This Galactic Guide originally appeared in Jump Point 4.12.
After nearly six years of work as a stellar surveyor for the Imperial Cartography Center, Usuni Colo had never taken as much as a sick day. By 2941, his supervisor hadn’t suggested that Colo take a vacation, she mandated it. Faced with three weeks of nothing to do, Colo knew there was only one place he wanted to go. Fascinated by the Outsiders, he traveled to Mya in the Leir system to see firsthand how isolationism had affected the planet and its people.
Unfortunately for Colo, his attempts to talk his way past the traveler zone to get the ‘real experience’ got him expelled from the planet. Still faced with a couple weeks of enforced downtime, Colo took his time returning home to the Elysium system. And as a member of an ICC Stellar Surveyor team, he was in the habit of scanning for jump points even when off-duty.
So on 2941.03.11 when his scanners hit an anomaly that looked like a new jump point leaving the Leir system, Usuni Colo was professional rather than surprised. What would ultimately surprise him would be what lay on the other side. He’d learn that he hadn’t discovered this system at all. Only rediscovered it.
Colo took a number of initial scans of what became known as the Kabal system, which Colo named in honor of the famous 27th century musical group. The scans found a F-type main sequence star, three planets, and an asteroid cluster. Upon returning to UEE space, he immediately reported the discovery and logged a special request that his ICC unit be assigned to scan and explore the system he discovered. The UEE granted Colo’s petition, and he returned to the system with the rest of his team shortly thereafter.
Their initial assessment of the system was overwhelmingly positive. Kabal II and Kabal III were located within the habitable zone, and Kabal III’s oxygen-based atmosphere meant it had the potential to be a turnkey planet. Excitement swelled among government officials, since finding a naturally habitable world would provide incredible benefits and resources without the expense of terraforming. Colo and the rest of his team were immediately deployed to take more detailed scans of Kabal III.
The ICC’s standard protocol is to keep the initial assessment of systems confidential until further evaluations have been made and details verified. Yet, somehow Kabal’s assessment leaked. News about the existence of a planet that might be immediately habitable caused a media sensation.
Critics of Imperator Costigan were suspicious; they claimed the leak was a calculated move on the part of his administration. Only weeks prior, the Historical Truth Act of 2941 declassified a trove of documents, many of which were from the Messer era and revealed many of the propaganda techniques Messer’s government used to manipulate the public. Although this was hardly a new revelation and obviously none of the released documents directly related to Costigan’s administration, columnists and critics drew tenuous comparisons between the tactics previously used and actions of the current administration, which had been mired in a series of embarrassing gaffes. The leak of Kabal’s initial assessment was seen by some as a way to get the populace to focus on the UEE’s future instead of the past.
Once the confidential report leaked, the ICC decided to embrace the buzz being generated. Usuni Colo was even scheduled to tell his incredible discovery story to Beck Russum for an Empire Report exclusive. The event was hyped across the spectrum for days, then abruptly canceled. When no official explanation was given for the interview getting canned, rumors started to swirl. After the official assessment of the Kabal system was delayed, also for unspecified reasons, the Senate Subcommittee of the Interior decided to get involved.
The Known Unknown
In October of 2941, Rebecca Alves, chair of the ICC, was summoned before the Senate Subcommittee of the Interior to discuss her stewardship of the agency. Senators focused their inquiries on Kabal III and wondered why the system‘s official report was late. Alves dodged most questions, claiming she couldn’t discuss specifics until the official report was released. When pressed, Alves became more evasive. This drew ire from Senators, who openly wondered who was really running the ICC if its director couldn’t provide a timeline.
Alves’ appearance before the Senate subcommittee was considered a disaster. It re-energized the debate over Kabal and reinforced the claim that the Imperator was really controlling the release of information. Faced with mounting public pressure the ICC finally published their official assessment of the Kabal system in early November of 2941. Suddenly, it became obvious why there was so much secrecy surrounding the system.
The report revealed that ancient, abandoned Tevarin cities, believed to predate the First Tevarin War, were discovered on Kabal III. So, even though the planet was Human-habitable, no settlements would be established for the foreseeable future. Following the release of this report, the UEE government classified the entire system off limits to the public to maintain the integrity of this important archaeological site. It has remained restricted ever since.
This small, lumpy protoplanet sits so close to the system’s sun that it only takes 34 standard days to complete its orbit.
The ICC’s initial report on Kabal II drew comparison to Mars. It’s a terrestrial desert planet situated smack dab in the middle of the habitable zone, making it an ideal terraforming candidate. Yet, the Tevarin never mastered terraforming technology, so it remained uninhabited while the system was under their control.
Kabal III was the system’s clear gem when it was (re)discovered. Yet the hope of the UEE establishing settlements on the planet was quickly squashed after abandoned Tevarin cities were uncovered, turning the planet into an archaeological site.
Beneath a thick layer of native plant life that had reclaimed the cities, this Tevarin world was stuck in time. Buildings and houses were filled with various common goods. Ships sat quietly on landing pads. The sacred codices of Rijora still hung in the temples. All this evidence suggested that the population either left quickly or planned to come back. Either way, Kabal III opened a window into a culture that had tried to erase itself in the Purge after the Second Tevarin War.
The UEE military invited Esperia, the noted ship replica manufacturer, to visit the planet to catalogue and appraise the ships that were found. After comparing them with the few remaining historical records, Esperia estimated that the planet was abandoned prior to the First Tevarin War. Despite providing a treasure trove of historical information on the Tevarin, these cities raised more questions than answers. One in particular remained elusive: why did the Tevarin leave?
Many still wonder how an entire system could have been forgotten by the Tevarin. Most believe a confluence of calamitous events over two centuries — the First & Second Tevarin Wars followed by the Purge — erased the system’s existence from the Tevarin cultural consciousness. Others insist its existence was a closely guarded secret among Tevarin radicals. Acutely aware of how little they know, UEE researchers have taken a cautious approach with the system. Despite repeated requests from the Tevarin Cultural Preservation Society and the Tevarin advocacy group Nerriva Alle, the UEE has maintained a tightly restricted access to the planet.
Since Kabal can only be accessed through the unclaimed Leir system, some have tried to camp out and stalk government convoys to discover the exact coordinates of the jump point. UEE ships have been known to engage suspicious ships in the Leir system that are deemed a threat to the confidentiality of the jump point’s location. So, if a government sends you a warning comm, obey their orders or suffer the consequences.
HEARD IN THE WIND
“If you elect me as your Senator, I will work to help bring my people out of the shadows by rebuilding the beauty of Tevarin culture. This includes designating the lost cities on Kabal III as historical sites, and establishing cultural centers on the planet that will educate future generations of both Human and Tevarin alike.”
– Senator Suj Kossi, campaign speech, Jalan, Elysium, 2946
“The Kabal system is an interesting case. How could an entire system be forgotten about in only a few centuries? Could collective cultural amnesia really run this deep, or is there something else going on here? To be honest, I don’t know what answer scares me more.”
– Professor Vincent Fontana, excerpt from a speech to the Tevarin Cultural Preservation Society, 2943