Uncle Jimbo's Bug Huntin' Range
They left it out in the Oort before we crawled from the sea.
The gate of Paradise.
Or the mouth of Hell.
After nearly 200 years, the humans living in orbital habitats and low-gravity stations have evolved many customs different from those of Old Earth. Some of these also apply to the major settled planets (Mars, Europa, Oasis III, Virgin II, Ketann-Ozen, Ketann-Sa).
99% of humans who spend their childhood in low gravity have the Spacer adaptation. Biological Spacers have long, thin limbs and a long, flexible spine. They range in height between 1.8 and 2.25 metres (6 and 7½ feet). All Spacer children take growth pills to promote proper bone and muscle development, allowing adults to function with some discomfort in 1.0g conditions. Those who, for some reason, were deprived of growth pills are severely deformed (as the moderate mutant disadvantage Environmental Sensitivity, Normal to High Gravity, Severe. Spacers may gain 8 skill points by taking both this and Dirt Poor as flaws.) Spacers also have changes in their inner ears, circulation and digestive organs which eliminate the health problems suffered by groundlings in zero gravity or continuous rotation. Spacers suffer no penalty in zero gravity or light gravity, but have a +2 penalty to all checks in high gravity. They have a temporary bonus of 1 Dexterity point in light gravity (up to 0.7g).
Due to radiation damage and constant use of depilatory chemicals, Spacers usually become grey-haired during their teens. Their hair is brittle and does not grow longer than one inch. Many Spacers remove their head and facial hair using depilatory cream, which prevents all hair growth for 30 days.
In 2201, geneticists believe that semi-viable mutant offspring appear at about the third generation of humans exposed to Moderate radiation, such as the cosmic radiation of space. Mutants are accepted in most Spacer groups, except for Americans. The most severe and unsightly mutations can be corrected by surgery and cyber-prostheses, which are free for Microsoft citizens but very expensive for other Spacers.
Few Spacers speak any other language than English. The main exceptions are Americans of Earth Orbit, Luna and Mars who generally speak Spanish as well. For different reasons, both t'sa and weren usually learn English rather than vice versa.
The standard Spacer day is 25 hours long, which is compatible with the human biorhythm. Spacers do not mark midday. Years and months are always reckoned by Earth's orbit, giving 350 Spacer days to a year. The Spacer rule is that September and November have 30 days, and the rest have 29. On major planets, local days are divided into Earth years and months, giving a variety of monthly and leap year rules. For example, Mars uses the same calendar as Earth but has a leap year two years out of three. Local seasons are considered to move through the year.
Humans of Ketann use the t'sa timekeeping system, dividing the standard Spacer day into 50 steps, each with 100 divisions. A division is 18 seconds long. This is expressed similarly to the 24- or 25- hour clock, so that the time just before midnight is 4999 steps. Second-generation humans of Ketann (never called Ketannians, Ketannese etc.) seldom refer to years, do not celebrate birthdays, but notice the local seasons.
The interior of spaceships and stations are subject to life support, which tends to create a temperate, slightly humid atmosphere. Air recycled for many years has a typical faint smell of sweat, plants (from the hydroponic tanks) and coolant chemicals. Spaceships and stations of 2201 are cramped, with access tubes between the levels lined with welded steel grips. There are also single grips scattered over the bulkheads (the universal term for all internal surfaces) for use in zero gravity.
Gravity control is cheap and finely adjustable. Each berth (personal sleeping cubicle) has a gravstat adjustable between 0.1g and 1.0g. Spacers seldom work or rest in zero gravity, since objects tend to drift about and stale air gathers around each person. It is polite for groundlings to turn down the gravstat to 0.5g when Spacers are present. Passenger ships and moderate to good hotel sections have a Low Deck energised at 0.8g and High Deck at 0.25g.
Spacers typically dress in skimpy, loose grey singlet and shorts when working or travelling aboard ships. They dislike sweat-stains on grip-rungs and bulkheads, so always wear slippers and fingerless gloves. It is impolite for either sex to take off singlet, shoes or gloves, except within family quarters. The public areas of bases are more formal and have complete air conditioning. In public areas, Spacers wear various types of loose trousers and shirts depending on their national or corporate origin.
Cockroaches have colonised all human bases and cities. It is extremely difficult to keep them out of ships and stations. They are not only unpleasant, but can be deadly in a life-supported system with a finite supply of nutrients where the crew spends long weeks in cold sleep. Spacers hate cockroaches and will often evacuate (dump all air from) a ship in an attempt to kill them. In order to control the cockroaches, almost all ships have spiders, which Spacers view with great affection. The spiders of human space are mutated far more than the humans. The typical breed is the whiteback, a large nomadic albino species which makes small shapeless webs. Local variants are spotted, bright red or blue and are various sizes. In order to keep up the breed, Spacers often give pairs of spiders as gifts when entering a new ship or station.
Spacers are particularly agile due to their physical differences and lifelong practice in moving through three dimensions. Many are adept in soft martial arts styles, especially the subtle but effective jujitsu.
Because every human in a habitat depends on costly and delicate life support, Spacer communities do not accept the concept of broad and universal entitlements to life, shelter, freedom of movement and action, or democratic decision-making. All residents are subject to the captain's or commander's orders and can be restricted, confined or punished as necessary. Vagrants are regarded as debtors of the community and usually imprisoned or put to work. Decisions are made through chains of command, though in some jurisdictions (typically UN cities, Muhammadiyah Inner Belt bases and Martian surface bases) commanders and department heads may be chosen by vote of those who qualify as permanent and productive members of the community.
Most bases, and all space cities have a code of Regulations. The court system is a modified version of New UN martial law. The object is to settle cases quickly without a complex and specialised legal office. An accused person may request a depositions hearing where unfounded accusations can be thrown out or moved to a civil tribunal. Otherwise, a criminal trial or court martial is usually scheduled the same day once the suspect has been charged.
Either one or three magistrates are chosen from the base's citizens, by roster or by the base commander's decision. The commander can also hear cases personally. The most serious crimes, such as murder, sabotage, piracy and discharge of hazardous weapons, are known as security offences and dealt with by a formal court martial. The magistrates summon and question witnesses, then rule on guilt and punishment. Any person may request to address the court or cross-examine witnesses, but these requests are often denied in the interests of time and victims' rights.
Spacers despise professional lawyers and expect accused persons to speak in their own defence. In many bases, it is illegal to solicit for legal services apart from consultation. Lawyers may not attend security interviews, speak in court, or claim any attorney-client privilege. Many legal advisers are ordained as clergymen to get around these restrictions. If an accused person is obviously unwell or unfit, the tribunal may allow a champion to present the case, but the champion will be dismissed or punished for contempt if he wastes the court's time.