Galactic Guide: Centauri
This Galactic Guide originally appeared in the October issue of Jump Point.
The Centauri System consists of five planets and three known jump points surrounding a large Type A main sequence star. Centauri was one of the first systems settled during Humanity’s initial period of interstellar expansion. It was discovered in 2365 by a dedicated survey ship that immediately recognized the tremendous colonization potential of the third planet. The flag was quickly planted on Centauri III and land there was immediately offered at a premium to colonial outfitting groups. The result was Saisei, one of the most beautiful and well-constructed Human worlds in the UEE. In the development process, the other worlds in the system went largely ignored. In the ensuing centuries, scattered resources have been discovered on these other worlds and more scattershot development has taken place.
Centauri’s innermost world is a tiny protoplanet that orbits very close to the star. Centauri I has no atmosphere and no mineable resources. The close-up view of Centauri’s star from orbit, however, is overwhelming. A well-known photograph (commonly available as a post card) taken by the initial system survey ship shows the blue-white star with a prominence reaching out to seemingly grab the tiny planet.
Centauri II, called Yar, was initially a Venusian world that has since been terraformed by the UEE. Its proximity to the sun makes for an arid environment, and the planet is largely covered by the Red Desert, decidedly its identifying feature from orbit. Yar is dotted with research stations, commercial layover points and abandoned settlements, many of which are coated in the planet’s fine red sand (and a significant number of which are being reclaimed entirely by the Red Desert). Although it’s not quite a ghost planet, many visitors report being left with a sense of unease among its abandoned facilities.
Why is there development in the first place? Yar underwent an unexpected land grab roughly a century ago after valuable precious minerals were located in a mountain range. These claims petered out quickly, and Human civilization on the planet has been in a clear decline since. The world’s largest landing pad is Archibald Station, a scientific outpost that grew into a small town and then shrank back to an outpost as interest in the planet waned. Other landing zones on the planet continue to remain functional, although unmaintained. Enough infrastructure remains on the planet to support passing spacecraft, although the small population needs only essentials from traders.
Saisei, the third planet, is the reason to visit Centauri. A beautifully terraformed world, Saisei has been planned nd cultivated for Human habitation since the initial survey. Saisei is one of the only worlds in explored space where the Governor’s Council has imposed a population cap, limiting the number of inhabitants to preserve the environment. Despite their similarly limited populations, Saisei stands in sharp contrast to Yar as a jewel of Human development.
Centauri was first surveyed in 2365 and bids for Centauri IV went on the market almost immediately. The winning group, ADJUST Colonial, consisted largely of Earthen Japanese expatriates who carried over design foundations and other cultural memes from their homeland to the landfall location at Fujin City. Saisei’s own culture has veered in unique directions since this time, influenced by earthly tradition but having become something completely unique. In addition to natural beauty, organic construction and a limited population, Centauri is also known as the headquarters of MISC, the ship concern responsible for much of the UEE’s heavy vehicle traffic.
Fujin City is the landing point for most visitors to Saisei. It boasts a fully automated high volume landing zone, Saisei Landing Consortium. Personal hangars here are few and far between, with real estate everywhere on the world going for high UEC values. The city features all the comforts of home, from an Astro-Armada ship dealer to an Advocacy Field office. Downtown Fujin is home to the MISC corporate showroom, where visitors can see the latest Freelancer, Starfarer and bulk transport hulls on display. At the heart of the city is Nessa Park, a beautifully cultivated park designed as an oasis for city workers involved in high tech industries all day.
The central MISC factory is located in the city’s outer environs, a carefully crafted automated setup that has been duplicated on many other worlds. The majority of MISC Starfarers are currently constructed in this facility and then shipped off-world on massive enclosed ship transports (though the fully modular factory can change ship output types overnight). A great deal of other heavy industry takes place on Saisei, but always planned in an environmentally respectful manner. The result is a massive export of ship components, luxury items and other heavy industry that would seem to be completely at odds with Saisei’s well-deserved reputation as the cleanest planet in the known galaxy. The message to other Human worlds is clear: planning pays off!
Centauri IV is a rocky world with one interesting feature: it completely lacks a molten core. As a coreless world, the planet never developed an electromagnetic field and was never able to retain a serious atmosphere (archaeological studies have revealed that it had a limited atmosphere for some time, but that solar wind impacts ultimately fully eliminated it roughly three thousand years ago). Due to its proximity to the system’s asteroid belt, Centauri IV has been heavily impacted by asteroidal strikes. The world is considered a potential candidate for terraforming, albeit a very poor one: the need for special technology and resources to construct a core would be an incredibly expensive and technically difficult proposition.
Beyond Centauri IV lies a dense asteroid belt, the only one in the system. Although the Centauri Belt contains enough mass to form a planet, for whatever reason it has never come together. The region is rich in standard heavy metals, and pop-up mining bases frequently appear to support Saisei’s heavy industry. The system’s outermost planet, Centauri V, is a massive Super Jupiter, a red and yellow gas giant several times the size of those normally encountered. The world’s atmosphere makes an excellent stop-over for long-haul transports seeking fuel, but it has not been otherwise developed.