Known Space, or Humankind's Cosmos
The point-to-point nature of faster-than-light travel via geometry drive drove human expansion in the Milky Way in a very specific way, with vast swathes of stars being left mostly unexplored in-between points of interest. Human space is best understood as an archipelago, where a total of about two hundred settled systems are scattered across half the Milky Way, separated by seemingly endless three-dimensional seas of stars, interstellar gas clouds and void. Note that even inside the bubbles of settled space unknown or barely charted systems might still exist: humanity's knowledge of space is eminently fragmented.
The symbolic and demographic heart of human space is a subset of about seventy settled systems centred around the solar system and the Earth: Communal Space, accounting for more than 80% of humankind's total population. Communal Space also incorporates more isolated stations, such as the wandering stations of the Irenian Enclave in the Pleiades and the Witch Head Nebula.
The second-largest settled region is a cluster of G and F-class stars named the Traverse, sitting roughly 500 lightyears away from the solar system and shrouded by the dark region of a nebula. The Traverse is centred around Elora, a "super-habitable" world which houses the most well-developed planetary society aside from the Earth. The Traverse accounts for twenty to thirty settled systems, depending on the metric being used. Though it follows the same cooperative system as Communal Space, this region is controlled by more elaborate polities known as qiths.
Within the same distance of the Sun, but in the galactic south can be found a similar but smaller bubble of a dozen settled systems named after the binary habitable system of Smyrnia. This region doesn't have a single political system and is instead in a "flux state" of highly dynamic anarcho-syndicalist jurisdictions. Smyrnia neighbours - at a stellar scale - a similar region, the Serene Sea which owes its name to the fact that it finds itself at the middle of a vast expanse of stellar remnants. Its fifteen-odd settlements are the main theatre of humankind's complex relationship with the Sequence, a relic of the Milky Way's past which should have perhaps remained buried in time.
Not much further away but across the inter-arm void is an even smaller settled region centred around a concentration of waterworlds referred to as the Okean Bubble. It is the place of the first contact with an ancient, complex and eminently bored aquatic species, the Vriij. Located at the edge of a globular cluster above the plane, its dozen systems are watched upon by scientific organisations and Communal cooperatives.
Aside from these settled regions exist the Isolae, or islands in the sky, that is to say, completely isolated systems that were discovered and selected by deep space exploration ships due to their remarkable features. Tyra, the first isola, is located in the central bulge of the Milky Way. This formerly habitable world was sterilized by a gamma burst several million years ago and is considered a planet-sized laboratory. It is a notable stop on the Neutron Pathway, a well-charted translation route plunging deep towards the heart of the galaxy.
The second isola, Mundis, is probably the most well-developed of them all. This peculiar habitable world orbits a gas giant and bears the marks of climate and geological engineering of alien origin, making it a prime site for the study of the galactic past. Shrouded in mystery, Mundis is under the control of the Mundian Ekumen, a deep space commune existing in complete isolation. Mundis can be reached through the Via Mereisa and is also the beginning of the Laniakea Run.
The third and so far last isola is the single most isolated settlement in the galaxy. Finistelle lies high above the Milky Way and at the very edge of the galactic disk, which gave it its name - "Star's End", quite literally. While Finistelle often appears as a completely gratuitous endeavour, the Starmoth Initiative considers it as a prime observation site with an unparalleled vantage point on the galaxy. It can be reached through the gruelling, complex route codenamed Star's End Crossing.
Aside from these isolae are deep space stations that mark the smallest isolated settlements - not even inhabited planets but constellations of stations, either free-floating or orbiting a star. Lovelace Point is made of seven stations orbiting Sagittarius A* and its surrounding stars, at the end of the Neutron Pathway. Gondwana Port is an anchor point for mobile stations and long-range ships exploring the ruins in the galactic west. The Lighthouse is a deep space station in the Sagittarius arm watching over a star cluster, at the end of the Sagittarius Arm Run. The most elusive, and perhaps most isolated station is Station Zero, hanging in the void, at the heart of a vast network of ruined megastructures linked to the Sequence. At the end of the famous Laniakea Run, Station Zero is the crown jewel of the Starmoth Initiative.
All content in the Starmoth Blog is © Isilanka
Written content on Starmoth is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 license