The rocky heart of the frontier! Taranis is best known as one of the systems of Kellar’s Run, but the asteroid and lunar debris fields of the Taranis system have proven to be more dangerous for many pilots who did not have the skill to negotiate such hazards.
Taranis was discovered in 2478 by the famed UNE survey ship Mythic Horizon. Home to a Type-A Main Sequence star and four planets, the system only had a single high risk candidate for terraforming in its initial scouting report. Shortly after discovery, the system was the site of a tragedy: one of Mythic Horizon’s survey boats was lost with all hands in a meteor strike.
Taranis has also recently entered the popular culture because of its role in Original Systems’ Arena Commander. The “Broken Moon of Taranis” map is one of two included in the massively popular simulator’s public demo. The setting pits players against one another in the debris field near Taranis II. Pilots dodge both flying rocks and massive pulsating terraformers as they fight it out in an ultra-realistic battle royale. The choice of Taranis in Arena Commander has even led to increased (and very dangerous) tourism in the system, as self-titled “Arena Nuts” travel from far and wide to have their holographs taken in front of the lunar remnants.
The first planet in the Taranis system is a typical sunkissed inner dwarf, too hot for Human settlement. The planetoid was the source of an unusual incident in the mid 26th century: a review of the initial survey data (radar scanning, interferometry and long range imaging) produced an image with what looked distinctly like a Human face superimposed on the planet’s north polar region. The so called “Face of Taranis” was a brief cultural craze in the Empire and ultimately inspired a privately funded expedition to the world to confirm that the picture was simply a mountain range photographed from an unusual position. The incident had its fair share of conspiracy theorists who continued to insist that the government had covered up evidence of an alien civilization living there.
Asteroid Belt Alpha & Beta
Beyond Taranis I is a pair of extremely dense asteroid belts which are notoriously difficult to traverse not only because of the sheer concentration of material in the belt, but because of how active the asteroids are. Asteroids frequently collide and eject material. Because the belts are so hazardous, few mining companies have felt it worth the risk to establish operations in the belts, though some smaller independent operations have attempted to turn a profit here. Smugglers and outlaws consider the Beta belt, with its proximity to the Green Zone, to be a good place to hide, and the occasional top level pirate will set up an ambush point in the belt. However, since this belt is denser with fewer safe approach vectors, even these types frequently find themselves the victim of rock strikes.
Now best known as the site of the “broken moon,” Taranis II was a victim of the gung ho terraforming craze of the Messer era. The coreless world was initially classified as a poor choice for terraforming and colonization, but Ophion Inc., a cheap geo development outfit, decided that it would be ideal place to test an experimental terraforming technique involving harnessing the energy in its orbiting moon. In the case of Taranis II, substandard parts and near slave labor on top of dubious science meant that Ophion managed to crack the mantle of Taranis’ small moon, splitting it into a million dangerous chunks. In addition to a deadly debris field that will continue to strike the planet for hundreds of years, the process super ignited the terraforming machinery in orbit. Several of the stacks continue to burn unabated to this day, further rendering the surface of the planet worthless slag.
Taranis III is a smoggy, stormy world located on the edge of the system’s habitable zone. The planet’s constant storms are the origin of the system’s name (Taranis, Celtic God of Thunder). The planet lacks a breathable atmosphere, but has nonetheless become the site of Human settlement. Bethor research station, established in 2536 to study weather control techniques, has organically expanded over the centuries to become a full fledged settlement of Tevarin refugees and Human expats. The initial corporate owners are long gone, and Bethor is now rumored to be in the control of a syndicate, although they keep their activities obscured from visitors.
A distant world on the edge of the system, Taranis IV is a mid sized gas giant consisting predominantly of hydrogen and helium. It is an occasionally visited by harvester ships but such stopovers are few and far between. To date, all attempts at establishing orbiting stations have failed to materialize.
Visitors to Taranis should be extremely cautious; transit through the system should be attempted only by top pilots and ship crews who are experienced in dense asteroid piloting.
Heard in the Wind
“It’s my hope that the sacrifice of our friends and colleagues in the pursuit of knowledge will make this system a beacon in the future expansion of Humanity.”
- Capt. Glen Whitacre’s eulogy for lost Mythic Horizon crew
“Ophion is committed to the advancement of science and sometimes, that means taking a chance. We know our geoengineers come from unconventional backgrounds, but to truly reach for greatness, one must be willing to take risks.”
- Excerpt from the Ophion terraforming presentation