Discovery & Debate
Osiris is a red-yellow dwarf on the small end of the sequence that is orbited by a pair of planets and a dense asteroid belt. When discovered in the late 2700s, Osiris had little to naturally draw attention to it. With a small planetary system and an asteroid field readily classified as an imminent danger to navigation rather than a potentially profitable mining target, Osiris seemed initially as if it would be defined only by its proximity to well-traveled jump routes and its potential as a refueling point within reach of a major trade lane. A true survey of the system ended up taking a lot longer than anticipated, as the UEE suddenly found itself in the middle of a revolution.
While science teams were en route to the Osiris system to start processing, footage of the Massacre of Garron II leaked to the populace and ignited public outcry and demonstrations. The Messer regime, already stretched thin, now found that every riot they squashed emboldened and inspired others to take their place.
By the time the dust settled and the government finally got back to studying this system forgotten in the turmoil, the first survey results of the inner planet yielded fascinating data. Beneath the cloud layer was an extremely active biosphere capable of supporting Human life, playing host to an amazing diversity of species unlike those found anywhere else in the known galaxy.
The Osiris System became the first system declared to be a developing system under the Fair Chance Act. Proclaimed as such with a great deal of fanfare following a science team’s discovery of higher primate-equivalents on Osiris I (by now known as Etos), the system became something of a cause célèbre for environmentalists and expansionists alike. Boasting an Earth-like world that would require relatively minor terraforming for Human settlement, Osiris became the flashpoint for a new debate over the morality of expansion. Though the thought of terraforming inhabited worlds for Human settlement was considered immoral in this political climate, critics questioned the legitimacy of first contact and potential uplift should the indigenous species be capable of sentience.
While the formal designation and resulting furor may have once attracted enough attention to the system and its inner planet to ward off everyday smugglers, pirates and worse, the luster has since worn off. With the looming specter of budgetary cutbacks, the military has relaxed its protection of Osiris System, meaning that the UEE military expends little effort in patrolling the system beyond the occasional fleet exercise. (At press time, the most recent confirmed military transit of Osiris was some 27 months prior, meaning that the smuggling of biologics and the use of the system for other illicit purposes have generally continued unabated.)
Ask the average Citizen to describe Osiris I’s fabled biosphere and you will likely hear descriptions of impossibly dense rain forests teeming with every form of life imaginable. The reality is nowhere close. Etos is on the extreme solar side of Osiris’ green belt, and life there has adapted very differently than on Earth. The first thing to understand is that life on Etos does not thrive in the open; there are no teeming forests reaching for the sky or wild, untamed polar steppes. While the atmosphere can support Human life, the proximity to the star means that most evolution has occurred underground, hidden from initial survey scans.
Underground, the world is much more interesting. Etos has an extensive, miles-deep cave system that worms its way into the planet’s mantle. There, a variety of life forms have taken hold, ranging from spiny rock lobsters to a divergent set of species that might best be described as a prismatic disc (the informal survey name, ’flopping pancake,’ has stuck). One of the deciding factors behind Etos’ formal protection is Phare’s Ape, a vaguely Human-like primate that biologists believe has the potential to develop higher thinking. With what can only be described as a natural ‘sad face’ and a seemingly gentle nature, Phare’s Ape became the iconic image of the Etosian preservation movement.
In recent years, Etos has become home to increasingly bold smugglers and illegal corporate research surveys. These range from ‘slash and burn’ pirates seeking their own Phare’s Ape skull mug (considered highly symbolic for those flouting the law) to megacorporations processing underground biomass by the cubic kilometer, in search of everything from cure-all elixirs to legitimate medicinal items to biological weapons. There is no set land out for these illicit visitors, although landing zones are rarely difficult to locate for those who travel the asteroid belt and roam near the planet. There are few major ‘openings’ to the world’s cave network, and those seeking to do business here tend to plainly mark the ones they have used.
TRAVEL WARNING Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. While lax UEE oversight makes entry into Osiris system relatively easy, it also means that you can’t rely on the Empire’s normal protections. Beware.
Heard in the Wind
"Osiris offered us a unique opportunity. With all the vicious argument about settlement and cohabitation, all the pieces were there for us to falter in our resolve, but we didn’t. Humanity chose what was right."
Imperator Erin Toi, Excerpt from her memoir On the Path
The Osiris asteroid belt is one of the densest yet discovered and is believed by stellar geologists to be a strong representation of a developing planet. Most agree that within several billion years, enough material will have condensed for the Osiris belt to serve as the basis for a new world. There is little of interest here to miners or other visitors; heavy and rare metals are present only in minute quantities, so spread out as to make current mobile mining operations untenable.
The gas giant, Osiris II, was what initially drew prospectors to the system: a large Jovian world with naturally pure hydrogen. Osiris II is the ideal stopover for anyone seeking to refuel jump engines or thrusters. While technically under the protection of the Fair Chance Act, Osiris II was quickly excluded via legislation and made available under license to both direct fueling companies and refinery concerns. Because of how the system’s jump points fall (all those discovered to date are outside the asteroid belt), Osiris II can serve to fuel passing ships without any practical impact to the lifeforms on Etos. Although trade prospects in the nearby stellar region have diminished since Osiris’ initial discovery, one active refueling station remains at an Osiris II Lagrange point to this day. Branding on the station changes so frequently as to be unprintable; what was once a Cry-Astro flagship station now hops from unknown brand to unknown brand on a monthly basis.