Things to See, Places (Not) To Go (14)

Jarnobu (Torch Radiant): While the system is controlled by the League of Meridian, Jarnobu is not counted among their 83 member worlds.

At first, this might seem puzzling, inasmuch as Jarnobu proper is a garden world eminently suitable to hosting sefir life, with a mild climate and a biosphere which is unusually compatible, biochemically speaking, with the sefir and their commensal species – to the point that native foods are edible without extensive preparation.

However, in a cruel twist of irony, it is this very biochemical compatibility that makes Jarnobu a unique form of sucker bait. While the native flora and fauna is certainly edible, it is also saturated with compounds which serve as potent euphoric and psychoactive drugs on sophonts with sefir-style nervous systems, many of which survive long enough ex vivo to be a constant low-level presence in the planet’s air and water.

Thus, Jarnobu does not resemble a traditional failed colony world, appearing to be a pleasant, low-technology, pastoral world – if one populated by people with a marked tendency to grin all the time, giggle at the slightest provocation, stare in fascination at their own appendages, and on occasion, fall over. Nonetheless, it is classified as one by the League.

No regular passenger or freight service calls at Jarnobu, and even visits by tramp traders are rare. (The world has no starport facilities beyond areas of cleared ground and landing beacons.) However, orbital scans show numerous abandoned junker hulks and homesteader pods on the planetary surface, regular immigration by means of which is presumably responsible for maintaining the planet’s population and technology.

Unusually, there have been few long-lasting attempts to export Jarnobun drugs to other worlds, and those which have persisted have been run by non-sefir syndicates. It appears that the difficulty of maintaining long-term chemical isolation in an environment where a seal failure will directly lead to precisely the kind of carelessness apt to induce a cascade has discouraged all but the most persistent.

Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (13)

Hotephny (Flaming Skies Complex): The throneworld and crown jewel of the Simple-Safe Regression, Hotephny is a world which no other polity would ever want, nor indeed be able to take, for Hotephny is a world uniquely hostile to any advanced technology – or, indeed, any post-lithic technology.

How is it hostile? Let us count the ways:

  • Located as it is in the Flaming Skies Complex, Hotephny is bathed in the region’s high levels of magnetism and stellar radiation, in addition to the activity of its own primary, a K-type flare star. Any technology dependent on electronics will not function on Hotephny without high-level shielding, and even purely electrical devices suffer from the extremely dirty power.
  • Hotephny’s native fungus-analogs, along with other chemotrophs, digest hydrocarbon-based plastics (including all known examples of petroplastic and bioplastics, save for a few members of the lactopolymer family) and many other polymers with great efficacy.
  • Another family of local lifeforms, bacterium-analogs, promotes the rapid oxidation of metals. It has been suggested that these show clear evidence of Precursor or other artificial origin – since they do not merely promote oxidation reactions from which energy can be harvested, but even drive those which require climbing a steep energy gradient using catalysts, acids, peroxides, and even perperoxides – but they have been little studied due to the difficulty of finding scientific equipment containing neither metal nor plastic, and scientists willing to risk personal dissolution. (Exoarchaeologists and paleotechnologists comfort themselves with the obvious conclusion that any Precursor site on Hotephny must, by now, be devoid of any useful remains.)

There have been three attempts, despite the above-noted undesirability, to seize Hotephny since the Simple-Safe Regression took possession of the world. All proved to be embarrassing defeats for the invaders, with troops equipped with their civilization’s most advanced military technology falling to a militia armed with ceramic-tipped wooden sticks. While naked.

While Hotephny would otherwise be an interesting world to visit for its pastoral landscapes and the ingenuity with which the Simple-Safe settlers have recreated much early metallic technology with ceramics and native materials, it is unfortunately true that a visit to Hotephny’s surface is certain to be a one-way trip, given the effects of its native life on spacecraft. Tourists should content themselves with the museum aboard the world’s single orbital station, operated by the Cubit-caste personnel of the Simple-Safe Regression’s governance.

A limited communication channel with the surface is available. This may in itself be of interest to visitors, being the Worlds’, and possibly the galaxy’s, only known example of surface-to-orbit heliography.

Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (12)

Atrocity (Falish Traverse): A former garden world orbiting a yellow-orange sun, Atrocity – or as it was formerly known, Telchese (Falish Traverse) was a colony world of the link!n-Rechesh. It had the unfortunate distinction of being located along the primary route into the Gardens of Rechesh volume when the Theomachy of Galia declared its holy war of expansion.

When the Galian fleet arrived, conflict was immediate. After the destruction of the small guard fleet and making planetfall, disgusted by the alien nature (see the Abomination of Hexapodia) and matriarchal customs of the link!n-Rechesh, the gall!r immediately turned their weapons on the populace, committing a brutal massacre near the occupation landing zone, and rapidly expanding this violence across all settled areas, with the Galian forces driving the natives into the wilds. Driven by insane religious zeal, the Galian commander embarked upon a campaign of genocide; when his ground forces proved insufficient to achieve this, he withdrew to orbit and performed a saturation bombardment of the surface with crude, dirty nucleonic weapons, sterilizing the majority of the planet and killing nearly 900 million link!n-Rechesh, along with many of his own ground forces. The planet remains uninhabitable to this day.

As news of the slaughter spread through the recently-opened Falish Traverse, the Galian fleet responsible was destroyed by an ad-hoc alliance of nearby polities and an Imperial Navy task force, which went on to establish the ongoing policy of containment and military limitation regarding the Theomachy, and to compel the Galians to cede the Gal-nachra (Falish Traverse) system in its entirety to the link!n-Rechesh; it was renamed in the local language as the Reparation (Falish Traverse) system.

Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (11)

Ulijen (Cordai Gap): Honestly, if I have to tell you it’s a bad idea to visit a planet that looks like someone took a bite out of a giant apple, you probably aren’t able to read this book anyway.

Ulijen is the infamous site of the eponymous Ulijen Disaster, in which an ill-advised attempt to tap power from the system’s primary using a wormhole resulted in the planet being bathed in heart-of-a-star conditions for long enough to vaporize a substantial chunk of its mass: the resulting crater covers a quarter of the planet’s surface area, and the rest of the planet is not a habitable world any more, either.

But that all happened long ago (circa -1,000), you say?

Well, there are three very good reasons not to go that still apply:

One, it’s astonishingly radioactive. Being effectively dunked in a stellar core causes a lot of neutron activation, and while to my knowledge no-one’s actually computed how much shielding you need to visit a planet that glows from orbit 8,000 years later, it’s certainly more than you have.

Two, to call it tectonically unstable would be to call Leytra (Ringstars) ‘bright’. When you vape that much mass off a planet, it tends to collapse back into a proper sphere under its own gravity. This is not an easy, short, or comfortable-to-be-around process.

Three: you want to go there to salvage paleotech, don’t you? Of course you do; that’s why anyone goes to a fossil world. But even if it wasn’t all vaporized in the disaster, you’re then going to try and sell someone a power generation system with a known history of destroying civilizations.

The likely consequences of this are best appreciated by reading my companion book, 1,769 Sophs Who Were Airlocked, And Why They Had It Coming: A Cynic’s Study Of Consequences (Bad Stuff Press, 7920).

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.


Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (9)

An Ember-class star distinguished only by its relative proximity to the Eye of Night (Last Darkness), orbited by a scattering of asteroids and an equally undistinguished dwarf planet (Geydagan Actual), the Geydagan (Last Darkness) System is occupied only by the Servants of Geydas, a cruel, hostile, aggressive, and secretive cult dwelling in a number of shabby surface habitats.

The Servants of Geydas are a polyspecific cult whose origins are lost in unreliable history. Their doctrine, pieced together from defectors, refugees, and espionage reports, is one of prostration before and service to their deity, Geydas, who is said to be imprisoned within the depths of the Eye of Night. Supposedly, Geydas created many ancient sophont races and offered them many gifts of knowledge, enabling them to ascend to enormous heights of scientific and technological prowess, but these species chafed under the control of their deity and grew jealous of its power, turning on it and collapsing an inescapable prison around it. Their victory came at the cost of their own destruction, as the deity’s rage lashed out even as he was imprisoned and brought their societies crashing down around them, but the deity remains imprisoned even now. The cult claims to have been contacted by the imprisoned deity, offering knowledge, enlightenment, and power in exchange for its freedom. At this task the Servants have labored for nearly three millennia.

There is, of course, no scientific evidence for the existence of Geydas, or for the historical events depicted, or for the Eye of Night being anything other than a perfectly natural black hole; and the notion that an entity can communicate from within the event horizon is flatly denied by known physics. In any case, the liberation of such a hypothetical deity from its prison would assuredly require the application of sophisticated ontotechnological space-time engineering techniques, and not merely the adept groveling, literal self-flagellation, or even sophont sacrifice that the Servants of Geydas have occasionally descended to.

In short: there are no security concerns whatsoever arising from these deluded cultists or their hypothetical deity. At worst, there is a minor req for pest control.

– Core Sextant Security Report, 7925