Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (10)

The Burning Brickyard: Located in the middle of the Bright Desert, in possibly the most inhospitable terrain Eliéra has to offer, this 108-acre site is the primary nuclear waste storage site on the eldrae homeworld, with millennia of high-level waste stacked in pyramids of vitrified glass bricks glowing gently, interspersed with occasional stacks of long-set bricks of decontamination foam from ancient clean-ups.

Of course, you can’t see any of that from the perimeter fence; unless you have business there, you can see the small administration building, and the even smaller visitor center, and that’s about it. Do not cross the perimeter fence to try to get a better look at the waste however impressive sight you might think the sight to be; the signs hung on the fence reading “IF YOU CROSS THIS LINE YOU WILL DIE” are intended literally, and if you ask at the visitor center, they can show you the small pile of bricks containing the remains of the last few fools who thought that they weren’t. On the monitor feed, of course; they won’t be safe to visit in person any time soon.

Just buy a postcard at the gift shop, and move on.

Better yet, write and ask them to send you one.


Trope-a-Day: Orion Drive

Orion Drive: As we mentioned way back in Nuclear Weapons Taboo, Eliera was always enriched in heavy metals, including the uranium family, and low on fossil fuels; and since the first set of uses of nuclear technology were all harmless civilian applications before anyone ever thought of weaponizing it…

Well, yeah.  Orion drives, or nuclear pulse drives rather, were an obvious development, from the early days of Project Phoenix (orbital shots), for satellite launches, and on through Project Oculus (near-orbit space station) and Project Silverfall (moon shots), and on through the early days of space colonization.  And not just for orbital maneuvering; they were used for ground launch, although replacing fission bombs swiftly with laser-triggered fusion pellets, up until they were eventually replaced with gas core closed-cycle nuclear thermal rockets, and eventually with mass driver/laser ablative hybrid drives for bulk cargo and trimodal NTRs for passengers, and eventually with beanstalks.

(Of course, this wasn’t entirely without consequences.  While the name of the Bright Desert originally referred to the glare reflecting off the pure white sand, the pleasant Cherenkov glow coming off both the glass-lined craters of the Imperial Orbital Launch Reservation and the pyramids of glass ingots stacked in the Burning Brickyard – the primary planetary nuclear waste disposal site – gives it an entirely new meaning these nights. Fancy nuke-resistant fallout-minimizing launchpads weren’t invented immediately, after all…)