The Atlas Cluster
Presented is a survey and brief history of the Atlas Cluster as published by the Librarians. It is suspected that Librarian archives contain histories suggesting a much older civilization existed in the cluster than those described.
Confederation of Infocrats
T0 E0 R3
“Knowledge is power.”
Colloquially called the Library the main inhabited world of the Confederation contains archives detailing thousands of years of technology, history, science, literature and poetry. Orbiting above this pleasant world sits three massive stations where visitors can deal in information of any market. Librarians are known for their resolute belief in neutrality and the folley of pursuing dreams of empire. Dissenters against this ideal leave the Library rather than disturb the harmony of their society. The most famous of these migrations led to the gas refining conglomerations which now “administrate” the Eudalon system.
T-1 E0 R1
“We can’t build that.”
Emerging latest and smallest of the three, New Triumph was still a major power during the Ascendant Period. They successfully terraformed many worlds to be prosperous while maintaining soveirgnty. Small influxes of refugees and immigrants from the Frogtown and Koelani empires created strains within the society and with the empires. Conflicts over trade with Koelani worlds in Old Kingdoms and gas mining rights in Eudalon led to a war with Frogtown. New Triumph successfully held off deep penetration of their system. The strain of this war combined with the continuing Koelani conflict led to rapid decline of the Frogtown empire. Internal fissures within the New Triumph society led to internal wars with heavy use of WMDs only a few generations later. Large percentages of the population and most of the space and industrial infrastructure were destroyed. What remains now are well kept and studied technological archives but a lack of manpower and machinery to recreate the old infrastructure.
T1 E-4 R1
“Hell comes to Frogtown”
“Search for the Master Key”
Once Frogtown had a massive and stable star. Two beautiful worlds supported a massive population along with a diversity of gas giants and some liveable worlds. In that time they developed(found according to some academics) slipdrives and discovered the Koelani colonizing the Old Kingdoms system. A cold war quickly developed as both sides built up military vessels, outposts around the cluster, colonies in Old Kingdoms, and mining interests in Eudalon. During the two centuries of peace that endured the Library was established to protect and store the collective knowledge of the cluster. The eventual war wore on both sides and heavily embroiled many formerly neutral parties, leading to the disastrous New Triumph invasion.
After the Frogtown collapse due to exhaustion, Koelani forces destroyed the infrastructure needed to build military ships or slipdrives. Eventually the locals became accustomed to not controlling their own space. After the Koelani collapse the Frogtownians had barely a century before another, even greater disaster would strike. Frogtown’s star rapidly expanded only barely behind an emergency fleet created to save part of the population of the inner planet. Although the society would continue, it was determined the star would go nova anytime between tomorrow and ten thousand years.
A great many projects were started to escape the coming disaster. STL interstellar drives and intergenerational vessels would require resources, much of which had been swallowed or disturbed by the expansion of the star. A menacing project of breaking open planets to get to their juicy cores was begun. During this process slipdrive technology was rediscovered and the first ships were sent off to explore. It was discovered the records for the Old Kingdoms node jump now led to a system which was designated Cusp. The first missions did not return as the locals in Cusp had killed the crew and stolen their ships. Also an unknown node connection to a system named Little Boston was found. Serra was the only accurate jump in the old charts.
A dig expedition on a core fragment of the second habitable world discovered a strange device which seemed to be active during this period. Some scientists hypothesized it was part of a technology that allowed direct manipulation of the jump network. They also thought it proof that the node network was not permanent and that Little Boston and Cusp were in fact new members of the Cluster. The rediscovery of Old Kingdoms through alternate routes confirmed this hypothesis. Now an intellectual cult of the Master Key exists, trying to redevelop the technology of node manipulation. Most people do not believe such a thing could exist, but a fanatically devoted following quest continuously for clues.
Now Frogtown is mostly populated with fanatics in search of the Master Key. Everyone with nearer goals immigrants to the quietness of Serra or the war in Little Boston. Locals have thus lost the engineering talent and resources needed to build slipships but can still easily acquire ships through Little Boston.
T-2 E2 R1
Koelani was the victor of the Kingdom Wars in that it did not lead to the collapse of the Koelani empire. In the centuries that followed they turned over much of the military security functions of their home systems to automated defence systems. These were very effective at controlling traffic through the system, and supposedly in the eden system of Aurora. Eventually the distributed nature of the empire led to conflicts of secession, ascension, and ideology. Vicious civil war embroiled the empire and eventually escalated to the use of retroviral genetic weapons. This led to a rapid loss of cohesion, skilled technicians, and a smattering of genetic defects that have been nearly impossible to eradicate from the population. Collapse was inevitable along with losing the ability to appease the automated defence system. Those who emerged were ninety percent female with the ten percent males suffering from weak Y syndromes of various natures. A highly militaristic matriachal system emerged which quickly gave up on spacetravel after being denied by the ever watchful automated defences. Attempts to land on any of the verdant Koelani worlds is fairly difficult but possible. However the risk of genetic contamination from population is even greater a danger than the automated defences.
T-2 E2 R2
“It’s only a legend.”
Aurora is most probably a space age myth originating in the Koelani empire. As it spread through cultural diffusion into New Triumph and Frogtown the nature of the myth morphed. They all agreed that a path existed from either the Koelani north or south node into Aurora. Within was a verdant system undisturbed by large factories, swarms of satellites, and piles of people. The legends take on a new dimension after the Koelani Empire collapsed where genetic guardians kill those infected and maintain a strict quarantine. This is the explanation of how all expeditions to Aurora end. In some new versions of the tale emerge of Little Bostinian ships emerging from a Koelani jump node with updated passcodes to bypass the automated defences.
T-2 E0 R-2
“Former Penal Colony”
“Out of Gas”
J-467 is unusual in that it contains a habitable ice world but not a single gas giant. Many ships have become stranded in this system due to the lack of fuel. Their poor voyages are learned through descendants forced to live on the surface of the ice world. During the Ascendant Period the Koelani used J-467 as a permanent penal colony. Ships never landed but rather dropped prisoners down in HALO drops to the colony below. Some supplies were also sent that way, but the colony was expected to be self sufficient. After the collapse the inhabitants slowly built up an industrial society in the harsh conditions of the planet. It is likely they will forever stuck on this rock which is mostly dangerous to visit.
T0 E-1 R-1
“Nothing gained but glory.”
Old Kingdoms was the main catalyst of conflict between the Koelani and Frogtown empires. It contained two habitable worlds and several others which were fairly easy to terraform. During the Kingdom Wars neutral traders from New Triumph had to be careful which highports were visited. After Frogtown collapsed, those factions which had sided with Frogtown quickly assimilated into the Koelani fold. Centuries of peace allowed vast infrastructure development but did nothing to smooth over old tensions and rivalries. The retroviral crisis of Koelani fortunately narrowly missed being transmitted to the Old Kingdoms. Without official backing, large scale interplanetary war broke out with quick escalation to WMDs. As one would expect the damage was incredible and hard to repair. Broken environments and radiation hazards forced the development of bioaugmentations designed to limit damage from radiation. Pretty soon a culture of bioaugmentation gained force among the now militarized populations.
Subsequent wars were limited to more localized conflicts that evolved into contests of glory. Most resource exploitation leads back into the production of arms, augmentations, and ships for such conflicts. As pre-collapse ship technology became more scarce warfare moved increasingly to the realm of cyberspace. Old Kingdoms has started to attract Little Bostinians looking for soldiers to fight in their ‘glorious’ conflict. However safely navigating the system without being challenged is unlikely.
T-2 E-4 R2
“Gas station of the cluster.”
Not a single breathable atmosphere exists in this mid-galaxy system. However several large and accessible atmospheres of isotope fuel instead fill the sky. Before the Koelani collapse refining stations of the New Triumph, Koelani, and Frogtown civilizations populated the orbits. Sometimes they would cooperate, but usually fight as corporate or national enemies.
Also present were a group of Library dissenters who wanted to capitalize on the fuel market. They used efficient technology and ruthless tactics to reduce the efficiency of competitors. During the Kingdom Wars they could easily charge premiums and muscle into stations, as long as the r-mass kept flowing. Koelani attempts at regaining controlling power after their victory in the Kingdom Wars failed many times.
During their long existence the corporatist dogmas of the dissenters became more polarized as workers were increasingly placed into positions of debt slavery. Over time a system emerged where miners were only paid in company currency. Eventually ship piloting, life support maintenance, and astronavigation were all skills suppressed in the population. Workers are not taught any skills that may allow them to escape the company. This philosophy along with the collapse of empires which had given significant priveleges led to the resignation of much of the engineering and scientific talent. Over time slipdrive capable ships disappeared from company stocks altogether. Those who remain trade passing ships fuel in exchange for supplies needed to maintain the refineries and their palace satellites.
T-1 E0 R1
“Humbled by the apocalypse.”
Serra has been known in the cluster since the Frogtown empire first expanded into neighboring space. It is an infant world with a fairly undeveloped biosphere and ecology. Large areas are still uncovered by fungus or grasses and almost no taller plants exist. Fauna is completely non-existant in the native sense. During the Ascendant Period some scientific colonies were established that developed methods at effective terraforming. However the discovery of much more appealing and complete planets left Serra undeveloped.
Collapse led to it being ignored completely for centuries. Finally the reemergence of travellers from Frogtown led to a renewed interest in Serra. Those not wishing to search for a mythic Master Key or fight for glory against crustaceans immigrated to Serra. A couple centuries of terraforming is leading to a fragile but surviving ecosystem. Traditional community and family values have come with the immigrants who work the soil and strive to populate the mostly empty planet. Their native industrial infrastructure and capabilities are far less than Little Boston, however imported articles from there are quite common.
T2 E-1 R0
“War with the zoidbergs!”
“We will rise!”
Little Boston was not known in cluster archives until resurgent Frogtown ships discovered a new node destination only a couple centuries ago. Within they found the habitable water world of Atlantis on which to settle, away from the doom and gloom of Frogtown. Atlantis sits with much potential for island living. However the sentient, industrial lobsters perjoratively called ‘zoidbergs’ make this a warzone. They are not spacefaring, but offer themselves as significantly skilled warriors and strategists within the atmopshere. Styles of warfare emphasizing WMDs are not an option as preserving the planet is a must for colonization.
Plenty of mineable asteroids, planets, and gas giants exist to supply a war effort. Fighting populations are recruited from around the cluster to engage in this now centuries old fight. This conquest is seen as the rallying call for a new hegemonic power in the cluster.
T0 E1 R1
“Us versus everyone!”
“Harmony through Purity”
Cusp was one of three systems whose discovery dates to the time of the theorhetical “Slipnode Shift Event”. Early attempts at contact often led to the empressment of ships into the navies of the unified Cusp government. What we do know of their culture comes from interactions with crews navigating the rest of the cluster in stolen slipships. As a people they demonstrate a level of unity hard to not describe as ‘hive like’. Xenophobia towards other humans is a trait all observers agree upon. The following is an impression that contains common elements with many of the other accounts in the archives.
‘Once all humans began on Cusp. Then there was a great dividing between the righteous and the sinful. The righteous stayed in the garden while the sinful were cast among the stars. Then the evil one gave them powerful, unnatural ships. These ships could jump through space from hell where they had been banished. Now they seek to destroy the children of righteousness.’
T-2 E-1 R3
“Archealogical gold rush”
“The Wolf is at the door”
First discovery of this system is found in an archive predating the “Shift” by only a few years. Despite their commonality in the universe, the node network has never connected to a binary star system. Nascentia’s only habitable world fortunately lies in a strangely far part of the goldilock’s zone. Its two thousand year orbital period and heavy axial tilt has led to seasons that last hundreds of years at a time. Brief surveys have suggested a staggering array of unique creatures that evolve in such an environment. The human society present is nomadic but industrial. Vast tracks of abandoned cities and factories can been seen in what is now the deeper portion of the ‘winter’ zone. A single cultural exchange mission is still ongoing.
An advanced spacefaring society did exist here once. All of the exploitable gas giants, asteroids, and barren planets are populated with mostly built refineries and facilities. A few archaeological surveys have indicated the technology comes from no culture past or present in the cluster, but seems to be human. Also it would not be too difficult to repair and reactivate many of these facilities. Slowly but surely treasure hunters, Key searchers, Cuspian agents, and the Little Bostonians are exploring and making plans for this system’s future.