Planets and Locations
The Heleus Cluster contains many habitable worlds and other points of interest for the Pathfinder to explore.
The planet known as Habitat 7 was one of the "golden worlds" selected by the Andromeda Initiative for early settlement. Signs pointed to a lush and biologically diverse tropical region that could easily support an outpost.
With no communications from the Nexus or sister arks upon arrival in the Heleus Cluster, the Hyperion approached Habitat 7 to begin survey and settlement operations as soon as possible, but even visual assessments showed that the planet was no longer viable. Habitat 7 is now a storm-wracked world with an unbreathable argon-nitrogen atmosphere. Intense magnetic activity in unknown metallic elements interacts with the storms, causing interesting but highly destructive electrical phenomena.
The investigating Pathfinder team encountered hostile alien life and strange technology on the surface. Reactivating this technology caused a noticeable change in the conditions on Habitat 7. However, the planet is still unsuitable for settlement, and the resulting activation ultimately claimed the life of Alec Ryder, the human Pathfinder.
Elaaden is the scorching desert moon of a gas giant. Identified on Initiative charts as Habitat 2, Elaaden was considered a •golden world,' despite its harsh conditions, because of the moon's vast mineral wealth. Tidal gravitational effects cause plumes of sodium silicate to erupt from Elaaden's core, depositing unusually pure silicon sand across the surface—invaluable for manufacturing high-performance computer hardware.
Orbital surveys show that contrary to projections, Elaaden is almost devoid of water vapor, making long-term settlement or mining efforts unlikely. Those who live on Elaaden face a constant struggle for survival. Able to thrive in environments that would kill most organic species in days, the krogan who departed the Nexus have established a colony on Elaaden and defend their sovereignty fiercely. The Nexus advises travelers to avoid Elaaden if possible.
The activated Remnant vault has increased the presence of cloud-forming particulates in Elaaden's sky. Though the moon is still brutally hot, moisture levels have noticeably risen, increasing ambient humidity and the likelihood of rain. The Nexus scientists advise that the inhabitants of Elaaden, once starved for water, should prepare for flash floods.
As Jaal explains, Havarl is considered the ancestral home of the angara. The ruins of angaran cities are a draw for researchers, looters, and angara who defy the kett to make pilgrimage. The planet's history also makes it a symbolic staging ground for the ruthlessly xenophobic Roekaar.
Long-range surveys by the Andromeda Initiative indicated Havarl was a garden world of lush green jungles and abundant liquid water. The planet was considered a "golden world," and given the label Habitat 3.
Our observations today show Havarl is unrecognizable. The jungles now dominate much of the planet's surface, demonstrating bizarre growth patterns. Samples show grotesque mutations and hormonal changes in the jungles' plant life, rendering it not only extremely hardy but hazardous for consumption. These factors point to a large-scale shift in Havarl's ecology that bears investigation.
With the Remnant vault stabilized and correctly activated, both angaran and Nexus scientists report a noticeable improvement in Havarl's plant life. The more aggressive and mutated species are dying back, supplanted by soil-enriching and pollinating varieties.
In a comparatively brief time, Havarl shows signs of being a welcoming garden world. Meanwhile, Initiative scientists have joined forces with angaran personnel to investigate Havarl further.
The Scourge is the colloquial term for a huge and extremely dangerous interstellar phenomenon sighted across much of the Heleus Cluster. It appears to be a cloud spreading in "tendrils" that affect planets and surrounding space, destroying starships that attempt to pass through or near it.
Observations and data from the Nexus now show the Scourge's "tendrils" are composed of radioactive, element zero-rich dust and debris. Within these tendrils, thousands of microscopic and unstable warps in space-time are constantly erupting.
These unpredictable distortions build up a charge in the eezo, causing uncontrolled mass effects that alter gravity and can rip a starship apart without warning. The Scourge's presence also affects nearby planets, raining down radioactive fallout and debris, or even altering the orbit of worlds that pass through or near it.
The Scourge is aggressively drawn to Remnant structures on planets, though the cause of the attraction is not yet fully understood. This manifests as further "tendrils" of dust and radioactive particulates that cling to the surface of Remnant technology and interfere with its operations. Either this matter was left behind after the planet in question passed through the Scourge itself, or even distant interactions with Remnant technology can cause the Scourge to coalesce spontaneously. In either case, even this minor manifestation of the Scourge demands additional caution when approaching Remnant sites.
No long-range data showed any sign of the Scourge before departure to the Heleus Cluster. Nexus scientists suggest it must have appeared in the intervening centuries while the arks traveled to Andromeda.
One of the Scourge's more interesting characteristics is that it appears artificial. Its origin point is yet to be determined, but the pattern of the "tendrils" and the composition of the cloud could not have been caused by any celestial event known to astrophysics. Investigations are ongoing, though slowed by the deadly conditions created by the Scourge.
Aya is an anomaly in the Heleus Cluster: a lush planet where a Remnant site appears to be active. It is a sanctuary for the angara, the only known sentient species local to Heleus, and guarded fiercely against outsiders. This is helped by Aya's position relative to Heleus' black hole, whose gravitational lensing effect makes Aya harder to detect. The Scourge also makes the approach to Aya extremely dangerous for untrained pilots. Scans indicate numerous kett wrecks lost in the Scourge nearby, picked clean by angaran salvagers.
Aya is also the headquarters of the Angaran Resistance movement against the kett, whose leaders advise Aya's planetary governor, Paaran Shie. Director Tann has ordered that Aya is not only to be considered sovereign territory, but a military power. While the Tempest and its crew were allowed to visit peacefully, the Nexus is advising extreme caution to other potential visitors, and ordering the distribution of "early contact" guidelines.
With relations warming between the Initiative and the angara, diplomatic overtures continue. The Initiative is opening an embassy on Aya with Paaran Shie's approval, while extending invitations to angaran diplomats and scientists to tour the Nexus. Our Cultural Exchange is beginning several cooperative programs intended to foster better understanding between the various Milky Way species and the angara.
The Andromeda GalaxyEdit
Located 2.5 million light years from the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy is the largest galaxy in the Local Group. Also categorized as M31, Andromeda is a spiral galaxy roughly 220,000 light years in diameter, containing approximately 1 trillion stars (compared to the Milky Way's 300 billion). The Heleus Cluster is a large star cluster located on the outer fringe.
Andromeda has roughly 14 satellite galaxies, which orbit the galactic disk. Evidence shows a disturbance where one of these companion galaxies, M32, passed through Andromeda's spiral arms several million years ago. Andromeda itself is also accelerating towards the Milky Way at roughly 100km/s. In roughly 4 billion years, the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies will collide and merge, forming a new galactic disk.
Evidence in the Aya vault shows the network of Remnant vaults across the Heleus Cluster is controlled from a central point known as "Meridian." When properly connected to Meridian, the vaults function as designed, terraforming and maintaining planetary conditions to make planets suitable for life. When disconnected, the vaults appear to either go into standby—as seen on Eos— or malfunction—as may have happened on Habitat 7— with disastrous consequences for their planet.
This proves Meridian's central importance to Remnant vaults and the planets of the Heleus Cluster. Whoever controls it can theoretically affect vault function, meaning they could control—or disrupt—the ecology of entire worlds.
This small planet was of particular interest to the turian contingent of the Andromeda Initiative. Long-distance studies suggested H-047c was a "golden world," eminently suitable for dextro-protein species like turians, earning it the designation Habitat 5. The turian ark Natanus set course for H-047c to ensure they would have a viable settlement site on arrival.
In the intervening centuries, astronomical studies show H-047c was pulverized by debris from the erupting Scourge. The dark energy of the phenomenon increased the mass of this debris to the point that the impact shattered the planet, leaving it uninhabitable.
With its magnetic field drastically weakened and much of its atmosphere lost, what remains intact of H-047c's surface is vulnerable to cosmic radiation. This has rendered the soil unable to support life, though it is a potential source of valuable helium-3.
Eos, designated Habitat 1, was the earliest "golden world" identified for outpost placement. Named for the Greek goddess of dawn by Jien Garson personally, Eos embodied the hope of the Andromeda Initiative for a new start.
On arrival, the Nexus discovered that a world projected to be arid but comfortably habitable was now ravaged by radioactive fallout from the Scourge. The planet's atmosphere is wracked by storms that have spread the radiation across continents; periodic 130km/hr winds strip equipment and damage shuttles.
Reports from the Nexus include a sanitized account of two attempts to colonize the planet, both of which ended in failure and an unacceptable loss of life. There is also a significant kett presence on Eos, apparently investigating mysterious signals on the surface. Eos is now off-limits to unauthorized Nexus personnel, as the Nexus leadership believe it's no longer viable.
Activating the vault discovered below Eos' surface has had a dramatic and immediate effect. Radioactive particles are being stripped from the atmosphere by unknown means, and the resulting temperature changes are calming Eos' high winds. The planets moisture levels are already showing improvement.
Prodromos, the first Pathfinder-established outpost, has been founded in Fairwinds Basin, with Mayor August Bradley in charge. The Nexus is broadcasting footage of departing colonists and the new conditions on Eos across all communication channels.
Black Hole: H012 “Ketos”Edit
At the center of the Heleus Cluster is a black hole, a huge star that has collapsed into a region of space-time with gravitational effects so powerful that even light cannot escape. This example is believed to be a Kerr black hole approximately 12 stellar masses in size, and appears to have absorbed additional mass from nearby systems. Our scientists believe that the radiation released from the creation of the black hole may explain the abundant element zero found in Heleus.
In the Milky Way, study of black holes was still in its infancy. The forces around the event horizon typically destroy probes before they can transmit their data. This black hole presents a unique opportunity for study even at a remove.
The original asari surveys of Andromeda called the black hole Ardat Hekas, "demon's maw." Initiative charts refer to it as H-012 Ketos, after the mythological sea monster that intended to devour the princess Andromeda.
According to their scientific journals, angaran astronomers called the black hole Haranj (roughly: "the fisher's lure") for the observable effect it has on comets and surrounding systems. The gravitational lensing effect of the black hole has allowed the angara-controlled planet Aya to go largely unnoticed by the kett.
Continued observation has shown interesting interactions between the black hole and the Scourge. There is evidence that some of the Scourge's mass is being drawn into the black hole, causing continued "currents" in the phenomenon. Our scientists have suggested that without the black hole, the Scourge phenomenon might have been even more hazardous.
From the Milky Way, the Initiative identified Voeld as Habitat 6, a "golden world" projected to be a life-sustaining and temperate garden world. This is confirmed by angaran historians: Voeld was once a heavily populated and thriving angaran colony.
During the Scourge event, gravitational distortions affected Voeld's orbit. Models from the Nexus tech labs show how this triggered a minor ice age. The angara were forced to withdraw to a few urban centers, with the rest of Voeld's population scattered in smaller settlements.
Voeld is therefore both culturally and strategically important to the angara, and has drawn the attention of the kett. Reports suggest a significant military presence on both sides, as the Angaran Resistance fight to defend Voeld's population and protect the ice-encased remains of their world.
The Initiative's new outpost, Taerve Uni, has been safely established. Led by new mayor Priya Blake, Taerve Uni is committed to open borders with the angara as Voeld becomes more habitable. The outpost is now a major supplier of water ice to other colonies and the Nexus.
Analyzing Suvi's orbital readings, it appears that the Voeld vault, unable to gravitationally compensate for Voeld's change in orbit, has triggered a controlled melt of frozen carbon dioxide in the permafrost. Projections show this will thicken the atmosphere, gradually raising Voeld's temperature to ease the ice age. This reveals that Remnant vaults are capable of sophisticated analysis and response to planetary conditions.
Kadara was of great interest to the Andromeda Initiative after it appeared on long-range surveys. Seemingly abundant liquid water and an oxygen-mix atmosphere made it a strong candidate for settlement, earning it the designation Habitat 4. Closer range surveys now reveal that Kadara's water sources are tainted and unpotable.
Of greater concern is the large settlement known as Kadara Port. Reportedly once a trade port for the angara, it has been adopted by exiles, pirates, and mercenaries who use it as a staging ground. Kadara Port is considered a rogue state by the Nexus, given its strong ties to the Exiles, and Initative personnel are advised to keep their distance.
APEX reports that Kadara Port is currently contested by two factions: the pirate Outcasts, led by former Nexus security official Sloane Kelly, and a more mysterious group of spies and smugglers broadly known as the Collective.