Location, Location, Location

The only permanently cold regions on Eliéra are the lands near its hub. On Upperside, divided by the grinding bergs of the Kjavalaer, the outer reaches of this region belong to the Icemarch, on the Alténiän continent, and to the Winter Principality elsewhere.

The outermost of these reaches are relatively clement windswept taiga, but as one advances towards the center, this soon gives way to cruel winter tundra. The land beyond the Frozen Gates is dominated by glaciers and permanently frozen ice fields, leading upwards to the barren, wasted foothills of the Talíär – or the Dalthíär, on the Underside – where endless ice storms and glaciers render the land nigh-impassable. The only successful settlements in this region are the siphon-towns of the Icemarch, buried deep beneath ice and rock, and accessed by ice tunnels leading far to the south.

Many explorers were nonetheless drawn to these regions, pulled onwards by the curious regularity and sixfold symmetry around the hub of the Talíär and Dalthíär mountain ranges. The most notable of these expeditions were those led by Nimínes Dalastel, whose third expedition reached the base of the Talíär proper, and whose sixth expedition, making use of base camps and caches established by the fourth and fifth, successfully ascended to one of the passes of the Talíär.

Had the expedition not correctly deduced the cause of the note resounding through the pass, it would undoubtedly have come to a fatal end after surmounting its narrow summit. Thus forewarned, however, the expedition proceeded with caution, and heavily secured by ropes, were the first to lay eyes upon the shaft within the Talíär; a near-vertical, artificially smooth descent plummeting not merely to the bottom of the mountains, but deep within the main body of the world itself.

(And so, the expedition solved a speleological puzzle of long standing. It had been observed that caves tended to “breathe”, and the predominant observation was that strongly connected caves – i.e., those leading into the network of deep-crust passages referred to as the Beneath – exhaled drafts of warmer-than-ambient air on a near-continuous basis.

We now know the source of this air is the Talíär and Dalthíär shafts. Cold stratospheric air pours through the passes of the mountains and descends rapidly into the bowels of the planet, where it serves to carry away the waste heat generated by the computation and matter editation layers of the machinery at its core. The then-heated air is vented into the Beneath, within which it cools and expands, and from which it eventually emerges at the surface as warm cave-breath.)

It is despite all this, then, that the Talíär was selected as the site for Eliéra’s first orbital elevator. While the difficulties involved in building a jack directly above a gale-force air intake in the middle of the arctic were indeed considerable, this is merely to say that the other two possible sites were worse…

– World on a String: A History of Early Orbital Elevators

Bad Moon Rising

(Sorry for the low activity levels, folks. It’s taking me longer than I’d like to shake off this miserable respiratory bug, and I can’t claim to be doing very much at all recently. But here, have a snippet inspired by longer-work-plotting activity.)

“She started out life as Slow Dancer, superheavy tug out of the Limerí cageworks. She didn’t have the aft superstructure at that point – just the forward grapple array, since the Consortium commissioned her to do orbital adjustments on the inner moons before the elevator could go up, sync them up with timed cable swings to make sure they’d never intersect it.

“She didn’t become Moonseeker until after the Revolt started, and the nuke got blown in one of the elevator cars. The bottom three-quarters fell down and mostly burned up, but the loss of tension sent the top quarter and Avétal with it out of its new orbit on a slow road to nowhere. Then the countermass rep paid Limerí thirty-points-over to yank the drives out of everything under construction, weld ’em onto their tug, and go chase it down.

“…well, obviously we had to get it back. You don’t let anyone blow up your moon and just install a replacement. What would people think?”