Madame de Pompadour


While the Catastrophe cost many lives, it also served as a reawakening for Madame de Pompadour, a station found inside a gigantic asteroid crater. The deadly floods that took so many lives also transformed the Pompadour into a beautiful station of canals and waterways, and since those tragic days, local artists and architects have turned the once dull station into an aquatic wonderland. Madame de Pompadour has been a local holiday destination for many cycles, and with Ross 154’s Jump Gate now ready for Citizen traffic, tourists are now arriving from far and wide. As the only Gaule station within the system, Madame de Pompadour aims to showcase the best of their citizenry, whether they focus on arts, science, philosophy or military might. Their focus on excellence helps their Citizens reach for great heights. Being sent to Pompadour is the greatest honor, while being asked to leave represents an immense loss.

Chronicle text

The luxuriously meandering canals of Madame de Pompadour are a picturesque but grim reminder of the flooding that claimed so many lives during the Catastrophe. The intense focus on cultural supremacy that is encouraged towards citizens in an almost understandable reaction to wanting to put such horrors behind. Madame de Pompadour, the patron station of forging above and beyond, will always go out of its way to dazzle visitors with its ability to not only survive, but thrive.

Arrival text

Welcome to Madame de Pompadour, Citizen! Safe journeys from here on.


System: Ross 154
Affiliation: Gaule
Level: 17
Legal: 10 (High)
Orwellian: 10 (High)


Bank (Pangala People’s Bank)

While some people visit the bank to make a transaction, just as many want to admire its architecture. The fountain at its center, a spiral of golden vines and perching turtle doves, draws many stares, while gilded rococo mirrors make the space feel even more expansive. Some of Ross 154’s natural red light filters in from skylights above, giving the feeling of an eternally rich sunset.

Brig (Pompadour Penitentiary)

Very little of the Penitentiary can be seen by the public - visits are uncommon and highly regulated, and people are often sent to other Gaule stations, as a stint in prison is often enough to get local Gaule Citizens removed from Pompadour. The outside of the building, while beautiful, highlights this severity. Large golden scales, with a heart in one pan and a sword in the other, stand proudly atop the ornate building, and its columns sport large scrolls inscribed with Gaule treatises.

Clones (Clonage)

While cloning services are offered just like any other stations, those from Pompadour consider it a weakness to succumb to physical mortality. However, there are still artistic renditions of gestating clones painted by local artists - bodies nestled between willow branches, sleeping among bulrushes, or lounging at the water’s edge. Paradoxically, many clone vats are covered with delicately patterned curtains for modesty - a fact that clone technicians enjoy pointing out as they happily explain cloning packages to visitors and voyeurs alike.

Available Clones

Consortium Embassy (Consortium Consulate)

The Madame de Pompadour station is one that the Gaule take special care to ensure only their best people are there. As a response, the Consortium has spared no expense in making their embassy look elegant and dignified. However, as there is little need for consulate services here, most of the personnel have bright smiles that don’t reach their eyes. They’re bored.

Decommissioned Area (The Mines of Iridium)

This room has remnants of old machinery in it, clearly unused.


Employment (Centre Local d'Emploi)

While most buildings in Pompadour are created with both form and functionality in mind, the Center's high footfall has made it lean more towards the latter. While the necessary furniture is still lavishly decorated, most of the entrance is open, giving plenty of space for people to come and go. The lack of adornments is less noticeable thanks to the ceiling-wide mural, truly a sight to take one’s breath away.

Career Advisory

There is a hush to this room, despite how busy it is. Advisors are well-versed in various different disciplines, to better serve Pompadour Citizens in search of their life’s work. They go through painstaking efforts to make sure people are suited to their chosen careers, researching their capabilities and personalities before making any suggestions. Being an advisor is one of the most difficult jobs in this Pompadour - helping someone find their dream job when rejection rates are so high is not an easy feat, and the emotional strain affects all parties.

Side Jobs

People come and go from this room, many of them choosing work to add to their already impressive pool of skills. Competition for jobs is stiff, as is the pressure to perform perfectly. Visitors are allowed to take on short-term employment as well, but they are usually directed towards less crucial work.

Name Description Credits Statistic
Dredge the Canals The canals need dredging 65 2x Stamina
1x Strength
Fungus Farming There's a small farming setup that needs migrants like you. 70 3x Strength
Gondalier Madame de Pompadour station needs gondoliers to ferry tourists around the market. 75 3x Social
Iridium Mining We need to people will to mine iridium. 75 2x Stamina
1x Strength

Discreet Work

Sometimes jobs are offered by those who need to be able to deny involvement. Don't ask too many questions; you won't get many answers. And don't be surprised if you wind up in the brig or sickbay.


Government Center (Administration Municipale)

A wide building sporting a golden coat of arms above its entrance. It has many large windows, and above each sits an ornate cherub engaged in a different activity - attempting to peer inside, eating fruit, playing with their own feet, holding ribbons. Most segments of the day you can find a guide willing to explain the story behind these cherubs. Each was a child lost during the Catastrophe, now immortalized under Ross 154’s red light.

Info Hub

Holo screens illuminate the area as news sources flow like a river of data from one terminal to the next. Occasionally, some government drone will adjust a particular metric or record another before buzzing about their duties.

Syndicate Services

A number of recruiters, both in physical as well as hologrammatic form, interact with would-be members or peruse applications on the wall of terminals that lines this room.

VIP Lounge

Soft music and soothing lights drift through the atmosphere in the lounge. Robotic waiters clad in shiny (but not too shiny) chrome wheel between Citizens, dispensing smooth looking beverages.


While the machines see a lot of constant use, they’re carefully repaired, and beautifully decorated. Locals sport custom-made exercise outfits, and follow routines set by their personal trainers, who ensure they’re in top shape regardless of their intended line of work. Visitors are encouraged to hire coaches too, since everyone could use a hand to meet their fitness goals.

Inn (La Reinette)

There is much talk of La Reinette’s chandeliers, and the effort that goes into making a realistic-looking fire effect for its many electronic candles. The ceilings themselves are also works of art - the golden patterns shine on white, and with every new visit, there are new, hidden facets to be found. While the concierge is busy helping the many arrivals, most members of staff know enough art history to help the curious tourist understand the intent behind every vine leaf and fleur-de-lys.


Bar (Le Bon Vin)

Even the Bon Vin’s chairs are intricate works of art. While a closer inspection reveals a faux wood frame and synthetics-filled cushions, it does not detract from the overall effect of intricate beauty. Porcelain vases sit within study transparent cases, capable of being admired while remaining safe from drunken patrons. The bar itself is a prime rococo specimen, in dark wood with gilded golden edges, and sports many depictions of grapes, despite the house wine’s synthetic origins. The ambiance alone takes one back to a perceived enjoyment of ‘real’ wine from before the Catastrophe.

Hotel Rooms (Les Chambres)

Visitors can find a range of prices for their rooms, accommodating both wealthy tycoons and guests on a budget. Most rooms have unique synthetic plants adorning their windowsills, which let in Ross’s red light through patterned curtains. The service itself is impeccable, making all customers feel valued. Most hotel staff only serve for a few cycles, and it’s best not to ask whether they will be coming back once they’ve left.

Lounge (Le Salon des Divans)

There are many strangely-shaped chairs, recliners, footstools and divans scattered seemingly pell-mell all over the Salon. The most striking feature is a large fireplace, whose realistic wood-burning effects have been constantly improved by modern technology. Patrons sidle up to the warm fireplace while making conversation about the porcelain figures adorning the mantlepiece.

Market (Le Grand Marché)

With the exception of the flea market, shops are found inside a large edifice supported by spiraling columns and countless decorative beams. Many well-known shops have outlets here, selling everything from decorative porcelain to high-tech gadgets. Meant to be as much a browsing experience as a shopping one, storefronts are large and carefully laid out, showcasing this cycle’s fashions or the latest synthehol blends.



There are designated spaces for locals to sell their own creations, with booths funded by the stations’ arts patronage schemes. These give artists a chance for a big break - a wealthy visitor may commission special pieces, which could be the start to an illustrious career. Other sellers can rent their own space, leading to a variety of items being on sale… Even if regular wares are looked down upon.

Public Market (Marché aux Puces)

This small, open-air section is next to the market building itself. Visitors are allowed to sell their own wares here, borrowing rickety metal stands which mimic old flea markets while conveniently cutting costs. Pompadour Citizens browse these products, just as often leaving with a scowl as with a smile.



A section of the market designed to look like a cloak room, the combined digital-and-physical keys for storage lockers are a work of art in and of themselves. Vendors sometimes use the lockers to store their more fragile or valuable products, while travelers might find space for extra bulky purchases here.


Landing in Madame de Pompadour takes place just outside the crater. Ships dock around the perimeter of the crater, on what is referred to as its “northernmost” point, by convention, and for ease of communication. Jetways connect ships to the port itself, allowing passengers, crew and cargo to travel safely to the crater. Because of limited space, traffic is well-regulated, and port authorities are not tolerant of delays. Many a stray passenger can be found waiting for a replacement shuttle, and families routinely take up the scant seating as they arrange for alternative transport.



A bustling river of humanity with endlessly branching tributaries flows from the shuttles arriving here, through the processing gates, to crash onto the banks of eagerly awaiting locals receiving visitors from near or far flung parts of the galaxy. A number of travelers post the usual glazed looks of those recently harangued by any type of transportation system created and run by the human species. They drift with a mixture of existential confusion and relief through to the station beyond. Always, they are scrutinized by security or some type of subspecies therein.

Shipping Bay

While the ships on Madame de Pompadour always run on time, or not at all, the Shipping Bay is another story entirely. Staff run to and fro as they attempt to send holiday goers' excess items to their homes, transport awkwardly shaped works of art safely, or find missing digital labels. However, despite packages sometimes arriving late, they always seem to find their final destination.


There’s a betting game played around the back of the docks - guess where a ship has come from, and you might win some credits. Ross Jump Gate ships are well-kept but dull, and often sport at least some details in Consortium blue. LeGuin ships are few and far between, usually plain silver. Vessels from House of Syria want to look more advanced than they are, using odd attachments and high-visibility lines. Pompadour’s own ships are the hardest to categorize - some are as detailed as those of Syria, others simple and functional, and a few purposely mimic the style of other stations.


Local Shuttles

Large screens show all arrivals and departures, color-coded based on their flight times, and a voiced PA system reminds passengers of the state of all ships in an incessant stream of units and statuses. It has the desired effect, as everyone longs to board their vessel on time, if only to get away from the never-ending drone of voices.

Ruins (Catacombes de Pompadour)

One layer below most of the station’s edifices sits a network of high-speed magnetic trains that transport people and goods from one side of the crater to the other. And a layer below that sit the Catacombes de Pompadour, underground tombs abandoned after the Catastrophic flood. Originally containing ossuaries for the first settlers of Madame de Pompadour, the catacombs host people running from the law, or wishing to remain in Pompadour despite their official extradition. Some of the most influential surrealist art is rumored to have been created within the catacombs by exiled locals, sold for a pittance to traders courageous enough to venture underground.

The Ruins serves up danger in all sorts of flavors. Scavengers pick through The Wrecks, fighting savagely for overlooked prizes among the debris. Syndicates, under license from station authorities, renew buildings and facilities within the Syndicate Districts. And The Wilds are nothing short of a warzone, where the toughest Syndicate militia battle hardened criminals in an endless struggle for spoils and turf.


The Wrecks (L'Ossuaire)

The mortal remains of the first settlers of Madame de Pompadour can be found in small lacquered boxes, laid one atop the other. Rather than names or dates, they’ve been inscribed with scenes from Old Earth - people holding fruit, fighting each other, travelling with their families. Despite the presence of miscreants, the ossuaries are rarely vandalized - gold may be pilfered and burial trinkets stolen, but the artworks themselves are rarely desecrated.

On any given day the Wrecks pivot between desolate emptiness and sparse population by desperate people avoiding prying eyes, bandits, and merchants looking for some cheap and interesting wares. It can be worth your time to pull on a pair of gloves and dig through the debris in the wrecks in search of something useful, just keep your wits about you during your excavation. You never know who's watching in the wrecks.

The Wilds (Les Murs d’Os)

When the Catacombes were still in use, the many bones of those lost to the Catastrophe were used to create a large mural. The proximity of death is appropriate for Les Murs d’Os - Syndicates opt to fight here, among the remains of old Pompadour Citizens, their bullets and energy blasts marring the many skulls lining the walls.

Syndicates use these bullet-riddled spaces for insecure storage, and many a bandit has been cut down attempting a bold raid on someone else’s well-guarded cache. Once a benign web of service tunnels; every inch of The Wilds now serves treachery and murder. Deep in the festering darkness, heartless animals track their prey guided by primordial instinct. Only fools come here without first securing a serious weapon and a clone back-up.


Order is carefully maintained in the station, both by the Gaule military and independent security contractors. All visitors are officially urged to consider private security if they wish to roam further afield than the usual tourist destinations. Various serious-looking bodyguards lounge around the office, looking relaxed but sharp as they scan newcomers.

Sick Bay (L’Hôpital de Pompadour)

People from Pompadour believe that plants soothe the soul, and nowhere is this more evident than L’Hôpital. Though not alive, the greenery adds a soothing touch, and gives people something to focus on while they wait for their appointments. Competent doctors take careful notes on their patients while robots take care of more menial tasks, applying gels and 3D printing bone replacements.

Galactic Destinations text

With the opening of the jump gate to Ross 154, we’re able to continue bringing you information on some of the intriguing new locales you can find within this scarlet tinged star system. This segment, Galactic Destinations brings you to the charming and picturesque Madame de Pompadour!

Madame de Pompadour is a Gaulish station situated atop a massive asteroid, with most structures housed within a large crater. The crater is covered by a hemispherical ‘lid’ which maintains the atmosphere within. Initially, holograms were projected onto the entirety of the inside of the ceiling, giving the impression that residents were looking straight up at the sky above. This, however, was quickly found to induce panic attacks, not the least of which were often suffered by newcomers to the station. The holograms were thus scaled back to specific segments, giving the impression of gigantic windows allowing the red sunlight of the system’s star to filter in.

While it is very large for an asteroid, its gravity is still quite low, despite technology’s best efforts, and there are many contingencies for this, from the way food and drink are treated, to the infrastructure within the station. While some structures can be found on the surface of the asteroid such as solar panels and various automated systems, most things are kept within the station crater, which is roughly 47 kilometres in diameter.

The station is the only Gaule presence in the system, and thus their fleet is quite advanced with a hefty military presence. It used to be the only Gaule station amidst three Consortium ones and thus endeavored to represent the very best of the Gaule Protectorate, as well as maintain the small foothold into a system which the Gaule did not want to lose.

The station’s supply of water used to be held in containers around the inner rim of the crater until the Catastrophe resulted in the release of all the security valves and safety mechanisms at once. This led to the station flooding, which, given the low gravity, made for some challenging situations until the water settled. After a day, the station had managed to salvage the situation with only a handful of casualties. However, less than a tenspan later, a large percentage of the population succumbed to a water-borne parasitic amoeba, which many had inhaled during the low-gravity flood.

After a thorough purification of the waters, the survivors made the most of the tragedy and tried to turn their previous crater-bound home into a beautiful canal-filled station. There are still echoes of fear around the lethal amoeba, and whether it could possibly have survived. Because of this, it is forbidden to swim in the waters, even though they’ve been thoroughly decontaminated.

The station itself sits on the (now water-filled) crater. While there is abundant water in nearby asteroids, which are often mined as ice, the station does not have enough other resources to care for much flora or fauna. Rather, artists have created holo-models of trees and flowers.

People sometimes travel on gondolas, as a tourist activity, but there are high-speed trains installed around the crater to help people and shipments cross larger distances.

Finally, this is a station of passionate people. Since the system is so varied, leaders aim to showcase the best of the Gaule Protectorate, and motivate people to excel in all aspects. After their mandatory military training, many people serve further cycles, even if they later go on to do other things. In this system, without much inter-factional hostilities, being part of the military is less dangerous, and usually amounts to a show of bravado and kicking off the odd Freebooter ship more than anything else.

As part of turning the station into a beautiful place post-Catastrophe, artists and architects have had a strong hand in modifying the interior, paid for by wealthy Gaulish patrons (who sometimes vacation here) and the Gaule government’s own art fund. Depictions of flora and fauna abound, to give the impression of the station being full of life. The architecture has been altered from its original Spartan look, to a detailed Rococo style, and music can be heard coming from the many tea houses, as well as spoken poetry.

The Catastrophe, it seems, served as a warning and chance to grow, but also affects people to this day. Poets and singers often mention the amoeba, but not by name – only as “mangeur de cerveau.” This leads to people who don’t know Pompadour’s history to misinterpret poems and songs. Rather, they often believe it is a metaphorical brain-eater, like the Mesh, or some kind of fabled creature used to scare children.

Architect’s Angle text

In this installment of Galactic Destinations’ offshoot, “The Architect’s Angle” we explore the attempts made by upright Citizens to preserve the historic buildings on their stations. Enjoy!

Welcome fellow world builders, aspiring apprenti, and curious craniums to the first installment of “The Architect’s Angle”. This periodical is dedicated to the exploration and examination of architectural and engineering feats throughout Tau. Everything from asteroid settlement engineering to Stanford Torus construction, to Old World masonry methodology -if someone built it, we dig it.

For our pilot interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with an old friend, Ser Jean Ketlandof the Pompadour Historic Preservation Society. Ser Ketland owns several high-end art galleries throughout Pompadour and is also a collector of prized objets d’art. He was instrumental in passing laws that now protect many of the Old World buildings that had fallen into disrepair on Pompadour after the Catastrophe.

Frank Knowright: Jean. So good to see you again. I think it’s been since university, no?

Jean Ketland: At least since then, yes. So many cycles.

Frank Knowright: Tell us about this preservation project you’ve undertaken in Pompadour. From my recollection the Gaule do an excellent job in maintaining the aesthetic quality of their station, no?

Jean Ketland: We do Frank, and we can do better. That’s why my daughter and I started the society with a close-knit group of friends. We’ve helped enact laws to maintain the Catacombs and preserve the beautiful works of art that were commonplace in Pre-Cat Pompadour.

Frank Knowright: The Catacombs too? I hear that’s a pretty dangerous place these days.

Jean Ketland: They are. Abandoned, neglected and dangerous. All the more reason to clean them up. You don’t destroy something that you respect Frank. You don’t damage beautiful things.

Frank Knowright: That’s an interesting take. I always figured that you shouldn’t destroy or damage things based on a fundamental respect for your surroundings, rather than on the quality of the object in question…. But what do I know? You’re a successful intersystem art dealer and I write for the Architect’s Angle. What other projects do you have blueprints for?

Jean Ketland: We’re also making a major push to designate the Haussman neighborhood as a historic district. You know that some of the buildings are believed to have been relocated straight from Old Earth? Many of the structures are Pre-Cat moon rock structures dating back to the station’s Belle Epoque. Two kilometers South of the mines, the District Haussman is made up of four concentric blocks of regal, stone apartment buildings surrounding the Park LeClerc. A Park we’ll be doing work on too. Nothing gets by the Society.

Frank Knowright: Wow. Ominous way to put that. Isn’t that neighborhood home to thousands of migrant workers? Won’t those changes affect them? Drive up real-estate prices on an already overpopulated and popular station?

Jean Ketland: People come and go Frank, buildings stay. I hear there’s a population crisis on nearby LeGuin that I’m certain would welcome an influx of “visitors”.

Frank Knowright: Funny how you felt the need to use air quotes for the word “visitor” there Jean. Why don’t we move swiftly along…. To any other conversation.

That’s all from me, Frank Knowright. You can catch Jean Ketland, and his daughter Artemis in the missionCradling the Stars” on Madame de Pompadour.

<—- Return to Ross 154

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