The Zebulon Route

Volturnus is one of the two habitable planets in the Zebulon system, the other is Anker. The planet is named after the Greek god of the southwest wind. Once the home of a gentle race of intelligent dinosaurs, it is now a barren, harsh world.[1]

Planetary Data[edit | edit source]

DIAMETER: 12,895 kilometers
GRAVITY: 1.0013 g
ATMOSPHERE: 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% argon
CLIMATE RANGE: Hot, arid to humid
LENGTH OF DAYS: 24 hours, 03 minutes
MOONS: (2) Leo - completes one orbit every three days, reddish-orange in color. Lulu - completes one orbit every 27 hours, bluish-silver in color
COLONIZERS: Unsettled; presently claimed by the government of the Truane's Star.
TRADE: Basic industry

Terrain/Climate[edit | edit source]

Castaway survivors from the Serena Dawn face a bleak future in the unforgiving Volturnian desert.

Volturnus is a hot, dry world with many types of hostile terrain. The endless deserts, rugged mountains, volcanic wastes, and dangerous salt flats are constantly scoured by a strong southwesterly wind. Despite these harsh conditions, rare patches of forest and even a few lakes have managed to maintain a perilous existence.

Life[edit | edit source]

Non-sentient Native Species[edit | edit source]

Army Rats, Cybodragon, Dropper, Funnel Worm, Land Whale, Magma Monster, Megasaurus, Mutating Fungus, Queequeg, Rasties, Roller, Sand Shark, Strangler Chutes, Tomar’s Horses, Winged Rippers,

Sentient Native Species[edit | edit source]

The salvation of the Eorna race lay in a cache of cryogenically-preserved eggs from before the "Day of Fire".

Less than 150 Eorna survived the “Day of Death”. They soon realized they were doomed as a race, as their numbers were not large enough to provide a viable gene pool. The survivors chose to dedicate what remained of their lives to the evolution of other races on Volturnus using a subtle process of hypnotic indoctrination and DNA manipulation to accelerate the development of three races toward intelligence. They hoped to prepare these races to meet and defeat the Sathar.

Most of the Eorna survivors have undergone cryogenic sleep, to be awakened when they are needed to continue the project. Despite the fact that most of their young are born physically or mentally deficient because of the limited gene pool, the Eorna continue to breed, relying upon the few normal children to help continue the project.[2]


Meanwhile, a race of intelligent machines evolved from old Eorna robots in secret caverns. These machines, the Mechanons, are determined to control or eliminate all organic life forms infesting Volturnus. They will stop at nothing to insure their utter domination of the planet.

History[edit | edit source]

The story of the fall of Volturnus begins when the Eorna, a race of intelligent dinosaurs, developed the capacity for star travel. As soon as the Eorna launched their first colonization starships, they were attacked by a Sathar armada. Like most Sathar attacks, this one came with no warning; the Eorna were not even aware of the presence of the Sathar until the worms invaded their system.

the Day of Death

The armada quickly overwhelmed the Eorna, wreaking destruction across the planet. Within a matter of days, they had nearly driven the Eorna to extinction. The survivors fought valiantly, and were able to avoid annihilation due to fact that the Sathar had overextended their supply lines.

The Sathar retreated, hoping they had destroyed enough of the Eorna civilization to prevent it from ever attempting interstellar travel again. In case they had failed, however, the Sathar left a mysterious artifact behind to alert them should interstellar travel in the Zebulon system occur in the future.

In Frontier Year 44 there was a human merchant named Seccitte Zebulon, who regularly made shipments to the Truane’'s Star system.[3] His ship misjumped while leaving that system, and Zebulon found himself in an uncharted and mysterious new star system.[4]

Upon return to Pale, Seccitte decided to sell the astrogational information he and his crew acquired while charting their way back. He sold the location of the system to the government of Pale, which promptly paid Zebulon by giving him a private luxury island.[5]

In FY 45, Pale's government created a Planetary Research and Development Division to open up the new star route.” Pale launched a deep-space probe to explore the system (now named Zebulon after its discoverer). The probe reported astrophysical data on the system and its only habitable planet (now called Volturnus).

The mountains of Volturnus hold many treasures...and dangers...

When it was discovered that great mineral wealth existed on Volturnus, Pale became eager to colonize the planet. As Pale itself was an ore-rich world, it already had many mining companies in operation on it, so the Research division began taking development bids.After fierce competition, the contract to develop Volturnus was awarded to a healthy company called MINER (Mining for Industrial use of Natural Earth Resources). Plans and negotiations went on for a year, as MINER planned to begin settlement of Volturnus in early FY 47.

Two calamities struck the project, causing it to fall through. First, New Pale began to receive non-human colonists from Pale. A majority of humans on New Pale were HUSPs (a slang term for persons believing in a racist political philosophy called Human Superiority). The HUSPs preferred a racially isolated planet and didn'’t want it “"contaminated" by other races.” Pale used military force to compel the weaker planet to permit the immigration.[6]

Several months later, the HUSPs banded together and began terrorizing the new colonists, also attacking Pale's “colonial protection” forces. New Pale thus declared itself to be in a state of war with Pale.

The result of this forced the Pale government to transfer money from “unnecessary” projects to the defense of its critical food source. Money from the Planetary Research division was diverted to this cause as it was felt profits from Volturnus operations would not be realized fast enough to help the war effort. Pale also believed that if it could gain full control of New Pale, it would become a more powerful interstellar government.

The other calamity that struck was the kidnapping of the head of MINER, a Vrusk, who was later reported killed when the demanded ransom was not paid. His body was never recovered, and his will called for the liquidation of MINER, with all monies then deposited into a private bank account. It was widely believed that a rival company was responsible for his death.

Clan mark of the Star Devil pirates

This was a turning point for Volturnus. It gave the Eorna another twenty years to fulfill their Great Mission, but it also brought the Star Devil to Volturnus. The former head of MINER secretly retained the classified information on Volturnus and the Zebulon star system. He faked his kidnapping and subsequent death, then assumed a new identity as the Star Devil.

His intent was to set up a mining operation on Volturnus before the government of Pale could do so. To help realize his plans, he drew on the private bank account his will had set up. As time went on, he became more involved in pirating operations. He didn’'t know then how much his “business” would affect Volturnus' future.[7]

The war on New Pale consisted of a series of HUSP-led terrorist attacks on food shipments to Pale. Pale was forced to continue to spend money to ensure its food supply remained secure. This became difficult in the early FY 50s due to the fact that Pale had an over-abundance of resources that were in low demand.

As a result, Pale suffered an economic depression, and many Pale-based mining companies went out of business. One mid-sized corporation, based in Point True (Pale’'s capitol), began to acquire these small companies hoping to gain a planet-wide monopoly. The corporation was Streel; by FY 53, Streel completely controlled all mining operations on Pale.

Members of the Star Devil clan on the Bridge of their ship.

Aware of this, the Star Devil approached the Pan-Galactic Corporation and worked out an agreement: the Devil, using bases in the Gruna Garu, Prenglar, and Dixon'’s Star systems, ran weapons shipments from Wartech corporation to the HUSPs on New Pale. PGC financed the cost of the weapons, while the Devil furnished the ships.

Gun-running proved profitable for both PGC and the Devil, allowing the latter to amass a potent force. The Devil was able to develop Volturnus before Truane's Star could do so while keeping Streel busy investing money in the war effort instead of in business projects as PGC did.

This activity went on from FY 54 to FY 63. The Star Devil expanded his pirate bases to the Araks, Athor, and Scree Fron star systems. In FY 63, he began putting his Volturnus mining plans into operation. This year also saw the end of the Pale-New Pale war.

Streel struggled through the nine years of war, yet continued to grow. In FY 63, in cooperation with the Pale militia, Streel made an effort to end the war by pouring millions into the militia’'s coffers. Confronted by a far superior force, the HUSPs were soon crushed despite the best efforts of PGC and the Star Devil to save them. New Pale became a stabilized planetary government and joined with Pale's to begin united governance of the Truane'’s Star system.

By FY 64, Streel became aware of the long-abandoned Zebulon colonization plans. It urged the new government to develop the system claimed twenty years ago, and even helped finance a new Planetary Research division. The division sent an exploratory team three and a half months (140 days) into FY 64 which promptly disappeared. Nine months (360 days) later, a second team was assembled.

Kurabanda under attack by pirate raiders.

This team would uncover the Star Devil's illegal mining operation and shut it down with the assistance of a coalition of Volturnus' developing intelligent races. This alliance, along with the Eorna and the Mechanons, would then go on to confront the second Sathar invasion force[8] and hold it back until reinforcements from Truane's Star arrived to defeat them.

Some years later, discontent would break out among the Mechanon population. The UPF would become aware of the unrest, but be unable to do anything about it at the time due to the need to focus every available resource into stopping the spread of the Blue Plague. When the unrest turned into violent revolt full-scale war was averted only by swift action on the part of Star Law.[9] Sixteen years after the uprising, the Mechanon population on the planet undergoes a schism. The majority of the robot population migrates into the undeveloped space between Scree Fron and Dixon's Star.

Sathar troops advance during the Third Invasion of Volturnus.

Ten years after the Mechanon migration, the Sathar attack Volturnus for the third time at the beginning of the Second Sathar War. New, planet-wide tactics are used by the Sathar, including the massive use of seeded, diversionary monsters and cybernetically-controlled creatures.

Notes & References[edit | edit source]

  1. ”Crash on Volturnus” module Planetary Brief
  2. The discovery of 50,000 fertilized Eorna eggs onboard an ancient spacecraft following the defeat of the second Sathar invasion force has given the Eorna the opportunity to replenish their population.
  3. The timelin in Zebulon's Guide identifies the discoverer as "Professor Alorne Zebulon, the Frontier's most noted scientist, explorer, and educator".
  4. ”The Volturnus Connection” Dragon Magazine #98
  5. Where he lived very comfortably —under the government’s watchful eye, so he could not resell the information elsewhere.
  6. Pale saw this as a way to increase food production on New Pale and drive food costs down.
  7. The return of interstellar traffic to the system would eventually trigger the Sathar artifact, which would summon a second invasion force tasked with eliminating all life on the planet surface.
  8. the first major Sathar incursion since the First Sathar War.
  9. Zebulon's Guide Timeline
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