New California, Newcal, is the de facto capital of Venus’s aerostat colonies, and the only one large enough to be considered a metropolitan area. The city is a modern aerostat designed after the first wave of experimental habitats in Venus’s upper atmosphere.
- Government: Presidential republic
- Head of state: President Luciana Altman
- Sovereignty: Independent (formerly US-owned)
- Location: Venus’s upper atmosphere
- Established: 2049
- Major ports: Long Beach terminal
- Industries: Plastics, shipbuilding, media & entertainment
- Currency: USD
- Population estimate: 3 million
- Languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin
- Regional dialect: Fenghua (‘float’)
- Religions: Christianity, Buddhism
In 2045 the United States commissioned a review of first-generation Venusian aerostats. Contentiously, it did not inform the sovereign colonies of its intentions and refused to share its data, data which then greatly benefited Newcal’s design. In 2049, the US launched the first of Newcal’s modular aerostats, the San Francisco. The San Jose, San Bernardino, and San Diego followed, each one expanding in size and feature scope. The final aerostat, the Los Angeles, is projected to join the city proper in 2083.
Newcal declared its independence from the Old United States in 2062 after the NCN Stevie Nicks, while attempting to make contact with the US government on Earth, was destroyed by automated defences in Low Earth Orbit. Surviving astronauts Jane Erickson and Carlotta Valdez reported failure to raise USNORTHCOM on comms multiple times before the attack. It is the position of Newcal government that the US command structure has been compromised.
Newcal’s lifting components are technically airships, not aerostats, because they are untethered and capable of self-propulsion; however the propulsion is rarely used, and then only for correctional purposes, the lifters are shaped un-aerodynamically for stability, and the term aerostat is habitual. All aerostats are filled with breathable air, which at 50km above Venus’s surface is a lifting gas. To withstand the corrosive Venusian atmosphere, and the clouds of sulfuric acid, Newcal aerostats are made from the purpose-designed plastic fiber Caylon.
Newcal is suffering from piracy directed at shipments of resources and new colonists. Striking from a hidden base, pirates hit the major atmo-to-orbit transfers and local Venus trade (Newcal suffers first from any direct losses, secondly from critical shortages of raw materials and consumer goods, and finally again from decreased consumer confidence). Other aerostat colonies afflicted include Encantado, an early Brazilian colony, and Cloudbreak, owned and run by a contract research organisation of the same name researching the Venusian surface.
Using small, fast, fixed-wing attack craft and hit & run tactics, the pirates are able to force anything less than heavily guarded shipments into an unpleasant choice: cede control of the shipment to the pirates, or be ‘sunk’, forced down into the crushing atmosphere at Venus’s surface. If the Newcal Air Navy attempts to respond in force, the pirates vanish in the thick gas. When negotiating for their lives, traders talk to an icon of a thorned rose calling itself ‘Briar Rose’. The identity of Briar Rose is otherwise unknown.