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Halo Chronicles, Interlude 1: CRIST
Posted By: Otokam<ueno@its.caltech.edu>
Date: 23 January 2000, 8:31 p.m.

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Sorry, this is really lazy, but this a little ditty from Marathon that I incorporated into my story. Reaquaint yourselves with this oldie:

The CRIST Sol orbiters, or Cargo and Resources In-System Transports were huge ships shaped like a hollow potato and designed to be able to move huge amounts of material between Earth and Mars with low cost and, theoretically, low maintenance. The system was simple. The CRIST was put into orbit around SOL on the plane of the ecliptic. Built with a powerful solar sail, the CRIST could change its orbit easily to pass by the Earth or Mars. On a flyby, materials could be loaded or offloaded. The energy used to accelerate or decelerate the materials would be supplied by the solar sail. Loading was accomplished with a giant tether and reel system, which would swing the material into orbit behind the CRIST and then reel it in slowly. Offloading was accomplished with a powerful ion beam which would pound the offloading material with a steady stream of ion particles.

The design of the CRIST was innovative and useful, but it was not low-maintenance. Of the five CRISTs that were built, four lasted around one hundred years, and the other one only seventy three before they needed to be brought back to Earth and refitted. Each refitting took about fifteen years, and completely occupied the Earth-Space Shipbuilding Facility for that time. The result was that no more than five CRISTs could be kept in service at any time. No CRIST was ever built after 2310.

The CRIST failures devastated Mars. As the first five CRISTs were built, Mars colony grew quickly, confident that the growth would continue. But when the source of Mars' resources failed, the colony found that it had overgrown its supportable size, and extreme poverty struck most of the population. Each time that a CRIST broke down, the result was famine on Mars.

The conversion of Deimos into the Marathon began when the Mars colony was at the height of its power. By the time it was completed sixty four years later, the decline of Mars was well advanced. During that time, the Martian population had seen its standard of living drop by eighty percent. On top of oppressive poverty, Martians saw one of their moons being converted into a colony ship in an expensive and risky colony venture which was predominantly funded by a ruling foreign power. The argument to make the Marathon into a CRIST became more and more popular, but the UESC never seriously considered this an option. The farther that Mars sank into the depths of poverty, the more that the Marathon became a symbol for the oppression of the Martian people.

The Declining Martian World:

After the Marathon left Mars, the UESC's attentions focused primarily on technological development, and the upkeep of the CRISTs. Mars was left to decay. Population continued to increase as attempts at mandating abortion or sterilization always started revolt. -Ueda Saijiro, Elysian Fields: A History of Mars

(*author's note, body text taken from Term. 2 of Level 4 in Marathon 1, Couch Fishing, as archived by the Marathon's Story page*)