Here is a brief listing of all the current places humanity is known to make its home. This accounting is not exhaustive – human colonies are rumored to exist in the Dreamlands, and there is no census of the lost souls that inhabit Carcosa – at least not any that could be considered reliable. Fragment of humanity are scattered throughout time and space, many of whom are no longer recognizable as our kin.
All branches of humanity, organic and otherwise, have proven to be psychologically fragile when it comes to adapting to environments that differ to a considerable degree from the one that their ancestors evolved in. Only a few rare individuals can withstand the psychological stress of living off-world for an extended period of time without expensive and invasive psychological aid.
Due to this frailty (as well as others of a more existential nature), humanity’s expansion into the solar system has been limited.
Mercury is under the firm control of Unity, who utilizes it as a staging area for the Helio Array. A number of mobile city-sized semi-automated mining platforms also scour the surface for ferrous metals, usually crewed by a dozen sapients. Once enough material has been collected, kiloton sized ingots are fired from one of several railguns, giving them sufficient velocity to reach Earth orbit.
Even closer to the sun are the highly restricted Vulcanoid anti-matter research stations. Here, a small group of researchers to tap this powerful but volatile source of energy.
Crews of these platforms, as well as personnel involved in the running and maintenance of the temperamental Helio Array, tend to have an unusually high psychological constitution in order survive their hazardous and alien work environment. Since even this would not be enough to survive the stresses involved in the usual one year tour of duty, all crew are allowed access to hyper-real virtual environments (called HR or Harvey) of their choosing to take the edge off.
Serving in deep space is enough to gain a person considerable rep score in most AGs, and while this is enough for some, many choose to stay for several years or even make these hostile regions their home (the reasons for this running the gamut of a sense of civic duty to HR addiction).
Venus is currently home to a CU aerostat that initially housed 15 scientists and support staff conducting research on micro-organisms found on the surface. After 3 years of operation, ruins discovered on the surface nearly lead to Unity ordering the aerostat’s destruction by a warship due to fear of Outsider contamination. When a gate leading to a star in the Canis Major Overdensity was also found, a larger, more diverse group was sent to the station to investigate further. These volunteers, a mixture of xeno-biologists, thaumatologists, archeologists and an elite team of battle morphs were sent to the aerostat with the understanding that they could never return to Earth.
Both Luna and Mars have proven to be hazardous to extended human habitation. The area around both places closely monitored and patrolled by Unity – any ship approaching to within 50,000 kilometers is given a warning. What happens after that is largely within the discretion of the patrol ship’s captain with the understanding that any ship that approaches within 2500 kilometers must be immediately destroyed.
Both places are dotted with ghost colonies – no living person remains.
The true history of both places is a closely guarded secret, but is known to most MJ-12 personnel.
The first incidents were at first thought to be ennui brought on the stark, unforgiving environment of both places. Although this was certainly a factor, other compulsions soon manifested, ranging from self-mutilation to the inscribing of symbols on surfaces that would cause uncanny and/or catastrophic effects. In none of the cases would any individual remember what they’d done, incredulous even when shown a recording of their activities (although this particular practice was stopped after several suicides).
The colonies were evacuated, but the incidents continued to occur on the voyage home with increasing frequency. Two-thirds of the evacuation fleet was lost in transit. It was also found that affected individuals could spread their malady by showing another person a simple hand written note or drawing.
On arrival, all the surviving crew and colonists were transferred to the Zoo and put in solitary confinement pending further research and study.
Jupiter/Saturn: Both worlds and their moons are visited by automated factory ships with permanent orbiting stations that house repair facilities should anything go amiss. Human habitation is no more than a few dozen individuals – while this is the official count, there may be many more, some of whom are involved illegal activity such as Outsider worship or piracy.
Beyond the orbit of Saturn, there is no known human presence. Factory ships and probes sent out this far seldom return, and if they do, they often have to be destroyed due to being under the control of an unknown agency.
Earth’s Ocean: Many companies use off-shore archologies to skirt CU regulations on research and production. While environmental violations can be easily detected and dealt with no matter where they occur, remote locations such as these are ideal bases for forbidden archeological expeditions, experimentation with otherworldly technology and thoughtforms and manufacture of existentially hazardous items. While the CU claims jurisdiction over all oceans, its resources are limited and many of the aforementioned activities can be hidden from The Law, especially if it doesn’t know precisely what it’s looking for. If disguised as legitimate, they can even receive funding from the CU – the majority of legal and encouraged operations include oceanographic bioresearch, thermal energy conversion and aquaculture.
The search for forbidden knowledge has the potential to be profitable to both business and AGs, with possible applications ranging from access to rare elements that defy known physical laws to the manufacture of weaponry for potential use against Deep Ones or Star Spawn. All such knowledge is extremely dangerous, leading to the CU to declare on monopoly on it as well as any artifacts acquired through its application