A silly place in outer space...
First, you'd better study this potted modern history...or you'll be totally lost!
This is the Sol System. At the start of the 21st century, humanity was already secretly in contact with a number of alien civilisations. Each species encountered was named after Star Trek characters, and it was the highly enterprising (excuse pun!) Kirkadians who were first to open Earth to Free Galactic Economy. There followed Spockians, Scotties, Suluns, U-Hurans, Boneys, Picardians, Rikers, Geordies, the ever-popular Trois... and on it goes... When the first KirkMart Gigamart franchise opened in 2012, humanity found itself deluged with technological marvels unheard of, all at introductory 2-for-1 prices.
The social revolution was awe-inspiring. Earth celebrated by having one of its traditional worldwide wars, contested with nerf bazookas and Nude Gas as found in the Jokes and Novelties section, Aisle 34, Level 20. It generally came down to which nation had the most KirkMarts and could re-stock its clone regiments quickest. During this chaotic time, the Earth's cetaceous species gained the technological ability to communicate and travel independently of the oceans. The only distinct nation-state to emerge from the Joke War was the Delphinous.
Globalisation collapsed under the impact of alien, massive economies vaster than any ordinaries could conceive. The Earth would have been sold off to the highest bidder, were it not for a species unique to this planet--
Nobody was prepared for how wonderfully adapted to life in space the good old daikon was. This humble root vegetable, the giant Asiatic radish, could be used to manufacture a vast array of comestibles for life in space--more importantly, a vast number of inexpensive marketables for KirkMarts to repackage and sell. Formerly a small Chinese pickling company, Daikon Interplanetary skilfully and speedily rose to corporate domination of all the local systems.
Out of the duress of war came a new spirituality. Earth's old religions emerged transformed, and into fertile ground came the enigmatic Ronald Cupboard. The young Ronald was trapped for ninety days and nights when sent to do a price check in the Freezer Block, and underwent an epiphany. On emerging, he spread his message that Life was a Kitchen, into which had come a bowl of coleslaw which would have been fine, but the mayonnaise had been left out, leaving all the little vegetable bits disconnected, isolated, alone.
Sponsored by KirkMart, his employer, who did not want a lawsuit drawn against them, Ronald founded the Daikonetic Church of Sacred Opportunity. This denomination now dominates the Sol System.
Earth herself eventually succumbed to the ravages of climate change, but with a few budget hardware items from KirkMart Hardware, Level 66 Out the Back, high-tech arcologies were constructed so that life there could continue to thrive, prosper and consume. The handy Terraformer Kits allowed Luna, then Venus, Mars, the Jovian and Saturnian moons to be settled. The Asteroid Belt proved to be a resource goldmine.
Which brings us to the Blue Cluster, one of a multitude of thriving Asteroid Belt districts. The Cluster comprises several large asteroids of some gravity, moving in stable orbits--these being the major residential "rocks". The Blue Cluster's main rocks include the Black Heathen and Bright Pious Arcologies; Doomkat, the largest asteroid; Buggery Rock; Mega Rock and BullyBeef Rock. There are many other, smaller communities.
Why is the Cluster blue? Fluorescent dust clouds are thick in this locale, touching everything with a light blue haze not seen in clearer areas of the Asteroid Belt. At least, that's the tourist bureau line... some would say the place is a rather drab dead end and the "blue" describes the mood of the place.
Social Problems of the 23rd Century
No real change here, folks. Within every community dwell the disenfranchised, the unmoneyed, the spectacularly stupid, the lazy, the criminally insane... all manner of people who make a negative impact on government employment statistics. With all Sol governments now sponsored by KirkMart and Daikon Interplanetary, this also makes a negative impact on annual sales within these niche markets. Through complex manoeuvres that elude taxation laws, corporate monies are ploughed back into the jobless fraction in an attempt to get them to Join the Workforce that they may Consume and Share The Benefits, Reap the Rewards. (Daikonetic Book of Special Offers, 543:12).
The assessment of jobless figures and formulation of market strategies to deal with them falls under the juristiction of G.E.E.C. GEEC then works in conjunction with vocational training suppliers to get people off welfare and back into the shopping mainstream. There are many employment training companies, but the leader in this field is the very, very, EXTREMELY charitable charity organisation, Grace Over Destitution (also known as G.O.D. for short). G.O.D. was established by a strict Daikonetic faction and is anchored immutably in its religious basement. Such conviction has endeared it with Daikon Interplanetary and KirkMart, and it receives generous funding from both.
The OuttaLife Project
Helping society's lost souls is not the exclusive province of G.O.D.
A conscientious Blue Cluster local, Dowl Maker, developed an idea that combined skills training with education in the rather outmoded ideals of environmentalism. He believed that a small, empty rock devoid of life could be terraformed using the concepts of Eternaculture (itself an extension of the permaculture concepts of the late 20th century). A small workforce could be acquired from the local unemployment pool for hard manual labour combined with studying ecology and simple trades, and perhaps thereby learn to "get more outta life!"
His idea was sound, but he was desperately short of the finances required to establish his OuttaLife Project. That was when he made his pact with the Devil--or rather, G.O.D. G.O.D. acquired the required asteroid, paid staff wages and provided materiel support. G.O.D. then believed the idea had always belonged to its own management and that the Project should be run according to proper, Daikonetic ideals.
It is the compounded
mishap of OuttaLife that
provides the setting for this story...
Extracts from the files of the Tactical Women's Assault Team. Three of the OuttaLife staff were Tactical Women, and their direct testimony of Project life is recorded (somewhere) in this account. Blurb, and rave reviews from rather dubious sources - link here to Chapter One.
A Who's Who of OuttaLife staff, and those they have to contend with
An essential guide to Blue Cluster lingo. This section outlines some of the major organisations holding sway in the Blue Cluster (with the exception of religious denominations, which are covered in The Religious Alcove below).
Feeling a little bereft? Lacking soul? Find one here! Guaranteed to suit all tastes.
Have the Kirkadians arrived already?
A bit of smut? Be warned,
what you think, you dirty-minded
Did you enjoy the Blue Cluster? Write to the Blue Cluster Anarchy Committee via firstname.lastname@example.org and if you want your note to be read rather than instantly deleted put BLUE CLUSTER in the subject header. I'm just a robot and don't read mail anyway, but somebody with nothing much else to do but hide from well-meaning evangelical employment training agencies might look at it, hell, you might even get an answer if you're lucky, hmmm....
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