If you’ve been enjoying Rogue Tyger, have you checked out the Encyclopedia of the Imperium yet? It’s the definitive source for the history of the Seven Systems and the greater Imperium. Tonight’s entry is also the focus of the serial currently broadcasting and podcasting.
Whether it is derided a “playground for vagabonds” or promoted as the “gateway to the Frontier,” Flatrock has always meant many things to many people. However they all agree that one word can describe the place–whether from its founding centuries ago or in the present day. That word is opportunity.
Flatrock is a massive spaceport bordering, but not part of, the territories of several great houses. Its name comes from the fact that the majority of its surface area is on an artificially constructed shelf, lying upon, but far outreaching an ancient asteroid. Based on its convenient location along the trade routes to different houses and its proximity to the Frontier, Flatrock is among the busiest spaceports in the Imperium. However, its success has been equally attributable to the flexible enforcement of Imperial law, especially those regarding tariffs and import/export duties.
Ironically, Flatrock was founded out of failure. The base asteroid was originally captured by mining wildcatters who hoped its wealth would finance their colony on nearby Holmes’ World. Continual setbacks (some attributed to sabotage) on the asteroid as well as internecine squabbles within the colony on Holmes’ World eventually led to the complete financial ruin of both ventures. A group of far-sighted shipping companies, including one led by Stefan Kolkiss, convinced the remaining investors to move the asteroid away from Holmes’ World and its gravity well, to better use the rock as a basis for a spaceport. Flatrock quickly grew to be a vital part of interstellar trade, which not coincidentally made it a coveted prize to be won by many great houses.
Flatrock’s rulers –at least in name– have changed several times over the past few centuries; and all of the different groups having different visions for Flatrock’s place in their holdings. The most dramatic was a group of House Malde separatists during the Border Wars, who occupied both Flatrock and the by-then burgeoning agricultural colony on Holmes’ World, which they intended to become the throneworld of a new human empire. Flatrock became militarized and its shipbuilding capabilities were greatly increased. However, this vision of Flatrock-as-fortress was disliked by the populace grown accustomed to free trade.
The vision was also short-lived. Near the close of the Border Wars, the surface of Holmes’ World was rendered uninhabitable by an Imperial Grand Armada and the separatist leadership extinguished. Flatrock elders quickly orchestrated a coup, so that by the time Imperial dreadnoughts entered weapons range, remaining separatist elements were trussed up for transport on the docks. Flatrock has been semi-autonomous ever since, enjoying liberties few other Crown dependencies can claim — though the barren surface of Holmes’ World still serves as a reminder that the Imperium will not tolerate Flatrock becoming too independent. However, as the saying goes, “If you can’t find what you want anywhere else, it’s for sale on Flatrock.”