The Southern Approaches

The Southern Approaches is a stellar region located some 12,000 lightyears away from the Solar System, in the Perseus Arm. It is accessible through a loosely mapped stellar route that begins in the Smyrnian Bubble. It is defined by alien presence -- specifically, the Ropes, a network of half-derelict Krasnikov tubes that are believed to be the only physical remain of a pre-Sequence species codenamed "the Open Chain" by the Starmoth Initiative. The region itself is defined by the known extent of the Ropes, creating a rough bubble, five hundred lightyears in diameter within the inner layer of the Perseus Arm. Human exploration of the Southern Approaches dates back to the first cross-arm travels, half a century ago, but permanent settlement of the region only occurred thirty-eight years ago when Gondwana Port was translated out of the Solar System and into the Perseus Arm. The Southern Approaches are scarcely populated as far as official records are concerned -- Gondwana Port accounts for half its registered inhabitants and is home to a little over a hundred thousand people, Humans and AIs alike. However, multiple independent settlements endeavours have been engaged in the past two decades, most of them directed towards research and investigation of the Ropes, and independent evaluations suggest the Southern Approaches account for up to ten deep space stations and a million inhabitants. This population is scarce and the Southern Approaches are effectively devoid of trade or passenger traffic; movement is further complicated by the presence of still-active Krasnikov tubes, as geometry drives often refuse to translate in their vicinity in order to avoid the creation of closed timelike curves.

The lack of a clearly established translation route in the image of the Sagittarius Run or the Orion Arm Crossing means that travel between the Solar System or the Traverse and the Southern Approaches is long and grueling -- in average, six months for a deep space vessel, which can go up to a year for navigators who do not wish to go near Smyrnian out of political or economic concerns. The surroundings of the Southern Approaches are badly charted, which everywhere else in the galaxy would be a non-issue for transit, yet poses peculiar problems due to the influence of the Ropes. The distance and delay prevent convenient transport of information or goods from the other regions of human space; as such, Southern Approaches settlements are self-sufficient in almost all respects excluding ship building and heavy manufacturing.

No violence or unexplained disappearances have been reported in the Southern Approaches and the travel advisory issued by the Starmoth Initiative is the generic deep space requirement of a spaceship capable of independent fuel, propellant and basic supplies production ("wilderness refuelling"), self-actualisation of relative navigation data ("wilderness ranging") and an effective unassisted translation range at or exceeding twenty lightyears.

Nebula illustration by BS4711 under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.


Sometimes the reason why a region is settled is not because of peculiar features or alien presence. Sometimes it is just because a place is beautiful. Sometimes it is just because the question that matters is why not.

Smyrnia is such a place. Centred around a unique binary temperate-cold world, the eponymous Smyrnia-Silesia twin, the Smyrnia Bubble was originally founded on aesthetic grounds by members of Communal Space who simply wanted to have a different night sky to contemplate. The messy, dispersed colonisation attempt of the Smyrnian Bubble led to a state of quasi-constant Flower Wars organised by the Smyrnian Flux State

The Serene Sea

The Serene Sea is an inverted Traverse: a close concentration of stars that is not made of healthy G and F class stars but out of sequence stellar remnants: white dwarfs, neutron stars, planetary nebulae, stellar black holes. And contrary to the Traverse, there is little doubt about the unnatural nature of this region. Someone went here and engineered the local stars.

In the Serene Sea, there are virtually no habitable worlds, except for Draugr, the "vampire planet", an earth-like world orbiting a neutron star, by all accounts a planet that should not exist. The main human settlements are stations installed at the edge of the region, accounting for a few million inhabitants, the vast majority of which are scientists, historians and pilgrims.

Pilgrims, because the Serene Sea is also a necropolis where dead stars neighbour derelict megastructures and wrecks lost in deep interstellar space. This region is the seat of humankind's first contact with what is known under the generic name of the Sequence: the ghostly remnant of what has once been a galaxy-spanning empire, spreading between the stars at sublight speeds for millions of years. Due to a state of constant war with the Sequence the region is under the loose control of Algorab

The Sequence remnants populate the Serene Stars and make them a strange, unfamiliar but also fascinating place. Ancient Sequence megastructures perturbation or even intercept geometry translations. Enigmatic ships lead incursions against human settlements. Hints at an unknowable history are littered across the region. Both the historical graveyard of an impossibly old empire and low-intensity warzone, the Serene Sea is the closest human space has to a frontier.

Okean Bubble

Too many stars...

Though it is common to think of globular clusters as oddities relegated to the edge of the galaxy, some of them also dwell in the central bulge of the Milky Way. The Okean cluster is suspended above the Far 3kpc galactic arm, deep inside the galaxy. Much like the eponymous Okean planet, the cluster once flourished with life as dozens of civilisations shared its ten million stars that were easily reachable with sublight ships. As soon as the cluster was discovered by deep space explorers the presence of ancient ruins soon prompted the establishment of an outpost which quickly turned into a small constellation of stations centred around the Okean planet. The waterworld and the region are controlled by an Earth-bound superpower, Laniakea.

Though the hopes of finding a surviving civilisation still exist, the Okean cluster is currently filled with nothing but ruins, hinting at the slow dereliction of whatever interstellar empires existed there in times past. The only surviving remnant of the Okean cluster civilisations is an elusive underwater species. The Vriij, as they call themselves, have willingly forgotten most of their history. Whatever the Vriij were and whatever they did, they prefer to ignore it. It is assumed they played an instrumental role in the demise of the cluster.

The bubble of settled space in Okean only encompasses a very small fraction of the cluster. Even with geometry drives, surveying ten million stars takes a lot of time and the self-replicating probes sent in the cluster have so far only explored an estimated 5% of the area. It will take time and effort to understand, and perhaps reclaim, the troubled history of the Okean region.

It is to be noted that the cluster itself was not deemed a favourable area for settlement by human communes, as the low metallicity and abundance of unstable red dwarfs makes the region unsuitable for long-term human colonization. 

The Traverse

The Traverse lies 500 lightyears away from the Sun but was obscured by dust clouds before the geometry drive enabled exploration ships to uncover this peculiar nebula harbouring half a hundred G and F-class stars in close proximity. Their beam-like configuration gave the name of this region, which is also known as the Eloran Bubble in reference to the main inhabited world at its centre. It is controlled by a superpower known as the Eloran Ekumen.

It is little wonder that the Traverse, once charted by Starmoth Initiative ships, was very quick to be settled and developed. Traverse stars have vast habitable zones which translates into an unusual density of inhabitable worlds within this region: at least three Earth-like worlds and a dozen waterworlds ranging from archipelago planets to full deep water bodies with breathable atmospheres. A few fringe theories posit that the Traverse was the seat of ancient terraforming endeavours but according to the Starmoth Initiative such a concentration of habitable worlds is not statistically odd.

In the present day, one hundred and fifty years after the establishment of the Elora settlement, the Traverse is home to two hundred million human beings and vegetal intelligences, making it the second-biggest concentration of population in the Milky Way after Communal Space. It is a well-charted and well-travelled space noted for the sprawling biodiversity of its Earth-like worlds and the originality of its qith-based political system.

Show more posts

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