SINGULAR IN PURPOSE
Simply put, the Tal System is the ’verse’s largest production supply chain.
Located just beyond the Perry Line, the Xi’an classified Tal to act as a Production System, with each habitable planet designated to fulfill a specific industrial purpose. It is a distinctly Xi’an approach to geoplanning that Humanity has slowly begun to embrace, specifically within the Stanton System. Tal offers another unique distinction; it is one of the few Xi’an-controlled systems that openly welcomes Humans. As a major hub for industry and trade, many believe the Xi’an encourage Humans to do business in Tal to keep them out of other parts of Xi’an space.
UEE diplomatic envoy Jameson Wallach was the first known Human to visit the Tal System. Following the Peace Treaty of 2789, the Xi’an government disclosed to the UEE the existence of this system; prior to this revelation, Humans hadn’t known it was there. Envoy Wallach’s guided tour of the system was considered by many to be gesture of goodwill, though critics quickly dismissed it as a ploy of the Xi’an. Visten Bana, one of the most outspoken critics of the treaty, claimed, “the Xi’an are attempting to infiltrate the Empire, not with weapons or with armies, but through Credits. The new battlefield will not be our planets, but our economy.”
Visitors to any planet in the Tal System might need a few minutes for their eyes to adjust. The Xi’an have assigned one specific color for each planet to incorporate into all its structures. Most first-time Human visitors find the view to be strange, spectacular and overwhelming all at once. After a number of accidents caused by disoriented Human pilots, the Tal landing zone authority now discourages people from manually landing their ships.
The uniqueness and strict organization of the planets does not end with their color-coding. Although the actual system is far more complex than a simple summary can provide, merchants should familiarize themselves with each planet’s focus before visiting to avoid the embarrassment of attempting to make a deal in the wrong part of the system. Tal II makes large-scale space fabrication and ship manufacturing. Tal III deals with food and textiles. Tal IV processes ore and gases. Tal V handles the manufacturing of products, from building materials to weapons.
The system is in constant need of raw materials, particularly hydrogen and antimatter, to keep their supply chain cranking at full capacity. Bargain hunters and small-time haulers should make sure to crunch the numbers before spending the time and resources on a trip to Tal. However, keen traders can bring in raw materials to sell and leave with Xi’an-made merchandise. With Xi’an products growing in popularity around the UEE, merchants and haulers should not have too much trouble selling the unique Xi’an goods found throughout the inhabited worlds of Tal.
As relations with the Xi’an have warmed, tourism to the Tal System has seen a noticeable uptick. Explore It Tal!, a Goss-based travel company, specializes in organizing group trips to the Tal System for those hesitant about going unguided. It is perfect for those who want to experience an alien world without having to navigate the foreign customs alone.
For those brave enough to do it on their own, here are a few tips. Adventure seekers and explorers frequently visit Tal II and Tal V in search of the latest Xi’an ship and weapons tech to give them an advantage over others in UEE space. Foodies and fashionistas flock to Tal III to sample Xi’an food at its source and buy exotic textiles directly from manufacturers. Tal IV is recommended only for business visitors, due to the inherent dangers of its large antimatter production facilities.
Y.ŌM’E (TAL I)
This small planet sits too close to the system’s sun to maintain life. It is pockmarked with craters from probes and mining missions that sought resources to be used by the rest of the system. As far as we know, nothing valuable was ever found and the Xi’an left Tal I to bake eternally in the sun. All the heat radiating off the rocky planet makes it appear to shimmer and glow.
OLI’XA (TAL II)
Upon visiting Tal II, famed musician Sindo Guerrero took inspiration from all the buildings being accented in yellow to write his record-breaking, chart-topping hit, “Sun Kissed.”
Home to large-scale space fabrications, Tal II is the technology hub of the system. The planet’s factories pump out some of the most advanced ship parts in the ’verse. This mixture of industrial fabrication and high-end technology makes Tal II the system’s busiest planet. The constant hum of machinery and the non-stop flow of workers hustling in and out of yellow buildings has earned Tall-II the nickname “The Hive” among Human visitors.
It is not uncommon to see Humans living on Tal II, though to do so, one must have a valid work permit. Human corporations have also begun to seek out more stable opportunities in the system, with MISC having recently established a small branch office here that facilitates their agreement with the Xi’an; it was the central development site of the cutting-edge avionics software used in their new Reliant line.
Finally, do not forget to bring your sunglasses to help with the strong glare from the yellow-tinged architecture, but remember, please remove your sunglasses before interacting with the Xi’an. In their culture, it is considered disrespectful to hide one’s eyes when speaking.
LŪNG’XYI (TAL III)
If you are a first-time visitor to the Tal System, begin your visit on Tal III. Considered the cultural hub of the system, the residents are used to Human visitors and are very welcoming of tourists, more so than the typical Xi’an world. In fact, many find the planet to be a perfect metaphor for the Xi’an themselves. With most of the lush landscape covered in neat farms, the cities create a stark contrast to their natural surroundings, with their appointed color-scheme of violet popping brightly upon approach.
As a major manufacturer of food for the system, and possibly their entire empire, Lūng’xyi is a must-stop for Xi’an food enthusiasts. For those who have never tried the cuisine, be prepared for a sensation unlike any other. Some Xi’an dishes uses flavorful spices that cause minor muscle spasms in the Human mouth. It is definitely not dangerous, but will just as definitely surprise those who are not expecting it. Humans may find the sensation weird and off-putting, but many believe it actually enhances the flavor of the food. Most restaurants will adjust the strength of the spices to the Human palette. Do not be afraid to politely inquire about the spice level of the food if the waiter does not bring it up. Just remember to do so before they begin preparing your dish.
Meanwhile, the beautiful and fragrant countryside of Lūng’xyi tempts Humans with a natural visual diversity that does not exists within its cities. Many visitors want to explore the countryside, but few actually do. The area is generally considered off-limits to foreigners unless one is given special permission and guided by a Xi’an. Do not forget the brief diplomatic spat that occurred in 2890 when Prime resident Shinji Shapiro was detained after being found wandering the fields of Tal III alone.
Tal III’s textile industry draws many of the UEE’s top designers to the planet. Patterns and fabrics discovered here quickly find their way to runways on Terra and Earth before creating trends across the entire Empire. Certain discerning buyers even schedule travel to Tal III while major fashion shows occur in the UEE so that they will be in place once the hot new trend has been determined, to purchase as much of the in-vogue fabric or pattern as they can. The qualities of Luk’Shi’s garment industry also have the fashionable flocking to the planet for custom-made clothes. Some shops have even begun to offer trained tailors that can modify Xi’an fashion to more flatteringly fit the Human form.
LIXĀUU (TAL IV)
Tal IV is the least visited habitable planet in the system, and for good reason. It is home to major processing facilities and refineries. Unless there is business to be had here, it is probably best to avoid it.
Even though Lixāuu’s building are lined in green, this is a blue-collar planet through and through, with haulers and refinery workers making up a majority of the population. While the upscale fare found on Lūng’xyi often gets the lion’s share of the praise from the culinary world, those who seek a more authentic experience say that it can be found in the working-class food stalls thickly stacked outside of almost all of the planet’s numerous processing plants. Almost as ubiquitous as the stalls themselves is the warm, thick fermented drink called yahlu that the workers consume before work.
A word of warning: Tal IV’s atmosphere does contain traces amounts of acid, but thankfully it is not enough to harm buildings, ships or residents wearing the proper attire. It was the main reason the Xi’an placed the more polluting plants here instead of industries that would draw more traffic. That said, if you find yourself on Tal IV in the midst of a rain storm, it is probably best to seek shelter sooner rather than later and to avoid getting the precipitation on your bare skin.
RYŌL (TAL V)
Never say that the Xi’an lack a sense of humor. Tal V, whose buildings prominently feature a burnt orange color, houses a high percentage of industrial complexes dedicated to the end-stage processing of arms and weapons. If the planet is approached in just the right light, the sun’s rays reflected off the burnt orange almost look like energy weapon blasts.
Many Humans have made their way to Ryōl in search of advanced weapons for their personal or ship armament. With the Xi’an still secretive over much of their technology, only certain parts of the planet are open to Human visitors. These areas feature a heavy Xi’an military presence, but do not let that dissuade you from stopping in to buy the latest blaster. Very little violence or crime has been reported by travelers. This is partially due to the prevalence of armed security but also because, in light of the peace treaty, the Xi’an government seems eager to avoid confrontation with Humans as much as possible.
CHUAITON (TAL VI)
Deemed uninhabitable upon its discovery, this resource-rich rock was part of the reason the Xi’an based a Production System in Tal. Centuries of mining have reportedly stripped Tal VI of significant amounts resources, though it may be difficult to check if anything of value is left for yourself since the Xi’an military keeps a watchful eye over all traffic that nears the planet. This has led people to theorize that there is more going on in Tal VI than meets the eye. Even in the most open Xi’an system to Humans, secrets still abound.
KYU’NAO (TAL VII)
Located in the farthest reaches of the Tal System, Tal VII is a prismatic gas giant that is said to be a reflection of the planets it watches over. This is because its four thick, colored bands of roiling clouds match the colors assigned to the inhabited worlds in the system. A wonderful example of the harmony and symmetry in which Xi’an culture places deep value, Tal VII is a fitting last stop for any visitor’s tour of the system.
HEARD IN THE WIND
“Beauty, boldness and bliss. All exist on the world that’s sun kissed.”
– Sindo Guerrero, “Sun Kissed”
“Your entire mouth feels alive. Almost like something is crawling inside it. At first I was pretty sure I didn’t like it, but a few days later, there I was back in the restaurant gulping it down again.”
– Chef Alicia Tan, Eating My Way