Planet Name Class Diametre (km) Position Moons Gravity Day (hrs.) Atmosphere Climate Industry
Rigel IV G 11,700 IV 0 0.9G 21.0 Thin, Contaminated Cool Temperate Shipbuilding
Alternate name: Rigel Trading Planet

Classification: class G

Location: Beta Rigel system

Moon(s): 0

Gravity: 0.9 g

Diameter: 11,700 kilometers

Equatorial circumference: 36,760 kilometers

Length of day: 21 hours

Land mass percentage: 100%

Rigel IV, also known as the Rigel Trading Planet and the "Parking Lot", was the fourth planet of the Rigel system. It was a class G planet with no moons. It was the home of the furred Rigellians who, with their Orion employees and through the Rigellian Trade Authority, managed the world as a gigantic starship port and marketplace, making it a trading center for the known galaxy.

Rigel IV was a dead world, with a surface that from space appeared blasted and scoured, a uniform steel grey broken by occasional patches of bright red, blue, yellow and green. The surface was in fact completely paved over, consisting entirely of starship parking lots and landing areas, and was as hard as glass. The first Human traders named it "The Parking Lot" for this reason. There was no natural elevation on the planet over 5 meters high; all hills and valleys had been leveled flat. Everything else was entirely artificial.

Even the atmosphere was mechanically processed and re-circulated by life support systems, but the dust, engine fumes, and industrial pollution all combined to make it unbreathable. Thus Rigel IV was rated a class G world with a thin contaminated atmosphere and a cool temperate climate.

The ecosphere of Rigel IV was completely dead, but about 20 native species survived, including insects and the dominant race, the Rigellians (themselves commonly and falsely thought to be the evolved pets of whoever paved over Rigel IV).

Rigel IV had a gravity of 0.9 g and a 21-hour day, and a year that lasted 316 Earth days (ST reference: Spaceflight Chronology). It had a total surface area of 430,052,600 square kilometers with 100% land mass. About 42% of its makeup was normal metals, 3% was radioactive elements, 1% was gemstones, with only trace amounts of industrial crystals and special minerals.

Gaining permission to land on and trade at Rigel was a long and complex process, so much so that "Doing it Rigel" entered trader's slang to mean doing something ordinary in the most needlessly complicated and convoluted way. The procedures were quite ancient and just as rigid.

On approach, Rigel Space Control hailed a vessel and asked it sixty Questions, regarding the ship, its cargo, crew, and place of origin. These also included some rather strange topics, probably added because of events and disasters in the distant past, now almost forgotten. In orbit, the ship was visited by a robe-wearing and regalia-wielding Inspection Party, who performed purification rites alongside a thorough and more practical examination of the ship, from official papers to crew quarters. Once passed and after a quaint ceremony, the ship was granted the Certificate of Performance and access to Rigel IV. Those who failed the inspections, to stick to the ceremony and procedure or angered the party would be forced to endure an even more complicated purification rite and more probing inspection. The very worst offenders were ordered to leave the system immediately, and forbidden from ever visiting Rigel IV again.

Successful applicants were permitted to land at the Port of P'nam, though in effect this could be anywhere on the planet that they were directed to. The Sutler and his retinue of officials (all Orion) conducted more rituals, covering the unloading of cargo, the connection of water, power and sewage lines, and the granting of liberty to the crew. Once complete, merchants were finally permitted to visit the Trade Halls and begin their trade. There were more traditions and rituals in the Halls as well, but with more relaxed and business-like atmosphere.

Though lacking in natural features, Rigel IV had a number of above- and below-ground artificial structures. Aboveground, there were the vast planet-wide starship parking lots, landing areas, and massive docks, accompanied by huge junkyards. The Port of P'nam was the official landing place for visiting starships, but in practice it could be anywhere on the planet that a starship was directed to by Rigel Space Control. If it was once a real place, it either no longer existed by the 23rd century or had expanded to cover the entire planet.

There were a number of cities on the planet, including the main city of Rralrark. Supposedly, whole cities were devoted to single types of product, such as spaceships, heavy machinery, and even slaves.

The primary points of interest on Rigel IV's surface were the Trade Halls, massive buildings that dotted the planet's surface. Old and respected Orion families, or conglomerates of smaller families, managed each Hall and provided their experience and expertise to visiting merchants and arranged trades, for reasonable fees. Staff would post a merchant's cargo on the planet's information network and search for a cargo they could take back. These searches involved a range of different values, currencies and product names in different languages, and required a high degree of skill. Though the Trade Halls charged according to effort, they only charged on successful searches, so they only gave up when the search threatened to cost more than the commodity. More experienced merchants could choose to use their own contacts however, and paid much less.

Most other facilities on Rigel IV were underground, including hotels, corporate offices and bustling open-stall marketplaces. There were also bars, taverns and cantinas ranging in quality and reputation, and places where cargos that even the Orion-run Trade Halls would refuse to handle changed hands. All these places were distinctly Orion in culture. The rent was pricy, but the cash-flow high.

Further down, in the bowels of Rigel IV, legends spoke of faithful Orion servants being allowed to meet an ancient Rigellian elder and even one of the long-extinct Masters preserved by intense life-support or inside a computer. These servants were gifted with wisdom, financial advice or strange hints about the Orions, the Rigellians and the Rigel system that formed the basis of several Orion faiths.

Law & Politics
Private police and security forces patrolled Rigel IV; though plentiful, they weren't enough to save the occasional unlucky merchant from being mugged or knifed in a back alley. The high prices and entry procedures prevented most common criminals from stepping foot on the world, but more talented criminals made a killing on high-risk goods, contraband, cash-only trades and short-term loans.

According to interstellar agreements, the entire Rigel system was neutral, and Rigel IV was a protected administered enclave. Warships of any state were prohibited from approaching the planet on pain of its nation being excluded from future trade; not even Starfleet could visit. The Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire were all banned in this way.

Roughly one-third of the regular traders at Rigel IV originated from Federation worlds, and the commerce they brought back was vital to the entire Federation. However, Starfleet was concerned about the risk from exotic alien flora and fauna, powerful technology, drugs and dangerous substances, but they had no authority to intervene there.

Rigel IV received the most spacefaring traffic in the known galaxy. According to the Rigellian Trade Authority in the late 23rd century, an average of 2.6 starships and 6.15 million tons of cargo arrived or departed every minute, and thousands of starships in a day. The average stay lasted only 12.6 hours. About one-third of these traders came from the Federation.

The trade was primarily of exotic goods not normally found on regular interstellar trading lanes. Whether rare or common, useless or valuable, Rigel IV was the place to sell things that had no other known market, and to buy things that could not be found elsewhere. For a merchant, there was always the possibility that another had what they wanted, or sought what they had and was willing to pay extra for it. Standard trading rules did not apply.

However, this trade was hazardous, unpredictable and ever-changing. Values fluctuated and the market for any commodity experienced cycles of surplus and scarcity. Something quite valuable could suddenly become worthless, and vice versa. Products could be bought for much less than their worth, or sold for much more, then suddenly revert. The difference between fortune and ruin could be only a few minutes. Experienced merchants went more by intuition than market analysis.

The other problem for merchants was the high cost of dealing there, with berthing fees and other expenses ranging from three to five times higher than on a Federation world. The work was also quite hectic, with frequent problems, worries, offers of trade of all kinds, all in a multi-racial environment, with a lot of travel and crucial timing. Overall, a trip to Rigel IV could be highly profitable, a complete loss, or simply exhausting.

The first Earth ship to Rigel IV made a good profit on a load of metals and electronic goods. The second discovered the highly variable nature of trade there. Once a Vulcan vessel could not sell their pure neutronium, despite its value, but managed to sell their stores of soft drink for a profit. A small, spiny alien race, who preferred to keep the location of their world secret, arrived occasionally with hundreds of tons of high-quality diamonds.

It had a technological/sociopolitical index index of 99AA96-93 and a variable planetary trade profile.

Test drilling into Rigel produced samples around 8.8 billion years old. By the Muuly-Barsh projection, Rigel IV was first inhabited an estimated billion years ago (circa 999,998,000 BCE).

Rigel IV was a treasure, a mystery and a nightmare to archaeologists. The world had been in operation for—as far as they could tell—over 100,000 years, with Rigellian Trade Authority records apparently going back at least 50,000 years, when they stated the surface was completely paved over. Drill-samples of the crust were around 8.8 billion years old, much older than the star Rigel itself, pointing to the mystery of the Rigel system.

The junkyards were a treasure trove to archaeologists. Ancient and extinct races, some known only from tool fragments and in legends, had traded at Rigel IV and left behind their calling cards, hotel receipts and starship scrap. With no retail value, much of this was recycled, and so many valuable artifacts were destroyed. Licensed archaeological teams worked to excavate, preserve and ship off-planet whatever they could find.

By the 23rd century, 5439 wars, revolts and mass mutinies had occurred on or near Rigel IV.

Ancient history

Only the native Rigellians knew the true and complete history of Rigel IV, however.

A billion years ago (circa 999,998,000 BCE), Rigel III and Rigel IV were both inhabited by an advanced space-faring race known as the Shour. Over the next 10 million years, these worlds produced at least three more native civilizations and were occupied by countless others.

A million years ago, a fourth race known as the Masters evolved on Rigel IV. With an early understanding of science and philosophy giving them great power, they created a massive empire in the Orion Arm, which lasted for over a million years. The Masters destroyed lesser, rival civilizations, and performed many experiments upon other life forms and other civilizations. By 1,498,000 BCE, they desired to preserve their great civilization for the ages, to leave an everlasting mark on the Galaxy. Thus, they embarked upon a long process of stellar engineering and planetary remodeling, so that the entire Rigel system itself would serve as a monument and museum to their achievements. Their homeworld of Rigel IV was preserved as a kind of work yard and memorial to their legacy, and as a planetary spare parts storeroom for their grand projects Around 998,000 BCE, the Masters began to die out, so they took Bodas, a species of intelligent near-humanoid animals that they had kept as pets, and hastily and crudely genetically advanced them into full sentience and a humanoid form. They intended this species (which would later call itself Rigellian) to survive them, to inherit their great works and serve as caretakers. Shortly afterwards, the Masters disappeared, leaving their servants with vast stores of knowledge, memorials and the Rigel system, all telling of the achievement and glory of the Masters. The Rigellians did this for 10,000 years, until they came to a complete understanding of the long-dead Masters, their works, the engineered nature of themselves and the unstable alterations to their home star Rigel, which would eventually nova and obliterate the system anyway. Offended by the sheer arrogance of the Masters, and finding the idea of preserving them to be abhorrent, around 988,000 BCE the Rigellians destroyed almost every trace of them.

To make amends for the Masters and redeem their own consciences, the Rigellians decided to work to ensure that no one followed the Masters' way of cosmic vandalism and self-aggrandizement. To these ends, they began by opening the Rigel system to all races for trade and development, and in approximately 968,000 BCE, the Rigellians sponsored several cooperative ventures, with the aim of educating other races, regulating trade and correcting the damage the Masters had done to other star systems. These all failed, with only the Rigel Trade Authority having any success. Thus they made Rigel IV a crossroads of the galaxy, where knowledge and civilization could pass alongside trade goods.

In 50,000 BCE, after hundreds of thousands of years of struggle, the ecosphere of Rigel IV finally died, leaving almost no plant, animal or microbe alive. The Rigellians accepted this and simply leveled the mountains, glazed over the lifeless ground and turned it into a vast starport. Artificial life-support had already been in place for nearly a million years. When the Orion Dawn of 1508 BCE saw fledgling Orion pirates steal their first ships, the Rigellians had complete information on the event, but claimed ignorance to the other Kammzdast Signatories who asked their aid. The Rigellians later used their subtle influence to allow Orions to work as clerks in their Trade Halls, giving the slaves more influence. By 1317 BCE, Orions were valuable, efficient and obedient workers in the Trade Halls.

In 14th July 95 BCE, the Trade Halls were the site of the 187th Rigel Conference and the Ultimatum of the Nine Worlds. This lead to the rise of the great Orion leader Nallin the Unconquerable, who lead a group of Trade Hall rhadamanen ('arch-executives') in an uprising of the Orion slaves against the Kammzdast Signatories who enslaved them, beginning the Orion War for their independence.

Modern history
Following information from Tellarite traders, the UNSS Marco Polo visited the Rigel Trading Planet in 2079 SFC (c. 2150), the first Earth ship to do so. Tellarites and Andorians already traded here. The crew visited the city of Rralrark and found that Earth's electronics and metals were apparently more advanced than those of other worlds, and such goods were enormously popular among the alien traders, even Captain Lorenzo Malfatti's wrist computer and titanium belt buckle. Malfatti swapped his belt buckle for a load of Saurian brandy. They also opened direct trade between Humans and Orions, on reference stardate 0/7907.27, and sold to them a load of items of 20th century Earth culture. Through the Rigel IV trade expion, Earth learned of many more races and worlds than they had previously known. The Marco Polo left with a huge profit and a bumper cargo. Malfatti predicted that trading at Rigel would provide a significant boost to Earth's Gross Solar Product. However, the next Terran ship would not be so lucky. Later, the newly formed Federation sent its first delegation to Rigel to negotiate diplomatic and economic relations with the Rigellians and the Orions. On stardate 0/9101.13 (c. 2165), Starfleet Lieutenant Kathleen Wenzel became the first Federation citizen to meet the Rigellians on Rigel IV.

Early in his career, Carter Winston dealt with Rigellians and visited the Rigel Trading World, and said he "came back with most of my shirt".

By the late 23rd century, Earth maintained a permanent diplomatic legation on Rigel IV to coordinate its many trade activities there.

This page and all contents ©2012 Owen E. Oulton