In a sector of the known galaxy located not terribly far, relativistically speaking, from the galactic core is the Rhydin star system. A nondescript G-3 class star circled by a large M-class planet, this system has benefited from it’s position near one of the strongest nodes of the universal Nexus. The Rhydin system has become the focal point of both galactic culture and commerce, a crossroads for various peoples and beliefs. The mingling of ideas became so fabled that the system eventually earned the moniker “center of the multiverse.” It is indeed a melting pot which freely mixes transients from across time, space, and dimensions with the indigenous population. The end result is a hybridization; it’s nearly impossible to isolate which aspects are “native” to Rhydin and which are not.
What is the Nexus? The universal Nexus is many things to the different people that call Rhydin “home.” On it’s most basic level, the Nexus is a series of worm holes and temporal rifts which undulate throughout the universe. Objects or individuals absorbed into the Nexus are liable to end up anywhere its branches reach … but more often than not they reemerge near points in space that are close to major centers of Nexal activity. The Rhydin system is one such center of activity. On a higher level of thought, the Nexus can be regarded as shaping reality; almost assuming a deified yet non-sentient role. In places near the tendrils of the Nexus, reality is not always what it appears to be … in fact reality can sometimes become a purely subjective concept. The skill to harness such energy is often roundly referred to as “magic.” As one might infer, the Rhydin system is a place rich in this energy.

The planet Rhydin is a fairly large bluish sphere, a somewhat atypical M-class world. Orbiting it, beyond a ring of cosmic debris and man-made satellites, are two moons. The larger and closest of the two, Arabrab, follows a slow and steady path across the Rhydin skies. The smaller and more distant moon, Trebor, loops around the planet in a speedier (but far more elliptical) orbit. On the planet’s surface one will find Rhydin Town. There are certainly many settlements spread out across the planet, but none so diverse as this rustic city. Incorporated untold years ago by travelers of the cosmic Nexus, it is the bustling economic center of the land. Over the years, all manner of individuals have relocated to this city and made it their home. The local lore and libraries are full of the stuff of heroes and villains … some legendary, some not.

Rhydin Town is a sprawling mass of cobblestone streets and buildings. While the Red Dragon Inn stands out as the largest and best known fixture of town, the rest of the structures range from well-manicured manors to dirty rat-infested shanties. The Rhydin Town Patrol is a group of sentries which do their best to keep the peace in town, but they are understaffed and underpaid and response time to a call for help can often be abysmal. The actual government of Rhydin Town is an oligarchy, but the “powers that be” are anonymous to the masses. Rumors abound that they remain secret because they are involved in activities which many would consider improper. Others insist that it’s some great conspiratorial secret society. Whatever the case, most of the residents of Rhydin Town enjoy a level of affluence that is not shared by many who reside in the land’s more outlying areas. That being the case, while they may bemoan the government, they seldom actually rally for any real change.

On the outskirts of the city, beyond the shanties and old Quonset-style huts, one may find the Star’s End Spaceport nestled within a coastal valley. Tucked away behind the Dagger Mountains, the Spaceport sits on the coast of Fool’s Luck Bay. The port was first established by the Rhydin oligarchy as the Land’s End Port, a traditional maritime trading outpost. When spacecraft began making their way to the Rhydin system, the port was expanded and retrofitted to accommodate these new vessels. Renovations and further expansion continued for years, keeping pace with the economic growth of the area. Eventually, too, came a change in name; Land’s End became Stars End. Since it’s founding, the port has grown from a rough and tumble backwater outpost to a sophisticated (but perhaps rougher than it was before) community.

Down there, where the shadows get darker and the air thicker, the shadowy operatives of various corporations seek to better serve their diverse interstellar business ventures. Spacecraft can be seen constantly lifting off and setting may be immediate, such as a room, or broad-based, such as a country or planet.”>setting down during the course of a day (or night). While most ships tend to be freighters carrying cargo, all manner of vessels will be seen if one watches the landing areas long enough. The dramatic mixing of old and new is most visible when one observes a light freighter rocketing off over the masts of the few tall trading ships bobbing in the waters of the bay. The Docks are the oldest and roughest part of the Spaceport. Degenerating shipwright facilities and warehouses abound and often serve as shelters for the homeless. Moving inward, the surroundings improve in slow degrees. All forms of architectural styles can be found within the port community, apparently without the assistance of any city planners. The streets are narrow and confusing … with ground vehicles and speeders competing for driving space. Many a visitor has wandered for hours only to make one wrong turn into a dark alley and never be seen alive again. The more “well-lit” portions of the port are usually a-buzz with traders plying their wares or pilots trying to lease their craft to the highest bidder. All manner of businesses exist within the spaceport: off-world curio vendors, weaponry traders, used spaceship dealers, general merchandise suppliers and the like.

There are some affluent areas, most of which have few streets entering and often guard stations posted. The wealthy merchants and corporate executives live in these comfortable exclusive compounds, locked away from the squalor that makes up much of the Spaceport. These are the areas where law is most heavily enforced … courtesy of the Star’s End Police Department. The SEPD is a group of individuals hired to act as the port authority within the Stars End sector of Rhydin. Their job is thankless and the pay is meager, but the Rhydin oligarchy (in conjunction with various shadowy corporate interests) employs them to keep some semblance of peace. Some view them as little more than rent-a-cops, others see them as the only thing standing between the status quo and outright anarchy. Whatever the case, they attempt to do their job as best they can, outfitted in body armor and employing non-lethal means of apprehension. The corporations involved in funding the police have no desire to alienate their clientele and more forceful techniques are only authorized in the most dire of situations.

Outposts and embassies from most of the major star systems, empires, and federations can be found throughout the remainder of the Spaceport. Open hostilities between known enemy factions tend to be rare, as all have adopted a very loose peace treaty. Due to Rhydin’s orientation as a galactic crossroads, no one faction could ever manage to hold it themselves. Each actually benefits by having unmitigated access to the vastly diverse cultures and races represented within the Star’s End sector. This mixture is not without other benefits as well … if there is anything that is considered top notch in the port, it is the nightlife. Sailors of the sky and sea alike are more than eager to spend their pay on wild times. If there is something one is looking for, it can usually be found. There are four star hotels are mixed with seedy dives, shows of all kinds playing at any time … day or night. Several casinos are also scattered about, liberating credits from their owners. Bars of all reputations exist on nearly every street corner. One of the oldest establishments, the Star’s End Bar and Grill, remains one of the most popular. In true Spaceport fashion, the SEB is about as gritty as they come.

The bar is located on the outer edge of the Spaceport, not terribly far from one of the many landing pads and The Docks. By day, the building itself is hardly distinguishable from the rest of the Spaceport. By night, the neon light streaming from the unwashed windows beckons to innocent travelers and denizens of the night. One might see the menu taped to the inside of the window, if one is brave enough to wipe away some of the dirt. The place reeks of secrets best left untold. Its clientele … the spacers, smugglers and assorted other riffraff that drift from world to world … are ever in search of adventure and profit.

Before entering the building, one might notice a large rusted sign hanging over a door several yards to the right. The sign reads, in simple block lettering, “Star’s End Hacienda — Rooms starting at 30 creds.” As dreary as the bar itself may appear, this next door establishment seems to have been belched from the bowels of the abyss. Inside one finds a small cubicle to the left, an unshaven man chomping a cigar is usually within it. Beyond the cubicle is a long corridor which has several doors evenly spaced out along it’s expanse. The floor carpeting is stained and threadbare, and strange noises permeate the air from behind some of the doors. The rooms themselves would turn the stomach of a Denubian sewer rat … broken fixtures held together with duct-tape, dirty furniture reeking of strange odors, mildewed bathrooms that work only sporadically. Room service? Not bloody likely here. Hang around outside long enough and the symbiotic relationship between the two businesses becomes apparent. Patrons stumble out from the bar and weave their way over to rent a room to “sleep it off.” Some of these same individuals will be seen, hours later, hobbling back into the bar for another round of “entertainment.”

Once inside the SEB’s sliding pneumonic doors, one sees the bar on the right … it’s long expanse of black curves out of sight. The sound of tacky music from an old jukebox, lost by some trader in a BlackPoker game about thirty years ago, blares out. The smells and voices hit an individual like a hug from Aunt Enid. The tables and booths look clean enough, but the annoying sound of shoes sticking to the floor in certain places can be most disturbing. One simply doesn’t ask what the black stains on the tiles are.

“Hey, bartender! I need a drink!” someone hollers.

“You name it, we’ve got it. What’ll it be?” the bartender responds, ready with a glass and a smile. “If we don’t serve it, no one will …”

The jukebox stands next to a huge tri-D screen, with a clearing in front that suggests a dance floor. Towards the back left corner, a raised area looks almost like a stage and one might wonder who’d be brave enough to actually offer entertainment. Overhead, the ceiling is tiled much like the floor, albeit with speakers, vents, and lighting fixtures spaced out in odd intervals. Behind the stage are stairs that lead up to a half-landing, then down a corridor out of sight. A small sign next to the stairs announces that proper clearance is required to proceed beyond this point.

Adjacent to the stage is a room in the back that has an old style pool table alongside a laser dart board tacked to one wall. Next to it is a set of metal double doors, the kind one would normally see in old world restaurants. A peek behind them unveils a relic from another era; a ‘kitchen’. At the end of a dim corridor that parallels the back wall, behind the store room and small work area behind the bar, is a communications terminal where one can place calls or access the local net. A few other doors down the corridor are unmarked, with most coded for restricted access.

The bar was once considered beyond the boundaries of the law, and still there are rumors of illicit deals and agreements reached in back rooms. There is certainly no shortage of suspicious characters who choose to live outside the law. It’s a strange blend of seedy spacer bar and back street high-tech equipment. The transporter and the replicator were rumored to have been salvaged off a downed freighter. The holo-grid was whispered to have been pirated from a popular recreation planet on a dare. The retinal scanner at the door was purchased legally, according to the records at the Spaceport, though the name of the seller has been deleted for privacy.

Management of the bar has changed numerous times over the years. Invariably the management works at the behest of shadowy corporate investors as a penance for some debt or misdeed. While the job is not glamorous, it does afford those with their affluence in mind the opportunity to network in an unmitigated manner. All kinds of currency, from Federation cred-sticks to gold coins and even gemstones, pass hands in the bar and in the spaceport itself. This is the place to make or break a fortune. Knowing ones way around or paying someone that does is the best advice for new arrivals. Come early and stay late … and don’t leave the blaster at home!

The Star’s End Bar and Grill … a haven for all who wish it to be.

Updated: 08/14/01