Skarkon – Analysis of a Disaster
Dianze Galugos, University of Caille Anthropology Department, YC113
It is my hope that this paper will shed light onto the situations which arose in the Skarkon System, eventually leading to the infamous Skarkon Incident. It is my sincerest hope that this document is used, not to place blame on those they perceive as responsible for the incident, but to instead provide a hopeful roadmap to repairing the system and improving the lives of its populace.
The Skarkon system is very typical. Featuring five planets, two gas giants and three terrestrials orbiting a standard G5 star, it features few complex gravitational interactions or cometary swarms. The combination of its non-uniqueness, and key position in space, meant that stargates were built into the system fairly early into the Expansion Era of the Minmatar Republic. The first gates in system, constructed in -25YC, were built by the Thukker Tribe as they established trade relations with the now liberated Republic. Of these original gates, only one, the gate into the Great Wildlands, remains in use, mostly because the cost of replacing the ageing regional gate was never deemed economically viable. In YC1, following shortly after the signing of the Yulai Convention, the Molden Heath Colonisation Initiative was launched by the Republic, aimed at increasing prosperity through the relatively untapped wealth of the region. The gates to Ennur and Mimiror were constructed later that year.
Within the Skarkon system, Skarkon II is located well within the habitation belt of the primary star. It possesses two small moons, sufficient to maintain a stable spin and produce weak tides. Though it lacked an atmosphere, its surface gravity of 13.9 m/2^2 meant it would retain one easily. The temperate ranges recorded on the surface were conducive to the presence of liquid water, and with two gas giants in wider orbits to screen for asteroids and comets, Skarkon II was an ideal candidate for terraforming.
The discovery of large surface deposits of twin atomic superconducting crystals sealed the deal for the Early republic, and the venture was seen as one that would quickly pay off. Terraforming began in YC2, with primary atmospheric establishment and basinal flooding occuring between YC10-and YC15. The total water content of Skarkon was low, and thus its oceans remained small and highly salty.
In YC5, mining rights to system began being issued to ranking clans within the republic. Initially 150 of these releases were given out, though through backroom deals the number was whittled down to 10 prominent clans. These 10 clans then proceeded to sell huge tracts of real estate to various corporate interests, including several large districts on the surface of the still to be completed Skarkon II, and even several entire moons.
It was really the corporations who settled Skarkon II. Starting from small colonies in YC17, Cities were constructed around the choicest TASC deposits within each corporation’s aegis. Calls went out for colonists, and the population bloomed rapidly, reaching nearly 4 million within the first decade. Phase Two terraforming began, with the seeding of hardy lichens and mosses across much of the planet to pave the way for future agricultural seeding. However, of the 186 strains introduced, only 8 took hold resulting a very slow process.
This didn’t stop the industrial expansion however, the TASC mines quickly paid for expansion and food imports several times over, and in YC25 the Ishukone Corporation deployed a skyhook into the coastal city of Sahaal, at the time a public waystation and spaceport for most of the planet’s population. The industrial expansion quickened, with highways connecting the industrial centres to Sahaal completed by YC35.
The prosperity of the system blossomed, and by YC35, over 8 million settlers called Skarkon II home. Though 90% Minmatar, a noticeable number of Caldari citizens were brought in by Caldari business interests in the system. YC35 also saw the completion of the Republic Parliament station in orbit of the outermost moon of Skarkon III. Constructed as a customs station and trade post for passing Thukker caravans, the station saw most of the system traffic pass through it, and it became a prosperous income source for the larger Republic.
In YC45, the population of Skarkon II reached 10 million, and largely the system was viewed as a success story for the Colony Initiative, presenting a new, expansionist, industrious people to the rest of the cluster.
But it was not to be. In YC51, the TASC reserves began to run out. By YC60, production had fallen by 73%, and corporate interest in the system quickly waned. Despite this, system was still growing in population, topping out at 16 million in YC60. Money began to vacate the Skarkon System. Poor in space based resources and with little easy money remaining on the ground, one by one, the corporations began laying off most of their workers, hiring them back only as non-contractual temps when a TASC pocket was discovered.
This was a recipe for crisis. As more and more people lost their jobs, food became less and less in reach to the general population. Those with the money to do so quickly packed up shop and left, often leaving entire communities abandoned. Small communities became less viable as money became more scarce, and the population contracted inwards towards the cities, resulting in a massive spike in crime and disease. The cash strapped Minmatar republic could do little but watch in horror as things slowly began collapsing.
By YC70, only a few mines were still in operation, sickness and famine had claimed almost 2 million people, and extreme poverty was the norm. The survival of the colony depended on it getting its own agriculture off the ground, and it just was not happening fast enough. Imported ration packs and fish farmed in huge tanks by the seaside became the normal diet of much of the population. Were the Minmatar not so resourceful a people, the disaster could have been much worse, with much higher total casualties. The quick thinking of the political leaders probably saved the lives of at least another million people.
But life in Skarkon was hard, and most people barely eked out a subsistence living, working long hours in often dangerous conditions for little pay. Biofuel export provided a bit of economic relief, but there was not enough money left on the planet to invest in the resource, and few corporations wanted to risk investing in what they saw as a crime ridden planetwide slum.
Organised crime saw a huge hike between YC65 and YC110, with the population growing increasingly desperate, they were much more willing to turn to crime if it put bread on the table. Drug use, prostitution, gambling, and dangerous activities saw a hike as well. The industrial cities had little culture of their own, and these vices took hold quickly and deeply, the police often simply turning a blind eye.
The autumn YC109 saw the worst blow dealt to the system since its mines were exhausted. Following the crash of an elevator car, Ishukone closed the skyhook for 4 months to study it and make repairs. During this time, the cost to import food skyrocketed, a cost that was largely passed on to the base consumers who could already scarcely afford it. The effect was the Skarkon Riots, in several cities storage warehouses of food were raided and over 250 people were killed by trampling and stray bullets from riot control forces. These deaths, so significant, paled in comparison to the tens of thousands of deaths caused by starvation and malnourishment. Even with the skyhook restored, the problem was slow to resolve, and public discontent remained at an all time high. It was really little surprise when the people of Skarkon took the deal the angels offered them. In their minds, they had already been abandoned by the republic.
Despite the limited occupation by the Cartel, sentiment with them remains strong, and much of the population view them more favourably then they do the Republic. It really would only seem to be a matter of time before the Angels regain their foothold in system.
As can be shown above, there were many factors at work that lead to the disaster at Skarkon, but I hope by analyzing this incident, it can be prevented in the future. Though possibly on a slow path to economic recovery as more agricultural land opens up, Skarkon II remains on the tipping point, and all it would take was the right chain of events to result in a massive population die-off.
Map of the main habitation zones on Skarkon II: