June 10th 2014
Gateway to the Banu Protectorate! Corel is a standard type G main sequence star with six largely unremarkable planets located on the border between the United Empire of Earth and the Banu Protectorate, with a key jump line connecting the two. First discovered in 2449 and initially settled shortly thereafter, Corel has become the de facto customs checkpoint between the two states.
The system itself was discovered in the decade following mankind’s first treaties with the Banu, as part of a concentrated effort to map this inhabited region of space. The inhabitable third planet, Lo, was developed first as a casual trading post between Humans and Banu and then ultimately developed into the port of call for all interspecies shipping traffic. The culture of the Corel system is an interesting mix of Human frontier and Banu bureaucracy, something that has not evolved elsewhere in the galaxy. Corelians today are an unexpected combination of efficient and laid back. Beyond that, in nearly five centuries since the system’s settlement, little has changed save the scale of what passes through the jump point.
The first planet of the Corel system is little more than a flare-lashed iron core. Originally a rocky worldlet close to the system’s sun, Corel I’s crust and mantle were blasted away through a series of unknown impacts. The result was the exposure of the planet’s iron core, which has since cooled to a solid state. No development has taken place on Corel I, as there are far easier to reach sources of simple iron in the known galaxy. The planet does make for an attractive picture, though, with a bizarre smooth landscape resulting from the metal having rapidly cooled into its current form when exposed to space.
Where Corel I is now entirely a planetary core, Corel II lacks one entirely. A dead planet with no magnetic field, Corel II’s atmosphere has been blasted away by solar winds. The surface of the planet is, however, extremely rich in minerals, and the planet is a likely candidate for future mining expansion. It is officially UEE government territory today, although a mineral rights auction is anticipated in the near future. Corel II, on the inner edge of the system’s green band, is also technically a terraforming candidate, although not a good one.
Behold, the pulsing heartbeat of interspecies commerce! Corel III, known only as “Lo” around the galaxy, is the system’s inhabited world and serves as the physical handshake between the Human and Banu governments. The planet itself is an interesting mix: sparsely populated plains, lazy border towns and massive shipping/customs complexes through which pass everyone from freelance traders to corporate cargo crews.
Lo is, essentially, the last exit before the Banu protectorate, and it has all the qualities of both a massive transport hub and a distant frontier trucking station. The usual entertainments for long-haul transport crews are in good supply, although the sheer number of customs officials stationed here (as well as guard patrol crews) serves to mediate the more unsavory of these developments.
The center of the station is New Junction, a town built up around the largest customs house on-world. Lines of ships can wait for up to twelve hours on a bad day to pass through the detailed inspection screening required by both the UEE and Banu governments. Roughly one in ten cargoes is given a full visual inspection, and all others are subject to an array of scans and a mountain of paperwork.
New Junction is located on a natural landing area: the sprawling plains of the equatorial Qoph (pronounced “koff”) region. While Lo is a generally temperate world, New Junction is in one of the hotter regions year round, something which many traders dread experiencing during their layovers. Cool drinks and air conditioned habicube rentals sell for a premium in the area surrounding New Junction! Regular dust storms combined with the city’s base of prefab buildings plus the vast quantity of shipping containers passing through make for something of an almost prehistoric ‘wild west’ vibe. But make no mistake, this is not the lawless frontier: a fortune in legitimate shipping passes through Lo every day, overseen by meticulous customs agents.
While Lo is a prime example of man’s efficient industry, Corel IV (called Castor by the natives) is an embarrassing example of his hubris. Castor orbits Corel with a 786 SED rotation, placing it just outside the star’s green-band habitable zone. Made up of vast tracts of frozen desert, Castor is a foreboding world with no immediately apparent reason for Human development. Nevertheless, the world became a symbol of intended progress during the Messer Era, another target in a dictatorial march towards new levels of science and industry. Billions of credits in terraforming technology later, the once-frozen desert planet had become a frozen desert planet with a barely breathable atmosphere.
Today, almost no one lives on Castor and few of those could tell you why. A handful of settlements dot the globe, primarily centered around deep ice-mining operations. Quantities of bad-ice have been discovered far beneath the surface and it is sometimes collected for scientific purposes. Beyond that, miners subside on occasional caches of desert-bound silica. Though rare, the discovery of a single cache is enough to make a mining operation profitable for several years. Mining contracts are the reason why the bulk of its inhabitants have come to the planet, and very few of them choose to renew for a second year. Traders looking to make a quick credit, though, could not find a more captive audience for luxury goods!
Corel V is a standard gas giant. A massive red and brown planet frequently used as a fuel stopover by merchants heading to and from the Banu Protectorate, it is otherwise unremarkable. Corel VI is an uninhabitable ball of rock rarely encountered by anyone passing through the system. It features an odd orbit that is well off the system’s elliptical plane. With a slightly less important transit point, Corel VI might have become a reasonable outpost for smugglers, but the quality and concentration of local patrol forces in the system have all but eliminated it as a venue for cross-border black market shipping.