The galaxy's biggest and oldest space station.
The Ark is galactically ratified as a neutral zone – no one civilization may lay claim to owning it, and the facility itself is managed by an ever-rotating cast of diplomats and engineers from all the partner civilizations. Humanity was welcomed onto the Ark (but not yet onto the Ark council, though they are welcome as delegates) three dozen years ago. It is equal parts an intergalactic diplomatic safe zone, gargantuan market, and home to members of all known races.
Some ships are simply too large or unwieldy to dock with The Ark, so some time ago, no one remembers when, these ships started an orbit around the station and sent shuttles in lieu of docking. The number of unwieldy ships grew until now the Ark is perennially surrounded by an orbiting mass of interstellar ships, called The Ark Ring. The Ark has a limited number of docking ports, and they are coveted. Most crafts have to join the Ring and wait for a shuttle to transport them in.
The Ark system of wormholes does not exist around any natural star, so centuries ago, a massive project was put into place to artificially create a small star for the system to orient itself around. It is the size of a white dwarf, but artificially induced so it burns with the light of a young Sol type star. This provides power to the system. That side of the Ark is completely covered in solar panels, and you realize it likely also runs on a tridubidium system. The star is powered by regular, mandated donations of nuclear fuel from each participating civilization.
There are no obvious weapons, which is, in its own way, even creepier than a lot of weapons.
Once onboard the Ark, the convoluted, interpenetrating layers of the lower decks are dizzying. Newcomers usually need to hire guides to help them navigate the public and private places. Ark guide is an honored role for many young members of Ark civilizations to take as they pursue their dreams of becoming a merchant or diplomat’s aide aboard the Ark. Some graduate to positions higher up in the Ark bureaucracy, but most eventually take positions aboard visiting ships and depart. It’s the NBC page of intergalactic internships.
There are different neighborhoods set to different levels of gravity, from approximately 1.5 earth gravity, down to .25 earth gravity in others, to accommodate many races. Standard gravity is about .75 earth, though. In addition, food generation is mostly sectioned off – the carbon-based lifeforms tend to eat separately from the lithium and silicon based civilizations, simply because this segregation helps the food providers cut down on shipping costs. This means one is more likely to see members of their own race if they don’t make an effort to explore the areas of the Ark that are less specialized to cater to them.
Aside from the Merchant’s Quarter and the government and embassy promenade, the Ark houses a gigantic casino and dozens of hotels surrounding it. It’s known as the prime location for any major sporting event and has an arena built to house whatever field is necessary for the competitions.
It’s the size of a small moon, with bits missing from where the ships didn’t fit together exactly. Once onboard, you take a shuttle to where you’re going, and there are public transport options to get from one quarter to another, and if you can afford it you can rent a shuttle car.
You can afford it, but it limits your travel group to 4.