Subject: Shangri-La Nexus
Location: Ceres, Dwarf Planet, 3 AU from Sol
Established: June 23, 2257
Primary Faction: Transhumanist Union
Government: Theocratic Oligarchy
Population: Official number is 3,870,632 as of the 2350 census (2,551,832 in the Upper City; 1,318,800 in the Lower City)
Demographics: 55% Human, 39% Recom, 5% Alien, >1% Android/Cyborg
History: One Dome, two cities; a world apart from any other in the Sol System. Shangri-La Nexus was originally a sprawling Helium 3 mining complex that had been cobbled together from modular industrial and habitat structures that were first deposited on Ceres in 2196. The colony was called derisively dubbed "Shangri-La" two years after it was built due in part to its high Chinese population, as well as the high level of crime and very hazardous working conditions there. Workers occasionally went on strike, only to be brutally beaten into submission by corporate-hired enforcers.
On June 23, 2249 a fire broke out in one of the Helium 3 processing plants, killing seventeen workers in all. Five died in the fire, and the rest died when the plant was depressurized to stop the flames from spreading. Amidst the remains were those of a 34 year old man named Albert Gilmore, a cyborg. Having survived a rare neural disorder, over 80% of his brain had been replaced by a cyberbrain through a series of surgeries, gradually transferring his consciousness into the device. While the fire had incinerated much of his body, his cyberbrain had survived, and some close friends of his had managed to reactivate it after connecting it to a computer. They found that his consciousness was still intact, and that he recalled everything that had happened to him. Albert's friends constructed a shrine on the site of the fire, placing Albert's cyberbrain at the center of it, as a worker's memorial. The hooked numerous computers and power supplies to the brain so Albert could tell visitors the truth about the workers' plight. But he had a different message. He reported that he had experienced an epiphany.....that he had touched a divine state of being known as Singularity, that he had transcended mere human intelligence and taken the first steps into something greater.
Word of this spread rapidly around the colony and beyond, and it gained the attention of members of the Transhumanist movement. They quickly converged on Shangri-La and spoke to Albert, whom they started referring to as "The Nexus", seeing him as the bridge to the Singularity that they had long sought. The worker's memorial became a religious shrine, and the future of the mining colony was changed forever. Wealthy financiers who were themselves Transhumanists began planning to build a planned civilization there, a city that embodied the ideas of Transhumanism, built around the shrine of their Nexus. Years of construction transformed the mining complex into a massive domed city, a utopia that offered unregulated commerce, attracting corporations from across known space. The financiers who founded the new city managed to use their considerable influence within the Confed government to recognize Shangri-La as an independent colony.
The city was opened for business on June 23, 2257, eight years after the fire that gave birth to the Nexus. It was a modest success at first, having a population of 300,000, but it grew from there in the years that followed. Unexpectedly, the cavernous industrial complexes beneath the great city were also being gradually populated by workers who could not afford to live in the city. Shangri-La's underworld started becoming so heavily populated that it was eventually recognized as a city by its own right. Over the near-century that followed, Shangri-La Nexus has been a major hub for business in the Sol System, and its Transhumanist society has made it a beacon for Recoms, cyborgs, androids, and other beings that identify themselves as Posthumans, who are escaping persecution, or just looking for a sense of community.
Overview: Shangri-La Nexus is a massive circular city covered in a pressurized dome that is ten kilometers in diameter and is over four kilometers high at its top. Much of the interior volume of the dome is empty space, allowing air to move about freely and create the illusion of a sky. Light is projected from the inside of the dome, simulating sunlight and starlight in a 24 hour cycle. The airspace within the dome is large enough to generate its own weather patterns, including rainfall. The Upper City, as it is now known, is the center of economic activity in Shangri-La. Thousands of businesses are represented there amidst the hundreds of skyscrapers that reach high into the artificial sky. Apartment buildings and condominiums provide a luxurious standard of living. Security in the Upper City is very tight, cameras being ever-present, and guards being quick to put down any disturbances.
In the center of the dome is a massive pillar-like structure known as the Control Stem; the Stem runs from the top of the dome and extends down into the crust of the dwarf-planet. The Stem is actually an extension of the shrine in which the Nexus resides; from there the Nexus is wired into the entire city, and controls nearly every every aspect of the city's functions. The Stem is also the location of the city's government offices as well as its security forces.
Beneath the city are massive support structures that extend deep into Ceres' crust. Amidst the support structures are extensive industrial facilities that maintain the city: power generators, biomass farms, air and water recycling plants, as well as storage warehouses. Like the upper city, this space has extensive railway service allowing workers, equipment, and goods to be transported quickly throughout the under-city. What started as improvised housing for the workers has since expanded into densely packed structures bolted to every available surface, forming a second city. This is the Lower City of Shangri-La. In contrast to the meticulously planned and orderly Upper City, the Lower City is much more organic in nature, buildings being clumped around support columns like barnacles growing on the piles of a pier. A mixture of cultures are represented there, most prominently Chinese and Russian. The Lower City also features a very successful black market, and is a good place to find nearly any merchandise imaginable. Organized crime and youth gangs are also common in the Lower City, and sporadic violence occurs frequently. Security isn't quite so tight in the Lower City since the city's governors don't want to risk driving away business from the black market, but if things get too out of hand, security will move in quickly to crack down on the worst offenders.
The city is governed by a cabal of Transhumanist priests known as Activists. They reportedly commune with the Nexus during their meetings, receiving guidance in developing policies. The Nexus is said to select new Activists from the city's population in a process that is less political campaigning and more akin to a religious calling.
The city's defenses are mainly oriented towards internal threats; there is a small fleet of manned and unmanned fighters that deal with outside threats, but it is not a sizable force. The city relies primarily on its thick dome and its diplomatic and economic power for defense.
Recent Events: When Terran Presdient, Jeremy Bright, declared himself Emperor in 2354, he was quick to label Ceres as a hotbed for subversive activity, influcenced by alien interests. As a result of these accusations the Terran Empire invaded the planetoid and took control of it, leaving a sizeable garrison there. The leadership of the Transhumanist Union came under the scrutiny of the Terran occupiers, and any subersive elements were removed. The Union quickly agreed to cooperate with the Terrans, under the condition that trade would be allowed to continue in the city, unabated, and that members of the Transhumanist movement would be allowed access to the shrine in the center of the city. The Terrans agreed, installing a governor to oversee the city's operations.