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Aurora

B576646-B

by Lewis Roberts and John Macpherson

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
SOCIETY
ECONOMY

Physical Description

Aurora is a fairly pleasant world. It has a rather mild weather pattern, with only occasional tropical storms. Its low axial tilt give it a fairly mild seasonal pattern. The temperature only drops around 10 degrees in the winter.

The one draw back of the planet is the high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. This requires all offworld species to wear oxygen masks. Humans can survive without a mask for a few minutes, but after that most people tend to pass out, and eventually die of oxygen deprivation. All native buildings and vehicles are sealed, so that masks are only required when going outside. Most vehicles are stored in sealed garages, connected to the main dwelling, so that most residents don't have to go outside, unless that is their destination. The residents don't fear the outdoors, many of them do go outside to take walks and to enjoy nature.

The increased carbon dioxide has lead to a greenhouse effect where the sun's rays are trapped in the atmosphere and heat it. This has raised the average temperature about 10 degrees. The median temperature for the planet is 26 C (79 F).

Travellers landing at the capital's starport, will find a planet that is sunny, with mild winters. Most days the temperature is in the upper twenties, and humid. (This is very close to the weather in Florida or Southeast US in the summer.)

The planet is several billion years old, and has had enough time to develop a fairly sophisticated ecosystem. There is no sentient life, but there are many species of mammalian life. The biosphere is quite similar to human norms. Humans are able to eat most native lifeforms with little worry. This is very fortunate, because most Terran stock animals don't take well to having to wear oxygen masks. A few off-world species have been genetically engineered to survive the native air. Most of these species are capable of breathing either Auroran or Terran air levels.

Other than the atmosphere, the planet resembles a Terran standard planet. There are tree like plants, the sky is blue and clouds are white and puffy. There is no local equivalent of grass, most yards are covered with a green moss like plant. It does have the advantage of not growing very fast and needing little maintenance.

History

Before the Final War Aurora was a colony of Macis, which is now called Apollo. The Collapse severed ties between the two worlds. Resenting the fact that their planet was formerly owned by the Macins, Aurora became a democracy, and to this day they resent strong governmental controls. The effects of the Collapse were severe, but the Aurorans banded together and by making a concerted effort were able to rebuild. By 1170 Aurora had regained her old Tech Level, and had begun to advance past it. The planet reached TL-10 around 1189 and reached its current state at TL-11 only in the last few years. If the economy sustains itself at current levels, the planet should be able to reach a global technological level of 12 sometime around 1210. It didn't have the capacity to build jump drives, so it was forced to remain isolated. In 1192, the Hivers made contact, and Aurora was able to purchase jump drives. It was a charter member of the Dawn League, and an early proponent of the Reformation Coalition. Aurora has become a staunch supporter of the Federalists, feeling that a strong extra-planetary government would take away the freedoms that individual worlds now possess.

Government

After the collapse, when Galos was cut off from Macis, the newly freed people created a government which they hoped was as close to a pure democracy as is possible. Voting is required in all elections of all people who have reached a majority. The voting age is 17 standard years. The mandatory voting requires that each voter go to the polling place, but they can enter a vote for no one. The founders wanted everyone to think about who should run the government, even if they decided no one was worthy. Candidates for public office are given free time on the government owned holovid channel. When there is no election, this channel broadcasts legislative sessions, news conferences and other public affairs. Candidates also make use of the worldwide computer network, uploading transcripts of speeches, position papers, and even digitized video of rallies. There are no campaign donations. All the work of the campaign must be done by volunteers. The founders figured if a candidate can't get a few hundred people to help him out, then the candidate probably couldn't win an election anyway.

To get on the ballot, a candidate must have a petition signed. The number of signatures required, depends on the office being sought. These petitions are circulated electronically. Each signature is authenticated by a electronic stamp, which each signer attaches to the petition. The stamps are a two step process, with the government holding one part, and the citizen holding the other part. No one has ever successfully managed to forge a stamp. The penalties for attempting to do so are extremely harsh, since such an attempt attacks the very foundation of Auroran society.

Most candidates are members of a political party, these parties help their candidates organize volunteers and the members of the party are a key to filling out the petitions. There are three major parties, the People's Party, the Democratic Front, and the Union of Freedom. These make up 70% of the voters, the exact division can fluctuate, but is usually fairly even. There are six minor parties which make up 25% of the vote. These are the Blue & White Party, the Liberty Party, the Saldorian Party, the People's Democratic Party, the Free Democrats and the Worker's Union. All these parties have Federalist Sympathies, except for the Blue & White party. It advocates that the Reformation Coalition needs a strong central government and that all member states of the Coalition should be required to be run by democratic governments. The party has organized several trips to worlds that have much less of a democratic tradition, in an effort to create a grass roots movement. They sent a mission to Ra, which was thrown off planet. In 1200 they sent a mission to Oriflamme, which was denied entrance. Their mission to Phoebus in 1201, was allowed to land, but the natives of Phoebus, are too concerned with their next meal to worry about politics. The Blues & the Whites use these failures to raise money back home on Aurora. Secretly they expect them to fail and only initiate them to create publicity. They have much more quietly sent mission to Fija and Aubaine.

The central Auroran government is set up as a parliamentary system. It has one legislative chamber made up of the people's chosen representatives. The chamber is known as the senate. The ruling coalition chooses a prime minister, who chooses a cabinet and sets policy. The ruling coalition also selects a Senate President, who is charge of running the senate's legislative agenda.

Currently the ruling coalition is made up of the Union of Freedom, the Democratic Front, the Saldorian Party and the Free Democrats. In total they hold a slim 3% majority. Assemblyman MacBaen, Aurora's representative in the Assembly of Worlds is a member of the Union of Freedom. Planetary elections are held every three standard years. The campaigning season starts approximately six months before the elections. The last election was held in 1200. There are 210 members of parliament. The planet is divided into districts of equal population. Each district elects its own member of parliament. The districts are redrawn every nine years, to take account of any population movements. These are usually fairly small changes, and they don't effect politics to any significant degree. The Auroran populace is fairly stable and doesn't seem to move around a great deal. Municipal elections are held at the same time as planetary elections. The exact details of these depend on the municipality. The representative to the Assembly of Worlds is also chosen at this time, in the only planet-wide election.

Society

Popular culture on Aurora is dominated by the extreme technophilia of its citizens. As soon as a new technological innovation is developed or readied for market, it instantly becomes the next hot item. To fulfill this craving for technological gizmos, hundreds of small labs and engineering firms have sprung up to try to create the next hot item. Many of these labs, merely redevelop items that were common on high tech worlds in the old Imperium. Most of the plans for these were destroyed in the Collapse. To get working examples of high tech goods, these firms send buyers to the Auction. The buyers try to find useful consumer goods that they can purchase, and have their labs copy. Items that have proven useful in the past include Triton Technologies' portable holophone, where not just voice, not just image, but a full holographic image of the sender is beamed to the user's wrist unit. Another is Donner & Associates 80x holographic data crystal system. One of the more popular recent items to hit the market is Verotech's Proton Motorcycle. This item is on the very cutting edge of technology, it uses the next level in fusion+ technology, allowing the motorcycle to reach speeds in excess of 700kph.

The pace of these developments has accelerated since the creation of the Dawn League, as more and more examples of high tech devices come to the planet. This has lead to some to question the wisdom of this frenzy to acquire newer and better devices. Most people have not paid much attention to these nay sayers, but they are a growing voice in academic discussions. The constant production of new products has created a surplus of older slightly used systems. Several companies have begun purchasing these, and shipping them to other less developed worlds. Popular destinations include Ra, Baldur, Nike Nimbus and Lancer. They have started some shipments to worlds out in the wilds such as Xexor.

The Auroran people recognize that education is the key to their success in the technological fields. The government has set up a wonderful school system, and attendance is free to all. These schools are extremely high quality and Auroran students are gaining an excellent reputation across the Coalition. This education starts at age three, and goes post graduate work. All fees are paid for by the state and stipends are paid to students. Some students find the academic experience so wonderful that they ever want to leave. This has created the so called professional students, people much older than the average college student, who earn degree after degree without entering the job market. In recent years, this government has cracked down on the professional students, requiring that students over age 25 maintain a high academic standing or lose their stipends, but those who are able to achieve them are welcome to stay. Professional students are often a bit eccentric but are good-naturedly tolerated because of their recognized abilities. The many new and interesting opportunities the economic expansion and tech advancement have created have drawn many professional students into more "productive" pursuits where they have proved very able if not always well disciplined.

In 1201 the Auroran government set up a scholarship program to allow high quality off-world students to come and study at an Auroran university. The government figured it would bind the worlds of the RC closer together, if their children studied and worked together. Also highly educated students will be very valuable when the go back to their homes. 500 scholarships are awarded each year, to students from across the Coalition. Currently a new program is up for debate in the Senate, which would expand this program to Allied worlds in the Wilds, such as Lancer, Xexor and Kal.

The average citizen is quite well educated and knowledgeable about modern technology and its uses. There is universal computer literacy, and every home that wants one has a computer in the home. For those in financial difficulty, the government provides one. The government feels that a computer is essential to the education, of both children and adults. Also citizens of adult age are expected to use the computer to explore issues effecting the world and the politicians seeking their vote.

The planet is settled with many small cities of several hundred thousand people each. These cities are located on each of the three major continents. A high speed maglev train system connects those cities on the same continent. The train rides in an underground tunnel which has had the air evacuated, to lessen the drag on the train. The train is heavily subsidized by the government, and tickets cost between 100 and 500 credits.

The cities are made up of small office buildings intermixed with small apartment buildings. Most of these buildings are around ten stories. The capital does contain a few buildings of twenty stories. Almost all Aurorans live in urban apartment buildings. They like being connected to their neighbors. These apartments are very spacious, ranging from five hundred to a thousand square meters. Office buildings and residential buildings are intermixed, this way residents do not have to commute long distances to their job, and can spend more time with friends and family. Many parks are located around these buildings, there are many different types of parks, including flower gardens, playing fields, jogging areas and bike trails. Heavily automated factories are located on the outskirts of cities. The area between the cities is divided into agricultural land and government owned land. Most of this government owned land is set up as parks and recreational facilities. The rest of the land is kept pure for future generations. Most Aurorans consider these parks to be their back yard, and often take day trips to go hiking. The small population of the planet requires very little of the land to be farmed.

Devil's Playground Park is one of the most popular parks on Aurora. The park covers well over 100,000 square kilometers. It is the site of a massive shield volcano. The volcano hasn't erupted in over five centuries, but it is still active at a very low level. There are many geothermal vents, hot springs and geysers. The only spot where lava is currently flowing is on the western face. The lava pours out rather slowly, and has only covered a few acres this year.

McCracken Lake is another popular destination on the park. This lake is warmed by underground geothermal activity, and is a constant 30 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit). This warmth attracts many people. The warmth and the nutrient rich waters supports a diverse ecosystem. Many tourists use rebreathers to encounter the wildlife in its natural environment. To maintain a peaceful setting only rowed and sailed watercraft are allowed on the lake. The lake covers about 2000 square kilometers.

Economy

The creation of the Reformation Coalition and the Dawn League before it, have greatly effected life on Aurora. Interstellar trade has allowed the creation of new devices, and an increased demand for these devices. It is only through increased automation, that the supply has kept up with the demand. Aurora hasn't had many resources left over to help explore the Wilds. This has been especially troubling to Assemblyman MacBaen. He tried to get the planet to fund one of the Twelve, but most of the parliament refused.

Aurora is one of the few places in the Coalition which is actively researching robotic technology. Most of the research consists of making sure that Virus won't be able to infect these devices. The average Auroran citizen doesn't run in fear at the very mention of the robots. They believe that Virus was a tool created by humaniti. The same technology which created Virus can be used to destroy or even tame it.

This is not to say that Aurorans are selfish people who are ignoring the Wilds. Several companies have developed ingenious devices to help the survivors in the Wilds. These include simple easy to maintain tractors and farming equipment. These are manufactured on Aurora, but many of the replacement parts are capable of being machined on low tech worlds. The rest are available from Auroran trading firms. Also low tech worlds do not need to duplicate every stage of technological development, they can easily leapfrog over primitive technologies. For instance a world without telephones, doesn't have to first build telegraphs, then wire based phones, and then fiber optic phones. It can buy off world satellites and start with cellular communications. Several Auroran firms are selling such equipment.

The Auroran economy is in a state of flux, new markets are opening up, and with it new jobs. At the same time as these new jobs are being created changing technology is eliminating some types of jobs. Luckily for now, these two forces are about equal, and there has been no large scale job surplus or shortage. Many people are having to find a new career path, but the government is trying to make the transition as easy as possible. It hasn't created any job training programs as yet, workers are in such high demand that companies are willing to pay to train them. The government does provide a good benefit package for those people whose jobs have been eliminated, while they search for work. The government recognizes that losing a job that has been held for decades, is a traumatic experience and some people need a little time to adjust. In the future, the economy will stop its expansion, and this will have an impact on the job market. The government has created several discussion groups on the computer network, and has had some academics starting thinking about how best to deal with it.

These new off world markets that are opening up are bringing in many luxury materials such as gold, gems and hand crafts. These hand crafts include art, hand crafted rugs, clothing, furniture, jewelry etc. Also some low tech worlds export mechanical devices, which high technology can surpass in function, but not in form. One of the best examples of this is clocks from Xexor. Auroran technology can make an atomic clock capable of keeping time to the nearest nano-second, and which never has to be wound or even have the battery changed. Xexor clocks are intricate machines with tiny gears, levers and counter weights. They keep time well, but not perfectly. For all their faults, they are extremely popular on Aurora. Xexor exports thousands of these clocks a month. Many of them are wonderfully decorated and prized by their Auroran owners.

Another factor changing the Auroran economy is the new Naval base being established. The RCN has decided to set up its headquarters on the planet. The Navy is building a large orbital facility, to maintain the fleets of Clippers that are being built. The Navy is also planning on building ships in orbit. Standard Astronics has recently begun upgrading Aurora's shipyard to help handle some of the overflow construction. This is opening up many job opportunities, to keep up with the demand, the Navy is bringing in some offworld help. So far these are Naval personal, but the possibility remains that someday the planet might need to import workers from lower tech planets to maintain the naval base. This has worried some in the community. They worry that if many outsiders are brought in to perform menial tasks, it will create an under-class. The creation of a two tier society, would undermine the democratic principals on which Auroran society is based.


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