October 7th 2013
If speed could, paradoxically, be represented by a fixed point in space, then that point is unquestionably the Ellis System. Home of the Murray Cup, the most famous racing event in the galaxy, Ellis is a star system that plays off its reputation to any tourists or other visitors who pass through. However, Ellis is actually a very interesting star system on its own merits: from the massive underwater animals that once inhabited the oceans of Kampos to the recent collision between Ellis XI and its moon, Ellis is worth at least one voyage.
Cosmologically, Ellis is an F3V Yellow star featuring a green band teeming with planets, allowing for an unusually high amount of Human habitation. The system is located in a highly developed region of UEE space with strong jump ties to Magnus, Kilian and Nexus. Despite its association with space racing, Ellis has never been a manufacturing powerhouse; instead, it exports unrefined minerals and resources to other populated systems in the local star cluster.
Ellis I and II are typical inner-system uninhabitable worlds. Ellis I is a protoplanet that orbits so close to the star that it is frequently caught within solar flares. Miners consider Ellis I the ultimate tease: advanced scanners indicate that the bubbling magma surface might hide a fortune in rare minerals … but there is no shielding technology yet available that would allow a mining crew to confirm the scans. Dozens of pilots and crews have been killed in the attempt. Ellis II is shrouded in a thick, smoggy atmosphere. The surface is barren and otherwise uninteresting, although the constant severe storms are an attractive diversion for observers.
Located on the edge of the system’s green zone (hence the imaginative name), Green (Ellis III) was purpose-constructed as a resort world to cater to visitors interested in the Murray Cup. A terraformed ocean world, the planet is dotted with luxury towers and mega-resorts. To preserve the world’s elaborate underwater reefs, only a single landing zone is allowed, in the coastal city of Aydo. Due to the fact that Green was terraformed, it has no native sea life. Attempts to transport species from Kampos and Earth have met with abject failure.
Kampos (Ellis IV) was the first world settled in the system and it remains the most populated planet. It is also the only planet in the Ellis System with an economy that revolves around anything but racing. Kampos is a high-gravity ocean world stocked with all manner of sea life. The planet itself is named after a particularly large sea creature (though not one of the many whose harvested meat is available for export). Kampos’ high gravity also gave rise to the evolution of flatcats, which formed the basis of a brief fad in the UEE core worlds. The world is frequently called Seahorse by the locals, so-named for the appearance of some of the high-gravity sea monsters harvested by native fishermen.
The third of Ellis’ populated planets, Noble (Ellis V) is a mid-sized forest world with a local government dictate requiring that most of the surface be preserved as-is. A single spaceport near the south polar region allows visitors to explore a beautiful landscape reminiscent of an undeveloped Earth. Two moons make for an especially beautiful landscape at night, although there is a consistent fear that urban development will spread on the world to support the ever increasing number of race fans traveling to the system.
Ellis VI sits just outside the green band, a rocky terrestrial world that is currently being used by the UEE for research projects examining the limits of human habitation. The hope is that terraforming techniques will expand to the point that planets farther and farther from a star will be able to someday support a human biosphere. A small science station is in geostationary orbit for this purpose and the population of scientists are always eager to purchase luxury goods to while away the time spent at their thankless tasks. Ellis VII and VIII are similarly uninhabitable worlds. VII features a highly corrosive atmosphere that can be damaging to ships entering local orbit. Ellis VIII is the smallest world in the system, an uninteresting rock with a limited atmosphere.
The Ellis system features two gas giants: Walleye (Ellis IX) and Bombora (Ellis X). Walleye is the largest of the two and has been completely commercialized for resource collection. While Walleye is most famously recognized as a pit stop for racers, most of the time it is the site of impressive queues of freighters and warships waiting to take on fuel. Long-haul transports making the Earth-Pinecone run frequently begin at Walleye, and a variety of ‘rest stop’ facilities have grown up in orbit.
Ellis X is a smaller gas giant with an extremely turbulent atmosphere that led to the creation of its name, Bombora.
The eleventh planet in the Ellis system was famously destroyed recently in a collision with its moon. The world was uninhabitable and astrophysicists had long been tracking its apparent demise. Nevertheless, the impact resulted in an extremely dense debris field which pilots are advised to avoid at all costs. Outlying regions are a reasonable source for minerals, though, with gravity having already begun the refining process.
Ellis XII, named Judecca, is a small frozen ball in space, the site of the occasional ice-mining expedition and little else. The outermost planet in the system, Ellis XIII, is known locally as Pinecone due to its strange shattered rock surface. Pinecone is rich in heavy minerals and is a popular destination for long-haul miners, many of whom transport ores all the way back to Earth itself for resale.