The most fascinating era of the history of the Hesperus colony is its founding, as the first stellar colony of the Federation. The maiden voyage of the Magellan had identified two worlds within the Alpha Centauri system as possible candidates for colonisation, though their environments were such that they would require domed habitations or massive environment configuration. Of these two, Hesperus was chosen as the first colony. For years, it seemed to be a fool’s dream. The great endeavour to build a stellar colony proved even more troublesome than the Federation’s scientists anticipated. Five years past deadline for completion and more than a billion dollars over budget, Hesperus colony finally opened its doors to colonisation from Earth, silencing the critics who had proclaimed it an expensive and foolish waste.
The construction of Hesperus colony was only the first of the challenges the colony had to overcome, however. The second challenge was considerably more alarming and is considered by sociologists to be a cusp event in the history of humanity itself. After the colony was completed, the UCF stationed three of the FSA’s most advanced battleships to stand guard over the new colony, in a move to head off any potential repetition of what happened at Io. The voters at home called it a wasteful overindulgence. In actuality, it was not enough, as the nowfamous first contact with intelligent alien life unfolded in the skies over the planet only two years after the colony’s opening.
Once the immediate threat of the alien vessel was past, Hesperus became a relatively peaceful colony. It has not come under attack again in all the centuries since it was founded. With any endeavour so monumental as the construction of the first stellar colony, there are certain to be some unforeseen complications. This was observed during the actual construction of the colony, plagued as it was by equipment failures, natural disasters and alarming suicide rates among the workers, which all served to cause the massive delays and costs of construction. Even when the colony was completed, the colonists settled and the alien menace that destroyed the Reynolds apparently gone for good, there were still unforeseen problems on Hesperus.
A century ago, the Cherenkov drive was vastly inferior to the models of the engine available today. Instead of a 30 hour trip to Alpha Centauri, vessels at the time required weeks to make the journey. Coupled with the vast stellar distance that precludes radio communication, this meant the new colony of Hesperus was out of touch with the rest of the Federation for weeks at a time.
Hesperus’ first colonists were an independent-minded group of people. This is not to say they were political subversives or dissatisfied civilians; their loyalty to the Federation was unshakable. Rather, they were more like the pioneers who colonised the American West centuries earlier, men andwomen with a thirst for adventure and a confidence in their own self-sufficiency. Such confidence, however, could not make up for the deficiencies in the planet that was their new home.
A decade or so after the colony’s founding, mismanagement of supplies combined with a series of unforeseen delays in shipments running from the Sol system to Alpha Centauri resulted in a crisis at Hesperus, as the colonists’ food stores suddenly and unexpectedly ran out. Records showed there was enough food to sustain the colony for two more months but the records could not argue with the empty storehouses. There was no ship currently at Hesperus to send for aid and no way for the colonists to signal their distress to Earth.
Governor Tomas Leary immediately instituted a rationing programme but it was not enough. As the last of the food stores were consumed, the hungry colonists took to the streets of Hesperus City, rioting against the governor. It was a major failure on the part of the Federation to its population and it resulted in 47 deaths, several hundred injuries and 4.1 million dollars in damage to Hesperus City before the UCF transport ship Khyber Pass arrived with what was intended to be a regular restocking supply run. Taking stock of the situation, Captain Elizabeth Clancy of the Khyber Pass offloaded all supplies as quickly as possible and detailed her attachment of Mobile Infantry troopers to the planet to maintain order while she turned her ship around and burned hard back to Sol to inform Earth of the nearcatastrophe on Hesperus.
Although the Federation immediately moved to rectify the situation and ensure it never happened again, it did. Two years later, a second miscalculation left Hesperus unsupplied and again the colonists began to go hungry. Fortunately, many of the colonists had begun to keep their own stocks of food after the first food riot, which lessened the impact on the colony considerably. However, with two such instances within two years of one another, the UCF government concluded that Governor Tomas Leary was guilty of gross incompetence in the discharge of his duties, relieved him of his position and brought him back to Earth to stand trial, where he was found guilty.
The second food riot caused the Federation to realise that relying upon supply lines as long as those from Sol to Alpha Centauri, given the current speed of the Cherenkov drive, were unmanageable, a realisation that resulted in the redoubling of efforts to improve the efficiency of the Cherenkov drive itself and elevated the plans to establish an agricultural colony on Hesperus’ neighbour Hod to the top of SICON’s priority list.
No one will ever mistake Hesperus for a vacation spot. Indeed, no one will ever mistake it for anything but what it is – a work camp. The planet’s nature makes terraforming difficult, if not impossible and the UCF chooses not to even attempt it, preferring to maintain the enormous domed shelters which house the majority of the colony’s population.
The remainder of the population lives in the huge shipyard rings that orbit in space above the surface of Hesperus. The culture of the Hesperus colony is extremely workoriented. Citizens and civilians tend to work longer hours than almost anywhere else in the UCF, with the possible exception of the agricultural worlds. Whether they labour for SICON, or for one of the private corporations building spacecraft for commercial use, the people of Hesperus put a great deal of stock in a hard day’s work. So it has been for decades and so it is likely to remain for decades more. Hesperus is unusual in that its population is almost evenly split between citizens and civilians at any given time. Certainly, more civilians than citizens call this mineral-rich world their home but given the immensity of SICON’s investment in the colony, there are large numbers of military men and women here at any given time, acting as supervisors, guards and even additional labour for the shipyards that operate around the clock.
While not quite as utilitarian as the initial structures on the planet’s surface, the domed habitations of the Hesperus colony are anything but luxurious. Despite the advances over the years in construction of domed habitations, space within them is still limited. Consequently, most people on Hesperus colony must make do with accommodations significantly smaller even than the government-supplied housing on Earth.
As mentioned above, the culture of Hesperus is the culture of work. Entertainment venues are few and far between, generally limited to small exercise facilities, a few fieldball courts and one small theatre for musical, theatrical or video entertainment. The citizens and civilians of Hesperus do, of course, enjoy access to FedNet and, considering the nearconstant traffic between Hesperus and Earth, they never experience the significant lag some of the more distant and less vital colonies do.
Perhaps because of the work-centred nature of their daily lives, or perhaps because most of the original colonists of Hesperus hailed from the southern regions of Europe, religion has always been an important factor in the lives of the people of Hesperus colony. As a result, this small colony boasts a higher ratio of places of worship (churches, synagogues, mosques – though churches are by far the most numerous) than any other colony in the UCF. Education for children on Hesperus is fairly limited – only the Federation-sponsored schools are available to teach children up through high school age. Any student seeking to further his education by going on to college must leave Hesperus; there are no higher education facilities in the colony.
The people of Hesperus take great pride in their work and rightly so, for the ships that roll off the assembly lines in the colony’s mammoth shipyard facilities are some of the best in the Federation. This constant exposure to ships and all aspects of naval life is considered the primary reason so many young people of Hesperus colony choose to enter Federal Service, with the vast majority of them expressing a preference for service with the Fleet. Hesperus has produced a large number of capable and sometimes famous captains over the years. The most recent example and one of the most famous, is Captain Nandine Capritta, captain of the J.E.B. Stuart.
Laws and Government
Considering the level of investment and involvement SICON has in Hesperus Colony, the laws here are identical to those elsewhere in the United Citizens’ Federation. The most common infraction faced by law enforcement on Hesperus is trespassing, usually an innocent case of someone wandering into an area of the shipyards they should not be in. Nonetheless, because of the immense military importance of those shipyards, all such cases are thoroughly investigated and the trespasser is held in police custody until his background has been researched and cleared.
Col. Silas Burke, the governor of the Alpha Centauri system, lives on Hesperus, where he acts as head of the planetary council, a group of six citizens elected to oversee local issues. Generally, Governor Burke does not involve himself in the deliberations of the council unless there is a deadlock among its six members, in which case he casts the tie-breaking vote.
The economy of Hesperus is based entirely on mining and shipbuilding, two things the colony does extremely well. More than a third of all ships that have every served in SICON’s Fleet have been launched from one of the literally hundreds of berths in the orbital shipyards of this world.
Though not as rich as the mines of its nearby neighbour Hod, Hesperus has a wealth of mineral assets, used primarily in the construction of the endless ranks of ships rolling from her shipyards. There is a tremendous amount of wealth tied up in Hesperus but that does not mean the colonists themselves are wealthy.
Few if any have a standard of living that could be described as anything but blue collar – honest, hardworking people who make do with what they have.
Following the politics of Governor Ramsey, Voight & Gromman have moved their headquarters to Hesperus City. Similar to Rhohan, Hesperus is striving to become a lead weapon producer in the Federal galaxy.
Points of Interest
Aside from the mining encampments scattered about over the surface of the planet, there are only two places on Hesperus of any interest. The first is Hesperus City, the primary settlement of the colonists and the place more than three-quarters of them call home. Though it is still contained within atmospheric domes, the surface of the world being unsuitable for environmental configuration, the colonists have had nearly a century in which to expand it. Today, the domes of Hesperus City cover nearly 20 square miles, sprouting like mushrooms from the forbidding surface of the world. Despite its size, Hesperus City is very utilitarian. The buildings are uniform, prefabricated structures that are all but indistinguishable from one another and leave no doubt that this is a colony of hardworking men and women with little time to spend on the luxuries of life. Even the governor’s residence in the middle of the city is plain and unadorned.
The other major point of interest is not actually on Hesperus but orbiting above it. The vast orbital shipyards of the colony are also the primary source of employment for the colonists and shuttles run day and night, ferrying materials and work crews back and forth from the surface.