The long strange trip
Homeworld of Ari Dunton
C360757-D Desert world, Rich, Research station – Beta 713 Im F1V
- Primary F1 V
- Gas Giants 3
- Planetoid Belts 1
Starport C Routine: No Construction, Major Repair, Unrefined fuel
Size 3 Small (4,800 km)
Atmosphere 6 Standard
Hydrographics 0 Desert World 0%
Population 7 Moderate (70 million)
Government 5 Feudal Technocracy
Law 7 Moderate Law (no firearms)
Tech Level A Early Stellar (jump drive)
A rich Imperial world located in the Regina Subsector of the Spinward Marches. Yori has a hot climate and a standard oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. Salt mining from Yori’s huge dried sea beds is the planet’s main industry; this salt is highly valued by the food industries of many worlds.
The Yori system contains an imperial research station on the 14th moon of the system’s second gas giant and rumors persist of an Ancients site on the moon.
The world’s main industry is salt mining. Yori’s huge dried sea beds provide a salt enriched with an unusual combination of minerals that are much sought after by the food industries of many worlds.
Research Station Beta is located on the 14th moon of the system’s second gas giant. Officially, it is there to study gas-giant weather. Rumors persist of an Ancient site on that moon, but rumors persist of an Ancient site almost everywhere.
Located in the Spinward Marches just 2 parsecs from Regina is the small desert world of Yori. Yori orbits the gas giant Dectura, which in turn orbits the F1 main sequence star Liecs (pronounced “likes”). This world is the seat of the Baron of Yori (one of the titles of Norris Aella Aledon, the Duke of Regina), and is home to nearly 74 million people (including about 30 million Humans). Yori is predominantly desert but has a great rift valley 10,000 km long with fertile land on its floor.
Today, Yori is a moon of the gas giant Dectura but once it was a planet in its own right. Dectura has an axial tilt of just over 24⁰ to its orbit and the other significant moon (Tino) and the ring system (Skyline) both orbit close to Dectura’s plane (as defined by its axis). But Yori’s orbit is inclined by another almost 29⁰ making for a combined angle of approximately 53⁰ … almost a polar orbit (in relation to the system) around the gas giant. This is offset by Yori’s axial tilt of 66⁰ (the other way) relative to Dectura, with the final result that Yori’s effective tilt is only 13⁰ relative to Liecs (the main star).
When Dectura is in Yori’s sky it has 4.3 times the apparent diameter that Luna has in Earth’s sky. Skyline (Dectura’s ring system) is double this.
Yori’s high density creates a surface gravity more commonly found in worlds twice its size. This, and the high level of volcanic activity, has resulted in an atmospheric pressure at base level of 17% above standard pressure. (Since there are no oceans or proper seas the terms “base level” and “base altitude” are used in preference to the term “sea level”.) But Yori is a dying world. It’s atmosphere is composed of 12% oxygen … higher than expected given the lack of oceans but lower than ideal for human habitation (22% oxygen). When based on oxygen levels base altitude on Yori is the equivalent of an altitude of 3.5 km above sea level on Terra. Worse, observations have shown that the oxygen level of the atmosphere is dropping by about 1% (of total composition) every 10,000 years. It is thought that the oxygen levels will eventually stabilise at around 6% (half their current value).
Yori was once dominated by warm shallow seas and had an extensive eco-system, but most of the water is now gone and only a few lifeforms survive on the harsh surface. Much of the water was lost into space (and is still detectable to scientific scanners) but there remains a vast network of underground rivers and lakes. Collectively (and misleadingly) called the “Undersea” this network ranges from just below the surface to dozens of kilometers underground. The deeper parts of the Undersea are superheated and steam is often vented in the many volcanic eruptions this planet experiences. The Undersea was evidently once part of the surface oceans of long ago, fish and other marine creatures inhabit the Undersea in abundance … now evolved for a life without light. The Undersea eco-system is sustained by a combination of hydrothermal vents and a curious evolutionary adaptation called “Desert Coral”.
The general surface geology in many areas is composed of limestone, dolomite, and other carbonaceous strata carved into tortuous mazes and canyons. Analysis shows that at about the time Yori lost its seas the water had become suddenly (in geological timescales) acidic. Often these formations can be buried under the shifting sand dune ‘seas’ that slowly migrate across the planet’s surface. There are also several mountain ranges of silicate bedrock created by the numerous volcanoes.
Despite the lack of water not everywhere on Yori is desert or mountain. In the northern hemisphere (50?N) a single small sea survives. The frequent winds whip the surface up, giving rise to the sea’s name of White Wash. White Wash covers an area of 150,000 square kilometers (or about 0.15% of the total world surface).
Scarland is a great rift valley 10000 km long. It extends from White Wash in a south-westerly direction half way around the planet. It reaches 16?S after 6500 km where it forks: one branch running due west for another 3500 km before petering-out; one branch running due south for 1500 km before also petering-out. The valley floor of Scarland is the only genuinely fertile land on the planet. A great river runs the entire length of Scarland, including both branches, and eventually empties itself into White Wash.
Two other features of note are “Salt Top” and “Soft Spot”. While the desert regions have numerous salt flats “Salt Top”, in the northern hemisphere, is a single unbroken salt flat covering half a million square kilometers. It is thought that Salt Top is where Yori’s last major sea ‘died’, and as such it holds a certain romantic fascination for Yori’s inhabitants. Soft Spot is a region of 1.5 million square kilometers near the equator. It is a geological anomaly: the rock here is broken and pulverised to considerable depth, and rich in easily recoverable tin and uranium ores.
The general lack of surface water on Yori has given rise to some unpleasant extremes of temperature. In the open desert during periastron noon day temperatures at the equator reach 60⁰C … well above the human limit of habitability. At the same location the temperature drops at night to a comfy 16⁰C. Meanwhile, the long polar nights within the northern arctic circle can see temperatures slid to a chilly -45⁰C (during apastron).
40% of Yori’s population are human while the other 60% are a minor race who call themselves the “Zhurphani” (confusingly they also use the term to apply to all local inhabitants including Humans). Prior to contact with humaniti the race called themselves the “Zhurph”. Archaeological research indicates they arrived on Yori by STL generation ship approximately 3000 years ago (there is almost nothing left of this vessel). The identity and location of their homeworld remain a mystery.
The Zhurphani are 2 meter tall bipedal omnivores. They weigh from 40 to 150 kilograms and have two arms. They have 2 eyes in the front of their head with 2 ears above and a many-toothed mouth below. They can see in both normal light and in infrared. They appear to be vaguely reptilian but are actually warm-blooded.
Over time the Human and Zhurphani cultures have merged into a fairly homogenous mix. There is now just one culture which is a fusion of the two. Evidence can be seen in the local language which borrows words from Zhurphani and Human languages and mixes them together. For example: the outermost gas giant of the system has a Zhurphani name (Dusoswa) while its ring system is called Dusoswaring (Dusoswa-Ring) … an Anglic suffix to the Zhurphani name. There are no racial tensions between Zhurphani and Yorian-born Humaniti.
Yorians operate on a shortened version of the Vilani day cycle. Each local day is split into four equal periods of 7 hours 21 minutes: Work, rest, work, sleep. The “work” periods are in the morning and evening, allowing people to find shelter from the noon-day heat during the “rest” period. This system was apparently developed for outside use in the equatorial regions (including Scarland) but has become a planetary standard … being also used both in the polar regions and inside the modern air-conditioned cities.
The dominant religion of Yori has always been a form of polytheistic animism, but at different times different gods have been in ascendance. Which god is dominant has a profound effect on Yorian culture. Many details of Yori’s religion are unknown as viewing the “A’chim Papers” (liturgical writings) is restricted to Yori’s “Advisors” (members of the government legislative council). These Advisors reveal their interpretations of the A’chim Papers as and when they feel it is appropriate. Regardless of which god is dominant, the religion centers around the belief that by appeasing the gods the believer can avoid the slave pits of “Corsu”, the mythical Yorian hell.
At the time of the second Imperial Grand Survey (published in 1065) the god “Chaarni” (or “he who moves the sand dunes”) was dominant. The IISS survey team noted that Yori had a monolithic culture displaying a positive attitude towards change and new ideas, and a significant drive towards progress. Locally produced goods were technology level 13. The population was unaggressive with a strong anti-war sentiment (there was no local military despite signs of significant past militarism), and generally xenophilic. Many starship atlases still carry this information.
However, by 1104 the god “Zeludeous” (or “deep one of the undersea”) had displaced Chaarni and a sea-change in Yorian culture occurred. In Yorian mythology Zeludeous is an angry god who calls for a return to traditional ways of life. Under his/her influence (gender is not clear) Yori has become conservative, almost reactionary towards change, and all progress has stagnated. Many of the local population have forsaken the use of high tech goods in their day-to-day lives and this has caused a collapse of local manufacturing sophistication to technology level 10. The attitude towards offworlders has also cooled and can be considered as “aloof”. Many tech level 12 and 13 relics can be found abandoned (still in working order) or unused in long-term storage. Increasingly, new tech level 7 items of local manufacture are becoming popular. The lack of access to the A’chim Papers make it impossible to guess how long the Zeludeous phase will last, or what will characterise the next phase.
Yori’s legislature is an elite council of 80 senior “Advisors” (and 720 junior “Advisors”) who make decisions and advise the population. Their deliberations are behind closed doors and whatever their personal and professional differences might be they present a united front in public. Nothing is officially enforced, the executive and judicial functions are carried out by the general public. These recent changes make it arguable that Yori’s government is really a religious autocracy, but when surveyed by the IISS, just before 1065, Yorian society and its council of Advisors give the appearance of a feudal technocracy.
Another recent change is the formation of a planetary militia (contradicting the prior anti-war sentiment). Currently with a strength of 100 battalions and equipped to tech level 13 standards (the current disdain for high tech goods not extending to military matters apparently). With the current tensions in the Spinward Marches this has been bolstered by a Colonial Lift Infantry Brigade (also tech level 13), which doubles up as a training cadre for the planetary militia. The Advisors have also commissioned a squadron of System Defence Boats, although so far only one SDB has been built.
Yori’s local law level is rated at 7 and this generally applies to all areas other than personal freedom and offworld trade. There are no laws governing personal freedoms (visitors may be forgiven for assuming there are strict rules on religious behaviour but the almost total subservience to the local religion appears voluntary). Laws covering offworld trade are rated at level 10.
Yori’s starport consists of a single downport called “Geronemo Field”. Geronemo Field, and its attended startown (called just “Geronemo”), is located in desert at about 12⁰N. It sits astride the monorail link from Market (in Scarland) to “Soft Spot” (the key mining region of the planet). Geronemo has a population of 564,000, which makes it the 13th largest settlement on Yori.
Geronemo Field is a square area of rough ground 2 kilometers on each side and bounded by a 4 story high solid stone wall. Part of the south and west walls are thicker and contain all the starport facilities (including traffic control, the passenger ‘terminal’, warehousing, local SPA offices, and maintenance docks). The landing area itself is little more than cleared level ground … more in keeping with a class E starport, but the wall facilities are definitely of class C standard. Refuelling and external power for landed ships is supplied by a fleet of specialised ground vehicles (there is no ‘built-in’ refuelling system or power grid to the landing area).
Geronemo Field is run for profit by YAC (Yorian Airfield Consortium) a consortium of the Yorian central government, the Imperial SPA, Naasirka, and Sternmetal LIC. The starport charges a basic landing fee of Cr350 per 1000 dtons of ship (or part thereof) per week. This covers landing and berthing, general handling, use of standard starport facilities, and even cargo warehousing (within reason). Should a ship require full dry-dock facilities (needed for annual maintenance, and significant repairs, etc) they can be had for Cr350 per dton of ship per day … any parts and labour are extra. The term “within reason” means that if (in the judgement of the local SPA) excessive use is made of the facilities then further fees may be applied … but this is rare. (Prices are in Imperial credits.)
Non-streamlined starships which cannot land at the downport can make a ‘virtual’ landing: For the same price as if they had landed they can make use of the starport’s small craft (within reason), use the starport facilities, and even land their own small craft at the starport at no extra cost. The downport ‘fleet’ of small craft include 41 modular cutters (with a variety of modules), 2 launches, and a general purpose lighter. There are no orbital dry-dock facilities.
There is a flat trade tax of Cr2 per dton of cargo (or part thereof) regardless of its nature. This trade tax is applied to both imports and exports (ie crossing the XT line), but not to cargo being transhipped (ie kept within the starport). Businesses selling ship spare parts, etc, keep their stock within the starport to avoid tax. The tax goes directly to the Yorian central government. Naasirka and Sternmetal LIC (and their registered subsidiaries) are exempt from the trade tax. (Prices are in Imperial credits.)
At its height Geronemo Field handled 6,500 passengers and 25,000 dtons of freight per week. 85% of this was transacted with nearby Regina, the rest was spread between Roup, Jenghe, Inthe, Dinomn, Rethe, and Extolay. This has now dropped to an average of 1,000 passengers and 4,000 dtons of freight per week. While most of this reduction was in trade with Regina, all regular trade with Extolay has now ceased. However, given that the Zeludeous phase is temporary YAC has kept up the starport’s full maintenance. As such Geronemo Field does not look run down, merely not busy (visitors may think they’ve arrived during a public holiday).
Yori’s natural resources include an abundance of tin, crystals and gems, radioactives, and petrochemicals. The mining company Sternmetal LIC run several franchise operations in cooperation with the Yorian central government (basically an “Advisor” is allowed on the board of directors of the franchisee as a full voting member). Due to the recent religious changes (mentioned above in the Culture section) all mining operations on Yori have dramatically slowed. Negotiations between the Yorian “Advisors” and Sternmental LIC are ‘ongoing’.
In addition to mining, the population manufactures computer/electronic/cybernetic parts, air/rafts, precision machine tools, and ATVs. Major computer companies like Cheetah Industries (a subsidiary of Naasirka) and ISMM have operations here … though Cheetah Industries has recently relocated to new facilities on Hnetka (in the outer system), and ISMM never fully recovered its reputation after the problems with its Series-1519 computers (as used in Kinunir class Colonial Cruisers).
As of the Second Imperial Grand Survey the population stood at 73,702,000, and it has not changed much since. There are only 6 cities with a population more than 1 million. About two thirds of the population live in Scarland, the rest in numerous high mountain communities.
Big Rock Mountain: Big Rock Mountain is the capitol of Yori and the second largest city. Located in the Shield Mountains the city started out as a simple cave community. In its 800 year history it has grown into a warren of underground caves and tunnels making the largest subterranean city in the Regina subsector. Today Big Rock Mountain boasts the Advisors’ Council (Yori’s religion-dominated legislature), a major financial services quarter (including Yori’s stock market and commodities exchange), museums, theaters, and first class shopping facilities. A sizeable portion of the local economy is geared around the tourist industry … though most tourists are Yorian.
Devil’s Fork: At the point where the west and south branches of the Scarland River meet on their journey towards White Wash lies the 2000 year old stone fortress of Devil’s Fork. Built in an age when Yori was Tech Level 5, its battlements and even its iron cannons still survive today … as a tourist attraction. 2000 years ago this fork in the river was a vital hub of commerce as trade from each of the three branches of Scarland all passed this point. The cannons of the fortress gave total dominion of Scarland to the Lords of Devil’s Fork, and under them a market town grew. The Lords of Devil’s Fork collected 10% of all goods passing through and remained in power for 528 years. Then one day, there was a change in the dominant god, the Advisors withdrew their services, and the people (including the fortress staff) rose up and killed their Lords. After this the fortress was abandoned despite never having been bested in war. Today, Devil’s Fork is still a major hub of commerce and has become the largest city on the planet (the outer suburbs are actually beyond the range of the fortress’ cannons), and the Fortress itself has become a major tourist attraction.
Market: The name says it all. While Geronemo provides cheap housing, hotels, and bars for the starport staff and visitors, Market is where the action is. Market has the distribution warehouses that store Yori’s imports before shipping to their final onplanet destinations, Market has the export warehouses for everything leaving the planet (other than the production of Soft Spot), Market has the freight brokers, the corporate hiring halls, and Sternmetal LIC’s planetary HQ offices. Market has its seamier side too, where anything is for sale … at a price. A combined passenger and freight monorail link connects with Geronemo (and Geronemo Field) and Soft Spot in one direction, and travels the length of Scarland out to Baxter in the other direction.
Hemdian: There is nothing special about Hemdian, it’s a large and fairly new Scarland city originally built on agriculture. While other Yorian cities may have their fair share of sky-scrappers and tall buildings no building in Hemdian is over 4 stories tall. The exception being the ubiquitous rice silos which are usually 6 stories tall and almost seem to exist on every street. Given the low housing density Hemdian is the most sprawling city on Yori, but its wide streets and careful planning means that the streets are not congested with traffic. It is also the cleanest city on Yori. The recent ‘cooling’ of attitudes towards offworlders is not in evidence in Hemdian … the locals are still open and friendly towards offworld visitors.
Bon-Fargoa: Located in the Claw Mountains in the northern hemisphere, Bon-Fargoa is a great fortress city, not dissimilar in many ways to the fortress at Devil’s Fork. Unlike Devil’s Fork fortress Bon-Fargoa encompasses its city within its walls. There are less than 100 kilometers between the city’s outer walls and a natural wall of unclimbable mountain on three side, and open desert on the fourth. Constructed and armed to Tech Level 6 and early 7 standards, the violent fall of Bon-Fargoa to desert raiders over 600 years ago represented the end of the last militaristic phase and the start of over half a millennium of peace on the planet. Today Bon-Fargoa is a regional capitol for Yori’s northern tribes, and a center for the planet’s gem trade.
Baxter: Baxter is a fairly new city … less than 200 years old. It is an industrial center and specialises in ground vehicle construction. In addition to Baxter Motors (from which the city gets its name), both Phoenix Motors and the Alchemy Motor Company have major factories here. Baxter Motors is a subsidiary of General Products and produces GP brand ATVs for offworld export.