Home to the cricet species, Recivec is one of the most hostile inhabited worlds in the Arm. Due to the planet's highly elliptical orbit the planet is icebound for most of its passage, only coming close enough to its parent star to thaw once every thirty standard years. As a result the native species of this planet have evolved to make the best use of these good times while they last before preparing for the hard times ahead.
Until recently the planet was mostly isolated from the rest of the Arm, with only the occasional scientific expedition or passing trader landing on the surface. But the situation slowly began to change as foreign governments started trying to bring the planet under their influence, especially following the Five-Year War. Fearing the loss of their independence (and ironically bolstered by renewed foreign trade) the cricet rapidly unified into a confederation they hoped would be able to prevent foreign domination.
Initial results have not been promising however as, under pressure from the ITA, they have been obliged to grant foreign megacorporations extensive exploitation rights. The majority of these grants have gone to the Krystal Ice Mining Company, an outgrowth of an ice-cream chain that decided to break into the water business in a big way.
Worried by these developments, the ruling council of Recivec have realized they need external allies in order to properly project influence in the ITA. Although the most popular course is to attempt to build a non-aligned bloc with the other smaller powers, many fear they may have to throw in their lot with one of the 'big two' after all. But from the cricet's perspective neither choice seems particularly appealing.
To the inattentive Akharif may seem an uninspiring ball of rock and sand devoid of life, but this is not the case at all. Lithomorphic life- a rarity in the arm- is abundant here. Massive crystals grow from the desert, glittering in the sun. Awe-inspiring electric sandstorms roar across its surface, spewing pillars of lightning as they go. And its Pluravvian masters value it as it it were made of gold. All these things owe their existence to one source; the planet's massive silicon reserves.
Sillicon, though a common substance, is still valuable for its use in the making of glass and electronic circuits, and Akharif provides an almost inexhaustible supply. And it is for this (and immense hazard pay) that extraction crews risk sandstorms, hostile wildlife, electrified crystals, and a myriad of other dangers. Especially since the signing of the Drandora Accords opened the planet to foreign companies.
But to the scientific community the planet has a different attraction. Geologists wish to study Akharif's mineral composition, meteorologists are drawn by the planet's superconductive weather, and druids are fascinated by the native silicon based life. But the interests of the scientific community have an uneasy relationship with corporate interests. On the one hand corporations are the primary source of the grants scientific institutions rely on for funding, but on the other the wish to study the planet often clashes with the desire to maximize yields and meet quotas. After all, the workers have mouthes to feed.
The jungle world of Pixiu is a monument, both to the greatest triumph of the Institute of Druidic Science, and the greatest failure of the League of Independent Planets. Formerly an airless ball of rock, Pixiu was selected by the Institute and the League government for the Gaian Project, the largest and most expensive undertaking in their history. Prior to the Gaian Project, terraforming was a long, arduous process that could take centuries to produce results- and that was assuming preexisting microorganisms to build off of! The purpose of the project was to attempt to develop a form of terraforming that could produce appreciable results in a shorter timeframe using elf-developed techniques. The results exceeded their wildest expectations, and the planet was teeming with life in less than a year. However there were... complications.
The first (and most famous of these) was the accidental creation of the chimerans from non-sapient mammals released into the ecosystem. The project's League overseers, taken aback by this sudden transformation, overreacted drastically. After a bungled first contact, the attempted detention of the entire chimeran population ignited a period of violence that only ended with one of the biggest trials in history and the chimerans receiving full recognition as a sapient species. Now independent, the planet is the site of the Arm's newest species and civilization.
The other, less well known, complication was that Pixiu, though barren, was not lifeless, instead being inhabited by those myriad tiny creatures adapted for life in the void. As a result, when the Gaian Project transformed the planet, they were transformed as well, filling the newborn jungle with species seen nowhere else.
Tehanui, the World-Ocean, is not actually a single planet. Rather it is two ocean worlds, Tehanuyan (Righthand-Sea) and Tehanulan (Lefthand-Sea), orbiting the same star in opposite directions. Twice every year, at the equinoxes, the two planets pass close enough to each other to not only share an atmosphere, but to form a massive waterspout connecting the two worlds. It is this maelstrom that has allowed the native menahi to form a shared culture despite being divided between two worlds.
However there are differences, Tehanuyan is a shallower, rockier sea, full of small islands and atolls. Due to this is has become an agricultural centre, with a patchwork of kelp farms, free range fisheries, and shellfish beds. Of the two planets, Tehanuyan has the more devout, conservative population- 'a monastery for every dozen towns' is a common exaggeration.
Tehanulan, by contrast, is a deeper ocean more famed for mineral wealth than agrarian bounty. It has always been the more cosmopolitan of the two, it's relatively few shallows becoming the sites of the largest cities in Tehanui. Tehanulan has always had more contact with other planets than its twin, and has developed a more free and easy attitude as a result. Due to this it is far more accepting of so-called 'heathens and apostates' than its sibling might be.
But despite their differences the two worlds are still family, and have stuck together through thick and thin. Siblings may quarrel, but they don't abandon each other.
Ocquim is unusual among gas giants for two inseparable reasons; its native ecosystem, and its mineral wealth. The semifluid layer around it's core, though inaccessible even to the native quarm, is comprised of a ferromagnetic compound with unusual (and valuable) qualities. Motes of this compound are also common in the (accessible) lower atmosphere where, altered by the gasses in this layer, they begin to grow into crystalline structures. These quavoron crystals, instead of falling into the planet, levitate in the air, growing all the while.
As they grow, getting blown about by the winds, tiny quavoron-filled polyps anchor themselves to the crystal. These polyps grow quavoron-infused coral structures to protect themselves and collect gasses for sustenance. As more attach themselves the coral structures grow along with the underlying crystal, forming massive floating reefs that are the basis for the planetary ecosystem.
As one may guess, quavoron crystals are extremely valuable, being necessary components in the manufacture of gravity manipulation technology. And while they are found elsewhere, the highest concentration is on Oquim. Naturally, when looking for a valuable commodity to sell to the interstellar community, the quarm at once turned to the wealth growing in front of them.
Unfortunately, in those early years, the quarm conveniently ignored that quavoron was literally the foundation of their ecosystem. As a result they did immense damage to their environment in the pursuit of wealth, protected by the excuse that 'the planet could take it'. It took a growing public awareness of the devastation and a subsequent mass movement for the government to pass legislation forcing mining companies to use sustainable farming methods. But hundreds of species were still irrevocably lost, and many reefs still bear the scars of that time.
And some of those scars seem a bit too fresh.
Aluriel, homeworld of the elves and dwarves, is a garden beyond compare. Lush wilderness extends on every side, with the few surface cities and farms seamlessly integrated into the landscape. The majority of the population, living underground or in space, look upon their world with love and pride.
You wouldn't think it was once a nuclear wasteland, would you?
While historical accounts differ, they all agree on one thing; there was a war. An unspeakably terrible war that ended with the atomic devastation of the planet, leaving the survivors horrified at what they'd done and cursing the names of those who began the conflict. With most of the population either trapped underground or forced to eke out what little they could on the surface, the only ones who could be said to be well off were those in the great arcology ships orbiting the planet. No-one would've blamed them for abandoning the world, the two sides going their separate ways. But they did not.
Instead the leaders of the fleets met to swear an oath that they would stay and give assistance to those on the ground without reference to side or species. It was a difficult process, and there were lean years and difficult times, but they persevered. Eventually the leaders of all the surviving groups came together to swear a second oath, that they would restore what had been destroyed, and that they would safeguard their world so that it would never suffer so again. It was a long and arduous task, but with druidic magic and arcane technology they took the contents of the arcologies, and the surviving wilderness, and made the world bloom once again. Those days are long past, but the Union of Aluriel remains as commits to their world as ever.
All worlds are unique, but the city-world of Cosmopol is truly unprecedented. This urban planetoid has been continuously inhabited since before recorded history began, and it looks like it'll stay that way for the foreseeable future. Despite being a possession of the Pluravvian Empire this little world managed to wrangle the status of a 'Free City' for itself, essentially leaving it free to do as it pleases and placing it outside the caste system. While the Elevation of the Merchants and the Drandora Accords both stripped it of it's uniqueness to some degree it still remains a hub of commerce and intrigue... as well as organized crime and anti-imperial thought.
Structurally Cosmopol is a city of layers. Starting with orderly and architecturally beautiful city streets at the top it becomes more and more chaotic and crowded the further down you go, with the surface expanse occasionally broken by spaceports and industrial sectors reaching down to the city's rotten heart. The lower sectors of the city are poorly maintained, lit by guttering neon lights and built on the bones of older, grander buildings. A stark contrast to the sunlit boulevards and public parks of the uppermost layer.
Thanks to it's age the city is a magnet for urban archeologists seeking to learn all they can about it's past inhabitants. The lowest layers, inhabited only by a melange ecosystem of introduced species, hold a special attraction for them due to their immense age. Possibly as old as the gates themselves.
For the center of an interstellar empire, Hi-Pluvvon does not seem to be a particularly inspiring planet. Tidally locked to its parent star the planet is divided into frozen and sunburnt halves with only a thin band of crepuscular marshland capable of supporting life. What might have been mountains on other worlds have been worn into low hills by the constant gale-force winds that blow from one half of the planet to the other. In the absence of days and with seasons barely discernible the native ytaxxi learned to count the years by the movement of the planet's three moons instead.
But the planet is not without attractions, and the most notable is the city of Strivvec-An- the empire's capitol. Located in the northern hemisphere, the city is sheltered from the winds by an unusually large granite buff that completely blocks out the daylight and leaves the city in a permanent night. The 'City of Stars' is considered on of the most beautiful in the Arm, with its canals being a particular attraction. Sitting in the heart of the city is the Red Palace, a magnificent complex that serves as the Empress's primary residence.
One other notable point is that an unusually high number of those born on the planet are helioi or akshai celestials. They aren't common by any means, but it's enough to be a statistical anomaly (in fact the Empress herself is an akshai, and the famous Admiral Hypaxxus VIIIth is a helioi). The ytaxxi certainly take it as a sign that their planet is blessed.
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Port Drandora has a long and convoluted history. Beginning its life as an asteroid mine whose owners abandoned once it ran dry, the port is formed from the ad-hoc collection of rest stops, salvage yards, and seedy entertainments that've grown like mushrooms in and around the old buildings. Although long used as a resupply station by legitimate traders, Drandora is most famous as a haunt of pirates and smugglers, and has a buzzing trade in contraband and stolen goods.
Things seem to be changing though after the (frankly bizarre) decision to use the station as the host of the talks that would end the Five-Year War. As the site of the Drandora Accords, the ITA believes it has a duty to safeguard the place and keep it free of crime- to the locals chagrin. Although to local Space Police commander hasn't done anything to upset the status quo yet, their presence is still resented as an implicit challenge to the locals' way of life.
Another effect has been the sudden influx of tourists, and while the locals initially profited from this they soon found themselves losing ground to foreign megacorporations in the same business. Similarly the local pirates and smugglers are being put under pressure from organized crime to either sign on or be pushed out.
Not all the natives view this as necessarily a bad thing though, some welcome the transformation from an unimportant backwater into a centre of commerce. A few of them even think that the place seems a bit too dingy for an important part of Arm history. Perhaps some urban development could properly emphasize its importance to the outsiders?
Although built in a system consisting of one hot giant, two ice giants, and a bunch of rocks, Ebria Station is the centre of Arm travel and commerce. The reason is simple; the system's Æthergate has both the shortest recharge time and the largest number of connections of any in known space. Want to get somewhere fast? go through Ebria. Need something? you'll find it on Ebria. Hear the latest news? its delivered from Ebria.
Due to the station's importance to interstellar trade not even the most expansionistic nations have dared the wrath of the rest of the Arm by seizing it (the oru'kai being the exception). Thanks to this the station has remained independent for most of its history, a point of pride for its citizens. It was due to the above factors that the station was chosen as the headquarters of the ITA and the Space Police. After all, what better place is there for a financial regulatory body than the hub of finance?
Culturally the station is a melting pot (indeed, a seething cauldron) of peoples and nations, the station's constant expansion and permissive tax codes making it an attractive prospect for settlement. The streets are crowded with shops, vendors, street performers, and advertisements and the air is filled with the sounds of every language in the Arm.
Not everything is sunshine and roses though. As with all major cities organized crime is a major issue, something even extensive cooperation between the EPD and the Space Police has failed to curb. And poverty is no unknown either, many who can't find jobs on the station are often trapped there, unable to buy passage off. These people congregate in the station's lower levels, trying to get by as best they can.
Last, but not least, Ebria is home to our organization- Heroica. Although new, we've already begun to make our mark on the world. And with skill, courage, and a generous helping of luck, we're well on our way to fame and glory! Or possibly infamy and disgrace, you know how these things go.
@Kintobor @Classic_Spaceman @samurai-turtle @Goliath