Archive for Ad Astra

Wolf 359


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Wolf 359 is a red dwarf star. The only reason for the settlement here is that it lies on the Jump-1 route from Earth to Procyon and beyond. The inner system has a dense asteroid belt, that contains the basic starport. The starport is home to a number of refugee families who have been unable to find passage onwards to Procyon. Asteroid miners extract Helium 3, which is sold on as premium fuel at the starport. Smugglers & outlaws are suspected to use the belt as a hideout. There is also a recently established Earth Union fleet observation post – its mission is to support the blockade against Procyon.

There is a single planet – a gas dwarf (named “Cub”) in the far out system. A small deuterium mining post extracts fuel from its atmosphere. Cub is believed to be a captured planet. The old Earth Union sponsored a research base to investigate it. The base is now running short of supplies.

Wolf 359 is a flare star, which can suddenly emit deadly bursts of X-rays. Habitats and ships in the inner system must be flare shielded at all times.

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D542116-9, pop=70

White scrub, desert

The only settlement on Lalande is a luxury villa belonging to Nora Herzog Wittelsbach, an Old Earth noble. Since the fall of Earth, the duchess now lives here full time – whilst still retaining a good deal of influence on both Earth and Procyon. The compound is defended by ground based weapons and two system defense boats.

The planet is a ghost, orbiting a red dwarf. The world used to support a diverse ecology, but its oceans and most of its atmosphere have been boiled away. Only the hardiest species have survived. A notable surviver is the Lalande sand worm – a brain burrowing parasite. As life on the planet dwindled, the larval stage evolved the ability to go into hibernation, lying dormant for incredibly long periods of time, until one of the few remaining hosts came along. Now all the hosts are gone, but billions of the larvae are still out there, waiting…

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DX Cancri


B1478AA-8, pop=200m

DX Cancri is a red dwarf star. The colony is located on an inhospitable gas giant moon. It was founded only a century ago by William Chu, a young radical from Earth’s Favoured caste. Chu is adored by his followers. His decisions govern every aspect of life in the colony. He has preached rejection of the Uploads, and the destruction of the caste system. Ever since, the colony has been a destination for Earth’s disaffected. Chu still runs the colony, even though he is now very elderly.

The Commonwealth has reached out to the Cancrites, arguing that they have a common cause against the Uploads. Many Cancrites are sympathetic, but Procyon stands between them and Earth, and Cancri is too poor to threaten Procyon in any case.

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This binary system (Alpha=G2, Proxima=K1) is the closest star to Earth’s Sun. The planet called “Centauri” orbits Alpha Centauri. Its land surface is mostly island chains and a few small sub-continents. There is lush green vegetation. Wildlife is mainly insect-like creatures, none of which grow very large.

The world was colonised by Earth’s very first wave of slower than light ships. The early colony failed to develop much vitality. A second wave of colonists arrived once jump drive was introduced. These were mainly low tech utopian religious (Wheelie) communities from Earth’s underclass. The original colony still exists, but it is just one community amongst many. The warrior castes of rival Wheelie nations regularly battle each other without significantly disrupting the majority of agricultural communities. There are chaos cults in the outback, which are feared by all.

The primitive Centauri colony was protected by an indulgent Upload elite on Earth. Now that the Commonwealth has taken over, it is only a matter of time before they begin to exploit such a valuable nearby garden world. Already there are plans afoot for “relocation camps” in the outback. The starport has a contingent of Commonwealth Marines, and the system is patrolled by a squadron of Earth Union frigates.


Epsilon Eridani


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This system is the key waypoint for ships destined for Kapteyn and the Xa Imperium. Commonwealth starships regularly patrol the system, to discourage Procyon-registered vessels from using it. As a result, most Procyon traders now travel via Sirius.

The colony is on Epsilon Eridani b-4, a large gas giant moon, well outside the star’s habitable zone. It is in the late stages of a centuries-long terraforming project – the thin atmosphere is now breathable, but the climate is still frigid. Giant orbital mirrors have been built to warm the moon, and sulfur hexfluoride had been added to the atmosphere to create a greenhouse effect. Algae have been introduced to the water oceans to create oxygen. Typical weather is snow, or icy rain. Terrain is barren, with pools of slime and occasional hoards of terrestrial snails.

Fluorite prospecting and mining are major industries – as vast amounts of SF6 are required for the terraforming. The gas is also exported to support alien terraforming operations. Food is produced in algal beds and energy intensive greenhouses, as well as imported. Snails are farmed for food. There is one major city, “Falstaff” (pop=80k).

In recent years, the Esperanzan Commonwealth have stopped anti-matter exports to Eridani, as part of their blockade of the Core Worlds. This has lead to food shortages and rationing.

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Procyon was amongst the first of Earth’s off world colonies. Planted centuries ago by slower-than-light colony ships, before the discovery of jump drive. The earliest population was from Earth’s European continent. These people are known as the “Old Andorians”. In the centuries since, most immigrants have come from the Outer Planets (“Belters”), or Earth’s underclass. This is a balkanised world, mostly governed by mega corporations whose philosophy is akin to the mercantile spirit of Earth’s Belters. The largest corporate state is “Andor”. There is a global “Steering Committee”, which acts as a talking shop for intercorporate cooperation.

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Jump Drives

Jump Drives are the only known means of faster than light travel. They allow spacecraft to travel through a wormhole that follows a “jump chord” between two nearby stars. Jump-1 chords connect stars up to 1 parsec apart. the chord has a well defined start and end point, usually within the inner system of its star.

The spacecraft travels in normal space to the local chord endpoint. It then engages its jump drive, and disappears from normal space. Approximately 5 days later the ship It instantly emerges from jump at the chord’s other endpoint, near to the destination star.

Travelling to and from the jump point in normal space is often the longest part of a journey. Even with the best commonly available space drive (antimatter-catalysed fusion direct drive, capable of 1G continuous thrust) it can take several days to travel between the jump point and a world in the habitable zone. Travel to the outer system often takes weeks or months.

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Until recently, Earth was dominated by a vast computer network called the “Virtuality”. Over the centuries, hundreds of billions of people uploaded their minds into this “life after death”. Eventually, living people came to be a minority who were largely excluded from decision-making. Out in the living world, nation-states still existed, cooperating through a fairly strong “Earth Union” – successor to the United Nations. However, aside from a tiny elite, most living people felt entirely disenfranchised. Many chose to go to the colonies rather than live as a second-class citizen.

In the last decade, telepathic radicals from the colony world of Esperanza have infiltrated, and entirely overturned this ancient, conservative society. One by one, they seized control of Earth’s nation states, destroyed the Virtuality’s data centres, and imposed their own brand of totalitarianism. Finally, four years ago the central Earth Union fell completely under their sway, and the remaining conservative nations were conquered in a short, bloody war. Today, the “Next Step” radicals are still consolidating their hold over Earth, whilst pushing aggressively on into the Outer Planets.

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