This part of space was solely discovered and charted by the humans, most even before they met the rest of the galactic community. The Human Basin is divided into several cluster connected with mass relays, but it hard to agree on where the divisions lay, especially as the human early classifications became challenged with the introduction of way better FTL-travel. Interestingly, the codominate between council and alliance government over the Sol system has been tested by time.
EASTERN COUNCIL ORGANIZATION
The original Citadel Council was a power-sharing alliance stemming from, yet also somewhat adjacent to, the major starfaring nations of the Asari Republics, Salarian Union, Turian Hierarchy and Systems Alliance. Nations which held embassies on the Citadel but were not on the Council included the Vol Protectorate (also one of several turian client states), the Courts of Dekuuna, the Illuminated Primacy, and the Urdnot Coalition of Tuchanka; these nations and their affiliates all collectively made up "Council Space" or "Citadel Space", recognizing the Citadel Conventions and the authority of the Council in galactic and transnational affairs. When the council split
happened during the Skyllian War, the West continued the old institutions largely, with several new council member elevations due to democratization tendencies. The opposite happened in the east, where the Human-Turian diarchy continued to subordinate the associate members to the two council polities. The Kite’s Nest Alliance and the Drell Republic are Human Alliance clients, while the Vol Protectorate, the Orloshi Commonality and planet Asphodel are Hierarchy clients. The only associate member with proper ambassadorial power is the Tuchankan Imperium, which has several (mostly krogan) dependencies itself.
LOCAL CLUSTER and ARCTURUS STREAM
The "Local Cluster" is the human name for the node on the relay network that contains Sol, their system of origin. There isn't much of interest in the region save for the human homeworld and -- since the Reapers moved it here -- the Citadel. Of course, those two points of interest are more than enough. With the Citadel in orbit of Earth, the Sol System is the political heart of the galaxy and the central hub of the relay network. The really short distance between the Charon Relay and the Arcturus 5 Relay would classify both the Arcturus Steam and the Local Cluster the same cluster, but especially humans tend to refer to both separately, not only for historic, but more so for administrative reasons. Anything inside the Local Cluster falls under direct Council authority, while the Stream is part of Alliance federative subjects.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Eastern Council (Citadel, Turian Hierarchy and Human Systems Alliance)
Common Species: Human (native), others
Worlds of Note: Earth, Mars, Demeter, Manswell, Benning
Space Stations of Note: Citadel
As the heart of the current relay network, the Local Cluster has dozens of relays. Direct connections to no less than 4 home clusters exist (The Xena Relay even connects to Aralakh, the krogan home system), while relays still close to the Sol system give access to even more locations.
Humanity's entry into the galactic community ended a period of general peace, introducing political and colonial woes to a somewhat complacent galactic order. This contributed to the general impression of humans as troublemakers. The new species quickly became an important contributing member of the Citadel, though, and while humans were far from anyone's favorite allies they were generally well-received. Relations with the turians remained cool for some time -- although there were a number of cooperative projects -- and the batarians clashed with humanity over territorial ambitions, triggering an intense and often underhanded rivalry. Nonetheless, humans integrated into the galaxy with some speed and much success.
Before the reaper war, Earth had a somewhat poor reputation. Compared with many homeworlds in Council Space it was noted for high levels of pollution, poverty, and crime. This impression only became more pronounced when the human Systems Alliance attained a Council seat in 2183 –- Earth’s reputation as the “least” of the four homeworlds was well-established. (The impression of poverty and pollution was somewhat accurate, but only relative to other Council population centers; Earth was greening during this period, and quality of life, while uneven, was generally high). Earth also had a higher population than most homeworlds, as its colonial exodus has yet to bring it to the point of population equilibrium known to worlds whose species have been spacefaring for far longer.
Earth was invaded by the Reapers early in their galactic assault, and remained under occupation for the duration of the conflict. In the aftermath every nation and government had collapsed. At an internal council of the Alliance leadership, admiral Stephen Hacket declared the formation of the Systems Alliance Transitional Administration on Earth (SATAE) to oversee the reconstruction of the homeworld, formalized into a provisional military government. Operating on a five-year plan that would conclude with sovereignty handed back to reformed national governments, SATAE delivered on its promises with slight delays, and although it was often controversial, it legitimately did its best to help the Terran nations get back on their feet. Continual access to the Citadel brought Earth moderate relief in the form of donations, corporate interest, rebuilding efforts, and old-fashioned can-do attitude; SATAE’s reconstruction effort notably improved the quality of life in some of the hardest-struck cities. Numerous independent business entities donated large sums of credits to rebuilding larger cosmopolitan centers in return for exclusive business rights, bringing cities like Tokyo and Moscow closer to normality than some dared to imagine in a few short years. In addition, a number of ecological and environmental studies are currently being performed on the planet in an attempt to restore the shattered ecosphere. The current population of Earth is somewhere around seven billion. Pockets of non-humans brought here for the final battle against the Reapers, and temporarily stranded with the initial relay blackout, have diversified the species mix. Today especially the land of Australia has a thriving krogan population.
The whole wider cluster remained underdeveloped due to the organization structure of the pre-reaperwar Systems Alliance. Reaper damage here was therefore among the most severe, but the new location of the Citadel meant that rebuilding was a priority not only for humans but for the organs of galactic government. Citadel institutions and human ones began to blend in the decades after the war and proved much animosity between the old council species and the newer ones. Today the Eastern Council is a higher administrative umbrella with its own military, legislative and law enforcement not unlike the Western Council, but with more autonomy (Citadel citizenship exists as an addition and enables say in the whole institution, even though the Hierarchy and Alliance still hold a significant influence over the Council). Earth itself and the whole Sol system is administered by the Citadel, as are many more systems in close proximity.
Earth is actually mostly covered in ocean and houses about 40 million hanar in addition to the human majority. Significant minorities of krogan also exist. The Citadel, with a population of over fifteen million, is an advanced space station, and seat of the regulatory body known as the Citadel Council. The Citadel consists of five city-arms known as "wards" -- Kithoi, Bachjret, Zakera, Tayseri, and the doubly-named Aroch/Shalta (which some humans took to calling the "Chocolate Ward" due to its reputation for having all the best sweet shops) -- along with the central Presidium Ring. The Citadel has a diverse population, and almost any race will be seen here -- even vorcha. The Citadel also has its own "native race", in the form of the enigmatic keepers -- essentially biological robots which maintain the station and whose comings, goings and unfathomable alterations are protected by law. Citadel citizenship is not given to all residents – in general, having ties to the Eastern Council is a requirement, but only individuals insisting on their Western Council affiliated legal status have been outright refused it.
The rest of Sol System is no longer underdeveloped, but it is not only for the citadel, but for the dozens of mass relays in the Sol system and systems nearby. Mercury is a major energy producer and houses many high value solar arrays and antiproton generators that directly supply the citadel fleets with military grade fuel. Venus, in the past, had only a handful of aerostat research outposts, but now houses several corporate headquarters in stations far away from the common people on earth and the Citadel. Earth's satellite Luna is still mined for materials used in space habitat construction, but the prices have increased with the level of resource exhaustion of the body. Experts estimate the moon will be mined for another century before importing goods will become more profitable. Hundreds of major stations have been constructed at Earth's L4 and L5 Lagrange points, all from lunar resources. Mars was once considered a prospect for terraforming and colonization, but the discovery of faster than light travel turned it into a quiet backwater. Its southern pole is a historical preserve centered on the prothean ruins found there. Mars did see a huge influx of colonists, mostly those escaping from squalor and desperation on post-war Earth. Most of these people saw the planet as a temporary stop, and today the planet houses a far different occupation. Perhaps in homage to the human name of the planet (it is named after the Greco-Roman god of war), the world is now the nearest planetary base for the Citadel military. Phobos and Deimos stations have thoroughly transformed the tiny moons into huge military space stations, used as anchorages for ships as large as superdreadnoughts.
The deep gravity well and lethal radiation of Jupiter have kept its moons from being significantly exploited. The largest outpost is the abandoned Nautilus Facility, attached to the underside of the ice sheet on Europa. Primitive life exists in these sub-glacial oceans. Saturn has been a major source of helium-3 fuel for fusion plants since the 2150s. Its moon of Titan, meanwhile, is the only body in the system not administered by the Citadel, but the Systems Alliance, the reason for which will be evident right now. The moon of Dione was replaced by the reapers with the Dione Relay, which gives access to the Exodus cluster, and therefore directly into the core of Alliance territory. After the development of mass effect FTL drive, Uranus was the target of a "land rush" to exploit its combination of plentiful helium-3 fuel and shallow (for a gas giant) gravity well. Today Uranus is still the third largest producer of He-3 in Eastern Council space. With Uranus cheaper to exploit, Neptune has never seen extensive development. The only permanent human presence is a small research facility on its moon Triton. Several classified stations under citadel jurisdictions are placed on Neptune’s Lagrange points. Among the dwarf planets of the outer system, the most notable is Pluto; it and the Charon Secondary Relay (formerly encased in ice, and thought to be a moon) orbit each other. Pluto's orbit was circularized in 2157 as a side effect of the Charon Mass Relay recovery operations. The planet houses several tolling and citadel flight control stations. The relay gives access to other secondary relays in close Arcturus hypergiant and the Khad Posterior subgiant system. The reapers seem to have anchored most other relays to other dwarf planets, while they thoroughly depleted Sol’s asteroid belt of any significant resources, to much dissatisfaction of the organic races. The Proserpina Relay is anchored towards Ceres and connected towards Ki Pi. It was deactivated in the closing of the homebound and is a restricted area. Quaoar is orbited by old ruins from a pre-prothean cycle. Nothing of value could be learned from them. The body of Sedna is seen as a previous anchor point of the Charon relay by geth scientists, but organic scientists have yet to be convinced of this. The Orcus Relay is orbited by a small moon, Vanth. As the relay directly connects to the volus home system, Vanth houses many subterranean mass effect generators that trap a volus breathable atmosphere and raise the gravity to acceptable levels. The volus here are citadel citizens and generally look down on the ones on the other side of the relay. Eris is another citadel military center, as it is gravitationally bound to the Xena Relay that gives direct access to the krogan home system Aralakh. Makemake is mined for hydrocarbons that are quickly exported through the close Freya Relay into the Indris system of the Kite’s Nest. The Rana Relay has seen a significant downturn in traffic since the council split. It is watched by Citadel Fleet control to monitor every ship that comes from the Annos Basin.
The closest star system to Sol, the Alpha Centauri System is a trinary system with two habitable planets. One is monitored by citadel scientist for its likely sentient primitive inhabitants. Proxima Centauri’s third planet Zubale houses the small citadel salarian populace in underground facilities. Barnard’s System, which houses the Barnard’s 1 Relay, is the main entry point into the Heaven’s Gate. The system is under jurisdiction of the Hierarchy. The planet Demeter in the Delta Pavonis system lies within reach of conventional FTL drives from Sol and was colonized before any system beyond the Charon Relay, making it the oldest human extrasolar world. Because it is accessible by FTL, Demeter was one of the first colonies recovered after the great war, and was an exception to the wave of anti-Alliance protests and separatist cries across human colonies uneasy with SATAE rule. Today, Demeter is a major Alliance colony and is in the top 4 of most populated human worlds (number 1, 2 and 3 being Earth, Elysium and Budaun respectively).
Arcturus system is a transport hub in Systems Alliance space and its cluster was the first cluster accessed by humans following their activation of the Sol Relay. Low in resource potential, it is primarily used for transit between more useful clusters, and seems tailored to the Systems Alliance military policy of rapid response to trouble spots. Its planet Eirene has infrastructure in place for fueling civilian and military starships with helium-3 and antiprotons. The Reapers also destroyed the transient populations on Alcyoneus, as belt communities were too small for the Reapers to bother harvesting. The asteroid belt was mined out by the machines, likely in their repair effort for the relay network. On the L5 lagrangian point of the gas giant Themis, Arcturus Station has been rebuilt, now grander than ever but never been reconsidered to be the Alliance capital again. This honor now falls onto Terra Nova. Small Eunomia has a small population employed in ice-cracking, as the resource here is surprisingly pure. Next to the Arcturus 6 Relay is the Alliance 3rd fleet headquarters.
In the nearby Euler System, the planet Benning is a large thriving Systems Alliance colony. As the nearest garden world to Arcturus Station, Benning was the primary source of its food supply and an important staging area for starship maintenance and repair. Today, it would be one of the Alliance’s breadbaskets, were it not for the Sol system using up its supplying capacity entirely. The iron core of Yukawa was briefly mined to aid in the construction of Arcturus Station. Yukawa’s reputation as “the scab planet” persisted, as its other resources were not particularly notable. Silva (named after the human who discovered the prothean bunker on Mars) is once again home to a large recovery operation for helium-3, fueling merchant ships commuting from Benning to Arcturus. The infrastructure on Silva is owned by volus corporations. The bodies and moons around Fermi have been mined out by the reapers as well.
The 36 Ophiuchi 2 Relay leads into the Utopia system, while the Alphecca B 5 Relay leads into the Shanxi Theta region of space. Alphecca B 3 is the location of the famous Archer University, a human institute famous for its breakthroughs in understanding relay technology. The university has lost most of its prestige following the closing of the homebound. Both relays are core alliance assets and closely monitored. Mining enterprises around the relays are common. Boson is a young human industrial world in the area and houses about a million inhabitants.
The Khad Posterior 3 Relay, being a secondary relay, is connected to both Arcturus and Sol. The Khad Posterior system, also known under the name Phi2 Orionis, houses both a hothouse world and a Saturn-sized gas-giant. Khad Posterior 1 may have been habitable in the past, but not signs of former habitation have been found. Interestingly, the close ZP18923 rogue planetary system houses undisturbed Thoi’han ruins.
SHANXI-THETA and the SECTORS
Dominant or Controlling Power: Eastern Council (Human Systems Alliance)
Common Species: Human, krogan, salarian, batarian
Worlds of Note: Shanxi
The cluster is rather small and only houses 4 relays, of which 2 are secondary connections inside the region itself (the so called “Sectors”). Shanxi-Theta and Sectors is a stopover cluster that connects the far more important Carina Nebula with the greater Local Cluster region.
One of the clusters reached by humans from the Arcturus Stream, Shanxi-Theta (named for its first and most prominent human colony) is famous as the site of first contact between humans and other contemporary sapient species. The Citadel knows it as the Relay 314 Incident, but to most humans the small, three-month conflict that resulted from this encounter is the First Contact War. Despite the inauspicious circumstances, it was this minor war that saw humanity welcomed to the Citadel community. In the 2150s, human explorers activated any mass relay they found, eagerly exploiting an apparent galaxy's worth of potential for their accelerated space program. Unknown to humanity, activation of dormant relays had been tightly controlled by authorities on the Citadel since the Rachni Wars of two millennia prior. A patrol from the Turian Hierarchy, discovering a small fleet of ships that had activated the relay listed as number 314, attacked in a standard police action, destroying the technologically inferior vessels. A single ship survived, however, and fled back to its base at Shanxi. A retaliatory force was sent out by the colony, and these reinforcements destroyed the turian patrol. Contact had been made with living aliens, and to humanity's alarm they appeared to be hostile. Events escalated quickly. The turians, seeing their patrol destroyed while performing its assigned duties, sent more ships and attacked Shanxi, but not before a message drone was sent out by the defenders, alerting the Alliance leadership at Arcturus Station. The colonists and garrison at Shanxi, besieged by the orbiting turians, were forced to fight a guerrilla campaign on the ground. The turian tradition of all-out war overwhelmed the humans, and with their troops starving and civilians dying every day, the garrison surrendered and the turians occupied the colony. Despite the tactical logic of his decision, ending humanity’s first conflict with aliens by surrendering cast a shadow over the subsequent career of the commander in question, General Williams. The occupying turians soon faced logistical problems of their own, as their biology required them to import all of their food. Nevertheless, the turians believed that they were secure, and that the handful of ships they had defeated represented the bulk of human naval forces. They were unprepared when the Alliance Second Fleet launched a powerful counteroffensive and evicted them from Shanxi. In response, the Turian Hierarchy began mobilizing for full-scale war. By this point, though, the Citadel was paying attention, and the Citadel Council (including the turian representative) intervened, brokering a truce and initiating humanity into the interstellar community.
Relay 314 however had been opened and now gave the humans access into the region known as “Sectors”. Most colonies here had been overrun by reaper forces fairly early, thanks to indoctrinated humans in the Wonnarua. The relay was one of the last ones to be restored and the sectors had by this point already managed their own affairs. It took the Alliance a long time to reintegrate this agrarian and conservative part of space and later, a colony here even joined the Skyllians only to be crushed and put under martial law.
The human colony world of Shanxi is a massive and volcanically really active planet with about 2 times earth’s gravity. Shanxi, besides being the first human planet occupied by an alien force, has the unfortunate distinction of having suffered the fate twice. The Reapers inflicted great damage here, and for several years after the restoration of its relay -- and in a grimly amusing mirror to its namesake province in China, Earth -- there was resistance to the SATAE administration and its military governance of human territory. The colony in time turned into a hotbed of human exceptionalism and xenophobia. During the Pact War, the planet declared independence and formed the New Cerberus. And while this didn’t last long, it still showed the plethora of problems Shanxi had. Shanxi is located in the Kepler-452 System, unofficially known as Johann system, where it is the second planet. Shanxi was chosen as a habitation site due to the relay in the same system, the Johann 6 Relay, but history has shown that there is hardly an unluckier human world. Students from the Alphecca system come here for vacations quite often, and the Johann System became the site of quite a few successful startups.
Most of the settled worlds in the cluster are similar to Shanxi: largely agricultural, mostly human, and generally separatist. The St. Luke System houses the St. Luke 3 Relay, the sole access point into the Carina Nebula. Here, the agricultural colony of Tiptree was completely overrun during the reaper war and became almost completely abandoned. Today, as some survivors had returned when they came of age on the salarian refugee worlds they were evacuated to, Tiptree houses a small human population mixed with salarians. Most of the planet’s inhabitants are alliance affiliated krogan though, and the reptiles make up a slight majority. Pinaster Station is owned by the Alliance and located here as well.
Another agricultural world, Bharvad, survived the Reaper War and became notable as the home of the first batarian citizens of the Systems Alliance. These were among a group of assorted non-human refugees naturalized in the conflict’s aftermath. Today, the planet is infamous for its accomplishment of joining the Skyllian Rebellion. Many inhabitants emigrated after the revolt failed, and the planet is now largely just a military base for the alliance to oversee the nearby Kafeneon 11 Relay, which gives quick access to the Sectors.
Therese “sectors” are largely unremarkable regions of human space. One of these is known as the Andura Sector. A human colony with a once-sizeable population, its planet Yandoa is best known for being the site of one of the worst toxic disasters in human history. In 2170, an Eldfell-Ashland Energy transport ship exploded in atmosphere, killing the crew and releasing a devastating cloud of Element Zero over the colony. Thousands of children were exposed in utero, and hundreds were killed or suffered birth defects; thirty-seven instead became biotics. After the Reaper War, investigations into Cerberus' activities revealed that they were behind the “accident”, seeking to create human biotics at the expense of other human lives. This information came too late for most of the residents of Yandoa, though, as almost all of the colonists had been killed when the Reapers placed processing plants on the colony. Yandoa was long sealed behind its relay, and its new inhabitants became refugees from around the sectors. They formed a single system polity known as the Cleopatra’s Children, and they negotiated themselves out of alliance membership. The gateway Horcrux system is still part of alliance space though.
While the Local Cluster is the capital region of the supranational Eastern Council and the Heaven’s Gate is its economic heart, the cultural and political capital of the Human Systems Alliance is the Exodus Cluster.
Dominant or Controlling Power: Eastern Council (Human Systems Alliance)
Common Species: Human, hanar
Worlds of Note: Terra Nova, Eden Prime, Sheol
The Exodus Cluster is a major relay crossroads. It connects to the greater Local Cluster with 2 primary relays and has additional connections to Argos Rho and the Carina, Horse Head and the Petra Nebulas.
As a center of human colonial endeavor and proximate to the Local Cluster, the Exodus became linked on the relay network to many prominent locations, including the Annos Basin, Hades Gamma, the Horse Head Nebula, the Kite’s Nest, the Petra Nebula, and the Serpent Nebula. Humans moved quickly to establish themselves here: In 2152, only four years after the discovery of mass effect physics, colonies were established on two unclaimed garden worlds. These were given the grandiose and appealing names of Eden Prime and Terra Nova. Both would generally prosper, though their fortunes would also fluctuate. In 2183, Eden Prime was attacked by heretic geth, under the command of the rogue Spectre, Saren Arterius (and as such truly under the command of the reaper Sovereign). Commander Shepard, responding to the attack, encountered a Prothean beacon that warned of imminent Reaper invasion. The resulting conflict -- in which Shepard pursued and defeated Saren -- was known as the Eden Prime War, a chain of events which shook the galaxy and resulted in significant upheaval: the Citadel attacked and damaged; humanity ascending to the Citadel Council; and the geth striking at worlds far from the Perseus Veil. Unfortunately, the shock and fallout of these distractions occupied so much of the galactic powers' attention that Shepard's claims of eldritch sapient spacecraft imminently threatening civilization were often ignored or dismissed.
When they launched their invasion in 2186, the Reapers initially bypassed the Alliance Sixth and Seventh Fleets at Terra Nova and Eden Prime, flying straight from relay to relay where they could neither be tracked nor intercepted, in order to strike at Earth. Overlooked in this initial assault on the Sol System, the worlds of the Exodus Cluster attracted reaper attention in the weeks following. With Earth occupied and the Alliance capital at Arcturus destroyed, resistance here was confused and often desperate. On the colony of Ur, the habitation dome that sheltered the residents was destroyed when a patrol frigate of the Seventh Fleet was shot down by a reaper troop transport; two transports and a processor then landed to deal with the colonists. Unknown to the residents, Ur was riddled with indoctrinated reaper assets, both in its tiny local garrison and in the civilian population. Thousands died or were processed in the first few days. Meanwhile, the reapers landed on heavily-populated Terra Nova after a brief battle with the Alliance Sixth Fleet. Aware that it would lose, the fleet -- under the command of Admiral Arnold Kolhammer -- chose to retreat in hopes of meeting with allies and later retaking the planet. Intelligence indicated that the reaper force at Terra Nova was light, and debate raged over whether to try to liberate it, or if such an effort would prove futile when the reapers sent reinforcements. There were a few unqualified successes. Alliance intelligence reported that Reaper forces were headed toward the colony world of Uqbar, and the captain of the cruiser Shanghai quickly dispatched all of its shuttles to help transport hundreds of colonists onto the ship. Making over 41 shuttle runs in a single hour, the Shanghai managed to evacuate the entire remaining population. When reaper forces arrived, Uqbar’s settlement was as empty as if it had never been inhabited at all.
Eden Prime, the cluster's most prominent world, initially avoided reaper attack, but instead faced an invasion from its own kind, as Cerberus descended on the colony to pillage its Prothean ruins. The rogue survivalists took to abducting the colony's able-bodied men and women, and a local resistance movement formed to thwart Cerberus objectives -- supported to some degree by the overstretched Alliance military. The Alliance later set up supply lines from Eden Prime to funnel excess provisions to its troops.
After the war, the Alliance took great care to integrate this jewel of human space back into its framework. When civilian rule was reestablished over the Alliance, there were hard decisions ahead on where to reestablish the seat of human central government. In a surprising twist, among all the bickering and policing, Terra Nova (the human name for New Earth) was chosen as the new seat of Alliance government (in actuality, the parliament is in orbit of the planet, but those are technicalities), as the new location of the citadel made Arcturus a dead-end option. Today, the Exodus Cluster poetically describes humanity’s exodus towards the stars.
One of the first locations to be charted in the Exodus Cluster was the Utopia System. The garden world of Eden Prime was a former Prothean colony and in the modern age is a place of pilgrimage for followers of Enkindlerism (the religion's gods being typically identified with the Protheans). Known for its pristine greenery and suitability for life, Eden Prime has become a symbol for humanity's ability to create functioning colonies in an interstellar community. Most long-time colonists are in the agriculture business. In 2185, the planet was named a "culturally significant site" by Earth's Council for the Preservation of Human History and Culture. Ironically for a location in the "Exodus" cluster, it has also seen a mass influx of hanar immigrants post-Reaper War. Ostensibly there to help rebuild, it was quickly obvious that their primary concern was proximity to the unearthed Prothean bunker. Today, naturalized hanar make up around 15 percent of the colonies 28 million inhabitants.
The systems first planet, Arcadia, is hot and massive. It houses only a small traffic control satellite. Elsewhere in Utopia, Nirvana has little of commercial or scientific interest -- a few geological research stations were constructed in the early 2160s, but all were soon shut down. The Alliance did maintain an automated ice cracking station, which stockpiled a large amount of deuterium fuel for use by the fleet. This was commandeered for the fight against the Reapers, and Nirvana was left completely silent. Today, the planet lays abandoned, though it did house a potassium mining firm that left the planet 2280. Morane Starway Fuel owns quite a bunch of refineries and refueling facilities around Zion. Most of Zion’s moons are owned by Beckenstein survivor descendants, and they continue to rent out only to firms that have a critical approach towards reaper tech. Xanadu holds a small turian staffed military base. The Utopia 6 Relay connects with the 36 Ophiuchi 2 Relay.
Far busier is the Irkallu system, location of the Irkallu 3 Relay, which connects directly with the Dione Relay in Sol, closest relay to the Citadel by a large margin. Also found here is Ur, a former iridium mining colony. In the aftermath of the reaper war, almost all the iridium was requisitioned for the reconstruction of Earth. The repair efforts on Ur therefore grounded to a halt due to lack of resources. While the Alliance brought some basic gear to keep the colony running, including robo-miners, low-end heaters, and seeds and Cyanobacteria for the surviving greendome, the supplies were not enough to offset the lost iridium, and Ur's reconstruction entered a death spiral. The last several thousand mostly anti-alliance inhabitants emigrated into the Skyllian Verge. Today, the planetoid is a major Alliance military base, housing at least several cruisers. The system houses the Ithaka Base, the largest Alliance anchorage besides their capital system. The planet of Uruk is a leading producer of fusion torches. Last but not least, it is the location of the brand-new Choudhury Supercollider, the replacement for the former Susskind Supercollider, now deeply in unfriendly asari space. Currently, it also used for mostly unrelated physics and biological research, and in general is a major center of science and the closest alliance affiliated towards the Citadel.
The relay-less Asgard System is the location of the Human System Alliance capital Terra Nova. The planet is relatively hot for a garden world. The pace of development here was modest until extensive deposits of platinum were discovered in the 2170s. This rare metal, required in the clean-burning hydrogen fuel cells that power private vehicles, attracted a "platinum rush" of immigrants and investment from throughout Alliance space. Unfortunately, the planet later experienced a wave of xenophobia toward non-humans following a terrorist plot in 2183, in which agents of the Batarian Special Intervention Unit attempted to redirect an asteroid into the planet. While it received Alliance aid in its rebuilding efforts, the damage caused by the Reapers on Terra Nova was extensive; reduced manpower and a lack of essential time-saving gear and materials slowed the rebuilding further, making the recovery an uphill battle. Civilian rule improved the situation somewhat, and when the exodus from Earth really started to kick in, many people from the relatively lightly affected African continent immigrated here. Unable to decide if a new Arcturus Station, Earth itself or even Luna would become the provisional seat of SATAE, the colonies became even more bitter. When civilian rule finally forced itself, the colonies wanted power for their efforts to rebuilt earth – and the political balance shifted from overpopulated earth towards the economically better integrated colonies. Staunchly pro-SATAE Demeter was not even considered as parliament seat. A deadlock between Shanxi, Eden Prime and Elysium ensured, and the only way out was choosing Terra Nova. Not too economically dominant due to lacking an in-system relay, but not too remote either. Not a purely industrial dead world, but no agrarian paradise either. It was the perfect compromise. Its location away from comm buys was purely intentional – the colonies had learned from their experience with military dictatorship and made the capital a place where the time for proper democratic processes was non-negotiable. An intertwined military-industrial complex like at Arcturus had enabled the rise of Cerberus in the first place. Today, Terra Nova has a respectable population of 45 million, making it the 6th most populated Alliance world.
The actual political capital called Respublika Station was build out of an asteroid, which resulted in humanity’s enemies mockingly calling the station “the human’s Omega”. It houses 105 thousand people, and is protected by the parliamentary guard, which also has its own dreadnought, whose command is the highest prestige position in the human military. The Alliance government is actually made out of three chambers, two with proportional representation, one for earth and the other for all other colonies. The third chamber consists of the federal representatives of each planet, where a planet either has 3 senators (earth), 2 (Budaun, Eden Prime, Elysium and Demeter) or 1 (everyone else).
Elsewhere in Asgard, nearly one hundred corporations -- human and alien -- constructed tele-operated mining, refining, and manufacturing facilities across the planet Tyr. The planet is the Alliance’s main source of hydrogen fuel cells outside the Heaven’s Gate. It is also a major center of manufacturing of many other industrial goods. Beneath the ice cap of Loki, meanwhile, a naturally formed network of subterranean tunnels, once host to a small Alliance outpost, was later a major classified Alliance military facility with many stockpiles of a myriad of different resources. During the skyllian war, revolutionaries annually managed to plant a nuclear bomb here, and only at the last second was the plot foiled. Last, but not least, the brown dwarf on Torr was once mined for helium-3 fuel, but nowadays the Asgard system imports all its fuel for economic reasons. It remains a perfect “slingshot-location” for traveling starships and houses several settlements on its moons.
Elsewhere in the cluster exist 3 star systems with relays connecting with the Horse Head, Carina and Petra Nebula. These trisolar-systems house New Dryland, a human colony repopulated following the war. The Vegas 8 Relay in the same system is the most important relay here, giving access into the Petra Nebula and therefore the Skyllian Verge. Uqbar is another human colony, functioning as a resort for mining enterprises, but also watching over the close Borges 12 Relay, which is the entry point into the Argos Rho Cluster. Borges 7 is orbited by a volus space station used by wealthy individuals for unknown purposes, but the alliance has confirmed nothing illegal seems to be going on there.
In the recesses of the Exodus Cluster, the Freud System was discovered post-Reaper War to have a habitable garden world. A hidden manned installation with visible Cerberus paraphernalia had been placed there -- its surviving inhabitants, who had renounced Cerberus during the war, agreed to be placed under Alliance protection upon their rediscovery. The colony has become a beacon of human scientific providence, and under its new name Übermensch is a leading center of genetic research. Other habituated systems are Malambo and Sagaan Ubgen.