Epistolary Experiment (24/30) – Revised First Segment

(This is the corrected version, with fixed astronomy…)

The Eye of Night (Last Darkness) System has the distinction of being the only black hole accessible to the Associated Worlds, and indeed, the primary reason for the existence of the Last Darkness constellation.

The black hole itself, Eye of Night, is designated as the system primary. It boasts a magnificent accretion disk, fueled by the asteroidal remnants of the system, and a stream of infalling matter drawn from the system secondary, the mottled red giant star Bloodshot.

As such, the entire system is designated a high-radiation environment, and entry should only be attempted by starships hardened against the prevailing radiation and thermal conditions. There are, for this reason, three stargates opening into the Eye of Night system, all orbiting coplanar with and in the outer fringes of the accretion disk to make best use of its occlusion umbra. Current occlusion status information and forecasts are available from Ring Dynamics public sources; visitors are advised to consult these and make all appropriate drift calculations before selecting their emergence point; emerging above or below the plane of the accretion disk significantly increases radiation exposure and other associated hazards.

Little civilization exists in the system. The majority of it is found on the Empire’s Edgewalker Research Station, a deeply-buried beehive habitat orbiting further into the fringe of the accretion disk. The habitat is operational the majority of the time, due to its heavy natural shielding, but may close down external services and near-surface facilities at short notice during radiation storms.

Edgewalker Station is run jointly by Dynamic Spatial Geometry Group, a research collective, and by the Order of Endings Manifest, a monastic order of Entélith – indeed, there is much overlap between the two, as the devotees of the Lady of Death and Endings take great interest in such research. It also houses modest facilities for visiting researchers and tourists, and a small funerist, capable of performing appropriate death rituals for many species of the Worlds.

Orbiting much closer to the Eye is the Eft Sédir Containment Facility, a maximum security prison run for a consortium of Accord polities by a division of the White Hands mercenary fleet. Eft Sédir lies within the inner accretion disk, protected against escape attempts and rescue attempts alike by the extremely hostile local environment. It survives in its location by means of extremely heavy coaxial radiation shielding and electromagnetic deflectors similar to those used in coronal habitats.

The Facility is designed as a skyhook extending from its anchor asteroid (home of the prison administration facilities and its spaceport) down towards the hole; prisoners are held in modules attached to the skyhook and resupplied by one-way descender ‘bots. The Facility uses the increasing levels of gravity as the skyhook descends to assist in the containment of their more violent and dangerous prisoners; modules can be placed at levels offering from near-microgravity to a crushing twelve standard gravities. In the event of riot, attempted escape, or other trouble, separation charges can blow any module clear of the skyhook and drop it into the Eye, or the entire skyhook can be separated from its anchor, likewise. Approaching the Facility is not recommended for anyone except for an approved White Hands prisoner transport; the locals are unfriendly, and the station will fire on anyone entering its claimed million-mile security zone.

Points of Interest: The only other structure of interest in the Eye of Night System is the remains of a tarvic project to magnetohydrodynamically tap energy from the infall of stellar plasma originating from Bloodshot. While abandoned partway through construction, and obviously derelict, this miles-long megastructure is still remarkable, the more so that it continues to hold station within the plasma streamer despite centuries of neglect.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Ecumene