I/6/n. e’Luminarien (“The Belt”)
Class: Asteroid belt
Orbit: 2.24 au (avg.)
Orbit (ecc.): varies, mostly under 0.25
Blackbody temp.: 176 K (avg.)
Next up, dividing the inner more-or-less rocky planets from the outer gas giants, and scattered over a much bigger area of space than that average suggests, we have the e’Luminiarien (approximately translated “the little traveler’s lights”).
You want rocks? We got rocks. Lots and lots and lots of rocks. Metal-rich rocks. Silicate rocks. Carbonaceous rocks. Icy rocks. Just pick how far you go into the belt by which kind you want to end up with, and there’re all the rocks you could ever want.
And that’s the belt. Naturally, in the future, there are mining operations and stations ranging from the massive (“Andir Drift: Gateway to the Belt”) to the tiny (“Jini’s Oxygen Shack”) scattered all over the place, by the thousands if not tens of thousands.
Here are three of the most notable big ones:
1 Andir is The Big Asteroid That Isn’t, Except By Courtesy. Technically, it’s a Andirian-class geopassive planetesimal, or what we’d call a dwarf planet, but since it’s sitting right smack in the middle of an asteroid belt in all its hundreds-of-miles-across glory, it’s an asteroid by courtesy.
And as the biggest thing out there, in the future, it’s the administrative, commercial, and population center of the belt. Andir Drift, which grows to take up much of its volume, is a hollowed-out beehive habitat that’s got more docks, cageworks, factories, malls, homes, parks, bars, etc., etc., etc., hanging off it than most of the rest of the e’Luminiarien put together, is the administrative capital of the region, and is probably the one place you can be pretty sure every resident of the belt has visited.
But don’t call it a planet. The locals hate that.
6 Mélciö, which is a partially differentiated metallic asteroid similar to Vesta, is operated by a number of loosely federated scientific research stations, gathered there partly by unique facilities (the combination of minimal gravity and heavy shielding available by those willing to use the core lab, for example), and partly because of the number of very important breakthroughs that have been made there over the years.
Lots of people hoping that brilliance will rub off on them, in short.
A carbonaceous asteroid nearer the outer edge of the e’Luminiarien, 32 Avénan and the smaller cohorts set in orbit around it are technically Imperial Navy Fleet Station Avénan. This used to be the Prime Base for the whole damn Fleet back in the day, before stargates were invented and the IN moved as a whole to Palaxias System, and it’s still where the First Capital Flotilla bases out of.
It’s also rather more open to public viewing than most IN bases because of its great historical importance. It’s where the Consolidation ended and the Aeon-Long Peace began, for a start. It’s where the Talentar Revolt was negotiated to a successful conclusion, for another. As such, it’s also the headquarters and face of the Admiralty’s sophont relations “flotilla”.