June 15th 2016
“Ergo, I Got Blubbered”
T-shirts with that phrase have become ubiquitous throughout the Empire. Everyone knows it refers to the Space Whale, a tourist trap located in the Nemo System. Yet, only those who have visited the attraction know the truth: describing it as a Space Whale would be a stretch of the imagination.
True, there is an oblong asteroid with one thick end tapering into a smaller one that orbits Ergo (Nemo III). There are even locals who will argue for hours about its strong resemblance to an Earth whale. Yet the main draw really seems to be the shops and attractions set up to entice the wayward tourist who happens to be lured here. Every Galactic Guide employee that has journeyed to the (in) famous landmark has returned to say basically the same thing, ”Ergo, I got suckered.”
While the Space Whale may not live up to its billing, it is somehow fitting for the Nemo System. From Ergo, an ocean planet with vast oil resources but no (remaining) native life, to a system name that most assume is a reference to aquatics (but is actually an acronym for Norman, Ellis, Mau, and Ochoa; surnames of the founding partners of NemoCo, the company credited with discovering the system), the Nemo System is a place where things are not always what they seem.
Even the system’s discovery date has been called into question. Official records credit Dae-ho Ochoa, who was then a partner in NemoCo, with finding the system in 2364, but some believe he first visited the system in 2362, a discrepancy credited to corporate intrigue during Humanity’s unregulated early terraforming era.
The controversy centered on Ochoa who, in 2362, was a security contractor for the Tadmor Terraforming Concern in the Fora System. One day, co-workers lost contact with Ochoa while he was on a routine patrol. As a search party mobilized, Ochoa surfaced and then promptly quit without an explanation or logging his last day’s flight path. That last detail went unnoticed by Tadmor management, who were overwhelmed by issues surrounding their botched terraforming of Fora III. Exactly what Ochoa did that day eventually led to a lawsuit calling into question Nemo’s discovery date.
In 2364, the nascent NemoCo purchased all Fora-based terraforming platforms from Tadmor at a steep discount. Tadmor was desperate for credits to address legal problems, and cut NemoCo a deal believing they would have to shoulder the cost of disassembling the massive platforms to get them to fit through the system’s medium sized jump point. Yet, shortly after the purchase, NemoCo announced the discovery of an all-access jump from Fora to an entirely new system, which they promptly christened Nemo. An incredible stroke of luck, claimed NemoCo executives. For Tadmor, it was too big of a coincidence to ignore; particularly once they heard who found the new system.
Dae-ho Ochoa’s discovery of Nemo sent Tadmor digging through his employment file, which prompted a review of his sudden and strange departure from the company. Eventually, Tadmor filed a lawsuit against NemoCo alleging Ochoa had discovered the jump to Nemo the day he quit, and they were entitled to a stake of NemoCo’s operations. Despite some circumstantial evidence, what Tadmor really needed was Ochoa’s nav computer. However, Ochoa had sold his old Aurora and had no idea where it was. Tadmor investigators searched the known universe but were unable to find it. Lacking the evidence to prove their claim, Tadmor’s lawsuit was thrown out of court and the company subsequently dissolved.
Subsequently, the history of the Nemo System is entwined with NemoCo in more ways than name. Even the system’s pivot from oil provider to tourist destination originated with NemoCo. They were the first to market the Space Whale to the universe, and convert Ergo’s outdated oil rigs into tourist destinations — at a cost that eventually sank the company, but planted the seed for future entrepreneurs. Despite their incredible luck in Nemo, the company suffered from misguided leadership, and failing to establish a foothold anywhere else in the Empire, slowly faded away.
While NemoCo is no more, their namesake system is thriving. Much like the Space Whale, even though the system is not exactly what it seems, people continue to be intrigued by it.
Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen! Even cold, overcast days can take a toll on your skin with all the planet’s water reflecting the sun’s rays.
The closest neighbor to the system’s F-type, main sequence star is Nemo I. Today it is known as a protoplanet that lacks resources. Yet prospectors once thought it had potential, thanks to the MicroProbe. Selling itself as the next-gen in resource-detection technology, MicroProbe’s initial bounteous scans of Nemo I turned out to be horribly inaccurate when double-checked. Luckily, Microprobe’s shoddy technology was exposed before prospectors wasted time excavating in the barrens of Nemo I.
Millennia of meteor strikes have sculpted a rugged surface on Nemo II. Besides creating a visually dynamic expanse, the meteors have also brought the planet precious ores and minerals. Today numerous mining operations have staked a claim on Nemo II to search for those valuable resources.
Nemo III is a terraformed ocean world that has kept the Nemo System relevant to the Empire. NemoCo quickly established itself on Ergo when scans revealed significant oil reserves under the ocean. Once terraforming was completed, massive oil rigs, many made from the decommissioned terraforming platforms, were built to extract the underwater resources.
As pockets of oil were depleted, the rigs were converted into permanently habitable platforms with shops, restaurants and civil services to accommodate the high number of workers who wished to stay on planet after their contracts ended. In the late 27th century, a study conducted by the University of Mentor showed that on average Ergo’s residents lived longer than residents of other worlds, and used words like “peaceful” and “tranquil” to describe the planet. This general perception of Nemo’s idyllic and relaxing lifestyle spread throughout the Empire and led to a booming tourism industry. Over the centuries, ambitious developers have even built luxury platforms geared specifically for tourists.
Of course, the biggest mystery is how vast quantities of oil even got under Ergo’s ocean. No native life existed on Ergo when Humanity arrived, and researchers are still searching for any fossil evidence of what life once existed there. While exactly what happened is unknown, the most widely accepted explanation is that millennia ago an extinction level event eradicated all native life. These unknown, and long gone, organic species are who we have to thank for Ergo’s oil reserves.
To this day, the misperception that Ergo’s ocean has life still exists, probably amplified by its association with the Space Whale. In fact, Ergo’s tourism ads and brochures go to great lengths to dispel this notion; even specifically telling tourists NOT to bring fishing gear on their vacation and highlighting how much safer it is swimming in water void of anything that can eat you.
“I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but something about the sea stretching to the horizon in all directions was calming for me. After I finished my contract on the rig, I immediately told my boss I wanted to stay. Made no difference if she had made me a floorhand. I would’ve taken any assignment she had. Of course, I didn’t tell her that second part.”
– Unidentified Male Subject, The Psychology of Ergo’s Appeal, Clark & Meyer, 2697
“On the day in question, Mr. Ochoa was assigned to patrol the section that the Fora-Nemo jump point now occupies. Following his mysterious, and still unexplained disappearance, Ochoa’s first contact with members of the search party desperately trying to find him was traced to a mere 75,000 kilometers away from the jump.”
– Lynn Ahmed, Chief Legal Counsel for Tadmor Terraforming Concern, 2364