Western Annex: Tehas, The Combine
Ariel “Jefe” Felder
Ariel Felder took to the stars in 2167 using a Board of Exploration grant to outfit a survey ship. He registered a few dozen systems in the un-organized area between the Core Worlds and what would become the Western Annex. These systems provided important navigational support for later waves of planetary prospectors. He never found the Earth-normal system that would have made him rich but he managed to identify seventeen systems with planets in the Goldilocks zone across the regions that would become Gretna and New Caledonia. The proceeds from those discoveries bankrolled an audacious plan.
In 2171, Felder surveyed four systems in the southeastern corner of the Western Annex between Chiba and Gretna. None of them had planets in the Goldilocks zone but all of them had main series F and G class stars. The systems all had at least one gas giant planet, a few rocky planets, and a veritable cornucopia of asteroids. When the BoE declared the systems “not suitable,” Felder secured a century long lease for one credit on each of the four. It would prove to be the smartest four credits he ever spent.
In 2178, Felder and his wife, Elyse, returned to the system which they named Tehas. Survey probes detailed what Felder had glimpsed in his previous explorations—wide swaths of water-ice and carbon-type asteroids. Over the next year, they gathered a few like spirited individuals and created the first deep space ranch. Felder would later recount his early difficulties. “It was never the cows and beefalos that was the problem. It was getting the damn grass to grow. We finally resorted to importing a metric ton of loam from one of the Core Worlds. We mixed it with a lot of the pulverized c-types and let the herd roam on it. I thought we’d go broke feeding them before the grass caught and spread.”
By 2185, agricultural enterprises had settled all of the Combine systems. Among them, they provided over three-quarters of the fresh food in the Western Annex for nearly a century until the CPJCT sanctioned farms and fisheries started coming online. They still provide much of the fresh food consumed in Toe-Hold space and the Bar None Ranch produces some of the best beef and beefalo west of the Core Worlds.