The Tantalus Cluster
Although separated from the larger Imperial gate network by closure of the Perseus Gate, the Tantalus cluster remained largely intact, though all of the systems and colonies therein suffered economic and political collapse to a certain degree.
The Dark Age would lift slowly in the cluster, as a few intrepid souls in the Argos and Roanoke systems independently redeveloped space travel technology and rediscovered the gates connecting the systems of the Tantalus subnet.
Politically the cluster remains a loose collection of independent star systems. However, to facilitate trade, economic development and at least a minimal common defense, the leadership of the cluster met and formed an independent organization known as the Concordiat.
Over time the Concordiat established a common currency and a secure banking network to facilitate monetary transactions between the various economic entities of the cluster. The Concordiat Credit (abbreviated simply ‘c’) is the universal medium of exchange throughout the cluster, even in systems which maintain their own local currencies.
Additionally, the Concordiat is empowered to recruit mercenary forces to protect local systems as needed and to prevent criminal elements from operating across system boundaries, although this has met with only limited success and most systems that can afford to do so also have their own local self-defense forces.
Waldorf Star System
The central-most system in the Tantalus cluster, Waldorf was strangely unpopulated when ships from Roanoke, Argos, Yamato and Bremen began exploring beyond their own gates. Imperial records are sketchy about just why this should be, given the system’s resources and its unrivaled access to other systems.
In an unprecedented fit of cooperation, the neighboring governments agreed to colonize the system jointly and established a nascent version of what would grow into the Concordiat in order to administer the local colonies and promote the flow of trade through this vital system. In spite of all the good intentions, Waldorf remains a bit ‘wild’ and uncivilized: piracy is a growing problem and the locals–a polyglot mix from all over the cluster–have struggled to establish some kind of cultural identity.
Argos Star System
Bathed in the blue-white light of the Argos primary, this system is home to one of the two habitable planets in the Tantalus Cluster and boasts the largest known population of humans. The Argives pride themselves on having the oldest continuous civilization in the cluster and, while this is arguably true, Argos’ many detractors may draw your attention to the byzantine governmental bureaucracy and rampant corruption that also characterize life in this tumultuous system.
Bremen Star System
Originally a mining outpost established in the latter days of the Empire, Bremen survived the Imperial collapse through sheer grit and determination. The domed cities on its two marginal planets were built over many generations and, although its citizens now enjoy a fairly comfortable life style, this is the end product of centuries of blood, sweat and privation. While much has been made of Bremen’s near-feudally stratified society, it is hard to argue with its success as, in spite of its handicaps, Bremen currently boasts the largest industrial base in the Tantalus Cluster.
Roanoke Star System
In spite of having one of the only two habitable planets in the cluster, Roanoke’s history is a tumultuous one. Originally Roanoke III was not so much a colony as a refugee camp. The original colonial infrastructure was quickly overwhelmed by an influx of people fleeing the shockwave of Imperial collapse. Anarchy reigned for decades before Nathan Medford rallied enough force to subdue the bandits and warlords in an epic ten-year campaign that culminated in the establishment of Roanoke’s now famous representative democracy. While Medford is still hailed as a national hero, the final outcome of this experiment in democratic government is still uncertain, as there are those in Roanoke who still see majority rule as a ‘tyranny of the masses’.
Yamato Star System
The seeds of Imperial Yamato were sown during the collapse of the old Empire. When Imperial support vanished almost overnight the system governor, Miura Naonobu took matters into his own hands and declared himself the new Emperor. Ambitious as he was, ‘Emperor’ Miura was unable to fend off the economic disaster that overtook Yamato and was deposed almost immediately.
Nevertheless, the precedent was set and the system has been governed by a succession (not always bloodless) of Emperors ever since. The current and 24th Emperor, Saito Genjiro presides over a much improved situation, as Yamato has one of the strongest economies and arguably the most advanced technology base in the cluster. The fourth planet is in the process of being terraformed, but its atmosphere remains unbreathable and its population continues to live in domed cities.
Ursa Star System
Despite being the well-known home territory of the Black Hand criminal syndicate, Ursa is a surprisingly peaceful system, supporting a large population of independent miners and traders with its abundant mineral wealth. While it is believed that the stations in Ursa are secretly run by the Black Hand, gathering sufficient evidence to take action has proven difficult, and rumors abound of other hidden bases within the system, guarded zealously by well-equipped warships in blood-red livery. Despite Concordiat efforts to bring Ursa within its sphere of influence, the inhabitants of the system remain stubbornly independent.