Originally established in 2406, the Solarian Alliance Outer Ring planet of Konyang is one of the most distant outposts of Solarian control and is nestled against the border with the Coalition of Colonies. Konyang's capital city, and largest city, of Suwon is built upon a natural formation that defines most of Konyang's geography: islands with large interior mountains that feature lush, but soaking wet, coastal jungle regions. Konyang was initially a relatively average Outer Ring setttlement intended to export water, before the discovery of deactivated Glorsh-era drones in 2437 led to a robotics boom occuring on the planet that lasted well into the 2450s. The Konyang of today is a planet renowned for its robotics industry, though some of its initial luster has faded in the years following its boom. Water, however, remains a key industry - the planet has a remarkably low salination level, meaning that essentially all of its water is drinkable. Konyang Solarian Common, or Konyang Common, is the most used language on the planet inside and outside of major population centers. Due to its proximity to the Coalition of Colonies, Konyang often trades with it - Coalition member planets often import water from Konyang. In major cities and on universities, Tradeband can be found, though it remains rare. Speakers of the language are generally from off-planet, moving to Konyang during its robotics boom. Konyang almost completely lacks valuable minerals due to intensive mining efforts carried out by Glorsh-era drones hundreds of years before it was colonized.
The Solarian planet of Konyang was first discovered in 2278 by a long-range scouting probe, but was initially passed over for colonization due to the Interstellar War and the aftermath of the Second Great Depression. By 2390 the Solarian Alliance realized that more expansion was needed in the outer ring of its control to ensure its claims and keep a close eye on the Coalition of Colonies Systems near its frontier. By the late 2300s efforts were underway to colonize the planet, with the first settlers setting foot on the planet in 2392. These settlers were primarily pulled from Mars and Earth's more economically depressed areas, lured to the frontier of Solarian space by the promise of a better life.
These initial settlers to Konyang rapidly realized two things. First was that the planet was almost completely freshwater, which was a massive boon for the original colonists. Second was that the planet almost completely lacked valuable minerals, with preemptive drilling operations finding paltry amounts of iron, and evidence of collapsed mining tunnels. The reason for this utter lack of resources would not be discovered until 2404, when a surveying party field covered a technologically advanced drone of unknown origins within a partially collapsed mining shaft. Though corroded by centuries underground, the drone was intact enough to be brought back to a facility in the nearby city of Point Verdant, and reported to Sol government authorities. Sol auctioned off the rights to the drone, with Einstein Engines winning the bid. The drone was transported to a Terraneus Diagnostics prefab facility built on Konyang which then took on the project,
Over the following years, Terraneus Diagnostics engineers and scientists in Point Verdant gradually began to piece together more and more about the drone. By 2405 carbon-dating had placed the drones within the Skrellian Glorsh era, though the true source would remain unknown and their designs failed to match with any previously known robotics. On their part, the skrell refused to comment on the matter, dismissing it entirely. More drones had been found in the intervening years, all in various states of disrepair. After centuries of exposure to nature there was simply not enough to salvage the AI routines of the machinery. Mining equipment was improved by analyzing the construction of the drones but the true crown jewel, the AI on-board, remained frustratingly elusive. However, in 2406, everything changed through utter happenstance.
In the middle of the dry season a Terraneus survey team searching for more drones to pick apart stumbled across an odd structure: a cave blocked off by an airlock of titanium. Aware that the planet was home to the mysterious mining robots, they cautiously opened the door to see what was on the other side. On the other side of the door were rows upon rows of preserved mining drones sealed inside a climate-controlled repair bay for centuries of inactivity. The severity of this discovery was immediately apparent to them. Words were had with the governor of Konyang by the local Einstein Engines representative, and it was decided to keep the drones a very closely-guarded secret - with only select Terraneus and government officials even being aware of their existence at all, let alone what was being done with them.
The Terraneus research team worked feverishly, though in secret, for months upon months. Staff were quietly shipped in from offworld in order to not alert outside observers, and the team continued to work upwards of eighty hour weeks in order to crack the drones. In mid-2407, they achieved one of the most remarkable breakthroughs in recent scientific memory by cracking the AI algorithms of the drones. Information of this moved rapidly from the local Einstein Engines office up the corporate chain and moved equally rapidly up the government's chain from provincial office to Sol itself. The information spread like wildfire, and humanity now had the secret of AI despite not truly knowing from where or who these machines came from. This was little more than a footnote to the Jargon Federation - to them, these AI were crude and hardly approached the machines that had driven their civilization to ruin.
The robotics boom of Konyang caused a variety of benefits and harms to the previously marginal outer ring planet. The economy ballooned massively, as did its standard of living and industries. Konyang moved from a rural backwater that exported water to a high-tech planet that still exported water, but primarily focused upon robotics. Megacorporations flocked to the planet: Einstein Engines, already present through Terraneus, rapidly secured dominance over the planet; Hephaestus Industries struggled to find a niche in mining equipment before shuttering its factories in 2427; and Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals, despite its skrell benefactors, purchased rights to examine the planet's biosphere from Einstein. The fact that their prosthetic limbs were originally designed on this planet has been stated to be a "happy coincidence" by its board. Due to the mass arrival of corporations, jobs were readily available - the planet was booming.
But, not all was well. The rapid expansion of Konyang's industries and cities had overtaxed the limited bureaucracy on the planet to the breaking point, and architects were in short supply. Urban planning on Konyang is estimated to be some of the worst in Alliance space outside of New Hai Phong as a result, with cities such as Point Verdant often having haphazard roads running through them and districts smashed together with no apparent rhyme or reason - a legacy of corporate jockeying for areas of interest, and the municipal corruption that came with it. There are countryside facilities originally utilized for drone research and retrieval that have, in recent years, fallen into disuse and disarray. Such facilities often dot the mountains and foothills of Konyang, slowly being overtaken by nature - sometimes with unfortunate results when these facilities have been improperly stripped of dangerous materials. The environment also suffered in areas where drones were found - jungles were cut or burnt away by corporations in order to get at the precious drones below, prefab buildings were orbitally dropped and erected, and landing zones were cut into the landscape itself. Many colonists on Konyang, which made their livings off of exporting water, became frustrated with this. They were almost universally ignored by the local government, which was (and is) receiving a great profit from the booming robotics industry.
Though the robotics boom has declined since its peak in the late 2440s, it remains the largest employer on the planet. Konyang produces many of the Alliance's brightest roboticists and two of the most renowned robotics universities in the Alliance - the Suwon Solarian Institute of Robotics Research, a Sol Alliance university, and the Point Verdant Terraneus Institute of AI Research, a corporate university - can be found here, along with their famous rivalry. There is even talk of the Point Verdant Institute rivaling Solis Cognito in recent years, much to the joy of its sponsors. Hydroponics - in the form of waterfarms and literal water - remains an important, though secondary, industry on Konyang. Though the Alliance has had issues in recent decades, the local government has repeatedly assured Sol that the planet remains loyal.
Life on Konyang
The Konyang of 2460s bears little resemblance to the minor colony of 2436. Prefabricated cities dot its islands, still conducting robotics work and research, even though the robotics boom has since died down. However, cities outside of the more famous robotics research and production centers have a dramatically lower standard of living, with most being employed in water-related industries or manufacturing jobs. Even worse, many of these former "boom towns" of the robotics industry are entering into a spiral of decay due to an inability to continue to maintain their buildings and utilities due to the sheer price of importing materials from offworld, which has led to a flight from small to moderate sized urban centers into major industrial cities - worsening an already-existent problem of overcrowding.
A lack of raw materials on the planet means that prices are often exorbitantly high, and overcrowding is common outside of corporate-sponsored company cities. Even within these company cities most Konyangers own a small apartment - often called a "shoebox studio" on Konyang - at best, with only the extremely rich having buildings of their own. Streets, already chaotic due to the quickly-built nature of Konyang's urban centers, are typically snarled in traffic due to overcrowding. The snarled traffic is, in an odd way, a symbol of pride for some Konyangers. The mere fact that they have enough vehicles to have traffic issues is, compared to the rest of the outer ring, a symbol of the prosperity that has resulted from the planet's robotics industry.
The primary diet of Konyangers consists of moss and fish, with farms and pastures on land being rare due to the thick jungle. Konyang's moss is either harvested in the wild, grown in "natural" hydrofarms, or grown synthetically in Zeng-Hu bioplants. The moss itself is said to change its taste depending on the environment in which it is grown, and natural moss from the coasts around Konyang's islands is highly prized. Many workers, however, must make do with hydrofarm moss at best, and synthetic substitutes at worst. Konyang's fish - quite diverse, due to its freshwater environments - are also often consumed on the planet, with many being exported as luxury food as far afield as Venus and Tau Ceti.
Konyang features a highly atypical environment for a habitable planet: it is entirely freshwater. The surface of the planet is primarily water, with estimates placing upwards of 88% of the planet as covered in water. What is not covered by freshwater are the islands of Konyang, where the vast majority of its population lives. These islands follow a general pattern: a small coastal area, a large mountain range ringing the island, and inland deserts due to the rain shadow. The freshwater oceans of Konyang feature a remarkable diverse biosphere, and Konyang underwater flora, such as freshwater moss, is often used in the planet's native dishes and exported offworld, as far afield as Sol and Tau Ceti. Konyang is defined by two seasons: wet, lasting nine months, and dry, lasting three months.
The coastal regions of Konyang represent the smallest regions of its islands, but contain upwards of 90% of the planet's population. Often called the "coastal jungles" of Konyang, these areas are extremely wet due to the rain shadow formed by the inland mountains - flooding is an issue in some areas. These coastal areas feature a wealth of plant and animal life, both of which have been put under stress by the rapid expansion of Konyang's cities.
The inland mountain ranges of Konyang can be up to several kilometers in height in some areas, with smaller foothills featuring some rare settlements leading up to them. These ranges, which lack valuable minerals completely due to Glorsh-era mining, are the reason for Konyang's jungles and deserts - they form an effective rain shadow. Some mountains have former Glorsh-era mines in them, with deactivated drones scattered throughout the mines.
The inland deserts of Konyang are the least populated areas of the planet. Extraordinarily dry due to rain shadows, little grows or lives in these environments. Rare Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals facilities can be found in this area, taking advantage of the isolation and relatively sterile environment that the inland deserts offer.
Population and Major Cities
Suwon is the largest, most populated, and second wealthiest city on Konyang itself and one of the largest cities in the Outer Rim more generally. Standards of living in wealthiest areas of Suwon are equivalent to and (sometimes) even surpass the living standards of Middle Ring planets, demonstrating how wealthy the robotics boom has made some sectors of the planet. A lack of readily-available materials, however, ensures that even the super-rich of Konyang often live in smaller houses than their Middle and Inner Ring counterparts. Life outside these wealthy areas is better than life in most areas of the Outer Ring but dramatically worse than in the very wealthy areas, or even Middle Ring planets. Overcrowding is a massive issue for the government of the city, with no obvious solution presenting itself due to how expensive importing new building materials is post-boom. "Shoebox apartments" are common here, as are Konyang's often egregious traffic issues. The official motto of Suwon is "Where Frontier and Alliance meet" due to its large shuttle ports.
Point Verdant is the second most-populated city on Konyang, and the industrial heart of its robotics industry. It is by far the wealthiest city on Konyang, and one of the richest cities in the Outer Ring of the Alliance - perhaps the richest city in the Outer Ring as a whole. Point Verdant is home to the renowned Point Verdant Terraneus Institute of AI Research, and is the poster child for the rapid development of Konyang's cities during the robotics boom. The city is extremely wealthy, but suffers from persistent overcrowding and traffic issues in all of its districts. The Pusan District, near PVTI, has the reputation of possessing the worst traffic in the Alliance according to its residents. Air quality in Point Verdant is regarded as subpar, due to the amount of robotics factories within the city itself.
Boryeong, named after a city on historical Earth where some of its colonists originated from, is the third most populated city on Konyang and the center of its hydroponics industry. The city, while still suffering overcrowding issues, has it to a lesser extent than Point Verdant or Suwon, with the hydroponics farms and water plants necessitating a need for space. Water bottled in Boryeong is sold throughout the Alliance and Coalition as Konyang Water, and native moss grown in and around Boryeong is sold throughout both as a luxury food. Synthetic moss is grown in Zeng-Hu facilities near Boryeong and, despite being regarded as lesser quality than natural moss, is often consumed in poorer areas of Konyang.
Characters from Konyang are likely to:
- Be involved or know somebody involved in the robotics or hydroponics industry.
- Have worked for a megacorporation other than NanoTrasen in the past.
- Be used to cramped, wet environments.
- Speak Tradeband or Freespeak as a secondary language, due to the planet's off-world population and proximity to the Coalition of Colonies.
Here is an example character from Konyang:
- Hwangbo Young-Hee, 37, is a biomechanical engineer currently employed by Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals. She is quiet and introspective, but is often prone to becoming excited when new discoveries are made.
- Hwangbo is 5'4" with a slender build and short brown hair. She appears to frequently chew her fingernails.
- Hwangbo is a graduate of the Suwon Solarian Institute of Robotics Research and has worked with Zeng-Hu since earning her doctorate. She lives in a small home in D5 with her wife and two cats.
- Hwangbo has a noted like of IPCs, while possessing a notable dislike of Skrell and Unathi due to their perceived hatred of robotics.
- Hwangbo is well-educated; speaking Tradeband, Sol Common, and Tau Ceti Basic due to her origins in Suwon.
Here is a second example character from Konyang:
- Luo Zhou, 56, is a hydroponicist employed by NanoTrasen. He is often coarse and somewhat difficult to approach, but is a dedicated and hard worker.
- Luo stands at 5'7" and is slightly overweight. He has short, closely-cropped black hair with some stubble that he has neglected to take care of.
- Luo was employed as a hydroponicist in one of Konyang's moss-growing aquafarms before it was forced into forclosure by Zeng-Hu sponsored aquafarms primarily staffed by machines rather than humans. He is divorced, and lives alone in District 11.
- Luo is unfamiliar with most alien species, but holds a degree of bitterness towards IPCs due to his view that they cost him his job.
- Luo speaks Solarian Common and passing Freespeak in addition to Solarian-accented Tau Ceti basic.