Hive

Sovereignty: Independent
Location: Terminus Systems / Crescent Nebula / Zelene System / Epho (third planet)
Established: 2159 CE
Day/night cycle: 70 hours
Population: 7.2 million (estimated)

"They used to say no life would ever find its way onto this rock. They were right, in a sense. It looks lively enough, but it's just ghosts and heartless corporate bastards down here. You want to find your place down here, newbie, you gotta make a choice. Your body or your soul."
-Dietrik Vinta, jaded Ghost

Overview

Located on the planet Epho of the Zelene solar system, the Hive is a peculiar metropolis that embodies much of what the Terminus Systems mean to the rest of the galaxy: the relentless pursuit of progress and personal profit, with a complete disregard for ethics and centralized authority. The Hive is the successful end product of a joint venture by several interstellar corporations to not only colonize Epho, but to develop it into a suitable foundation for the future of corporate interests in Terminus. Today, this is visible in its power structure: rule of law is not upheld by a government, but rather by the precarious balance of mutually hostile corporations protecting their own interests. The power struggle is not unlike that of rival gangs vying for dominance on Omega, but instead of fighting over territory and resources, corporations focus on more valuable things: information and people.

Visually speaking, the Hive's most striking feature is its layout: nearly all of its habitable spaces are built into the vast network of canyons along Epho's equatorial region. Despite the urban sprawl, the streets, overhangs and plazas of the city are highly verdant, with plants being the primary system for maintaining temperature, humidity and oxygen levels within Epho’s habitable areas. During one of the planet’s 30-hour-long nights, the neon-and-ultraviolet light show of the Hive is breathtaking to behold, both from orbit and on street level. On the other hand, the daytime traffic zipping in and out of the canyons can be equally impressive; it is commonly thought to be the origin of the Hive’s name, though linguists have so far found this impossible to prove.

The original colonization plans had several reasons for this unusual design: firstly, Epho's atmosphere has a very high concentration of carbon dioxide, meaning that any habitable outdoor areas would require atmospheric filtering arrays. The natural cover of the structurally sound canyons significantly decreased the required area for the arrays while still providing a psychologically satisfactory sense of space for the inhabitants. The equatorial region is also more temperate and richer in water than other parts of the planet. Secondly, the lower strata of the equatorial canyon network housed ruins and other remnants of the Arthenn, a precursor species predating even the Protheans. It was expected that these sites would be studied or competed over by a number of corporate actors, so building the settlements near these archeological points of interest would also cut costs significantly in the long run. Of course, as the Hive spread out over the years, these ruins were inevitably stripped and buried under the urban density and infrastructure required by the growing population. The latest estimates place the number of inhabitants in the Hive at over 7 million, but accurate numbers are difficult to come by due to the lack of cooperation between the various identification systems used.

Corporate Wars and the Ghost Network

It’s no secret that each of the various corporations operating out of the Hive would prefer it if they had complete control of the Hive. The potential advantages of such a position would include unfettered access to the rest of the Zelene system, with its rumored alien treasure troves and mountains of Element Zero, as well as an edge over the local operations of the myriad other client corporations of the planet. As such, most of the inter-corporate relations are hostile in nature. Still, all-out war on the Hive streets is avoided until the last by all parties, as it would not only be expensive, but would also significantly hurt everyone’s long-term prospects on the planet by causing a mass exodus. Instead, war is waged in a more precise fashion, through industrial espionage, kidnappings, assassination and sabotage. And instead of having to build the infrastructure to train these operatives for themselves, the corporations decided to use the Terminus Systems’ best renewable resource: freelancers. The outcasts and leeches who rejected or were rejected by the rest of the galaxy, looking for the money, power or opportunities to realize their dreams.

The Ghost Network was born to give structure to the fuzzy connections between the often-anonymous employers, middlemen and the mercenaries, hackers and other experts seeking to ply their trade in the Hive. Today, the Network comprises thousands of active operators, or “Ghosts”, and operations have been expanded to offer service in nearby interstellar locations, as well. Accepting work as a Ghost requires a license from the Network, but no extensive training or proven experience is expected of the applicant. This is because the purpose of the license, keyed to the Ghost’s DNA, is primarily to prevent identity theft in a line of work where reputation is highly valued. The weeding out of unprofessional elements, then, is largely done through word of mouth, or simply the natural expiry of Ghosts whose reach exceeds their grasp.

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