July 23rd 2016
From its very first days, Oberon has always been a system that beckoned those seeking wealth and fortune, only to time and again leave them destitute. As the Tarsus quantum drive mod became more readily available at the turn of the 23rd century, new exploration companies were formed, eager to reap the benefits from discovering a system. The “Golden Age of Expansion” was officially underway with hundreds of ships scouring known space, hoping to push the boundaries of Humanity even farther. While the media liked to create the romantic image of the explorer’s life, for every success story like NavJumper Antoine Lebec, there were dozens more who lost everything, including their lives, hunting for new jump points. The ship that discovered the first jump point to Oberon was one such tragedy despite their success in locating a new system.
The crew of the Lindy had been exploring the outreaches of Nul since 2348 and their reserve of funds had nearly run dry, when in 2356 their scanners picked up a faint anomaly that would reveal itself to be a jump point. They successfully traversed through interspace and found on the other side a new system anchored by a neutron star. Small and dense, it turned out to have twice the mass of most G-type main sequence stars despite having a solar radius that is just a fraction of the size. Formerly a binary star system, approximately 1.4 billion years ago the main star went supernova, gravitationally collapsing and stripping the outer layers of its companion. What was left orbiting in the wake of that chaotic event was the core of the former partner brown dwarf star, now known as Oberon I, and six other planets that had formed out of the debris of whatever planets had originally been in the system before. The Lindy crew, excited that their payday had finally arrived, completed their initial scans and charted their return trip to Nul.
Unfortunately, while traversing a new jump tunnel was, and still is, dangerous work, the return trip could be equally lethal due to the limited capacity of navigation computer systems of the time. Though the Lindy eventually emerged back in Nul, the ship’s hull had been horribly damaged en route and sadly the crew had all expired. A salvage vessel found the wreck days later and since no governing body controlled Nul space, the vessel exerted salvaging rights to claim the valuable navdata it found in the shattered ship as its own.
In the decades before the UNE was formed, regulations regarding the discovery of new systems were very much still in their nascent days. When the data were quickly sold at auction, the owner of the salvage operations, Stacia Rholtz, made an unprecedented amount of money for the coordinates of the jump thanks to a bidding war fueled by the recent hype surrounding the effort to terraform Croshaw. It appeared that Humans living outside of Sol were to be the future of the species and businesses were willing to pay heavily to get in on the ground floor. The winning bid for the coordinates was placed by Titania Terraforming and plans immediately began for settlement of the system.
Since so much of their budget had been spent on the acquisition of the system itself, Titania had decided upon a unique way to cut costs on their efforts to terraform Oberon II, by leveraging future profits against their present expenditures. Workers who signed on to the project would be sold plots of land at heavily reduced prices instead of receiving payment. The promise was that once the terraforming of the world was complete they would be able to settle on the surface with their families. The name of the system, Oberon, was part of the branding used in the marketing campaign to sell labor shares, “The world of your dreams is yours for the making.” People signed up by the thousands, selling all their possessions and cashing in their savings, hungry for a chance to leave Sol behind and find a fresh start. It was an interesting business strategy that might have worked if it were not for the fact that Oberon II was far from an ideal terraforming candidate.
With so little light and warmth being provided by the neutron star, one of the first steps in the process was going to have to be raising the planet’s core temperature a significant amount. This was a feat that had never before been attempted and one that proved beyond Titania’s abilities. After years of toiling, the core manipulations refused to take. The project was declared a failure and Titania dissolved as a corporation overnight. The workers were abandoned on a frozen planet that was only half terraformed with no means to leave. Using the gear abandoned by Titania, the settler’s managed to eke out a meager existence in the planet’s neverending winter, but their dreams of better days would remain unfulfilled.
Though the system has some wealth in the form of raw minerals and gases, it has never been enough to warrant any further economic investment throughout the centuries. In the late 2600s the UEE briefly looked into acquiring the system, but passed on the opportunity to make Oberon part of the Empire. Ever since, it has remained unclaimed, with only the descendants of those initial settlers, misguided fortune seekers, and various outcasts and
outlaws calling the system home. Ironically, after suffering so much misfortune throughout its history, it has been the system’s latest tragedy earlier this year that has allowed the people of Oberon to once again begin to foster hope.
Though the populace suffered heavy losses when a Vanduul clan recently raided the settlements on Uriel, Admiral Bishop and the UEES Retribution arrived in time
to hold off a second attack and establish a new order in the generally lawless system. For the first time in its history, Oberon now hosts a contingent of Navy capital ships.
Though the Retribution has moved on, a large fighting force remains in the system charged with protecting it from further Vanduul incursions. The fleet’s presence has already begun to have an effect, as outlaw activity has dropped and relief aid has begun to arrive. Though some herald this as a possible second chance for the system, there are plenty who predict that the Navy will pull out soon. If they do, Oberon may never recover.
Before visiting Uriel, confirm it is not a year the chestnut beetles are active. Ships sitting on the planet surface will be at risk for severe damage by the insatiable insects.
According to legend, the planet received its name from one of the original settlers who had staked a mining claim — a former Cathcart hauler, who used to chase away rival ships by yelling “Chinewa bedda get Gonn!” A super-Earth carbon planet, Oberon I is the remnants of the system’s former binary star. Rich in untapped resources, very few miners are up to the challenge that the extreme environmental and economic conditions pose. The minimal upkeep that the few automated refineries dotting the surface require is too steep a price for most. Even the hardy and rugged mining community that lives here struggles to turn a profit. Many who do find the courage to try their hand come seeking the vast wealth of diamonds that is rumored to exist in the planet’s dense carbon core, despite that the fact that so far only a few sparse diamond veins have ever been found.
The settlers who were stranded after the terraforming failure were forced underground by the harsh surface conditions. The temperature being slightly warmer near the core, the families spent decades carving out a meager existence in dark and densely packed caves. The struggle for resources lead to significant in-fighting during those first years and resulted in a society built on strong family ties with dividing lines clearly drawn based on which warren you lived in. One of these warren families, known as the Echo, attributed their strength of faith to their group’s survival. The planet’s name is said to come from their often repeated saying that, “in the darkness of the tunnels, God is my light.”
As difficult as life on Uriel has been, it got significantly worse in the 27th century when one of the warrens introduced the chestnut beetle to the world as a farmable food source. It worked well at first, with their seventy year dormant, six months active cycle, and their ability to eat almost anything making them easy to care for. However, that did not last when the inhabitants realized that the insects had found a way to survive on the surface and were spreading to other warrens. What started as a welcome addition to the locals’ diet quickly turned into a serious pest, with the beetle population growing into the millions. Now like clockwork, the beetles emerge every seventy years and sweep across the planet, devouring anything they can. Most of the warrens have developed methods to help seal up the tunnels during chestnut season, but the invasive species has seriously hampered any attempts to settle the surface. In recent years several above-ground communities have sprung up, but with the chestnut threat looming they have kept relatively small. Some consider this fortunate, as the casualties from the recent Vanduul attack might have been much worse if it wasn’t for the chestnut beetle keeping the population below ground.
These small rocky protoplanets drift well outside of the scant green band that the limited light of the neutron star provides the system.
What little resources there ever were on this atmosphereless mesoplanet have largely been stripped away, leaving it a barren rock that few deem worthy of a visit.
Even with its rocky core, this gas dwarf does not have much in the way of harvestable commodities.
Considered to be one of the few calming sights in the whole of Oberon, this Class IV gas giant composed of carbon monoxide has a high presence of alkali metal, giving it a pleasing subdued color.
“The most valuable thing someone can ship in the Oberon system is Urielians. Away from it.”
– Urelian Saying
“In the face of such a threat, we cannot afford to draw distinctions between those who are within the Empire and those who are not. There is only us against them. Humanity versus Vanduul.”
– Admiral Bishop, Comm to Imperator Costigan, 2946