The system closest to Sol, Alpha Centauri represents mankind's first major milestone in colonizing the stars. It is from here too that the race to reestablish colonial territory between the Consortium and Gaule Protectorate after the Catastrophe truly began. The dwarf planet Vercingetorix currently holds a number of operational stations in orbit.
Alpha Centauri Jump Gate
One of the first jump gates built, Alpha Centauri jump gate is also one of the largest structures ever constructed. Impressive as it looks from the outside however, its innards are a puzzle made up of pieces that have long since stopped fitting together. Maintenance crews fight a daily battle to keep the gate from falling apart, and the needs of the station itself are often ignored as the priority to keep the jump gate structurally operational takes precedence. The security cameras, however, are always in top working condition. They scour and scan everything that comes and goes. Although a Consortium owned and governed territory, the Gaule Protectorate commits some resources to the gate’s upkeep as a move to safeguard both their own citizens and their footing with the Nouveau Limoges Accords, the treaty which keeps a delicate peace.
As a popular center of trade, the approach vectors to Bordeaux Station are routinely clogged with battered cargo vessels. Despite the amount of currency constantly flowing through the station, its residents see credits merely as a means to an end. The station itself survived the Catastrophe with minor damage though, for a long while, there was no official government body and ruled by a coalition of citizens.
During the catastrophe itself, the military left Bordeaux in search of the unseen enemy they believed had instigated an attack on the station. All non military personnel were left behind to fend for themselves and, without any type of ruling body, they eventually formed their own coalition government. This government of the people seemed to do fine and even slowly began to get things back on track for awhile. When the military returned, bringing with it all the ruling classes, the people's government graciously stepped aside and allowed Gaule order to once more be reinstated. However, rumors persist of an area deep within the station ruins known as the Court of Fools. Here, it is said, is a place for the free-thinking and those who wish to remain unburdened by the rules imposed by higher society. Gaule law does not extend into the Court of Fools, now a haven for artists, writers, and those who are a little more creative about how they come about their credits.
Once a mecca of leisure, hospitality, and entertainment, this station is once again open for business. At one time a thriving station with high-end hotels, galaxy-class restaurants, a spectacular circus, and the finest of recreational activities, the station fell into disrepair after generations of neglect following the Catastrophe. The streets beneath the golden skyscrapers are empty now, the huge, Catastrophe ravaged buildings being an unstable hazard, in danger of toppling at any moment on those below. Ruins of previously well-groomed neighborhoods, posh hotels, and vibrant offices that were neglected, and in some cases destroyed, are now being slowly reclaimed from the destruction that was caused when the station's power grids overloaded. A big top, with daily shows, has sprung up once more, and luxury hotels have begun to reopen after repairs and new management under the Guild of Hospitality. Originally created to supply the local galaxy-class restaurants with exotic foods, an industry around farming has been revived as the hydroponic labs and hanging vineyards have been slowly reclaimed. Much of the food stays local to be served at fine restaurants or sampled at the Night Market. Some of the treats are shipped off-station and are sold around the galaxy at a great profit. Cirque Centauri is the place to come to find rare fruits and vegetables, wines, beers and spirits, and spices. Albeit, at a great cost.
Moissan once housed the very pinnacle of food replication technology. Here would flock the gastronomes and connoisseurs of fine dining from all around the galaxy to partake in endless feasts of culinary delight. During the Catastrophe, the mighty machines that generated food for thousands of denizens and guests alike fell silent. When the dust settled and the survivors found themselves cut off from the rest of humanity, they found the machines had decayed to such a state as to leave them with no means of producing viable nutrition. Thousands succumbed to starvation in the first cycles. The dead were buried beneath the rubble and detritus of the station's ruined cities. Soon, however, survivors noticed that the decomposing corpses promoted growth of vast fields of mushrooms and spores, many of them edible. Many attribute the survival of the station to this grim harvest and, now that Moissan has rejoined the rest of humanity, the fungus provides a steady source of trade and revenue.
Paris Spatiale is a glorious contrast of past and present, an ever-present reminder of how even the mightiest can fall from grace. Once the very pinnacle of culture and engineering, the station is now characterized by colossal, empty skyscrapers and ruined museums. Fractured sculptures of heroes and beasts of legend cast ominous shadows in the perpetual twilight of a damaged fusion core. But there is also hope here. With the fragments of its former glory strewn around the station, one is reminded of the station as it once was, and as it could become again.
Spirit of Botswana
Well off due to its water purification facilities, the Spirit of Botswana is held up as an example of recovery from the Catastrophe. From this station, Aquatic Resources Corp manages the largest ice mining and water purification operations in the galaxy.
One of the largest stations ever built, Botswana is where mined ice is brought for purification, bottling, and shipment. Every person who lives on or near a space station is dependent on the bounty that the miners of Aquatic Resources Corp (ARC) haul back from the asteroid belt. The Shipping Bay of Spirit of Botswana is always busy with the coming and going of ships, both large and small, and their precious cargo.
The Ghost of Mali
Filled with tracts of artificial farmland, Ghost of Mali had few cities when the Catastrophe hit. Even so, the destruction wrought by that day rocked the survivors to their core. After seeing the failure of the machines they’d depended on, they sought a new path. Eschewing technology wherever possible, they turned instead to tools powered by hand and sweat. Indentured servants scaling massive, genetically engineered plants are a common sight, and visitors often stop by the fields to watch as people dangle from the limbs to harvest the crops.
Yards of Gadani
The Yards of Gadani station is known for two things: its ship breaking yard, and its reduced gravity. During the Catastrophe, a freighter slated for decommissioning exploded with enough force to slow the station’s rotation, causing untold death and destruction as buildings shifted, collided, and collapsed around the hapless citizens. In the time since, its residents have gradually adapted to life with less gravity and it has become home to many Belters; those long-limbed individuals who have adapted over the centuries to lower gravity environments. After the Catastrophe, Belters from all over rushed to this station, enchanted with the idea of having a home that wasn't their ship where they could really stretch their legs properly. The ship breaking yards of Gadani also attract a regular stream of visitors, some looking for parts with which to repair their starships, while others come seeking to purchase a new (to them) ship from the shipyards.
There is a saying: “Ships come to life on København, and come to die on Gadani.” Yards of Gadani is a massive station, built to be able to swallow up broken and disabled ships and spit out their bones. Workers toil in dangerous conditions on the yards, both within and on the outside of the station's asteroid. They swarm like ants over enormous retired ships, stripping them down and turning them into scrap. Hulls of ships rise up many stories, their exposed metal girders like fleshless skeletons. The decreased gravity makes the hard work both easier and more dangerous.