February 19th 2015
The Virgil System was discovered entirely by chance in 2412. Famed astrophotographer Alaine Viktus was conducting a deep field survey roughly half an astronomical unit past the Vega system’s cometary cloud. Viktus had powered down his survey runabout’s thrusters to capture a maximum scan resolution. Upon attempting to activate his highly specialized stellar camera, he found it unable to lock. After running a diagnostic, he discovered that his ship was suffering from subtle gravitational shifts that were preventing the camera from focusing. Viktus turned on his scanners to look for the source of the disturbance and discovered that he was almost right on top of an uncharted jump point.
General amazement over Viktus’ incredible luck quickly turned to an unequaled passion for expanded space exploration. The K-type main sequence star was named Virgil after Viktus’ love of the ancient poet and the system’s discovery inspired further exploration of the Vega system as well as prospecting this new one. Within ten years, Virgil became a verdant, thriving Human colony and inside of a century it was considered a surefire choice for formal UNE representation. The rapid colonization of Virgil lead to Project: Far Star, the government-funded march ‘outward’ into the area of space now unlocked with Virgil’s discovery.
Then, as rapidly as it began, the situation reversed. The discovery of the Vanduul in 2681 and the onslaught of their increasingly devastating raids brought Far Star and westward galactic expansion to a full stop. Humanity was shocked by the complete fall (and subsequent UEE abandonment) of Orion. Virgil changed into a military outpost overnight, with entire fleets now operating out of the formerly quiet colony to reinforce the front line in Tiber.
After the prolonged and bloody Siege of Tiber, the Navy collapsed in full retreat and was unable to organize a secondary line as the Vanduul pushed relentlessly forward. Whereas the Vanduul had not pursued UEE forces after Orion fell, this Clan refused to let up the attack and chased the routed fleet. The Vanduul showed no mercy to the system, slaughtering military personnel and civilians wholesale. Virgil I’s idyllic biosphere was reduced to permanent clouds of ash, and some two hundred years of Human expansion were erased from history. Several transports escaped the carnage, protected by interceptors from the famed Squadron 214. Given the chance to escape the system with the transports they had saved, every member of the squadron chose to return to Virgil I and attempt rescue of more civilians.
In the ensuing years, Virgil had been visited by a number of Reconnaissance in Force missions until a network of surveillance buoys were covertly established by the Empire in 2790 to provide early warning of Vanduul clans entering the system.
There is a famous photograph taken on Virgil I. It shows the charred remnants of an Imperial customs house, wrecked white pillars framing a smoking, coal-black sky. A cracked signboard lies to the right of the image, its original proclamation of “EXPORTS” having had the word DEATH crudely scrawled under it. This image, along with various artists’ interpretations thereof, has appeared on UEE recruiting posters decrying the Vanduul threat for over a century.
Years earlier, the first planet in the Virgil system was the United Nations of Earth’s poster child for terraformation. If ever a world seemed custom-designed to support any easy transition to Human habitation, it was Virgil. The planet’s soil was found to contain super nutrients that would allow imported Human vegetation to thrive quickly. In a matter of years, the planet’s atmosphere had been equalized to Earth standards. Initially covered in swathes of lush tropical forest and seemingly endless plains, Virgil I quickly became both a high-productive ag-world and an exotic tourist destination. With the military buildup, the tenor of Virgil I’s society changed but the natural beauty remained. Antimatter stockpiles and spacecraft repair facilities stood naturally beside the massive trees that largely encircled the planet’s tropical and temperate regions.
Apparently viewing the target as a reward for their hard-fought victory in the Tiber system, the Vanduul ransacked Virgil I with a ferocity previously unseen. Despite the lack of fortifications (few of the Empire’s units had dug in, expecting the fleet at Tiber would be enough to keep the enemy away), the Vanduul pulverized the planet with catastrophic bombing raids that seemed intended more to establish their cruelty than to accomplish any particular strategic goal. Hundreds of thousands of Humans died in the attack, either killed in the bombing raids or churned apart by Harvesters launched onto the still-populated planet.
Today, Virgil is visited rarely. The atmosphere is poisonous, with enough ash kicked up in the bombings to leave the world in a state of permanent nuclear winter. Published reports of UEE spy expeditions have detailed the state of the planet: a harvested wasteland occasionally interspersed with the haunted skeletons of the titanic trees that once inspired awe and wonder. Those who have observed this unique hellscape are forced to ask themselves whether the Vanduul intentionally left them as reminders of the planet’s past.
The Virgil System contains two other worlds and an asteroid field, none of which has been significantly exploited. Virgil II is an uninhabitable smog planet with few worthwhile natural resources. Like Virgil I today, Virgil II’s surface is completely blocked by the natural layer of smog. Military reports have noted that the Vanduul pay Virgil II an especially wide berth, although the reasoning for this is unknown.
A moderate resolution asteroid field separates the second and third planet. Deposits of iron and titanium have been identified here, but never in sufficient quantities to establish mining operations during the system’s Human habitation. The final planet in the system, Virgil III, is an ice giant. This churning ball of water, ammonia and methane would have ultimately been used as a source of all three should the system have been further developed.
The Virgil System is classified by the United Empire of Earth as a Vanduul system. Travelling to this system is seriously discouraged.
“While the rest of the planets go all crazy for these Banu or whatever you call them, I’m reassured that I’m here, with my own kind, far away from whatever alien shenanigans they got going on.”
- Governor Jack Koch, served as Governor of Meyer from 2440-2446
“We won’t forget.”
- Tam Thackston, (Commander, UEEN) Squadron 214, Bravo Flight leader