Rigel IV is the capital of the Rigel System in the Federation, and is probably the most important economic planet in the Federation itself. This was also before the admission of the other Orion worlds into the Federation years after the Rigel Accords of 2184, which brought the economically powerful Orion controlled worlds into the Federation fold. Arguably one of the majestic spectacles of the known Galaxy, Rigel IV's Capital is Galledine, and is remarked as one of the most beautiful cities in the entire Galaxy, containing archeo- structures dating back to before the native sentients of the system ever evolved. Aside from an abundance of plant and animal life, lush green valleys and temperate inviting lands, it has no native sentient species. Examination of the planets crust suggests the world was a very different place only 20,000 years ago, and may've been terraformed into a paradise by the Preservers or some other technologically advanced ancient race.
The native's to Rigel IV's largest moon, Halos, are the Valosmi. Often referred to as the Alpha Rigellians, and are believed to be the earliest sentients to evolve in the Rigel System, measuring 250 million inhabitants. Their entire society resides in sub-teranian fashion under the moons surface, and their vast network of communities span and integrate into the Rigellian Tradeing Authority (RTA) center that Rigel IV has become over the past few thousand years. Despite the massive activity for the moons turned behemoth starports, no one has ever explored all the multitude of caverns and ancient artificial tunnel structures that lie beneath the modern Valosmi community. It is said that ruins and treasures of the ancient Valosmi and possibly long extinct races are kept in sophisticated if not ancient vaults. If the Valosmi do know and control such a place, as they do so efficiently administrate Rigel IV and her moons, they're not saying. Rather small for a sentient species, Valosmi are 1.1 meters tall rodent-like mammals, sensitive to the light of Rigel's suns. Terrans often refer to them (out of earshot of their excellent hearing) 'Jumbo Sewer Rats'. However they can be found in every branch of service in the Federation, including Starfleet. They inhabit several sub-teranian cites on Halos and several more on Yehan, preferring their solitude.
From space, Rigel IV’s moons appear not just dead, but blasted and scoured. There surfaces are almost uniform steel grey, broken occasionally by garish artificial patches of red, yellow, blue, and green. The first Terran traders gave it the popular nickname it still carries: The Parking Lot.
It is an appropriate name. There is no elevation on two of the planets moons more than five meters high, and the surface really consists of paved parking lots and landing areas for the thousands of starships and shuttles that arrive and depart every day. This is the most heavily trafficked world in the Federation before the admission of the Orion worlds; the Rigellian Trade Authority (RTA) states that 5.7 ships, bearing 15.28 million tons of cargo, arrive or depart Rigel IV every minute. Only Ferenginar is busier.
To make it easier to land more ships, someone once planed away all the hills and valleys, and eliminated any trace of life on the surface of these two moons. Everything on the moons-including the Trade Halls directorates, the underground hotels, the massive dock facilities, unbelievable junkyards, and the metal-hard surface itself-is artificial. Even the air is mechanically recirculated and processed. Nevertheless, engine fumes and industrial pollution combine with the ever-blowing dust to make the atmosphere tenuous, making respirators or filter masks necessary on the surface. Underground, the air circulation system is much more effective, and respiration devices may be removed. This is thanks to recent investments in air circulation technology made by both the RTA and the Orion Colonial Council.
No one really knows how long Rigel IV and her moons have been a trade center. The RTA authoritatively states that the last piece of bare ground was paved over approximately 100,000 years ago. At that time, atmospheric recirculation was already an old process.
Archaeologists have nightmares about Valosmi records. Races known only as legends or from tool fragments have left calling cards and even hotel receipts there. Some 5,439 wars have are known to have taken place near Rigel IV, counting revolts and mass-mutinies, and now and again a junkyard produces some broken bit of ship hull whose makers are interstellar dust. As they have no retail value, such items are usually smelted down for other uses. How many precious artifacts suffer that fate cannot even be guessed. To avoid that problem in the future, licensed research teams are working to preserve and ship off planet much of the unearthed material.
Incredibly, a few native species of Rigel IV’s life still exists on the moons. 20, counting insects and the sentient Valosmi, with the rest being found native to other planets of the Rigel system and beyond. The planets dominant race, the Valosmi (sometimes also referred too by uneducated spacers as Rigellians) are furred, bipedal rat-like creatures with snouts, pointed ears, small but perceptive eyes, and long prehensile tails. Valosmi walk upright, but stooped on too-short legs. A buzzing inflection to most vowels and a lack of labial sounds like 'b', 'm', 'v', and 'p' characterizes their speech (both native and off world tongues). In fact, they prefer to stay out of sight. Although their total number is unknown, it is estimated that there are no more than two-hundred and fifty million Valosmi all together.
Archaeologists and anthropologists the universe over would love to answer 'the Rigellian Question'. The Rigellian language has obviously been adapted to its present use from some older tongue. The peculiar speech, gait, and appearance of the Valosmi bespeak a race scarcely removed from the animal. All the evidence suggests that the Valosmi were created from lower stock-by whom and for what purpose remains unknown. More disturbing, the Valosmi do not seem a bioengineered species as much as an artificially accelerated one. For all that is known they may well be (as the popular legend has it), the evolved house pets of whatever race paved Rigel IV.
There is more to the Rigellian Question. Two of the three suns of Rigel are blue-white stars-very young by astronomical standards, being scarcely more than 100,000 standard years old. However, the planets of Rigel are obviously far older. Drillings and core samples on Rigel IV have returned samples some 8.8 billion years old. Either the planets were moved to their present orbits, or else the Rigel suns were synthetically created to replace a dead original star. Or, perhaps there is another, stranger explanation.
The Rigellians, the Valosmi (and perhaps to a lesser extent, the Orions) might have the answers, but they are not talking. Although probes of the Rigel suns might reveal more, the Orions for their part, absolutely refuse to allow such nonsense and seem utterly uninterested in the whole matter. Therefore, the most baffling problem of Federation astrophysics-and perhaps the secret of what may be the largest artifact of the Preservers-goes enigmatically unanswered.
None the less, the Valosmi are considered among the other native Rigel species as somewhat ‘exalted’. They are revered icons in the Rigellian religious base, not gods but the religion dictates that they are ‘touched by gods’. The Chelarians have similar longstanding beliefs about them as well. The Orions, shunning most forms of religion, albeit publicly but certainly not culturally, view the Valosmi with as much admiration. They are the ultimate record keepers, possessing a literal ‘vault’ of knowledge and records that Starfleet is still going through to this day. The Valosmi were also the driving force behind the founding of the Rigellian Trade Guild and Rigellian Trade Authority. Rumors persist of ‘secret’ vaults with vast wells of knowledge, but these seems to prove more legend than fact.
The Valosmi were also receptive to the first human colonists to their system almost 300 years ago, descendants of the ‘Eastern Coalition’ on their native Earth, these Asian populations were found on old DY-500 type mass sleeper ships launched from Mars in 2155. They encountered a Rigellian vessel near the Orion arm some 35 years later and taken to Valosm and its inhabitants to be traded as slaves. But the Valosmi recognized a distinction to these wayward travelers, and purchased them from the Rigellian traders. Afterward, the Valosmi and the Colonial leaders in the Tanaka family reached an agreement to allow them to settle on Rigel IV in exchange for tributes and contributions to the betterment of the RTG. The agreement stands strong to this day.
"Doing it Rigel" has come to mean doing something ordinary in the most complicated and unnecessarily convoluted was possible. The phrase has its inspiration from the age-old way traders have had to conduct their business at Rigel IV.
Rigel Space Control first hails an incoming vessel, then asks the historic 60 Questions on ship, cargo, crew, point of origin, and some rather bizarre particulars likely included because of some half-forgotten disaster in the dim past. Once in orbit around Rigel IV, the ship must accept the Inspection Party, in robes and full regalia, who conduct purification rites and do a very thorough and practical examination of everything from ship's papers to crew quarters before issuing (after a quaint ceremony) the Certificate of Performance. Rigel IV is now open to the crew-but woe betide the ship that angers the Inspection Party or fails to adhere to their arcane rigmarole. At best, such as ship and crew will have to undergo an even more complicated and more intrusive purification before being inspected again; at worst, a ship will be ordered out of system immediately, forbidden to trade on Rigel again.
Assuming Inspection is passed, ships or their shuttles are directed to land at the Port of P'nam-perhaps once a real place, but in effect, it means anywhere on Rigel IV that Rigel Space Control directs. More rituals attend the unloading of cargo, granting of liberty to the crew, and even the connection of water and power lines, and vessel resupply-all conducted under the stern gaze of the Sutler and his retinue. Some officials are Orions, but not all are Ruddy. Ship's officers empowered to conduct negotiations do so at one of the massive Trade Halls that dot the surface (they are also occasionally underground), each presided over by a venerable Orion family or group of families. Although there are many traditions here too, the atmosphere is more relaxed and businesslike. If a cargo had made it this far, it may be traded directly for goods of surpassing value at fire sale prices.
The Rigel IV market is nearly exclusively exotics-things not often found on the interstellar trade lanes (although commodities can certainly be found here also). For example, a small, spiny race who keep their world's location secret arrive now and again laden with hundreds of tons of high-quality dilithium crystals. Rigel IV is the place to take cargoes for which no known market may exist. Valuable or common, useless or prized, it makes no difference-there may be someone on Rigel IV who is seeking just such an item or commodity and willing to pay a premium for it. The first Terran ship to the planet brought metals and electronics and made a killing. The second ships from Earth found a second fascinating thing about Rigel IV; the market may suddenly and inexplicably close on a previous sure thing and open up on another. The cargo that earns 50 times its cost one trip may be worthless the next, and something else not even considered valuable may be demanded at ridiculously high prices. Recently, a Vulcan ship could not unload their atomically pure neutronium (usually a good seller), but made a profit when they sold every trace of soft drinks aboard. Rigel IV is a place to get things. Though, not as much of a ‘dumping point’ as Sirk, Rigel IV culminates on this wealth of prestige and have built an immense and beautiful society alongside Orions, Rigellians, Terrans, and other seldom offworlders who settled there in the past before Federation membership.
Even with computerized marketing, arranging trades would be impossible without the experience and knowledge of the Trade Halls and their staffs. For a reasonable fee, a Hall will post a cargo on the planet-wide Net and search-for another reasonable fee-for a cargo to take back. Finding the value in an exotic with an untranslatable name takes a great deal of skill and information. The Trade Halls charge accordingly for how hard they have to look. As they charge only for successful searches, they tend not to give up until the cost of the search threatens to overwhelm the value of the commodity. A number of the more-experienced merchants will use their own contacts on Rigel IV and pay relatively little for that hard-to-find load.
Fluctuations of value and cycles of glut and lack in any trade item are only two of the hazards connected with Rigel IV. Another is cost; the berthing fees and other attendant expenses are two to four times as much as at any Federation world. Because of the many races, goods, worries, and problems, the average length of a ship's stay on Rigel is 12.6 standard hours . In that time, a merchant may be bombarded with more sights, sounds, requests, demands, entreaties, and deals than a ground-pounding merchant might find in a lifetime. The difference between fortune and ruin may be less than five minutes. Timing is critical, and the next stall in an off port bazaar may contain just the right thing that makes the trip. Trade and see-and hope. Old Rigel hands know that intuition is just as reliable as marketing reports.
Rigel business does not stop with the Trade Halls. Like any other world in the Rigel sphere of influence, The lush tropic port cities, mountain side towns, continental forest cities that sprawl into multi-cultural mega polis, the underground cities of Halos and Yehan teem with all the other sorts of Orion commerce-from the noisy open-stall bazaars to lavish corporate offices. Although rent is not cheap, the cash flow is fantastic. In addition, there are the bars, spacer’s dives, and less-reputable joints where the cargoes that the Trade Halls wouldn't handle get exchanged. Though Rigel IV teems with private police forces, there are not enough to keep some unfortunate trader from winding up knifed in a back alley, although since Federation membership the practices have become rare, headlined events. Most of the real crime takes place out of sight. High prices deep the lowlifes out, but effective criminal elements cope quite handily doing high-risk freight, cash conversions of questionable goods, and some lucrative loan sharking.
For the Federation, Rigel IV trade is a double-edged sword. Perhaps a third of the planet's regular traders are from Federation worlds, and the commerce is vital to the entire Federation. However, too many things are traded that Star Fleet wishes were not, like alien animals and plants, high technology, narcotics, and weaponry. Policing Rigel IV is now the task of the Orion Colonial Council, the Valosmi Guilds and the Rigellians, with occasional assistance from Star Fleet Intelligence and Klingon Imperial Intelligence.