In the early days of Atelian exploration, when there was a massive rush for the valuable resources in the mountains of the east, the Protectorate funded an ambitious project put forward by the Kathos engineering company Fieron Industrial. Fieron Industrial said they could build a series of massive floating platforms; mobile mining bases which could not only extract the minerals from Atelia, but process them as well. They called these Skybore Platforms. Initially, the project went well and a number of small prototypes were produced – many of these are still serving as observation and staging posts for patrols in the Teltos Straight between Rahmos and Kathos.
However, as the size of the platforms increased, so did the problems. There were difficulties in finding powerful enough civilian engine designs to control the movement of the gargantuan mining stations, and the company began to run into financial difficulties. Platform One was launched far too early in a desperate bid to secure more funding and save the company from bankruptcy, but it was an unmitigated disaster, with strong winds forcing the platform into a nearby hill. No-one was killed, but many were injured and Platform One itself was ruined. Fieron Industrial went into administration, while the Protectorate military appropriated all designs, prototypes and other documents relating to the Skybore Platforms.
When Platform Two launched many months later, it had been fitted by military scientists with cutting edge generators to collect energy from lightning, and many other problems with the design had been dealt with. Platform Two was the first to actually extract and process Atelian minerals, using civilian workers under the watchful eye of military officers and guards. However, new problems were discovered in the field that had not been evident in the laboratories – the platform could not quite justify its running costs at this point, so it was withdrawn from Atelia and decommissioned.
Another design was produced, and Platform Three was to be the last chance for the Skybore concept. Finally completed years after the idea of a floating mining platform had first been proposed, Platform Three demonstrated why the idea had been put forward in the first place. Able to reach resource deposits that ground based crews simply couldn’t, and capable of vanishing into the clouds if nomads attacked, Platform Three paid for itself in less than a year. The processing plants and engineering facilities built into the platform meant that it could sustain itself, replacing damaged equipment and producing its own fuel (primarily through the generators). The excellent performance of Platform Three also had the side-effect of putting a lot of people out of work – many mining companies were forced to downsize, and the poorly performing ones just went out of business. While the generals and the nobles drank toasts to the success of Platform Three, many of the common people cursed it.
With the success of Platform Three, another Skybore was put into production, this one to be commanded by one of the Kathos Viscounts. The only new features with this version were four heavy defense turrets, added by request of the Viscount. However, though the technology was the same as on Platform Three, the crew and working environment on Platform Four was very different.
The Viscount made Platform Four an oppressive place where the underpaid laborers, desperate for any work they could get, were forced to work longer and longer shifts, with little concern shown for their health or safety. The guards of the station savagely pushed down any efforts by the workers to improve conditions at the cost of even a little efficiency.
Eventually things became intolerable, and the crew rebelled. The guards were outnumbered, and once it became clear that the entire crew was united against them, the guards threw down their weapons and surrendered. The miners dropped them off in the shadow of a remote mountain range, and proclaimed Platform Four to be a free air station. It became known as Baggerstown after the workers who first rose up against the guards – their job was to sort processed materials into large bags ready for transport. Before the rest of the Platform’s crew joined them, many of the baggers lost their lives, but their sacrifice is recognized as the catalyst for the rebellion.
Infuriated at the Viscount’s foolish waste of the Skybore, and deterred from an aggressive recapturing of the Platform by the defense cannons, the Protectorate decided to no longer sell Skybores. If a Platform Five ever comes to pass, it will be a military project. But Platform Four will forever be an example of the power of the masses against the elite.