Phoenix System

Region: Incorporated Territories
Connections: Hope (10 parsecs)

If you follow the money that flows through the Firmament, the Phoenix system is where you will end up. Poised on the edge of the Rim but a vital link into the many arms of the Incorporated Territories and the central systems of the Foundation, this system is the de facto home and stomping grounds of the megacorporations that dominate the Firmament. While it has a number of moderately habitable planets and far more space stations and orbital habitats, it is the earth-like planet Gibson that is Phoenix’s true center. The flow of credits, hiss of drones and aerocars, and the endless washed-out drizzle of Sumida’s streets is what most people think of when they picture Phoenix.

Phoenix is a system that is unusually rich in alien life: three of its four planets contain some kind of indigenous lifeforms. This has led scientists to speculate that the system may have been “seeded” with basic life from an unknown source, billions of years ago.

Points of Interest

Gibson is the primary colony of the Phoenix system, a densely developed Earth-like world. In fact, though not quite a fully urbanized planet, it is one of the most heavily populated human colonies in the entirety of the Firmament. The planet is perfect for human life - with breathable air, nominal gravity, a comfortable range of temperatures and an abundance of liquid water. So perfect, in fact, that it was already taken by the time humans got around to it. Gibson’s first settlers found a planet replete with strange jungles and alien forests, untouched by human hands. Some argue even today that, left to its own devices, Gibson could one day have spawned intelligent life.

The Gibson of today is a very different beast. Vast sprawling cityscapes dominate the inhabited areas, and enormous industrial and agricultural complexes cover the countryside. Life for the have-nots of the Sumida Conurbation isn’t pleasant, but it’s not much easier outside the cities. Either you live in the midst of a sprawling factory complex, with every detail of your life controlled by your corporate “sponsors”, or you eke out your days in one of the hundreds of depressed roadside towns that struggle to deal with an impoverished workforce, persistent drug epidemics and a world that has left them behind.

Lumina is a huge, frozen world that was once considered a very viable candidate for terraforming. That process began 60 years ago, with the planet being touted as a “New Gibson” and attracting significant investment. These efforts were unrealistic and eventually failed, but the survivors migrated into a deep trench and discovered the presence of a buried ocean teeming with alien life far below the surface. Even though Lumina is officially a failed colony, the Midnight Sea is now home to scattered colonies and outposts - several hundred thousand humans live in the depths.

Fornax is a small, low-gravity planet that orbits a little too close to the system’s star for comfort. Bathed in solar winds, this makes it the system’s primary source of Helium-3 for starship fuel (as Phoenix has no gas giant). The planet’s few inhabitants huddle on the icy poles, which are bathed in shadow and more survivable than the burning lower latitudes. For the last few decades, Fornax has been consumed by civil war between the mining colonies on the surface and megacorporate interests in the lunar colonies. Those on the surface want freedom and independence, but in practice both sides are funded by megacorps - it’s just another proxy war.

Mithras is rocky world with an atmosphere of methane and native alien life which is immiscible with humanity and functionally immortal. It has little value to corporations or governments besides scientific study, so is largely ignored. However, the planet does have a few outposts established by a eugenic cult obsessed with unlocking the secrets to immortality; they frequently meddle with and sabotage those who land on the planet for scientific purposes.