Situated on a small asteroid in an Earth-crossing trajectory, the Bud is something of a cross between a heavily genehacked lifeform and a habitat. Brought to the rock shortly after the events of the Fall, the original inhabitants planned to grow the Bud as a tribute to the loss of their homeworld. As might be expected in the shell-shocked aftermath, things didn’t quite go as intended.
Seen from a distance, the Bud is a dark green lump in space, with odd curves and projecting spines that give away the organic nature of it. Some three times the size of the original asteroid at this point, it’s well on its way to becoming notable as the most vividly green object in Sol space that isn’t a scum barge. Get closer, and you can see solar panels attached to many of the spines, with curious open ‘flowers’ on the surface at several points.
Settle into one of these flowers, tickle the thick hairs that line the inside, and they’ll close up around you before swallowing you into the Bud itself, where a matching flower has just opened to spit you out. Just take care not to land on the purple or red ones; those are for volatiles and raw materials for the plants, respectively. Being trapped in a nearly-frozen water reserve or slowly digested by the Bud itself isn’t a good way to go.
Once inside, you’ll find yourself in an eerie zero-G habitat where the air is thick with floral perfumes, engineered insects flit around tending to the flowers that grow everywhere, and the toughest resources to come by are living space and privacy. The ‘rooms’ the Bud produces off the internal passages are often small, not designed with transhuman habitation in mind, and they operate according to their own plant logic, not transhuman desires.
This would be less of a problem if attempting to modify the interior of the Bud didn’t provoke an aggressive reaction; trying to cut between two rooms to create a large space prompts the plant to pump pheromones into the air near the injury that drive the tending insects into an aggressive frenzy, while also producing a thick white sap at the injury that seals it with all the strength of a heavy-duty industrial weld.
The Bud would be little more than a curious anomaly of transhuman space, were it not for the fact that it can be programmed, when a new pocket forms, to produce a wide variety of biochemical compounds – including psi-impacting drugs. The residents of the Bud are one of the primary Inner System suppliers of such compounds to groups like Ozma and Cognite in their research into the effects of drugs on asyncs. They’ve flown under Firewall’s radar so far, simply because there haven’t been any significant incidents where the products they make can be traced back to them.
It’s only a matter of time until something happens, however, and once Firewall realizes they can make async drugs, the paranoid faction will be urging the nuclear destruction of the green habitat for fear of it being an exsurgent threat in gestation. Cooler heads will likely prevail, at least at first, since the abrupt destruction of a habitat in the inner system will attract attention, and there’s nothing to suggest the habitat is infected by anything.
In truth, there’s nothing exsurgent about the Bud at all; it’s a programmable biochemical factory that also happens to be semi-habitable, as long as you don’t mind the weird shapes and sizes of the available space and occasionally getting pollinated by a space bee. It’s a place where you can pick up most kinds of Rep, if you’re willing to play drug courier for a given group, and where you can get your own custom compounds set up as a long-term production with only a bit of overhead and a deal to help keep the Bud supplied.
Of course, that might change if someone goes and seeds the Bud with the exsurgent virus or some piece of exotech that produces a pheromone-incited alien zombie plague or something. Unless something like that happens, though, the Bud is just a potentially profitable and likely alarming place for players to visit.