This Galactic Guide originally appeared in Jump Point 5.3.
An ongoing civil war, centuries of strife, and the fact that they are the only system to have ever renounced their recognition in the UEE Senate are all reason enough to give most travelers pause before visiting Charon. Situated on the frontier, Charon may be connected to four other systems, but it still harbors a deep sense of isolation from the rest of the Empire. This mentality, fueled by the UEE’s regrettable actions in the system during the Messer era, has birthed a fiery and fiercely independent spirit that defines Charon to this day, a spirit that might have made the system all but impossible to govern.
Most accounts claim the discovery of this five-planet system swirling around a K-type main sequence star was an accident. In 2538, Max Keaton was a novice merchant marine pilot on his first supply run in Helios when the system’s intense solar winds disabled his ship’s sensors. Nervous about falling behind schedule, Keaton flew on, only to realize when the sensors rebooted that his bearing was wrong and he was well off course. Determined not to make another mistake, Keaton quickly tested all his systems. That’s when he noticed an anomalous reading on his scanners. In a surprising show of self-restraint, Keaton saved the coordinates, completed his run, and then returned the first chance he could. What he eventually discovered was the jump that would lead to the Charon System.
The UPE claimed the system and deployed a scan team from the Government Cartography Agency (the era’s ICC). Terraformation of Charon III began almost immediately, but once complete, the system’s remoteness never allowed it to develop as a hub for traffic and trade. Those who would eventually seek to settle the system were typically interested in living a simple life and saw Charon’s isolation as a benefit. The Messers, however, had another use for the system’s isolation.
Throughout the generations, the Messers and their policies created a vast number of enemies, dissidents, activists, and revolutionaries. They found that mixing these political prisoners into the usual criminal penal systems only radicalized the criminals and gave the dissidents access to criminal training. So, the Messers decided to build a vast prison network across Charon III, with many of them in the state of Dellin, and hired loyal government employees to staff it. Horror stories about the prisons swirled among residents, though they quickly learned not to press the issue publicly. Local officials that investigated the matter were silenced or suddenly charged with crimes that landed them in those very prisons.
When the Messers fell from power in 2792, people across the planet celebrated, and the local population forced their way into the prisons. What they found and documented horrified everyone and became an integral argument of 2806’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report that exposed the horrors of the Messer regime. Local officials also discovered during their investigations that their Senators not only knew about the atrocities, but had been profiting off them. The Messer regime had funneled extra resources to Dellin, where most of the prisons were located, and even influenced elections involving corrupt Senate candidates they favored.
Senator Constance Winterfield was indicted on corruption charges and removed from power. The Governor’s Council was supposed to name a temporary replacement, but vicious in-fighting and political maneuvering stalled any decision. Charon III’s Senate seat stayed vacant for years until Constance Winterfield’s term expired. By that point, many residents had concluded that Charon III was better off than it had been with a Senator and the UEE imposing their will on the planet. In 2795, Charon III voted to renounce their recognition in the Senate, making them the only planet to ever do so.
Without an advocate on Earth, government credits to the system slowed to a trickle as the UEE political elite were intent to show that renouncing Senate recognition would come at a cost. As government funds evaporated at high cost to local economies, particularly in Dellin, the fierce independent spirit that inspired people to stand up to the UEE now turned them on each other. Constant strife between political factions only hardened over time, and governance of the planet became practically impossible. Any attempts at reforming the Governor’s Council and resubmitting for recognition have thus far failed.
Today, the system is primarily defined by the bloody and devastating civil war raging on Charon III between the states of Dellin and its neighbor Acheron. Regular commercial traffic in the system is minimal and may come under fire if entering Charon III’s atmosphere. Due to this unfortunate situation, and a lack of other habitable locations within the system, the Galactic Guide advises travelers to avoid the Charon System unless absolutely necessary.
This is a small terrestrial planet being sublimed into the system’s sun due to its decaying orbit. Analysis of the surface has led scientists to believe that a massive collision pushed it out of its original orbit and towards its eventual doom. The large trail that is forming in its wake as it spirals ever closer to the sun gives the appearance of a staggeringly large comet.
Charon II is a smog planet with a dense layer of carbon dioxide that traps heat within its atmosphere. The greenhouse effect makes the planet’s surface inhospitably warm. The difficulties in terraforming such a hostile world, along with the difficult political climate throughout the system, have made any attempt to initiate the complicated process a non-starter.
The UPE claimed this system because of Charon III. The planet was quickly terraformed, but few colonists were eager to settle in such a distant corner of the Empire. It lacked significant deposits of rare minerals to attract miners, and even though the real estate was inexpensive, few factories were built since the additional shipping costs more than offset any local savings for most manufacturers. Homesteaders that were attracted by the isolation did steadily stream in over the decades, though they often had to rely on soil enrichment products, like moly-nitronese, to reliably grow food.
Things changed in 2635 during Livia Messer III’s reign. She proposed a restructuring of the UEE’s legal system that involved building a massive, maximum security penitentiary in Dellin’s vast desert. The project kickstarted the economy and brought in new people and credits. When her brother Corsen Messer V rose to power, he built several more facilities. In 2670, the planet received recognition in the Senate via a decree from Corsen. Many of today’s historians now assume the move was a quid pro quo between Corsen Messer and Gwen Czukay, who was Dellin’s Governor’s Council representative and shortly thereafter the planet’s first Senator. When Senator Czukay was sworn in, she personally decided that the planet should be recognized under the name Haros.
In 2795, when the planet voted to renounce their recognition in the Senate, Haros was scrapped as the planet’s official name, as many of the locals continued to associate it with the Messer era. For a few years, the planet dealt with political turmoil but lived in peace. Then a terrible drought destabilized Dellin in 2811 and sparked violent uprisings. The neighboring state of Acheron, struggling with the drought itself, couldn’t provide much aid and was overwhelmed by desperate refugees from Dellin. The first civil war erupted between the two states in 2813 and lasted until 2819. The war never officially ended, as the adversaries simply agreed to what turned out to be a prolonged ceasefire.
Although tensions have flared up since then, not all hope is lost. Most recently, a 2934 earthquake that devastated Acheron brought much of the planet together in relief of Acheron’s ravaged population. During the rebuilding, the Phiyl Tower was constructed in Acheron’s capital. Considered a masterwork of Supermodernist architecture, it was meant to symbolize a new, more hopeful era for Charon III. Unfortunately, the peace did not last long, as residents of Dellin openly speculated on why Acheron needed their help yet had the funds to construct such a tower.
In 2944, the most recent war between the states of Acheron and Dellin broke out after the election of Tarquin Klast as governor of Dellin. Acheron had supported his political rival and claimed Klast used intimidation tactics to swing the vote in his favor. When Klast instituted sweeping changes to the government and removed the checks and balances designed to limit his power, Acheron intervened to stop what they claimed was a growing tyrant. Following several skirmishes, the UEE set up armistice talks between the two states, but no accord could be reached.
Today the civil war still rages. UEE Navy ships observe from above atmosphere only to ensure no gross violations of the Common Laws. While experts debate exactly how involved the UEE should get, much of the Empire’s population appears to be ambivalent to the conflict.
Upon discovering the system, Max Keaton first saw and became enthralled by the ice giant Charon IV. The beautiful blue, dead world inspired Keaton to call the system Charon, a nod to both the mythological character and Keaton’s grandfather, who was a beloved classics professor in Rhetor.
Every few decades another upstart mining concern scans and surveys this distant dwarf planet in the hope of finding precious minerals others have missed. So far none have been found.
Due to the civil war, the Acheron military has designated all supply ships destined for Dellin, even those operated by freelance haulers, to be enemy combatants. We recommend that no ship enter Charon III’s atmosphere unless absolutely necessary.
HEARD IN THE WIND
“It is with a heavy heart that I stand here today to renounce Haros’ recognition in the UEE Senate. From here forth, the planet will relinquish its Senate seat along with all responsibilities and benefits associated with it. Though I strongly disagree with this decision, it is the will of the people and I will respect it. I fear not everyone on Haros will be as gracious in defeat.”
– Bernard Ma, Dellin’s Governor’s Council representative, in a speech before the Senate, 2795
“Turmoil and trouble, give us double ’Cause this unending struggle is what defines us.”
– Gasper Khan, lyrics from Halcyon Home, 2912