The rocky heart of the frontier! Taranis is best known as one of the systems of Kellar’s Run, and it allows transport crews a way to avoid transit through the pirate warrens of the Nexus System. It’s a questionable bargain, though. Taranis’ is free of all the most brazen pirates for a good reason: a pair of extremely dense asteroid belts that must be traversed to travel from one jump point to another. The asteroid and lunar debris fields of the Taranis system have proven an early graveyard for many pilots who did not have the skill to negotiate such hazards.
Taranis itself is an A-Type Main Sequence star, blue-white in appearance. It was discovered in 2401 by the famed UEN survey ship Mythic Horizon. Taranis’ discovery was routine, done almost in passing. The system was considered nonviable at the time, with only a single high risk candidate for terraforming. Further, the star’s location offered no visible strategic advantage at the time and the raw resources were rated as low-to-middling. The system’s initial exploration was the site of a minor tragedy: one of Mythic Horizon’s survey boats was lost with all hands in a meteor strike. A plaque located near the landing zone on Taranis III eulogizes them as noble sacrifices to mankind’s expansion.
Taranis has also recently entered the popular culture because of its role in Original Systems’ Arena Commander. The “Broken Moon of Taranis” map is one of two included in the massively popular simulator’s public demo. The setting pits players against one another in the debris field near Taranis II. Hornet, Aurora and 300i pilots dodge both flying rocks and massive pulsating terraformers as they fight it out in an ultra-realistic battle royale. The choice of Taranis in Arena Commander has even led to increased (and very dangerous) tourism in the system, as self-titled “Arena Nuts” travel from far and wide to have their holographs taken in front of the lunar remnants.
The first planet in the Taranis system is a typical sunkissed inner dwarf, too hot for Human settlement, totally lacking in atmosphere and largely devoid of minerals or other interesting resources. The planetoid was the source of an unusual incident in the mid 25th century: a review of the initial survey data (radar scanning, interferometry and long range imaging) produced an image with what looked distinctly like a Human face superimposed on the planet’s north polar region. The so called “Face of Taranis” was a brief cultural craze on Earth and ultimately inspired a privately funded expedition to the world to confirm that the picture was simply a mountain range photographed from an unusual position. Conspiracy theorists continue to insist that the government is covering up evidence of an alien civilization living there (despite the ready proof that sentient species exist throughout the galaxy today).
Now best known as the site of the “broken moon,” Taranis II was (like so many other planets) a victim of the gung ho terraforming craze of the Messer era. A coreless world just inside the system’s green band, Taranis II was initially classified as a poor choice for terraformation and colonization. But with a government more concerned with ‘we can’ than ‘we should,’ Taranis became one of dozens of worlds to be wrecked by a terraforming blunder. In this case, the issue was laid squarely at the foot of CRABSOS Inc., the cheap geo development outfit assigned to process the world. Standard operating procedure at the time for terraforming a coreless planet was to harness the energy in orbiting moons. In the case of Taranis II, substandard parts and near slave labor meant that CRABSOS managed to crack the mantle of Taranis’ small moon, splitting it into a million dangerous chunks. In addition to a deadly debris field that will continue to strike the planet for hundreds of years, the process super ignited the terraforming machinery in orbit. Several of the stacks continue to burn unabated to this day, further rendering the surface of the planet worthless slag.
Beyond Taranis II and its former moon is an extremely dense asteroid belt which must be traversed to pass the system. While it is a hazard to navigation, the First Taranis Belt is not particularly mineral rich and very few mining claims have ever been placed on it. The best of the best smugglers consider it to be a good place to hide, and the occasional top level pirate will set up an ambush point in the belt, but even these types frequently find themselves the victim of rock strikes.
Taranis III is a smoggy, stormy world located on the edge of the system’s habitable zone. The planet’s constant storms are the origin of the system’s name (Taranis, Celtic God of Thunder). The planet lacks a Human breathable atmosphere, but has nonetheless become the site of Human settlement. Bethor research station, established in 2436 to study weather control techniques, has organically expanded over the centuries to become a full fledged settlement of Tevarin refugees and Human ex-pats. The initial corporate owners are long gone, and Bethor is now rumored to be in the control of a syndicate or similar quasi-organization, although they keep their activities obscured from visitors.
The second Taranis Belt is located past Taranis III. It is similar to the inner belt, but less dense with a number of safe approach vectors (to the point of making transit to Taranis III slightly less dangerous than crossing the system). In 2930, the Bengal class carrier Indomitable famously suffered extensive damage trying to move through Second Taranis in pursuit of a pirate Q ship.
Taranis IV is a mid sized gas giant consisting of hydrogen and helium. It is located within spitting distance of one of the system’s jump points and is an occasional stopover for ships equipped to refine their own fuel. Such stopovers are few and far between, though: it is rare that anyone would have arrived in the Taranis System without adequate fuel in the first place, and beyond this it is entirely unremarkable. No orbiting station has ever been established.