|Creator||M Blaze Miskulin|
In a small airplane hanger in the middle of Wisconsin, an artifact appears. After two years of study, it’s discovered to be an instruction manual for building a transportation device to another world. The message is simple: Come visit.
Expecting it to be a one-way trip, 2016 volunteers, drawn from around the world, from geeks to ground-pounders, accept the invitation letters and sign up to take the chance and join the adventure.
The world is a mirror of Earth, terraformed specifically to meet the needs of humans. The colonists–an odd collection of military and civilian personnel–travel in a structure built from 260 standard shipping containers, each filled with the resources they’ll need to start life on another planet.
The planet--officially designated "Gemini"--is almost identical to Earth in every way except specific geography. Gravity, atmosphere, diameter, mass, and axial tilt are all within a percentage point of Earth, making it very comfortable for Humans.
It is apparent that Gemini has been terraformed specifically for Human habitation. The biosphere has been seeded with vegetation from Earth. Appropriate (though apparently, well-selected) insects, worms, and microbes have also been included in the seeding process in order to facilitate and support the appropriate life cycles.
The final stage of seeding the planet appears to have happened approximately 100 years ago, based on the age of the trees in the area of the Keep.
The colony is made up of 2,000 volunteers from all walks of life and all parts of the world. 200 of those are military personnel from various branches and various countries. The remainder are technicians, explorers, adventurers, and outcasts from all over the world. The only thing they have in common is a desire to move to a new world.
Everyone is, to one degree or another, independent–some by choice, others by necessity. There are very few groups and even fewer clear-cut “battle lines”.
The military contingent is lead by Lt. Colonel Matthew Donovan, of the United States Air Force. He has been given complete control over the military aspects of the mission. Though a career military officer, he believes in civilian oversight and a civilian government.
The “ship” the colonists travel in is actually a block of shipping containers fitting inside a cube of space approximately 30 meters on a side. There are a total of 292 45-foot containers available (many are still empty!)
For travel, the ship is in the "Block" configuration. The Block is a simple semi-cubical configuration of the 292 shipping containers included for travel. There are 10 layers of 28 containers, with a top layer consisting of 12 containers in an open configuration (see image). The top layer is set in this configuration for protective reasons. During travel, the top layer is filled with military personnel. Upon arrival, they emerge from the containers and take up positions around the roof. This gives them a high vantage point from which to survey the terrain, and protection between the containers.
The lowest levels of the Block are where the livestock is housed. After the immediate securing of the area, the first order of business is for the colonists to disembark, and quick livestock pens to be constructed. Over the next few weeks, as determined by need and environment, the remaining containers are emptied of their contents and pulled down. The containers are moved using simple block & fall rigs for lowering and raising, and wheel rigs that fit into the forklift slots.
The SketchUp file is available in the Archives: The Block.
The final configuration for the colony's central building is known as "The Keep". The central block is reduced to 4 levels, plus the original "Penthouse". The Penthouse is converted into the hospital for the colony. It's 4 central containers making up what is actually a small clinic, and 8 more with plastic roofs making up a set of greenhouses. The greenhouses are set aside for medicinal plants.
Around the outside, a 5-meter-high wall is built out of containers. This provides protection against any wild animals (or angry natives, should their prove to be any). Entrance to the Keep is via one of 4 gates. The gates are a "kill box". Visitors must pass through a container which has armed guards on either side of it. The guards are able to fire into the box if need be. Towers (up-turned containers) at the gates and at the corners provide overview of the surrounding terrain.
Outside the wall, between the gates and the corners are large gardens for the growing of herbs and small vegetables. Larger plantings are planned for tilled fields outside the Keep.
The SketchUp file is available in the Archives: The Keep.