Wheelmark was originally called “The Wheel” by every outsider that visits it – for obvious reasons, but “Benchmark” in the oral traditions of all the original inhabitants for equally unknown reasons. It is clearly a mega-engineered system, where there are a number of essentially identical planets sharing orbits. The extent of the engineering is not fully known – it is a terrifying fact that from the Wheelmark system, all the brightest local group stars line up behind each other perfectly, forming a brilliant set of spherical gridlines. Further, some of the planets appear to have geothermal balancing which should not be remotely stable.
The system was clearly set up long ago by Someone Else to allow comparative testing of civilization growth under equivalent environmental stresses. There are multiple orbits – like a couple identical hell worlds, a couple identical gas giants, and the ring of incredibly lush and productive paradise worlds.
The settled worlds are around the atomic age, just reaching into the rest of the system and coming in contact with each other now – but radio broadcasts/etc have made them aware of each other for a few centuries. The various worlds are insanely competitive and hostile with each other so far – the first wormhole scouts were met by representatives from five different groups within a few hours and a battle nearly erupted over who would get “first contact”. They pursue trade with other systems over doing anything with each other, seem always on the brink of intrasystem war, and it’s all very amusing to the rest of the Cluster because to most people, they all seem identical despite each world’s firm belief in its uniqueness and superiority.
Each world is populated by humans surprisingly homogeneously, and has formed what they term a “Wheel Clan”. Outside the cluster they remain tightly knit, often fighting amongst themselves and competing for trade and