LAST EDITED ON Feb-11-14 AT 01:22 AM (EST)
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Mojave (HD 23079 III) is a formerly-Class-M planet orbiting the F-class star HD 23079 in the Enigma sector. It's best known to laypeople for being the only one of the so-called "Lost Colonies" of the second Earth diaspora to be rediscovered to date. Of course, most of the Lost Colonies were "lost" either through colony failure and abandonment, or by being wiped out by raiders of one sort or another, and so no longer exist to be "found" in the first place.
Mojave, on the other hand, dropped off the galactic commnet a scant sixty years after its 2017 founding, and no one knew why. Located on the far side of a particularly treacherous stretch of the Enigma sector, it was safely reachable only by traversing a complicated hyperspace route with the aid of a special nav beacon in orbit around the planet. There had been beacon outages before, and no one had paid the matter much mind - with a population comfortably under 10 million and no significant interstellar exports, Mojave wasn't exactly a place that was on the tip of everyone's tongue in the greater galaxy - but on October 23, 2077, after a series of garbled, unintelligible transmissions, the beacon and the planet's hyperwave link to the commnet both went down and never came back.
With the beacon out and the original daredevils who had discovered the planet in the first place long dead, no one remaining in the United Galactica had the means - or, really, the interest - to investigate without a great deal more trouble than anyone in power thought the place was worth. By the 2070s, United Earth was pulling back from Enigma-sector colonization anyway, because of the many difficulties in supply and maintaining colonies in that area. After a cursory investigation and a few futile automated probe launches, the UE and UG governments both gave up and wrote off the colony.
In 2381, freelance explorer and sometime civilization hunter Sarah Inazuma came across a cursory mention of the colony's loss while scouring the UG legacy files in the Federation Galactic Survey's archives in search of leads on another project. Intrepid, curious, and probably crazy, Inazuma set herself the task of reaching Mojave and finding out what had happened to it. Defying the odds, she did make it to Mojave alive, but found herself stranded there.
Thus, she became the first person to learn what had actually happened to the colony in 2077. A number of Earth's early colonies suffered internal factionalism to the point of civil war a few decades after their founding, but Mojave's was the only one on record to go nuclear, and in the process, the planet's civilization was all but annihilated. The planet, largely reduced to Class-L by the war, contained only one relatively small landmass capable of supporting life, centered around what had been Mojave's principal spaceport and its former hub of recreation, the imaginatively named city of New Vegas. Within two generations, the few thousand survivors had forgotten they even were colonists, believing that Mojave was humanity's planet of origin and that they were the only humans in the galaxy.
Three centuries of tribal warfare amid the ruins of a twenty-first-century Earth colony followed, with many ingenious uses of scavenged technology but no appreciable stability, and therefore little in the way of real progress or innovation. Inazuma arrived to find herself in a scorched and unforgiving wasteland and the middle stages of a savage war between two competing protonations, in that order. In order to survive and get the lay of the land, she took a job as a courier (telecommunications being, like all other advanced technologies, virtually extinct) and spent the next few months assessing the situation.
Most hitchhikers in such a position, stranded in the middle of a war on a backfallen colony with no hope of escape, would've resigned themselves to living out the rest of their natural lives there, and only hoping that they actually made it that far without being murdered or enslaved by one side, the other, or the various gangs of post-apocalyptic raiders playing off between them. Here's what Sarah Inazuma did instead:
- Gathered together the most capable misfits and adventurers in Mojave's remaining habitable area and forged them into a small but terrifyingly potent special operations team on the WDF Normandy model.
- Embarked on a relentless campaign of traveling around the wasteland and, in the words of one of her companions, "helping the crap out of people."
- Made such a name for herself as a survivor and general force of nature that the leader of one of the warring factions, the slaver and self-styled "new Roman Emperor" who called himself Caesar, invited her into his fortified camp to be his personal troubleshooter.
- Wiped out Caesar, his praetorian guard, the upper echelon of his Legion, and anyone else who might have wanted to stick with his business plan, then made the remains of the Legion her own private army.
- Intimidated, charmed, bought off, co-opted, seized control of, or (failing all that) just plain crushed every other faction, gang, would-be successor state, and angry mob in the wasteland, until she was the undisputed ruler of basically everyone on the planet.
- Pulled together all of Mojave's remaining scientific and technological resources under her banner, tasked those best suited for the tasks with various ways of improving the standard of living within her domain, then gave the rest a single priority goal: re-establishing contact with and reactivating the orbiting nav beacon. (Ultimately, she would have to do the heavy lifting on that last part herself; if you want something done right, etc.)
A bare twenty months after she crash-landed on Mojave, Imperatrix Inazuma of the United Wasteland Empire welcomed Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation starship Enterprise to her orderly, prosperous, and vibrant domain; promulgated a new constitution which converted the empire to a republic and dissolved her own office; and persuaded Captain Kirk to get her the hell out of Dodge before the people could elect her to replace herself.
And that, children, is why Sarah Inazuma is the greatest hitchhiker who ever lived.
As for Mojave, well, it's still not anyplace most people are lining up to visit, on account of 99 percent of its surface is a bleak and lethal radioactive hell and the remaining one percent is still mostly parched and inhospitable scrubland. On the other hand, those intrepid enough to brave the still-pretty-psycho flight out there, and who don't mind a bit of heat and dust, report that it's really rather good nowadays. Crime is low, creature comforts are on the up, and the New Vegas Strip, they say, is mighty pretty on those long desert nights.
This Guide entry was written by Dr. Rhian Lewis-Porter, Chief of Neurosurgery at Saint Gulik Royal Infirmary, Westminster Prime.