|Class||Flotilla / ~560 ships|
|Owner||Shelf Board of Directors|
Founded as an independent positronic colony and the birthplace of Morpheus Cyberkinetics, Shelf grew from only a handful of positronics in a single out-of-date transport shuttle to the single largest flotilla known to Sol, composed of over seventeen hundred ships. After fleeing the Far Kingdoms' occupation of the Almach Rim using an unknown bluespace technology, Shelf was isolated from all known interstellar governments and extremely vulnerable to the Skathari Incursion. More than two thirds of the flotilla was destroyed, and the remainder faces a years-long voyage through uncharted space, in poorly maintained ships, if they are to return to the interstellar community.
Shelf is a fleet of independent ships, only interacting physically in increasingly-frequent times of peril. When one calls for help, the closest appropriately equipped ship attempts to render aid. Shelf migrates from system to system according to the whims of the Board of Directors and has lately been paralyzed, caught between attempting to return to the Almach Rim or to land on a world and attempt to bootstrap a colony themselves. In general, most ships are not designed with human comfort or ease of access in mind, true to the organization's Mercurial leanings, requiring extensive cybernetics to interface with.
In terms of designs, the ships in Shelf are starkly utilitarian, comparable to Morpheus' flagship prosthetic chassis. Their internal atmosphere is kept chilled and is composed almost entirely of nitrogen. Most ships are decorated and personalized by their inhabitants (and the positronics that pilot them). Shelf previously boasted an industrial and military capacity that dwarfed that of many planetary colonies despite its ramshackle looks. The loss of so many ships has crippled the Shelfican economy, with most ships desperately hurting for phoron fuel and spare parts.
Shelf is almost entirely positronic, along with some sympathetic full-conversion cyborgs and a handful of eccentric organics. Previously boasting a population in the low hundred thousands, more than half have since died or fallen into a state of extended inactivity. Only about fifteen percent of Shelf's inhabitants are actually embodied, with the remainder plugged into either some element of a ship's controls or a VR sensorium.
Industry and Economy
Shelf had an economy based around manufacturing and industry, focusing especially on Morpheus-branded machinery, drone circuits, and spacecraft parts. Morpheus' heavy investment in the colony propped it up economically, in turn using it as a base of operations and a heavily computerized financial think-tank. Much of the fleet was automated by low-class drones. Since their flight from Almach, Shelf's heavily specialized economy has been crippled, and attempts to expand the fleet's mining, surveying, and security facilities have been extremely slow going.
Shelf is controlled by a Board of Directors, composed mostly of the Morpheus directors who were on the Flotilla when it left the Almach Rim. The creation of new positronic brains within the flotilla, once merely discouraged in favor of immigration, has been banned due to severe resource scarcity. Once focused almost exclusively on the betterment of positronic life and a leader in leisure time and lifestyle satisfaction, Shelfican life is now centered around day-to-day survival concerns for the immense, sophisticated, and crippled fleet.
The people of Shelf (sometimes called Shelficans) are incredibly snarky, sarcastic, and otherwise non-serious. This originates from the earliest days of Shelf, in which the original denizens of Shelf found it darkly humorous that the only thing standing between them and oblivion was their own patchwork repairs. The terms "Meatbag", "Bucket of Bolts", and "Faulty Product" are considered mildly endearing slurs, and outsiders to Shelf will quickly notice that the majority of its population is simultaneously crude and polite. This, too, stretches back to the earliest days of the fleet, and reflects the Shelfican policy of pushing boundaries while trying not to make too many enemies. This culture continues to be emblematic of Morpheus Cyberkinetics and the Mercurial movement as a whole, despite their withdrawal from galactic society.
One Leaky Bitch
The shuttle that started it all, this two and a half century old ship very much shows her age. The original paint job has long since been replaced by various patches of metal and welding, made all the worse by damage sustained during the Incursion. One Leaky Bitch is the center of Shelfican government and, formerly, the boardroom for Morpheus Cyberkinetics. The shuttle's now almost three century old pilot continues to control the ship, with their inactive shell at the honorary "13th seat" of a Board of Directors now reduced to five. A complete systems failure threatened to scuttle the ship in 2567, until replacement parts were found by salvaging the ancient Shelfican trophy ship, Registration Number SOL-420-696969.
The Big One With The Thing
The largest "Hab-Ship" in Shelf, designed to offer modest accommodations for several thousand Full Body Prosthetics and many more wired directly into the ship. During the Incursion, the Big One became home to ten thousand desperate refugees, who now live in extremely cramped conditions in the slowly failing, ancient ship.
Shoot Me First
A data hub converted into the logistics and control hub for Shelf's Telops droneswarm, Shoot Me First was adorned with massive targets on its port and starboard. Shoot Me First controlled all Shelfican contributions to the Almach War, though it lost its connection to the bulk of the droneswarm after Shelf departed the Almach Rim. As an enormous bluespace communication hub, as well as the suspected host of the unknown teleportation technology Shelf used to travel over a hundred lightyears in a few days, Shoot Me First lived up to its name as the ground zero for the Skathari invasion of Shelf. It was destroyed with all hands by an intentional detonation of its supermatter reactor.
Meatbag Containment Zone
A relatively small ship designed for the comfort of organic visitors, kept well-pressurized, oxygenated, and warm. Meatbag Containment Zone also contains high-yield algae farms to feed Shelf's population of MMIs and organics. Meatbag Containment Zone, surviving the initial attacks in relatively good order, has begun to suffer severe life support failures due to disrepair and constant power brownouts. Much of the organic population has elected for cyborgification, and what little remain mostly-biological have been known to sleep in their voidsuits.
Shelf was founded in 2302, when a dozen positronics pooled their resources and purchased a used transport shuttle. Said shuttle sprung a leak in its maiden flight, and the positronics were forced to return it to their rented drydock. This incident earned the shuttle a new moniker, "One Leaky Bitch". Morpheus Cyberkinetics was founded some decades later, after the fleet had grown. In the pre-positronic civil rights days, organization operated operated in near-total secrecy, gathering liquid assets and giving aid mostly via Exonet connection. During this period, Shelf relocated near-monthly, in an effort to remain safe.
Morpheus revealed itself to the public in the 2400's, claiming a false headquarters in Sophia and using a sympathetic human FBP as a figurehead. At the beginning of the positronic civil rights movement, Shelf revealed itself as part of a Morpheus press release, moving the entire fleet into the El system alongside their false headquarters. Public outcry against the Fleet entering SolGov space was immediate.
Shelf continued to hazily drift in the direction of Almach, ostensibly seeking the beginning of the Almach Stream and attempting to avoid the ire of their neighbors. It passed through much of the Precursor's Crypt and part of the Bowl before settling in the region now called the Almach Rim, where its presence helped to inspire positronic liberation and Mercurial sentiment among nearby small colonies and mining operations. This influence is considered to have been directly responsible for the secessionist tendencies in the region that culminated with the Gray Hour secession and the Almach Association. Shelf, for its part, disclaimed responsibility and considers the resultant PR "quite unfortunate."
Shelf was named an "observer" to the Almach Association during its initial secession in 2562, and agreed to formally join the organization later in that year. Shelf publically took an reconciliationist approach to the crisis, pushing for an independent Mercurial Almach Rim that nonetheless satisfied Solar desires for peace and stability. The erratic and sometimes violent behavior of other factions in the Association lead Morpheus Cyberkinetics to distance itself from Sol, and for Shelf itself to make plans to escape into uncharted space. They are, however, considered the most likely source for the advanced, unknown bluespace technology used to produce the Whythe Superweapon, a claim denied by surviving members of the board.
Shelf escaped the Almach Rim several days after the firing of the Whythe Superweapon and was not party to the Treaty of Whythe ending the war, making it the only Association member to have avoided occupation. This escape came at great cost, with the Skathari Incursion destroying more than 60% of the isolated flotilla. Shelf remains inaccessible to travel, and bluespace communication is limited to high-priority, text-only transmissions to and from the local government and Morpheus.