Galactic Guide: Oso System
Discovered in 2861 by amateur explorer Errol Navis, the system that he named after his daughter featured six distinctive worlds orbiting a white Type-F main sequence star. Oso was quickly set upon by survey teams and corporate groups seeking to lay claim to the latest worlds potentially ripe for terraforming. However within the year, interests changed dramatically. The discovery of higher life forms on Oso II forced the government to issue it protectorate status under the Fair Chance Act. The declaration immediately locked down the system, but some of the less-than-scrupulous surveying corporations leaked their planetary assessment findings. They attempted to make a case to the UEE Senate that Oso II could potentially be terraformed for Human habitation without destroying all of the indigenous life. The question of ‘uplifting’ began to circle the Empire. Ultimately, a slim majority in the Senate chose to adhere to the tenets of the Fair Chance Act. They established a permanent garrison near the system’s initial jump point to let the species develop without outside interference. Despite this, travel to the system to engage in black market trade opportunities remains significant.
The system’s first planet is a tidally locked world that features one of the most impressive ‘day and night’ differences in the explored galaxy. The side locked towards the sun is an endless sea of lava while the dark side is a stark, black iron-rich landscape too cold to ever sustain Human life (though a landing with proper equipment is possible). Extensive mineral surveys of Oso I’s night side were conducted before the system was placed under the Fair Chance Act, but little of value was ultimately discovered. Today, the planet is best known for its impressive visual display (viewed remotely) rather than for anything worth extraction.
A lush biosphere with a variety of distinct regions and climates, Oso II boasts an increased gravity much higher than Earth’s. The planet is mostly known as the home to the most developed primitive species ever encountered by the UEE. Known as Osoians, this multi-limbed race actively communicates with one another using patterned flashes of color generated by head-mounted chameleon cells. The Human scientific community extensively lobbied for the chance to communicate with an emerging life form, and Osoian communication studies are ongoing today (within the limitations of the Fair Chance Act).
Beyond the Osoians, the planet is also home to a great deal of lesser species, most of which have evolved to be entirely unlike anything discovered elsewhere to date. Though direct study is a violation of the Fair Chance Act, some scientists are able to receive permission from the UEE to establish off-world research platforms to attempt to study the species from a distance. These platforms are carefully supervised and are allowed only for short periods of time.
The third planet in the Oso system is a gas giant. Oso III began life as a rogue Jupiter that fell into rotation around the system’s star. The planet is distinguished by slight green and white color variations generated by its silicate clouds. From a scientific standpoint, Oso III would be largely uninteresting save for its proximity to Oso II. As such, it’s frequently cited as evidence to support the theory that gas giants can act as ‘comet shields’ which allow higher forms of life to evolve. Unmanned scientific monitoring stations are positioned at the planet’s Lagrange points to track and catalog meteor impacts.
Oso IV is an uninhabited coreless planet which once boasted a surface rich in gems and mineral resources that were likely exposed due to some sort of planetary catastrophe. These resources were very quickly (and quietly) picked clean by rogue mining operations shortly after the system’s initial discovery. Oso IV has no atmosphere and there is an ongoing (but not especially vehement) argument in the scientific community as to whether or not an atmosphere ever existed. Today, there is nothing to argue for a landing on Oso IV.
Observation Base Chimera is home to Oso’s rotating military contingent charged with protecting the system from outside interference. While its intention is noble, the effectiveness of that intention has been under fire recently as allegations of negligence caused a Senate inquiry into the daily operations of the base. This review revealed consistent average and below average performance reports for nearly all Army personnel assigned to the station, as well as evidence of corruption, bribery and even extortion. Despite a regular crew rotation, internal Army station reports, previously kept hidden, have corroborated the Senate’s findings and have made public Chimera’s internally well-known reputation of hosting burnouts and failures. While the situation says little for the Army’s reputation, the Senate report painted a myriad of opportunities for any businessmen willing to work outside the law. At any time desired, it was possible to pay off the local crews to avoid interception, visit Oso II and escape the system unharmed (and unscanned). Heard in the Wind “To look into the eyes of an Osoian is to look into our own past and see the potential to evolve and grow that lies within us all. For every species we encounter who we shadow with our advancements, you must ask, is there yet still a species out there by whom we ourselves will be overshadowed?” – Professor JT Collins, A Step Onto the Precipice The effects of this inquiry are still being felt today. The Imperator cited the findings in his decree to High Command to immediately restructure Chimera’s operating policy and implement consistent checks from civilian auditors to make sure it was operating ethically.
Note that the edict against travel to Oso is actually only enforced against those approaching the inner planets. A high volume of legitimate transports and other ships transit through the system on unrelated routes, to the point that a Covalex shipping hub has been established in the outer reaches.
The fifth and sixth planets in the Oso system are generally uninteresting and have largely been avoided since the initial glut of scientific surveys. Oso V is an ice giant, nothing more than a churning mass of ammonia vapor that cannot sustain Human life. The most distant planet in the system, Oso VI, is a dwarf planet offering little of value. The only mining report ever conducted erroneously claimed the presence of concentrated iron ore. This was the result of a later-corrected sensor intolerance and not actual evidence of valuable minerals on the surface, as can be attested by unsuccessful miners unaware of these errors.