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Border Worlds | |PX| Clan
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Border Worlds

The Barrier is one of the four dominant physical features present in the Sirius Sector. Stretching across the western side like a great wall, its abundant ice and rock asteroid fields created a formidable barrier to trade and commerce between Bretonia and the other colonies until the relatively recent arrival of Trade Lanes.

Plagued by the powerful Edge World criminal organizations, the Barrier Border Worlds are not a friendly place for a rookie freelancer. Only more experienced pilots with advanced ships dare venture forth into these often hostile systems. The pirate problem in the Tau region has now reached crisis levels, forcing the Bretonian Armed Forces and the Kusari Naval Forces to permanently station battleships in Leeds and Kyushu and conduct daily patrols into the adjacent Tau Border Worlds.

The Tau Systems
Consisting of a cluster of star systems anchoring the northern end of the Barrier, the Tau systems all share one thing in common: dense asteroids fields of ice and rock, and very few planets. In fact, there is only one known planet of appreciable size within the entire region.

The Sigma Border Worlds (Article by Microsoft Game Studios)

The three Sigma systems straddle the eastern edge of the Crow Nebula, also encompassing elements of the mysterious Edge Nebula which traverses the entire eastern side of the Sirius Sector. Sigma-13 and Sigma-19 are both binary systems, while Sigma-17 has three stars, the only known tertiary star system within the Sirius Sector.

In 60 A.S, the great Kusari explorer Hideaki Matsuo penetrated far into the depths of the Crow Nebula in his ship, the Taiyo Maru. Nestled amid violent electric storms he discovered a proto binary star system, which he named Sigma-13. Within the clouds were high densities of Helium 3 and the Hydrogen isotope Deuterium, the fuel of choice for the fusion engines that power the ships and stations of the colonies. Barely surviving an encounter with a volatile oxygen pocket, the Taiyo Maru limped back to New Tokyo. Matsuo described the rich gas deposits, but admitted that very difficult physical conditions existed for economical extraction. The report was archived in the Imperial Library, and promptly forgotten for nearly 100 years.

By 150 AS, the Honshu planet-side fisheries were rapidly declining, forcing the fishermen to leave the safety of the planet to work in the gas mining operations of Samura and Kishiro within the Honshu system. Eventually, several hundred of them saved enough to purchase an obsolete gas miner from Kishiro. Scraping together any small support ships they could find, they flew into the heart of the Crow Nebula, and were not heard from for more than five years. The families had long since given them up for dead, when they suddenly appeared one day out of the mists. They told incredible stories from the edge of known space, and brought full loads of liquefied gas. Soon, all of Honshu was abuzz. The young and restless signed up in droves. The original members invested all of their profits to buy more ships, and brought additional food in an old transport. Within 10 years, numerous small independent gas mining operations had been established within Sigma-13.

The risks were great, as miners would often stumble into oxygen pockets within the Nebula. The ships’ highly reactive hydrogen exhaust would ignite on contact with the oxygen and vaporize the miners in an instant. Over time, the gas miners added oxygen sensors, sophisticated engine cutoff valves, and impulse engines that utilized non-reactive xenon gas propellants. The known hazard areas were carefully mapped and became trade secrets within a given operation.

By the close of the third century, Kishiro and Samura had exhausted the H-fuel deposits within Honshu. So they turned their attention to Sigma-13. They soon encountered the same problems that had initially plagued the miners more than a hundred years before. Oxygen pockets destroyed several large Samura and Kishiro exploratory miners within the first few months. The independent miners realized their way of life was as stake, and decided to merge into a single entity that they called the Gas Miners Guild. When the Kusari corporations returned the next year with modified ships, the nascent GMG was waiting. Several oxygen clouds “accidentally” exploded while Samura ships traversed them, resulting in varying levels of damage. Samura came to the negotiating table. In exchange for a 500 year exclusive contract on GMG gas, they would exit the system and build a transfer port in Honshu. Kishiro, locked out of the deal, decided to go it alone. They avoided GMG colonized areas, focusing their efforts on the nearby Sigma-19 system, which contained lower density deposits. A Jump Gate to Honshu was completed in 310 A.S. as part of a deal with the Kusari government.

Protecting that monopoly has been costly, however. The Eighty Years War from 600-680 AS was ostensibly between the GMG and the Rheinland Military. Rheinland wanted their own access to the high priced H-fuel they bought from the GMG and Samura. Since Border Worlds are theoretically outside the jurisdiction of direct House control, they were legally justified in entering the Sigma systems in search of gas. The GMG reacted violently to the incursion by Kruger Minerals, setting off an escalating series of events. The war continued for most of the seventh century, culminating in the Battle of Yanagi Cloud in 668, where the bulk of the Rheinland Imperial Fleet was destroyed in a surprise GMG attack. Ultimately it was the steady stream of ships and parts secretly supplied by the Kusari government to the beleaguered Guild that saved the day. Rheinland-Kusari relations have not fully recovered to this day.

The massive debris fields that resulted from the war remained in situ for over a century. With the construction of the Trade Lanes in 750, there was a new urgency to clean up the mess, as debris was floating into the Trade Lanes and damaging shipping. IC contracted ALG Waste Disposal to perform the cleanup. They have set up a scrap metal mining operation within an area of the old battlefield, shipping the shattered remnants of the old Imperial Navy Fleet back to New Berlin to be re-smelted.

Where there are debris fields, there are also Junkers, ever the opportunists. They have built a small base near the old battlefield, salvaging scrap from the more dangerous areas that ALG can’t safely operate in. The GMG suspects that this is not their only line of work. Corsair and Outcast smuggling activity has significantly increased in the area since the establishment of the Junker base.

Sigma-17 lies in the periphery of the Edge Nebula, beyond the eastern edge of the Crow. Until very recently, the system was rarely visited, mainly a waypoint on the Corsairs’ Artifact smuggling route to the inner houses. That all changed in 620 A.S., when the GMG vessel Zuiho Maru accidentally strayed into the system while looking for new gas deposits. A mysterious green cloud dominated the eastern half of the system, crackling with lightning. They named it the Kurile cloud. At first glance, the system seemed too unstable and young for planets, but then the sensors picked up the presence of a small gravitational anomaly within the nebula. After a difficult journey through the cloud which resulted in various electrical failures aboard the ship, the crew encountered a calm, relatively open pocket. In the heart of this swirling maelstrom was a planet. It seemed an impossibility to exist out here. But it did.

A landing party was sent to map the surface. They returned after several days — no land, but an atmosphere, and an ocean teeming with highly unusual microscopic life. The water was highly saline, toxic to all previously known life forms, but not these. During the next several weeks, they returned to the planet and studied the swells of plankton like creatures more thoroughly. They brought the results of the study and various specimens back to New Tokyo. Unfortunately, the organisms died on route, for unknown reasons. The report was made to the government and Samura Heavy Industries. Samura was keenly interested. They had been toying with the idea of fish farming Junyo, a moon in Shikoku, for some time. This was the key ingredient needed to transform the relatively sterile ocean into a mass production fish farm.

The process took years to develop, but eventually was perfected. The organisms, while still in their microscopic larval state, are harvested from the oceans of Kurile. They are shipped as quickly as possible to Junyo in special containers of highly saline Kurile water. A very expensive Jump Gate from Sigma-19 to Sigma-17 was constructed to expedite the process.

The news of the strange organisms present in this part of the Sirius sector did not go unnoticed by Cryer Pharmaceuticals. Like all drug companies, Cryer is always searching for unusual organic source materials for new drug R & D. Cryer would prefer to maintain a base in the inner worlds, where security is higher, but the perishable nature of the alien organisms has forced them to position their research station as close as possible to the source. They sell Pharmaceuticals at reasonable prices to anyone who wishes, mainly to buy favor with the Corsairs, who could destroy their base in an instant.

Sigma-19 lies at the edge of the Crow nebula, in one of the most spectacular settings in the Sirius sector. The Edge Nebula sweeps across the eastern horizon, tendrils of it intertwining with the eastern edge of the Crow Nebula. A swirling world of blue and green, this is a relatively recently opened system, first discovered by GMG miners in 550 AS, searching for new deposits to replace the gradually diminishing supplies in Sigma-13. It soon became their richest grounds, its only disadvantage being a very long distance to market — the Jump Hole that traversed the gap to Sigma-13 was too small and unstable for large commercial transports. The GMG, tired of their unequal relationship with Samura, turned to Kishiro. In exchange for 50% financing of a Jump Gate from Honshu to Sigma-19, they gave half the gas mining rights in Sigma-19 to Kishiro. The gate was built in 650 A.S., marking a turning point in the relations of GMG and the two Kusari industrial giants. Samura looked on nervously as their 300 year old monopoly with the GMG began to crumble. The newly constructed joint GMG/Kishiro base of Ogashawa is now the second largest H-fuel shipping platform, after Samura’s massive Osaka facility.

In 780 AS, representatives of Orbital Spa and Cruise Lines were looking to expand into Kusari space. Kyushu, with its famous hot springs seemed the natural first choice. A fierce opposition campaign was soon mounted by the Kyushu locals, however. They did not want yet another Liberty corporation destroying their traditional way of life. So Orbital looked elsewhere. Sigma-19 presented an attractive alternative. It was a short jump from Honshu. There were Outcast drug smugglers and the odd Corsair, but Orbital figured that this was an attraction rather than a deterrent to most Kusari tourists. It added that element of danger – and the possibility of trying forbidden fruits not normally tolerated in Kusari’s rigid society. The luxury liner Hawaii was brought through the Honshu Gate in 691. Its location outside the policed confines of Kusari space has made it a free living zone of sorts for the idle youth of the New Tokyo elite. In an attempt to coexist peacefully with the Corsairs within the system, Orbital Spa granted them landing rights, a notable exception to most corporate policies regarding the infamous edge world pirates. This inadvertently created an Artifact trading bazaar. Hogosha smugglers from New Tokyo now can buy directly from the Corsairs on the Hawaii, bypassing their former trading partners, the GMG. The Guild did react favorably to this change of heart; it is now bitter enemies with both of its former business associates.

In the northern part of the system lies a contested zone called the Donryu Cloud. Known for its violent electrical storms, it is also a key entry point for the Outcasts into the rest of the Sirius sector. Few gas miners that dare venture into the cloud have ever been heard from again. The GMG has been reluctantly forced to accept that it is Outcast territory for now.