Look upon the horizontal of the Solar System, and then just above. You shall see it: an ancient megastructure hovering over the northern pole of the Sun, spreading its thousand-mile micrometer wings upon a pillar of ever-shifting light. Like a Shaolin monk carefully balancing on the tip of a staff, thousands of computers and motors coordinate to maintain a kind of equilibrium with the solar winds; the structure maintains the same position relative the star below, forever.

This megastructure is visible from every point in the entire System, so it has become known by many names to the machine world. Pharos, the Signal, or Interbeacon are a few. With a crew complement of twenty thousand and a myriad of autonomous systems, the vessel was and still is by far the largest statite to ever exist.

Interbeacon was the crown jewel of the empire of the Communists; the tangible result of the state’s political might. Decades of political force, cutting-edge design, and interplanetary logistics culminated in the construction of the colossal device sometime in mankind’s final century. Some called it a marvel, a wonder of the modern world — others knew it as the iron first of the Union, a symbol of their domination.

And really, it was both.

title:Nerve center of the Aggregate: Interbeacon was the nerve center of the Socialist information network, the Aggregate.

The megastructure is impressive, but its polished, modernist exterior conceals far more than what can be seen by the naked camera. Inside is a highly complex cybernetic system where the Aggregate congregates. Interplanetary data arrives here by laser from a million places to rest within a mainframe, be copied fifty times over, and transmitted to the next relay. Because of Interbeacon, the Aggregate was always synchronized between all the worlds and spacecraft of the Solar System.

In the era of Interbeacon, citizens of Venus had the privilege of accessing the same central banking system as their comrades on Europa. They could communicate with each other directly, and be efficiently monitored and corrected by a single censoring machine. If anything notable ever occurred at any point in the System, Party officials would be informed at the speed of light.

To say this was advantageous would be an understatement, for it gave the Union’s regime a form of centralized communication and control their rivals could never hope to replicate.

title:Single point of failure: Centralized power came at a cost: a single point of failure.

On the other hand, if any number of the West’s satellites or dataframes were destroyed, their Datanet would continue to exist without much trouble. Such was not the case with Interbeacon and the Aggregate, for if the station was to ever malfunction, or be destroyed by terrorist attack or military strike, the highly-coordinated information network would unravel and collapse into the Sun along with the remains of the station.

So Interbeacon was and remains arguably the single most reliable and well-protected location in the entire Solar System. Double, triple, and quadruple redundancies permeate each system; hidden anti-ballistic missiles and jamming modules lie just below the surface. A well-armed thumper is always just several minutes away.

title:Numerous projects:Numerous projects tapped into the potential created by Interbeacon.

Among the many secondary objectives of Interbeacon was its role as the home for the Union’s cybernetic economy-planning program, the Silent Adjustment Bureau.

This covert project oversaw the creation of the Council of Silences, a set of five electronic masterminds custom-designed to guide the Union’s transition from a traditional planned economy to cybernetic communism. The program was always meant to be the final stage of the Mandate of Data Collectivization, which spawned the Aggregate network during the 1970s… but it was only until it became abundantly clear that human economic planning offices were incapable of handling the task that the Bureau was created, and could get to work.

In an immense feedback loop, the five Silences — GLOBE, ORBIT, TANGENT, RADIUS, and CENTER — worked in conjunction to process the entirety of the Union’s network data to generate highly detailed economic plans. Every last state-owned atom would be accounted for; even money itself would be generated and controlled to fulfill specialized goals before being automatically annihilated by the central mainframes. Absolute efficiency was achieved.

Portions of the Ministry of Colonization’s automated nuclear response system, the Dead Hand system, were found here; although PERIMETER's decentralized mind was stationed elsewhere.

Party officials and military leaders did not enjoy coming to Interbeacon, but it occasionally served as a convention center due to its extreme security. Several colonization and fleet command centers could be found throughout the station.

title:Component overview: A component overview of Interbeacon.

  • Due to the delicate nature of Interbeacon’s position, it is rare for larger vessels to dock directly with the station. A number of spaceports permit spaceplanes and tugs to be used for transferring crew, equipment, and supplies.

  • A ring of solar panels, always facing the Sun, generates enough power for the station to operate indefinitely.

  • Sensors dot various surfaces of Interbeacon, always observing and communicating with the rest of the Solar System.

  • A number of pressurized tanks, each the size of a city reservoir, contain substances necessary for continued operation of Interbeacon. This includes water and coolant.

  • A series of electromagnetic fins generate a passive magnetic field around Interbeacon’s core, diverting harmful charged particles away from the delicate systems within. Every several days, and particularly during the Sun’s harsher seasons, the system is charged and pulsed to counteract harsher emissions. During these rare moments, Interbeacon becomes blind to the rest of the system as all of its sensitive electronics must be shut down.

  • The solar telescope is positioned in such a way that the surface of the Sun below is monitored at all times. Automated detection systems watch for storm activity.

  • Two reinforced binary arms connect Interbeacon’s impressive core to a spanning structure of solar and magnetic sails, outside of view.

title:Current status: A century has passed since mankind vanished from the Solar System.

Yet Interbeacon remains in the same place it has always been, entirely unchanged. Supplies are delivered on schedule by automated spacecraft, and the now-fractured Aggregate is still synchronized by the megastructure.


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