Located at 005-Tapsco-0104, the eponymous subsector hub is the most populated world in 005 Sector and is among the top five in the entirety of human space. It is the seat of the Duke of Tapsco’s administration and a powerful political, economic and military force in interstellar affairs.
Tapsco is the second of seven planets, including four gas giants. The system includes an asteroid belt orbiting close to the sun and another at the outer system. The mainworld has a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere but a higher than normal level of chloromethane, requiring widespread use of filter masks by the population.
During the early history of mankind’s colonization efforts, several companies came together to form the Offworld Institute, an organisation to promote the business of deep space mineral exploration, research new methods of production and transport and encourage engagement between the many corporations active in the field. The institute had several notable successes (though in hindsight its main effect was to prolong the unsustainable bubble of investor hype surrounding interstellar transport and economics). The directors decided that the continued expansion towards the galactic core required a large hub to act as a maintenance and refuelling point, as well as to give more decentralized coordination of operations in and beyond 005 Sector. To this end, the Offworld Institute and its member companies founded the Tapsco colony. From its inception, it was planned to be large: the initial plans mapped out future infrastructure for 10 million people. As the colony took shape, the number of companies desiring to be involved increased and the number of personnel went up too.
When Black March began, many company employees throughout the Tapsco subsector decided to quit their posts and try to get back to Earth before the interstellar haulage lines went bust. Many made it as far as the hub world, where they discovered that, as the month went on, affordable methods of getting home were diminishing fast. For some, there was nothing left and they were stranded on Tapsco. Though initially desiring to leave, these economic refugees eventually had no choice but accept their situation and stay. Finally, as the debt rot bit hardest, some companies decided to shut down their outer colonies and evacuate the residents to Tapsco.
The planet was left with a large population, but much of that professional and hardy. They set to work at building a functioning economy from the ashes, couched in the terms of finance which they understood. Informal power structures were created in which decisions were arrived at through the votes of the directors of important firms. Tapsco had been the location for the sector headquarters of various megacorps, and gained a great deal of influence over the former holdings of these entities. Groups of former executives bought out the local operations of Earth-based conglomerates desperate to sell, bringing Firoze, Marbello and Capaeret into loose association. Customary agreements became slowly more formal and a contract was signed in 2239, formally creating a permanent and relatively unified government under the direction of a Chief Director, elected by the then existing groups of companies.
There have been a few changes to the government since those days. The primary one is that Tapsco is now recognised by the King as the subsector authority, and off world the ruler of the planet is referred to as the Duke of Tapsco (though Chief Director is still used by the planet’s citizens). Companies entitled to vote have gone bust and been removed from the Financial Council. Grudgingly, new entrants have been added. Of the original members still around, many have expanded far beyond their status at the signing of the contract, though there are a few relics remaining, such as Lulworth’s Toy Emporium. In foreign affairs, the planet has had mixed fortunes. It has cemented it’s role as subsector capital, rules Marbello directly and has strong links with worlds throughout colonised space. But Firoze was lost in 2278, and the tariffs imposed through the Carrick Subsector, and particularly by Nova Ottawa, are tremendously detrimental to trade. The latter argument has been the cause of several conflicts and has defined the three major political groups. The liberals, arguing for more engagement with their neighbours to reach free trade agreements, and the corpratists, pushing for greater use of monopolies and trade inertia to break Nova Ottawa’s hold on them, are the main parties. A faction pushing for the use of military force, from raids to all out war, is gradually gaining some popularity.
Militarily, Tapsco is the strongest world in the sector. It has a large navy capable of resisted entry into a system and opposed planetary assault. Chief amongst its forces are two ugraded King Charles II Heavy Carriers, supported by a fleet of ten destroyers and heavy frigates, thirty light frigates and numerous supporting vessels. The army is large and modern. Despite a disastrous early experience with battledress units, Tapsco has now returned to using powered armour in significant numbers.