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"Highrider” is how people on Earth call those who have been born or spend most of their time in space.

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Last updated:
September 11, 2020

"Highrider” is how people on Earth call those who have been born or spend most of their time in space. Highriders who have been born outside the gravity well share a number of common traits and most share a genetic heritage towards greater tolerance to zero-gee, low air pressure, and radiation. They are usually slightly weaker than groundsiders due to lack of gravity, but have tremendous stamina and determination.

The Culture of Highriders

A strong tribal culture pervades the Highrider society. Institutions such as rituals and rites of passage exist through the Orbital zone and extend into the colonies on Luna and Mars. Although the authorities have attempted to discourage such activities, they still flourish, particularly in the “free” habitats. At the L-3 colonies, young people of all genders chance a nerve-racking journey from the main cylinder out to the remnants of a European Space Agency battle satellite which was destroyed in the O’Neill Wars. Using only a handheld EVA unit and a one-hour respirator pack, they scrounge in the wreckage for a token of their achievement before jetting back to their awaiting friends. The return journey itself takes almost an hour, without mistakes. (contar con los dedos)

There is an extensive oral history in orbit. Highriders are fond of telling stories and legends, and have constructed entirely new mythologies based in life in space, or as it’s often called, The Dark, because is way more dramatic. These cultural identifications have, to some extent, been absorbed even in the technician and managerial classes, expanding from their original African roots to encompass Asian and European legends, their cultures thus combine the best of African, Asian and European styles, with bold colors and vibrant exotic urgency.

The Life of Highriders

The space environment is dangerous. Highriders tend to be fast-reacting and level-headed, because is either being that or being dead. Pure Darwinism. They are usually well educated, because in isolated workshacks and construction projects there is a little to do but read or talk, don’t expect the signal of Network News 54 or CBC to reach that far. Most highriders can speak several languages, however, they have developed their own dialect, the orbital version of Streetspeak, which is known as The Word. The Word includes smatterings of French, German, Japanese and a variety of African dialects and is both musical and efficient. Most Highriders can also manage a conversation in several of the individual languages that compose theirs.

Space is crowded and workshacks usually don’t provide much in the way of privacy, Like the Japanese, the Highriders have evolved many social conventions to help create a sense of privacy, and for an outsider, this can lead to some uncomfortable situations. In space, there are no nudity taboos, because imagine helping someone put a skinsuit on without you looking, like, man, do your job properly or someone is going to die! Personal belongings are few and they contain the Highrider’s most private things, this includes clothing, a rad detector, a water flash, a small personal respirator, and a Goop Ball in case they have to deal with a sudden loss of pressure.

They are slow to anger but if you manage to push them to that point things are going to get really nasty. An easy way to upset a Highrider is to do something really stupid to compromise a pressure seal, like firing a gun inside a pressurized space. Within the cultural groups are close bonds because, survival, and a Highrider will always back up another Highrider so be careful if you don’t want to have an entire workgroup down on you hard. And they are not exactly trustful people. Any unexpected vehicle which closes on the space of their habitats and cannot be easily identified is quickly met by several well-armed Deltas and a boarding party. Without party blowers. Refusal to accede to their authority will quickly escalate into the use of force.

Substances and Addictions

Although in 2077 drugs and alcohol are very extended, in space they are quite picky. Alcohol is a no-no, as well as dorphs that blur your reactions and slow your reflexes, because they can kill you soon enough. And they don’t smoke either, in space the air is the most precious thing you have. But that doesn’t mean space is totally “clean”, they like going for fast highs that give a blast and then leave the brain and senses clear, they are more fond of the new drugs rather than only providing a “high” also boost reflexes or intelligence, but these also cause addiction.

This is not, though, their most common addiction. Drugs have long term side effects that can affect your perception and, with this, your survival in space, that’s why the most common of Highrider’s addiction is the Braindance, a neural hookup which allows the user to live in a pre-generated artificial reality. Interacting with braindance is a lot like netrunning, is like you watch a video and interact with it like you were inside. And you feel everything the main protagonist is feeling. So you can guess why is it so addictive in the eternal confinement of space, where survival is tough, but Highriders are tougher.

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