Planets and Locations (Codex)
 Primary Codex Entries
Humans detected Aeia as an Earth-type world via telemetry in 2165. After probe surveys indicated life – lush vegetation, ample fresh water and breathable air – the Alliance upgraded the planet to a garden-world colonization priority. Commanded by Captain Ronald Taylor, the crew of Alliance survey vessel Hugo Gernsback made planetfall on the jungle world in 2173. Soon after, ship transmission inexplicably stopped. While the precise fate of the Hugo Gernsback command and crew is unknown, they are presumed killed in action and their vessel destroyed.
 Freedom's Progress
Freedom's Progress was once a typical Alliance settlement, but following complete communications blackout and its apparent destruction is now a lightning rod for anxiety and dread in the galactic human community.
The communications blackout followed an upgrade of the colony's small military force (supplemented by mechs and security drones) with high-powered, tower-mounted GARDIAN lasers. Colonists complained about construction cost overruns, delays, noise, and damage to the local environment. They also feared the defense army could be seen as provocative to their world's neighbors. Such fears may not have been baseless. Authorities have still offered no explanation for the communications blackout, fueling rumors or plagues, natural disasters, or a cult-inspired mass suicide.
Located in strategically insignificant space, Freedom's Progress had once offered residents spectacular rainbows, lush marshlands, and stunning mountain ranges. Its potential as an agricultural settlement and tourism wonderland rivaled that of any Alliance colony.
Before the geth revolt 300 years ago, the quarians colonized Haestrom to study the mysterious instability of its sun, which threatened premature eruption into a red giant. As a scientific outpost of minimal military value, Haestrom was ill-equipped to repel geth forces during the insurrection and fell quickly under their control.
Captured geth planetary survey data indicates that despite sustaining damage, Haestrom's architecture remains as it was before the war, preserving a quarian architectural style that no longer exists anywhere else in the galaxy.
Because Haestrom's sun has overwhelmed the planet's protective magnetosphere, humans foolhardy enough to venture into geth-controlled Haestrom must exercise extreme caution. Minutes of radiation exposure will overload shields and hours of exposure will kill. Furthermore, solar output renders surface-to-orbit communication nearly impossible.
A typical Terminus colony possessing minimal tourist value, Horizon promises substantial economic opportunity especially in providing new products for humans and supplying the Turian Hierarchy. Surveyed 18 years ago, Horizon received pilot habitation four years later; the colony proper is now eight years old.
Blessed with verdant forests and abundant fresh water, Horizon maintains a colonial culture that thrives as a refuge from the increasing restrictions of Citadel-governed society. Horizon has attracted numerous dissidents, marginal people, and fringe-dwellers from across Alliance space.
A regional hub of asari commerce awash in riches, Illium is infamous for its abusive labor practices and legalization of nearly everything except murder. As such, Illium is the preferred production site for weapons and pharmaceuticals that would be illegal nearly everywhere else, made even more lucrative by legal indentured servitude. Among the biotics-related pharmaceutical producers is the Dantius Corporation, a rising star in galactic commerce.
Despite the dangers of its products, Illium is renowned for glamor, luxury, and safety (provided by near-total surveillance), making it a favored tourist destination. Countless celebrities maintain palatial estates on Illium and in its capital, Nos Astra. The sole obstacle to business on Illium is its extreme bureaucracy, tolerated only for its provision of security.
Regardless of the character of its economy, Illium's self-congratulatory media exalts its own society with the provincial arrogance of "new money", glorifying in "sexiest CEOs" and "ten richest residents" lists.
Known as the starcraft cemetery, Korlus was the regional toxic junk yard for centuries. Ships reaching astronautical "near-death" at connecting mass relays were sent to Korlus, stripped of every useful component, then dumped planetward to clear shipping lanes.
Currently Korlus hosts numerous merc factions such as the Blue Suns, rumored to be using downed ship fossils to test advanced munitions. Massive gun batteries threaten anyone attempting planetfall, with minimal defenses against ground attack.
Because ancient volcanism greenhoused the planet, Korlus was too hot and CO2-rich to develop a biosphere, despite the abundant lakes that could have sponsored the development of life.
Now cool enough for protected habitation, but too scorching for anyone but extremeophiles and mercenaries seeking secrecy, Korlus supports numerous krogan outposts. The krogan have therefore seeded Korlus with hardy varren, often kept as war hounds. Varren live primarily on a diet of geophagous vermin and each other.
Originally an asteroid rich in element zero, Omega was briefly mined by the Protheans, who eventually abandoned it due to its thick, impenetrable crust. Thousands of years later, nature did what even the Protheans could not: a collision with another asteroid broke Omega in half, exposing its trove of element zero for easy mining.
A rush ensured as corporations and private individuals tried to strike it rich on Omega, and thieves and outlaws followed in their wake. As space became tight, construction of processing facilities extended vertically from the asteroid, creating Omega's jellyfish-like silhouette. To prevent future collisions, the station is ringed with enormous mass effect field generators that redirect incoming debris.
Today, Omega is a major hub of narcotics, weapons, and eezo trafficking without even a pretense of civilian government or military control. Only mercenary groups have been able to instill a limited order; the most ruthless is an asari syndicate run by the notorious Aria T'Loak.
Feros is a habitable world in the Attican Beta cluster. Two-thirds of the habitable surface is covered with the ruins of crumbling Prothean megalopolis. In the millennia since the Prothean extinction, the ruins have been picked over by looters many times.
Feros was considered a poor prospect for colonization, as little open ground remains for agriculture. The only sizable fresh water sources are the poles, which are tapped by the decaying Prothean aqueduct system. The dead cities, while in good condition considering their antiquity, are of uncertain stability. Ground level is congested by a dozen meters of fallen debris, and the air is fouled by dust.
In 2178, the human ExoGeni Corporation announced its intention to place a permanent colony on Feros, to thoroughly explore the ruins. The pioneer settlement was placed on the upper levels of the several intact skyscrapers, using the surviving Prothean aqueducts and rooftop hydroponics gardens to support the population.
Like the ancient human city of Troy, Ilos is a world known only through second-hand sources. References to Ilos have been found at several other Prothean ruins, though direct study of the world is unlikely to occur.
Ilos lies in a remote area of the Terminus Systems only accessible by the legendary Mu Relay. Four thousand years ago, the Mu Relay was knocked out of position by a supernova and lost. Since then, Ilos and its cluster have been inaccessible.
Occasionally, a university will organize an expedition to chart a route to Ilos using conventional FTL drive. These never get beyond the planning stages due to the distance and danger. The journey could take years or decades, passing through the hostile Terminus Systems and dozens of unexplored systems.
Noveria is a cool, rocky world, with most of its hydrosphere locked up in massive glaciers. A privately-chartered colony world, the planet is owned by Noveria Development Corporation holding company. The NDC is funded by investment capital from two dozen high technology development firms, and administrated by an Executive Board representing their interests.
The investors built remote hot labs in isolated locations across Noveria's surface. These facilities are used for research too dangerous or controversial to be performed elsewhere, as Noveria is technically not part of Citadel space and therefore exempt from Council law.
By special arrangement, Citadel Special Tactics and Reconnaissance agents have been granted extraterritorial privileges, but it remains to be seen how committed the Executive Board is to that principle. Given its unique situation, it is understandable that Noveria is often implicated in all manner of wild conspiracy theories.
Virmire is a lush world located on the frontier of the Attican Traverse. Its vast seas and orbital position on the inner life zone have created a wide equatorial band of humid, tropical terrain. Only the political instability of the region has impeded efforts at colonization.
Many times, the Citadel has opened negotiations to settle Virmire with the various criminal gangs and petty dictatorships in the nearby Terminus Systems. All fell apart due to internal power shifts within the opposing parties. The Citadel has written off the colonization of Virmire as impossible without significant political change.
The Terminus powers themselves are unlikely to ever settle Virmire. Most lack the resources to support settlement of a virgin world, finding it more expedient to steal from their neighbors than build for themselves.
Choked by the hyper growth of non-native plant species, Pragia serves as a galactic reminder about the imperative for careful regulation during colonization.
Two centuries ago, batarian agribusiness chose uninhabited Pragia as their empire's breadbasket. Colonization authorities introduced non-native, industrially-mutated plants that flourished in the world's fertile volcanic soil. Synergizing with Pragia's natural geothermal conditions and chemotropic microbes the imported species soon became a nightmare. Mutant strains of poisonous and even carnivorous plants arose, overgrowing colonies in days instead of years and causing the batarians to abandon their holdings. Because the planet's small animal population is insufficient to check its plant growth, Alliance ecologists predict soil exhaustion in 400 years.
Due to its relative isolation and lack of population, Pragia has become a regional haven for drug-runners, weapons-smugglers, pirates, mercenaries, terrorists, and intelligence agents seeking secrecy.
The drell homeworld of Rakhana once teemed with life, its arid plans home to spectacular insect and reptile analogues. But the drell took to industrialization early and did not realize the extent of the environmental damage they caused until it was too late. With their topsoil depleted and oceans too acidic to sustain life, the drell were situated for a massive population crash by 2025 CE.
It was then the hanar stepped in mounting a large-scale rescue operation to bring drell to the hanar homeworld of Kahje. As wars erupted over what resources remained on Rakhana and billions began to die, approximately 375,000 drell escaped in the exodus. To repay their debt, the drell entered into an agreement with the hanar. Called the Compact, it states that the drell would assist the hanar with tasks the hanar cannot physically perform. Today, high-ranking hanar are often inseparable from their drell attendants.
 Terminus Systems
The Terminus Systems are located on the far side of the Attican Traverse, beyond the space administered by the Citadel Council or claimed by the human Systems Alliance. It is populated by a loose affiliation of minor species, united only in their refusal to acknowledge the political authority of the Council or adhere to the Citadel Conventions.
Their independence comes at a price; the Terminus is fraught with conflict. War among the various species is common, as governments and dictators constantly rise and fall. The region is a haven for illegal activities, particularly piracy and the slave trade.
At least once a year, a fleet from Terminus invades the nearby Attican Traverse. These attacks are typically small raids against poorly-defended colonies. The Council rarely retaliates, as sending patrols into the Terminus Systems could unify the disparate species against their common foe, triggering a long and costly war.
The krogan homeworld boasts extreme temperatures, virulent diseases, and vicious, predatory fauna. Around 1900 BCE, the krogan discovered atomic power and promptly instigated many intraplanetary wars, sending Tuchanka into a nuclear winter. With most of their industrial base destroyed, the krogan entered a new dark age and warring tribal bands dominated. Populations remained low for the next 2,000 years.
First contact with the salarians made resurgence possible. Krogan brought to less hostile planets bred exponentially and returned to reconquer their home. They built vast underground shelters to shield themselves from surface radiation, which proved prescient during the Krogan Rebellions when many of them isolated themselves in a vain attempt to avoid the genophage. Convinced they could outbreed the genophage, they transmitted it into more than 90 percent of the sealed bunkers. Today, Tuchanka's population is sharply limited and while individual krogan are long-lived, the genophage ensures few replacements.
 Uncharted Worlds
There are between two and four hundred billion stars in the galaxy, and less than 1% of them have ever been visited or had their systems properly surveyed.
Humanity's early expansion into the Attican Traverse was haphazard; a desperate race to claim habitable planets where populations can be economically settled. Ignored in the wake of this land grab were thousands of less hospitable worlds, each potentially rich with industrial resources. The wealth of entire solar systems remain untapped, waiting for corporate survey teams or independent pioneers to discover and exploit them.
This, however, is not an easy task. In addition to the environmental hazards, the fact that uncharted worlds are largely ignored makes them popular bases for criminals, revolutionaries, cults, and others who wish to remain unnoticed by galactic society.
 Secondary Codex Entries
Originally an "ark ship" designed to carry agricultural animals, the Purgatory was taken by the Blue Suns mercenary company during a large-scale battle in the Skyllian Verge. In a years-long reconstruction of its interior, the Blue Suns repurposed it to hold sapient prisoners, supposedly because they captured so many in their conflicts throughout the galaxy. When media outlets started investigating claims that the ship was used for slaving operations, the Blue Suns turned a public relations nightmare into a regular income source.
Claiming to be in full accordance with Citadel law. the crew of Purgatory now regularly lands on planets or space stations claiming that they can no longer hold their prisoners because of cost overruns. To avoid keeping prisoners under inhumane conditions, they will have to release them at the nearest port, dumping the scum of the galaxy directly into the local population. Faced with such a scenario, the government usually grants Purgatory's crew massive discounts in fuel, food, and repairs as long as they go away. Some even offload their own prisoners to Purgatory for a fee, grateful to have a problem relocated somewhere other than their backyard. Such unfortunates go in the dark depths of the ship, never to be seen again by their families or contacts.
Purgatory is minimally armed with GARDIAN defenses. Though a cruiser-weight ship, it relies on the Blue Suns' fighters to prevent any attacks bent on a jailbreak or similar events.
 The Migrant Fleet
The flotilla, or the Migrant Fleet, is a fleet of roughly 50,000 starships that houses over 17 million quarians. The largest collection of starfaring vessels in the galaxy, the Fleet is so large it may takes days for all the ships to pass through a mass relay.
The ships are constantly repaired, replaced, and upgraded to comfortably house as many quarians as possible. Typically, ships specialize in roles for the Fleet, from the enormous agricultural liveships to the shielded lab ships to the repurposed freighters known as homeships that house quarian children, young parents, and educators. Employed quarians typically live in the ship they work on, since commuting from ship to ship ties up resources with unnecessary docking procedures.
Even within the flotilla, quarians on most ships will remain encased in their protective suits, Rarely, quarians will meet on "clean ships" for specific purposes such as medical services or reproduction. When this occurs, they remove their suits, knowing full well that it is likely they will spend a few days having allergic reactions or getting over infections as their weakened immune systems compensate for each other's presence.
 Arcturus Station
Arcturus Station is the gateway to Sol, a 5-kilometer diameter "Stanford Torus"-type space station at the trailing Lagrange point of the gas giant Themis. Construction on Arcturus Station began in 2151 and concluded in 2162. It was inaugurated in 2156, and has served as the military and political headquarters of the Systems Alliance from the First Contact War until the present.
When humanity activated the Charon Mass Relay in 2149, it led to Arcturus, 36 light years from Sol, Earth's sun. Arcturus is the third brightest star seen from Earth. It is an ancient red giant from the generation born before Sol. Its worlds are either gas giants or ice chunks. While some rocky debris exists, the metal content is 25% lower than normal. To build Arcturus Station, metallic asteroids were towed through the mass relays to the construction site. Many of these asteroids remain near the station, their mined out areas home to transient populations.
The expense of bringing construct materials into the system was acceptable due to its strategic value. With three primary mass relays in addition to the secondary one to Sol, Arcturus is a major communications and military chokepoint. The Alliance 1st Fleet is based in Arcturus, where it can guard the gates to Sol and react to incursions in the three connected clusters. The Station also hosts the Systems Alliance Parliament and the Systems Alliance Military general headquarters. Its permanent population is approximately 45,000.
Arcturus is actually from the galactic halo, one of a cluster of 52 stars that are "crashing through" the disc of the galaxy. In a billion years, Arcturus will be sailing through the depths of extragalactic dark space.
 Gagarin Station
Gagarin Station is the largest deep space station built by humanity, a "Bernal Sphere" designed with a 500-meter-diameter habitable area. It was constructed beyond Pluto, nearly 80 Astronomical Units1 (12 billion kilometers) from Sol. Moving crew and materials to this location bankrupted most of the backers.
Gagarin was placed at the inner edge of the "heliopause1" - the point at which the solar wind can no longer push back the interstellar medium1. It was built to test a number of faster-than-light drive principles that theoretically could only occur in interstellar space. The station was nicknamed "Jump Zero", as it was intended to be the jumping-off point for humanity's expansion into the galaxy. Shortly after the station was completed, the Prothean ruins were discovered on Mars, rendering the entire effort moot.
After struggling to make a profit for a decade, Gagarin was sold to the Systems Alliance in 2159 for a fraction of its construction costs. The Alliance refurbished it as a research and training center for the recently discovered biotic phenomenon.
In 2169, the Biotic Acclimation and Temperance Training program was shut down and Gagarin became a general research facility. Its remote location and intentional isolation from the extranet makes it popular for dangerous research, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence. Humanity's first stable A.I., the Alliance-sponsored "Eliza", achieved sapience at Gagarin in 2172.
Today, Gagarin Station has a permanent population of approximately 9,000. A plan has been proposed to move it to the gravitationally stable barycenter point between Pluto and the Charon Relay allowing it to serve as a gateway facility between the Sol and Arcturus systems. The high cost of safely moving its mass has delayed this indefinitely.
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