may once have been used for a human-testing experiment which went seriously wrong, perhaps sparking the original containment failure which killed the Catastrophe-era population here.

Security

The office’s lower floor is given over to surveillance-monitoring; straight-faced staffers glance between their many desk-display screens, occasionally calling a colleague over to discuss something.

A sign by the staircase indicates the occupants of the upper decks; “Equipment support”, “Suspect Interrogation & Processing”, and “Sentencing”. There’s also a floor labelled: “Private Security Contractors”, where bodyguards can be hired.

Cape Verde’s Security Office is a busy place, monitoring activity on the station and ensuring that its high-stakes R&D work is not compromised in any way. Highly-skilled specialists look out for signs of hostile activity; whether from illicit espionage, terror groups, thieves or ethical objectors to the station’s work. A sign on the far wall underlines the importance of their work. “Serious plots foiled this cycle: 4”.

NPCs

Sick Bay (Health & Wellbeing Center)

Cape Verde’s rather progressive hospital offers a range of treatments to alleviate illness and injury, whether it is mental or physical. In practice however, the center mostly deals with the consequences of lab mishaps and chemical spillages, as well some more combat-looking injuries; often suspiciously described by patients as “accidents”.

Most of those in the waiting area wear white lab coats, clutch a bloodied or bruised finger, and have the expression of someone who knows they’ve made a dumb mistake at work. Despite strict protocols, accidents do still happen in Verde’s labs. Thankfully, they’re usually limited to skin burns, exposure-induced respiratory infections, and needle pricks.

University (Cape Verde Technical Academy)

Most classes are taught via nanotech implants to impart the information directly into a student's brain. Neurons containing the new information are slowly built, checksums verified, and the full knowledge is integrated after construction begins.

Classes

"Galactic Destinations" Introduction

Wherever humanity goes in this strange and wondrous galaxy, dear reader, Galactic Destinations goes too. But not always: not to Cape Verde Stronghold, in the so-called ‘Iron Quad’ system. On this occasion, our writer refused the trip and advises you do the same. But, for the fearless travelers who visit regardless, here are some essential survival tips:

Pack a hazmat suit

Want to share a station with thousands of deadly pathogens and chemical compounds? Probably not, but that’s exactly what happens when you visit Cape Verde. Because everyone knows what this place is REALLY for: the Consortium’s chemical and biological weapons program.

And don’t let a few chunky-looking doors lull you into a false sense of security! This place had a 100% Catastrophe mortality rate within – wait for it: one segment. Yes, you read that right. When things go wrong here, they really go wrong. So you may want to pack a hazmat suit. Maybe a gas mask and some spare filters too…

Don’t touch anything!

Now, understandably, all those pathogen labs make people a little edgy here; so there’s a lot of safety regulation. But it’s not always easy for visitors to keep up with what’s allowed and what isn’t. The Brig’s proof of that, often housing at least a few bemused recent arrivals who’ve fallen foul of some unknown safety protocol or other. Leniency isn’t in the vocabulary here.

So, if in doubt, don’t touch anything! Don’t wander down mysterious corridors or open strange-looking doors. Don’t visit the old chemical stores in the Ruins. Steer clear of the area known as ‘The Testing Rooms’. That’s where human ingenuity, chemistry and biology combine to create some pretty scary stuff! Suppress every inquisitive impulse before it lands you in trouble. And, if all else fails, keep a few bonds spare in case you need to bribe your way out of a lengthy sentence.

Get used to Gaule paranoia

We all know the Protectorate wasn’t pleased by the Consortium’s reopening of Cape Verde. Officially, Verde’s business is defense, but the Gaule have their doubts. So it’s no surprise that Protectorate war games often center on the Iron Quad. You don’t want to be on Verde if this cold war ever heats up!

Thankfully, the Nouveau Limoges Accords keep things chilled by granting Gaule inspectors access to Verde’s labs. So alongside the station’s strict Consy surveillance, you may also find yourself under the scrutiny of the Protectorate’s keen-eyed inspectors. We hope you like answering officials’ questions!

Keep these tips in mind, intrepid reader, and your visit will no doubt be a success. But don’t expect to bump into a Galactic Destinations correspondent while you’re there; we’re keeping a safe distance!

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