- Published: 26 March 2020
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Once considered the crown jewel of the sector, Prospero was a world of peace and serenity where refuge and wisdom were sought in equal measure. Now, under the Shohan, it has become a training camp for their infiltration teams, and a grim parody of life in the Terran Sphere, with brutal undercurrents. The occupation is fueling a vein of righteous anger that threatens to explode as a new, unpredictable tempest.
The Bard System
Bard is a binary system and shows signs of some trauma in its distant past, although no concrete theories have been proposed that take all of the facts into consideration. The primary star, Bard A, is a yellow G-type star, larger than the sun. It possesses 9 planets, equally divided by two asteroid belts into sets of three worlds. By convention, each set is known as a Folio.
The first folio contains: Puck, a tiny little world whose orbit is an incredible 70 degrees off the orbital plane of the system. Its highly elliptical orbit swings it from being the closest planet to Bard A to second place at its furthest point. Portia, normally the second world from the star is far more conventional; a dry terrestrial world with a nitrogen-methane atmosphere. The world is routinely considered for a Gaian terraforming project, but every negotiation on the matter has broken down. Finally, Prospero, the only life bearing world in the system. Prospero supports two tiny moons: Miranda, the closer of the two, and Ferdinand the larger moon, which appears smaller from the surface due to its distance from Prospero. Ferdinand is a captured body in a retrograde orbit. On some nights the two moons seem to approach one another from opposite ends of the sky in an event known as the lover’s kiss. The planet’s surface is dotted with five continents, with most of the settlements on the continent of Ariel, which stretches across the equator to the mid northern and southern latitudes
Past Prospero lies the asteroid belt that demarcates the first and second folios from each other. This asteroid belt, informally known as the First Binding, was the sight of most of the system’s heavier mining industry. Its relative closeness to Prospero enabled freighters to make transits between the belt’s refineries and the beanstalks of the colony.
Opening the second folio is the double planet system of Romeo and Juliet. The two planets are both smaller than Mars. It is estimated that in another few hundred million years or so the two planets will finally collide with one another. The presence of the Star-crossed Lovers, as they’re collectively called, and their eventual fate inspired the naming theme for the system. The last planet in this folio is Viola, the smallest of the gas giants in the system, akin to Uranus or Neptune in mass and size. The planet has a spectacular ring system, likely the result of a collision between a stray asteroid and a now defunct moon. Before the occupation, Port Illyria in orbit around Viola was one of the major transit stations in the system, its lighthouse array pushing light luggers in system or catching outbound ones.
The asteroid belt officially known as the Second Binding, and by cautious spacefarers as Iago’s Belt, for the hazards it poses. It is a far more ragged structure than the First Binding. Perturbed by the gravity of two giants to either side, there are gaps where asteroids have been swept away, clusters where they swarm and a thousand or more rocks in retrograde orbits. Ships transiting through the belt are well advised to keep a close eye on scanners. Compounding the problem is Macbe - The Scottish Planet. (The old theater superstition has carried over to the planetary namesake.) The largest of the gas giants in orbit around Bard A, the planet sits firmly on the grav limit for the system. The Jovian glitch caused by its gravity well has been the bane of many a captain forced to burn extra fuel after being caught up in it. Port Birnam, the station responsible for servicing the area, was known to have the highest refueling costs in the sector. Finally, the two remaining gas giants are Lear and Othello. Both of which have highly eccentric orbits. Most astronomers speculated that they were disrupted by the capture of Bard B before settling into their current orbits.
Bard B, the companion star, is a larger red dwarf. Although it is orbited by only one planet, Hamlet, that world is a monstrous Super Jovian. Its planetary system is extremely complex with over 60 major moons, many in unusual orbits and many extremely large, even given the great size of Hamlet. The prevailing theory is that the giant swept up a number of planets during its formation around Bard B, and then again, swept up a number of outer system bodies when its star was captured by Bard A. The complex orbital dynamics made it a popular site for starship rallies. Today the stations all lie abandoned.