A prominent star in the Beta Quadrant, the collected worlds of which are typically referred to simply as “Rigel”. Despite this, the system should not be confused with the “true” Rigel, Beta Orionis. The Beta Rigel system is one of the most important locations in known space. For centuries it has served as a hub of commerce and interstellar trade, and today is the economic heart of the United Federation of Planets. Featuring an incredible number of habitable worlds, it is also the most densely populated system in Federation space.
Beta Rigel is a relatively dim pale blue star, class A5V, with an absolute magnitude of 6.2. It is named for the “true” Rigel, Beta Orionis, and is located (somewhat confusingly) in the Rigel Sector. Once the heart of the ancient Orion Empires, the Beta Rigel system has been prominent for millennia, and is today affiliated with the United Federation of Planets. Countless trade routes and shipping lanes pass through Rigel, and many of its nearest neighbours are economic and political giants in their own right; e.g. Coridan, Ketu-Enol, Orion and Vulcan. Rigel has proven adapt at navigating the tides of intergalactic politics, always ensuring it remains useful to whichever political faction is currently dominant. In particular, it assures its prosperity by officially allying itself with the latest superpower while also retaining a degree of neutrality, this achieved through designating many of its outer planets free ports. In recent centuries, the Rigel worlds have been “tamed” somewhat by their long-standing commitment to the Federation, but they remain one of the more colourful members, a somewhat shady trade hub where beings from a thousand worlds can intermingle. The Rigelians have possessed trade agreements with a hundred planets since long before the Federation existed. Some of these are now members, others remain outside the Federation’s influence. All are welcome at Rigel to this day, even races with which the Federation has long-standing animosities, such as the Orions. Starfleet and Federation Intelligence keep a close eye on the system and the activities taking place there, a fact the Rigelian authorities do not always appreciate. Free trade has ensured Rigelian prosperity for countless centuries, and while they are proud to be a part of the Federation, they also know that should it one day fall, Rigel will continue on without it.
The Rigel system is incredibly populous; it contains 12 planets, numerous commercial and trading outposts, and a shipyard facility. Eight of the planets are inhabited; five are M-class. This is considered by many scientists too improbable to be natural; instead it is believed that an ancient, advanced race may have constructed several of the worlds. The theory that an ancient people like the mysterious Preservers may have built star systems actually originated with an analysis of Beta Rigel. Despite evidence that building planets is certainly possible, many still consider the idea of a benevolent god-race “seeding” inhabited worlds to be a child’s story, nothing more. Four distinct races of Rigelian call the Rigel system home. They have been allied through a network of trade guilds and business contracts for centuries, and together administrate the United Rigel Colonies, which are also home to many non-Rigelian species, most notably Orions and Humans. In fact, Human colonists now outnumber two of the Rigelian races in the Rigel system. Rigelian Humans form a distinct subculture considerably more risqué and business-orientated than most of their kind. To some, they represent throwbacks to a distasteful era of Earth history, to others they are a vibrant kind who demonstrate what mainstream Humans have lost, and the price they pay for “paradise”.
The twelve planets are as follows:
Rigel I is a lifeless rock, a B-class planetoid orbiting within the star’s “hot zone”. An asteroid belt separates it from the other planets in the system.
Rigel II is M-class and a popular tourist destination, known for its many holiday resorts. It is home to the Chelons, a reptilian race of Rigelians.
Rigel III is an inhospitable world colonized through the use of pressure domes. From orbit, it appears a deep green.
Rigel IV is M-class, and the homeworld of a race who outwardly appear Human but whose physiology is Vulcanoid. It also features a sizable Chelon population. The capital city is Pil Stornom, another city is Ankanner, and a major waterway is the Argus River. The planet appears yellow and brown from orbit, with water tinted slightly red. It is the location of the headquarters for the Bureau of Interplanetary Affairs, and capital of the United Rigel Colonies. Rigel IV is also the location of several major Pergium refineries, and the Rigel Polytechnic Institute.
Rigel V is M-class, and home to a race of Rigelians with yellow or silver skin. There are also large numbers of the Vulcanoids; colonists from Rigel IV emigrated here for political reasons many generations ago. Rigel V is known for its contributions to medical science, and its state-of-the-art hospital ships. Its educational facilities are greatly respected too, and it is known as the most socially advanced of the system’s planets, lacking the unusually high crime rates and occasional seediness of the other Rigel worlds.
Rigel VI is M-class, with rich green oceans and landmasses of darker green and black. Wet and humid, with a large tropical zone, it is home to a race of amphibian Rigelians, as well as many Human colonists. Its capital city is New Burbank, while points of interest include the Starbase 134 Shuttle Integration Facility and the Rigel Cup Regatta.
Rigel VII is a J-class gas giant with swirls of purple and white gas. The largest planet in the system, it generates considerable heat, contributing to the warm climate of its tidally-locked terrestrial neighbour, Rigel VI. Rigel VIII is a small, somewhat undeveloped, M-class colony world home primarily to Rigel V Rigelians and Humans. Rigel IX is a terraformed K-class world home to colonists from Rigel IV and V. The most populous settlement is Tamaran City. Rigel X is a frozen P-class planet, which since the early 21st century has been a major trading outpost where both legal and illegal activities of every description have taken place. The Rigel Trade Complex was notoriously seedy prior to the system achieving Federation membership. Rigel XI is a frozen rock and the least notable planet in the system.
Rigel XII is a dilithium mining outpost supplying fuel for both Starfleet and civilian shipyards. Its facilities are largely automated, and the permanent population is very low.
Rigel has been a hub of commercial activity for centuries, and its planets are abundant in natural resources. If the system is indeed artificial, it may be that these resources were deposited by the builders. The multiple Rigelian species remember little of their pre-history, and at least some may in fact be descendents of this advanced civilization. Rigelian records, in the form of trade agreements and business contracts, suggest that Rigel II, IV, V and VI were in contact with one another over three thousand years ago. After several centuries of mutual suspicion and the occasional conflict, their native races united in order to present an image of strength and security to their interstellar neighbours, fearful lest they should be invaded.
Rigel itself never colonized other systems, preferring economic supremacy to territorial conquest. Furthermore, its leaders had no desire to invite the wrath of Orion by seeming to become a competitor. Instead, they integrated themselves seamlessly into the existing interstellar community, working within the Orion’s system and becoming a valued if semi-independent part of their empire. The complex network of allied Rigelian business interests that made up the United Rigel Colonies established trade outposts and encouraged others to come to them. Rigel became the economic heart of the region, while the unified military forces of its four member races dissuaded attack. In fact, the Rigelians were so successful that they weathered several major upheavals as Orion regimes declined and fell only to eventually be replaced. Rigel promoted itself as a constant; powers and principalities would come and go, but through it all Rigel would be there to keep the trade routes open.
Eventually, Orion civilization declined again, only for other races to step in and state their own claims. This time, competitor species began to fill the power vacuum, leaving little hope of a renewed Orion Empire. Instead, a fragmentary mass of local powers began springing up across known space. The Rigelians, while retaining trade links to most Orion clans, no longer had to concern themselves with remaining loyal. No longer was Rigel merely a constant - it was, in its own unimposing and inviting way, a leader. Younger races from across known territory were carving out mini-empires, and Rigel, as an established lynchpin of galactic society, was already in place to serve their trading needs. All were welcome, and as the Orion routes declined, new trade corridors were opened with each and every eager young power making its way into the galaxy. The gradual collapse of the Thelasian Trading Confederacy also worked in Rigel’s favour, moving trade back towards the galactic meridian as many races sought more stable economies.
Over the next few centuries, the Rigelians watched with interest, waiting to see if a new superpower would emerge. The Vulcans were one possibility; having reached space some time earlier, they now began extending their reach over multiple sectors, rendering less developed worlds little more than neutered protectorates. In good time, volatile local powers like the Andorian Empire began competing with the overbearing Vulcans, and sought to limit their expansion. Meanwhile, with the Orion clans reduced to pirates and traders instead of overlords, they had retreated to their core systems and to the lawless expanses of the Borderland. This brought them into contact with the expanding Klingon Empire, which also had designs on Thelasian territory. Through it all, Rigel remained prosperous. A powerful branch of government within the United Rigel Colonies was the Rigelian Trade Commission, which oversaw commercial relations with dozens of neighbouring star systems regardless of the increasing political tension. While much of the commerce taking place at Rigel was legitimate, fringe organizations and Rigelian crime cartels became notorious for piracy, slave trading and extortion. The Rigelian authorities tended to turn a blind eye, eager to increase their system’s wealth whatever the cost.