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Church At Nine West

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The Church at Nine West was the first free-floating space platform – which is to say that it differed from all previous space platforms in that it was located in Benthic Space, albeit only just, and was thus unaffected by the gravitational pull of any other solar bodies. As its name suggests, it was funded and built by the Faith of the Kingdom church, presumably in an attempt to find God in the void.

Due to its location in deep space, it quickly became a haven for those inclined to escape formal government. The platform, which had initially only been large enough to house a small chapel for travellers, quickly expanded to included retail outlets and motels, and eventually drinking dens and brothels. It was this prompted the clerics of the Kingdom, never known for their easy-going approach to discipline, to conscript and maintain a small militant cell, and the platform quickly gained an atmosphere reminiscent of a cross between a heavily armed police state and martial law.

Naturally, those who had previously sought out Nine West out of an aversion to social constraint quickly found other climes more to their liking. With their disappearance, the private sector withered, then vanished altogether. Faith of the Kingdom found themselves with a large, rather empty, piece of solar-asynchronous real estate.

This coincided happily with the ascension of one Leo Brande to Cardinal of the Church. Brande, uninteresting but for his involvement in this affair, had been raised in the tradition of evangelism and aggressive conversion, so where other members of the clergy saw an expensive piece of floating metal, he saw an opportunity for uninterrupted, possibly uninterruptible, planning. In a very real sense, it could be said that Brande is ultimately responsible for all that came to pass.

The large, rusting expanses were converted to barracks and training grounds, but also hydro farms and micrometeorite generators. The unit of riot police was expanded a thousandfold and the training regime was intensified. By the time the preparations were complete, Brande himself was nearing death at the age of 17.4 cycles, and he lived just long enough to be interred in the platform’s hull. Following the funeral, the chapel was closed to the public, and the order was given to fire the last remains of fuel in the platform’s thrusters to propel it deeper into Benthic Space.

Unaffected by friction and entirely self-sustaining, the platform drifted through Benthic Space for nearly 78 cycles. Its populations bred, flourished and trained. However, they had no contact with the wider universe during this time, for while they appeared briefly on the scanners of high-speed Benthic Freighters from time to time they were dismissed as meteorites.

The Church emerged from Benthic Space in the vicinity of Laeis?, the planet which, at the time, housed the seat of the East Rim Consortium. This fulfilled the conditions set out in the Manifesto of Qirel, and in turn lead directly to the [Qirel Encounter]?, less than a cycle later. The occupants of the Church at Nine West were ignorant of the chain of events they had caused; they simply knew that the pre-ordained time had come, and that their duty was to convert Laeis? to the Faith of the Kingdom, by force if needs be. The seventy-seven cycles spent in isolated development had left them with a defence system that was impervious to most conventional modern ammunition, and an armoury that none of the existing galactic powers could anticipate. However, after Laeis? was devastated, the Platform was swiftly destroyed by vengeful East Rim Consortium forces.

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Edited September 30, 2004 7:16 pm by Josh (diff)