Part One: System Overview
Part Two: Inner Zone
Part Three: The Planets
Part Four: Outer Zone
Part Five: Past, Present, Future Imperfect (Telajan)
The planets within the Habitable Zone of the Telajan system have been deliberately arranged as part of someone's solar-system-scale garden, but who reshaped these worlds and why?
ShelgThe smallest planet in the Telajan system, Shelg occupies an uneasy position between the placid, gentle inner planets Aldrin and Mattigar, and the more active, dynamic outer planets Ju-Hai and Saxo-Mara.
Shelg has no moon. The algae-rich seas are nearly gelatinous, the only tides are those generated by sub-sea volcanism and tectonic shifting. The atmosphere is breathable, but extremely humid and packed with carbon dioxide to the very threshold of human-acceptable limits.
There are no plants growing above the sloppy, muddy surface of this world. All the plants on Shelg are rhizomatically-linked into a massively parallel network of inter-connected and intertwined roots. The overlapping layers of root-tendrils go down to the very bedrock and in some cases they extend into fissures within the bedrock to continue downwards even farther. So far no one has been able to reliably trace just how deep the roots do in fact extend. Three different expeditions to Shelg have attempted to map-out the pseudo-synapses of the root-network or to trace the extent of the roots, but none have survived past one day on this world (rotational day=36 standard hours).
Most forms of AI, especially the math-based/oriented machine intelligences common to interplanetary vessels and other such mechanisms experience a severe form of feed-back effect upon reaching a point roughly three planetary diameters out from Shelg. Even hardened military-industrial grade AI have been known to crash. There are no clues as to what is behind this effect at this time. all forms of augment Wetware also experience this nullification effect. Whatever is doing this warrants study. Perhaps someone will finance a primitively-equipped mission to Shelg one of these days...if only anyone could identify a likely looking spot to drop-off such a team...
Life on ShelgThere is no above-ground plant-life on Shelg. Everything is below the level of dense, nutrient-rich mud. In place of herbivores, there are quite a number of mudskippers, lungfish and other such animals, as well as vast mycological and bacteriological colony-forms that live out their lives entirely within the thin muddy layer that provides a sort of protective sheathe over the vast root-networks. The average depth of the mud is approximately 10 to 60 feet, with a few areas, mostly along the coastlines, being as shallow as 1-10' deep in spots, but these areas are almost always also somewhat covered by a secondary layer of murky water that tends to make them exceptionally treacherous to normal modes of ground travel.
It is not wise to try to walk about on Shelg without personal flotation systems, stilts or a mech-walker frame. Indeed, with the discovery of the pirahna-like swarmers and the mudgators reported by the last mission to Shelg from Kaaldu's College of BioDiversity, it is a good idea to make use of armored rafts, armored airboats, or grav-skiffs and avoid contact with the mud altogether.
When it is not raining, it is drizzling or sleeting when a cold front moves in. Visibility on Shelg is extremely hampered by all the mist, fog and near-perpetual rains. Weather on Shelg is driven by upwelling hot-spots in the seas where sub-sea volcanoes produce fluctuating columns of warm water. The average period without rainfall tends to be less than ten minutes once every day in the equatorial zones, twice that in the polar regions. Climatology on Shelg is considered to be artificially modulated according to prevailing theories, but no one has found the means by which it is being manipulated or regulated. Again, no one knows where to send an expedition in order to find out.
Automated aerial recon-drones were released into the upper atmosphere of Shelg on four different occasions. All of those systems flatlined upon deployment. To this day the drones float above the thunderclouds, inert and useless.
Six Scenarios for Adventuring on Shelg
- The Melinda-Maru crashed along the 24th parallel on Shelg. The owners-of-record want to salvage the contents of the ship. They have written-off the crew and already disbursed death benefits. There's no ticket home for any survivors; they're effectively non-persons now, thanks to standard corporate policy. Your team has been contracted to assist with the salvage operation. There are Corprist PR types as well as some hazed-out R&D types included in the mission-crew. There is no fraternization allowed, officially. Unofficially, you've gotten to meet a few of the PR types. They're lousy at gambling. They're also all clones. Disposable Mission-Objective Clone Employees, by the RFIDcodes. The Salvage rig is about to be dropped into place. Three Diameters out. Do you really want to go down to Shelg?
- A Dumbcam was retrieved from Shelg by a team of students from one of the socialized secondary schools on Kaaldu as part of an otherwise innocuous class competition. They posted the images recovered from Shelg. There were hominids of some sort spotted in three of the photostills. They were engaged in what could only be some sort of hunting ritual. They were in the process of surrounding a human that has since been identified as Georgina J. Randolph, a grad-student at the College of Biodiversity at Kaaldu. She was a member of the Third Expedition to Shelg. that team was reported lost six years ago.
- Ruben Aniard of Tregio (00.03) has invented a 'Closed-Loop Data-Shield' that he wants to test-out by sending a group of volunteers to Shelg. If the new systems work properly, then there might be a way to get past the barrier that crashes AIs. Of course, if the systems fail...you'll have to bring back whatever telemetry or other data you can salvage with you, assuming the recovery pod works as well. It is a refurbished and stripped-down chassis gutted from an ancient Belter-pod, given a flexform aeroshell and completely manual controls. If it doesn't blow up, it ought to make it back out. This job does offer hazard pay up front.
- A group of Achernarian investors have begun to offer special weekend getaway tour packages to certain very isolated islands in the Southern Hemisphere of Shelg. This offer is only ever extended to a highly select clientele and comes at an exorbitant price. One of the potential clients contacted by the Achernarians is an undercover operative for a team of interstellar crime-fighters recently deported from Lithus Prime. This person has contacted your team for assistance in investigating just how the Achernarians are getting down onto the surface of Shelg and back again with no apparent difficulties. The agent has accepted the offer and registered for a group-hunting expedition. If you accept the offer, your team is expected to accompany the agent disguised as exotic game hunters.
- A Fourth Expedition to Shelg is currently being organized by an Exploratory Committee on Kaaldu (03.04). The Committee is accepting applications and try-outs. Do you have what it takes? Can you convince the Committee?
- Captain Reynaldo of the Topaz Rogue comes up to your table at Humphrey's Cafe Algerian at Port White House on Layer Seven in orbit around Donthir (07.02) and drops dead from seventeen expertly grouped microburns through his midsection, obviously the work of Imperial Calmers. He also drops a bundled package. Inside is a weird tuber. It's a node taken from the root-networks on Shelg. The file attached refers to the thing as a 'mandrake,' and there are three diagnostic and analysis reports on the flimsidrive. This is the real thing. What would you like to do now?