///From the author:this story is another one of the many tales set within the overall timeline of the Spacers Saga universe. It focuses on the Talvan colony, and especially on life in and around the capital, Aurora City, in the 2380s, during the period in which the Alpha Centaur system is affected by the Frontier Wars. This history affects Talvan's eventual role in the Infinitum storyline, which takes place over 170 years later. In the end, however, it is meant to be its own standalone story - one which deals with the lives of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times
(Map of Aurora City and the surrounding forested regions in 2384)
Talvan (largest moon of Alpha Centauri Ab)is approximately 4.3 lightyears away from Earth, and was first reached in 2259. The first human settlers were religious outcasts, interstellar emigres, and adventure seekers who left Solar Space in 2236 as part of the vastly expensive Wayfarer Program, meaning that by 2384, the colony there is just about to turn 125 years old.
The capital and largest metro area is Aurora City, which gets its name from the vibrant auroras visible on the poles of Caliban (the official name for Alpha Centauri Ab). Famous Talvanian Tyson “Ty” Delatorre called these auroras “the most beautiful thing in Centauri space." Delatorre led nearly six thousand colonists to Alpha Centauri, and after serving two terms as Governor, ultimately settled at a modest country home outside of the settlement at Aurora City, where he lived until he died of natural causes (having forsworn life extension) in 2308 at age 117.
In spite of its vibrant culture, Aurora City is small compared to cities in Solar Space, owing to its youth–the city is only home to about a hundred and ninety thousand people. About three quarters of a million humans live in settlements across the surface of Talvan, among them Durandal and Uhuru, mostly on the same continent as Aurora City. In orbit, there is Dresden Station, a Bernal Sphere which rests in geostationary orbit high above Aurora City and can house anywhere from five to twenty thousand inhabitants, depending on how far the ICA administrators onboard are willing to strain the station’s life support.
All told, almost two million people live in various corners of the Rigil Kentaurus system (with about another million living in the adjacent Toliman and Proxima systems that are also part of Alpha Cen). Most of these inhabitants live in space stations etched into the many small rocky worlds orbiting the local stars, where they busy themselves with making the system a new hub of human civilization. In addition, there are roughly half a million zharans (artificial humans) living in the system, which are used as a source of cheap labor.
The main story revolves around a reporter named Zaveed Nubara who traveled to Talvan in 2379 to write a perspective piece on Alena Pasajeros, the young ambassador the ICA has stationed at their embassy in Aurora City. The dynamic between these two, as the reporter tries to wheedle information out of his mark and she tries to balance his supposed expertise on frontier politics with her own hard-won experience makes up the bulk of the plot.
The rest of the plot spins off from the primary as Ambassador Pasajeros attempts to deal with conflicts between the human denizens of Talvan as the Frontier Wars (which kicked back off in Solar Space shortly before Nubara left) threaten to make their way to Centauri Space. As those loyal to the ICA clash with those who owe allegiance to the Alliance of Free Worlds, and agents of the Zharan Collective stir up discord among Talvan’s artificial population, Alena’s office is beset by crisis after crisis, with the ambassador’s attempts to manage these crises observed by Nubara as he tries to gather material for his next biographical magnum opus.
Nubara hopes to put together his next piece for the Solar Courier, a periodical which circulates on dozens of worlds back in Solar Space. Nubara is one of the Courier's star reporters, having won two Hawkes Prizes (equivalent to today’s Pulitzer) by age thirty-five for his coverage of the Frontier Wars. Now forty-four, he has been suffering a period of reduced quality in his work, and has ventured to Alpha Centauri in search of a creative challenge.
The challenge he has set for himself is to travel to one of humanity’s farthest outposts and profile the deputy the ICA has assigned to watch over their fiefdom there. He has virtually no knowledge of Ambassador Pasajeros before he departs for Talvan, aside from the fact that she had the pick of several more lucrative positions closer to Sol but chose instead to tough it out at a rough-and-tumble deep frontier outpost in search of a few challenges of her own.
The Ambassador herself is well-educated, well-read, and surprisingly well-connected for a thirty-eight year-old emissary who has only been at her current post a little under three years. She is also quick-witted, which stings Nubara several times during his tenure on Obsidian, and has a lexicon of esoteric knowledge which helps her to blend in with people of all backgrounds. Her main problem is the tension between the various factions jostling to control Centauri Space, and the danger their plotting puts her and her associates in as a result.
Another reason Nubara chose this particular assignment over any other is that he volunteered as a frontline combat correspondent during the Frontier Wars, an experience which still haunts him even over a decade later. He took five whole years off from writing after winning his second Hawkes Prize in 2370 for coverage of the war, retreating briefly into a very shady world of cheap drugs and fast women. He only dabbled in simpler journalistic fare after his return to work in 2375, although his first piece upon returning was on the shortlist for the Hawkes Prize, as well.
When the Second Frontier War broke out in 2379, Nubara refused to return to the frontlines, despite his editor’s protestations that his best work was written either while under fire or immediately afterward. Instead, he chose to run away from the war, seeking refuge from his demons in the Alpha Centauri system. Unfortunately for him, not long after he arrives on Talvan, his new friend Pasajeros begins receiving preliminary intelligence from the head of the local IDC contingent that the Alliance may be attempting to infiltrate the population
As Major Lewis “Bull” Bulgarov reports to Pasajeros, the Alliance may in fact be trying to sneak military operatives into Centauri Space in hopes of igniting a revolution against the ICA governorship, with the end goal of taking control of the entire star system. Bulgarov is a “mustang,” promoted from noncommissioned to commissioned officer after thirty years of service, which saw him fight both in the Second Draconist Crisis (including the Zharan Uprising) and the Frontier Wars, and commands a roughly seventeen hundred-strong force of spacers stationed in Aurora City who must now contend with Alliance schemes and zharan intrigue.
The fourth major character is Tulay Vagaro (pronounced “TULL-ee Va-GAR-Oh), a 143-year-old original settler and matriarch of a large land stake outside Aurora City. At times whimsical and at others cantankerous, Tulay has lived on Talvan for the entire period of human settlement there, only leaving to visit other worlds in the system once every few years. She was a close friend of Ty Delatorre and maintains his skeptical outlook on the follow-ons that came after the original mission, many of whom she sees as little more than opportunistic fortune seekers.
All together, these plotlines string toward a rendezvous with fate and destiny that will see Talvan become a hotspot in the long history of human interstellar civilization. In fact, when all is said and done, the intrigue wrought in the Alpha Centauri system during Zaveed Nubara’s time there may just end up paving the way to a new future for the Milky Way.
Demographic info: age 36; born 16 March 2342 on Vesta
Personal history: went to school for training in the civil service after being raised by a single mother (Talia Pasajeros) who was an ICA immigration lawyer; awarded Highest Distinction in graduation from undergraduate studies, then followed in her mother’s footsteps by working as an immigration lawyer on Mars during the Frontier Wars; earned her PhD at Aldrin City Technical University in 2371, having completed her coursework while still working as an intern at the field office in downtown Aldrin City, and was given pick of several prime embassy postings in 2376; chose the newly opened position of head ambassador on Talvan and departed in August 2377
Character traits: a naturally reserved and thoughtful person, she focuses on accomplishing the duties of her post rocking the boat too much; despite having arrived at Talvan in 2381 with bright eyes and big ambitions, her goals have been tempered by the complex dynamics of frontier politics; her primary ambition is to help the ICA stabilize its position in the Alpha Centauri system while also normalizing relations between the people of Talvan, who she has begun to see as her new family
Demographic info: age 47; born 3 November 2331 in Oran, Algeria
Personal history: earned several awards for freelance work in undergrad as an political reporter between 2351 and 2354; joined the Solar Courier as a junior editorial assistant in 2354, and was eventually deployed in 2359 as a combat correspondent during the Frontier Wars; wrote “The View at Vanekar” in 2362 about the eponymous battle on Titan, and “Two Betrayals: The History of Zharan Rebellion” in 2369 about the Zharan Collective’s intervention in the Wars, both of which won him the Hawkes Prize; fell off the radar in 2370, with some suspicion of multiple drug-related offenses between then and 2375; resurfaced with “A Long View at Nüwa” in 2376, about the peace negotiations which ended the Wars, before entering a low-performance period
Character traits: easygoing, suave, and charming (almost to a fault), he has been noted by several acquaintances as being something of a jet-setter and aspiring playboy, despite his occasional awkward boyishness; this façade hides deep-seated insecurities arising from his childhood traumas and, more importantly, his experiences during the last Frontier War; arrives in Veranda system looking for a sort of reboot to his career, which means he will butt heads with Alena as she tries to contain his cavalier habits
Major Lewis Bulgarov
Demographic info: age 58; born 25 August 2321 in Nereidum, Mars
Personal history: raised in a large, working-class family in the southern industrial district of Argyre on Mars, and joined the Spacer Corps at 18 to escape the fate of his older siblings who had gone to the factories; served during some of the worst years of the Second Draconist Crisis, including the Zharan Uprising (2345-2348), and later in the Frontier Wars, where he was given a field commission in 2368 after nearly thirty years of service; made a name as a sensible, no-nonsense officer despite his relative age, and was offered the role of garrison chief in Aurora City in 2374 as a kind of unofficial “paid retirement”; since arriving in 2378, he has earned a reputation as an easygoing officer, and is beloved by his spacers for his soft-touch approach to leadership
Character traits: after spending three decades serving the ICA in times of war, Major Bulgarov sought a peaceful life away from the hustle and bustle of Solar Space, which is why he accepted a “career terminal” posting on Talvan; while there, he has sought to distance himself from the tension of wartime command, and aside from a deep-seated mistrust of zharans, he strikes a pretty even-keeled demeanor, although this attitude is threatened when the challenges of war follow him to from Sol to Alpha Centauri
Demographic info: age 143; born 11 April 2218 in Shackleton City, Luna
Personal history: born to wealthy but emotionally distant parents, she rebelled at a young age, and joined the Wayfarer Program in 2234; left the solar system in 2236, part of the retinue which accompanied Tyson Delatorre on the initial colonization mission to Alpha Centauri, and has lived there ever since 2259; her family’s wealth transferred to her after her parents’ deaths, and she used it to buy a large plot of land outside Aurora City, where she started a family and became a sort of interstellar cattle baron; by 2384, she is one of the wealthiest people on Talvan, which, when combined with her status as one of the few surviving members of the original pioneer group, makes her quite famous there, and grants her the ear of powerful people like Ambassador Pasajeros
Character traits: Vagaro is a wildcard–on the one hand, she is an often cranky senior citizen who frequently lambastes the younger people who have taken over the society she helped to found; on the other, she possesses a genius-level intellect (which explains how she lied her way into the Wayfarer Program at age 16) and a razor-sharp wit, which wins her many more battles than her cantankerousness begins; ultimately, she is a source of wisdom for the main characters, no matter how crusty her demeanor