Kepler is a Independent Worlds system connecting Liberty and Kusari (via Colorado to Shikoku). The Zoners have claimed an abandoned base, Ames Research Station. The Xenos also have a base in the system.
The Ames Research Station was originally established in 550 AS to study the movements of the strange clouds of dark matter in the system. The station is now largely occupied by Zoners, but a contingent of Deep Space Engineering support staff remains aboard.
This group was originally compromised of heavy manufacturing and mining workers within Colorado and Texas. Many of their ancestors also worked in the research station, which was a good employer for generations. But Liberty increasingly made money from its information technology licensing and Trade Lane associated monopolies rather than hard, manufactured goods. Over time most of the blue-collar workers became unemployed and were pushed to the economic fringe of Liberty society. As the Liberty rich moved to Colorado to escape the paradise lost in California, the Xenos were displaced to a small base in the mined out Silverton Asteroid Field. Once there the Xenos launched sporadic raids focussed against foreign shippers.
Whenever they were captured they were sent to Huntsville prison in Texas, where cross-fertilization with other inmates only helped to swell their ranks. Xenos also hate the foreigner Outcasts that feed the habits of Liberty's morally corrupt ruch. For this reason, most of those declared NCR for drug crimes are placed aboard the Sugarland to keep the two groups separate.
Because of the Xeno preference for other Houses' ships, Universal Shipping has actually benefited from the attacks and has lobbied the government to take it easy on them. It is rumored that some of their attacks on foreign shipping were not Xenox, but actually mercenaries hired by Universal to harass the competition.
There are two additional Xeno bases in the Independent World systems of Hudson and Kepler. Here the Xenos have been able to operate more freely, with only occasional Liberty Navy patrols and Bounty Hunters to secure the areas. They make hit-and-run attacks into Texas frequently, especially to attack the Junker base at Beaumont and confront Outcasts.
The Xenos are currently one of the poorest of all criminal factions, so they have little resources to buy better ships and weapons. To gain a more stable income stream, they hope to evict the Junkers from Texas, and ultimately New York, and thus control a crucial market for Cardamine.
The Xenos' love of Side Arms has brought them into conflict with Ageira, especially around its Detroit Munitions plant. They also regularly attack Junkers in the Jersey Debris Field of northern New York.
Nikko Maru (E3, center-top)Edit
Kamakura Maru (E3, center-right)Edit
McKinley (F6, upper-left)Edit
A small cloud of dark matter. Scanners do not function within the confines of the cloud, making it a popular hiding place for Xenos who attack traffic from Kusari in an effort to drive the so-called "foreign" presence from Liberty.
An outcropping of the larger "Kuryo anomaly," a large field of dark matter first charted by the great Kusari explorer Ichi Matsuo. Scanners do not function within the confines of the cloud.
A medium-sized cloud of dark matter. Scanners do not function within the confines of the cloud.
FAMOUS KEPLER STORM NO HOAX?: KEPLER -- The phantom dark matter storm that was estimated to hit the Kepler system in 730 AS has yet to arrive, and most people don't believe it ever will. But many residents of the Ames Research Station and some scientists in Liberty space still believe it may be a real possibility. Ageira scientists believed that a storm passing through Kepler would destroy everything within the system. This was the justification used by company executives to convince the Liberty government to build the auxiliary Trade Lane routes and Jump Gates through Galileo. The ensuing scandal fueled the growth of the Lane Hacker criminal organization.
KUSARI TRACES IW PIRATES TO LIBERTY: KEPLER -- In a blunt communication sent to Manhattan from New Tokyo, the Kusari government blamed Liberty for the pirate troubles in the Independent Worlds between the two Houses. The key to their claim is the number of area pirates that can be traced to Colorado or other Liberty systems. Manhattan issued a terse reply to sum up Liberty's official position. The Independent Worlds are not the territory of either House, and therefore any pirates who operate in that area are not the personal responsibility of Liberty's government.