The ‘Boon’ is a hospital-ship servicing the human border territories. The ship’s mission is funded by the MSF and is primarily aimed at supporting humans and other friendly races who are unable to help themselves. The ship is unarmed but unafraid to skirt around conflict zones if help is needed.
Above: Pictured taking on wounded from a European Union shuttle
The ISS Boon is equipped with a large hospital ‘ward’ as well as an operating theatre and a wide range of special pieces of equipment.
Above: Pictured taking on wounded from a European Union shuttle
The ship operates a strict no-weapon policy; people refusing to stow their weapons are barred from accessing the vessel or any of her life saving technology.
The Siege of Ceres was a major feature of the Pan-Eurasian War and the one engagement to occur in the Sol System. It was a bloody affair which the neutral powers appeared content to let happen. The siege lasted until the end of the war; the Toronto Treaty officially recognised the Asian Coalition’s claim to the territory.
Human involvement on Ceres began before the advent of FTL travel; habitation and industrial units were developed under the rocky surface at the behest of the Chinese part of the Coalition. It had a population of over 1 million at the outbreak of the War; it’s industrial capacity made it a target for the European Union almost immediately.
It proved a difficult target. The Union Navy established a blockade around the world to begin with, assuming the population would quickly run out of food and water. Water was readily found as ice across the asteroid’s surface and the settlers had long since developed mature colonies of krill for food. These methods provided the populace with the very bare minimum of food but little else; life became increasingly difficult from the start of the blockade.
The Union experimented with orbital bombardment but the humans had buried themselves too deep. Even the docking ports were buried within canyons and other natural phenomena – Union dropships were easily repelled.
Still, the siege was relentless. The Union engaged in psychological warfare; they flooded local networks with terrifying images, they dropped earth-shaking bombs around the clock. The only relief came from brave Asian Coalition relief craft – tiny cargo ships bringing extra supplies to hidden docks and airlocks. The majority of these brave flights (nicknamed the Tokoyo Express after their WWII forefathers) were successful; the ships would occasionally be caught by the Union blockade. The best case scenario was being destroyed by their big guns. Surviving blockade runner crews were typically humiliated and tortured by the frustrated Union siege forces.
The Union denied accusations of torture and resisted United Nations calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian response. The post-War UN vote as to whether the siege amounted to a war crime was derailed – unsurprisingly – by European votes.
The colony developed into a hub of industry following the war; it builds heavy machinery and colony equipment for use throughout the new human sphere of influence. The hub of activity grinds to a halt once a lunar year, however, in a quiet memorial to the War, the siege and the thousands of people lost to starvation, preventable ill health and other causes.
The Far Planets Revolution was put down with brutal efficiency; any rebellious workers left alive were forced to finish their assigned construction projects and then were moved on. A large amount of these workers were from a slew of African countries – they had only pursued jobs at the edge of the Sol System to escape the crumbling infrastructure of their birth countries on Earth. By the end of the developments on the moons of Juipter and Saturn, the Second Age of humanity was in full swing and the Veritas leak had occured. A group of two hundred odd African hydroponics workers stole an old transport scow due to be scrapped and set course for the Pyramide System; it’s fourth planet in particular.
The group picked Pyramide IV due to its climate; humid and wet. They were desperate to live free somewhere, out from under the yoke of corporations or government. Although not the most comfortable climate, they knew they could use their hydroponic engineering knowledge in order to grow a significant range of food to support themselves.
The Earth-based seeds the colonists brought along struggled to grow in the alien soil; the group turned to native vegetables instead. Although there were a small, sad number of allergic reactions to the indigenous ‘raow’ tubers, they proved edible, nourishing and favourable to hydroponic farming. Thanks to the growth of raow – amongst other – plants, the settlers were able to sustain themselves by the end of the Second Age. The colony was established enough to give itself a name; New Bambara.
Once self-sustaining, the two hundred colonists brought families along and the population blossomed to a thousand or so. Independent merchants were quick to seize upon the new opportunities provided by the world – they arrived to sell basic building materials and prefabricated buildings for the new arrivals in exchange for the exotic foodstuffs from their hydroponic farms. These farms form the core of New Bambara; jungle has been cleared to accommodate both the farms and population housing but the continent is still heavily rain-forested and often victim to extreme monsoon seasons.
New Bambara eschewed hiring mercenaries for protection; many of its founding members had been abused and ill-treated by corporate armies during the Far Planet Revolution. Instead they formed their own militia to dissuade pirates and raiders. They are fortunately far enough away from Wun’Tux space to become a viable target – especially since the creation of EWO Outposts -though traders heading to and from New Bambara have suffered the occasional Hirudin Blackfin attack.
Jaipur was the name of a ‘residential’ UCW within the Jai Beta star system. Detailed scans of Jai Beta were part of the first wave of information leaked by Veritas. This information was seized upon and quickly claimed by a convoy of people from Earth’s India who set off in spite of a UN ban on such colonies.
Jai Beta III is a heavily wooded planet with a significant sized habitable zone. The climate within this zone is similar to Southern Europe and well suited to growing crops. Around ten thousand colonists (led by wealthy industrial farmers escaping the Asian Coalition) settled on the world near the start of the Second Age. They were far enough away from the Core to avoid unwanted attention and interference.
Early colony life was difficult; learning to farm an alien landscape had a steep learning curve. But the settlement steadily grew and developed; the ten thousand colonists eager to grasp the opportunity to live away their previously crowded existences needed a lot of food and had the incentive to grow it.
Jaipur grew in both population and stature throughout the Second Age. It became the terminus in a black market trade route – freighters would bring luxury and consumer goods to Jaipur in exchanged for food and crops which could then be sold on to more industrial colonies. The ruling council hired a small mercenary troop to protect the world for opportunistic raiders and pirates and all seemed well.
This charmed existence didn’t last, however. A Wun’Tux scouting party found the colony at the dawn of the Third Age. Although chased off by the local mercenary guard, the BroodClan soon returned in force. Jaipur’s protectors were quickly routed and the colony was laid bare for the slavers to pick clean. The Wun’Tux had no use for the planet itself – they abducted the majority of the population to make into slaves and left the old and weak to die. They burned crops and destroyed buildings. The destruction and chaos was discovered by a regular trader, the ISS Kiwako, and reported to the UN. There was little sympathy within the Core worlds, however. Instead there was a general feeling of ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’.
Tordov V is a ‘ghost world’; once a burgeoning European Union colony now desolate and empty.
Early in the conflict with the Wun’Tux, mankind scaled back colonisation efforts; governments prioritised the ability to protect a colony over any favourable resources or environmental conditions. Survey ships continued to search for new worlds and report their findings. One planet discovered at the start of the Third Age stood out as particularly tempting.
The fifth planet of the Tordov system was similar to Earth in size, had a oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and welcoming climate. Topographical scans indicated layers of ore and ‘rare’ earth metals, too. It was, however, on the cusp of Wun’Tux territory; well within the reach of their patrols. The major powers declined the opportunity to colonise one by one until the European Union bucked the trend.
A large fleet of Pan-Eurasian War era vessels accompanied the colonisers. They transported the materials to build an orbital defence platform capable of targeting multiple targets at long range and were crewed by veterans of the drawn-out war with the Asian Coalition. They were led by decorated war hero Admiral Grigor Golovko – a man who held great influence and knew how to use it. They considered themselves prepared.
For six busy months no threat emerged. Construction on the surface took shape; the first city expanded and grew. The defence station was tested and found to fuction and the fleet ran readiness drills on a regular basis. Golovko had hoped a show of force would convince the Wun’Tux to leave the world alone. But it didn’t.
The Wun’Tux came eight months after the colony formation – scouting parties at first; easily driven away by the Union ships. But these forays were only testing the water.
BroodClan Xylos arrived with a hundred ships – an intimidating formation of capital ships and Twinfang escort. The orbital defence station opened fire the fleet at extreme range – each shot destroyed or critically damaged a Wun’Tux attacker. But the reptiles had arranged their weakest ships at the front of the vanguard; the station’s cannon was unable to attack anything of real value as the aggressors drew inexorably closer.
Golovko’s forces had cut their teeth against the smaller, quicker adversaries of the Asian Coalition. They were not used to fighting against slow, armoured foes such as the Wun’Tux. Their organised formations were easily targeted by the stronger Wun’Tux weaponry. Ships exchanged fire at the periphery of the battle; the Union counterparts coming off the worse.
The orbital defence platform came under fire next. Although heavily shielded and thickly armoured, it presented a static target. The larger Wun’Tux ships formed a flying ‘square’ and concentrated fire from their biggest guns. Salvo after salvo began to ship away at the station; Golovko and his best ships were diverted to tackle these ships but they were outnumbered and harassed constantly by Enforcers and Gunships.
The facility lasted an hour under sustained fire; it was able to inflict critical damage on several of the larger Wun’Tux ships but was soon surrounded and overpowered. The explosion was seen from the planet’s surface and sent colonists into panic; rioting and escape attempts made the Union’s ground defence near impossible. An attempt to rally around Golovko’s flagship was brought to a quick end by it’s destruction; Union forces were routed and staged a ragged retreat. Wun’Tux utilised their air superiority to besiege and bombard Union ground forces into submission. The assault lasted four days; defenders held out hope of reinforcement but the Union Navy were unable and unwilling to gather enough ships to try to break the siege.
Xylos harvested wave after wave of slaves; their main Broodmothers took the best specimens and traded away the rest to less respected BroodClans. The old and sick were left alone on the planet; the reptiles did not consider them worth even a quick death.
The ruins of the colony remain; decrepit, overgrown and home only to the rodent-like scavengers native to the world. The occasionally enterprising human ignores the ghost stories about the colony to head down and raid for scrap or old equipment but most stay away – through fear, respect or a mixture of both.
The loss at Tordov V – along with the disastrous conflict with the Oroso – prompted a major overhaul in the European military thinking and equipment.
Innspoint is the capital city of Scallia V, a temperate planet on the Oroso-Human border. Scallia V is one of the planets shared out between the Oroso Conclave and various human factions following the brief conflict at the end of the Third Age. Innspoint has been rebuilt since the battles and bears few visible scars of the orbital siege and bombardment it underwent from both sides.
The city is a mix of human and Oroso districts; a handful of buildings accommodate the species living side by side. Although living mostly separate, the relationship between the two groups is cordial; the city council is made up of an even split and generally avoids acrimony. Xenophobic members of each species are unlikely to move to the planet, nevermind the city, and veterans of the Third Age conflict from both sides are taken care of.
Innspoint is a trade outpost first and foremost; a base for human and Oroso interests but also attracting commerce from the Trinax and Gnobo. The busy central districts are well served by shuttleports and there is a purpose-built stardock to accommodate larger ships.
It’s odd mixture of human and Oroso architecture and culture is unique throughout the known galaxy and attracts tourists and academics alike. The former are tempted by Oroso accommodation and cuisine, whilst it is not unusual to see gaggles of young aliens enjoying human feasts over reruns of the Superbowl.
Ravensmere is the nominal capital city of Alpha Centuari IV. Often refered to as ‘The City Science Built’, the name itself originated from the first Chief Scientist’s whimsical interests in the work of Poe; the place is far less picturesque than the name might imply.
The planet itself is too cold and inhospitable to support humans naturally; the ‘city’ is a collection of pre-fabricated buildings and underground chambers. The Central District was established first; it’s buildings are large, drab and utilitarian but home to the more venerable scientific institutions. The Outer Districts were built to accomodate the influx of new arrivals: not only the families of the scientists but the people who would teach their children, grow their food and maintain their equipment. These Outer Districts are prettier, more ornate. Half of the residents live in specially drilled underground chambers, heated by the deep-dwelling geothermic conduits built to facilitate their existence.
The Universities and institutions of Ravensmere are at the cutting edge of scientific endeavour. Their real specialisation is in the growing xenoscience areas, be it geology or microbiology. The first advances with the antibiotic Strandweed were made in the Central Distict laboratories, helping further embed the image of Ravensmere as a city of science.
The majority of Ravensmere residents fit the scientist stereotype: pale, quiet and clever types at home with study. The main exception to this rule are the geologists, the majority of whom are gregarious risk-takers, happier digging tunnels and hunting for new geothermic vents with nothing but an environment suit and their wits.
Stuhkhaven is the capital city of the Union world of Trillyth III. The world is a favoured holiday and retirement destination for well-heeled European citizens; the majority flock to the beautiful capital city. The original colonists chose settle on a fork on the River Piros; the city has expanded out and around the red-hued river as it’s centrepiece. The first settlers crafted with materials to hand and their buildings and infrastructure matched neatly the land around it. This necessity became written law and – inspite of a recent trend for glitzy, shiny metal building materials – the architecture remains strictly old fashioned.
The main business within Shuhkhaven is hospitality. A host of different entertainments and diversions exist for visitors from the planet and further afield. The architectural trends for the old-fashioned continues here; activities are typically ‘analogue’. Sailing is a popular hobby, horses have been imported from the last ranches on Earth and are raised on the city’s outskirts. Its restaurants serve food prepared by hand and cooked in the most old fashioned ways, including wood-burning ovens. People travel to Stuhkhaven for the quiet life and often have no choice but to live it.
Although short-term visitors tend to stay in the established hotels in the centre of the city, the outlying districts feature a host of self-service cottages and chalets nestled in the hills and river bends. Isolated enough from the capital, rumours abound that such rustic abodes are used by individuals on the run from various trackers; even the shadowy Agency.
Washburn is the US capital city of New Kansas, Kepler System. True to it’s namesake, New Kansas is a fertile farming world from which a wide variety of crops are cultivated and animals raised. Settlements range from small, old fashioned farms to large, mechanised outposts of synchronised machines and technology.
Several elite bioscience and veterinary colleges call the city their home.
Washburn is the hub for all manner of activity; business, education and pleasure. It is the port by which New Kansas feeds a large proportion of the Core Worlds. A giant spaceport sits on the outskirts of the city, big enough to accommodate the larger interplanetary barges for the transfer of crops and livestock.
There is also quite the lively nightlife; most of these bars and cantinas centre around the American Cool Revival trend. They feature music and décor reminiscent of days gone by from the old USA.
There exists a quiet acrimony between the city-settlers and the more isolated farmers. The latter consider their city-based fellows stuck-up and pretentious. The former consider the farming population crass and uncultured.
Above: a typical Washburn home
The city is home to the New Kansas Senator, when she is not involved in democratic discussions back on Earth.
Although officially neutral during the Pan-Eurasian War, several of the large farming conglomerates sold food to the under-siege Coalition population of Kepler V. The government span the story as to say these farmers saved the lives of starving children. In reality, agricultural corporations made huge profits breaking a neutrality clause set by the government. The US investigation into the food smuggling found no person or organisation culpable and no prosecutions were made. It is considered a whitewash by the Coalition.
Following the attack on Freya VII, human colonisation efforts were slowed considerably. Large groups of people were told by their governments that they were going nowhere – their colony ships placed on indefinite lockdown. Whilst some faced this with disappointment, a small minority took drastic action. The colonists destined for Petrayos V bribed the Martian ship captain and station master to allow them to leave for the planet against the express orders of the authorities.
Although rare, this was not the first or last unauthorised human colony. The American doctrine didn’t involve shooting down their own citizens, so the ship wasn’t pursued. It and it’s cargo were, however, disowned. Stripped of their citizenship and all the rights and protection that went with it.
The Wun’Tux were still a state secret when the ships left destined for Petrayos V. So when after three months of hard work the colony’s sensor array detected an unidentified ship in orbit, the unsuspecting settlers had no idea of it’s identity. As the Wun’Tux attack shuttles broke orbit, a strange, glowing bubble sprang up around the colony. Even more bemused, the humans watched as the alien ships bounced off of the surface of the bubble. Subsequent cannon fire was reflected away just the same.
It was then that an old Vonn Scholar revealed himself in the colony town square. He spoke quietly but succinctly about the importance of fostering and supporting life through mistakes and missteps. And with that the alien vanished.
This “bubble” remained in place, however. Fifty miles in diameter, two miles tall at it’s highest point. The Wun’Tux bombarded the barrier but it held firm and they retreated soon after. Decades on, the ‘bubble’ remains, allowing the weather and human settlers to come and go as they please whilst restricting entry to anything or anyone that might harm them.
A people who were once stateless are now a flourishing trade capital near the Outer Rim. Petrayos celebrates ‘V-Day’ once a year as a sign of respect to their Vonn benefactor.