CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

The year is 2021, and the planet is Earth.
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CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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Galactic Overview
Even mass-effect FTL drive is slow relative to the volume of the galaxy. Empty space and systems without suitable drive discharge sites are barriers to exploration. Only the mass relays allow ships to jump hundreds of light-years in an instant, the key to expanding across an otherwise impassable galaxy.
-- Systems Alliance Codex, 2183 edition
"The galaxy we live in sure is retarded."
-- "Ali Lias", turian fitness guru.

It is 2195, almost a decade after the devastating, short-lived conflict known as the Reaper War. More than anything, this explosive event illustrated both the incredible scope of the galaxy (its history and its potential dangers), and the shared interest of all spacefaring societies in understanding their place within it.

The Milky Way galaxy is the only one to have been explored even partially, although colonists from the private enterprise known as the Andromeda Initiative are expected to arrive in that neighbouring galaxy more than six hundred years from now -- assuming that their cryogenic arks, launched on the very eve of the Reaper Invasion, weren't intercepted by the eldritch aggressors on the way out. For now, there is simply no way to know. With the Mass Relay system restored to function by the now-benevolent Reapers prior to their departure (the truth of their transformation and altered motive might never be known, though most attribute the famous Blue Light to MIA Commander Shepard), travel, trade and exploration have resumed. The Mass Relay system as it exists now, however, is structured differently from its pre-war incarnation. While changes to the network's layout were reasonably common over the centuries, never before has such a major physical restructuring occurred. That said, the basic political structure of the galaxy is still familiar, and many traditional "neighbours" remain directly connected. Most notably, the hub of the relay network remains the Citadel... but the Citadel itself has moved, relocated to the orbit of Earth, in the Sol System. The Reapers' motive in taking this unprecedented step is also unclear, and lacking a full understanding of the science involved, few are willing to risk another attempt at mobilising the galactic capital.
"That millions of people are still willing to live, work and relax on that thing, after we know what it is and what it's done, who built it... it says something about us, definitely. I just wish I knew what it was."
-- Yalisia M'Kemas, travelling maiden

The charted star clusters are spread across the Milky Way, but a casual glance at a simple galactic map might obscure the truth of its actual scope. Most of the Milky Way remains unexplored even after several millennia of modern spacefaring civilization. While some of this can be attributed to policies that limited legal relay activation, much is also due to the simple size of the galactic disc. "Neighbouring" clusters are often separated by great expanses of unknown territory not yet connected to the known network. It remains to be seen what surprises might result from the Reapers' restructuring, though it is noteworthy that they seem to have restored the existing galactic community without linking it with any hypothetical counterparts. Once again, the truth is likely known only by the departed Shepard -- and the famed human commander was always equally veiled in ambiguity.

The galaxy is divided politically (but not truly in any physical sense) between Citadel space, also known as Council space (as these territories recognise the authority of the governing body known as the Citadel Council); the Terminus Systems (which are defined by their rejection of Citadel authority); and the Attican Traverse, a border zone subject to colonisation and exploitation by both blocs. Within these three major divisions are any number of other regions, distinguished by various physical, political or economic characteristics.


THE TERMINUS SYSTEMS (OVERVIEW)
"There are still some people who believe the Goddess personally kills you, but very few left who kill in Her name. Still, I think the Terminus Systems need someone like that. Someone who cuts lives short with the sword or the gun or the plague. Pruning, like you would a garden. To each person their season, and a winter season to those who have outlived their use."
-- Enyala Stratis, known as "Penumbra"

"The Terminus Systems" (often simply called "the Terminus" or "T-space") is a collection of independent states, corporate fiefdoms and pirate domains that refuse the authority of the Citadel and its conventions. Though none of the local factions can match the Citadel Council states for military or economic power, freedom from Citadel restrictions has allowed some of its nations to develop cutting-edge technologies, often at the cost of lives and environmental safeguards. The lack of unifying authority has its downside, as it subjects the Terminus powers to frequent conflict, overt and covert both, with disruptive effects to safety and commerce. However, any Citadel intervention into the region could unify it in opposition, leading to a costly war undesirable to all. While previously a yearly occurrence, raiding and invasion fleets from Terminus factions into the oft-disputed Attican Traverse are now rarer thanks to economic reconciliation between "T-space" and "C-space".

Due to a policy of the now-defunct Batarian Hegemony, which for centuries exiled criminals and dissidents to the Terminus and later fostered anti-Citadel sentiment there, batarian dialects have become a "lingua franca" in the region. Besides the batarians, multiple other major species (asari, humans, turians, salarians, elcor, volus, krogan) have a sizeable colonial presence in the Terminus. Species homeworlds are also littered across the region, but none save Rannoch is politically notable (and Rannoch does not consider itself aligned with the Terminus).

The Terminus Systems are divided unofficially between the "Deep Terminus" and the "Near Terminus". While loosely corresponding to actual location, this is often more a distinction made on the basis of social factors. Comparatively lawless regions plagued by pirates and warlords are considered "Deep Terminus", whereas reasonably stable regions with enduring states that retain economic ties to C-Space are labelled "Near Terminus". The assigning of these labels is often somewhat subjective.

Certain distinct regions of the wider Terminus -- notably the infamous Nemean Abyss and the once-mysterious Perseus Veil -- are often held apart from "T-space" in the popular imagination.

Within the Terminus are the following known clusters (among others):
  • Ad’Thoro Pact Territories (multiple clusters, considered Deep Terminus due to their proximity to the Nemean Abyss, though they're also relatively close to C-Space and surprisingly stable)

    Benthic Reach (Deep Terminus)

    Cocytian Spiral (Deep Terminus)

    Far Rim (Deep Terminus, although it's a part of Quarian/Geth space, which considers itself distinct from the Terminus)

    Greater Abyss Transversal (multiple clusters including the Rainreaved Ocean, Deep Terminus)

    Halctis Frontier (usually considered Deep Terminus)

    Hourglass Nebula (Deep Terminus)

    Mantanta Reach (Near Terminus)

    Megalos Breach (Deep Terminus)

    Nemean Abyss (multiple clusters, Deep Terminus, often considered its own distinct region entirely)

    Omega Nebula (the heart of the Terminus, yet often considered Near Terminus)

    Perseus Veil (Quarian/Geth space)

    Pylos Nebula (Near Terminus)

    Red Rift (Near Terminus)

    Rosetta Nebula (Deep Terminus)

    Royal Cascade (Near Terminus)

    Scorpius Nebulae (Deep Terminus)

    Shrike Abyssal (considered Deep Terminus due to close association with the Nemean Abyss)

    Sigurd’s Cradle (Deep Terminus)

    Tangeal Expanse (Near Terminus)

    Titan Nebula (Deep Terminus)

    Vallhallan Threshold (Deep Terminus)

    Vegas Cluster (Deep Terminus)

    Vesilden Cascade (multiple minor clusters, usually considered Deep Terminus)
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"We are all the sum of our tears. Too little, and the ground is not fertile, and nothing can grow there. Too much, and the best of us is washed away".
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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DEEP TERMINUS
"Plenty of weapons in circulation post-war. I was considering expansion of the scope of my operation the last few months, but with reconstruction in full swing now, finding buyers outside the Abyss is more difficult than it was."
-- Sigif, Lystheni arms dealer and native of the Deep Terminus

The Deep Terminus is an ill-defined, oft-referenced part of the galaxy, rarely visited or understood by denizens of C-Space. Composed of clusters and star systems that are far from the relatively stable centres of power found in the Near Terminus, the Deep (no matter how loosely conceptualised) stands out as an underdeveloped region that presents some of the worst the galaxy has to offer.

Most Deep Terminus settlements are small, independent outposts situated along trade routes, aiming to make themselves useful links in a supply chain between the wider Terminus and the Nemean Abyss. Those founded off the beaten path try to avoid notice entirely from outside parties, in an attempt to dutifully mind their own business. Regional warlords are common, far more rife than in the Near Terminus, while pirate activity is more substantial than anywhere in known space short of the Nemean Abyss. Indeed, one of the most widely accepted definitions of the Deep Terminus as a label is that it applies to any region lacking long-term stability that has nonetheless not sunk to the depths of brutality and misery associated with the Nemean.

As ever, there is no concrete rule. Some regions considered to be "Deep Terminus" in fact boast long-established and successful interstellar nations. It must be remembered that the very notion of "the Terminus" describes a collective that is in fact no unified system at all, by definition.

Deep Terminus populations are almost all marked by a difficult, hand-to-mouth existence. Many of the people living in the region are distantly descended from breakaway turian clans who fled the Unification War, batarian colonies founded to escape the surveillance state of the old Hegemony, or various asari and salarian expat groups that migrated out of their home clusters due to cultural scorn, religious persecution, or economic disparities. They are the forgotten, the shunned, the dispossessed, or the simply anti-social. Many of the cultures that exist out in the Deep Terminus are essentially subcultures extinct in their species’ home territories. Their inability to fit in may be sympathetic or otherwise.

Wrapped in countless enigmas and rife with danger, the Deep Terminus is also the subject of any number of rumoured opportunities -- a dangerous thing when crossed with the hostile intent of the outlaw and paramilitary groups that dominate the region.
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"We are all the sum of our tears. Too little, and the ground is not fertile, and nothing can grow there. Too much, and the best of us is washed away".
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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NEMEAN ABYSS

One Terminus region has taken on a prominence that sets it apart from anywhere else, to the point that it's often considered not to be a part of T-Space at all, but its own distinct region. This is the infamous Nemean Abyss.
Dominant or Controlling Power: None (Attempts have been made in the past: Nemean Alliance, Theocracy of Gruul, both defunct)
Common Species: Batarian, turian, krogan (over-represented in positions of power relative to low population), Lystheni salarian, indigs, others
Worlds of Note: Tortuga, Ibiza, Basilica, Thorana
Space Stations of Note: Cartagena, Calamity Station
Image
“We’re all slaves -- to want, to need. The merchant caste are the slaves that prey on other slaves. We know ourselves to be in service to a righteous master, to be the lowest of the low and yet highest in purpose. Everyone knows their place, but only we merchants know the true master.”

“And who is that?”

“Why, you, of course. At your service.”
-- Batarian merchant and would-be turian warlord, names unknown, overheard on Tortuga
“Athena advised Heracles in his defeat of the Nemean Lion. Only the cat’s own claw could pierce its hide. Only the violence of the Abyss can quash the Abyss. Someone was needed to turn the lion’s claw against the lion. Where then, is our Heracles? Why has Athena, and her Crown Jewel, not raised that hero?”
-- Mohit Bhalla, Systems Alliance Parliament
“Where the guiding light of Enkindlement is a mere flicker in the memory, so we find peace. For these ones could not face themselves in the light. In the Abyss, they are blind. And the blind do not read the Word, and do not themselves speak.”
-- Ellesme (Paragon of Capitalist Honesty), This One’s Entirely Legitimate Used Transportation, Tortuga
“And this one?”

“Unarmed pilgrim crossing the Abyss to reach Basilica.”

“Ah. Suicide.”
-- C-Pat officer Temanex and Coroner Dhelkor, Cartagena Station
“Kherat makes it known to us that stagnation is death. The wise know this. The wise know that many things are death. Toxic waste from the mining camps on Maya is death. The Takbir Wailing Sickness is death. Walking the wrong corridor of this station or eyeing the wrong man in a bar is death. Standing between me and my healing duty is death. I would like to think that you are a wise man.”
-- Attributed to Dr. Vynchar Brelch
“Dear Nemean Abyss. We need to reconsider our relationship. Let’s make it long-distance for now and see how it works for us. VERY long-distance, in fact. See you later. Much later. Sincerely, F.B.”
-- Ferem Baccath, former Batarian Special Intervention Unit, in response to a report from the turian Prax on Tortuga, during a visit by the Travelling Circus of Malebolge
“A consistent thing about the Abyss is that nobody has anything resembling benign intentions -- the best they ever manage is apathy (or maybe friendliness if they want something, but it’s usually rather see-through). This is great because it means you can feed a person through an ore extractor in the middle of the Ibiza streets in order to get his wife to pay up on her novacoke debt and nobody will so much as bat an eye. However, this is also not great because it means you can’t ever afford to do the whole “oh, it’s probably nothing” routine like in the vids. You assume the worst in everything because it keeps you alive.”
-- “Abattoir”, infamous mercenary warlord

The Nemean Abyss: The least of the galaxy’s inhabited regions, and yet a location that is never truly out of mind. Most who aren’t highly naïve understand that this prominence in the shared awareness of galactic society is less due to horror -- or deviant thrill -- at a setting which represents the worst of sapient behaviour, and more due to its rich resources, which are traded across the Terminus and even beyond.

The Abyss is a distinct region with natural borders, but does not correspond to any one star cluster. It consists of several recognised clusters spread across an area of below-average stellar density. The name "Abyss" is chosen in reference to this empty darkness, akin to a yawning chasm in the ocean floor -- although some would say that even this is too elegantly poetic for a region where brute necessity and ugly self-gratification are defining priorities. The Abyss is old, and in part its origins are extra-galactic. A dwarf galaxy is thought to have passed through the galactic plane, dragging the stars here out of position. The funnel left by the dwarf's passing extends below the galaxy; this region, spiralling down in the wake of the departed intruder, is often referred to as the Hadal Sector, after Hadal Station, the furthest recognised facility down there.

So infamous is the Nemean Abyss, though, that defining it has proven at times to be problematic. "Abyssal space" is a term used by many to describe territory that in terms of its exploitation by sapients and its economic profile resembles the Nemean. It would be more obvious than unduly cynical to say that this indicates mostly an absence of unifying creed, functional government, or any other enduring organisation. "Abyssal space" is that considered beyond the reach of order and authority stemming from anything other than muscle and gun. Critics of the Rannoch Accord, for instance, were quick to label parts of the Far Rim suffering pirating problems "Abyssal space", in spite of quarian/geth territory's distance from the Abyss proper.

The comparison is also arguably inaccurate. A region absent any permanent social structure is a region left largely uninhabited or unexploited, where people are transient and no enduring culture has formed. The Nemean Abyss doesn't fit these criteria, a consequence of its long history as a centre of industry and resource exploitation. It is the nature of sapient life to socialise in a way that sees the formation of patterns, a shared framework in which needs and desires can be met. Indeed, the unique social codes of Nemean living have been commented on by many who have spent time there -- to interact with someone from the Abyss is to know a Nemean, a distinct and recognisable identity. Nor is the Abyss entirely defined by anarchy. Within the recognised boundaries of the Nemean are groups like the Va'Liat of Vakraz Mor, whose religious and legal codes have extended beyond the region, providing a unifying cultural identity to everyone from asari matriarchs to at least one outcast raloi. The Theocracy of Gruul certainly brought centralised order not only to the Abyss but to many parts of the Deep and even the Near Terminus, albeit balanced awkwardly with a general policy of "burn and pillage". Even the aftermath of the Hierophant's fall saw groups around the Nemean border commit to military defence pacts and idiosyncratic but entirely serious oversight systems aimed at preventing a similar disruption of the Abyss' resource exploitation by over-ambitious warlords. The social system of the Abyss is brutal, fluid and laughably flimsy in comparison to any functional civilisation, propped up only by economic necessity, but it certainly exists and must be respected on its own terms. The association of Abyssal space with a lack of valuable culture and any expression save that of sadism or savagery is also answered by the beautiful cathedral-stations of the Gruulians, shipyards and works of art as much as they are symbols of power. Sadly, very few of these facilities remain. Destruction, after all, is a constant in the Nemean Abyss.

A Word on Terminology

Each wave of immigrants and settlers attaches new labels to galactic locations. In the Terminus, worlds like Trident and Tshombesha see regular renaming of cities, landmarks and other features as factions rise and fall in prominence, whereas the unofficial linchpin of T-Space, Omega Station, has any number of names reflecting the perspectives of the races that originated them. When humans began to reach the Abyss, they fell back on the naming conventions which their translators had already been using to place the galaxy within an anthropocentric frame of reference. Human translation for asari locations had taken on a Greek flavour, due to the decentralised city-states that formed the basis of asari civilisation, along with their prominence as examples of direct democracy as a form of government. This translation from the flowery tongues of the asari into Greek nomenclature was extended beyond the Republics themselves, so that, for example, both the infamous young colony of Illium and the legendary Prothean outpost of Illos are named for the city of Troy (Ilium).

(Turian terminology, in counterpoint, is translated with a Roman flavour, often highly exaggerated. Despite many human observers noting that the organisational nature of the Hierarchy, if defined in human terms, is more akin to various historic East Asian cultures, the militant discipline on show and avian appearance of both turians and their ships -- the names of which are indeed traced to bird-analogues -- was first and most eagerly compared to the Romans).

The Nemean Abyss is of course named in human terms for Nemea, a site best known in human mythology as the location of the fearsome Nemean Lion, defeated by the hero Heracles with assistance from the goddess Athena -- whose own name is attached by humans to the nebula that forms the heart of the Asari Republics. If the Athena Nebula is the crown jewel of galactic civilisation (as C-space bias impressed upon humans), then the Nemean Abyss is its opposite.

Within the Abyss itself, however, the local situation of minimal oversight from standard military powers and the prominence of pirate havens saw many key locations assigned names of historical free ports, often Caribbean. So it is that humans know of Cartagena, Tortuga, and Ibiza. In truth, many of the alternate older names are not dissimilar in their connotations and in the reasoning behind their application.

Denizens

The real draw of the Nemean Abyss is not its lawlessness. Those who desire to live by their own rules (or lack of) find worlds out in quiet regions of the Terminus, where they are unlikely to be bothered. The galaxy is a large and still mostly unexplored place. The draw of the Abyss is quite simple: eezo. Element zero and a number of other (albeit lesser) natural resources have long attracted sapients to the region, and ensure that anyone setting up shop there is unlikely to be left alone for long. They must invariably defend their slice of the pie, because there will always be others wishing to take a seat at the table, or simply to take more than they currently possess. Competition is fierce and unrelenting. The violence of the political climate is mirrored in the physical history of the local stellar groups. Pulsars and supernova remnants, often examples of the carnage left in the wake of the collision with the wandering dwarf galaxy, are responsible for littering the region with its eezo and other rare but essential resources upon which advanced interstellar civilisation is dependent.

Need for eezo, simple greed and desire to trade have prompted many, almost continuous immigration waves into the Nemean. The latest population bloc to appear on the scene is humans (raloi may well make it within a few decades should they start considering colonisation, or wish to fund competitive projects back on nationally-divided Turvess; their home cluster is proximate enough to the Abyss.) Humans, though, remain comparatively rare in most of the Nemean. Whereas figures like Fat Jacques, Su Chen-Mai and Vaderwalle of the Leopard Battalion might be notable denizens of the Terminus (to say nothing of prominent human societies like the Sultanate) no real equivalent yet exists in the Abyss. Humans are a definite minority, and none have achieved any real position of power. This may change sooner than expected, however, now that several members of the Ad'Thoro Pact (notably the Sultanate) occupy parts of the Abyss. Such change is likely to prove controversial -- note for instance the opposition to entirely unconfirmed rumours that the Sultanate was considering replacing the Grand Temple of Mozal with a human Mosque.

One reason why humans have tended to avoid the Nemean Abyss is the prominence of batarians. Batarian immigration waves, typically of miners and their families, merchants, warriors to protect these first groups, and the inevitable criminal exiles, have moved through the Abyss for centuries. Shifts in power back in the Hegemony often resulted in settlements being severed from their national, noble or corporate backers, and left to develop for themselves. The distance of the Abyss from the Hegemony territories prevented any projection of power into the region, but batarians have left their mark in a string of underprivileged but enduring mining outposts. Other species noted for militaristic outlooks -- turians, krogan -- have unsurprisingly also prospered here.

Leaders

Efforts have been made to unite the Abyss in the past, but these are invariably defined less by the careful extension of law or economic partnerships and more by the usual militant free-for-all creating a rare instance of disproportionate power, wherein one force manages to overcome all of its competitors. A "Nemean Alliance" existed at one point, only to fall in relatively short order to other warlord coalitions, which themselves broke apart almost immediately. The most recent attempts to extend dominion over the entire Abyss owe their genesis, surprisingly, to krogan. Whereas the age of the powerful krogan warlord conqueror was ended in most of the galaxy with the genophage and the discrediting of krogan leadership in the eyes of both the race itself and their neighbours, the Abyss has long operated on its own set of rules (or lack of). The One and Only Hierophant of Gruul, krogan ruler of the Theocracy of Gruul, a nation almost a millennium old, set off the Theocracy-Deep Terminus wars in the early 22nd Century when he attempted an ambitious project of conquest and expansion, on the back of advances in warfare like the feared and eponymous Hierophant-class heavy cruisers. This series of conflicts, ending with the Third War of Thorana in 2145, installed in much of the Deep Terminus a healthy loathing of the Theocracy and its leaders. The Theocracy slaughtered millions, but also achieved some impressive acts of creation -- such as the building of Cathedral Stations, vast complexes built into planetoids that had the ability to supply fleets, build cruisers, and house millions. Perhaps sadly, the vast majority of these were destroyed immediately after the Theocracy collapsed in the wake of the Hierophant's death, with the rest being claimed by incredibly lucky powers.

It is now known that the Hierophant and his inner circle were in fact influenced by Reaper artefacts. Just as the Leviathan of Dis provided Reaper technology that indoctrinated many people over a period of years, from the upper leadership of the Batarian Hegemony to human and hanar operatives who raided batarian labs, so was the Gruulian leadership long under the unknown influence of the eldritch machines. The one surviving member of the Hierophant's krannt, a warrior named Urdnot Fal, emerged at the beginning of the Reaper invasion, openly hailing the invaders as gods. He launched a fresh campaign of military expansion with little warning, a crusade that attacked prominent targets outside the Abyss such as A'qari and The Wreck, threatening even to menace parts of C-Space.

It was a coalition of Terminus forces, spearheaded by the Ad'Thoro Pact and slaver Velor Vedevix (believed tragically killed during Operation Supernova), who turned back the Gruulian force, succeeding in assassinating Urdnot Fal and bringing about the new Theocracy's collapse.

No new coalition formed following the Ad’Thoro victory at Gruul. The annual Warlord’s Conclave on Ibiza (though it concluded with record lows of only sixty deaths and two new blood feuds) did attempt to answer the question of Abyss action in the wider Reaper conflict. Ten percent of those in attendance at the conclave pledged to contribute forces to the front, most notably the Taneli Protectorate, the Republic of Rhaegor, and the Dominion of Helscarr. Opponents of the decision accused the new coalition of "whoring themselves out" to the Citadel, and the first blood of the Conclave was shed shortly afterwards. The opinions of the other warlords and leaders were divided sharply between two factions, one agreeing to assist in the defense of the Abyss should it be attacked by either side and another which declared blanket neutrality.

Locations

The region of low stellar density and eezo-rich supernovae remnants that constitutes the Nemean Abyss is located on the far side of the galactic core from Sol. It is part of a loosely defined region that has long been associated with its distinctive expanse, with nearby territories of the Deep Terminus known commonly by such names as the Greater Abyss Transversal and the Shrike Abyssal (see subsequent posts). The Greater Abyss Transversal extends to the galactic rim, encompassing such areas of corporate development as the Rainreaved Ocean.

Though technically it should be included under the loose umbrella of the Terminus Systems, the Nemean Abyss is usually referred to as a distinct region entirely, in essence a third alternative to the Terminus and Council territory. "N-space" as opposed to "C-Space" and "T-Space" is in common usage, and likely to be immediately understood as a reference in most locales, even those where actual knowledge of life in the Abyss is lacking. Despite its reputation, the Abyss remains an economic powerhouse, and is linked directly post-Reaper War to the Crescent Nebula, known informally as the Illium Economic Zone, a trade hub that contrasts with the Abyss by priding itself as much on its standards of public safety and sophistication as on its financial ruthlessness. From here, Nemean products reach even the heart of C-Space.

The Abyss is divided in several ways. Aside from the Hadal Sector beneath the galactic plane, reference is made to the Inner and Outer rings, though there are no natural features to mark these. Multiple clusters connected by secondary relays are part of the Abyss, and some of the most prominent are discussed here:

Named after the Gruul relay which feeds into it, the Gruul Cluster consists of four star systems, and more importantly a neutron star and a pulsar, each surrounded by truly enormous asteroid fields. The Gruul Cluster, like most of the Abyss, has an overabundance of eezo, and the many warlords who inhabit the cluster abuse its natural resources (and one another) with gusto.

Saver is a relatively large neutron star, the remnant of a billion-year old supernova that seeded the entire cluster with truly enormous amounts of eezo. The remnants of the star's former satellites created an enormous asteroid field in a distant orbit. The eezo around the star is being mined at an increasing rate thanks to Reaper-derived robo-drone technology, with the profits used for reconstruction efforts. Its neighbour, the small pulsar Araya, is of interest because although there are enormous eezo deposits within its asteroid belt, there aren't many developed eezo mines. Indeed, mining in Araya is simply too dangerous for its cost, compared to the easy pickings in Saver and the rest of the system. Nonetheless, new robo-miner technology and the interference of the Ad'Thoro Pact have resulted in eezo mining beginning to develop here.

The old capitol, Gruul System houses the Gruul relay, and a pair of habitable planets, as well as another seven planets that are less hospitable. Here is Thorana, a medium-gravity, volcanic levo world and the traditional capitol of the system. Among its features are the Khartu Fortress City, and to the south the Golal Plains, a dazzling green expanse that results from almost eighty years of concerted terraforming. The second habitable planet is Mozal (sometimes "Mosal"), a low-gravity garden world. Among those to make their home on this pleasant planet were the Villadim family, notable in pirating and slaving circles, whose estate was considered a major landmark until it was assaulted in early 2191 by a team aiming to rescue one of the Villadim patriarch's slaves. The Sultanate Occupation has once again made Gruul System the capitol of the Sector, and the Loyalist Resistance is weakest here thanks to concerted information and public relations campaigns on the Sultanate's part.

The most common destination in the Gruul Cluster, Arotakh System houses a single world, twenty moons and an enormous asteroid belt. Vedalk (sometimes itself called Arotakh) is a dextro garden world (as such largely dominated by turians) with an absurdly complicated tidal system. It is divided between twelve warlords, each of whom control the centres of one of the world's metropolises, as well as the farm-fortresses that surround them. Left rather primitive in the wake of the initial Theocracy of Gruul's collapse, Arotakh has resumed space travel with enthusiasm. Relatively small eezo and heavy metal mining operations exist in its system's asteroid belt, as do many active shipyards. With the Twelve accepting the authority of the Principality of Sancriah, they have taken on the yoke of the Ad'Thoro Pact willingly, and are applying for membership in The High Republic of Orozvhad (located in a neighbouring cluster to the Abyss and a member of the Pact). Arotakh's many shipyards are now being used for the system's, and the Pact's, profit, rebuilding and modernizing Terminus Fleets for surviving nation-states.

The Moraka System is home to eleven planets, one of which is habitable. Moraka is best known for the enormous amounts of precious and heavy metals, as well as He-3, harvested in system. It's the most peaceful of the systems in the cluster. Ironically, it was here that Urdnot Fal, lord of the system and its sole Garden World (Vanaran Moraka-8), pledged his allegiance to the Reapers, and unveiled the survival of the last Cathedral Station, Genocide Station, declaring it as the New Capital. Vanaran Moraka-8 exports enough levo food to not only feed the vast majority of the sector, but also to sell for profit in the Terminus, though now it is being used to feed worlds cut-off from the relay system that are dependent on ships bringing food and seeds from the Cluster.

The Torakh System is a trinary star system with a pair of searingly hot but habitable worlds that technically count as Garden. Torakh was long locked in brutal, futile struggle, though the pirates and warlords who used to fight over the system's twin planets and many shipyards have since been suborned by the Ad'Thoro Pact. Most of the more notorious were executed, while new planetary governments are still being formed to supervise planned terraforming efforts in-system.

The Gruul Cluster may be the most infamous, but there are many others within the Nemean.

The Joona Star Cluster was reconnected to the relay network in 2291, as was the Norketh Star Cluster.

The Rulfim Cluster contains such systems as Okanne, location of Ketkes (Okanne III) and its huge moon Atraz. The planet was mined for sodium, magnesium and berillium before the Reaper War. The moon was mined too, and defended from pirates by mercenaries of the Darkening Cloud. A colony created by the Menevoga Group was built under the ice of neighbouring Okanne IV's largest moon, Pella, but this was destroyed by the Reapers. Part of the population managed to evacuate on remaining ships of Darkening Cloud. Other worlds in this cluster include Tautheopolis, the potent biosphere of which has potential for weapons abuse.

A final cluster of note is Vakraz Mor, also known as the Throne of Stars. This cluster is home to the leaders of the Church of the Divine Flame and Holy Void, one of the more stable organisations out in these parts, and which has spread beyond the Abyss. The main body of the Church (or Va’liat as they are known) lays within star system al-Vu’sarim, also known alternately as Basilica, a name also given to its central planet.

In the heart of the Abyss, known as the Inner Ring, are found Ibiza and Tortuga, two planets heavily colonized by any number of factions. Known as the Twin Ports, they are noted both for harsh planetary conditions and for their ruthless inhabitants: pirates, slavers, drug lords and other notorious denizens of the most lawless parts of space congregate on them. Other worlds in the Inner Ring, such as New Drakeshead, Subotai, and Venganza, are largely in their shadow.

The Outer Ring is a string of mining colonies and refineries, many batarian-dominated. Bekke is a rough but enduring mining colony with a majority batarian population. Other batarian worlds here include Kashir, ruled by a Grand Marshal; Maya, which is notably suspicious of non-batarians; those planets of the Doradus System (close to Cartagena Station); and Reth'Nul. More cosmopolitan are worlds like Modran, notable for its tunnel systems through which residents drive at dangerous speeds (crash footage is a frequent source of grim entertainment). The Ahn’Kedar Orbital Platform is typical of orbital facilities here -– run-down, industrial, and heavily batarian, with the chance for odd research or religious groups to be in residence.

Extending through both the Inner and Outer Rings is the region known as Abaddon’s Reach, where much economic activity and trading takes place. The Azakhya System is found here, with several cosmopolitan cities making it attractive to those enjoying at least the pretence of functional civic institutions. The Suremis System, containing the planet Laris, is also found here. The locals of Laris are feudal and technologically deficient, but Port Zero, a facility built by offworlders, sees reasonable traffic.

As discussed, human-dominated worlds remain rare in the Abyss, but they have existed. Livia Prime was colonized by humans with a tribal, matriarchal society (a nation known as the Karuk). These humans were massacred by the Last Gasp mercenary band when defense contractor, Ramik Inc. wanted to strip-mine the area. Another system was given the human name of New Hong Kong. It was once controlled by the warlord known as One-Eyed Eluam.

One of the most sobering places, even by the standards of the Abyss, is the Othsonis System, the former location of the K-13 Scorpio Flesh Vats, a military fortress that was turned into a slaver enclave, infamously a site catering to all manner of depravity, from snuff dens and child sex slaves to the most dangerous and illicit drugs.

A tour of the Abyss must also touch upon the string of worlds once controlled by major PMC, the Blood Pack, infamous for being essentially Nemean in outlook wherever it operates (and illegal in C-Space and several Terminus nations). Balorn IV, Rhogarth VII, and Vindasel II (a tropical world that was an essential stronghold for Pack forces) are all notable. The post-Reaper War internal conflict within Blood Pack devastated many of these worlds, and outposts often went dark as the Pack splintered. As most of these worlds were vorcha-dominated and the Pack is hard to view as innocent even by Abyss standards, concern from humanitarians was minimal.

Only a few locations in the Nemean are truly household names outside of it. One of the newer centres of commerce and even of actual civilisation in the Abyss is Calamity Station, a restored Cathedral Station now shared between uneasy wartime allies, such as the Light of Purgation, Titan Corporation and the mercenary/vigilante group AEGIS (all influential outside the Abyss, but relative newcomers within it).

The most notable of Nemean locations, though, at least to those outsiders looking to establish connections or trade there, are the "twin ports" (Ibiza and Tortuga) and (above all) Cartagena Station. While shunned by some Nemeans as tame, shallow and stifling (as hilarious or appalling as that sounds to outsiders), most recognise Cartagena as the closest the Abyss has to neutral ground or a "capital". Cartagena is indeed famously more appealing than Omega in terms of outward appearance, being far cleaner, sleeker and aesthetically welcoming, though it actually lacks the rough but functional order of that other station. There is no centralized power and no leading faction on Cartagena, let alone a singular leader. Some sense of stability is maintained by mercenary groups and a local militia-like security force, Cartagena Patrol, which in reality is largely just another competing gang. Pirate attacks, slave grabs and extremely brutal local infighting are all too common. The Twin Ports, meanwhile, host warlord conferences and other structured negotiations (or efforts to posture and impress rivals, to be more cynical); though compared to the Ad'Thoro Pact, Omega, or even a krogan inter-clan Crush, these conferences are less than ordered and less than effective. Violent deaths are expected.

The infamous warlord mercenary "Abattoir" once spoke disparagingly about Cartagena:
"Here's the thing about Cartagena and the entire surrounding system: it's full of jokes. Always has been. Always will be. The kind of pirate, trafficker, or (hell forbid) warlord who's still clinging to that station is the type who's soft, fat, greedy, who'll always buckle under pressure. They're entrenched in a society full of rules, a shallow attempt at "polite civilization" in a reach of space where you're generally not going to be protected by social mores like loyalty, honour, or basic decency. In short, if you're a Nemean and by some horrible twist of fate you're too incompetent or soft to hack it in the Twin Ports or Abaddon's Reach, you go to Cartagena and you set up shop in the bureaucracy. You trade your hostages here and there, lead a couple courtesy attacks once or twice a year, and you grow complacent. So basically it's like Omega, but with less humans."
One might even suggest that the infamous Cartegna, a cheap knock-off station, described as home of every snow-globe maker and bottom-of-the-barrel slaver in the Nemean Abyss, is itself a mockery of Cartagena.

Rumours

The idea of the Nemean Abyss, as a lawless region wracked by bloody conflict and needless cruelty, has given rise to any number of whispered tales and dark rumours. Many horror stories are sadly true: biological weapons like BA-442 used with something akin to abandon in the absence of any enforceable regulatory agreements; red market trafficking and slavery; depravity in many forms. Strange and often frightening cults come and go; those that endure for long enough often take on freakish traditions that could be tolerated nowhere else. Look for example to the Travelling Circus of Malebolge, the School of Khannak, or the True Daughters of Suen.

One of the obvious consequences of total freedom, be it from ethical mores, social restrictions, or legal obstacles, is innovation. Just as many smaller Terminus nations, while economically and militarily within the shadow of C-Space, are in some unique ways more advanced (using bio-augmentations, warbeasts and nanotechnological packages that Citadel conventions restrict), so too has the unpoliced and desperately Darwinian nature of the Abyss raised wonders. Nemean technology, known often simply as N-Tech, is borderline legendary, the source of many rumours and wild theories. Local traders and manufacturers sometimes refuse to trade or even discuss some of their technology with people from other regions, perhaps merely to add to their mystique. A hidden market exists, with particularly shady merchandise being traded only to those figures who are fully trusted. The more open market attracts a wide variety of customers, including even legal organisations from C-Space that require good equipment. Many Nemean small arms are of exceptionally high quality, enough to offset unorthodox designs and exorbitant prices. Some of the rumours concerning N-Tech are at least partially true -- unethical research is a fact of life here, particularly since the mass-settlement of the region by a sub-faction of the Lystheni (a catch-all term for various outcast salarian clans, with the exact membership subject to one's interpretation of the label). Many of the stranger rumours indeed owe their genesis to the presence of transapient branches of the Lystheni (whose twin identities as salarians and amoral outcasts lend themselves naturally to such rumours and, indeed, expectations).

Other stories abound, of wonders and horrors hidden in the deep darkness. Among the recurring tales are starships constructed entirely out of eezo, great hidden empires that use entirely different technology to the familiar mass effect, and a relay that shoots unfortunate users right out of the galaxy local group and halfway across the Laniakea Supercluster towards the Great Attractor. One of the most frequent rumours concerns vast star-dwelling lifeforms in the Hadal Sector depths, often described as tentacled and luminescent, like overgrown eldritch hanar.

One recent oddity that is actually confirmed is a strange, obviously engineered lifeform that drains blood and targets vorcha, using the energy to fuel a reproductive system too rapid to be the product of nature. This probably represents an anti-vorcha bioweapon, perhaps created by enemies of Blood Pack. The Abyss is no stranger to warbeasts, as the Theocracy of Gruul and other factions have long made use of them. From pheromone-spraying Marker Wasps to serpentine Orogroths, Impaler squid, landsharks, Ordosaurs, and Mondarak, warfare in the Abyss regularly features appearances from "monsters", often with disturbing additions out of place on any fully natural lifeform.

A Final Note

Given that the drell information broker calling himself Cerastes is seemingly unable to hear a rhetorical question and not answer it literally, he once responded memorably to the exclamation, “What is wrong with the Nemean Abyss?” with the following:
“Comical levels of wage disparity, depravity conducted in absence of consequence, no stabilized government, mothers and fathers who failed to provide adequate levels of emotional support at formative ages, outside fascination with othered entities leading to continuation of oppression, internalized mantra of ‘I have nowhere else to go’, Mr. Baccath trying to fit in with the natives while dangling from the cock of the morality brigade, etc. Perhaps I will write a novel when I retire.”
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

Post by WavesHaveBroken* »

SHRIKE ABYSSAL

A cluster of the Terminus Systems.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Technically none (Arguably, commercial actors under the nominal umbrella of the Vol Protectorate)
Common Species: Volus, vorcha (native), turian
Worlds of Note: Talis Fia, Heshtok, Altakiril
Space Stations of Note: Dolo Station (orbiting Zada Ban)
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"Abyssal. As though they know it to be the Abyss but are hesitant, somehow, to acknowledge what they believe they see. So they leave us that small courtesy, that small escape -- this is proximity to damnation, not damnation itself. Small courtesies are all my people ever have. But we have thrived in small, dark places where others could not."
-- Miezko of Parasc, last of the siarist vorcha
"Where diplomacy fails, commerce wins through. That is why all real diplomacy is a sleeve to dress the financial agendas. Those rich in plenix understand this."
-- Rupe Elkoss, CEO of Elkoss Combine
"Heshtok was awesome metal! It's like a turcore shredmet cover made real! he just complains because of the plant life that tried to eat the ship"
-- Prax, turian "deadbeat", after a trip with a companion to the vorcha homeworld.
“Pressing vorcha into menial labour jobs is fine when you’re grand holy rainbow duke of Terminus Squatting Ground #40323 but I can’t see anything good for any colony in the long-term if they actually start letting vorcha do the work for them; especially when the geth are doing the same thing except they’re not shitting themselves and eating people.”
-- Nikolai Aleksanders, CEO of Titan Corporation


Once a hopeful site of exploration and integration spearheaded by asari expeditions, the Shrike Abyssal was paradoxically "abandoned" to volus commercial development. It is this odd combination of possible riches and obscurity, of dogged perseverance and failure (perhaps best encapsulated in the native species), that attracts so many criminal elements and raiding "nations", particularly in the aftermath of the Reaper War.

A Word on Terminology

The term "Abyssal" is taken from this cluster's proximity to the infamous Nemean Abyss, though it is not itself a low-density region; quite the opposite, in fact, as stellar debris is thick here.

The human label of "Shrike" is a reference to the carnivorous songbird known for impaling its prey on spines, a nod to the fearsome and (to human eyes) frightful native vorcha, who are certainly bloodthirsty enough. The common claim that "Shrike" was in fact a vorcha individual who became the influential bondmate of an asari matriarch and encouraged his people's diaspora throughout the deeper Terminus is thought to be mere fiction.

Denizens

Most people, when asked what they know about the Shrike Abyssal -- and assuming they aren't associated with corporate interests currently active in the cluster -- will name it as "the place where vorcha come from". This is not considered an endorsement. The vorcha themselves may, on the basis of the individual, be curious about their point of racial origin on the volcanic planet Heshtok, but the lack of a centralised political identity means that Heshtok's significance is vastly diminished compared to almost any other homeworld. In the modern era, vorcha colonies large and small are found across the Terminus Systems -- they are by far the most travelled and most widely-dispersed of the "indig" races, those species lacking in galactic representation. Heshtok itself does not have political sway (nor indeed a global forum of any kind).

The vorcha -- little-respected, averse to unification and lacking any enduring political institutions -- have long been disenfranchised in their native cluster. Heshtok itself remains under vorcha control, mostly because no outside force would wish to attempt taming a planet teeming with literal billions of the adaptive terrors, but vorcha-held outposts elsewhere have been strong-armed away from them by more advanced species. In fairness, vorcha culture is itself based on violent confrontation as a normal means of communication, and there are regions in the Abyssal where the reverse has happened -- outposts becoming dominated by the fast-breeding vorcha and in time abandoned to them. Dotting Heshtok itself in the post-Reaper period are any number of offworld "embassies" -- or perhaps more accurately recruiting stations -- aimed at acquiring vorcha labour by any number of persuasive and sometimes coercive means, to aid in the rebuilding of other worlds.

Two races, both long-established spacefaring powers, have defined the history of the Shrike Abyssal. The first push into the region came from asari explorers. These expeditions combined scientific discovery with corporate and charitable outreach. Several asari mining corporations, working with a siari-based charity called Mind and Hand, built settlements on the surface of planets like Parasc, and constructed orbital stations around many others. Adopting vorcha orphans from Heshtok, they raised them to live nonviolent lives and employed them in the mining industry. While Mind and Hand's efforts were at first labelled colonialist, the orphans became minor celebrities when it was discovered that the vorcha habit of using violence to communicate wasn't completely innate. However, efforts at vorcha-alien integration soon stumbled, even as stowaways and opportunists spread the species to other regions of explored space. Within a generation of the vorcha's first contact with spacefaring species, robo-mining interests attempted to exploit the vorcha-controlled planet Naskral, only to find their trading partners violently overthrown on a regular basis. The mining corporations, unwilling to accept this aspect of vorcha culture, hired mercenaries to defend their operations with lethal force, and before long took full control.

As the initially hopeful asari investment gave way to cynicism and the acceptance that vorcha wouldn't integrate easily into civilized society (as understood in Citadel terms at least), interest in the Shrike Abyssal passed to volus concerns. Those volus who work outside of Vol space are famous for their fearlessness and drive (it takes a certain psychological profile to willingly spend such long periods dependent on exosuits), and enough volus have been willing to take a smart gamble on development in a region proximate to the economic powerhouse that is the Nemean Abyss. As asari commitment petered out, the volus financial investment endured, though it has never truly prospered. With the asari quietly shunning the region, the volus couldn't maintain widespread interest among a C-Space community so often deferring to asari expectations.

This lack of direct interest from C-Space has continued to the present day, made more pronounced as Terminus powers have come to prominence and looked askance at potential incursions from "the other half of the galaxy". If the Vol Protectorate can be considered a distant master of sorts for the Shrike Abyssal, then somewhat unusually their patrons of the Turian Hierarchy have little presence here. While turian culture is notably weak in its entrepreneurial endeavours, and thus volus often take the lead in developing distant clusters, many Vol organizations capitalise on the protection of turian military forces. Those turians present in the Shrike Abyssal are non-Hierarchy and, in the Terminus tradition, often quietly hostile to it. The largest concentrations are on Altakiril and in the Purple Court of Kraithandai, both of which function as single-planet nation states, albeit highly battered by the Reapers and -- in the case of Altakiril -- a recent civil war.

The switch from asari diplomatic investment to volus commerce is neatly represented in the settlement history of Talis Fia, the most notable and heavily populated non-vorcha planet in the Abyssal, famed as the seat of Rupe Elkoss, CEO of the Elkoss Combine. Discovered by asari explorers, the planet was used as a bargaining chip by the Citadel Council in the 300s. With the rachni declared extinct, the need for post-war materiel for rebuilding, combined with the new restrictions limiting legal migration to relays already active, resulted in a push for economic exploitation of the Shrike Abyssal and other regions that had been mapped but were underutilised. The Citadel Council quickly drafted a colonization agreement with the volus; the Council would fund the volus settlement effort in return for massive trade benefits. With uncharacteristic enthusiasm, an enormous volus influx ensued, and the Council reaped the economic benefits for a dozen years before the bubble burst.

Other colonization initiatives have followed. Prior to the Reaper invasion, it was reported that the raloi pioneer Jjariss planned to gain Council permission to establish a mixed-race colony on an unclaimed world in the Abyssal. The Reaper invasion put a stop to this and many other minor projects (the effort in question only achieved some media attention due to the novelty of a raloi organiser).

Reapers

During the Reaper War, the Shrike Abyssal was among the many regions overcome. Talis Fia found itself highly vulnerable to Reaper attack -- the planet had a defense fleet only sufficient to handle small-scale actions. Its high population and industrial base, once a deterrent to war with other nations in the Terminus, only served to attract a larger number of Reapers than usual. In a rare extension of their power into the Abyssal -- a move which proved controversial both back home and within nations of the Terminus -- Turian Hierarchy forces were dispatched to its defence. The decision was a costly one, as it fuelled a growing mutiny among the troops of Invictus, a world whose forces were nominally under Palaven command (though the Hierarchy-Invictus relationship is a complex one). Invictus was soon demanding that its expeditionary force in the Apien Crest, charged with helping hold Palaven, be released immediately for operations against the Reapers in its own home system. The Primarch of Invictus publicly stated that it was “nothing short of treachery" that a volus world should take precedence over a turian one, and condemned Primarch Adrien Victus for "rushing to preserve Rupe Elkoss’s profits" while Invictus’s army was being "held hostage".

The vorcha also came under attack, with Reapers striking at Kyzil System, among others. The defenders outnumbered the Reapers, but their force was comprised of light ships suitable to a militia (nobody would tolerate any major vorcha naval force, as this would be asking for trouble of a no doubt devastatingly bloody kind). Superior Reaper firepower soon wiped out the Kyzil fleets, and the fuel infrastructure around Lihrat was likewise destroyed. Rumours abounded that the Reapers didn't lose a single ship. Interestingly enough, harvesting on occupied Heshtok proved considerably more difficult than usual. Vorcha physiological adaptability and psychological quirks made cowing the locals difficult, and Reaper forces quickly switched tactics to simply "keeping a lid" on Heshtok's population and preventing them from spilling out into the galaxy at large, where they might boost the overall defence.
"The one time we want that fucking crab bucket emptied over the entire cluster and now the Godsquid are putting a stop to it. I swear they're mocking us."
-- Cour Damineccus, Patriarch of the Damineccus family, Kraithandai.

The region didn’t look that different in the war’s aftermath, at least so far as vorcha violence and disunity were concerned, and once again development projects littered the cluster. There was, inevitably, a great deal of criminal activity, as various factions attempted to assert themselves. A branch of the Kamalo Syndicate attempted to solidify its hold, backing various factions both overtly and covertly in an attempt to take control of Carthagia, and trying to maintain a monopoly on essential goods and services in Xe Cha. New Rendil, a reformed pirate band preying on the trade lanes and making it near-impossible for salvagers to work in certain regions, was also a concern. Lokam Enterprises, a business headquartered on a repaired science station over Vem Osca (Xe Cha System), was one of the stranger participants in this shadow war, attempting to play information broker and establish economic dominion over the cluster; there was a lot of inevitable conflict with Kamalo. Finally, there was Lok, a surprisingly successful vorcha warlord based out of Heshtok, whose impressive gains were undermined by his advanced age -- almost twenty.

Two years after the Reaper War, the Shrike Abyssal was reconnected to the relay network. The Citadel Council announced no plans for it, not that anyone expected otherwise. In the following months, a general health advisory was issued by medical authorities on over a dozen planets in the nearby Crescent Nebula, regarding infestation by Cirilek’s Skindiver, a parasitical lifeform believed to be indigenous to Heshtok. Colonies of the parasite -- which was potentially dangerous but not overly alarming -- were reported throughout the Nebula, in the wake of increased relay traffic from the Nemean Abyss, originating in the newly-reconnected Abyssal. This did little to endear the much-maligned cluster to its prosperous neighbours in the Crescent.

Locations

Not all of the systems in this dense cluster are accessible. Pilots even now attempt to find new routes to little-visited planets of interest. It is a mark of piloting skill to successfully navigate the stellar debris in the heart of the cluster. The halvat run, for instance, is a very dangerous smuggling route through the Abyssal full of supernova remnants, ion clouds and other stellar and interstellar hazards.

Most worlds here are being developed or exploited by corporations with ties to the Vol Protectorate or powers of the Rainreaved, while feral vorcha populations have sprung up on many now-abandoned platforms left by earlier claimants. Vorcha-heavy systems of note include, of course, the Kyzil System, featuring the planets Naskral, Heshtok, Parasc, Lihrat, and Rustaka, as well as the Blessk System, location of the bizarrely named This Vorcha World! (the exclamation point is, so far as anyone can tell, part of the name). Originally an asari trade and repair outpost, the settlement was overrun by fast-breeding vorcha after several stowaways from recently discovered Heshtok arrived on asari ships. The asari wrote the minor settlement off, though the outpost itself still functions, receiving visits from down-on-their-luck or simply desperate traders.

The Thal System contains the historically independent turian world of Altakiril, now under corporate control. Founded relatively recently (2021), the settlements here were built by hardy turians arrived in part from Kraithandai (see below). Initially, with the Migrant Fleet in the region at the time, quarian leaders considered contesting them -- but the quarians were quickly daunted by the virulence of the planet's infectious life during the growing season, along with the colonists' ties to Kraithandai and its warlords. Altakiril maintained military outposts on the moons of Xerceo in the same star system. These were destroyed by the Reapers, as were most cities on Altakiril itself, despite the planet being an obvious candidate for harvesting. Allied intelligence suggested that the colonists kept anti-space defense weaponry in their population centres, and so the Reapers limited the risk to themselves by destroying the threat and moving on. In the immediate aftermath of the war, Altakiril attracted off-world scavengers, staking out what was left of the cities. Corporate and Terminus interests, along with the relatively few local survivors, rebuilt the settlements, unified under a governing council known as the Directorate of Altakiril. However, conflict soon emerged between turian populations: the surviving original settlers, still very independent-minded, began resisting the increasingly harsh corporate governors. As of 2194, a civil war was underway.

The Tyriasia System contains the most heavily populated turian world in the Abyssal, Kraithandai, controlled by a coalition of powerful families and corporations who form the Purple Court.

The Urla Rast System is the location of Talis Fia.

A primary mass relay for the Abyssal is located in the intriguing and ghostly Xe Cha System. Here is the industrial planet Zada Ban (orbited by multiple stations, the largest of them Dolo Station), along with the twin worlds of Aphras and Tosal Nym, dead biospheres now clearly contextualised as victims of the previous Reaper invasion or one of the smaller, simultaneous conflicts it generated. More recently, Xe Cha was host to the Occulus organization, a mysterious intelligence agency thought to have ties to the Special Tasks Group. The Reapers moved through the system once more, and in a mirror of their previous visit, destroyed most of the infrastructure. Whether the Occulus choice of Xe Cha had anything to do with the fact that one of its planets is Tosal Nym -- "Nym" being famously a stock name for a contact in intelligence-gathering circles -- we may never know.

The corporate planet of Carthagia is a notable hub of trade and industry in the region.

The Shrike Abyssal, while not as deadly as the Nemean Abyss, is not a secure cluster. The fact that the region is largely populated by volus, who are widely perceived as easy prey, encourages raiders and pirates. The Khaytana Legion -- less a PMC and more a group of dogmatic marauders -- was one notorious example, until it was destroyed by the Last Gasp. In the region of the Shrike Abyssal nearest to relay links connecting to the Nemean, colonies come and go, established by corporate entities or the desperate, and often then abandoned in the face of unrelenting pirate raids or slaver grabs. Hope's Bastion, developed by Hopwood Industries, is one such example, a world where colonization attempts resulted mostly in slavers taking the people, pirates taking the wealth, and murderers and deranged taking lives before survivors departed for better, more prosperous worlds.

Post-Reaper War, some of these omnipresent raiders are more organized, and form what are in essence proto-states (we must remember how many Terminus nations had their start as unattached mercenary or raiding groups). The Hoshea System is now home to a group known as the Terminus Confederacy of Commerce Raiders. Founded shortly after the reactivation of the Omega Nebula relay, the TCCR was formed by various pirate factions who, after the Reaper War, were ready to exploit a lack of serious naval powers in reconnected areas of space, where salvage vessels, miners, trade and aid ships were extremely easy prey. The organization migrated to the Shrike Abyssal shortly after its reconnection to the relay network.

Connections

From the Shrike Abyssal is accessed the Greater Abyss Transversal. One such connection is the Sadarung Floodgate relays, through which are accessed the Rainreaved Ocean and the worlds settled by Titan Corporation. Other relay connections, restored post-Reapers, lead to an infamously dangerous "silk road", which connects several as-yet-isolated clusters on the rim, allowing for limited trade. Slow-boating this route takes time, and a pilot needs to plan carefully when and where to discharge and take on fuel. Mess up or be too greedy and they are stranded. Worlds reached along this route include Angusius Prime, Selek, Kolino II, and those of the Tercio System, where turian monks of the Seluvius Monastery remain one of the last bastions of pre-Hierarchy traditions of communion with the spirit realm.

The Hourglass Nebula and Nemean Abyss are also reached via the Shrike Abyssal.

A Final Note

Prothean relics are known from Urla Rast and other systems within the Shrike Abyssal. Zada Ban, meanwhile, was being exploited at the time of the extinction of the Protheans, likely by some subject people of that empire. Neighbouring Aphras and Tosal Nym were likely inhabited by these people, about whom little is known.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

Post by WavesHaveBroken* »

AD'THORO PACT TERRITORIES

A collection of star clusters in the Terminus.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Ad'Thoro Pact (Members include, among others, the High Republic of Orozvhad, the Sultanate, the New Vonskar Coalition)
Common Species: Asari, salarian, turian, batarian, human, elcor, indigs
Worlds of Note: Feng, New Vonskar, Tshombesha
Space Stations of Note: Oldari Cemetery Stations
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"How many people in C-Space probably think the entirety of the Terminus is some sort of lawless hellhole? Frankly, we're being forced to work together by the war. We need to understand each other, both to win this war, and to improve in the aftermath."
-- Lessan Vadarat, Terminus Alliance wartime coordinator, in an interview with reporter Helena Mathioudakis.
"Can't keep track of it. Used to be some salarian place, then the Theocracy came through. Then it was Orozvhad, who at least make sense to me. Now they've made some agreement with those humans and they're here. Humans. Next it will be... Vaul knows."
-- Hailot Jenkan, krogan scout.
"Did someone fucking sneeze? Is this what the war's about? The mother-melding name?"
-- Eclipse Lieutenant D'Bellas, preparing for arrival on Tshombesha.


A tumultuous region that nonetheless stands as one of the more developed parts of the Terminus Systems, this area is defined by its proximity to the Nemean Abyss (which is located slightly rimward) -- and by its general desire to avoid the pitfalls of that lawless expanse. The clusters discussed here are often places for the canny and pragmatic to thrive, but life commonly contrasts with the Abyss by being resolutely civilised. In fact, typical of cultures and individuals hailing from here is an odd moral fortitude, often applied to standards and lifestyles frowned upon by C-Space. Discipline and respect for shared rules, however self-serving the commitment, are hallmarks of the region, with an unusual number of highly inclusive regimes and governments in which even the slave class has some degree of say. Mutual defence pacts exist, while oversight and regulatory agreements bind multiple nations together in times of both peace and war, with mutual policing of local polities. Often wracked by armed conflict, the region nonetheless offers a generally high standard of living, and almost all major species have established themselves here, both in species-specific blocs and within multiracial unions.

One of the most notable organizations here -- and with political weight in other Terminus clusters, though its influence diminishes as one approaches Omega -- the Ad’Thoro Pact has done much to keep the region chaotically functional. A hundred-year-old loose mutual defense agreement made between many governmental bodies, it owns very little territory itself -- the most notable of its holdings being the Feng star system, with two garden worlds and a number of space habitats and shipyards scattered across its asteroid belts, trade lanes and gas giants. In recent decades, the Pact has gained a measure of increased influence, knitting the region together (somewhat) as it recovered from the great war against the rampaging Hierophant of Gruul. This, and the destruction of the Tradon-Khas raider coalition, have given the mutual defense pact a useful niche to inhabit. The Pact controls a reasonably large peacekeeping fleet and army, with which it settles wars between its members in whatever manner its courts deem just. According to insiders, the group has been “playing the politics” of various nations against one another in an attempt to consolidate power, while opening trade lanes with C-Space and a growing selection of Terminus ruling bodies.

Nations

The High Republic of Orozvhad is one multi-racial bloc of note. When the Theocracy of Gruul burned its way through the Deep Terminus (see previous post detailing the Nemean Abyss), the High Republic was allied with the Hierophant as a valued trading partner. As a result, it was spared the devastation afflicting so many of its neighbours, and while its reputation took a serious dive in the aftermath, this practically speaking meant little, as it continued to gain power in the wake of the Theocracy’s collapse. The High Republic remains heavily militarized; stolen or purchased ships of Turian Hierarchy or Theocracy design fill their enormous military, and the Republic has begun to use batarian and turian designs in crafting their own warships, to ensure that their fleet stays cutting-edge.

Orozvhad Armory licenses are sold rather liberally, meaning their equipment has become increasingly well-known across the Terminus.

The High Republic functions on a three house parliamentary system, with each star system having a selection of representatives. Elections are held every five years for the legislative branches, who collaborate and vote on the High Chancellor. The law is strict in Orozvhad, and most products are highly regulated -- megacorps avoid the nation as much as possible due to the scrutiny it puts them under. Orozvhad practices slavery (indeed it uses a modified version of the batarian hegemonic caste system), though slaves are still citizens and have the same protections as any other citizen or employee. Most can even vote.

The Vonskar Coalition is another great power of the region. It was formed in 1950 by an alliance between the salarian Clan Edrod, who had de facto control of half the eponymous Vonskar Cluster, the warlord Goronak Kal’Doth, and the separatist turian world of Vel Vae. After months of negotiations, the three groups formed what would become the core of the Vonskar Coalition. This polity -- henceforth known as the "First Vonskar Coalition" -- was shattered by war with the Theocracy in 2140, and when Kolar Edrod reformed the bloc in 2153, it began to retake its lost territory as the "New Vonskar Coalition". The Coalition boasted a decidedly high standard of living for a Terminus nation, as well as a robust economy based largely on the export of food to the rest of the Terminus. Since human first contact, it was known as sympathetic to the newcomers, allowing human colonies established in the area to join and receive protection from its fleets. The deal was mutually profitable; the colonies gained protection, while the Coalition gained newly exploitable worlds and productive member-states. Unfortunately, the double blow of a war loss to Orozvhad and subsequent Reaper occupation of its greatly weakened territory has diminished many Coalition worlds. Trust in the Coalition itself was lowered among some members to the point that they seceded; most notably, the economically valuable world of Tshombesha, which was subsequently invaded by Coalition-hired mercenaries.

There is a sizeable majority-human nation in the region, the Sultanate, which is also a member of the Ad'Thoro Pact. Disciplined and ritualistic, it has become one of the more prominent players, drawing on many historical human cultures and traditions, particularly those associated with near-Asia and the Middle East; the dominant religion is Islam. The Peacock's Fan -- the various agencies in service to the Sultan considered as a collective -- maintains close ties to other Terminus members.

Locations

A number of closely-packed star clusters make up the territory of the New Vonskar Coalition, among them the eponymous Vonskar Cluster and the rimward Kasabutu Cluster, which has long marked the boundary of the Coalition despite being one of its two original holdings. Locations in Vonskar territory include the capital New Vonskar (named such during the reconstitution of the Coalition in the aftermath of the Theocracy Wars), and Vel Vae, a turian-populated sovereign nation that is one of the bloc's leading members. Also at the heart of Vonskar space is the Vedevi System, with its capital world of Nev Pavari, along with planets Nev Melda and Melad.

Other Vonskar clusters include the Odrak Cascade and Ordh’Bhak Cascade (a "cascade" being a common Vonskar name for a particular type of stellar formation; other Terminus regions settled from Vonskar have used the term, hence for example the Vesilden Cascade proximate to Omega Nebula).

In the Kasabutu Cluster is Tshombesha. Although on the periphery of the Coalition, the planet has long been critical to its economic well-being, due to rich deposits of Element Zero. The planet was colonized in 2015 by an independent team of elcor and salarian citizens; it wasn't until 2045 when the colony was well-established that the eezo mining boom began and the Coalition granted Tshombesha membership. Today the controlling interest is the Mineral Union of Tshombesha, a joint salarian-human concern that supervises and controls all mining operations and exports of eezo and precious metals on-planet.

A disputed zone between Vonskar and Orozvhad, coveted by many (including a number of megacorporations) for its garden worlds and palladium-rich assets, is the Azaren Nebula. Systems in this disputed zone included the Nuran System, Theremae (both Vonskar holdings in the early 2180s) and the Valeer System (the world of Valeer III was used as a staging ground by Vonskar during their war with Orozvhad).

Within Orozvhad territory proper are such locations as the inhabited planet Prelyat, one of two garden worlds in its system. Orbiting these two worlds are three moons, two barren and one heavily mined. Across the High Republic are a string of space stations including Ord Vorda. Whereas "Ord" indicates a larger installation, the diminutive "Ordez" denotes smaller facilities, for example the hidden asteroid station of Ordez Mant, a reclaimed outpost whose original salarian religious outcasts were massacred by Gruulians, and which later became a base of the Vadarat Gang, a pirating and slaving outfit originating in the Nemean Abyss and with ties to Orozvhad. Other locations in the area include Victh, where Vadarat Industries, an Orozvhadi Free Trader corporation sharing roots with the gang, planned to open a manufacturing facility. A similar facility exists at Aeguhr on Vae Bolg, courtesy of a gift from the Mallenis family. (Formerly this facility was run by Gladus Industries, a Hierarchy-affiliated manufacturer that traded with Orozvhad, and which suffered the loss of its headquarters when the Reapers overran the Minos Wasteland).

Morast is a Sultanate world. The region known as the Burning Reaches is the heart of Sultanate territory.

Feng is one of the few worlds claimed by the Ad’Thoro Pact itself as opposed to one of its member states. Known as one of the most beautiful worlds in the Terminus, its capital city of Zhu is the seat of the Pact authorities.

Elsewhere in the region are the Oldari Cemetery Stations, declared a defended neutral ground by the Pact at the beginning of the Reaper Invasion; New Nicaea, a holding of Titan Corporation (which had designs on worlds in the Azaren Nebula); and the distant world of DVX-34, later known as Ithendi, the monstrous native wildlife of which inspired (and provided raw material for) Theocracy warbeast programs.

Relay Connections

This region, both prior to and following the restructuring of the relay network post-Crucible, has been well-connected, providing easy access for many to the Nemean Abyss -- and sadly vice-versa, during the two separate Gruul rampages.

One relay link of note is a coreward route connected to the Samsara Cluster, the swiftest path to Systems Alliance space, and which featured a token presence by the Systems Alliance Navy, concentrated around New Hyderabad (Siddhartha Station formerly orbiting).

Another connection is to the Vorbarra relay, also sending one coreward -- to the Vorhazai System in the Roda Nebula, closer to C-Space. From Vorhazai, one reaches such populated worlds as New Carthage and Grainar, plus Ad'Thoro Pact member, the New Nova Ascendancy, born from the remains of the Theocracy-shattered Nova Ascendancy in a manner not dissimilar to Vonskar. (see later post om Roda Nebula).

Other relay connections lead to the Red Rift, and another, non-member coalition, the New Havana Alliance.

Recent History

In 2186, Vonskar and Orozvhad went to war over disputed resource-rich systems in the Azaren Nebula. Vonskar claimed that they had a rightful claim to these as they were holdings of the First Vonskar Coalition. The Ad'Thoro Pact was unable to prevent an open conflict between the two member states.

Attempts were made by privateers aligned with Orozvhad to drag other powers into the conflict. The docking station and patrolling Alliance ships at New Hyderabad were severely damaged by a surprise attack, the space station Siddhartha being the prime target. Several Alliance vessels had been in dock for regular service, and most sustained some damage; two were destroyed outright. The cruiser Mumbai, stationed at Siddhartha, was on patrol elsewhere in the cluster. Witnesses claimed that the attack was perpetrated by a Vonskar Coalition merchant fleet that was arriving in-system with a shipment of eezo, food, and palladium. A Coalition spokesman blamed it on a pirate-conducted false flag attack.

Mercenaries including the Blood Pack, military assets of Titan Corporation, and forces of Binary Helix (which enjoyed close ties to the Coalition), fought for Vonskar, but many withdrew their forces in light of Reaper advances. As the Reaper invasion menaced more and more of their neighbours, and following several inconclusive skirmishes in the Azaren Nebula and Ordh'Bhak Cascade, Orozvhad made an offer of peace, which mandated the surrender of the Azaren Nebula to the High Republic. Vonskar rejected this and the war continued, but not for long, as Orozvhad gained the upper hand (not unexpected to those aware of the pre-war power balance). Upon forcing a Vonskar surrender, the High Republic allied with the Turian Hierarchy and the newly-formed Terminus Alliance, lending ships, supplies and soldiers to assist in the war against the Reapers, a conflict that hadn’t yet touched them. Once again, Orozvhad had managed to turn its selfish pragmatism into a chance to gain allies and prosper further, regardless of any blow to its reputation.

The Anagur Treaty, signed by many Terminus nations near the beginning of the Reaper War, standardised measurements, parts and material, making logistics trains far more sustainable, and making it much easier for nation-states to buy from each other. Orozvhad was heavily involved in keeping the Terminus Alliance functional, and among other battles of note both the High Republic and the Sultanate dedicated forces to defence of The Wreck from indoctrinated Gruulians.

Both Vonskar and Orozvhad were left severely damaged by the final weeks of the Reaper conflict, the former more so. Large numbers of vorcha immigrants have allowed for surprisingly rapid rebuilding, albeit representing an uneasy demographic time bomb in many eyes. The Sultanate, meanwhile, is spearheading the Ad'Thoro occupation of the Gruul Cluster.

Following a vote of no-confidence, President Joseph Godefroid of Tshombesha announced the secession of that world from the Coalition, hiring on the Blue Suns to protect them in the event of the inevitable Coalition retaliation. Vonskar responded by contracting Eclipse mercenaries to smash the Blue Suns and bring the wayward planet back into line. With two of the mercenary "big three" directly opposed, the region came under even greater scrutiny from the wider Terminus.
"Based on what exactly, you sad excuse for a suit rat? Their numbers, their tactics, their commanders, you flipped a coin, because you like their fucking color scheme better?"
-- Cassius "Archmagus" Anubion of the Blue Suns, in response to Vik'Sajee vas Truth placing his money on Eclipse.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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GREATER ABYSS TRANSVERSAL
"Corporations pretending to be governments. Religions pretending to be governments. Transsapient freaks pretending not to need a government. Where are the actual governments? Don't look at me that way, I don't like the unfamiliar."
-- Trade Minister Ghernak Sonn-Darlk of Ha'Shan.

A band of space bordering the Nemean Abyss and stretching to the galactic rim, the Transversal is also known as the Three Celestial Oceans and the Zajiaolung Mandate. Astrologically distinct from the Abyss (it has reasonable stellar density), the Transversal nonetheless shares a deep, intertwined history with the region, having been settled by many of the same interstellar warlords and pirate-kings long before the first Citadel cast-offs immigrated.

THE RAINREAVED OCEAN

A major cluster within the Transversal, one of the so-called "three celestial oceans".
Dominant or Controlling Powers: Sankaita No, Titan Corporation, other corporate entities
Common Species: Salarian (notably Adruza clan Lystheni), turian, batarian, hanar, indigs
Worlds of Note: Zhryai’loth, Syo-Ba
Space Stations of Note: The Lighthouse
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A highly industrialized and densely populated region within the Greater Abyss Transversal, the Rainreaved is divided between a few dozen principalities, empires, states, demesnes and megacorporations that compete with one another as viciously as they do outsiders. However, in much the same way as the Ad'Thoro Pact has a moderating influence on the far side of the Nemean, so the body known as Sankaita No has changed the Rainreaved, with battles now more likely to be waged diplomatically rather than literally. In practical terms, the Sankaita No is a deliberative and meditative body, a forum for the airing of grievances and the recognition of treaties, with members' representation indexed to their population. The Sankaita No is more powerful than the average planetary league, in part because it embraces biological, genetic and cybernetic enhancements considered radical or unethical in other regions.

Institutions upholding the social order here include the Rainguard, an elite, comprehensive fighting force of professional mercenaries who emigrated to the cluster some centuries past, and were instrumental in quelling the insurrections and civil conflict that surrounded foundation of the Sankaita No. They serve the elected Speaker, the Dhasang Min Xi (the arbiter of the Sankaita No, who has formally renounced all ties to any individual nation) without question.

The region has its own subdivisions, among them the Incorporated Territories of the Drownscaled Tempest. Positioned on the outer edges of the Rainreaved, near the Sadarung Floodgate Relay (the primary bridge between the Transversal and the Shrike Abyssal), as well as close to a confluence of secondary relays known as the Fengdra Diluvians, this is the core territory of Titan Corporation, a major manufacturing conglomerate. Individually the worlds found here are relatively stable, militarily powerful (relatively speaking), and noted supporters of the Dhasang Min Xi. The region as a whole has been under the de facto authority of the Titan Corporation following Operation: Bull Market in 2184. A coordinated military expedition launched from the conglomerate’s Omega holdings, Bull Market exploited a deliberately exacerbated civil conflict (the preceding Operation: Bear Market) in order to seize control against numerically superior and well entrenched factions.

The Drownscaled Tempest has long functioned within the broad band of classification known as Corporate Vassalage. Political bodies pledge themselves into a corporation’s service in return for reciprocal benefits in reminiscence of feudal contracts. Realistically the details differ wildly from corporation to corporation. In some regions employment is synonymous with citizenship. In others the policy is very hands off, the corporation restricting itself only to decisions that affect broad strategy and general policy.
'Ethical Compliance'. Party line says they're an internal affairs division. Now, this is Titan. In the Terminus. So I'm inclined to not buy that. I took what I got out of that, and did a bit more digging. Kept coming up with rumours about your stereotypical mad science... Some biogeneticist's pet projects to make a new ultimate lifeform, some pharmacologist running an operation making Purpleglow on the side, that sort of thing. 'Someone did something they shouldn't have been doing.'
-- Mekan of Omega, freelance mercenary, during the Anathema Incident

Locations

Many of the planets in the Rainreaved were (and are) harsh and unforgiving. Icy wastes and arid deserts, lush jungles rich with disease and monstrous fauna. The abundance of element zero and precious metals in the cluster drove development but the obstacles to short and medium term exploitation were plentiful -- and competition with Nemean Abyss interests was fierce.

Currently, this cluster is the core of Titan Corporation’s influence in the galaxy. They were a Terminus agent long before they branched out to the Citadel and, though they rule little outright, even private ships and pocket militaries in the Drownscaled Tempest fly the corporate flag alongside their own banners.

Systems associated with Titan Corporation include Xhalsoth’akaroth System. Here is the planet Zhryai’loth, the best-established and most prosperous world in the Tempest, and historically the seat of power in the region. Prior to Titan's arrival it was ruled by the heavily augmented Thirteen Archivist Lords. The Archivists remain as a hereditary executive branch and are still permitted to field their own private forces, though hard limits have been set on their numbers, and their power is now balanced by the Kaith, a popularly elected legislative and advisory body (and, of course, by Titan Corporation). In the Nioleng Ashk System is Amnoskeld, a world where society is a fusion of the batarian merchant cartel structure and a modified version of the already fractious turian rebel hierarchy that first settled it. Guilds and industrial cooperatives double as local governing agencies, ruling over collections of geofronts and oceanic rigs. In the Fan-Yhanzang System, meanwhile, is Syo-Ba, a world covered in dense rainforests and known for its genetic engineering expertise. It was formerly governed by a series of absolute monarchies followed by democracies, and is now ruled by coup-d'etat forces that swear allegiance to Titan Corporation in exchange for receiving support to stay in power.

The Lighthouse, in the Ithul’naghus System, is home to a radical transsapient hanar sect exiled from the Illuminated Primacy. It is jointly governed by native theo-technocratics known as the Deluge of Thirtyfold Currents and One Hundred Hurricanes, and the Titan Corporation.

Smaller Titan holdings in the region include Corvus, New Ethiopia, and the shipyards of the Vester-Kaine Belt.

Of course, there are nations here not affiliated with Titan or other major players. One world of note is Tarta-Angrad, near the Nemean border. Once known as a stable hub of trade and commerce between the Terminus and the Abyss, Tarta-Angrad struggled in its efforts to recover from the Reaper War, which left much of its civilian infrastructure in disrepair. Anti-corporatists began advocating for a general reform of the government, swiftly leading to an armed conflict. Distrusting the larger competing corporate players in the Rainreaved, the Tarta-Angrad factions reached out to the Ad'Thoro Pact on Feng to attempt a negotiated peace, while mercenary forces from across the Terminus flocked to the conflict.
"It likes to get dramatic every now and then, but I'm sure the tech'll have it back to nice boring op names. I mean the Theshaca Raids were a series of 'Operation Port Authorities'."
-- Natalie King, Systems Alliance Navy, regarding the Tarta-Angrad relief mission, "Operation Divine Grandfather".
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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HOURGLASS NEBULA

A minor cluster in the Terminus Systems.
Dominant or Controlling Power: None (unless one counts the Shadow Broker)
Common Species: Salarian
Worlds of Note: Erinle, Hagalaz
Image
"Salarians are supposed to be accomplished spies, but they have no clue what is in their midst. Or maybe they don't look too closely. After all, they're also supposed to be smart."
-- Operative Inannus, Agent of the Shadow Broker.

Located firmly within the Terminus Systems, the Hourglass Nebula remained largely remote, despite previously being a relay stopover between the major trading hubs of Illium and Omega. Being proximate to the Nemean Abyss saw it considered a part of the Deep Terminus, and most were content to pass through quickly toward more appealing destinations. Those who fanned out to explore the Hourglass were mostly salarian, companies both in the sense of corporate entities and unofficial bands of prospectors. Fuelled in part by their species' natural curiosity but perhaps in larger part by the desire to improve their chances at acquiring mating contracts, bands of male salarians from lesser clans made any number of visits to surrounding systems, searching for something of use. A significant number of this cluster’s planets were therefore named by salarian explorers. Some found only barren rock for their troubles, while others discovered opportunities for profitable robo-mining. Originating in the Eagle Nebula -- proximate to C-Space -- and accessing the Hourglass via the Crescent Nebula, many salarians entering the region were not really Deep Terminus material, and while this makes the cluster a largely non-threatening one, it has also meant that when organised crime has found something worth quietly claiming, there has rarely been any real resistance.

Following the Reapers’ restructuring of the relay network, the Hourglass Nebula is accessed via the Shrike Abyssal, and is no longer directly situated between Omega and Illium. This has proven no great loss to the wider galaxy, though the gateway system port of Erinle still sees some degree of traffic, desperately encouraged by the locals who have come to rely on visitors' refuelling fees.

A Note on Terminology

The Hourglass Nebula is the name given to the cluster of stars centred on the eponymous emission nebula, which consists of an expanding, glowing shell of ionized gas ejected from red giants late in their lives. The distinctive hourglass shape is produced by the expansion of a fast stellar wind within a slowly expanding cloud, which is denser near its equator than its poles. The vivid colours given off by the nebula are the result of different 'shells' of elements being expelled from the dying stars.

Locations

The primary mass relay is found in the Osun System. Here also is the salarian colony Erinle, an old world with an ancient biosphere that was close to exhaustion. Salarian researchers have worked tirelessly to restore some degree of ecological robustness, an effort which has gained them some degree of recognition in the wider galaxy. For example, the native "Everbloom" plant has long been a symbol of hope and restoration across civilised space.
"…time will pass like the tides: tireless and unrelenting
so you will fade long before (me)
but let this love be an Erinle Rose
ever-blooming, and bearing flower through all seasons."
-- Everbloom, a poem by Asantha Lakhesis

Spacefarers from Erinle gather helium-3 from the Osun System's lone gas giant, Olokun. The planet Aganju, meanwhile, is abundant in both copper and platinum, but while the crust has been scanned by mining bots from Erinle, the specialized equipment needed to work in its heavy gravity (more than 5 Gs) has created prohibitive costs, and so Aganju is largely unexploited.

The Faryar System -- on the far side of the nebula -- features robo-mining of platinum and uranium on the high-gravity planet, Tunfigel. In the past, the Faryar System has also been used by the Eclipse PMC for smuggling, with a depot having been established on Daratar. The most intriguing feature of the system, though, is the planet Alingon. Its name meaning “deceptive”, this world was named by salarian scouts for its ability to throw off sensors -- as their probes landed on the planet the instruments aboard started going awry. The cause was determined to be a high concentration of magnetically active periclase in the core and crust of the planet. This interferes with scans and broadcasts, giving rise to countless spacer stories of pirates lying in wait in Alingon’s magnetosphere -- or crashed ships with untold fortunes stranded on the surface. In reality, pirates would have a hard time locating prey amid the interference and would live lives cut off from the rest of the galaxy -- the magnetosphere kills extraplanetary communication.

Nearby is the Sowilo System, location of the planet Hagalaz. A salarian mining expedition initially discovered this world, which was promptly strong-armed away from them by criminal factions. The exploration rights were then sold to the highest bidder, which led to a brief burst of mining colonies in the 2000s, but most of those were abandoned when other planets were found with more accessible resources. Other worlds in the Sowilo System include Thurisaz, which has a decrepit automated infrastructure for refuelling merchant vessels with helium-3, and Ansuz, a large rock planet with considerable mineral wealth. Once under development by a consortium of robo-mining interests, an epidemic of accidents and sabotage cost the lives of hundreds of workers and eventually drove them offworld. Post-Reaper War, a fresh attempt has been made by interests based on Omega; it remains to be seen whether they will prove more successful.

Elsewhere in the Hourglass Nebula is the Ploitari System, containing the post-garden world Zanethu, along with Thegan, a frozen ball that gives out odd radiation emissions. The system is of minor interest to human historians due to the loss of a freight vessel, the MSV Estevanico, in what was later revealed to be the first conflict between humans and vorcha troops of the Blood Pack. The motivation for Blood Pack aggression against the vessel remains unclear, but the mercenary group's common agendas include training fresh recruits in boarding actions, seizing supplies in opportunistic acts of piracy, and alleviating boredom.

One of the most populous salarian colonies remaining in the Hourglass Nebula is Palthe, which is rebuilding from Reaper attack with moderate success, if only because loyal clan members in more prosperous clusters are sending aid. In a neighbouring system is Nurin, another salarian world that survived the Reaper War, only to have a scare when a Reaper briefly and inexplicably touched down several years after the conflict. It made no hostile move and eventually departed, to the locals’ relief.

Given that all manner of sapient beings once passed through the Hourglass on the route between Omega and Illium, non-salarians do of course live here, albeit rarely in significant numbers. One non-salarian world of note is Garmoraw, a krogan colony. Many of the locals descend from Clan Korwun, and take delight in their usurpation of settlements originally founded by their rivals Clan Vynchar (who were driven from the region by turians during cleanup operations following the Krogan Rebellions). Others are immigrants from Garvug in the nearby Vallhallan Threshold.

Shadowy Denizens

As no-one in the Hourglass represents much of a threat, the Nebula has been used to support facilities owned by organizations with a truly galactic reach and few scruples, which can organise from a position of relative security. Evidence has emerged that the figure (or figures) known throughout explored space as the Shadow Broker ran his, her, its or their information-dealing empire from this cluster. A command ship was hidden in the atmosphere of Hagalaz, and a base was also situated on Alingon. It's believed that only the Broker had the technology to reliably cut through the interference at Alingon, forcing hirelings to come to the planet in person for orders, and to make any calls on the Broker's behalf from other worlds. The vessel at Hagalaz, meanwhile, was both a data repository and a stealth ship. It ingeniously drew its power from the thunderstorms raging constantly on that planet, relying on an interlocking system of kinetic barriers, grounding rods and capacitors to avoid being ripped apart. While the ship is believed destroyed in a confrontation with the human terrorist group Cerberus, these systems were later put to use for the good of the galaxy, for sections of the Crucible that required the safe discharge of tremendous amounts of energy.

Other assistance to the Crucible project was made by Hourglass factions in the form of fleets of freighters, donated to the effort of bringing raw materials to the mammoth undertaking at Pangaea.

The Shadow Broker has been less prominent since the war, though their operation is known to have survived. It may be that the Broker, whoever it is (or whoever they are) is occupied with other things.
"It's obvious who the Broker really is. It's the salarian government funding its intelligence programs by selling select spoils back to us. Then monitoring who knows what and who wants to know what. I mean, come on."
-- Obnoxious drunken human, Aphin's Place, Citadel.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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VALLHALLAN THRESHOLD

A cluster of the Deep Terminus
Dominant or Controlling Power: None
Common Species: Human, asari, krogan, vorcha
Worlds of Note: Garvug
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"It is a dead, empty shell of a rock floating on the edge of the known galaxy. No one comes here. There is no reason to."
-- "Cerastes", drell information broker and native, regarding Vericae
"Conquering a krogan and vorcha world is like buying a beehive with a sign reading 'Pre-Shaken' and saying, 'But darling, it's 20% off!'"
-- Sura Non, volus comedienne
"Huh. Sounds like we should b’ chargin’ them fer cleanin’ up their goddamn space trash an’ shit.”
-- Murtag Kirok, "Executive Vice-President of Explosions", Revenant Corporation


The Vallhallan (or "Valhallan") Threshold is an underpopulated cluster in the Deep Terminus, situated on the rim of the galactic disc. Life this far out is tumultuous at best. The safest and most stable places to live are within the confines of colonies funded by private interests; the corporate giants birthing these entities have a financial desire to protect them, and so provide them with the minimal security needed to fight off roving slavers, raiders, and other hazards of the far Terminus. Settlements are not infrequently taken over all the same. Pirates around planets suitable for drive discharge, like Elohi in the Micah System, are a common threat. In short, this is not a place for those seeking security, but many of the financially struggling residents have little option but to make do.

Prior to the Reaper War, the Threshold connected to the Omega Nebula, the Shrike Abyssal, the Hourglass Nebula, Sigurd’s Cradle, and the Cocytian Spiral (for which it was the sole point of access). Today it still connects to the latter three.

A Note on Terminology

Most names for this region emphasise the dregs of explored space that lie rimward. The human name Vallhallan recalls the triumphant mythic afterlife of the Norse -- but beyond this threshold of death lies the river of hell, the Cocytian Spiral (to be explored in a later post). Irony is alive and well in 22nd Century human cultures.

Denizens

The Threshold is sparsely populated. Most activity in the cluster is due to pirates, terrorists, small wandering bands of krogan, and (in recent years) concentrated corporate interests on Garvug. Ironically, population explosion was once a concern on the planet in question. In 354 CE, Garvug was given to the expansionist krogan to placate them, because no one else wanted to live on the frozen rock. Technically a life-bearing world, Garvug had a small farm belt around its equator and well-insulated marine life in its seas. Less than fifty years later, the krogan had completely adapted, breeding hundreds of young per family in vast underground bunkers. By the turn of the next century, Garvug's narrow strips of coral reef had been destroyed by overfishing and pollutants, and excess krogan took to the stars to find other planets to consume. Garvug remains populated, by krogan and vorcha primarily, but can no longer support large numbers.

Tourism is not an industry in the Threshold. The closest equivalent is corporate inspectors coming out to see how the colonies that their companies funded are coming along and if they are meeting production quotas. Very few people venture out this far into space; fewer still stay. The sparse population and lack of interaction with the rest of the galaxy have had a curious effect on the Threshold: in the words of one resident it became something of a "lonely petri dish", left to its own devices to develop in unique ways. Unfortunately, the population simply isn't large enough to create any truly spectacular cultures, but the difference between the people found here and those one meets anywhere else is notable.

Locations

Trailing from the Threshold coreward towards the Nemean is the region known as The Fridge. This forms a transitional zone as standard galactic space gives way to the low-density expanse that defines the Abyss. The Fridge is called such because the density of stars becomes lower, very few of those stars have planets that allow discharge, and if one isn't careful with their fuel they'll end up as cold debris drifting lifelessly. There are also a number of hazards like supernova remnants or debris fields as one nears the Abyss proper (courtesy of the long-gone dwarf galaxy that tore through). Certain routes charted by exploration vessels are generally safe for navigation, the downside being that these are also plagued with pirates, ready to waylay vulnerable ships during discharge.

In the Threshold itself, further rimward, it is barely any more welcoming. The only world here to achieve recognition in the wider galaxy is Garvug, sole planet of the Paz System, a consequence of a war fought for control of it shortly prior to the Reaper invasion.

While there are few other noteworthy worlds, there are settlements on planets like Kstere -- a sparsely-populated fuelling stop for those passing through, and provider of amenities like modern health services to surrounding systems -- and Vericae, location of the failed Sidewinder Colony mining outpost. More recently, the Nemean-based Revenant Corporation disposed of an old nuclear warhead at Vericae by detonating it on-planet. The fact that nobody particularly cared about this says volumes about the Threshold as a whole.

Other minor planets include Erstwhile, a world with an acidic atmosphere that sustains life only in the form of bacteria.

One of the more frequent destinations, though distant from the primary relay, is the Micah System, which is of interest for a trio of asteroids formed around an element zero core. Farlas, the easiest to mine for low-yield eezo, has a trace of water-bearing minerals and organic carbon. Israfil (the largest) is home to approximately 40 species of microorganisms in its liquid water, while Kakabel has a surface made of hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clays. In a rare example of people outside the Threshold taking notice of it, Israfil was blamed as the source of a prion-based biowarfare agent used by the terrorist group Totenkopf in an attack on Gagarin Station in 2184. While many in the scientific community protested that Israfil could not sustain life on the prion level, the asteroid and its eezo miners were nevertheless quarantined to reassure the public, and until the Reaper War the SSV Manila watched over the ship traffic.

A fuel depot is located at the twin stars of Raheel-Layya, where the primary mass relay is also situated. There are no planets here.

Recent History

In 2185, corporate armies, many of them from companies based in Citadel space, backed a coup of the krogan clan government of Garvug, in exchange for unfettered access to the planet. Eco-engineering firms like Binary Helix and Guanghui Solutions sought license to repair the balance of nature at any cost, while mining firm Sonax Industries wanted access to state-protected iridium deposits. The aborted coup turned into protracted fighting and the “War on Garvug” was big news in the wider galaxy for some months. Although the corporate forces were victorious, in part through trickery, a team of reporters from Second Star Broadcasting later made a discovery that they claimed placed the war on Garvug in an entirely new light. Working undercover for several months at Guanghui Solutions, the journalists uncovered evidence that the company, along with Sonax Industries, was concealing a cache of Prothean technology on Garvug for their own private financial gain. Their documentation garnered the attention of the Citadel Council’s Committee on Paleotechnology, which demanded that the corporations allow their inspection team full access to the Garvug site in question or face reprisals to their offices in Citadel space.

Later that year, the quarian Migrant Fleet passed through the Threshold, refuelling at Raheel-Layya and mining the Micah asteroids. The contacts they made here proved useful the following year at the height of the Reaper Invasion. With the quarians providing support to the galactic alliance after the reclamation of Rannoch, they dispatched ships to the Threshold in order to root out settlements of Cerberus, the collaborationist human agency that had grown like a cancer with Reaper assistance. One facility on Garvug -- Outpost Siberia -- was successfully assaulted.

Fuel pods scavenged from a field of debris in the Threshold -- once attached to a fleet of merchant vessels making long journeys into uncharted space -- were repurposed for the Crucible project. When activated, the Crucible’s fusion reactors consumed entire oceans of helium-3; the fuel pods served as emergency reservoirs.

The relay links to the Valhallan Threshold were among the last restored by the Reapers; for several years, space travel was dependent on crossing The Fridge, a slow and dangerous road -- assuming anyone wanted to make the journey. Post-war, the Threshold is as little-regarded as ever. Few have reason to believe that this will change at any point in the near future.
"Getting to Garvug can be painful, in both the literal and figurative senses. If you have a log of any "tolls" you had to pay entering the Threshold, I'd be happy to reimburse you for the trouble."
-- Hailot Norax, employee of Corel Heavy Industries
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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SIGURD'S CRADLE
Dominant or Controlling Power: None
Common Species: Asari, human, salarian, turian, batarian
Worlds of Note: Sorvatan, Watson, Sanctum
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“...no man now living or ever after would be born who would be equal to him in strength, courage, and in all sorts of courtesy, as well as in boldness and generosity that he had above all men, and his name would never perish in the German tongue, and the same was true with the Norsemen.”

“Did he drink Lesha, though? I mean, that’s what counts.”
-- Human quoting the Þiðreks saga af Bern and salarian Sapient Relations officer, overheard on Sorvatan
“Leviathan sees all. Leviathan remains and Leviathan remembers. The depths, the depths call to you!”
-- Rambling madwoman on Chalkhos, post-Reaper War

Sigurd's Cradle is a reasonably well-populated Deep Terminus cluster. It links on the relay network, both pre- and post-Reapers, to the Omega Nebula, the Rosetta Nebula, the Megalos Breach, and the Vallhallan Threshold.

Explaining its relatively high population is the abundance of natural resources. There is little element zero -- Omega and the Nemean Abyss provide that -- but deposits of useful elements like iridium, palladium, and osmium are common here. One of the most influential trades, though, is that of the stimulant drink Lesha. Popular throughout the Terminus, the coffee-like beverage is created from plants that only grow in the specific environmental conditions of the planet Sorvatan. (Cynics like to point out that with so much invested on that world, efforts to grow more adaptable variants elsewhere are likely to meet with... difficulties). Largely out of the public eye of the wider galaxy due to a careful corporate propaganda machine, the Lesha Wars of Sorvatan have defined much of the planet’s primary industry, and that of surrounding systems -- particularly since the Reaper invasion. Offworld syndicates and mercenaries as diverse as the Valkar-based Clans of Anjul, the Red 19 and Dread Legion PMCs, and a number of Nemean Abyss warlord factions ranging farther afield than usual, have involved themselves in these quiet but deadly conflicts.

A Note on Terminology

Given its access from the Vallhallan Threshold, this cluster also carries a Norse name on human starcharts. Sigurd is a warrior hero in Norse mythology; a more palatable direction following Valhalla than the Cocytian.

History

The earliest settlement of the cluster dates to the Krogan Rebellions. Forces of several krogan clans travelled out here to establish fortresses far from the front lines, particularly when the Turian Hierarchy began turning the tide against them.

Batarian, turian and asari immigration from the Megalos Breach is responsible for populating a number of systems in the region, as is travel from the highly-populated Omega Nebula.

Humans reached the cluster relatively early after joining the galactic community, again despite its distance from their core territory. The film “Blue Steel”, filmed around the planet Lisir, was one of humanity’s first attempts to market entertainment on a galactic scale. The promotional campaign assured viewers that it was “filmed on location in the most dangerous section of the galaxy, the Terminus Systems!”. In fact, the cast and crew were relatively safe, occupying a space station that orbited an unremarkable, lifeless planet. This world’s space stations housed a crew (largely asari) engaged in robo-mining of uranium. When “Blue Steel” was released, human audiences still thought of this as an exotic profession.

The humans named a number of the systems and planets they charted here after famous scientists and thinkers from Earth, a common habit. One of the most successful settlement projects centred on Watson, in the Skepsis System. Although it was a gateway system, the habitable planet here had been passed over by settlers, who were wary of attack by forces from any number of Omega-based factions. Typically, the overly-enthusiastic humans moved through the Terminus without such concerns. Among the human nations colonizing Watson were the Chinese People’s Federation, the United North American States, and the European Union -- all members of the Systems Alliance. The Alliance brokered the infamous “Reykjavik Compromise” on Watson, allowing limited colonization from every coalition in cities comprised of populations from each nation.

Settlements in Sigurd’s Cradle were hit hard by the Reaper invasion, as organized Terminus defence concentrated on defending major installations and trade hubs in regions like the Omega Nebula and the Ad’Thoro Pact member states. The Reapers themselves found other fronts more important, with populated planets like Triginta Petra and Chalkhos seeing minimal harvesting and instead being bombarded from orbit.

Little attention was paid to the struggles taking place here, though the forces of both the Turian Hierarchy and the Quarian Flotilla were supplied late in the war with foodstuffs originating in the Cradle. When they were struck by the Reapers, the agribusinesses of Triginta Petra had a surplus of both plant- and animal-based food products. Both turian troops, who favour a meat-heavy diet, and the quarians, who are typically vegan, showed a marked preference for these recovered rations.

When the cluster was made accessible again several years after the war, the Citadel Council announced that it was leaving development of Sigurd’s Cradle to Omega Station and a loose-knit confederation of Terminus Systems; it provided no further comment on the matter.

Three years after the war, an expedition set out to explore systems and worlds within Sigurd's Cradle previously observed only by unmanned probes. Funded by the Enfvete Consortium and comprising corporations and states from Sigurd’s Cradle, Irune-based Bon Genlon and the Lystheni Republic of Schysoma, the expedition intended to conduct in-depth evaluation of planetary bodies found by human probes a decade or so prior. Enfvete Consortium acquired the data from Outworlds Charting, a formerly Elysium-based company that had previously been contracted under the Systems Alliance.

Several promising terrestrial worlds were identified from the preliminary probe data, including 2179 Hycaria, 2180 Roguan and 2181 Despoina. The Enfvete expedition announced that it would first evaluate known worlds like these before heading for unexplored stars.

Locations

The Skepsis System, location of Watson, also contains the planets Wallace, Darwin, Crick, Pauling, and Keimowitz (site of iridium mining, though the high gravity means work is performed through robots and telepresence). Watson was well-known in human media for two reasons -- spectacular tides brought on by its large moon Franklin, and the bureaucratic disagreements over which Earth nations got to settle there first. This attention also saw it become the setting for the reasonably popular tearjerker HV show, Little Turian in Colony Town. Watson survived the Reaper War, and in fact was one of the only worlds where original Terran national governments were never extinguished nor displaced. This led some to assert that its colonial leaders should have a prominent voice in the restoration of their otherwise defunct nations on Earth, an argument that became heated in 2193 as the SATAE administration prepared for a turnover to civilian rule. In order to defend Watson from the pirates of the Terminus Systems, its moon Franklin is home to two Alliance spaceports and naval bases capable of fielding six fighter squadrons each, along with a classified number of interplanetary ballistic missiles. Mass effect fields keep the gravity in its installations at a comfortable level for long-term living.

One of the most populous worlds in the Cradle, with approximately three billion residents, is Sorvatan. The population primarily consists of batarians and asari, with significant salarian and turian minority demographics. The locals are divided between multiple corporate states, and there is no unified planetary government nor any nation with a single racial composition. Sorvatan also survived the Reapers, but its founding interest -- Lymean Interstellar -- lost so many assets that it went bankrupt and dissolved. Individual cities on Sorvatan have since been bought up by different offworld corporate interests, and the planet now stands divided between its megacorporate city-states. These are almost all concerned with the Lesha trade.

The Decoris System, slightly rimward of Skepsis, was once a stronghold of krogan seeking a base far from the front lines of the Krogan Rebellions. Clan Vynchar’s fortress on the hothouse planet Laena was bombarded by Turian Hierarchy warships penetrating deeper into the Terminus than they have at any time since (it was easier to do so when the Hierarchy wasn't yet an official part of C-Space, being at the time simply a wartime ally). In the aftermath, with the system "placed on the map", interest turned to the neighbouring planet of Sanctum. Ice cracking, anywhere but at the thin strip of equatorial land considered habitable, remains a common employment on Sanctum. The planet is rich in platinum and palladium deposits, as well as boron, which is locally used in semiconductor doping. Not long prior to the Reaper War, Sanctum’s corporate factions learned that Cerberus had involved itself in the planet’s finances. Systems Alliance intelligence agents embedded within the corporate strata began quietly urging the companies to confront Cerberus directly, but financial bickering kept Sanctum’s major stakeholders from acting against the Illusive Man.

"With curious revelation: Even the capital is named for a Terran animal considered untrustworthy."

-- Xuumo-kalashasi, elcor Logistics Officer, regarding Sanctum's city of Vulpes

In the Untilium 0351 System, the Kingdom of Kastoraine forms a minor, single-planet state. It was originally founded in 1937 as an agricultural colony, but after a rocky start was acquired by the Domus Corporation for mineral extraction purposes in 1971. The world underwent a savage civil war to overthrow the corporate administration between the years 2002 and 2014, which saw Domus ejected and the Aldopikranti family proclaimed as monarchs of the planet.

During their invasion of the Cradle, the Reapers struck first from galactic "West", and it is systems here that suffered the most from their attacks.

The Lenal System is the location of a turian colony, Triginta Petra. The Reapers judged the population too low to harvest, and instead struck the settlements with kinetic impactors. They then moved on, trusting that the destruction of the food supply’s main arteries would finish off the inhabitants of such a biota-poor world. They presumed wrong, as most of its colonists lived, buoyed by supply drops conducted by the planet’s longest-standing enemy, warlord Rashtek Chass. Still, this had its catch, and Chass didn’t expect his charity to go unrewarded. The planet has since been pressed into a number of tithes to the warlord under a pretence of repaying a significant debt. Chass lives on the moon of Etrat, orbiting Nutus, also in the Lenal System. His small navy accosts any ship in the area that looks a little too lonely.

Also hit hard by the Reapers was the Mil System. Here are the twin planets Selvos and Chalkhos, previously settled by asari. Two garden worlds so close together would benefit from mutual trade and -- if nothing else -- from tourism due to their near-unique status. However, Selvos had minimal water, and early attempts at creating a hydrosphere met with slow progress that only an asari timeframe could tolerate. The population of the twin worlds grew slowly but steadily, largely consisting of asari and their varying species of mates. It was far from an idyllic settlement -- like many Terminus worlds, the twins were rife with farmers growing psychoactive substances, armed gangs, and genetic engineering practices that would be illegal in Council space. The asari nonetheless had many ambitious long-term plans. For example, they set up habitats on the asteroid Mylasi to oversee a project in which smaller asteroids would be flown to Chalkhos; there the olivine deposits would be recovered and used in sequestering the planet’s carbon dioxide. The deaths of the colonists on both Selvos and Chalkhos during the Reaper War dashed all of these plans. Selvos is now a wasteland of punctured domed habitats and its orbital stations are slag; Chalkhos is rubble. The Reapers also destroyed the orbital stations around Lisir before moving on. There is, however, still some life in the Mil System. The outlying planet Terapso was notable due to its independence from the government of Chalkhos as well as from any other governing body. As a result, its colonized moons and orbital stations, overseeing the helium-3 recovery, were neutral meeting grounds, and competitive efforts to recolonize them have led to a number of short, yet violent conflicts post-Reaper War.

The impoverished planet of Hevdelane, noted for a cosmopolitan population and for the famed krogan hermit Ganar Hektex (who maintained a vigil on a rock for decades until the historic Sorahk eclipse at Aralakh in 2193), is also located in Sigurd's Cradle.

Beyond the settled regions of the Cradle is a string of systems only recently mapped, and as yet largely unexplored. Here is the Psi Tophet System, containing the water world of 2181 Despoina, as well as the planets 2181 Arion, and 2181 Eubolos. Planets in neighbouring systems include 2179 Hycaria and 2180 Roguan (the numbers refer to the year in which they were charted).
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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COCYTIAN SPIRAL

A Deep Terminus Cluster on the galactic rim.
Dominant or Controlling Power: None
Common Species: Batarian, turian, vorcha
Worlds of Note: Dying Slowly (if any worlds here could count)
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"Walking in Dying Slowly, with an unprotected trolley full of crates. Yeah, that's not screaming 'attack, despoil, torture, kill, and eat us, not necessarily in that order' at all."
-- Jarak Shar'Teil, reality HV star

The Nemean Abyss light. The Cocytian Spiral is one of the least regarded clusters in the Deep Terminus. It has all of the danger and squalor of the worst of the Abyss, but none of the resources. As such, few show any interest in it. Most inhabitants -- and there aren't many of them, relatively speaking -- make do as best they can.

Prior to the mass relay network being rearranged in the aftermath of the Reaper War, the Cocytian Spiral connected to the Vallhallan Threshold (itself an underpopulated and little-visited region). Travellers had to pass through the Threshold to reach the Spiral.

The cluster is named for one of the rivers of Hell. Non-human names are similarly depressing.

Locations

The only planet here to be well-known outside the cluster (and for entirely negative reasons) is Dying Slowly, an infamously squalid and lawless world home to warlords, corrupt corporate tycoons, and scavengers. In the same general area are Lost Haven and Auhgru, which opened their meagre spaceports to any ship willing to fight the Reapers; unfortunately the facilities at Auhgru were then damaged by a doomsday cult bombing.

Kulu is a location in the Spiral which hosted a war council for Deep Terminus defence early in the Reaper Invasion. Kraal, meanwhile, is a planet with a poor reputation (even by Spiral standards), slightly coreward from the main cluster. Neither of these worlds have anything to recommend them.

Ashki is one of the most heavily populated planets here, a largely batarian world gripped by civil unrest. Notably, its post-Reaper conflict was waged between two pro-slavery factions, with no hint of the Ub'Hesit (anti-slavery) philosophies that have become a major influence in other batarian-dominant nations.
"The government-backed loyalists had control of most of the defense budget, and they decided to call in some auxiliaries whose loyalty was actually less questionable than that of their own troops."
-- Mekan of Omega, revealing how Ashki is sadly typical of planets here.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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TITAN NEBULA
Dominant or Controlling Power: None
Common Species: Human, batarian (if any count)
Worlds of Note: Cyrene, Capek (arguably)
No, it's not where Titan Corporation comes from. No, there's no relation to the N7 training program. No, there's no reason to go there.
-- Saul Gasley, human freelance scout.

One of the minor Deep Terminus clusters littering the edge of the galaxy, the Titan Nebula is accessed from the Omega Nebula, but is far from its most popular neighbour.

Locations and Denizens

The Titan Nebula is heavily underpopulated. Its gateway system doesn't even have a fuel depot, so minor is the galaxy's interest. Perhaps the only interesting thing about the Titan is that its distance and obscurity have attracted isolationist groups like the cultish Cherkh Hives and the Strata Pact (a radical anti-technology movement who settled on Kopanis in the Journous System). The Kopanis settlement was later destroyed by the major PMC Eclipse, after the paranoid Strata Pact executed the son of an Illium-based magnate.

Other worlds here include the gaseous Idmon, and its moon Cyrene. A transit point between the Nebula and the rest of the Terminus, Cyrene sported a human settlement with ties to the Systems Alliance. Targeted by Collectors, as were a string of underdefended human worlds in the Terminus and Attican Traverse, it later hosted Alliance outposts -- perhaps an effort to convince locals that the overstretched Alliance was belatedly paying attention. A string of minor, underfunded settlements are found beyond Cyrene, mostly human, with occasional batarian, asari, or vorcha colonies.

A Hahne-Kedar facility on Capek (in the Haskins System, location of the primary mass relay) was the source of a VI virus that corrupted mechs and mech parts throughout neighbouring clusters in 2185. This didn't help the region's reputation.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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ROSETTA NEBULA

A cluster of the Deep Terminus, a region of active star formation. It was named largely for its colour, a pleasing shade of rosy pink.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Systems Alliance (barely)
Common Species: Human
Worlds of Note: Joab
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"Mournfully: Humans have no sense. Insistent: I admire them, really, but they could learn to slow down and take things at a sensible pace. Rhetorical flourish: Is there something wrong with the clusters we have?"
-- Danwuunwio, elcor environmental engineer.

The Rosetta Nebula is a cluster recently opened on the galactic rim, deep within the Terminus Systems. It is accessed primarily through Sigurd's Cradle. Activity has been defined largely by exploration and archaeological research (plus piracy targeting the latter). Tragedy has struck often here, be it the loss of the humans' Aeia expedition or the fate of the primate species native to Joab.

Although it has a relatively high human population, and will likely be settled further before long, not many people in the core human systems pay the Rosetta much attention. The lack of interest is perhaps best demonstrated by the carelessness with which humans refer to it -- references to the "Rosette" Nebula, or even (post-2180s) the "Aeia Cluster" are common.

Connections

The Rosetta once linked directly to the Omega Nebula. Today, the route to the region is less convenient, as only the link to Sigurd's Cradle was restored.

History

The primary mass relay of the Nebula, located in the Enoch System, was long one of the many relays through which travel was disallowed. Ever since the devastating Rachni Wars, exploration of the galaxy has proceeded cautiously, with relay activation subject to government overview. This deep into the Terminus Systems, however, no authority (least of all the Citadel Council) has been able to enforce this, and there is evidence of many quiet expeditions through the relay.

As is the case with many of the newer Terminus clusters, it was eager humans who first officially opened the way, with grudging acceptance at best from their Council allies. Humans detected the planet Aeia (later 2175 Aeia) as an Earth-type world via telemetry in 2165. After probe surveys indicated lush vegetation, the ever-expansionist Systems Alliance upgraded the planet to a garden-world colonization priority. The crew of the survey vessel Hugo Gernsback made planetfall in 2173, but soon after their arrival transmissions from the ship inexplicably stopped. The fate of the crew would be determined in 2185, but the disappearance put a damper on colonization, which had been gearing up since human settlement of Joab in 2171. Interest did resume: Today there are more than twenty million people on Joab, and the likelihood of further waves of exploration and settlement is high, especially with so many habitable worlds damaged by the Reapers.

Many secretive and illegal expeditions into Rosetta space have also been made. Notably, it was discovered that the planet Parnassus, within the same system as the common refuelling spot Cyllene, had been deleted from almost all databases; it remains unknown what was being concealed here or who was responsible. The answer may lie in the circles of xenoarchaeology, or at least the less-legitimate trade in ancient artefacts that follows stealthily in its footsteps. Prothean relics are known from the area; a dig site on Joab was invaded shortly before the Reaper War by Blue Suns mercenaries. Other notable criminals, like quarian exile Va'Garisk and the turian Varana Malvos, also established themselves briefly on Joab, as much of the planet outside of the major settlements is unmapped.

Locations

The Enoch System is the location of Joab, along with a fuel depot and the primary mass relay. Thousands of years ago, a primate-like sapient race is known to have lived here. It's unclear whether their extinction was due to Reaper activity or to another calamity -- the indications of total orbital bombardment suggest that if it was the Reapers, the planet was likely underpopulated and so not worth harvesting. If so, Joab was possibly a colony rather than a homeworld -- future expeditions in the region will no doubt seek to confirm this. Joab's natives are known to have exploited the rest of the Enoch System. Debris orbiting the gaseous planet Mizraim indicates that artificial satellites were once in place there before being destroyed. Likewise, surveyors of the first planet, Laban, found bunkers on the surface that had been blown apart by a dreadnought-class weapon.
"In all likelihood, humans. They just covered it up so it would look like ancient history."

"I mean, this is just a crazy theory but maybe it could have been -- just hear me out -- giant robotic squids from the farthest reaches of space."
-- Rasokan Ne'Vist (batarian businessman) and Kenlin Tola (salarian mercenary)

Cyllene and Parnassus are located in the Phi Clio System. An automated helium-3 refuelling station at Cyllene indicates that this remote system was once inhabited. Its distance from the mass relay and the archaic design of the fuel station suggests that it was reached by someone who didn't go through the relay, but discovered it in independent FTL exploration -- quite possibly this was the people of Joab, or others of their species.

Elsewhere in the Rosetta, Blackjack is a trade and supply post known for being somewhat unruly, and with ties to several moderately unsavoury factions in the wider Terminus, both human and batarian. It is probably the most-frequented of the local ports.

A slaving ring once existed on nearby Gurlorn, but was broken before it could become well-established.

Also in the Rosetta Nebula are the Alpha Draconis System, location of 2175 Aeia (and not to be confused with the regular Alpha Draconis, a star much closer to Earth), as well as the Iota Urania System, about which little is reliably known.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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HALCTIS FRONTIER

Called a "frontier" for its location past the rimward edge of the reasonably well-populated Pylos Nebula, this region is generally considered a part of the Deep Terminus.
Dominant or Controlling Powers: Pan-Helvost Consortium, Galactic Empire of Raesva
Common Species: Lystheni salarian, asari
Worlds of Note: Anpyros Prime, Raesva
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"Drones. Y'know, because they're all sexless salarian freaks, and they're corporate types? Also, they're probably watching us through micro-drones."
-- Dala L'Thenna, asari pilot, to associate on the Pan-Helvost border
"I am sovereign. My existence is based around the art of rulership and command. My mouth is to eat, my legs are to walk, my blood is to rule."
-- His Grace, Mano'har-Mohak Vorkhet Jagdish-Dasharathak IX, Esq., Explorator General of the Galactic Empire of Raesva.


The Technocracy of Valkar, a nation in the Pylos Nebula (see later post) is known for its pursuit of scientific advancement. Corporate entities in Valkar space, with ties to trans-sapient Lystheni blocs, were nonetheless hampered by the nation's political structure, proving that no matter how liberal a setting there will always be those who find it stifling and restrictive. Many of the corporate bodies relocated to the neighbouring Halctis Frontier, using ties to a number of Terminus-based salarian clans to develop the worlds they found there. A corporate state, the Pan-Helvost Consortium, was born. They faced opposition in time from other nations, including from the 16th to early 19th Centuries the "Kingdom" founded by turian warlord Alstius Caro. After the collapse of the Kingdom in 1811, the Consortium relaxed somewhat. It endures to the present day.

Locations and Denizens

Stretching across the reach known as the Helvost, on the side of the cluster nearest to the Pylos Nebula, is the territory of the Pan-Helvost Consortium. Anpyros Prime is a major Consortium World. Crossing the entire Frontier, meanwhile, is the Vasoc Line, a series of historic battle stations and naval bases created by the old Kingdom of Caro. In 2175, the Pan-Helvost Consortium acquired the remnants of the Line installations and began restoring and repairing the stations, intent on using them to secure their Galactic East border against incursion. After the Crucible Event, however, the destruction of the relay network left the stations with a skeleton crew, their garrisons stripped to help restore order in more populated territories. In the Consortium's absence, a coalition of privateers took residence, forcibly evicting the skeleton forces. With their fleets months away via traditional FTL, the Pan-Helvost Chancellorate put their resources to use, hiring Myrmidon Security Services (a core asset of Titan Corporation) to harass the privateers.

Neighbouring nations such as the Desalos Bastion (an asari-salarian union) are suspicious of Consortium activities, especially since the Myrmidon forces struck at outlying worlds in Desalos territory (targeting not them but the squatting pirate factions).

On the far side of the frontier sits the Most Serene and Independent Asari Republic of Raesva (which may be using any number of other grandiose names depending upon when a traveller visits). The capital, Raesva, is an old asari colony built on the ruins of a Prothean city. It’s ruled by about ten asari dynasties in Prothean-built spires who compete constantly, while most of the population live in poverty literally beneath them. Other Prothean ruins litter the area, including on the world of Dretirop. Raesva has a highly overrated view of its own worth. It's known to hire privateers to harass the shipping of other nations, but its distance from other powers means that it has yet to truly provoke anyone. In the aftermath of the Reaper War, it took advantage of the devastation to expand its holdings, forming the "Galactic Empire of Raesva". Exiled batarian noble Mano'har Jagdish-Dasharathak, having married a local Archoness, was bestowed with the title of Explorator General, giving him carte blanche to colonize and exploit any and all unclaimed worlds he deemed to be of interest to Raesva's growing "empire". One of these worlds he decided to name Manoharia, after the most worthy person he knew.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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MEGALOS BREACH

A cluster of the Deep Terminus
Dominant or Controlling Power: Robath Freehold
Common Species: Batarian, asari, turian
Worlds of Note: Samhaus
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"There are consequences for everything”
-- Matriarch N’Rosa, Robath Lord


The minor cluster known as the Megalos Breach is home to the moderately-powerful (by Terminus standards) Robath Freehold. Founded some five hundred years ago after the destruction of the Greystorm Fleet in the Battle of Keening Edge, the Freehold is a batarian-dominated nation with turians and asari forming significant minorities. Both minority races have largely congregated in a handful of cities and districts, and maintain separate military forces under the jurisdiction of the Robath Department of Defense. As the local turians retain the martial traditions of their ancestors in the Hierarchy, turian military power is disproportionate to their small population, being larger than both the state’s standing armies and the asari huntress bands.

A few years after the Reaper War, which the Freehold survived, a viral disease affecting only dextro races -- the so-named "Robath Blue" -- affected a change in power. Uninfected civilians within quarantine zones began challenging the state units maintaining barricades, demanding screening measures for evacuation. Shortly after a blackout imposed by the government under batarian Lord Esatha, these challenges became protests, then riots. Turian forces and allied batarian units rose in open rebellion, clashing with state forces and asari huntress bands. Aided by external paramilitary forces and an ever-increasing number of defections among loyalist units, anti-Esatha forces succeeded in placing turian Lord Arcitis in power. Once the coup was complete, a cure was developed. Multiple lords, including asari notables, hard-line conservative elements, and those with close ties to Esatha, formally withdrew from the Court in the aftermath. Many saw this move as a precursor to a second uprising, and several battalions and a flotilla of paramilitary forces were hired on an “indefinite” basis by the Arcitis government. The Freehold has, however, been quiet since, no doubt focused on its internal issues. If the Robath Blue was, as many suspect, a bioweapon aimed at reducing the potential military power of the turian faction, it clearly backfired.

Locations

Major locations in the Robath Freehold include the Grisios System, site of the capital planet, Samhaus.

Elsewhere in the Breach is the planet Paerth. In 2191, the Akhmokan Batallion, a centuries-old mercenary organization, crushed a local insurgency group here, one that allegedly had ties to the Nemean drug cartel, Rising Hymn. While the disposal of Paerth's insurgents was largely considered an inevitability, the sudden takeover sent shockwaves through surrounding Terminus clusters. Political fallout soon brought both Illium and Citadel Security into the spotlight.
"Members used narcotics to 'see God'. Eventually the whole thing fell apart, of course. The faithful became addicted to their own product, and a savvy member of the cult began to market it. Take this with a grain of red sand..."
-- On the birth of Rising Hymn.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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BENTHIC REACH

A minor cluster in the Deep Terminus.
Dominant or Controlling Power: None
Common Species: Human, turian, vorcha
Worlds of Note: Hinath
"The colour of the smoke is determined by the heat of the fire, as we say.”
--Maladact Tarn, turian drug runner
“Y-You think thissss’ll change... anything? Y-ouuu thin’ other people won’ replace m-muh-muh-me? N-nothing... ever... changes... in the Terminussss.”
-- Caldus Discori, pirate and slaver (final words)

Beyond the influence of any starfaring power, be it the Citadel Council or the myriad nations of the Terminus, the Benthic Reach is an area defined by fresh colonies, rarely populous and tending to fail at least half the time. From here was reached the Scorpius Nebulae, which were only just being explored when the Reapers arrived in the galaxy. Although the Reach, and the clusters beyond it, offer opportunity for a fresh start, existence here is often perilous.

A Note on Terminology

Benthic refers to anything occurring at the bottom of a body of water. It therefore recalls the terms Abyss and Abyssal, but even deeper –- fitting, for a lawless and dangerous region that while somewhat safer is nonetheless unattractive in comparison to the Nemean, a consequence of comparatively limited resources. Benthic life literally consists of bottom-feeders, a sly reference to the pirates, slavers and other assorted scum too often found here.

Locations

On the far side of the Reach was New Dawn, which received some notice for being the most distant privately-funded human colony. A civilian insurrection led by archaeologist Hans Bekner allegedly took control of the settlement in 2185, and then just as swiftly surrendered to colonial authorities. Not long afterwards, New Dawn was abandoned -- supposedly due to sudden gravimetric disturbances from a distantly neighbouring system, caused by the destruction of the planet Yomi (accessed from New Dawn through a single relay jump to the outer Scorpius Nebulae). It is now known that the entire affair was part of a campaign by agents of the salarian Special Tasks Group and the Systems Alliance Navy to end the threat of the malignant parasitic lifeform known as QoroQ.

Colonies in the Benthic Reach such as Jakita (populated by turians) and Oberon (populated by humans) tended to pass under the radar of any major power. Attempted colonies on worlds such as New Utrecht, Savannah (both human) and Viconius (turian) were destroyed by slavers. The Discori group, responsible for these three attacks, also later destroyed a salarian research colony on Chalt (owned by Tzal Incorporated). Caldus Discori, the group's leader, operated from a base on Hinath, a world supporting several struggling mining communities, none particularly productive. His raiders were well known in this part of the Terminus and given a wide berth, but Discori wasn’t powerful or dangerous enough to attract the attention of anyone from further afield, who would have had the power to remove him. He and his organization were eventually destroyed by a team of unaligned mercenaries seeking to make a point regarding the slave trade.

On the edge of the Reach is Prospero Station. Founded circa 2000 to exploit eezo mining on nearby worlds, it became known as a run-down and depressing installation. Not enough eezo was found to justify frequent visits from further afield, and the hoped-for economic boom never materialised.

SCORPIUS NEBULAE

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Dominant or Controlling Power: None (so far as we know...)
Common Species: None (so far as we know....)
Worlds of Note: Yomi (destroyed)
"There are tens of thousands of potentialities within this galactic habitable zone alone. Not all of them care to exist in neat little boxes for succinct scientific definition whilst smug anthropomorphized observations are made of their cultural or biological deficiencies compared to the Council norm."
-- "Cute Young Feline Mammal", mysterious contact for the STG


The Scorpius Nebulae are regions of active star formation in the Deep Terminus, beyond explored territory. Accessed presently via a relay in the Benthic Reach, they remain almost entirely unexplored. It's unknown what might be found here, though since the nebulae were the apparent source of the latest wave of the dangerous QoroQ intelligence -- a advanced parasitical fungus considered a threat to all known life -- the galaxy may not want to know. The QoroQ, incidentally, is believed destroyed for good.

Locations here included Yomi, the source of the recent outbreak, and since destroyed by the Special Tasks Group in the act of containing it.

VEGAS CLUSTER
Dominant or Controlling Power: None
Common Species: Human, asari, salarian, elcor
"He's the King, baby."
-- Jak'Gathi nar Thunderkats, HV star


Named for a human city renowned as a site of organised gambling and entertainment, this cluster's systems were in turn largely named for human entertainers, particularly those associated with the city in some form. The mass relay leading here was opened only within the last few decades, as part of human colonization efforts sponsored by the Systems Alliance. Other Citadel races, notably asari, salarians and elcor, have to a lesser degree followed them.

Locations

Typical of locations here is the Presley System. The seventh planet of Presley (90% covered in water) supported the White Waters colony, a multi-species settlement specialising in growing nutritious algae. White Waters suffered an orbital bombardment as part of the effort to contain the QoroQ infestation. The "disaster" known to the rest of the galaxy was first reported by MilleniumNet Communications, who sent out a repair vessel to the colony after a communications drop-off resulted in over 15 galactic standard hours of comm silence. The ship discovered the settlement to be mostly in ruin.

Other worlds in the cluster include Vetek, where Blood Pack forces once clashed with human PMC, the Scimitars.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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OMEGA NEBULA

A centrally-located region of star formation in the Near Terminus, and the only real contender for the unofficial role of T-Space "capital".
Dominant or Controlling Power: None official (unofficial: Aria T’Loak, Pirate Queen of Omega)
Common Species: Asari, salarian, turian, batarian, human, krogan, elcor, hanar, volus, vorcha, indigs
Worlds of Note: Lorek, Kloro, Thunawanuro, Al’hanon, Eingana
Space Stations of Note: Omega, The Wreck, Yomuuk Belt facilities
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“It looks like a mushroom cloud, like destruction arrested. I once mentioned this to a colleague and she suggested that it was a blessing, that this terrible moment should be suspended, contained across the centuries, the energy tapped without the eventual fallout. I had to disagree. The fallout from Omega covers half the Terminus, and the galaxy’s cancer is owed to Omega.”
-- Professor Adam Widawski, University of Joughin.
“With regards to opening a more extensive network of trade routes in the Terminus, rest assured that we’re exploring the possibilities and will move ahead as expediently as possible. You’re aware, of course, of the offers from C-Space to assist in those efforts -- let me put any concerns to rest right now and assure you that we’ll be moving ahead independently. The Systems have existed for thousands of years without oversight or welfare from the bureaucrats in the Citadel, and will continue to exist -- indeed, to thrive -- without letting them make a grab for our relays.”
-- T’Loak Underboss Kang Su-jeon, in an address to the Committee for Terminus Interstellar Commerce, post-Reaper War
"Things happen on Omega or they don't happen."
-- Weyrloc Yarrn, Blood Pack engineer


The Omega Nebula is one of the most important star clusters in known space. It has long been the hub of the Terminus Systems, drawing people in from across the galaxy. The Terminus by its nature has no centralised authority, but while there isn't a capital there is the shadowy suggestion of something loosely akin to it, in the great space station from which the Nebula takes its name. Orbiting in the Sahrabarik gateway system, Omega has been a haven for criminals, terrorists, and outcasts for thousands of years. At times, the station has been left abandoned for centuries, only to be reactivated by a new group of outlaws seeking a fresh start. Omega's original design gave way to haphazard expansion by scrabbling factions of every species. It would be dangerous to assume, though, that there is no order here. Districts are often run directly by armed syndicates, which exist in a fluid and complex community structure, wherein each is aware of its current position of power relative to neighbours, and all are ultimately subordinate to the whim of the most powerful faction, that of Aria T’Loak, who is unofficially the leader of the station -- and so by some reckoning, the closest thing to a spokesbeing for the entire Terminus. Certainly, during the Reaper War, T’Loak succeeded in commanding an unprecedented full-scale alliance between the Big Three mercenary companies, and even prior to this, at her lowest point as a refugee on the Citadel, was granted a wary respect and personal attention by the asari councillor herself.

A Note on Terminology

Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, is the end of all things, perhaps an odd name for a hub of industry and trade, but the station’s reputation as the “dark, twisted” heart of the Terminus, held in opposition to the Citadel, is enduring. The nebula in which Omega is situated (a rich cloud of star formation) takes its name from the station -- itself a sign of the latter’s prominence.

Each species bloc has its own name for the station and what it represents to them. The community-conscious asari call it by a name that translates to “the heart of evil”; the salarians name it “the place of secrets” (note that in salarian cultural psychology, secrets can be inviting or a warning, depending on bodily cues); the disciplined, centralized turians name it “the world without law” (an utterly damning accusation in their culture); and the krogan name it the “land of opportunity”, ironically enough likely the most accurate and neutral of the labels, though to krogan sensibilities the commitment to individual selfishness is implicitly lauded.

Denizens

All space-faring species known to the galactic community are represented in the Omega Nebula. Walk the districts and arcologies of Omega Station for long enough, and one will see members of even the most obscure “indig” or client race. Given that Omega is arguably a microcosm of wider galactic demographics, though, most of the almost eight million inhabitants are from the recognised major species -- and one shouldn’t forget the vorcha colonies littering the lower levels. Trade in element zero and any number of other valuable commodities attracts all, and few are turned away -- so long as they respect the “One Rule” of the station and pay dues to the T’Loak Syndicate. Omega is an odd combination of welcoming and dangerous, where one is likely to be attacked if they enter the wrong district without escort, but where species, creed and origin overall count for far less than money. The Citadel perception of the station as a violence-torn hellhole is somewhat distorted -- this isn't the Abyss, and a fair number of people enjoy reasonably secure, happy lives here, but nor is Omega for the faint of heart.

Factions represented on Omega come from across the Terminus, including most prominently the “Big Three” mercenary bands -- Eclipse, the Blue Suns, and Blood Pack. In the decades preceding the Reaper War, these three grew to be leading players in the PMC industry, and each became comparable in power to an actual interstellar government. All three control large areas of the station directly. Also represented here prior to its collapse under Reaper onslaught was the Batarian Hegemony, which fostered anti-Citadel sentiment at any point where it was at odds with that wider community -- most especially when it left said community completely following human settlement of the Skyllian Verge. The Hegemony and interests loyal to it controlled or traded with local worlds like Kloro (settled in 1384) and Eldraam (settled in 1804) -- and in 1913 they invaded and annexed an independent asari colony in the Fathar System, renaming it the batarian colony of Lorek. While large reaches of the Attican Traverse, most notably the Verge, were long considered zones of projected batarian expansion but in truth little-exploited, the lure of Omega as a trade hub and a source of element zero meant that the Hegemony often found the funds and political will required to establish a hold out here in the Nebula.

Omega is by far the most famous trading hub in the cluster, but there are several other busy installations that anywhere else in the Terminus would be defining of their region, but here are secondary (albeit still host to millions of locals and transients). The Wreck, a unique facility constructed from abandoned starships fused together, is perhaps the most interesting. Only two centuries old, its origins lie in an entrepreneurial pirate crew that discovered its foundation; a heavily damaged and abandoned dreadnought, a victim of a battle long forgotten. The ship itself was no longer capable of movement, and the pirates lacked the means to properly salvage it. They began using the hulk as a means of storing loot, and soon hit upon the idea of having others rent space aboard it. When the storage capacity was finally used up, a second generation of pirates decided to weld another wreck of a ship to the greater structure. Thus began a gradual cycle that led to the creation of a unique installation. Over time multiple factions settled on the growing hulk, and brought with them more space in the form of other ships.
“It’s like Korlus in space, only functional.”

“And the environment outside is more appealing.”
-- Overheard in Omega’s Kilaji District

Third most prominent behind Omega and The Wreck is the Yomuuk Belt. A collection of trade outposts, repair stations, resource extraction operations and commercial facilities inside an asteroid field, it has long lingered in the shadow of Omega, though it is reasonably lively and prosperous in its way. The controlling interest in the Yomuuk Belt is a collection of krogan clans, including holdouts of clans otherwise removed from power in more influential regions such as the former Krogan DMZ. After the Reaper War, with the genophage cure having been received by many Yomuuk krogan who took pilgrimage to Tuchanka, the clans attempted to “legitimise” their influence and formed a (sadly rather dysfunctional) governing board. As with Omega itself, the Belt has entered an arguable “golden age” with the partial reconciliation of C-Space and the Terminus over their shared ordeal with the Reapers. In Yomuuk’s case, ties to the galaxy’s “other half” include the local clans’ backing of the Tuchankan Defence Fleet (see later post on Krogan DMZ). As active contributors to the funding and crewing of the fleet, the clans of the Yomuuk Board have allowed for the possibility of a Tuchankan political presence in the nebula. Politically, the major Tuchankan factions supporting the Fleet are allies of the Citadel Council (some factions such as the Urdnot Coalition and Republic of Ghurst have embassies on the Citadel itself), but the situation is far from clear-cut, and krogan fleets might be more palatable to many Omegans than those of Council races.

Various minor and often temporary trade stations, supply depots and maintenance yards are scattered in systems around these economic hubs.

Relay Connections

Pre-war, the Nebula connected to an astonishing array of clusters in the Terminus and the Attican Traverse, including
  • Caleston Rift
    Crescent Nebula
    Eagle Nebula
    Hawking Eta
    Hourglass Nebula
    Ismar Frontier
    Pylos Nebula
    Rosetta Nebula
    Shadow Sea
    Sigurd’s Cradle
    The Phoenix Massing
    Tangeal Expanse (via Albhon Relay)
    Titan Nebula
    Valhallan Threshold
    Vesilden Cascade
Post-Reaper War, the Omega Nebula connects via relay to:
  • Hourglass Nebula
    Nemean Abyss
    Pangaea Expanse
    Pylos Nebula
    Red Rift
    Sigurd’s Cradle
    Titan Nebula
    Vesilden Cascade
    Zahel Sea
Absent intact relay links, the "Future Corridor" temporarily linked the Nebula to the Tangeal Expanse, and a “Silk Road” (inspired by that accessed from outlying regions of the Shrike Abyssal) to the Red Rift.

Locations

Central to the Nebula is the primary gateway that is the Sahrabarik System, consisting of the star Sahrabarik and its brown dwarf companion, Urdak. The system is about 12 billion years old and has long since used up the deuterium needed to fuel fusion, so Urdak isn’t luminous. Its heat and gravity make it unpopular for development, though consistent rumours place the private residences of various syndicate leaders on its moons. Whatever the truth of the matter, battles between syndicate vessels are often observed here. News outlets on Omega maintain satellites at Urdak’s Lagrange points for real-time coverage of these battles, which garner high viewer ratings. Elsewhere in the system, Imorkan is the main source of helium-3 fuel for ships travelling to or from Omega. Most of its fuelling stations are run by criminal cartels, who engage in cutthroat (sometimes literally) pricing wars. Imorkan is also widely known for its layover stations, where pirates can find fuel, ammunition, intoxicants, gambling, and sexual companionship at any hour. Some of the stations are quite intriguingly exotic, such as Hanoa Station, controlled by hanar (its translated name in fact means “congregation of people”)

One unique feature of the system was the Omega-4 relay, the dark counterpart to the primary relay in a manner ironically similar to how Omega is supposed to reflect the Citadel. Omega-4 was a unique red-hued relay traversed by the Collectors, a Reaper-controlled “species” of debased Protheans long known only as mysterious, rarely-seen visitors. The relay was surrounded by hazard beacons and automated warnings, as over the last thousand years many ships attempted to pass through it, but none returned. The only vessels to pass freely back and forth through the relay were those of the Collectors. Some suggested that a black hole was found at the far end; others (mostly the impoverished underclass of Omega) believed that it was the route to some form of paradise. Most, though, simply believed that the Collectors captured or destroyed those passing through. It’s now known that the relay led to the galactic core; in the aftermath of the historic mission through Omega-4 by Commander Shepard, the rogue human agency Cerberus, having established ties with Aria T’Loak’s organisation, constructed several research bases on the far side, while using Omega Station as a supply hub for its convoys. This unfortunately allowed them to temporarily wrest control of Omega from T’Loak and other established players using Reaper technology. Like the Collectors themselves, Cerberus was soon reduced to a tool of the eldritch invaders.

A string of systems around Sahrabarik contain marginally habitable planets, but tend to be ignored, as Omega itself is both too great a lure and full of armed factions easily provoked or tempted by new settlements. Six hours of FTL travel from Omega Station is the Eris System. Of its seven planets, the second, Gelai, is habitable. The planet is covered in thick, lush forests, and Gelai is considered a perfect place for arms and drug dealers to make their deals, or for people to hide temporarily. However, the fauna on the planet is incredibly aggressive, and forests are hard to navigate due to the density of the flora. There are very few patches of clear ground, making it hard to land anything larger than a corvette. Combining this with the fact that the system is “on the edge of Aria’s yard”, there are very few groups willing to stay on Gelai for long. Another overlooked system proximate to Omega is the Vinoss System, containing the icy world, Shelba.

Distant enough to provide alternatives to Omega that are more accessible from certain incoming directions (and from those avoiding the primary relay and its traffic), the trading hubs of the Yomuuk Belt and the Nurok System (location of The Wreck, plus the discharge-useful gas giant Mokr) are situated at opposing fringes of the nebula. This is probably fortunate, or else they’d be rivals, and in the Terminus such rivalries lead to war. From a position near The Wreck is accessed the Vesilden Cascade (see next post) and any number of minor colonies; it was here that Terminus forces fought off an invasion by the resurgent Theocracy of Gruul during the Reaper War. Losing The Wreck would have been disastrous to the region’s defence and economic capability.

Slightly rimward of Sahrabarik is the Fathar System. Here is the influential Batarian Confederacy member world of Lorek. Administrated by a branch of the Crimson Chains, a pre-war slaver organisation whose leadership drew from active members of the Special Intervention Unit, Lorek has come to represent the more distant member worlds in the Confederacy, which is based in the Kite’s Nest. With its slave population emancipated during the Reaper invasion, Lorek has generated several fascinating institutions, including a Second Founding of Justicars, bringing treasured asari traditions in altered form to batarian territory.
"Some pathetic, waste of oxygen Justicar defied the oaths she swore and looted the Justicar Temple on Thessia, stole a bunch of irreplaceable artefacts, and ran off to the waiting arms of Lorek -- a planet which, I’ll point out, was an asari world before the Hegemony annexed it."
-- Liria T'Remi, asari mercenary, with a less complimentary perspective.

Located in the same system is Korar, now largely abandoned. A few miners eke out an existence on the surface, selling their ore at Lorek and praying that the intermittent raids by pirate clans will pass their homestead by. Notably, there have been no children born on Korar since the infamous pirate raid of 2047, when every child on the planet was rounded up and taken as a slave. Any couple finding themselves pregnant preemptively move offworld.

Other batarian holdings in Omega Nebula include Kloro, which remained independent from the Hegemony. Conflict over its eezo deposits gave this world a history of civil war. Internal fighting only ceased when external threats unified the local armies against them, and then promptly devolved back into infighting after the threat had passed. After a final conflict spanning nearly two decades, the different factions were finally unified under a single military government headed by Governor Jemak.

A holding of the Hegemony (and used as a staging ground for the annexation of Lorek, or Esan as it was then known), the Sharak System on the nebula’s fringe features the world of Eldraam. This long-established colony was wiped clean by Reaper bombardment. Batarians with allegiance to the Hegemony also established themselves in the Batalla System: even more infamous than Korar was Batalla’s Logasiri, where slaves were worked to death in abysmal conditions.

The rest of Batalla System is far more welcoming. Here is the elcor planet of Thunawanuro, a peaceful world that is technically independent but which takes its cues from the Courts of Dekuuna to the degree that it is all but a colony. If the elcor were a Council member, this state of affairs would be considered unduly provocative, but few find themselves able to summon outrage over elcor -- a mixed blessing for the race in question. Completing the Batalla System is the gas giant Nearog, whose moons attract treasure hunters looking for the mythical eezo stockpiles of infamous pirate warlord Essul (moons include the mockingly-named Ressamun Quits, in "honour" of one frustrated hopeful). Thunawanuro's government keeps an eye on traffic around the planet; the elcor are not a notably aggressive people, but with Thunawanuro’s settlers having endured gravity at a level crushing even to their species, few wise people wish to provoke them. The elcor also control several districts on Omega Station, including Carrd and Little Thunawanuro (considered rough and dangerous by their standards, but renowned for its sugarpears).

Leaving the centralized position of Omega Station in the direction of the Pylos Nebula and the Yomuuk Belt, there is found a string of industrial systems. As is common for this part of the Terminus, most are officially independent but unofficially owe a cut of the profit, or protection money, to various local syndicates, most notably, of course, the T’Loak syndicate.

One such location is the Kairavamori System. Named for the Uwan Consortium, the batarian manufacturing firm that financed its exploration, the planet Uwan Oche provides much of the boron allotropes used in omni-gel throughout the Terminus. The area has naturally become a haven for pirates, who attempt to steal the refined gel or its ingredients as soon as the cargo ships leave the atmosphere. The neighbouring planet of Vatar would be habitable except for its carbon-dioxide atmosphere and an icy surface that kills most oxygen-producing bacteria. Nonetheless, mercenary companies and slavers have numerous strongholds on the planet, out of reach of any galactic authority.

One outlier here is the Arinlarkan System, known not so much for production as for the loss of a valuable commodity: the system’s planet of Utha is famous as a haven for escaped slaves. UV and gamma radiation from the Class-F Star Arinlarkan make its worlds unappealing for settlement. Utha, however, serves as a waystation for slaves escaping their batarian masters. Its considerable radiation belt and electrical storms grant cover from many common types of sensors. Fleeing ships typically hide on Utha long enough to discharge their drive cores and stock up on deuterium before trying to make it to the cluster’s mass relay.

Rimward regions of the Nebula see a greater concentration of turians, often in partnership with batarians. A major nation in the area -- and expansionist in the post-Reaper period -- is the Imperial Dominion of Al’Hanon. Based in the Al’hanon System and with colonies on worlds such as Trueme, the militiaristic Imperium was originally forged from the remnants of several shattered, predominantly batarian, mercenary legions and their families, following a disastrous war effort several hundred years ago by a long-forgotten state. Seeking to establish a stronghold for raiding operations near Omega Station, the mercenaries discovered a nearby turian mining colony and opted to approach the colonists with an offer to protect them from pirate bands, in exchange for resources and the use of their colony as a base. The eventual partnership endured. The Dominion came out of the Reaper War relatively intact compared to many of its neighbours. One of a handful of Terminus nations capable of self-sufficiency following the collapse of the Relay network at the end of the war, the Dominion proved capable of taking in a number of refugees and others displaced by the conflict, most often from colonies settled by turian separatists (e.g. nearby Raxana) and human colonists with strong anti-Alliance leanings. The collapse of the Hegemony also resulted in a boom among the Dominion’s batarian population, as lower-caste citizens had fled the Reaper onslaught on the Kite’s Nest.

(Raxana is a world with a typically unstable political history, being ruled by a band of ex-hastatim turians under Kalithrax Antonidas, and later by those in the pocket of Batarian State Intelligence).

As the Omega Nebula is reasonably proximate to the Far Rim, quarian colonies were historically found here. The world of Has’Sey was one of the few places this side of the Perseus Veil where Geth were produced, and during the Geth Uprising the synthetics were only prevented from gaining a foothold outside the Veil due to the actions of batarian forces from Eldraam, who rescued thousands of quarians and bombarded the colony in accordance with “slave revolt suppression” tactics. Has’Sey is long abandoned; sadly, Eldraam has joined it as a dead world, post-Reapers.

A final location of note is the Amada System, of great interest to salvage hunters, xenoarchaeologists, and biologists. The lush world of Eingana is littered with wreckage from the fleets of two ancient species -- the thoi’han and the inusannon. Although no records of the conflict remain, most historians agree that both races wanted to colonize Eingana, and neither were willing to share. The two lost hundreds of ships in a series of battles over Eingana and its moon, Barraiya; many of these were eventually pulled in by the planet’s gravity well. The mass effect drive cores of these ships broke apart, dumping refined element zero over large stretches of landscape. This poisoned the environment and a wave of extinctions followed. Many of the animal species that adapted show a tendency to develop biotic powers, akin to Thessian life (only more aggressive). The local fauna make colonization a deadly peril. Also in this system is located the ammonia-methane ice giant, Anjea. Penetrating scans have revealed large numbers of hollow objects circulating in the planet’s equatorial cloud bands. These objects appear to have “sails” or “wings” attached, allowing them to be borne aloft by Anjea’s winds. While they are too deep to be reached for study, popular conjecture in xenoarcheological circles holds that they are “coffins” of an ancient race who laid their dead to rest in the gas giant. Perhaps there is a connection to the (ritualistic?) wars around Eingana.

An additional point of interest in this system is the wreckage of the SSV Normandy, on the planet Alchera. A monument was placed on the site where this historic vessel came to rest after an ambush by Collectors.

A Final Note

Although there is no constitutional order to the region, the short-lived Cerberus occupation of Omega Station was viewed by most as akin to an illegal regime, and the successful restoration of control to Aria T’Loak was received by many as a hand-over to the “rightful” ruler. This has solidified T'Loak's position, and given her uneasy ties with Citadel powers, has helped thaw relations between the two major blocs -- at least to some extent.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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VESILDEN CASCADE

A group of minor star clusters in the proximity of Omega.
Dominant or Controlling Power: None
Common Species: Batarian, Lystheni salarian, vorcha
Worlds of Note: Paeol IV
Space Stations of Note: Altanquin Facility
“We can’t stop the Reapers. Thousand tiny gods, we’d barely even slow them down. No. Let the blasphemers and their Council masters fight the war. There’s no return in seceding yet, the Reapers would just swallow us whole. But if we wait until after the war...”
-- Reytila, overly optimistic member of the Drell Liberation Front


Named by scouts from the worlds that became the Vonskar Coalition, this region is a maze of minor relays and underpopulated clusters proximate to the Omega Nebula. With Omega and its neighbours looming so large, few come here to pursue what would always be lesser profit than that available in the Nebula. Of course, with a lack of interest comes isolation, a commodity in its own right. A string of factions have claimed the empty spaces here over the centuries, creating any number of minor nations, star-faring or otherwise. Many fell apart or depopulated themselves through later exodus, while a few endure.

Within the Cascade are found small nations like the Lystheni Republic of Schysoma (populated by salarians) and the Ha’Shan Confederacy (batarian), states which remain independent and functional simply because no larger faction has yet expressed interest in them. Even the Reapers came late, and that alone explains why such small and underpowered nations survive to the present.

More ambitious attempts to colonise were made in earlier centuries. Empires came and went, including the Thanal Combine and the Harkoul, now both footnotes. (A Harkoul, incidentally, is a Valkarin animal akin to a large spider). On one occasion, the Cascade attracted attention from a major power. One of the many long-dead nations established here made the mistake of provoking Batarian Hegemony interests in the Omega Nebula. Largely forgotten today, the war that resulted saw the nation in question collapse. Batarian mercenary bands hired to defend the besieged pocket empire were left homeless and without pay, unable to return to the Hegemony that they had been fighting against. They turned an eye to raiding in the Omega Nebula’s rimward reaches -- the Imperial Dominion of Al’Hanon had its genesis with one such group. Military assets from both the aggressor nation and the Hegemony expeditionary forces still litter the region, sometimes prompting spectacular salvage finds. One crippled dreadnought abandoned on the edge of the Omega Nebula became the core of The Wreck, while another discarded dreadnought (this one of Hegemony design) was eventually discovered by fanatics of the Biotic Research and Reformation Society. Utilising several of the obscure relays in the region, these human cultists later brought it to Paeol IV to establish their short-lived “salvation” camp.

One of the more recent factions to attempt settlement in the Cascade (including on Paeol IV, contesting the human biotics) was the Drell Liberation Front. An organization of independent drell violently opposed to the Illuminated Primacy and the notion of drell alliance/subservience to non-drell, they had scattered operatives across the near-Terminus, and reaching to Rakhana itself. Never numerous -- they were, after all, outcast members of one of the least populous sapient races -- they made a zealous if overly-optimistic attempt to establish a nation of their own, seeding a number of start-up colonies on worlds in the Vesilden Cascade; as well as attacking other small, independent drell settlements in the area that didn’t join up, for example Hiddekel. Their settlement on Peaol IV was seized from them by Marcus Koren and his Biotic Research and Reformation fanatics, the first of what would soon become (to be sly in phrasing) a cascade of losses. It was their need to defend their meagre holdings in the Vesilden that saw the DLF contribute forces to the defence of The Wreck from resurgent Theocracy of Gruul attackers.

The tiny DLF colonies were scoured clean by the Reapers -- a blow to the underpopulated drell species, and the extinction of their most significant population outside of the Illuminated Primacy.
“Perhaps they were hoping their efforts wouldn’t be forgotten this time? Because, you know, drell. Guess the Reapers had other ideas?”
-- Overheard on The Wreck

Locations

One facility of note in the region is Altanquin, a ship foundry (and black market trading hub) staffed by vorcha. This isn’t as foolish as it might sound: vorcha make for cheap labour, and they adapt to the extreme heat of the foundry floor relatively quickly. Altanquin temporarily became a popular destination during the early days of the Reaper War, when Omega was out of commission due to Cerberus occupation.

Peaol IV is a tropical world habitable by most species. Neither its drell nor its human would-be-masters lasted for more than a few months, and today the world is once again empty of settlements.

Hiddekel, an independent drell colony raided by the DLF (prompting an exodus of certain families) was among the worlds wiped of life by the Reapers.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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TANGEAL EXPANSE

A cluster in the Near Terminus.
Dominant or Controlling Powers: Principality of Velka, Federation of Joseo
Common Species: Salarian, asari, turian, batarian
Worlds of Note: Velka, Dismark, Joseo V
"Wagstaff authorised a Krecs at Noveria. The Systems Alliance is going to have egg on its face for a long while yet."
-- Captain Cerekin Demarrus of Elanus Risk Control Services, in reference to a Joseo figure of note whose name is common shorthand for an overblown reaction that only worsens the situation.
"Some say that Tuchanka and its clans are evidence that we can make peace with the krogan. Maybe that's true, this Overlord and his allies seem a decent enough sort. But they weren't Yukes. That's a people we simply couldn't trust. The police action was regrettable, such hard decisions often are, but generations to come will live in a prosperous, peaceful Tangeal and when they ask why... I hope the answer is there for them, to take proudly."
-- Duke Phraliphin of Velka
"I’ve spent decades training up mustered levies in the Tangeal. Conscripts. People like you who were drafted up from their streets and homes to fight a war because some prince who won’t live beyond 40 standard years got his ego rubbed the wrong way."
-- Peregrinus Worag, mercenary


A cluster of stars in proximity to twin nebulae known as the Storm of Blood and Veller's Shroud, the Tangeal was historically accessed via the Albhon relay. This relay leads from the Omega Nebula, from which the Tangeal lies only slightly coreward. The Expanse is named for Tan Geal (more accurately in the original krogan, Geal Tan), an explorer who fully charted -- and named -- Veller's Shroud. As is common for Near Terminus clusters, the Tangeal features large amounts of strategic resources, such as platinum and element zero; prior to the Reaper invasion these bolstered trade between Tangeal and the rest of the galaxy. The Expanse was long dominated by three local superpowers and a few smaller states, and hosts many species, with humans being the most recent and inconsequential newcomers. Several wars have been fought here between the three larger nations over strategic resources, most of them indecisive. The most recent conflict, however, ended in the total destruction of the krogan-dominated Yuke Federation, leaving the states of Velka and Joseo to distribute the cluster's worlds to their liking.

A Note on Terminology

The cluster owes its name to an odd blend of commemoration and ignorance. Honouring a past explorer who fully scouted the dense dust cloud that forms the larger of the region's two defining spatial phenomena, Joseo historians nonetheless "adapted" his name to suit their own conventions. They placed the given name first and the clan name second, as was custom in the turian and batarian cultures from which Joseo was founded. Geal Tan thus became Tan Geal, and in time the Tan Geal Expanse was simplified to "Tangeal Expanse".

History

A long line of daring adventurers have defined the history of this cluster. In 1574, an illegal activation of the Albhon relay saw explorers and prospectors begin to flow into the unexploited region, which lacked any native species. The space station Relay Point, built to service ships and their crews in what was then called the Albhon Expanse, made its owners wealthy, and before long many more settlers were drawn here, eager to stake a claim. In 1666, the future Velkan capital was colonized by a group of Lystheni salarians, who named it Sarash after the patron goddess of sailors (a later coup in 1700 would see it renamed to Velka). In 1697, meanwhile, the Yuke System was acquired by bands of krogan, who conquered the settlers there and established the Federation of Yuke to commemorate the victory. The cluster as a whole saw the foundation for its subsequent renaming laid between 1670 and 1699, when the krogan explorer Geal Tan and his long-range explorer cruiser Guns of Tuchanka charted the hazardous nebula in the region's heart. This he named Veller, after his father.

1712 saw the First Great Immigration Wave into the Albhon Expanse, bringing in millions of krogan, asari, turians, salarians, batarians and a few quarians. In 1719, turian daredevil explorers set out from the colony of Tranquility to navigate through the Storm of Blood, braving hot gases and newborn stars to find a safe haven. Their eventual discovery was named Trix, in honour of a great spirit of bravery. In 1728, turian and batarian colonists set foot on the moons of nearby Joseo V, and two years later the Federation of Joseo was formed, consisting of settlements at Trix, Joseo and Artherus.

In 1801, huge nodes of secondary eezo were discovered in the cluster, triggering the Second Great Immigration Wave. From then on, a series of complex political developments and three major wars define the history of the Expanse, with Velka, Joseo and Yuke finding an uneasy but enduring balance of power.

A Tripartite Alliance was hastily formed from necessity when the Reapers poured into the cluster. Reaper superiority forced local fleets to hide in the Storm of Blood and the Veller Shroud, leaving civilians easy prey for the invaders. Nonetheless, the Tangeal managed to survive. Any hopes that the aftermath of this devastating struggle would see a new understanding between the three powers was dashed, however, when it became clear to Joseo and Velka that the genophage cure released on Tuchanka, should it reach Yuke, would soon result in that state gaining an overwhelming numerical advantage. Velka and Joseo joined their forces to launch a brutal preemptive strike on Yuke, liberally using weapons of mass destruction to annihilate a majority of the population.

Denizens

The Principality of Velka and its predecessor state were founded by Lystheni salarians, and Velka continues to be dominated by them. Salarians permeate throughout the social ladder from poorest beggars and labourers to the throne. Several racial minorities also live within Velka's borders. The turians are the second most populous species, followed by small numbers of asari. Batarian, krogan and human enclaves dot the Velkan frontier but are too insignificant to impact the social order. As might be expected for a salarian nation, Velka follows a feudal-like societal model, wherein chains of loyalty bind master and subservient together, First Prince to Lesser Princes and nobles to citizenry. Local nobility is divided in order of precedence to dukes, counts and barons, who in turn preside over countries, provinces, counties or cities. One may be wondering about the masculine titles -- being salarians, the real leaders of Velka families are the matriarchs, but foreign policy and defence is handled by their sons.

The two dominating species in the Federation of Joseo are the turians and batarians, who founded the nation together. After them come asari, who in the past sought refuge from the Yukes' wrath and didn't want to deal with nepotist Velkans. There are also some dissenting salarians and a few krogan who didn't espouse the True Yuke mentality. Humans are the most recent addition to Joseo, thanks to the forceful acquisition of the New Horizons colony. Joseo's government is a blend of traditions from the Hierarchy and the Hegemony; people of merit, action and renown are placed by their superiors into positions of governance, and peers review each other's doings to address any misgivings.

The smaller states in Tangeal used to be numerous and insignificant, most commonly consisting of a single planet or moon -- or in the most extreme cases, two or three such settlements and additional space stations. Today these smaller states have almost all been absorbed by Joseo and Velka in the aftermath of the Fourth Tangealian War. They once served as buffer states and pawns of the ruling trio during times of peace, but were frequently occupied when border wars occurred. One neutral nation of remark was Relay Point, its actual name lost to time, a system that hosted the other end of the Albhon relay from the Omega Nebula. It was a trading hub, and all nations agreed that it was best kept neutral for commerce during peace and for negotiations in times of war. Relay Point fell into obscurity with the relay blackout post-Reaper War, having lost its main source of income: servicing travellers coming through the relay.

Locations

Joseo controls the gaseous Joseo V and its inhabited moons, as well as the planets Geert (once a quarian world whose settlers were killed by Yuke krogan), Palax, Seminole, Sanguinus (so named as it sits on the edge of the Storm of Blood), Artherus (a founding settlement), Trix (also a founding settlement), Overlord's Fall, and Stormpit.

Velkan worlds include Dismark, Dast II, Lavaon, Gallom, Elcotfis (inhabited by elcor, its name literally means "place of elcor" in a local language), Fortron, Future, and Tan's Veil.

The region known as the Yuke Wastes is all that remains of the former Yuke Federation. A small number of Yuke krogan and batarians survive on Velka-administered Dast II and Joseo-controlled Geert and Overlord's Fall, but Yuke itself, and its former holdings of Iro, Varkan and Death's Head, were carpet-bombed with capital ship mass accelerators and dirty bombs by Joseo -- they are now dead worlds.

Other, lesser systems are the asari-settled New Thessia and the human systems of Better World and Sawyer’s Rock, the latter only consisting of a few hundred people in a mining colony and stopover station. New Horizons was the most populous human system but was annexed by Joseo after a border war erupted there.

A Final Note

Once a point of contention between Velka (who owned the relevant system) and the other nations, the route known as the Future Corridor is a meticulously-charted lane from the Tangeal Expanse into the Omega Nebula, dotted with basic He-3 refuelling and layover stations as well as Velkan military outposts to guard the lane. Travelling the corridor takes about 22 galactic standard days when going in one direction. With the Expanse disconnected from the damaged relay network following the Reaper War, this route became the cluster's sole link to Omega and to the wider galaxy -- at least until 2193, when the relay link was finally restored.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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RED RIFT

A cluster in the Near Terminus, between the Omega Nebula and the nations of the Ad'Thoro Pact.
Dominant or Controlling Power: New Havana Alliance
Common Species: Asari, turian, human
Worlds of Note: New Havana, Alveon, Korpal
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"Through steel and fire we will forge a new kind of asari. Asari that are not afraid to take action, asari that will not turn to lesser species in times of need. May our blood return strength to our kind."
- Matriarch Alvea, at the founding of Alveon
"I mean, no wonder the Rift was one of the T-Space clusters where humans did well. Asari and turians have blue blood. Can't have a Red Rift until the right colour blood is spilled, right? Wait, I said "did well", didn't I?"
-- Jarak Shar'Teil, during a stand-up routine at the Kailan Theatre


Its relay opened to migrants 400 years ago by the Citadel Council, the Red Rift was reasonably attractive to settlers given its moderately plentiful mineral resources. The first colonists were in equal parts free-minded people fleeing perceived oppression within more restrictive C-Space nations and corporate workers hoping to set up a manufacturing hot-spot for the Terminus. Until recently, there wasn't a unified government here aside from the occasional alliance to snuff out larger pirate forces. Surprisingly, although the Rift was proximate to some Batarian Hegemony colonies (those of the Omega Nebula), and the Hegemony was considering fresh waves of Terminus colonisation at the time, the batarians had little use for the Red Rift, and in any regard were preempted by turian concerns. The most notable power in the modern Rift is a conglomeration of worlds founded in the last three hundred years, settled by various outcasts willingly sundered from Citadel Space. They have formed the New Havana Alliance, a moderately powerful interstellar bloc.

Today, most resources in the Red Rift have been mined to the point that it's become uneconomical to continue, but the manufacturing sector is still strong.

Denizens

The New Havana Alliance is multi-species but overwhelmingly dominated by turians, asari and humans, with notable minorities of salarians and batarians. Their economy is focused around producing consumer goods for other Terminus systems and factions, taking advantage of the steep cost associated with cargo from C-Space. The location of the Red Rift, on the far side of the galactic core from Illium, made it a popular choice for businesses unable to make a dent in Tasale and its neighbours, and which sought a compromise between the creature comforts of C-Space and lax Terminus regulations. The steady influx of corporate money sparked a boom that galvanised the colonies.

The NHA was born from a loose trade and military conglomerate ruling over much of the Rift, which long before the arrival of humans was a centre for consumer product manufacturing. The modern NHA was founded shortly after humans settled New Havana in large numbers. In an effort to avoid provoking any of the local polities, the newcomers declared their settled world of New Havana a free trade zone and neutral ground for the factions within the Rift. The New Havana Alliance was founded five years later over a mutual desire for peace and trade between the strongest colonies. The body was named after the planet where the final contract was signed by its founding members. Before long, most of the Rift's minor factions had joined up as well.

The military of the NHA, the New Havana Defense Force (NHDF) was originally composed of its member states' existing militias but has in recent years received "homegrown" additions and now seeks to unify its command and infrastructure. Calling the NHA a pint-sized C-Space wannabe is close to the truth, but tends to gloss over the fact that slavery isn't abolished, and is actively practised in two-thirds of its member states. However, NHA laws have turned the local trade into an unofficial indentured servitude scheme similar to that on Illium.

Locations

Major colonies in the NHA include Lartus and Korpul, both turian worlds. The Turian Hierarchy declined a bid for colonization based on distance and the Terminus location, yet a group centred around Primarch Desonar and the volus-held Interstellar Credit and Commerce Bank (ICCB) funded and rallied the first wave of turian-driven immigration into the Rift. They drafted plans to establish an manufacturing base within the Terminus, to counteract similar plans by the Batarian Hegemony. Twenty years after foundation, though, the ICCB found itself in a liquidity crisis. Having invested too much into the project, they asked Primarch Desonar for help. Desonar agreed to cover up their trials, since he was holding sizeable shares in the project and would be ruined the moment that the colony bubble bust. When the first companies on Korpul and Lartus filed for insolvency, the backlash took out the ICCB, but the turian public focused on Desonar, leading to his public downfall. In turian culture, refusal to own one's mistakes is a grave breach of moral standards, and the Primarch's projects were tainted by his dishonesty. The "Desonar scandal" left the people of Korpul on their own. An economy that was geared towards interstellar export to hubs like Omega had to reinvent itself to adjust to local needs and necessities. Many factories that were able to maintain operations shifted their focus from high-end hardware to rugged consumer and industrial goods. The social backlash was more complicated. The turian population felt betrayed by the promises of Primarch Desonar and with the Hierarchy showing no intent to send economic relief, a strong independent mindset evolved.

Similarly independent outlooks define the people of the Largo System, which contains Alveon, a uniquely militant asari world. Founding mother Matriarch Alvea and her followers advocated the view that the asari had become complacent and should pursue a more aggressive philosophy. Alvea pushed for a more coherent asari military and argued for conscription among the Republics. While the other matriarchs acknowledged (with the Geth Uprising fresh in their minds) that there might be a need for more security, Alvea failed to accomplish a paradigm shift in asari society. Rather than admit defeat, she gathered her followers and set out to prove the other matriarchs wrong by example. (Post-Reaper War, the rising influence back in the Republics of groups like Alliance for Change and the Thessian Advancement Front has placed this old debate in a new and fascinating context). On Alveon, an asari without a weapon is considered naked. An ornamental dagger is considered the bare minimum; most will settle for a normal combat knife, while the most faithful don armour and songblades at all times.

Other major worlds in the NHA are Selters, a salarian colony, and New Havana itself (the human world that prompted the formation of the alliance, and while prominent still less populated than many older worlds). There are also a number of minor habitats and stations.

Beyond the borders of the NHA is the planet Alius, orbited by the habitable moon Zast. For centuries nobody set up long-term settlements on Zast, fearing the pirates and slavers who plagued the Terminus and the nearby Nemean Abyss. That changed when a colony (technically illegal) was established there by a human group of former mercenaries, who brought their families with them. Zast possessed a fragile ecosystem, and within twenty years invasive Terran species had almost completely disrupted it. Colony development conglomerate Trask Interstellar eventually paid for a restoration, outbidding interests of the Batarian Hegemony.

Reapers

The Rift was hit hard by the Reaper War. The conflict started slowly for them -- warbands from puppet nations and increasing refugee arrivals put a strain on the NHA's resources, but they were still functioning. Things took a turn for the worse very rapidly, though, when actual Reapers arrived -- they cleaved through the NHDF navy with little effort. It wasn't until Geth fleets, newly allied with galactic defence forces after the ceasefire at Rannoch, arrived to render aid that hope returned, but when the Geth travelled on to C-Space, the Reapers came back.
"...using the nhdf strategy (flapping my gums over the extranet about how ready we are to kick arse and take names whilst hoping the reapers will bypass us so we wont have to call our bluff) no sign of them yet so it must be working..."
-- Lepantis Corvax, mentally unstable turian serviceman

The Rift has been left isolated in the aftermath of the relay breakdown and subsequent restoration.

With the NHA suffering, it was decided to enter a phase of colonization of garden worlds that hadn’t yet been exploited, and to set up agricultural and mining operations to alleviate economic and social woes on the core worlds. Still, the efforts were running on a shoe-string budget and it was anticipated that many of these colonies would depend on their own resources to supply themselves from the beginning. As a secondary measure, a sizeable convoy made up of large freighters and any military vessel that could be spared was sent into uncharted space to find a viable route to Omega. This initially-hypothetical route, dubbed the Silk Road, used as its inspiration the existing “silk road” connecting the Shrike Abyssal to a string of inhabited systems along the galactic rim. It was hoped that this route would serve as a lifeline to the greater galactic community. The travel was dangerous and planets for discharge were few. The NHDF set up outposts and gas mining operations to ensure that every ship could be supplied, but these were often targets of pirate raids themselves.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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RODA NEBULA

A populous cluster in the Near Terminus.
Dominant or Controlling Power: New Nova Ascendancy
Common Species: Asari, salarian, human, batarian
Worlds of Note: Aseed, New Carthage
“Wouldn’t a new nova be a ‘new new’?”

“It’s the Terminus. Embrace change and then try to make sense of it later.”
-- Overheard in a human-run bar on Harin Colony


A Near Terminus cluster close to the galactic core, sometimes considered instead a part of the far Attican Traverse, the Roda Nebula is situated on the relay network between the Nemean-proximate Ad’Thoro Pact powers and clusters linking to C-space.

Denizens

The dominant power here is the New Nova Ascendancy. With demographic majorities of asari and salarians, the Ascendancy has citizens from almost all spacefaring races counted among its populace. It is typically a stable nation, but warfare has caused considerable upheavals in the past, through no fault of the Ascendancy itself. New Nova had its genesis in the aftermath of the Gruul-Deep Terminus conflicts, building on the back of the shattered Nova Ascendancy with which it claims continuity (and this is mostly truth). When the Reapers arrived fifty years later, New Nova found itself a bulwark against the resurgent Theocracy of Gruul under Urdnot Fal, followed by the Reapers themselves. While this second shake-up proved less disastrous, the incredible logistic effort required to pull off Operation Supernova against Reaper forces left the region in some degree of chaos.

New Nova has amicable trade relations with most of the Terminus and several C-Space nations, especially component nations of the Asari Republics. Indeed, Nova broke with C-Space rather non-dramatically, preferring its independence but having no particular dislike for the Republics, the Union, or their allies.

Nova’s military is famed for its use of corvettes, gunships, electronic warfare and light frigates.

History

Relatively close to C-space, but also near enough to the eezo-rich Nemean Abyss that shipping the resource is relatively cheap and easy, the Roda Nebula saw centuries of settlement and colonial development, rather peaceful by the standards of the far Traverse and Terminus. Unfortunately, proximity to the inherently unstable Nemean Abyss is always a double-edged sword. In the 2140s, the Hierophant of Gruul, an Abyssian warlord, launched a campaign across many nearby clusters. His forces brought about the violent collapse of several Roda Nebula nations, among them the Nova Ascendancy. In 2145, the Hierophant was defeated, and many of his victims subsequently reformed themselves. Much as the First Vonskar Coalition gave way to New Vonskar, so did the Nova Ascendancy pass its mandate to New Nova. (The unfortunate linguistic redundancy does not, of course, exist in the original asari).

In the 2150s, the newest starfaring power -- humans -- began moving through the Traverse and the Near Terminus. They reached the Roda Nebula from the cluster containing Maitland, and from there advanced to the Ad’Thoro Pact region (creating new nations like the Sultanate). What happened next in Roda is a choice irony. The Nebula’s settlers (minus the Hierophant, of course) had always been relatively peaceful by the standards of territory this far removed from C-space. Humans, meanwhile, while reckless and contributing enough of their own violent outlaws, were often disproportionately victimised in the Traverse by batarian pirates and slave-dealers. In the Roda Nebula, though, the humans were aggressors to the point that Hegemony propaganda would have a field day. An independent world called Patthu, a largely batarian agricultural planet with several million inhabitants, was invaded in 2164 by a human “government”. Patthu was close enough to Hegemony holdings in Omega Nebula, but it was also considered out-of-the-way, and they were conquered by a couple of thousand humans, mostly Systems Alliance deserters and social dissidents who saw the success of the nearby Sultanate and thought that they too could establish a functioning colony. The humans started building factories on Patthu, pressing the locals into service, and renamed the colony New Carthage. Outside the system, people were unaware of the takeover. As far as the rest of the galaxy was concerned, Patthu was just marginally more quiet than normal.

By 2175, New Carthage was a proper colony. The human government freed or stole slaves to supplement their population, and began heading up development projects of their own. They created unique ship designs using parts only manufactured at their factories. While an attempt to keep their edge for as long as possible, this also meant that their raiders went from being background noise in the piracy statistics to a readily identified, specific threat. All that was known about them was that the culprits were humans and that captured flight computers indicated they were based out of a place called ‘New Carthage’. The common wisdom was that they were Alliance -- Corsairs or sponsored raiders, striking in revenge for piracy attacks in the Traverse by hitting unrelated targets in the Near Terminus. This apparent meddling from a C-space power, and an upstart at that, prompted local factions to prioritise retaliation, despite the raids being overall minor in scope. In 2178, this resulted in a multinational team being assembled to locate New Carthage and retaliate. This alliance included forces from the High Republic of Orozvhad, a frigate flotilla from the Sultanate, and forces from a local minor power, Grainar, along with some human Privateers. It would later be revealed that the Privateers were in fact Alliance Corsairs and that New Carthage had been raiding the Alliance as heavily as they’d been raiding everyone else. New Carthage was indeed located and sacked by these allies.
"We were an Orozvhadi Armory license, one of the companies licensed to sell OA equipment outside of Orozvhad itself. A condition of this license was that if the Orozvhadi government needed us to play Corsair for them, we would. I was in charge, a scant twenty years old with a ramshackle company made of ex-Gruul deserters, former street-gangers, specialists desperate to get the hell out of the Nemean Abyss, and a fully functioning Tradivarus-class heavy cruiser (The Praises of Promises Fulfilled). My XO in those days was Karaal Tunuun, an elcor with a compulsive lying problem and a truly terrible sense of humor."
-- Lessan Vadarat, participant in the Razing of New Carthage

Partly due to the New Carthage incident, humans were not too successful in the Roda Nebula compared to many other regions of the Terminus, though a fair few joined the New Nova Ascendancy.

During the Reaper War, Roda Nebula -- and specifically the Ascendancy -- was the location of Operation: Supernova, a desperate holding action against Reaper advances. Managed by the upper echelons of six Terminus organizations and costing a staggering amount of money, enormous evacuation efforts turned entire New Nova planets into ghost towns, removing civilians to what passed for safety while preparing military assets. Eight fleets from three nations, and dozens more flotillas, squadrons and wolfpacks, were deployed to Nova’s capital, while skeleton crews worked at factories, mines and anti-orbital weapon stations to squeeze as much material for the war effort as they could.

In the aftermath of the conflict, New Nova has turned its attentions to rebuilding and resettling, trying to reestablish order in the wake of its partially self-inflicted chaos. One major local corporation, the krogan-led Corel Heavy Industries, saw opportunity elsewhere and relocated from Aseed to Tuchanka, their species’ formerly interdicted homeworld now experiencing a demographic and industrial renaissance. This renaissance Corel was only too happy to assist with (see later entry for the Krogan DMZ).

Locations

Worlds in the Roda Nebula proper include the New Nova capital of Aseed, along with Arkay. The Dov Trade Route runs through part of New Nova space.

New Carthage is located past the Vorberra Relay. This was once the location of Dido Outpost, a listening post disguised as a mining settlement. Beyond the relay are the Vorhazai System (location of the planet Mila, which has at least eight moons), and the system containing Harin Colony (largely populated by asari and batarians).

Laval is also located here; a human colony victimised by Eclipse, who were hired to terrorise part of the population as part of an overthrow of the sitting government. Few of the neighbours cared, given the humans’ unpopularity following New Carthage.

Once-inhabited worlds in secondary clusters accessed from here include Merthal and the turian agricultural colony of Nusqu. Merthal was destroyed during the Reaper Invasion (the Rendili Raiders, a decades-old local pirate band, were wiped out trying to defend it), while Nusqu was abandoned five years after the conflict, the wartime damage proving too extensive.

Range Station is a space facility located in the Roda's outer reaches.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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ROYAL CASCADE

A group of connected clusters in the Near Terminus.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Imperial Arkia
Common Species: Krogan, turian, asari
Worlds of Note: Exsurgos, Ossaloso
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“There are nations in the Terminus that are perfectly functional. The only problem is that most of those are overlooked because of their stability. After all, what makes for a better headline -- “Large gang shootout on Omega; hundreds dead” or “Yet another uneventful day on [insert name here]?”
-- Faena T’Remi, ex-asari commando
“There’s a fine line between actually appearing dignified and mere pretension, and it takes care and attention to convey the impression of the former without succumbing to the latter.”
-- Countessa Vasila Illast, Imperial Arkia


On one side of the galaxy is the Far Rim, home to the quarians and the geth. Right across from it, on the opposite edge of the galactic disc, is the Royal Cascade. Accessed from the Shrike Abyssal and from fringe regions of Vonskar territory, this region was first scouted by denizens of the clusters that became the heart of the First Vonskar Coalition -- hence the use of “Cascade” in reference to its stellar drifts. The Royal is comparatively isolated but remains a local nexus for trade, courtesy of secondary crossroads that serve to link many of the neighbouring regions with the greater galaxy. The Cascade is comparatively rich in mineral wealth, and on the surface seems stable and developed. Beneath this exterior, though, interfactional tensions are always strung high.

Nations

The controlling power is a loose superstate with feudal tendencies, named Imperial Arkia -- “imperial”, as it's ruled by an hereditary monarch with control over multiple subordinate courts (this is also why the region carries the name “Royal” Cascade). Outwardly, Arkia often appears monolithic, but in fact the state is riven with cultural, political, and ethnic cracks. The differences manifest in the tangled, often competing knots of alliance, allegiance, and bonds of obligation that spill out from the core worlds of Tributary Kraenon, the seat of power. Each of the four main hubs of Arkian politics -- the nations of Undrosc, Cyprathain, Izkilnas, and Salkah -- are surrounded by satellite states and dependent polities like mining colonies, privateer fleets, and loosely independent space stations. Compared to places like Omega, they may not seem too impressive, but they have endured for a long time and have developed some unique and interesting cultures. Other lesser territories, counties and minor fiefdoms exist between the four giants. All are engaged in cut-throat competition for influence and prestige. The fierce internal conflicts have been a major contributor to the region's slowing rate of growth, as neighbours seek to restrict the influence and expansion of their rivals rather than allow them to fuel the success of Arkia as a whole. As a result, a moderately rich and potentially influential cluster is increasingly ignored by the wider galaxy.

Before Arkia there was the state of Arctyran and its famed Ashen Legions (not to be confused with the mysterious turian cult popularly called the Legion of Ash, though given the nihilistic philosophies of the latter, there may be a connection somewhere). Arctyran dominated the cluster in a well-structured, self-sustaining mechanism which could fend off aggressors, while on their borders a collection of smaller states and pirate fiefdoms survived by virtue of their weakness -- any looking to become a threat were crushed. Arctyran was eventually challenged by the ascending krogan of Clan Eld. Led by an ambitious new Lord, who assembled an army to take the Arctyran, Eld succeeded in sundering that polity and destroying the Legions. From the chaos rose Imperial Arkia, with Eld Ysr as the emperor.

Denizens

The scope of Arkia encompasses a large number of distinct populations, but the demographics of the region can generally be grouped into a rough pyramid of influence. On top, owing to their lifespan and martial prowess, are the local krogan; the newcomer humans are on the bottom; and the turians, asari, and batarians (and according to rumour the odd synthetic) squabble for influence in the middle.

One mysterious individual (generally believed to be a human) is an increasing thorn in the side of imperial authorities: Saint Silence. Having emerged recently, the "Saint’s" messages decry the excesses of the nobility, the marginalised status of humanity and other minor species, and the systemic concentration of power in the hands of the elite.

Locations

Tributary Kraenon is the seat of power for Arkia; here are found the core nations of Undrosc, Cyprathain (including such inhabited worlds as Exsurgos), Salkah, and Izkilnas (founded upon the cavern riddled-planet Ossaloso, with its roots in waves of expatriates thrown off by the Asari Republics. The first settlers followed the trade lines, eventually carving out a home amongst the vast network of tunnels, caves and richly diverse subterranean ecosystems riddling Ossaloso’s crust).

The fact that this cluster is the only major Terminus bloc still unambiguously ruled by krogan (since the Theocracy of Gruul is defunct) means it attracted the attention of Tuchanka-based concerns following the Reaper War; these hoped to establish ties with the monarchy. Indeed, of all the outside powers, Tuchanka and its ruling factions are the most invested in the Royal Cascade, ensuring that it isn’t totally forgotten. Among the planets here is Derova -- idyllic and vibrant, this garden world was unfortunately caught in the midst of an uncomfortable no-mans-land between the Greater Terminus and the Nemean Abyss, being on the coreward fringe of the Cascade. Owned, though never developed, by turian colonial interests, the troubled politics of the region served to scare off most willing buyers. Post-Reapers, krogan from Tuchanka finally took it off of the turians’ hands, in a smooth and mutually satisfying transaction. Tuchanka hasn’t been left wanting for space, but arable land is a big concern there, especially now that the genophage has been cured. With all the new mouths to feed, agricultural worlds are going to be in demand. Corel Heavy Industries, recently relocated to Tuchanka from New Nova -- and with strong ties to the Urdnot Coalition -- has declared its intention to develop the region.

Various other minor factions cling to territory on the borders of Imperial Arkia, left alone because there is little of worth to species without unusual environmental requirements. Among these worlds is Scatum, an independent volus colony ruled by the Sultan of Scatum, and Ska’Gar, an isolationist hanar settlement about which the Illuminated Primacy knows little.

There is a small region proximate to the Greater Royal Cascade where Titan Corporation and its allies project their power. Worlds in this area include Invidium, where ships of Titan Corporation often hold station to protect their investments. A jungle world, it was here that Titan made its first forays into adapting Gruul-derived warbeast biotech. Native creatures were discovered, named, classified, and eventually fielded by the Corporation, these first attempts at co-opting existing animals bearing the brunt of most of their early mistakes. Another Titan holding is the frozen world of Skardai. What population there is on the planet is generally confined to massive, heated, subterranean complexes.

A Final Note

Despite the shot-in-the-arm provided by the curing of the genophage and ties established with the rising power that is free Tuchanka, the Royal Cascade is considered to be in decay. Already on the path to paranoid insularity stemming from its quiet internal tensions, it was damaged further by the Reapers. Today, defensive war is compulsory, offensive action is conducted at the discretion of the individual nobles, and infighting is common. The emperor has abandoned the state to its own devices, withdrawing from public life. Many hope that this trend can be reversed; whether they’ll succeed is unclear, but unlike some clusters in the Deep Terminus they have a chance. Salvation, should it materialise, will probably come with support for the trade in foodstuffs now moving out of Arkia and through the Mantanta Reach toward the former Krogan DMZ.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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MANTANTA REACH

A cluster of the Far Traverse or Near Terminus, with the point of transit between them a matter of the subjective.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Independent asari cooperatives
Common Species: Asari, salarian, elcor, hanar. (Krogan presence on the rise)
Worlds of Note: Helea, Gullan
“A Justicar’s worst enemy is her own curiosity. When the foe before you is a slave trader, a monster, something profoundly Other, dispensing justice is a simple matter, an easy, unburdensome task. When you pry deeper, and recognise something more relatable about your foe... It does not change one’s duty, but it most certainly wounds one’s conscience.”
-- Justicar Melindra

The Mantanta Reach is the region between the Crescent Nebula and the Royal Cascade; that is, it's a place where the outer holdings of asari territory engage with ("meld with" might be appropriate) Terminus holdings. Unsurprisingly, a lot of trade passes through, and a string of small but sustainable colonies and minor nations are established here. By the standards of the Deep Terminus or Abyssal space, the region is quiet and safe; by asari republican standards, it’s a crude, dangerous frontier. Still, when travelling maidens on their traditional wanderings desire a location suitable for the rougher type of mercenary experience while still retaining the dense, supportive communities that asari value, the Mantanta is a popular choice. (More refined asari unwilling to leave the legal sphere of C-Space tend to choose the Caliphera Frontier, further coreward).

Denizens

The population of the Mantanta is defined by the asari. In practice, of course, this means that non-asari are almost as common, since mating within the race is considered anywhere from vulgar to flat-out taboo in asari cultures. Salarians, elcor, and hanar are all well-established, both in racial enclaves and within asari families, with some considerable overlap. Many non-asari locals perform "double duty", having a legal mate from their own species and a recognised, socially-approved "mistress". One species becoming more common here since the Reaper War is krogan. With many clans now on good terms with the Citadel, yet their people frustrated by C-space regulations tailored for species less able or willing to tolerate ryncol-fuelled duels or impromptu varren races, the outer regions of asari space offer a pleasing compromise. The fact that food shipments bound for Tuchanka are increasingly passing through the Reach from the Royal Cascade means that many krogan can serve the practical needs of their nation at the same time.

Locations

Locations in the Mantanta include the planet Helea, governed from a capital city of the same name. Agri-plantations account for much of Helea's economic activity, supplying other worlds of the Reach and beyond. Additional inhabited planets include several in the Narabraxis System, including Narabraxis Minora. The Republic of Gullan, governed from an eponymous metropolis in much the same manner as Helea, is a small nation on the far side of the Reach, where secondary relays lead to outlying Arkian holdings.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

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PYLOS NEBULA

A long-settled region in either the Terminus Systems (as claimed by Omega) or the far Attican Traverse (to ask the C-space interests working here). In practice, its local power blocs tend to ignore the issue and do their own thing, which has helped prevent the disagreement triggering any armed conflict.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Technocracy of Valkar
Common Species: Turian, batarian, asari, human, salarian, krogan, volus, quarian, vorcha
Worlds of Note: Anjul
Space Stations of Note: Greka Station
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“The Technocracy of Valkar, which is of course a fable constructed by the storyteller Minati vas Konsertas to scare, frighten and traumatize preadolescent children into submission to their peers (a deed that even one such as myself, as gratified by my association by travelling vessel and birthplace to her, must occasionally provide constructive criticism over)”.
-- Benalc’Stahn vas Konsertas, wilfully mistaken.
“Now would be an ideal time to start searching for buyers on Boro looking for improved security. I am certain high-tier privatised forces like Black Nova are going to be in demand.”
-- “Malx” Hamno to Aleena T’Saris, making “predictions” about colonization and criminal activity in regions of the Pylos.


The Pylos Nebula lies on a primary route between the Omega Nebula and the Far Rim. Connecting the riches of Omega with the scientific sophistication of quarian space, it is no wonder that the region became known for its support of technological progress. Prior to the Morning War, which saw the destruction of the quarian nation and the sealing of the Perseus Veil to outsiders by its new, synthetic masters, the Pylos was a rich cluster where a great deal of research and development took place. With the quarians removed, the cluster somewhat decayed. Certain systems prospered well enough by consolidating their gains and joining polities like the Technocracy of Valkar, while others became havens for pirates and crime syndicates. Post-Reaper War, with the Geth/quarian alliance established on Rannoch and generally friendly to the wider galactic community, it is likely that the Pylos will once again become a popular destination.

A Note on Terminology

The name is another Greek reference; as is often the case, a favoured translation from the asari, and the closest contextual match to the name used for the cluster by those who first exploited it. Charted by asari explorers (bringing with them allied and “civilized” vorcha from the Shrike Abyssal, whose often feral descendants are scattered across the region today), the Nebula was where the rim-based quarian nation began its integration with distant C-Space, becoming in time the furthest power from the Serpent Nebula to hold an embassy there. Pylos, as a harbour and a long-inhabited location with a prominent history only known spottily to modern humans, is a fitting if somewhat sober translation.

Connections

Prior to the collapse and subsequent restructuring of the relay network, the Pylos connected directly to several clusters in the far Traverse, e.g. the Phoenix Massing. These connections haven't been restored, unlike the historic connections to the Far Rim and Omega Nebula.

Denizens

There is no one controlling power in the Pylos Nebula, but the most prominent nation is the Technocracy of Valkar. As its name suggests, this is a nation dedicated to technological and scientific advancement. Originating in the Varkon System, it has since expanded across and even beyond Pylos. Originally settled by a mix of turians and batarians seeking independence from their regimented societies, Valkar now counts almost every species among its citizens. Notably, this includes a small but enduring quarian demographic, colonists who never joined the nascent Migrant Fleet after the fall of Rannoch but instead integrated still further into the Technocracy. There are districts in certain Valkarin cities that are kept in sterile “cleanroom” conditions, home to thousands of quarians -- collectively the largest permanent population outside of the Perseus Veil. While their culture is some generations removed from Rannoch, it is reminiscent in many ways of pre-Morning War societies outside of Tikkun, and is of great interest to some researchers among the former Migrants. Others have tended to downplay them, perhaps offended by the notion that functional quarian communities have endured outside of the tight-knit Migrant Fleet.

The Technocracy, at its core, is an odd fusion of the turian ideal of collectivist meritocracy and the batarian caste system. At the top of the Technocratic government is the Directorate, which meets to share scientific theories and the issues that the nation is currently facing. The four Directorate positions -- Biological, Engineering, Cybernetics, and Neuroscience -- correspond to very broad swathes of scientific endeavour; for instance the representative from the Biological Bloc could come from any of the research schools it branches out to, from zoology to bioweaponry. The Advisory, a step below the Directorate, consists of Agricultural, Economic, Military, Infrastructure, and Medical Blocs. It’s worth emphasising how these practical matters, while taken as seriously as anywhere else, are subordinate to the blocs dedicated to pure research and cutting-edge development. In fairness, this cultural bias helps ensure that Valkar remains a popular trade partner and a power able to punch above its nominal weight.

Valkar infrastructure is an interesting mix of batarian and turian design, and while the majority of their cities are like any others, certain important buildings (and, rumours suggest, even a city or two) are constructed underground in large, shielded caverns. What they have down here is unknown; naturally, speculation is rife.

Valkar has a high standard of living, but in a number of other areas around the Nebula, things are less rosy. Pirates are sadly common, taking advantage of the lack of patrols from major powers (though the systems near to the heart of Valkar space are, again, generally safe). Some of these pirates are occasionally privateers hired by Valkar –- though a generally benevolent nation, it does on occasion augment its supplies underhandedly.
"For science. No, literally, that's pretty much their motive."

"So we're dealing with Dr. Mexta villains?"

"Like that, only wearing suits and working for good pay and the public good."

"I guess reality is disappointing."
-- Overheard on a quarian scout ship

Post-Reapers, another major faction of raiders is believed to be operating in the region: the so-called ‘New Migrants’ faction of travelling quarians, who have been implicated in a campaign of piracy on the Pylos Nebula-Far Rim connection lane. A splinter quarian faction, the ‘New Migrants’ refused to settle on Rannoch in protest over alliance with the Geth. Continuing to view the Geth as enemies, and the quarian mainstream at Tikkun as collaborators, the New Migrants walk a dangerous line between denying their unsavory activities in galactic forums (on those rare occasions they participate) and preying on quarians and aliens alike.
“This is so much Rannoch’s dysfunctional patterns it’s hilarious. You’d think somewhere between the exiles and the heretics they’d have learned that they can’t just declare these groups no longer their problem.”
-- Kayana Pesh, drell activist

Criminal groups native to the Pylos Nebula, but with influence stretching far beyond it, include the Clans of Anjul, a collection of crime families named for the Valkarin capital. All criminals have to contend not only with military forces but with the Gar’sha, a mix of frontier policeman and bounty hunter, who wander the Valkarin outer territories.
"You may not get rich and own planets doing it, but you can live comfortably, and make a difference in the process. Some days you may bring in pirates that were harassing a merchant ship. The next you might be helping construct a frontier outpost, or aiding and defending a colonization team in their efforts to catalog native life before expanding their outpost into a colony. And sometimes you exit your nation's space to return a fugitive to justice. It's a very... malleable job."
-- Baram Har-rok, Gar'sha

With the Turian Hierarchy reluctant to support local volus operations due to the danger of provoking the wider Terminus, the largest military force in Pylos is -- unsurprisingly -- that of Valkar. Elite batarian and human soldiers are recruited into their Rai’Sha heavy shock troops, known for bone white armour and distinctive four-ocular visors, while elite turian soldiers join the Machine Legion. During the Reaper War, the military of Valkar assumed a mix of hit-and-run naval operations and ground defense against waves of husks, indoctrinated soldiers, and other abominations. It retains state-of-the-art equipment, and is quietly looking into anti-Geth tactics as a precaution: should the Geth Consensus ever turn to armed expansionism, the Pylos Nebula would be an obvious early target.

Locations

The Nariph System is the primary gateway. Its planet Jonus has been developed as a fuel depot serving the Nebula as a whole. Eldfell-Ashland Energy established a base on one of its moons to crack water ice into hydrogen and oxygen, and to skim helium-3 from its atmosphere. The Reapers destroyed both the base and the abandoned infrastructure, but not before triggering a trap -- a crude nuclear device intended to catch them in its blast.

Not far from the mass relay is the Dirada System. Several companies performed mineral assays on its planet Canalus in the late 2170s, but the world’s geological instability precluded development. The gas giant Vioresa was actually missed in the initial asari survey of the system; only a follow-up mission sent to Canalus by a volus mining concern noticed its presence. Vioresa’s remoteness makes it a popular drive discharge point for pirates working the Pylos Nebula. Dozens of ships have disappeared while passing through the Dirada System.

The Varkon System is the heart of the Technocracy of Valkar. Other heavily populated Valkar holdings include the Nhiaryph System, while a string of frontier outposts sport colonies from all of the species represented among the Technocracy’s population. These include settlements in the Gathran System and the Rath'naer System. The planet Choron is a research world owned by Hak-kon Industries, notable for creating the post-Reaper War Konshu heavy mech. Eunus, meanwhile, is a former Turian Hierarchy colony, one of their furthest holdings. When the relays shut down in the war's immediate aftermath, the colony was unable to effectively defend itself from pirate attack. Unaware that the relays were going to be repaired, its population joined up with Valkar in exchange for military protection. When the Pylos relay was reconnected, the Hierarchy denounced these separatists, but it didn’t consider the planet anywhere near valuable enough to provoke the Terminus over.

Volus interests with ties to the distant Vol Protectorate are active in Satent System. Here is the tiny colony of Boro. Local pirates, who couldn’t use the world themselves, “suggested” that the volus “hire” them to protect the colony. The volus responded by requesting military protection from their turian allies. The Technocracy of Valkar has continued to covertly sponsor privateers to raid various shipping lines around Satent, and colonial development interests on Irune were soon petitioning the Vol Protectorate to push the Hierarchy into sending warships. This could establish a precedent for a more permanent Hierarchy presence in-system, something that it’s unlikely the Valkar –- or the Terminus in general -- would be appreciative of. Given the controversies surrounding their last push into the Terminus (namely the defence of Talis Fia from the Reapers), it’s likely that the Hierarchy is also less than eager. Boro may become a second Eunus, and by contrast unwillingly so.

Boro’s colony set up automated ice cracking stations around Nataisa, a planet in the same system, and Narhu Combine was contracted to set up a helium-3 extraction facility. Unfortunately, construction lagged due to the CEO’s arrest in a kickback scandal that reached to the highest levels of the Vol Ministry of the Frontier. Elsewhere in Satent System, pirates have been known to land on Anedia to recover ice for cracking into hydrogen and oxygen. One area in the southern hemisphere, the so-called “Anedian Scrapes”, is so frequently used for this purpose that higher-albedo raw ice can be easily seen from orbit. There are more exotic resources at Satent, too: an asteroid partly composed of element zero struck Raisaris within the last million years, and eezo remains near the surface. Over the years, many pirates and “wildcat” miners have attempted to extract the ore; if Boro is ever fully developed, it’s almost certain the volus will try to claim it.

Representative of the many systems abandoned following the fall of Rannoch is the Zaherin System, where settlement has seen better days. The planet Namakli was briefly colonized by the Pyrena Corporation, a consortium of asari colonists and socialized vorcha laborers. After the economic downturn caused by the destruction of the quarians, many asari left the planet, and the vorcha population kept growing to the point where they bred faster than they could be educated. Soon they turned violent and uncontrollable, and the colonies essentially self-destructed. Visitors frequently run into feral packs, discouraging resettlement. The simplistic biosphere and the scarcity of profitable metals drove the last few nails into Namakli’s coffin: no one has stepped forward in the past few years with the will, the funding, or the firepower to establish a permanent colony. In the same system, Rotesk features helium-3 collection machinery, but their kinetic barriers failed long ago due to neglect. At Azrahas, meanwhile, decrepit asari orbital stations from old scientific expeditions circle the planet; none display signs of occupation.

Far from the primary relay, and outside the nebula proper, is the Kriseroi System. No-one is known to live here, but there is a limited ecology of arthropods on Neidus, and possibly frozen life under the former water moon of Chithess, orbiting many-mooned gas giant Uzin (which isn't to be confused with the eponymous planet in krogan space).

Greka Station, on the nebula’s fringe, is a trade hub, repair facility and meeting place for dozens of Terminus factions.
Last edited by WavesHaveBroken* on 28 Aug 2020, 15:54, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

Post by WavesHaveBroken* »

FAR RIM
Dominant or Controlling Power: Rannoch Conclave (membership: Geth Consensus, Quarian Conclave)
Common Species: Geth, quarian
Worlds of Note: Haestrom
Space Stations of Note: “Hell’s Hive” (Dina’s Station), orbiting Charoum
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“Me, destroy our people? I don’t recall wiping some thirty-odd percent of our population.”

“Thirty-one point six eight two percent. Addendum: rounded down.”

“Thank you, Admiral Quorum.”
-- Admirals Daro’Xen and Quorum, Rannoch Conclave, during Conclave argument with Admiral Han’Gerrel


The gateway to the Perseus Veil, the cluster known as the “Far Rim” was given its slightly exotic but factually accurate name by C-space denizens who romanticised the (literally) veiled world of Rannoch and its slightly insular society; this last point more a matter of the quarians’ close symbiotic connection to their planet’s biosphere than any particular xenophobia –- at least prior to the years directly preceding the Geth Uprising. Left abandoned by organic life after that event, the Far Rim was avoided for three centuries, but now proves a draw for any number of spacefaring factions, eager to exploit either unclaimed territory or 300-year-old salvage. While the geth are a powerful naval force, their recontextualisation as less a mysterious horror and more a “standard” stellar power (if such a description could ever apply to this unique race) has encouraged a certain criminal courage previously unthinkable.

Relay Connections

Prior to the collapse and restoration of the relay network following the Crucible event, the Far Rim connected to the Pylos Nebula and to the Perseus Veil, and this famed route linking Rannoch to the wider Terminus was eventually reestablished post-blackout. The Far Rim also once connected to a variety of clusters in the far Attican Traverse, including the Caleston Rift, Hades Nexus, Nubian Expanse, Shadow Sea, and Phoenix Massing.

When the relays first came back online, the Far Rim was ignored. A direct route to the Perseus Veil was established from the Pangaea Expanse, the site of Citadel Council research and development involving Prothean and Reaper technologies. With official vessels passing along this route, the Rim was paid little attention by anyone save the geth. Several years later, the historic Pylos Nebula-Far Rim route was restored, and with it came a flood of new arrivals.

Denizens

The Far Rim now sees a good deal of traffic passing to and from Rannoch (situated in the neighbouring Veil). Notably, the Turian Hierarchy has brokered a deal with the quarian admiralty that allows the latter free rein to evaluate sites and vessels that could help bring dextro food production back to pre-war levels. This is intended to reduce the threat of famine on damaged turian colonies.

Many worlds on the Rim are exploited for mineral resources, having been mined continuously for the three hundred years that geth have existed as a race. With the quarian-geth alliance these operations have become, if anything, even more productive. The combination of geth infrastructure and quarian ingenuity has afforded such projects incredible advantage. With geth resource extraction platforms buoyed by a vast number of converted Migrant Fleet freighters, mining prospects in the Far Rim are characterized by vast swarms of vessels taking planet crusts and asteroids apart with brutal efficiency.

Piracy on the Far Rim has, somewhat surprisingly, become a concern, with large swathes of the far cluster considered “Abyssal” space. Shipping concerns in the Salarian Union and the Turian Hierarchy, among others, have threatened to cut their investment in the region if their complaints aren’t addressed. Some quarians see this insistence that sovereign Rannoch police its own backyard as a conciliatory gesture from the Citadel states, while others express annoyance that more established powers refuse to deal with the piracy problem themselves; another issue of division within the Conclave now governing Rannoch. Efforts have since been made to turn the flood of raider factions to the advantage of law and order. A few years post-Reaper War, the Geth Consensus announced the issuance of Letters of Marque and Reprise for operations in the Far Rim, to approximately five dozen private interests. These included the Golden Armada, Wǔshì Securities, the Vasarah Thousandfold, and flotillas under the command of Captain Eolosh Viis (famed skipper of the Lady Mirth).
"Geth with their flashlight heads are hard to ignore when they show up in force in a geth warship to knock over something oddly sensitive to geth interests. A privateer crew packing geth heat on the other hand, well... plenty of geth weapons in circulation for high-rollers to snap up or buy off the Consensus after the Reaper War."
-- Falkir Savernil, Al'hanon loyalist

With the recent dissolution of the Migrant Fleet Marines and their recreation as the Far Rim Armed Forces and the Far Rim Gendarmerie, the quarians are also taking steps to “modernise” their military forces.

Deep in the Far Rim roam ships of the “New Migrants” breakaway faction, hostile to the quarian mainstream on Rannoch and bitter enemies of the geth. Details regarding their quality of life out here, or indeed their real political agenda, are as yet nebulous.

Locations

Dholen System is the gateway to the Far Rim. Dholen is an unusual star, “ageing” far too rapidly for its stellar class. As it matures, the system experiences magnetic eruptions and increased radiation. Quarian researchers have determined that there is likely a connection between Dholen’s mysteries and certain unexplained properties of dark matter. Rannoch maintained a settlement on the system’s blistering third planet, Haestrom, prior to the Morning War (a term for the Geth Uprising popularised by the synthetics themselves). A scientific outpost of minimal military value, Haestrom was ill-equipped to repel geth forces and fell quickly under their control. Following the Reaper War, Haestrom is under the authority of the quarian-geth alliance. The quarians themselves have shown little interest in seeing it recolonized, and it’s unlikely that efforts could even begin before Haestrom is totally exhausted by the geth, who have been extracting its mineral wealth for some time. Quarian research teams are studying the old colony site as part of an ongoing cultural rediscovery project, though some science teams express interest in using the planet as a platform to once again study the decay of Dholen. Elsewhere in the system, there was previously intense speculation as to whether the quarians mined all of the precious metals on Gotha before they fled. Now that the quarians have returned, long-standing legends of diamond lodes have wound up proving fanciful, though the quarians have begun limited mining development on Gotha regardless. The gas giant Charoum, meanwhile, is a refuelling spot. Thousands of orbital platforms, mostly geth but some quarian, surround the planet and its many moons, refining helium into helium-3. A vast geth fleet comes and goes between Charoum and Haestrom.

Also located in the Far Rim cluster is the Ma-At System, with the single planet Ammut, an enormous gas giant qualifying as a failed star. It’s believed to have captured all other planet-sized bodies in the system, leading to its name, which means “Devourer”. The geth have colonized many of Ammut’s moons and skim the hydrogen from the planet’s upper atmosphere.
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Re: CDN Guide to the Galaxy (Version 2.0)

Post by WavesHaveBroken* »

PERSEUS VEIL
Dominant or Controlling Power: Rannoch Conclave (Geth Consensus, Quarian Conclave)
Common Species: Geth, quarian (both native)
Worlds of Note: Rannoch
Space Stations of Note: Naska Station, Ilaan Station
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“The geth literally preserved their culture and architecture at a specific point in time. This kind of precedent is normally reserved for disasters or biological calamity. The rapidity of the exodus meant that many of the social conventions and cultural nuances present at the time are still easy to collect and collate.”
-- Sirinic Scaramanji, head of Xenopaleoarchaeology at Fallenon Ferennai University on Sur’Kesh (and operative of the STG)
“Our ‘allies’ would have gladly seen us all dead a year ago. They treat with us now only because they see the might of the geth on our side. Let us see how the situation develops.”
-- Admiral Daro’Xen, Rannoch Conclave
"...there is yet another benefit to having so many of our people trained and ready, primed and ready, to defend a home that they will not see lost again. This isn't a war, Mr. Hylt. But it is a battle. A battle of attrition that can only be fought to the bitter and utter end. We shall see to it that they have no where else to go in the Perseus Veil. We shall see to it that the possibility of the 'New Migrants' escaping to foreign space in an attempt to recoup are thwarted. The only key thing we lack is intelligence, what we lacked before in resources we now have in bountiful amounts."
-- Nalia'Tonbay, quarian official

Technically in the region of the Terminus Systems but held apart from that bloc -- once due to its natives' membership in the Citadel and now due to their unique status as a galactic "wild card" -- the Perseus Veil is a huge nebula of opaque gas and dust on the galactic rim. Beyond this purple and gold shroud is the arid planet of Rannoch, once famed in Citadel space as an exotic, distant location governed by empathetic, sometimes fierce aliens with a scientific zeal to rival the salarians. In 1895, distant Rannoch was conquered by the synthetic creations known as the geth (a name derived from a quarian word translating as "servant of the people"). Sophisticated VI created for various domestic, industrial and military applications, the geth boosted themselves to the status of true AI due to their networking capabilities, an unplanned (and regardless illegal) development. Attempts by the Rannoch government to shut down these networks provoked a full-scale war. In what was known to the galaxy as the Geth Uprising -- now often known instead as the "Morning War" after the geth's own terminology -- the newly-created software race found itself fighting for its right to exist, and Rannoch was torn apart by full-scale genocidal conflict. With breathtaking rapidity, Rannoch and its local colonies were overrun, the quarian race reduced to a relative handful of refugees fleeing aboard interstellar vessels. The last remnants of the once-great Rannoch nation were allowed to leave unmolested by the victorious geth, who struggled with the implications of completing the destruction of their creators.

After the war with the quarians, the triumphant geth, mistrustful of organics and uncertain of their desperate, youthful actions, isolated themselves behind the Veil. The dense dust cloud was almost impossible to scan through or to navigate, meaning that no-one in the wider galaxy knew exactly what the geth were doing beyond it. Exploration near the Perseus Veil was exceptionally dangerous, but was occasionally risked by some parties due to the prospect of rich salvage pickings. Meanwhile, the geth maintained the deserted cities of Rannoch as though the planet were a museum. Intruding organic-crewed vessels were swiftly destroyed.

Geth hostility to the wider galaxy came to an end during the Reaper War, when reconciliation was achieved with the quarian Migrant Fleet -- but only after the fleet had launched an ill-considered assault on geth holdings, seeking to win back their homeworld. Owing the cease-fire and subsequent alliance in part to the famed Commander Shepard, the geth and quarians combined their forces in support of the wider galaxy, proving invaluable during continuing struggles against the Reapers.

A Note On Terminology

Like many of the names on Citadel standard star charts -- and particularly those that refer to major regions of the galaxy -- the name for this cluster comes from the asari. Humans, again typically, have translated it with a Greek flavour; ancient Greece being the closest they can come to fitting the asari societal model into an anthropocentric frame of reference. "Perseus", the name of a Greek hero, is potentially in fact pre-Greek, from a Proto-Indo-European language. If it is a Greek derivation, it's been suggested that it might come from the verb πέρθειν (pérthein, "to waste, ravage, sack, destroy"). This is why the translation of the asari term to "Perseus" is favoured by humans, whose introduction to the galaxy came several centuries after Rannoch's fall, and who heard of the Veil only in terms of warnings from the Council powers, regarding possible consequences of humanity's reckless experiments into artificial intelligence (warnings that the humans didn't heed, given that their official censor for the Sidon affair was followed by private forays into AI research by both Cerberus and the Andromeda Initiative).

Denizens

The Perseus Veil is the heart of geth territory, and since the Reaper War has again been the seat of the quarians, who have resettled Rannoch and its neighbours after three centuries of life in the Migrant Fleet. Together these two races -- once bitter enemies -- govern the Veil and their shared homeworld, under the aegis of the Rannoch Accord. While there have been any number of tensions and disagreements, both sides are committed to making the partnership work. Most of the quarian population (left at around ten million following the battles against both Reapers and their soon-to-be-allies) has settled around the ancient Rannoch capital of Sclifosi, re-inhabiting long abandoned homes. Roughly eight billion geth platforms also inhabit Rannoch, though it's estimated that far more geth exist in the vast server banks that float in orbit or are housed deep below the planet's surface.

The months following the reopening of the mass relays saw a strong push by the scientific community at large to normalise traffic to Rannoch. With the geth having carefully preserved most of the planet during the three centuries that they had been its sole wardens, there was a great deal to investigate and catalogue, a snapshot of quarian society as it then existed. Rannoch's authorities, though, were reluctant to allow offworld investigation. Cultural protection zones were declared over millions of square kilometres of the surface, with the Bureau of Rannoch Cultural Protection responsible for keeping these vast regions safe from illicit tourists or would-be tomb raiders. Tracking satellites and orbital security checkpoints are assisted in these efforts by fleets of Vzn-2 Shanaa drones, designed to extensively survey and respond quickly to would-be trespassers. A few years in, Rannoch did make a small concession to the clamouring aliens, opening a single resort city (the port of Imija) to outside tourists. This, though, was likely a cynical attempt to attract the wealth of the Asari Republics, as an historical ocean-side resort appealed far more to long-lived asari eager for a nostalgic return to a world they once knew than it did the scientists of younger, less wealthy races.
"Out of curiosity, have they started letting filthy non-quarians on to the planet yet? I think I left my signed copy of Lazar's Compass there roughly three and a half centuries ago and haven't had the opportunity to go back and check."
-- Matriarch Mirala T'Narf, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

Rannoch has become an important contributor to the wider galactic economy. Access to geth manufacturing methods and a collective desire for employment among its people (long stereotyped as beggars and cheap transient labour) gave the quarian government some welcome leverage. Migrant ships were repurposed into makeshift supply freighters, shipping out vital reconstruction equipment to the likes of the Systems Alliance and the Turian Hierarchy. Before long, Rannoch was the galaxy’s number one supplier of room temperature superconductors, its second biggest supplier of drive core frames, and a growing competitor in the realm of consumer electronic components.

Rannoch, though, remains an "odd man out" in the galactic order. While they maintain a modest consulate on the Citadel -- and the district known as "Little Rannoch" is now populated by quarian and geth residents -- Rannoch hasn't applied for Citadel membership. Neither does it identify with the loose bloc of the Terminus Systems. This uncertainty makes some of its partners uneasy, especially given the quarian grasp on the superconductor market -- and many analysts posit that such control could be key to their political eminence (superconductors are found everywhere, finding application in military, consumer, and medical equipment). The quarians' only real competitor in this field is the Salarian Union. Much of the core salarian industrial base went untouched by the Reapers, and the Union has been seeking to protect itself from the potential pitfalls of reliance on Rannoch, moving quickly to enact effective tariffs on quarian-made electronic goods inside the Annos Basin. Meanwhile, Union exports for superconducting material have skyrocketed, largely supplying to asari, elcor, and a number of dynastic corporate interests. The quarians and salarians, in short, are in the midst of a struggle for control over a sensitive market, each seeing themselves as the underdog.

The reclaiming of the quarian homeworld has seen old temples, universities and factories re-opened for business. Various cultural traditions are also being rediscovered, from the once-famous group dances that form part of quarian epic storytelling to large-scale agriculture. Modern practices have also been retained, like the various small cults of shix magic. One part technological fetishism, one part witchcraft and one part traditional quarian religion, mixed with the desperation of constant space travel beyond safe ports, shix has become surprisingly common in the wider Terminus and Traverse. Since Rannoch was settled, practitioners of shix have been wandering away from the former fleet and finding themselves in ports like Blackjack, Dying Slowly, Cartagena, and Omega.

A number of controversies -- from geth resistance over the idea of restoring ancestor VI archives and petitions to lift cloning restrictions for quarians, through an independent geth alliance with the Ninmah Cluster, to the matter of quarians raised entirely by certain geth factions with social engineering agendas -- have kept the political scene on Rannoch lively and heated, but the two races remain close allies, with various programs aiding their integration into a single -- though far from homogenous -- society.

Locations

The Tikkun System is the location of Rannoch, homeworld of the quarians and the geth. Quarians had less colonies than many long-standing starfaring races (e.g. asari, salarian, volus, batarian) because their planet's ecology is unusually symbiotic. Most pathogen-equivalents were often at least partly beneficial to them. Outside of Rannoch, quarians are vulnerable to infection, and centuries lived in sterility aboard spaceships has merely worsened the problem.

Among the many orbital facilities over Rannoch is Naska Station, part of the geth-quarian integration programs. Planned and designed by several leading quarian engineers and constructed utilising the geth’s resources and industrial might, it recalls pre-Morning War quarian architectural forms. Also in the Tikkun System is the planet Adas. As a point of symbolism, Adas -- which had seen massacres in both the Morning War and the quarian reclamation of Tikkun -- was chosen as the site of a joint geth/quarian staging platform called Ilaan Station (translated literally, 'One Purpose Station'); though quarian naval presence is tiny compared to the hundreds of geth vessels that regularly moor and depart from the structure's advanced docking bays. A newly constructed geth battle-station, meanwhile, hangs over Kaddi, standing guard over numerous quarian mining ships that convey mineral wealth back to Rannoch.

Wreckage from the quarian-geth conflict still litters the Tikkun System. Pieces from numerous arrays and servers orbit close to the star, and while this would normally present a golden opportunity for a daring salvage team, the geth have taken to shooting down anything that dares to try. For all intents and purposes, it's a graveyard.

Elsewhere in the cluster, the planets of Rysulo and Mandas’Sel were quarian colonies, both overrun by geth which formed links with the mainstream network during the final insurrection on Rannoch. Another quarian-exploited world was the third planet in the Shalikai System. This world and one of its moons were high in valuable metal content and had a viable dextro ecosystem, if not a pleasant one. A quarian mining colony was established here, with the company that ran it using an independent network of early geth to do most of the work. When the Morning War erupted, the quarians fled, but they didn’t turn off the automated systems on the moon. The geth there were independent of the Rannoch net and never received orders to stop. With the main Consensus too busy to retrieve them, these sub-sentient geth kept mining and conducting self-repairs. Eventually the moon cracked apart. The pieces started colliding with one another, creating a dust cloud that settled over the planet itself.

Where the Perseus Veil links to regions of the Far Rim (assuming that one isn't making a jump through the primary relay), the string of military outposts known unofficially as The Bestiary keep watch, among them Station Salkayid-Apex. These fortifications deter the pirates now plaguing parts of the Rim from advancing their operations into the Veil (in addition, the natural defence represented by that phenomenon is still a point in the geth's favour).

Finally, the Perseus Veil conceals the nascent Geth HomeSphere, a vast supercomputing array built around a white dwarf, and essentially a replacement for the facility once being built at Tikkun, which was destroyed in the quarian assault prior to the cease-fire. It has already been responsible for many breakthroughs in modern physics.
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"We are all the sum of our tears. Too little, and the ground is not fertile, and nothing can grow there. Too much, and the best of us is washed away".
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