Ring Station (Quanzhan, 圈站) is a large centrifugal habitat in near-Ceres space, and the administrative centre of the Coalition for Ceres Resource Extraction. Its sphere of influence includes Calico City, a settlement on Ceres’ surface. The CCRE maintains the Belt’s mining operations, its member entities being the thirty largest mining corporations in the region. Smaller corporations must apply for associate status, approved on a case-by-case basis.
- Government: Corporate oligarchy
- Head of state: Speaker Qiangguo Wei
- Sovereignty: Independent
- Location: Near-Ceres space
- Established: 2029
- Major ports: Zhonghuamen terminal (Gate of China, 中华门), The Ring; Port Mojave, Calico City
- Industries: Mining, smelting, metallurgy, ore refinement
- Currency: XNY
- Population estimate: 600,000
- Languages: Mandarin, English, Tagalog, Arabic
- Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Atheism, Islam
Ring station was constructed in 2029 by Ceres Resource Extraction, an early space mining corporation established before modern spaceflight, which at the time was considered wholly speculative. However, as China and the United States’ successes on Mars and Titan changed public opinion on the future of humanity in space, there came the perception that private exploitation of the untapped resources in the solar system would follow. With the advantage of seeming established, the CRE was able to finance the construction of Ring Station. A longstanding public misconception that an asteroid’s wealth of platinum would crash Earth’s market price for it was realized in 2032, albeit with minor details changed, when the first CRE shipment caused a market panic over nickel and cobalt.
The CRE was abruptly forced out of business by a cartel of its competitors in 2037 who coveted the resources of Ceres, and resented the CRE’s success. In one of the first recorded acts of space piracy, the mining cartel seized Ring Station, as well as several of its ships; for the CRE, whose entire value lay in those assets, this was a devastating blow. The cartel renamed itself the CCRE, or the Coalition for Ceres Resource Extraction, and renegotiated contracts with the former CRE employees remaining on Ring Station. Perhaps wary of its own tactics being used against it, the CCRE began hiring private military companies to guard Ceres and Ceresian ships, a practise it continues in the current day.
In the 40s and 50s, the CCRE turned some of the manufacturing capacity of Ring Station towards building its own replacement, as the outdated habitat was becoming unsafe and prone to leaks. The second Ring Station was built around the first, and is approximately one third larger in diameter. It was designed by architect Gideon Pruitt to represent the efficiency and professionalism of the CCRE. The bright white colour, shape, and the cartel’s reputation for creating wealth led to the new station’s often derisive nickname, ‘The Mint’.
Several Ring Station-based PMCs were hired by Jovian corporations to retake Ganymede during the Ganymede Coup. In part because of this, and the suspicion that Jovian and Belt centers of capital would be naturally sympathetic, tensions between the Galilean Confederacy and Ring Station have grown pronounced in the decades following the Coup. Furthermore, both entities consider each other to be the proxy of larger, distant powers - the Confederacy for the interests of Titan and the CCRE for the interests of Mars, ie. Tharsis and Hangzhou.
The CCRE is an oligarchy of the 30 biggest regional corporations. This status is determined by the Ceres Bureau of Business Valuation, one of its few independent branches of government. ‘The Thirty’ each choose a delegate to represent their interests in the Coalition. The delegates elect the Speaker for the Coalition, and negotiate and debate Coalition policy which, in theory, should benefit all the participants equally, or at least, in aggregate, preference none. Votes are typically blind and the sessions are in camera. In practise, this means that informal deals, voting blocs, and trading favours are commonplace in the Coalition government.
Calico City is a settlement on and under the surface of Ceres. Though it lies within Coalition territory, Calico City officially exists in classical anarchy, lacking representation within the Coalition, a government of its own, a constitution, official laws, and a legitimate civilian police force. Attempts by Calico citizens to organise politically are prevented by the Coalition through its union busters, and organised violence or rioting is stopped by Coalition marines. Power and authority tend to concentrate in large, wealthy families; these families operate in a form of modern tribalism, which shares similarities with Mafias, corporations, and aristocracies.
At its inception, Calico City was likened to a frontier town of the Old West, set within a mining shaft of the Old West. Today, though the frontier element remains in spirit, the settlement’s physical and social growth has made the comparison awkward. In short, Calico’s prolonged arrested development by the Coalition has led to many of the tools of society and government to become second nature, ingrained within its citizens. Successful citizens of Calico are considered highly emotionally and socially aware, with a good memory for people and faces, as offending the wrong family on Calico can have disastrous repercussions. Offworld visitors to Calico tend to find the elaborate, unspoken social mores of Calico difficult to navigate, especially around topics like courtship, obligation, or promises, which are practically sacred.
Perhaps ironically, though the Coalition’s intent was to keep Calico in a state which would favour the production of cheap labor for its mines, using Calicoans has become markedly more expensive along with their cultural evolution thanks to their unique requirements and frequent difficulties in foreign environments.