The Vesta Compact


Regions:

  • ┬áVestan Cluster (425,000 pop)
  • ┬áPalladian Family (500,000 pop)

Overview:

  • Vesta proper is the second most massive - though technically only third largest - asteroid of the Asteroid Belt after Ceres. Even so, this makes Vesta only slightly more than a quarter the mass of Ceres, with a commensurately lesser gravity. In comparison, the surface of Vesta is approximately the same as that of the surface area of Pakistan on Earth.
  • Like Ceres, Vesta has been spun to generate faux gravity in the form of centrifugal force; unlike the Independent Republic of Ceres, however, the Vesta Compact has generally not elected to expend the cost to maintain a similar spin on most of the other asteroids under its control. Partially this is due to expense, but also because the development benefits of producing pharmaceuticals in micro-gravity are sufficiently profitable to make more comfortable gravity a sacrifice the Vesta Compact is willing to make.
  • Two spectacular craters dominate Vesta's surface - the 500 km wide Rheasilvia crater, and the 400 km wide Veneneia crater, the remains of impacts earlier in its geological history.
  • Rich in iron and nickel, Vesta has a substantial mining industry.
  • The family of asteroids thought to have derived from fissioning off of Vesta comprise the Vestan Cluster, and share many of its geological properties, though a few of the larger members are interlopers who have been dragged into a common orbit.
  • A second cluster of asteroids, also under the control of the Vestan Compact, is the Palladian Family, the namesake of the large asteroid Pallas which is even larger than Vesta, though less massive. Unlike Vesta, Pallas has not had artificial rotation applied to it, although it is currently in the early stages of the process, resulting in considerable construction and reconfiguration being applied to the small world.
  • Pallas itself possesses a severe orbital inclination, making it generally far distant from most of the rest of the Asteroid Belt.

History

  • Like Ceres, Vesta was an early target for colonization and exploitation of the Asteroid Belt. Unlike Ceres, Vesta declined the generalized, open economy of its larger cousin in favor of a fully-corporatized economy focused on the huge zero and micro-G pharmaceutical market.
  • Several critical markets became dominated by Vesta's corporate masters including pharmaceuticals for cryogenics, micro-gravity acclimatization, clone development stabilization, human military enhancement, and longevity treatments - among many other lesser but similar markets.
  • With the need for advanced cryogenics (for long spaceflights) and micro-gravity acclimatization (for living and reproducing on the many very small worlds of the solar system) in particular being critical for the growth and expansion of colonization of the Outer Worlds, the Vesta Compact secured for itself a political immunity of sorts, as while its corporate owners were reaping massive profits, they nevertheless were necessary to everyone else. So long as the Vesta Compact kept neutral and supplied most everyone equally, the various powerful polities of the solar system have been willing to - mostly - look the other way.
  • Over the last few decades this political immunity has become increasingly strained, as the Vesta Compact's constituent metanationals have begun aggressively researching and supplying some of the more repressive regimes of the solar system with pharmaceuticals in such areas as clone farming and military-grade chemical and biological enhancement.

Primary Industries:

  • Carbonates
  • Silicates
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Metals
  • Moderately strong general economy, but distinctly second-tier in that regard to the Independent Republic of Ceres.
  • Pharmaceutical research focused economy.

Conflicts:

  • While the Vesta Compact has a robust general economy as well, its specialization to its primary business has meant a streamlining of policy and interests that has seen the region dominate its chosen markets. Even more so than the Europan Consortium, the Vesta Compact's priority is on the business of business, and political entanglements are - as much as is possible - avoided.
  • The one exception to this policy of apolitical attention is the Independent Republic of Ceres, which due to its proximity, shared interests, and competition for dominance of the Asteroid Belt has become a competitor that has been inconceivable to ignore. Relationships between the two powers have always been mixed, though neither has shown any appetite for military conflict, and in fact both do cooperate in a few common areas such as piracy and their mutual interest in keeping the leviathonic powers of Earth at a safe distance.
  • Though not in a state of open war with each other, the Independent Republic of Ceres and the Vesta Compact have increasingly found themselves at odds as each competes for the position of premier commercial hub for the Belt. Both polities have, however, quietly supported privateering elements to perform commerce raiding on the other's commercial interests.
  • The various piratical elements that rely on Concordia for support prey equally on Ceres and Vestan commercial interests, but generally leave inner worlder commerce alone given those powers' more potent naval capabilities.
  • The Vesta Compact's commercial amorality creates ripples in its political relations. Like the Europan Consortium, the Vesta Compact finds itself frequently criticized by polities and groups uncomfortable with its rather loose regulation of human testing, among other areas. Not surprisingly, the Vesta Compact and the Europan Consortium maintain cordial relations.

Politics and Culture:

  • More so than any other polity in the solar system, the Vesta Compact is a child of corporate power. The government is itself literally a corporation complete with shares - owned in turn by numerous other corporations including - but not exclusively so - many who headquarter in the Vesta Compact to take advantage of their share of the government.
  • As a result, Vesta Compact governance defers to its constituent corporations in virtually every way, and possesses only a very modest police force that is deployed almost exclusively against not internal criminals but internal labor disputes and external pirates.
  • Culturally, the Vesta Compact extolls the virtues of the scientist and the businessman equally, favoring in its arts and literature the intrepid entrepreneur as a social ideal. In reality, inside the Vesta Compact society is heavily stratified between a corporate elite, a healthy educated scientific middle class, and a fairly miserable lower class used for low-paid, dangerous or simply unhealthy mining work.
  • The Vesta Compact has particularly lax rules about human testing, and allows individuals to openly pay to be be used as human guinea pigs. While tests using clones and artificially grown human tissues here, as in the rest of the solar system, constitute a majority of testing regimens, human testing is still quite common. While the rest of the solar system may often decry this practice, the reality is that almost everyone benefits from the moral turpitude of the Vesta Compact's metanational human testing programs, so beyond sharp words, little is likely to really change.
  • While not explicitly a caste system, the worlds of the Vesta Compact in many regards function as one. The business-oriented oligarchs are at the top of the pyramid, with a scientific middle class that allows the best and the brightest of the lower class to enter it, keeping alive a dream of social mobility. Similarly, on rare occasion a particularly brilliant member of the middle class will manage to marry or work its way into the upper class, and although the numbers for those actually making this transition are vanishingly small, the fact that it does sometimes happens keeps the society from imploding completely.
  • To further weaken any potential insurrectionist appeal, the Vesta Compact holds a regular and very public lottery system whereby intermittently individuals from the lower class are granted obscene amounts of money; most often, the winners of such choose to relocate outside the Vesta Compact, for the mere fact of their newfound wealth is rarely sufficient to allow them entrance to the society of the corporate masters who form the political and social elite of the Vesta Compact.