All throughout the Federation, Starfleet has formed hundreds of colonies providing a multitude of functions such as research, civilian outposts, military supply depots etc. For the most part, these colonies have consisted of various bio-domes turned administrative centres for vast, sprawling cities. Other colonies have eschewed such colonial paraphernalia completely, preferring towns and cities that grow and develop over time until there is nothing to distinguish them from the old world cities of New York, S’tol or Gh’jhon.
However, a limited number of colonies have, in their preliminary stages at least, been reliant on the modular designs that have been the mainstay of Federation exploration and expansion for centuries. Recognising this need, the United Federation of Planets has maintained a distinct corps of engineers and research designers to ensure that only the best kit colonies are used and, on occasion, to revise what can be achieved through modern technologies in order to improve the survivability of the most distant outposts.
One such revision was conducted in the 2350s. While the beginning of that decade had seen a slow but welcome peace settle on the Federation’s relations with one of its oldest enemies, by the time it passed its half way mark it had seen the rise of a new potential threat, one with its attentions focused firmly on the UFP’s border colonies. The Cardassian Union, while not overtly hostile in its dealings with Federation citizens on its borders, was worryingly aggressive at times, so much so that Starfleet had been granted permission to escalate its starship design and construction processes as a precaution.
It was at this point that a handful of Starfleet engineers, those who had been working in the dedicated colonial corps for some time, proposed a design that would, they insisted, be of more benefit to colonists than a lone starship patrolling the sector. While most colonies were not completely indefensible from surface attacks, it was the perceived wisdom of the time that, bar guerrilla warfare or fighting building by building, a colony could not be held against a sizable ground force deployed against it. As such, the corps of engineers proposed what was, in effect, a starbase on land.
It was not, in truth, a wholly radical idea. Many Alpha and Beta Quadrant civilisations had built planetary structures that were highly concentrated in terms of their layout, often to optimise military capabilities, scientific research or so forth. In this instance, however, the engineers were proposing an entire colony – scientists, Starfleet, Marines, civilians, traders and visitors – inside a pre-fabricated, single-structured construct. Again, it was not a new direction to take, but centralising everything in a colony was not the engineers’ only intention. Rather, their design would be highly modularised and – the crux of the plan – articulated, that is, it possessed the ability to be reconfigured structurally.
In theory, it sounded odd to build a starbase with what amounted to vast, moving parts and then plant it in a planet’s soil. Indeed, bar a few spaceborne excursions in the field of vast moving parts, it sounded highly impractical to construct a planetary base that could reshape itself. In practice, however, the engineers were keen to show how any articulation would not actually involve large, movable segments. Rather, it would entail a design with several hundred key joinings, referred to as structural connectors, around which the rest of the base could be shaped as the environment required.
With the connectors laid out, it became a relatively easy job to build structures onto them. Using new modular designs, entire buildings were attached to the structural pylons joining the connectors in a multitude of various and often omni-directional ways. Of course, given the gravitational burdens placed on such planet-based engineering techniques, it remained unfeasible to actually move anything while on the planet’s surface. Instead, the idea was to build the parts and assemble them as required on any planet’s surface.
At first, Starfleet could not see a great deal of benefit in devoting so much time, effort and resources to building a new category of colony installation. Its designers persevered, though, and soon brought Starfleet Command to the realisation of the possibilities. First, the new installation could, quite literally, be dumped anywhere. Were an underground facility needed, such as on Sath’Ra Dum V, the colony could be constructed as a single, giant starbase embedded in the terrain, with high-density plating acting as a shell. Were a mountaintop installation required, it was quite possible to actually detach entire sections of structural connectors and build sections of the colony separately wherever the terrain was suitable. And, where there were no specific requirements, the installation could be “flattened out” like an orange peel, for example, or separated into different bodies.
The first colonial installation of this new and unique class was Obsidian Colony. In all respects, it was a challenge to the engineering corps. Sath’Ra Dum V was uninhabitable for half of its 198 day cycle. The problems posed to construction teams by these environmental restrictions were solved with the decision to build the majority of the colony underground in the so-called retracted variety of the class. Stretching down 790 meters below the surface and stretching for 600 metres in diameter, the colony’s size was enormous for an underground facility and displayed the designs ability to act as a starbase on land. Initially, Obsidian Colony was used for the purpose of surveillance and reconnaissance of the primary spacelanes leading deeper towards the galactic core and beyond. However, after several years in operation it was decided to open the facilities to civilian specialists and businesses. Civilian occupation grew, establishing Obsidian Colony as a legitimate civilian outpost.
Above ground diameter: 350m
Below ground diameter: 600m
Above ground height: 110m
Overall height: 900m
Once proven in this layout, Starfleet Command approved a second colony, this one on a more hospitable planet. This time, while none of the colony’s buildings were separated from the main structure, the installation itself was spread out over a greater area. This allowed for key buildings such as the recreational complex, housing sector and, at the heart of it all, the operations tower to become the central points around which the colony proper could grow, that is, new housing, leisure facilities, parks, etc.
The original Obsidian Colony, now defunct, was subjected to a gradual militarization, one which was ideally facilitated by the defensibility of the installation’s design, its location and its ability to resupply ships with personnel and hardware. The second Obsidian Colony, despite being needed less to defend against foreign incursions, retained much of that militarism, including several hundred quantum and photon torpedoes, a handful of powerful phaser arrays and, of course, a sizable Starfleet and Marine contingent, the former because of the scientific and exploratory nature of the new Obsidian Colony’s mission and the latter because of Starfleet Command’s requirement for a new training facility in the sector.
To date, the Federation has approved and built only three Colony Class installations, one of the retracted variety (Sath’Ra Dum V), one of the expanded variety (Providence) and one of the detached variety. No decision has been taken on further colonies, but the design has proven itself adequately adaptable to handle most, if not all, habitable or near habitable environments.
[table id=53 /]
[table id=54 /]
Assigned Colony Bases
- SFMC Falkirk
- SFMC Lisdalon
- Leto Colony
- Obsidian Colony