Albedo - Strata
Plateau Continent Relael
Largest continent and first settled, specializing in heavy industries.
The continent of Relael is the largest of Strata’s Plateau Continents and was the first to be colonized. The defining traits of Relael today are that it has the densest population and that heavy industry is favoured over light industry across the board.
In addition to the major cities there are dozens of large towns throughout the highlands and midlands of Relael. The former are typically placed to support the high intensity agricultural industry needs of the area, as well as being minor manufacturing hubs in their own right. The latter are typically involved in either Relael’s plantation logging operations in the Midlands, or as water harvesting and pumping centers for the terraformation system, or both. The largest of the pumping towns will be located in the upper midlands with smaller dam settlements in the lower midlands, some even extending shallowly into the lowlands (though these dam settlements will usually be little more than a live-in industrial facility not a true or independent community).
The terraformation infrastructure used was heavy and industrial, with an emphasis on maximum speed rather than aesthetics. The first colonists installed many mega-pipes to feed the terraformation and irrigation efforts, with the smallest ‘mid range pipelines’ being one story tall and the ‘long range pipelines’ several stories tall. The system was built incrementally, eventually meeting in the center of the continent, transforming the system from a series of individual arterials into one centralized network, which later was cross connected (eliminating choke points and adding redundancy). Most of Relael’s transport infrastructure follows pipeline routes, which may not seem the most efficient system now however following the water meant following the pattern of colonization and population flow, making this road and rail network continue to be oddly relevant and efficient in the current day.
The terrain of Relael was best described as ‘forcibly tamed by the heavy hand of progress’, crisscrossed with irrigation pipes first used in the terraformation process to convert the rocky highland terrain into fertile soil (as quickly as possible) then for bulk irrigation to drive Relael’s agricultural sector. Massive earthworks projects to clear fields were normal rather than seen as rare or challenging. And only areas ‘not worth converting’ like mountains were left uncultivated. Only some of these have since been irrigated for use as ‘nature preserves’, ironically with the ‘nature’ added artificially and long after the surrounding farmlands were in heavy use.
By necessity Relael focuses upon ‘quantity but not at the expense of quality’ as the slogan goes. But manufactured goods from Relael are often noted and criticized for being bland and utilitarian. Relael excels at bulk production of produce but struggles with ‘specialized’ or luxury produce.
Other than bulk produce and manufactured goods, Relael is the major source of lumber on Strata.
People of Relael
People of Relael tend to favour on functionality and affordability, paying attention to career progression and their upward or downward economic mobility. Competition between individuals and competition between companies is a constant factor. Dwellings are usually rented, with residents moving depending on work. For this reason portable or easily (and cheaply) replaced furnishings are preferred by people of Relael. Normally vehicles for citizens are used for commuting, so small vehicles that are easy to maneuver and park are favoured, if they are necessary at all (rather than using public transport or moving close enough to walk or cycle to work). Industrial vehicles are common, and are usually cargo transports.
Mining and the Crossroads
The highlands of Relael proved to be relatively sparse in valuable minerals and metal ores, a pattern common to the other plateau continents. Other than a few noteworthy ‘strikes’ in the highlands, most of Relael’s mining has historically been conducted in the midlands. Due to the demand from Relael’s heavy industry sector however, most of the small mines in the midlands were quickly tapped out leaving a shortage. For this reason mining operations began to extend to the lowlands.
Most mines in the lowlands were of similar small size to those in the midlands, though some were larger, but the vastly larger area helped remove the bottleneck. As the nearer mines were played out the old mine sites became staging areas for expeditions deeper into the lowlands. Operations became concentrated in the portion of the lowlands near Besheni and after some years the settlement of Crossroads arose and was later formally recognized.
Crossroads began as a relatively typical mining outpost west of Besheni, but due to geographical features in the nearby lowlands it became a crossroad for deeper lowlands expeditions north, south and west, hence the name. Originally a way-station, more facilities were added over time until Crossroads became a settlement in its own right and capable of supporting lowlands exploration and mining operations without the need to make the trip back to Besheni. This sped up the rate of expansion and exploration enormously, creating a second and greater mining rush in Relael.
- Naddakra, The Place of Beginnings. Naddakra was built in the highlands and was the original colony on Strata. Located the furthest ‘inland’ from the fog, this necessitated construction of a satellite colony for water mining from the midlands. Until the government move to Eurithsu Naddakra was the capital city of Strata.
- Athaja, The City of Winds. Athaja was built second and straddles the midlands to highlands border, with the midlands section originally dedicated to water treatment and water pumping and the highlands section intended for the residential and recreational areas. Over time the midlands section became home to other areas not requiring sunlight, hence most of the industrial sector, and shortly afterwards to high density lower class housing. The highlands section became upper class suburbs, figuratively and literally in this case. This makes Athaja the unofficial poster-city of Strata and a model for many future cities straddling the midlands and highlands border.
- Besheni, The City of Waters. Besheni was built third and completely within the midlands for use as a high density water harvesting operation on that third of the continent. Intended to have a higher water supply rate than Athaja, this necessitated the placement for more extensive water harvesting from the surrounding midlands and nearby lowlands, with the construction of vast dams using the available natural terrain as much as possible. This was painstaking work, with the surveying mostly conducted by short range sonar. This resulted in the famous ‘Water Fields of Besheni’