Casual Play Astrogation

Rho Hadhafang Mass 56b (Concolir)

As the void of normal space-time flexes and spreads itself before you, scans triggered by your ship's integrated intelligence sweep space, settle on a world bathed in a hazy cloud of radiation. In the distance, a fat, orange-red sun hangs sick and dying, as ancient as the few chunks of rock that still orbit it, but it's this nearest planet, this hazy world that keeps your attention.

It isn't like other worlds you've seen– it has a wobble to it, strong and wild. The surface is all carbon, glassy smooth except for a single deep scar that cuts across one side, and the overall shape of the thing is slightly ellipsoid, almost as if it has been squeezed somehow. All around it, errant chunks of rock and ice float in the radioactive wash, each piece slow-moving and silent, caught in orbit but slowly drifting away, moving almost as if pulled toward some other place, some other destination.

While you wade through the data, your ship's integrated intelligence starts to work on solutions, explanations. The first few theories are duds, quickly disproved by the readings coming in, but when analysis of the area, of local space and network readings from neighboring systems start to come in, mesh with scans of the planet, a more complete picture of what happened comes in. Rho Hadhafang Mass 56b is only part of a planet– it's the solid, terrestrial core of a gas giant, of a world that had been a huge ball of methane and other atmospheric hydrocarbons until the majority of its mass was burned and torn away by the passing of a rogue star that went speeding through the system several million years ago. What's left is only a radioactive shadow of the world as it once was. Scarred, turning slow, endlessly, it is nothing now but a relic, the bones of a once great planet lingering like a grave marker in the depthless void.

Looking at it, knowing the forces that shaped it, left it as it is now, you feel a sense of sadness for the loss of the giant that was, yet even here, even in this darkness, there is hope. This world– it has never before been seen by human eyes. The notes you upload to the network are new, as are the mining rights you register, put on the market even knowing that the radiation levels will make them a hard sell. A quick flyby of the world with a mote-probe gives a high-resolution feed of the surface, and as the probe returns to your ship, you pick out the next point of interest in your ship's database, spin up the phasedrive, prepare to make the jump back to between-space.


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