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Depot Alpha

by Pete Grey

Starport: Class A, Naval Depot
Diameter: 873 Miles
Atmosphere: None
Surface Water: 2% Ice
Climate: Cold
Population: 1,695,000
Government: Represenative Demos
Law Level: 4
Tech Level: 16

Formerly known as Sika'im. This barren rockball was originally claimed and settled by the Imperial Navy in 388, and started out as a naval base and test range. Just prior to the First Frontier War, the base was upgraded into a full depot, charged with supporting the entire region Behind the Claw. Despite the massive area this entailed, so important was it for fleet marshalling and resupply that when Olav Plankwell set out for Core to wrest the Imperial throne from Jacqueline, it was at Depot that he collected and organised his fleet for the long journey. Eighteen years later Arbellatra Alkhalikoi too set out for Core from Depot, and in Navy traditions it became the demarcation point between the Domain of Deneb and the "rest" of the Imperium.

Depot Alpha is a very unimpressive rockball. The system was largely settled because of its emptiness and strategic location. Most of the civilian population lives in a group of five large settlements set in a pair of nearly matching impact craters known as the Bicycle. The small ridge of mountains that seperate the two craters contains the civilian downport. A shipyard owned by Ling Standard Products is located in the Nightshirt crater about 200 kilometers, which produced ships that showcased the Imperiums technological advances in antebellum times, but now mostly produces TL-15 to 16 ships for real jobs rather than propaganda.

Civilians actually have a fairly comfortable life, aside from periodic updates of their security clearances by Naval Intelligence. Habitation on Alpha is limited to personnel either directly employed by the base, or in its supporting industries and services. All housing is consigned by the Navy, which doesn't have much tolerance for outside entrepenuers. Licenses must be obtained for the operation of entertainment, food concession and drinking establishments, and these are primarily provided to long standing residents or retired military personnel. Unlike its sister, Depot Beta, Alpha retains a fair amount of the smug class pretensions of the old Imperial Navy, and an ironclad pecking order exists at all levels. Even the supposedly free civilian assembly and regulatory agencies tend to defer to local military commanders and their underlings. Moreover a strong local antipathy towards the Representational Reforms is evident in the officer clubs and NCO bars, sentiments that put it increasingly at odds with both the Tower and the rest of the Navy command structure.

About seventy percent of the world is covered in military barracks, training grounds and administrative offices, and much of it is accessible to civilians with only a minor background check. But the heart of Alpha is a vast collection of orbital facilities around Sika'im itself, or around or on other nearby celestial bodies. Most of these facilities are off limits to civilians and unauthorised personnel, and are defended by sentries with shoot to kill authorisation.

Most famous of these facilities is the so called Silver Lady, otherwise known as Plant 21, a massive twenty million ton space habitat that houses one of the Regency's most advanced shipyards and research facilities. The Lady is responsible for nearly sixty percent of the Regency's naval designs constructed since the Collapse, and the facility houses its own meson guns and monitor squadrons for self defense. Alpha's two asteroid belts are used for weapons testing and live fire exercises, and many areas are offlimits. The innermost belt also contains a number of labs and test facilities, and several factories all engaged in generally classified work.

Alpha has been beset for decades by allegations of lax security in regards to the Quarantine and anti-viral measures. This follows the mysterious destruction of a lab on the fringes of the outermost asteroid belt in 1145, leading to the deaths of nearly a hundred personnel. Several investigations have turned up similar security lapses which are never remedied despite pledges to do so from successive commanding officers and the local navy administration.

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