Casual Play Astrogation

Alpha Betel Phaetoss 22t (Hyphomonii)

The first thing you see when your ship slides out of between-space is a star– a standard yellow transitioning and growing towards red. It's like Earth's sun, but bigger by almost a third of a solar mass, with a handful more planets, most baking and fracturing in the building heat.

Closer than the star, the target of your jump moves slowly into view from the left, fills your viewscreen– a planetary binary that network entries label immediately with local names of Himmel and Holle. Like lost lovers, they cling to one another, both similar in shape but drastically different on the surface. While Himmel looks almost habitable, has liquid oceans and a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere high in argon, Holle has only a trace atmosphere, rotates at a speed so slow that it only bakes and freezes, the dark side bitterly cold, the light side blasted and burning, highly radioactive. Between them hangs a field of debris, all of it ceramic, bone and void-frozen cartilaginous fibers, as if some great battle occurred there centuries ago between two armies who had no grasp of how to use, or perhaps no interest in the use of alloys, plastics and metals.

Or maybe the debris field was picked completely clean at some point in the distant past. There's no way to tell. The blasted remains of whatever happened in orbit are too old, too beaten by time, dust, ice and stone to yield much more than a definite extraterrestrial origin. Quietly, you scan some of the debris with a mote-probe, work your way through the network entries on the world-pair. Nothing new comes back. Nothing you can contribute. No evidence of a civilization on Himmel or Holle. No attempts to colonize the worlds either. Mining surveys paint both worlds as being mostly basalt and containing very little of value. A more comprehensive, six-month survey operation was scheduled a few years back to see if initial explorations of Himmel might have missed something of value, but the mission was canceled due to lack of funds. No one's done more than cursory scans of the pair since.

Only vaguely curious, you pick over the debris for a little while longer, then pack in the mote-probe and spin up your ship's phasedrive. One last glance is all you give the pair, and then you're gone, back in between-space, bound for your next destination.


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