Developments on Cronus
The population of Cronus grew steadily and rapidly, even when the first underground colony, Avernus, was devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes that led to a mass migration to the burgeoning city of Maritropa.
Avernus, although abandoned, continued an eerie quasi-life of its own, for its geothermal energy supply still pumped life through the city, powering streetlamps, heating ducts, atmospheric processors, hydroponic farms, and condensation collectors. Those few who had chosen to remain behind were able to sustain themselves with a minimal amount of maintenance and repair.
Many of these holdouts (dubbed stragglers) were former miners driven to psychological breakdown by the pressures of long hours, horrible working conditions, and long-term exposure to raw kato residue, which had been demonstrated to have a corrosive effect on unprotected flesh even in particulate form, leading to respiratory ailments, skin rashes, and even blindness. Though the term "straggler" was originally aimed at those who had remained in Avernus, it eventually grew to encompass anyone displaying these characteristics.
A Shining City
Maritropa, unlike its ailing sister city, was intended from its incorporation to be a sparkling metropolis that afforded all the accustomed luxuries of other, comparatively vital colony worlds to its diverse inhabitants. The vast, snaking reinforced cavern system that housed Maritropa flourished with greenery, artificial light, and cosmopolitan life.
For all its self-imposed glory, Maritropa wasn't the utopia it pretended to be, though. The lower sectors of the city eventually began to fall into disrepair as the aristocracy moved to the Canopy Section, a series of buildings suspended from the cavern ceiling. Using a material called Stion™ (developed by Armacham) which becomes highly tensile when charged with an electrical current, engineers devised a support structure with a tremendous load-bearing capacity. The view from the slums affords an ironic perspective of the hierarchical structure of Maritropan society.
By the time the revolution began in earnest, the Cronian Mining Consortium (CMC)-the governing body on the planet-had long been eager for autonomy from the UCA and various corporate interests. The importance of kato energy gave the CMC a powerful bargaining chip offset only by Cronus' military insignificance. So the CMC began bolstering its military in secret, aided by a covert treaty with Andra Biomechanics.
The UCA was aware of the buildup, of course, but Akkaraju was instructed not to interfere for reasons that were not shared with him. Unfortunately, Akkaraju's superiors had apparently underestimated the extent of the CMC's efforts. A sizable mercenary fleet arrived in the system a mere two standard hours before the CMC officially proclaimed its independence and issued its terms. The UCA was hit unprepared and forced to retreat from Cronus' high orbit under heavy fire.
For the next 18 months, the UCA executed a series of covert operations designed to undermine the Cronian resistance by removing key individuals. Although the overall success rate of these missions was marginal at best, the plan eventually succeeded and the Cronians agreed to negotiate an accord.
It was around this time that a terrorist group calling themselves the Fallen surfaced. Their initial attacks were designed to undermine UCA faith in the CMC and, indeed, delayed the treaty process by several months. Once the existence of the terrorists was established, the CMC requested UCA assistance in rounding up the faction.