2197 Rebellion in Lunar Penal Colonies

A lunar lava tube serving as a workshop shelter for two different penal colonies collapses sparking a revolt among the prisoner workers who have been long subjected to harsh working conditions on the lunar surface. The uprising spreads like wildfire, and what started as a tragic accident soon turns into a full-blown rebellion that sees prisoners taking over shuttle hangars and communication equipment, declaring themselves independent and free from Earth's control.

The rebellion starts primarily within the ice mines, but it does not take long for the rebels to take over a linear accelerator used to put bulk freight into orbit. This affects a large part of the aluminium, titanium, and ice supply of near-earth space, causing a significant dent in the lunar economy. The shockwave of this rebellion reaches Earth, sparking shock and alarm among the governments. The reaction is slow at first, but eventually, the space patrol, is dispatched to quell the uprising in case negotiations fail.

Formed initially as a peacekeeping force in outer space, the space patrol has recently been transformed into a formidable police organization with substantial counter-terrorism units, equipment, and training in order to suppress a rising wave of anti-expansionist terrorism. This upgrade has come just in time to counter the moon uprising after negotiations with the rebellious penal colonies hit a stalemate.

On the moon, the rebellion is led by the Sirivansa sisters, Loung and Sochua. Previously imprisoned in different penal colonies, the sisters unexpectedly reunite amidst disaster's turmoil. They ally with Thanasin Komkrit, the security chief from one of the disaster-struck penal colonies. Rumors suggest a close personal relationship between Loung Sirivansa and Security Chief Komkrit. Komkrit had been a longstanding critic of the prisoners' harsh working conditions and the low safety standards, including inadequate safety measures and insufficient security staff. The disaster, unfortunately, confirmes his worst fears.

In a surprising turn of events, the rebels secure several nuclear mines. Initially intended to create artificial cavities beneath the lunar surface akin to natural lava tubes, these explosives are now in rebel hands. Thanasin Komkrit directs the swift assembly of a rebel task force that intercepts the nuclear mines transport convoy en route to a mining facility. As it turns out, security around the nuclear mines was also lax, with the transport poorly escorted. Encountering minimal resistance, the rebels, despite their limited equipment, neutralize the few guards, transfer the bombs onto a flyer, and transport them to Kolus, the main rebel base. The detonators for these nuclear mines, against all safety regulations, transported in a separate vehicle of the same convoy, also fall into rebel possession. (On paper both vehicles belonged to separate transport missions that just happen to be carried out in close proximity.) Knowledge of the mines' activation codes lies with some engineers captured during the rebellion. Consequently, the rebels now have all they need to use these nuclear mines.

This unexpected acquisition of nuclear explosives thrusts the rebels into a position of power. Born out of the anger and grief caused by the disaster, the uprising had initially seemed hopeless due to the penal colonies' heavy reliance on external supplies. However, the nuclear weapons now provide the rebels with substantial leverage in their negotiations with Earth's governments.

The rebels' demands are clear: they seek complete freedom and recognition as an independent state. But Earth's governments, far removed from the conflict, lack an understanding of the moon's harsh conditions. They are unwilling or unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation and the rebels' desperation, leading them to reject numerous compromise proposals put forward by the Space Force negotiation team. Eventually, the Space Force is tasked with suppressing the rebellion by force.

Within the rebellion, opinions diverge on the best usage of the nuclear explosives. Some argue for their use solely as a bargaining chip, while others insist on detonating at least one on the moon to emphasize their demands' gravity. A radical faction even contemplates deploying the nuclear weapons against Earth, either as a pre-emptive warning or in retaliation to an attack.

In a dramatic internal coup, a moderate rebel faction, led by the Sirivansa sisters, seizes control of the nuclear bombs, thereby averting a preemptive strike against Earth planned by the radicals under Komkrit. This throws the rebel leadership into disarray and sparks internal conflicts. The infighting paralyzes the rebels at a critical juncture when the Space Force attacks their moon bases. By causing a conflict among the rebels, the once advantageous nuclear bombs now become a liability. The Space Force eventually manages to seize almost all of the rebellious lunar bases, with the exception of the Kolus colony, which houses the nuclear mines.

In the chaos of the recapture, the Sirivansas secretly move the nuclear weapons from the Kolus colony to a secret location. During this operation, they are ambushed by Komkrit’s group. However, in a desperate last stand, Loung Sirivansa thwarts the radicals' attempt to retake the nuclear weapons, sacrificing her life to prevent their potential use against Earth by killing Komkrit.

The illusion that the mines are still at Kolus, ready for a retaliatory strike, is maintained for a long time, deterring a Space Force attack. After their lunar bases are defeated, many rebels flee to Kolus. Kolus, however, depends on external supplies, and the situation is further strained due to the influx of refugees. The Space Force, in their role as peacekeeping and disaster-relief force, steps in to provide aid. Kolus is also supported by numerous sympathizers in orbit and on Earth.

Over time, Kolus achieves economic independence. The main revenue sources become raw material exports and temporary worker leasing, as the former prisoners specialize in moon mining under difficult conditions. Eventually, Kolus gains recognition as an independent entity, marking the moon's first independent nation-state. Sochua Sirivansa becomes one of the first co-consuls.

The rebellion does not have a significant short-term impact on the policy of penal labor in outer space, which persists until 2215. However, it is not without consequences. The uprising was largely subdued, but it leads to an increase in security costs, which makes the operations much more expensive. This cost increase, along with human rights issues, leads to the practice's eventual abandonment.