Tau Ceti is a star system in the constellation of Cetus, located only twelve light years from Sol. It is the home system of the Republic of Biesel, which became independent from the Sol Alliance in 2452. A non-insignificant reason Tau Ceti became independent from and continues to remain independent from the Alliance is the influence of the megacorporation NanoTrasen, and the other corporations that make up the Stellar Corporate Conglomerate.
Tau Ceti was first settled in 2147, after a colony ship touched down on the planet Biesel. From there, a base on the moon of Valkyrie was established, and significant colonization efforts also went underway on the planet of New Gibson. In the modern day, it is one of the richest systems and the centre of trade in the Orion Spur, partially due to its former phoron resources in the Romanovich Cloud. Even after these phoron deposits have begun to dry up, Tau Ceti's advantageous position at the heart of civilized space means trade flows through it like no other nation.
Planets and Major Bodies
Caprice (Tau Ceti I)
From the surface, Caprice is a scorching-hot volcanic planet in Tau Ceti. It is dotted with small research outposts and jagged artificial ravines, not unlike the innumerable near-identical mining colonies spread throughout the Spur. This surface appearance has, since the arrival of the Zo'ra Hive upon it a short decade ago, become deceptive and now hides Caprice's true nature. Anyone who dares to peel back and look beneath the folds of crust and bedrock finds not empty caverns and pits of magma but instead an immense subterranean metropolis of stone, steel, and flesh. Its Vaurcaesian design harkens back to the golden age of the Zo'rane Empire over Sedantis.
The Zo'ra, under High Queen Vaur and Queen Zoleth, have labored endlessly to turn what was only a short time ago an inhospitable wasteland into a true seat of not just her power but the new home of the Court of Queens to represent Vaurca across the Spur. It is from the newly ordained capital and seat of her throne, New Sedantis, that this mighty project began, but it certainly has not stopped there. Tunnels stretch all the way to the equally mighty Zo'rane fortress of Dis and even further beyond, deep towards the core. If the High Queen has her way, this construction has no plans to slow down anytime soon, phoron crisis or not.
Luthien (Tau Ceti II)
Luthien is a desert planet with a thin, unbreathable atmosphere of primarily nitrogen, and is not so much a colony as it is a factory. It is primarily home to Vaurcae from the brood of Xakt, Queen of Corpses, with most Workers being Bound Vaurcae. Some Unbound Vaurcae reside within the small settlements of human scientists and other interested parties that live upon the surface of the planet.
Luthien is the site of many testing and research facilities, such as those dedicated to weapons testing, or the development of flora and fauna that are able to adapt to extreme environments. Notably, k'ois is grown in select areas on the surface, far from the human-inhabited poles. Many areas of the desert planet can now be distinguished by their uncanny yellow sheen as the fungus grows just barely in control, twisting through and even under the dunes. While bouts of mycosis are uncommon, several high-profile incidents have led to some strife with the human populace and medical presence being on constant standby.
On the other hand, some research teams have found cooperation to be of value with the Zo'ra, allowing them to work in their laboratories scattered throughout the planet. Non-Vaurcae find that the Unbound can be relied on to keep secrets, and are invaluable for their VR and general scientific ability. The Au'takh of the Luthien Pact also work closely with the megacorporations, granting them a better quality of life than many of their kin elsewhere in the Republic - though at the cost of their prized freedom.
Biesel (Tau Ceti III)
The third closest planet to Tau Ceti's star, Biesel is an Earth-like planet that benefits from a temperate climate and breathable atmosphere. Water represents 56% of the planet's surface.
Biesel is the central population hub for Tau Ceti, with many large cities and urban development. Environmental pollution remains low due to cities on the planet subsisting on renewable energy (such as nuclear fusion), sustainable resource development, and extensive green spaces. The landmass of the planet itself is split into three massive continents, Astraeus, Selene and Eos; each hosting a multitude of cities and a continental capital. The planetary capital of Biesel is Mendell City, a megalopolis on the southern coast of the northern continent of Astraeus; of which it is also the continental capital. In orbit around Biesel are many multipurpose space stations, including orbital defence platforms and shipyards.
In a high orbit around the planet is NanoTrasen's Tau Ceti Branch Central Command Platform, the NTCC Odin, where shuttles depart from and return to as they move personnel between the various NanoTrasen installations around Tau Ceti.
Biesel is primarily a financial and agricultural centre, with most of its citizens working in its service industry or commuting to New Gibson. Biesel also possesses significant industrial facilities, primarily centred on the mineral-rich Eos. Tourism is also a major source of income, with visitors being drawn to Biesel's sprawling shopping centres and national parks alike.
The moon of Biesel, the Commonwealth of Valkyrie is a member-state of the Republic that contributes strongly to its economy through its status as a major shipping and trade port. Goods from all over the Spur, legal and illegal, can be found in the twisting streets of Valkyrie, and it acts as a layover for many tourist vessels and trade ships moving across the galaxy.
New Gibson (Tau Ceti IV)
An ice world just outside the outer edge of the habitable zone, New Gibson is the industrial powerhouse of Tau Ceti. As the atmosphere on New Gibson is too thin to support life, all of its population lives under biodomes.
The planet is a prime location for industrial development, since minimal terraforming is required, and populations of workers can be sustained in biodomes scattered across the barren landscape. Any activity on the planet's surface requires EVA equipment, but due to its high level of industrial development, the planet is the largest producer of consumer appliances, ship components, space station modules, and other manufactured goods in Tau Ceti.
The planetary capital of New Gibson is the Hengsha Arcology, or simply Hengsha, a self-contained complex mimicking the landscape of Biesel, complete with parks, waterfalls and wildlife. While New Gibson has a complex dedicated to virtually all industries, its major players are shipbuilding and wide-ranging manufacturing adjacent to its titanic planetary mines. In the cavernous pitfalls and valleys of New Gibson resides both its thriving mining economy and its greatest dangers.
Reade (Tau Ceti V)
Originally assumed to be a nondescript planet to 21st century astronomers, Reade defied expectations when early explorers found it to actually be a modestly sized gas giant. Its atmospheric composition mostly consists of hydrogen and helium, with heavier elements near the core. It takes 98 years for Reade to complete an orbit around the star, and has a few asteroid-sized moons.
Reade is most noteworthy for being the home of Anemostrovilos, a massive reinforced blimp holding a platform with a radius of 19 kilometers. The bio-dome city of Anemostrovilos is built on top of this platform, and a massive anchor keeps the entire structure steady as it floats in Reade's upper atmosphere. Its local economy is a mix of harvesting the gasses from Reade, as well as serving students of the Anemostrovilos College of Pioneers. Reade remains a popular spot for tourism in Tau Ceti because it offers unparalleled views of the swirling gas giant beneath their feet. Unfortunately, the colony is buffeted by intense storms every few years due to its rotations around the gas giant, and periodically faces traffic shut-downs for up to 3 days at a time at least once a year.
This is the farthest point of typical civilian travel, and is the farthest extent of regular patrols by the Tau Ceti Armed Forces and NanoTrasen Emergency Response Team. Beyond Reade's orbit pirate activity enjoys a massive spike and many unwary ships that meander too far beyond the gas giant can suffer from a pirate ship eager to extort the passengers for safe travel back to civilized society.
Chandras (Tau Ceti VI)
Chandras is an icy body in a distant orbit of Tau Ceti. Although its surface contains lakes of liquid nitrogen, it is entirely metal-deficient, and possessing no infrastructures to speak of, is uninhabited and of low interest for the system.
The Dust Belt
Past Chandras, the Dust Belt is a thick ring of debris encircling Tau Ceti's solar plane and enclosing its inner planets. Debris varies in size ranging from microscopic dust particles to large asteroids the size of small moons. Contrary to popular belief, travel through the Dust Belt does not pose a major risk to spaceships, although the danger of rogue asteroids has discouraged mining operations from setting up in the area.
Dumas (Tau Ceti VII)
Dumas is an extremely small rocky body that orbits within the far reaches of Tau Ceti - obscured almost entirely by the dust belt, one of its defining features is an almost complete lack of light, resulting in temperatures nearing absolute zero. It is rumored that smugglers may be using stations in orbit of Dumas to move goods in and out of the Tau Ceti system.
The Romanovich Cloud
The Romanovich Cloud is a shell of icy, rocky and metallic bodies that orbit very distant Tau Ceti, past even the Dust Belt. Rich in deposits of precious and semi-precious metals as well as radioactive elements, the Romanovich Cloud is the source of nearly all the raw materials used within Tau Ceti, as well as housing the largest density of space carp nests in the galaxy.
The cloud is also one of the few sources of Phoron, a volatile but highly sought-after compound, known for its uses in the biomedical and energy industries. Most of the sources of Phoron within the Romanovich Cloud are under the control of NanoTrasen, which has consequently established many high-tech research facilities in the area in the past few years.
- NSS Aurora: founded in 2459 by NanoTrasen, the NSS Aurora is a station built to replace its eponymous predecessor. Situated in a phoron-rich asteroid, the Aurora was responsible for mining and researching the valuable mineral. Due to the importance of the Romanovich Cloud, the station was the site of important events related to Tau Ceti, including the latest Solarian invasion. The crew did not live on-site and commuted between the facility and the Odin during shifts. As phoron deposits began to run out, the NSS Aurora's importance quickly diminished. A share of its crew was transferred to the SCCV Horizon. The station remains open and is mainly used to scrap whatever minerals are left in its foundations.
- Grand Romanovich Casino: opened in 2462, the Grand Romanovich is a Crevan-style casino floating in a touristic zone of the cloud. It was the first Adhomian casino to open in space. The Grand Romanovich has gambling spaces, a shooting range, a swimming pool, an indoor snowmobile circuit, a bar, a restaurant, and hotel rooms among its attractions. Despite the recent incidents - including deaths and two conspiracies - the establishment remains open thanks to its ties with Idris Incorporated. The Grand Romanovich has become a point of interest for those interested in the criminal and paranormal story of Tau Ceti.