Get Adobe Flash player

story

REPUBLIC PLANETARY FACTSHEET:

Thrasybule Sector NJ21.4 “Kasthir”

(Kasthirian United High Elective Council’s Prescribed Settlement World #5)

Warnings: EXTREME SECURITY DANGER

EXTREME ENVIRONMENTAL DANGER

SEVERE HOSTILE BIOLOGICAL DANGER

Planetography: Solar Orbital Period 5.88 , Planetary Rotational Period 0.87 , Mass 1.12 , Gravity 1.08 , Metallicity 36 (%ile), Heavy Metal Toxicity 3 (%ile), Volcanism 16 (%ile), Hydrologic Capacity 97 (%ile), Atmospheric Pressure 0.59 at datum elevation. Approximately 80% of surface is dry sea-bed below datum elevation, with 20% rocky continents above datum elevation of overall fractal dimension 2.24. Highest point Republic Survey Marker NJ214-874, 24.6 N 57.8 E, +6718 m. Lowest point unnamed location 44.4 S 108.3 E, -3008 m. Most water sources are contaminated with toxic concentrations of heavy metals and there are many unmapped areas of unstable geothermal activity.

Atmosphere and Climate: Atmosphere approx. 85% N2, 15% O2, halogens present in amounts from irritating to fatal, especially at lower elevations. Approximate annual mean temperature range 300-320 K (polar), 320-330 K (equatorial datum elevation). Approximate daily mean temperature range ±10. Winds >100 kph are common in all continental zones and >150 kph in all sea-bed zones. Atmospheric halogen concentrations are in the fatal range at all elevations below approximately datum – 1000 m and may reach the fatal range at most locations on the planetary surface depending on weather conditions and localised geothermal events.

Biosphere: Infectious biota n/a (%ile). Indigenous life-forms are silicon based with a range of undescribed microbiological species present. Several deaths due to infection by unknown silicon-based organisms have been reported among travellers who recently visited THRNJ21.4. Macrobiological life is largely restricted to the dust seas. One report of destruction of a stock light freighter Forced to land in the dust sea by a hostile non-sentient biological has been received. The Kasthirian Death Annelid ‘Bone Sucking Worm’ is the most common macrobiological organism in the continental regions. It secretes hydrofluoric acid and amputation of any body part bitten by this organism is the recommended treatment. [See: Rep. Med. Ref. 21178-KJTY-M108.c] Numerous toxic and sometimes fatal reactions have been reported to other macrobiological organisms, including the Lemniscate Helminthoid ‘Brain Sucking Worm’, Azurite Helminthoid ‘Foot Eating Crystal’ and Yttrium Accumulating Xenoform ‘Toxic Bloat Bug’ [See: Rep. Med. Ref. 23424-RJKN-N022.a,b, and c]

Sentient Occupation: Estimated population 5E4.Main species: Duros, Human, Arconan. Licensed refueling depots: None. Licensed resupply depots: None. Administration: THR-NJ21.4 is nominally administered and policed from the Syndaar system, but there are no regular security patrols of the world. There is no recognised legal framework among the inhabitants of THR-NJ21.4 and criminal individuals and organisations maintaining weapons with capacity to destroy spacecraft operate on the planet. Documented settlements: (* indicates Class 7 unlicensed refueling and supply facilities reported) Northern Continental Mass 20-60 N 10-100 E Tarbsosk* 37.8 N 33.0 E, Shiny Fumarole 52.3 N 72,0 E, Granthos Valley 51.8 N 74.4 E Zygom’s Crypt 55.5 N 76.3 E, Black Knife Landing* 44.7 N 80.8 E, Krothos Landing 43.4 N 88.0 E Glory Hole 26.7 N 40.4 E (abandoned), New Cona Landing 48.7 N 81.8 E (abandoned), Xselcharvond 30.6 N 44.4 E (abandoned), Stuff This For a Joke 45.6 N 88.4 E (abandoned). There are believed to be numerous undocumented settlements on the Northern Continental Mass. Southwestern Continental Mass 0-40 S 110-170 W Xothrask 38.4 S 122.2 W, Mad Bastard(?) 23.2 S 150.5 W Breznor’s Landing* 26.1 S 150.8 W Old Gundark Mine 30.0 S 153.2 W (abandoned) New Gundark Mine 30.3 S 153.2 W (abandoned) Parallaxion 1.3 S 144.4 W(abandoned). Southeastern Continental Mass 10-50 S 20-60 E Joojantis Prime* 46.9 S 41.2 E Quagnor Landing* 49.6 S 44.8 E Phlebos Landing* 49.4 S 40.7 E Soliton Valley 49.3 S, 39.9 E Jackpot Valley 11.7 S 22.6 E, Crazyplex 33.5 S 26.7 E (abandoned), Xord 48.9 S 20.2 E. There are believed to be numerous undocumented settlements on the Southeastern Continental Mass. Equatorial Continental Mass 10 N-10 S 60-80 W No documented settlements recorded.

Economic Activity: Small deposits of exotic minerals are found in many locations on THRNJ21.4 Estimates based on sporadic interception of smugglers operating in the system suggest 2-10 GD of these materials are exported from the system annually.

Aronoke was very late to dinner that night. The cleaning droids were already bustling about, cleaning up after the diners, and only a few people were left, finishing off the remnants of their meals. He went up to get a plate and one of the droids stopped him.

“It’s very late, past the hour when dinner is traditionally served, Initiate,” said the droid. “Do you have an excuse for why you are so late?”

“I had to go and speak with Master Altus,” said Aronoke.

“Excuse accepted,” said the droid. “The refectory will be closing service very shortly, so please conclude your meal promptly.”

Aronoke was left to fill his plate, relieved that his excuse was good enough. Sat eating his food in peace. He noticed another kid came in, younger and even later than himself. The droid asked him for an excuse as well.

“I got distracted,” said the kid. “I didn’t notice what time it was.”

“Excuse denied,” said the droid. “Punctuality is an important and useful habit. Next time perhaps you will remember missing your meal and will be more punctual.”

“Aww,” whined the kid. “But I’m hungry! Look at him – he’s still eating.” He gestured at Aronoke.

“His excuse was acceptable,” said the droid. “He had a meeting with an important Jedi Master. Now please vacate the refectory.”

The kid complained a bit more, but the droid did not waver.

Sheesh, thought Aronoke. Fancy making such a fuss over missing just one meal – a meal that you hadn’t been hungry enough to attend in the first place. People on Coruscant were so obsessed with regular meals.  It was different to worry about eating if there was never enough, but here it was like worrying about holding your breath for ten seconds.  That you might miss out on some air.

The next day, he had to go for his rescheduled medical appointment. Continue reading

Aronoke was not certain what language Master Insa-tolsa spoke, but he could not understand it at all.  It was with a series of hand gestures and intonations that Aronoke was ushered over to the part of the testing facility where he was going to stay.  The big alien loomed high over Aronoke, had a long curved neck with peculiar eyes on a strangely shaped bar-like head at the end.  Later he learned that Master Insa-tolsa’s kind were called ithorians.

If Master Insa-tolsa hadn’t so obviously been trying to be kindly and welcoming, Aronoke would have been highly intimidated.  Though Master Altus had said he could trust these people.  Nevertheless, it was with some trepidation that he followed the two aliens, wondering what he had gotten himself into.

He was escorted to a human person whom the aliens spoke to in their sing-song voices. She seemed to understand them easily enough.  Turning to Aronoke she said, “I’m Mizra.  I’ll show you where your room is.”  She was abrupt, but Aronoke was relieved she spoke the same tongue he did and followed her readily enough.

“Arrow-noke,” said Mizra, reading it off her datapad, pronouncing it like ‘joke’.  She looked at Aronoke impatiently over the top.

“Aronoke,” said Aronoke.

“Oh.  Aronoke,” corrected Mizra flatly.  “You’re in number 412.”  She showed him where the door was.  Inside lay a small chamber with not much furniture, but Aronoke thought it must be like the one on the ship, with things that slid out of the walls.  Mizra didn’t explain how any of the functions worked, but seemed to assume that Aronoke would know how to do that already.  She seemed in a hurry to go away and do something else.

“The ablutions area is down at the end of this corridor,” Mizra said, waving her hand in one direction,  “and the refectory is down that way.”  She pointed the opposite way.  “You can find out the meal schedule on your viewscreen and that’s where your messages will arrive too. Tomorrow you will most likely be sent down to the testing rooms to be evaluated, but I don’t expect you will have to do anything before then.  You will probably want a bit of a rest.”

“Yes,” said Aronoke, feeling that was very true.  He was wondering what an ablutions area was.  And where the viewscreen was.  Mizra hadn’t shown him that either.

“There’s some meditation chambers down that way,” said Mizra, pointing in a third direction.  “And the exercise facilities are downstairs, but you probably don’t want to bother with all that.  You’ll be doing it all soon enough, if you get through. Just let someone know if you can’t find something.  They’ll be sure to tell you.” Continue reading

If Aronoke had thought the Quell flier was unusually clean and orderly, the off-worlder’s ship was even more so. There was hardly any dust anywhere, save for the trails filtering out of Aronoke’s clothing, and, to a lesser degree, that of the others. It was all sweeping corridors and tidy rooms. There seemed to be plenty of space, despite what Master Altus had said to the Quellers.

Master Altus and Hespenara were busy unloading the things that they had brought back with them and Aronoke took the time to look around himself. He had not looked very far when someone, a sollustan who seemed to belong with the ship, noticed him.

“Here to help with the unloading are you?” he said to Aronoke. “I don’t think there’s much need for it. Looks like we’re almost done. Master Altus hasn’t brought as much back with him as I expected he might.”

“He said I could come,” said Aronoke, not as vehemently as when he had said it to Hespenara.

“Oh?” said the sollustan. Aronoke had seen their kind before in Tarbsosk and occasionally beyond. “He said that did he? Well, in that case, welcome aboard. My name is Brox, and I’ll be responsible for piloting you all back to Coruscant.” He held out a hand and after a moment Aronoke shook it. “What’s your name, kid?”

“Aronoke.”

“Do you know any games? Once we get underway, there won’t be much to do. Might entertain ourselves with some games. Know how to play holochess?”

Aronoke shook his head.

“Ah, pity. Still, I’m sure anyone from a place like Kasthir can shake down an off-worlder like me at Sabacc or the like. Much as I’d rather keep my coin in my pocket, maybe we can play a few hands later. What games do you know?” Continue reading

Hespenara awoke shortly before the flier landed at the third testing site.  Wiped the little trail of drool from her cheek, looked around to see if anyone had noticed.  Aronoke had.  Looked back at her when she stared at him with curious interest.

Padawan, that’s what Master Altus called her sometimes.  Aronoke had recognised it as a title at once.  Like duster, or scraper or skimmer.  Still wasn’t sure what it meant.  Not concubine after all, he thought, but something more like “offsider”.

The flier was settling down on a stretch of high rocky countryside, somewhere Aronoke had never been before.  It was on top of a plateau high above the floor of the canyons, barren and rocky.  A place no one ever came, because there was no reason to go there.

When the off-worlders dismounted from the flier, Aronoke went with them.  Whereas before he had a vested interest in keeping them alive so he would not be abandoned in the desert, now he had even more of a reason due to Master Altus’s offer.

It couldn’t be true.  But even the smallest chance was worth pursuing.  Following the off-worlders across the plateau, Aronoke scoured the harsh landscape for dangers.  It was somewhat alien.  He had never been anywhere like this.  The air was hard to breathe.  The rocks lay scattered widely, but not randomly.  They were clustered here and there, some of them lying in patterns that looked like straight lines.

“It’s a ruin,” he said, surprised.  He had seen ruins before, although none like this.  People had lived here, for what purpose he could not guess, but the stone structures had obviously been quite extensive.

“Yes,” said Master Altus, seeming pleased.  “It looks very promising, much more so than the other sites.  Now, if you and Hespenara will stand back over there, my as yet unidentified new companion…?”

Aronoke followed Hespenara back quite some distance.

“You do have a name don’t you?” asked Hespenara, rather impatiently.

Aronoke nodded.

“Well, what is it?”

“Aronoke,” said Aronoke.

“Oh,” said Hespenara.  “Well, you know our names already, so I needn’t tell you them again.” Continue reading

The sound of the flier was completely gone before Aronoke felt capable of moving. He was not badly hurt, had merely been winded, but the sudden reversal of his fortune left him feeling stunned. When he finally did move, he picked himself up slowly, like he was an old man. Straightened his over-robe sheepishly. Master Altus was ignoring him entirely, was over with Hespenara, helping her with Marassi. The beater still seemed to be alive.

Aronoke stood still, looking about himself as the strangers tended his fellow Fumer. Hoped to see his blaster somewhere, tucked behind a rock or lying in the sand. Not because he held any thought of shooting the strangers. He was badly shaken, had been certain he was dead. Was almost relieved that he couldn’t see the blaster, because then he would have to go and pick it up and who knew what the strangers might make of that? They might think he was going to attack them and then what would happen? Yes, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to look for the blaster. Better a live skimmer with no blaster, than a dead skimmer. Not much better, but better nonetheless.

The off-worlders had Marassi loaded into the flier. Aronoke was surprised that they didn’t left him to die in the desert. Marassi would have done that to them happily enough, were the situation reversed. After looting their bodies. These off-worlders had strange ways, ways that would have made Aronoke consider them soft, if he hadn’t personally seen them fight.

Why hadn’t they killed him? A native guide? That made no sense. Aronoke knew the desert, sure enough, nearly as well as any skimmer. Had lived here and in Tarbsosk his entire life, but he didn’t know anything about these canyons or what the strangers might be looking for in them. Couldn’t even guess at what they might want there. There was nothing there to want.

After Marassi was loaded, the off-worlders made a desultory search of the area. Wandered around the gorge for a few minutes looking about themselves. They stopped to examine pieces of rock, even picking some of them up and turning them over. That was dangerous practice. Things lived beneath the rocks, beneath the sand, anywhere there was shade. Things that sensed movement, moisture and vibrations. Things that could burrow through living flesh as though it were baked bantha fat.

The strangers had proven they could look after themselves, were masters of combat to a degree that Aronoke would not have deemed possible just a short time ago. Had strange magical powers at their disposal.

But anyone could fall prey to the dangers of the desert, secretive and deadly as they were. Continue reading

It was a bright clear day, a good day. Any day you could see the ground clearly from the flier was a good day. Quasper was piloting as usual, Aronoke slouched in the passenger seat looking idly out the window. It had been a good haul, no problems, and Careful Kras would be pleased.

It was important that Careful Kras was pleased. Aronoke had good reason to want to avoid Careful Kras’s attention.

It had been some time since the incident with the mouthy duros kid, the little hostage who had given Aronoke so much trouble. He had been asking to be beaten up. You didn’t give the higher-up skimmers or beaters a hard time if you fancied having all your teeth in your mouth, if you liked your face the colour it was. The duros kid had only been a hostage, not even a valuable hostage. Careful Kras had wanted him undamaged, had ordered Aronoke to lay off him, but Aronoke hadn’t listened. The duros kid was very mouthy and thought he could order Aronoke around, so he had lost his temper and pounded him just a little.

Maybe it had been asking for trouble, Aronoke thought, but what followed had been all out of proportion for what was merely a minor case of insubordination. The hours of cutting and burning with liquid fumes, the scarring of Aronoke’s face.

Aronoke shuddered slightly as he thought of it, pulled his over-robe more tightly about himself. Concentrated on staring out the flier window so Quasper couldn’t see his expression.

Quasper Jowl wasn’t a bad sort as Fumers went. Had decided once, a long time ago when Aronoke had only just started skimming, that Aronoke was his luck. Said that it was only Aronoke’s luck that had got them through that sudden sandstorm and back to base without passing through the middle of a mountain along the way. Aronoke flew with Quasper a lot after that.

They were just flying over the place where the arconans’ speeder was – a relatively recent wreck. Aronoke had been assistant skimmer for Amicable Ozenari, more commonly known as Mill, the day the arconans had arrived. They were relatively new. Green miners. Mill’s flier was having battery problems and he had been worried it wouldn’t make it back to base. There was the radio. They could have used it to call for help if necessary, but Mill had landed and taken the arconan’s battery instead. It was a low thing to do, a malicious thing to do. Would have been kinder to shoot them dead. Next time they passed that way and every time since, the speeder had still been there. Aronoke didn’t know what had happened to the arconans. Bodies didn’t last long in the desert.

Today Aronoke straightened with interest in his seat, just as Quasper saw it too. Another flier, not a Fumer flier, but one from back in Tarbsosk. A Quell flier, that was it, with two strangers outside on the dirt investigating the arconan speeder. A couple of duros engineers loitered closer to the flier. Four then, at least.

“Should we go see what they’re up to?” asked Quasper. Continue reading