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Old 04-18-2024, 10:21 PM   #61
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

Originally Posted by chaotic-nipple View Post
Is that part worth mentioning? Isn't that the standard hair color for Vertarans?
Yes. Almost all Vertaran are redheads of one shade or another.

Which is something I should have spelled out more clearly. There are many shades of 'red' hair, and some Vertarans display shades that don't happen in Humans. Their hair ranges from light red-brown to red-golden to literal 'blood red'.

Which is why I mentioned Dyakha's hair color. Her hair (especially when she was in her twenties) was that deep blood-red shade, rare even among Vertarans, and considered exotic and attractive by many Vertaran males. I forgot that I had not given the context for it to make sense.
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Old 04-23-2024, 10:11 PM   #62
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


The main campus of the Royal Technical Institute occupies the south end of the island, and is made up of about thirty main buildings of various sorts, some of them academic and some of them for support purposes. The RTI has no sort of athletic program, but it does have an auditorium large enough to assemble the entire student body and the faculty and staff as well. This is the largest building on the campus, and has enough seating for many additional personnel, against the day that Sahandar can expand the student body.

The auditorium is a large round building on the southernmost end of the campus. Only the main administration building is further south, built atop a rise that gives a view of the surrounding lake, though the shore is easily a full kilometer from the campus.

The campus is surrounded by a substantial wall. There are no serious predators on the island, but much of what goes on at the RTI is secret or otherwise 'sensitive'. Access is restricted to the staff, the students, and (sometimes) to family of the above. The campus wall is three meters high, half a meter thick, and composed of hard stone. The gates are heavily-built steel, and guarded.

At the southernmost point of the island, there is a set of docks suitable for small watercraft, these are mostly used by the RTI biological and hydrological sciences staff and students, and related. A larger set of docks is located slightly northward on the western side of the island, this is where the passenger and supply boats from the mainland dock. There is usually an armed patrol boat here as well, with a crew of Royal Military personnel. This ship provides both security for the campus and rescue services when needed.

North of the campus is an area of farms and fields. These provide a certain amount of fresh food for the inhabitants of the island, but their primary purpose is for experimentation and teaching by the agronomy programs. The students learn both academic theory and practical usage, there are professional farmers here as well as academics.

Past the farms are a set of helicopter landing pads, and there are usually at least two or three helicopters present for emergency needs.

Further north yet, the island narrows to a two kilometer wide waist, and then widens again. North of this point, the island is the domain of the Royal Military Academy. This is a sibling institution of the Royal Technical Institute, founded at the same time, and co-located so that they can share relevant resources.

Military organizations are somewhat of a complicated subject on Veranis in 2124. Before the Thakarians came, the Northlands states had been in the early stages of an industrial revolution, and often been at war with each other, and had begun fielding significant mass armies. None of that mattered after the Thakarians arrived.

When the Thakarians conquered the planet, they suppressed most large-scale warfare. There was little point in trying to organize a military against them, even if they would have permitted it. The Thakarians had already demonstrated their ability to crush the armies of Veranis, even the most advanced and powerful of them, with contemptuous ease.

On the other hand, the Thakarians did allow small-scale local warfare, and that forced the Northlanders to maintain small armed forces to protect themselves, and to police their own territories, under Thakarian supervision. Of course, there was also the world-wide, multinational army called the Thranne, which was made up of recruits from all over the planet, and which answered to the Thakarians directly.

When the Terrestrians ousted the Thakarians and inherited control of Veranis, the situation changed in part. The Three Powers simply do not have the resources of manpower and money and equipment, to police the planet in fine detail, nor do they have the desire to do so, at least not with the same brutal efficiency that the Thakarians displayed. The nations and tribes and other polities of Veranis have much more room to maneuver, for good and ill, under Terrestrian rule than they did under Thakarian control.

Still, the Commission will act to suppress major large-scale warfare, and they can certainly do so.

On the other hand, inter-polity and intra-polity violence is much more common under the Terrestrians than it was under the Thakarians, and because of that, the states of Veranis are more armed and have more troops under arms than they once did, for both offensive and defensive purposes. Open warfare is not permitted, but hidden skirmishes, quiet engagements, and the like do go on.

Sahandar III has no particular desire to make war on his neighboring states, or anyone else, for that matter. He deploys his modest army mostly defensively, or to police his territory, and part of him resents the necessity of expending those resources which could be used elsewhere.

Nor does Sahandar aspire to 'rule Veranis' or anything along those lines. Not precisely, anyway. He has his hands more than full governing Catakatia and dealing with the problems of his own state.

On the other hand, Sahandar is also taking the long view. He looks forward to a time when the peoples of Veranis will have regained the technological power they once held thousands of years before, when they can stand as equals with the Terrestrians and the Thakarians and the Yvarixi and the other interstellar peoples. He knows he might not live long enough to see that day, but he does want it to come, and he believes it will, and he is trying to lay the groundwork both to bring that day sooner, and to advance the interests of Catakatia as he does.

As said, Sahandar the Third does not wish to conquer Veranis, even if that were possible, which it currently is not. He is genuinely patriotic toward his world, and wants to advance it to a point that they can stand on their own against Thakaria, and as equals to worlds such as Earth and Yvarix and Tarth. His creation of institutions such as the RTI is driven in part by this.

This desire is entirely sincere.

At the same time, Sahandar III is also a Catakatian patriot, and a 'patriot' of the royal house, as well. Sahandar has no wish to rule Veranis per se, but he does want Catakatia to play a leading role, if not the leading role, in its return to its former glory (and beyond, if possible). Sahandar also desires that his own family play a leading role in the advancement of Catakatia as well, he has no interest in the Jarakship being ended, or turned into a figurehead.

Hence, for ex, his preference that the other Northlands states send their students to his RTI, rather than creating rival institutions. He knows that eventually other such schools will rise, but he prefers that that happen later, after he has had time to make the RTI the prototype and template, to set the pattern and take the lead in the process.

The same logic underlies the creation of the Royal Military Academy. Sahandar foresees a day when Catakatia will need a modern, powerful military again. He has no way to know when that day will come, or what the details will be, but is fairly sure that day will arrive. Sahandar wants to lay the groundwork for that day before it comes.

Sahandar is also a student of history, of the Northlands, of Veranis, and to a lesser degree of other worlds, and he knows that a powerful standing military is a double-edged blade. Such an organized military can become a threat to their own masters, or a predatory force on the very people they are meant to protect and defend. He knows that the primary prevention of this is cultural.

Sahandar created the Royal Military Academy to train a corps of officers, both in the necessary skills of a modern military, and (quietly but at least as importantly) to inculcate a culture of discipline, loyalty, and subordination of ambition to duty. Sahandar hopes to have that corps in place against the time, the 'skeleton' of a larger military that will someday come into being.

Putting the RMA and the RTI on the same isolated island helped both with security, and enabled Sahandar to share resources between the two institutions. Cadets from the RMA attend many of the lectures and classes at the RTI as part of their technical training, especially the Military Engineering cadres.

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Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 04-23-2024 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 04-29-2024, 01:44 AM   #63
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


One of the Terrestrian faculty at the Royal Technical Institute is Doctor Polly Howardson. Dr. Howardson is an archaeologist, who alternates between historical instruction at the RTI and field work on Central Continent. She does not, strictly speaking, teach archaeology at the RTI. She is technically part of the extensive historical faculty, but much of what the RTI teaches about older Veranisian history is derived from recent archaeological work, much of it performed by Dr. Howardson herself.

Polly Howardson was born in Mobile, Gulfcoast, in 2080. She was the youngest daughter of Carlos Howardson, one of the wealthiest businessmen in Mobile, and a scion of the Howardson family, whose wealth originally derived from the Gulf of Mexico oil industry in the middle Twentieth Century.

As an indulged child of wealthy parents, it would be fair to stay that Polly Howardson was 'spoiled rotten' at an early age. She partied her way through her teenaged years, and began her college years in much the same way. Under the 'party girl' exterior, though, lay an excellent mind, and in her sophomore year at the Decatur campus of Gulfcoast State University, she found herself caught up in fascination while studying the history of Atlantis and the Antediluvian Age. This led her in turn to a career in archaeology.

Not long after she completed her doctorate, she was offered an opportunity to do field work in a very foreign place: the planet Veranis.

At that time, the Thakarian fleets had only just been defeated, and with that American (and allied) victory, came access to the Dyaxor System, with its two habitable worlds and extensive prehistory. An archaeological expedition had been sponsored by several institutions, and Howardson was offered a place by virtue of her doctoral advisor also being involved.

Nervous though she was about the prospect of leaving Earth, her curiosity was still strong enough to drive her to accept (against the wishes of her family, as it happened). On Veranis, she found herself with an entire world of almost untouched archeological sites and possibilities, and she found herself caught up in the unanswered questions that hung over the entire planet.

Though she periodically returned to Earth to visit family, and update her own training, Howardson would spend the bulk of the next two decades on Veranis, and she rose to become one of the most respected members of the Terrestrian archaeological community operating on Veranis (and occasionally on Mardis, the other habitable world of the Dyaxor A system). Her particular specialty, and fascination, was the second period of advanced technological civilization on Veranis, the long-lost Vertaran civilizations, and the terrible wars that brought about their destruction.

Both the original Lakegrandian civilization on Veranis, and the later Vertaran one, were centered on the three equatorial continents, though they certainly we active in the Northlands and the Southlands as well. The vastly older Lakegrandian ruins are actually much better preserved, but extensive Vertaran ruins are present on the equatorial continents as well. As of 2124, Howardson divides her time between the RTI and field work at a site called 12A-9 on the Central Continent. She does field work during dry season at 12A-9 (about half the Veranisian year) and teaches at the RTI during the wet season, when field work would be either entirely impractical or a miserable experience.


Species: Homo sapiens sapiens
Age in 2124: 44 Terran years
Height: 5'10"
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown

IQ: 13
DX: 12
ST: 11
HT: 11/13 (+2 for biotechnical enhancement)


Alertness 1
Denara (appears all the time, less powerful)
Tryynac (appears rarely, less powerful)

Appearance (Attractive)
Common Sense (works at half value when caught up in curiosity)
Contacts (10 points worth on Veranis)
Dr. Shelton Ross (modest power, appears rarely)
Strong Will 1 (additional +1 when driven by professional curiosity)


Absent Minded
Code of Honor (academic)
Combat Paralysis
Easy To Read
Pacifism (self or other defense only)
Phobia (very large animals)


1. Early riser/early sleeper
2. Carries pair of magnifying glasses at all times
3. Loves licorice
4. Gluttonous at -1 level
5. Modest about academic achievements


Administration (academic/scientific) 12
Animal Handling 11
Anthropology 18
Archaeology 20
Area Knowledge(s):
Cataka City 11
Mobile, Gulfcoast 15
RTI island 16
Site 12A-9 16
USA 12
Veranis (general) 9

Carousing 12
Cooking 13
Dancing 12
First Aid 13
History 16
English (American dialect, native)
Catakatian (literate) 13 13
Local tribal language of Site 12A-9 11 (no written form)

Mechanic 11
Riding (tharjak) 12
Survival (Veranisian jungle) 11
Swimming 13
Teaching 13

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Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 04-29-2024 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 04-30-2024, 12:15 PM   #64
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


Dr. Howardson has been doing field work on Veranis for well over a decade. This is part of why her mix of skills is what it is. Her formal training is in archaeology and anthropology, and related matters. Her field work on Veranis (and occasionally Mardis) has involved a great deal of activity in areas that are often far from civilization. Quite often this work has been in dangerous areas as well.

Dr. Howardson has learned animal handling, because she had often had to use teams of animals to pull loads to and from work sites. She has become a competent tharjak rider, because in many of the primitive areas where she performs her field work on Veranis, a tharjak is actually the best, or sometimes the only practical, form of personal transportation. Likewise, she has learned to do field maintenance and repairs of various types of equipment, she knows how to keep a portable generator running, and how to keep an internal combustion engine going on a supply of alcohol fuel and using an amazing assortment of items as tools and components. She has also learned the basics of jungle survival, since the majority of her field work is in the forested and jungle-covered reaches of the equatorial continents. She also knows how to prepare an edible meal in the middle of a rain-soaked jungle.

She has mastered the Catakatian language, and speaks it about as well as most natives, though with a noticeable American accent. She also speaks some of the languages used by the indigenous tribals who live near her primary research site.

Her dancing and carousing skills, on the other hand, predate her professional training, and her carousing skills were once higher, in her 'party girl' days in her teens and early twenties. Today she is much more sedate...most of the time.

Dr. Howardson is pretty, rather than beautiful, and tends toward just a slight plumpness (and she is sensitive about it). In fact, though, quite a few males, both Vertaran and Human, are 'interested' in her. The problem is that she is currently absorbed in her work. Dr. Howardson is fascinated by the study of what happened to the previous Vertaran civilizations on Veranis and Mardis, and it is difficult to keep her attention away from that for long.

This extends to her personal judgement. Most of the time, Dr. Howardson is calm, rational, and self-disciplined, and not inclined to needless risks (this would surprise some of the people who knew her in her wild teenaged days). When caught up in her studies, though, she sometimes lets curiosity override her common sense.

Though she has done field work on all three of the equatorial continents of Veranis, and in a few sites on Mardis, for the past several Terran years she has been concentrating her field work in a particular region, known as Site 12A-9.

Site 12A-9 is located in the eastern reaches of Central Continent. If one starts in the city of SharThak (see upthread), and heads southward along the River Shar, past the first fall line, one will come to an area where several tributary rivers feed into the Shar from the east and the west. One of those tributaries initially leads southeast after a traveler leaves the Shar, but after about one hundred kilometers or so it turns almost due east. This river is called the Korth.

The River Korth runs due east for over eight hundred kilometers, and is fed by multiple smaller tributaries coming northward off the mountain range that splits Central Continent. Around the junction of one of these rivers and the Korth is the region that Terrestrian maps refer to as Sector 12A, and at the actual point where the rivers merge is Site 12A-9. The river coming in from the south is called the Kartiak.

The Thakarians had noted that there had once been an ancient Vertaran settlement on that site, but they had held little interest in it. Using Thakarian maps, Terrestrian archaeologists eventually arrived to assess the site, and discovered to their mixed shock and delight that it was actually a full-scale ancient city, a former population center that had once rivalled Terrestrial cities like Chicago or London or Tokyo in size.

That was millennia before, though, and in 2124, at first glance, there is little to be seen at Site 12A-9 but river and jungle. Where once metal and glass and synthetic towers rose toward the sky, now a thick canopy of jungle is all that is visible.

Only a modest amount of digging is necessary, though, to discover plentiful remnants of the ancient metropolis. Beneath a relatively thin layer of soil and jungle detritus lie enough remains to keep an army of archaeologists busy for decades. Dr. Howardson does not have an army of archaeologists, her personal staff and students number no more than a few dozen people, varying with the time of year and academic politics.

That region of Central Continent does not have a summer or winter as such, it is mostly tropical jungle. What the region does have is a wet season and a dry season. More precisely, it has a wet season and a dryer season, because rain is common even during the dryer period. During the dryer period, rain might come on average twice a Terran week, in modest amounts. During the wet season, the rain comes more days than not, varying from mist and drizzle to downpours, and volumes can be enormous. Temperatures do not vary much season to season, but rainfall varies significantly.

During the wet season, the rivers are engorged, both the Kartiak and the Korth, and Site 12A-9 floods routinely. Archaeological work during the wet season is simply impractical, to say nothing of unsafe. As the wet season approaches, Howardson and her personnel secure the area, and only a skeleton staff remains on-site. During these periods, Howardson herself travels back to the Northlands to teach at the Royal Technical Institute.

During the dryer season, work is possible, and relatively safe, at least as far as physical conditions go. There are few indigenous natives living in the immediate vicinity of Site 12A-9, though several tribes exist in the larger region. For the most part, these natives are relatively friendly.

Unfortunately, not far to the south, matters are very different. Only about fifty kilometers to the south lie the northern edges of Slath territory (see upthread). The Slath are most definitely not friendly, or even indifferent.

The local Slath Tribes to the south are among the worst of even that hostile confederation. They are not simply xenophobic and insular, but actively predatory toward outsiders. Some of the tribes are known to practice ritual torture and cannibalism, for reasons unclear to outsiders.

Though Site 12A-9 is outside their territory, it is still uncomfortably close, and the Slath in question tend to live near their borders, making the proximity worse. They rarely cross their northern border, at least since a Governor-General resorted to orbital bombardment to make a point, but the exact location of that border is not always clear, and rarely is not never.

Also, the jungles of Central Continent are home to more than a few forms of dangerous wildlife, including various species of tyrannosauroid and more than a few smaller predatory therapods. None of the local tyrannosaurs are anything like as large as Tyrannosaurus rex, but they are big enough, and dangerous enough, and plentiful enough. There are also some large predatory mammals and some herbivourous dinosaurs and mammals that are also bad-tempered and can be dangerous.

All this in turn means that there must be security personnel present at 12A-9 to protect the archaeologists and their support staff. The necessity can not be doubted, but it adds to the expense and the complications of the field work.

The danger of the Slath to the south is the more troublesome for Dr. Howardson because of her own personality. She has many talents and many virtues, but she is most definitely not a fighter. She is not a coward, but her first instinctive reaction to danger is to freeze, and she has never been able to overcome this. She is also a defense-only pacifist.

This last is less of a general philosophical belief than a recognition of her own limitations. She knows perfectly well that she probably could never be any sort of combatant, it just is not her nature. She can, and occasionally has, used weapons against dangerous animals, but even that does not come easily to her. She recognizes, intellectually, the necessity or inevitability of violence in some situations, but she also knows that she herself is ill-equipped to engage in it.

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Old 04-30-2024, 11:36 PM   #65
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


Dr. Howardson is probably the one person with the greatest knowledge of what happened to the previous Vertaran high-technology civilization. Which is not saying as much as it might be, she has managed to uncover, and piece together, a remarkable amount of information, but she still has far more questions than answers. Of course she did not do all this alone, but she has been the coordinating force for the effort and she has developed a certain sense of what happened, in the loosest sort of way.

Of course on one level, what happened is no mystery. The Thakarians were able to piece together the basics from their routine scientific and resource-extraction surveys, there were plentiful clues about what broadly happened, i.e. a vast, civilization-rending war. The isotopic signatures, the chemical traces, the physical remains in places, the enormous amount of wrecked machinery and facilities in space, and on the asteroids and moons of the star system, it was all clear enough.

The Thakarians, though, were never particularly interested in the history of Veranis or Mardis before they conquered both worlds.

Terrestrian archaeologists have found Veranis and Mardis a fascinating field of study. Dr. Howardson has become the central figure of that effort over the course of two decades.

It might be easiest to let Dr. Howardson herself summarize some of what she has learned, and deduced, by 2124, with excerpts from a lecture she gave at the RTI in ~January 2124. We will translate the lecture into English for convenience.

The lecture hall was full, mostly with the usual students in the History program, but there were also some students sitting in from other classes, and even a few uniformed cadets from the Military Academy. Dr. Howardson's lecture was a subject of some interest.

The Terrestrian walked onto the podium, clad in her signature jumpsuit and silver belt, and began her lecture.

"...we don't know with certainty how large the population of Veranis, or of Mardis, was at that time. What we can say with reasonable confidence was that at about the time that the final wars began, Veranis was home to at least one billion people, and that Mardis was host to half again that many.

Additionally, my colleagues who work in space have estimated that there might have been as many as one hundred million people living in space, or on one of the other planetary bodies of the Dyaxor System... that to today: Veranis has a Vertaran population in the neighborhood of sixty million, according to the best estimates of the Three Power Commission's demographers. Mardis has a population of perhaps fifty million...

...after the passage of over six thousand years, this star system has a total population of about one fiftieth of the population just before the wars...

...we think we've been able to put an approximate date on the beginning of the wars. Several lines of converging evidence, archaeological, chemical, physical, all point toward a date between six and seven thousand years ago. Interestingly, at roughly the same time that Sol was experiencing our Cataclysm, and the collapse of the Atlantean Age, Dyaxor was going through the destruction of a star-system-wide society as well...

...we can't say whether your ancestors before the wars were politically unified, we don't know whether they were all one culture, either. We do know, or believe, that a single language was in widespread use across this entire star system at that time. Philological studies are increasingly showing commonalities in the languages spoken on both Mardis and Veranis. Though there are thousands of languages spoken across these two worlds today, my linguistic colleagues are increasingly of the opinion that all of them descend from a single tongue spoken throughout this system sixty-five hundred years ago... be truthful, we don't have the slightest idea what your ancestors were fighting about. We've concluded that the wars, and I say wars plural, because there appear to have been multiple factions fighting each other, probably played out over the course of a century or so, depending on what we count as the 'end' of the wars... the fighting appears to have
started fairly suddenly, and very intensely. My colleagues in the physics and chemistry disciplines tell me that there are signs, in the form of particular isotopic ratios and the damage we've seen in remains on the surfaces and in space, that very powerful nuclear weaponry, heavy kinetic impactors, and other 'weapons of mass destruction' were used wide and promptly near the beginning...

...the fighting appears to have slowly tapered off, rather than coming to any specific end. This is, to me, one of the strangest and most disturbing of our findings. It seemed so improbable that at first we doubted our own conclusions, but the evidence keeps accumulating. It seems that even as the last dying stages of the fighting played out, whatever was motivating the whole thing remained as passionate and dominant as ever. Even with their civilization crumbling around them, even
after it had crumbled, they kept on fighting.

Let me give you an example discovered by my colleagues in space. They discovered the remains of a space habitat in orbit around the seventh planet. For those of you unfamiliar with local astronomical conditions, that planet is a major gas giant, with eleven moons big enough to be considered worlds and a number of smaller bodies orbiting it as well. I am told that it should be visible in the sky tonight, about two hours after sunset, if you look near the western horizon.

Anyway, I digress. You can look up the details on your own. What my colleagues discovered was that toward the end of the wars, there was a habitat in orbit around the seventh planet, barely holding itself together. It had a population of about one hundred, down from ten times that many in its prime, and there was plentiful evidence that the entire facility was on its 'last legs', as my people say. The industrial infrastructure of the star system was in ruins, spare parts were non-existent. There was clear evidence that the survivors had displayed enormous ingenuity in keeping it going as long as they had, but it was doomed and they had to know that. They were running out of food, water, medicine, their air recycling was breaking down, radiation shielding was failing, it was a hopeless situation.

...My colleagues found the bodies of the inhabitants, they died, slowly, agonizingly, of radiation poisoning, thirst, starvation, heat and cold, as their air slowly, irreversibly went bad. Cannibalism seems to have happened at the very end. My colleagues found 103 corpses in the remains of the habitat, it had been their tomb for six thousand years.

"What makes this not just tragic, but uncanny, is that
they had a way out.

"My colleagues found evidence that they had obtained a spacecraft, in poor repair but serviceable enough, and with enough delta-V," she paused and added as an aside, "if you don't know what that means, don't feel bad, I didn't either when I first read their paper, but what it amounts to is that they had enough fuel to reach either Veranis or Mardis. That is, they could have used their ship to get to one of the worlds where they would at least have a chance of survival. That appears to have been their initial plan, but they didn't go through with it.

"Instead, they converted their lifeboat into a missile and used it to take out another habitat, across the star system."

A silence fell across the lecture hall.

After moment, Howardson continued, "Yes. My colleagues tell me that they
have to have understood the implication of their action. But they did it anyway. They had an escape route, and instead of using it to reach relative safety, they used it to destroy a group halfway across the star system. We don't know anything about the people they destroyed, because they loaded their ship with explosives and used it to wipe out the other habitat, and condemned themselves to a slow lingering death to do it..."

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Old 05-01-2024, 12:12 AM   #66
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


"...we've seen this pattern play out all over the star system, and all over both Mardis and Veranis," Howardson went on. "For an other specific example, my colleagues discovered the remains of a village in the Southlands, and they were able to determine that they were the survivors of a city of millions. They had managed to make their way across hundreds of heavily irradiated kilometers to reach a place where it was possible to grow food and where fresh water was available. This was decades after the major fighting had ended, but Mardis and Veranis were both in ruins.

"They had a population of about two hundred, and their nearest neighbors were a similar village of survivors about one hundred kilometers away. We found out about the other village from references in the first site. I should add that the village had been functioning for over twenty years when this happened. My biologist and agronomist colleagues tell me that the village was well-situated, and they should have been able to survive and eventually thrive in that location.

"They didn't. Instead, they appear to have mobilized themselves for an attack on the other village,
one hundred kilometers away. They mounted an overland attack, using foot troops and tharjak cavalry, over a distance of one hundred kilometers, with the logistical base of a single agricultural village. That sounds like madness even to a civilian like me, and the military personnel I have consulted tell me that madness is a mild word.

"They succeeded in wiping their targets out, but they lost enough of their own young men and resources that they could not survive themselves. Even decades after the main war, whatever was motivating all this fighting was still driving tiny communities of survivors to throw away their own chances of survival, just to for the chance to take someone else down with them.

"We've seen this pattern emerge from our studies over, and over, and over, across both Mardis and Veranis and out in space as well. Whatever motivated your ancestors to hate each other was powerful, and persistent enough that it was still in play even after an entire star-system wide civilization was destroyed.

"Whatever it was was powerful enough to drive a population of well over two billion Vertarans to war on each other so intensely, and persistently, as to reduce two and a half billions to less than one percent of that, in less than two centuries.

"Everyone in this room of Vertaran descent is descended from the survivors of that war. If only we knew what they were fighting about."

Dr. Howardson is driven by the desire to discover the answer to that last question. It is a question that has proven extraordinarily difficult to answer, almost peculiarly so.

Part of the problem is that even though there are huge amounts of ruins and physical remains from the previous era, the written language of the ancient Vertarans of Mardis and Veranis remains somewhat elusive. There are extensive surviving texts and written information, but only some of it is readable.

The ancient Vertarans of the two worlds appear to have spoken a single language, as Dr. Howardson noted in her lecture that we excerpted. Terrestrian philologists have analyzed the spoken languages of cultures and peoples all over Mardis and Veranis, and begun to 'reconstruct' the original language to some extent.

The problem is that in the aftermath of the wars, written language became something of a lost art, and writing had to be re-established by the descendants of the survivors over subsequent centuries. The written forms of the descendant languages of Dyaxor System are thus not necessarily related to the written forms used six millennia earlier.

There are some exceptions. The system of numbers appears to have survived the war, the symbols used for integer numbers in the modern languages show a kinship to those found in the ancient writings, for example. Still, for the most part the new writing is independent.

No ideal 'Rosetta Stone' has yet been found on Veranis or Mardis as of 2124. There has been some progress. Copies of what scientists recognize as the periodic table of the elements have been found in the old writings, that gives some hints. Other recognizable scientific and mathematical writings have offered clues. As of 2124, it is possible to read some of the ancient texts, with varying degrees of confidence, but the vast bulk of the written material continues to elude translation.

At least the written text endured the ages, at least sometimes. Vast amounts of information were once stored in various electronic and other technical media. This information is hopelessly lost. Even when the storage media still exist, and some do, six thousand years of neglect, radiation, and other mistreatment have reduced most of this data to random garbage, even after engineers worked out ways to read the media. It would be useless even if the old language was fully translated.

Dr. Howardson is assisted by several other professional archaeologists and anthropologists on her personal team, as well as a number of students of those disciplines. Almost all of her team are Terrestrians, because archaeology as a discipline is simply not something that is part of either native Vertaran culture, or the Thakarian culture that most Veranisian Humans derive from. There are, however, a couple of exceptions on the team.

Two native Vertarans, originally from Cataka City, joined her team as support personnel over a decade earlier. They were from the poorer part of the city, and worked as cooks, manual labor, and then later they were trained to do more advanced work. This was a married couple, and they had two children, brother and sister, who more or less grew up around Howardson and her team, and both of whom have set out to become actual professional archaeologists themselves. Their names are Tryynac and Denara.*

Tryynac is the older of the two, but about three years. Both brother and sister grew up around archaeologists, and have become fascinated by the mystery of why their ancestors warred each other almost into oblivion. Howardson herself became something of a second mother to them, and they consider her more or less family.

While both Tryynac and Denara would be capable of passing the necessary tests to attend the Royal Technical Institute, that school does not actually teach what they need to know to achieve their goal of becoming actual archaeologists. Instead, Howardson worked her contacts, on Earth and Veranis, to work out something different.

It required some effort to make it happen, but Howardson managed to arrange for her proteges to attend Gulfcoast State University on Earth, her own alma mater.


* Tryynac and Denara appear on Howardsen's character sheet as personal Allies.
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Old 05-05-2024, 11:13 PM   #67
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


Though Howardson does not know it, among the people who were involved in making the education of her proteges on Earth happen was Jarak Sahandar III.

When Howardson was pulling strings to try to arrange it, among the people who had to be involved were some of the diplomatic personnel in the Three Power Commission, and they consulted the government of Catakatia (because Tryynac and Denara were Catakatian subjects, legally speaking). Normally this would not have been a significant enough matter for royal attention, but Howardson is a part-time instructor at the RTI, which is a special interest of the Jarak, and so the relevant bureaucrats drew higher-level attention to the matter.

Archaeology, as a formal subject, is not taught at the RTI, nor is it really part of the Northlander cultural mindset, neither originally nor as part of what they picked up from the Thakarians. On the other hand, Sahandar badly wants to know what happened to his ancestors, to find out what reduced a star-system wide high technology civilization to a handful of survivors barely capable of agriculture, survivors so reduced that they lost their original writing.

As noted, the RTI does not teach archaeology, but Sahandar wants to change that. From that perspective, a good beginning would be having some of his people train in that subject on Earth. As a result, Sahandar quietly put his own support behind the idea, which was a substantial boost to the project. Sahandar also offered to pay much of the tuition and transport costs, albeit indirectly and secretly, which also made the idea an easier sell.

Eventually, between the efforts of Howardson and Shelton Ross, her mentor and thesis advisor, the necessary approvals were received. As the older of the two, it was Tryynac who first left for Earth, and in 2124, he in the second year of his studies in the United States.


Species: Homo vertara
Age in 2124: 21 Terran years
Height: 6'5"
Hair: Light red
Eyes: Green

IQ: 12
DX: 11
ST: 14
HT: 10


Alertness 1
Denara (sister, appears rarely, low power)
Appearance (average)
Charisma 1
Common Sense
Dr. Polly Clarkson (appears seldom, more powerful)
Dr. Shelton Ross (appears often, more powerful)

Strong Will 2
Unusual Background (Veranisian native student at GSU)


Duty (special, to patrons, homeworld, home country, student based)
Greed (at -5 level)
Nearsighted (correctable with glasses)
Phobia (snakes, powerful)
Shyness (at -10)

1. Demophobic
2. Rises before local dawn
3. Jealous of Terrestrian longevity
4. Teetotaler
5. Fascinated by snow/winter weather


Anthropology 13
Archaeology 15
Animal Handling 13
Area Knowledge(s)
Atlanta 13
Area 12A-9 14
Earth 10
Veranis 13

Brawling 12
Cooking 12
Diplomacy 9
Fast-Talk 11
First Aid 13
Fishing 11
Guns TL10 12
History 15*
Catakatian (literate, native)
English 12 (literate 12)
Thakarian (literate, 'native')
Tribal languages of Region 12 on Veranis 12 (no written form)

Mechanic 10
Packing 12
Survival (jungles of Veranis) 11**
Swimming 12
Veterinary 10
Writing 12

* Tryynac has a varied knowledge of History. He knows a great deal about the History of Catakatia and Veranis as a whole, and is learning fast about Terran History (currently a -2 to the skill). He also has some knowledge of Thakarian History (-4).

**Tryynac has a modest level at Survival, in the equatorial jungles of Veranis. This skill would operate at -1/-2 (depending) on Earth.

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Old 05-06-2024, 12:01 AM   #68
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


In 2124, Tryynac has been living on Earth for not quite two years, mostly in the Atlanta campus of Gulfcoast State University. The preceding two years, and the seven-week voyage that took him to Atlanta, was an experience unlike anything Tryynac had known in his short life. The shuttle ride up to orbit, the long weeks aboard a passenger star carrier, and eventually, his arrival (via the Panama LALport complex) on Earth was literally an entry to a whole new world.

Tryynac is in something of a unique position, or several such, in his life in Atlanta. His primary course of study is a dual major in anthropology and archaeology. His peculiar background, though, means that he already knows much of what is usually taught. Tryynac essentially grew up surrounded by professional archaeologists, and spent half of each year living on an actual, functioning field site. Much of the field work requirement that would normally happen at post-graduate level has already happened for Tryynac. Thue he is learning the technical basics after what would normally be higher-level instruction. For this reason, his instructors have altered the usual course work, to focus on the theoretical side and specific skills that he lacks.

The city of Metro-Atlanta, in 2124, has a population of approximately eleven million people. For Tryynac, this was an overwhelming concept. After all, the entire population of Catakatia, his homeland, is only about twelve million, counting both Vertarans and Humans. The entire planetary population of Veranis is only slightly more than seventy million. Upon arrival in Atlanta, Tryynac found himself in a single city with a population almost equal to his entire homeland.

To make it the more so, Tryynac had spent much of his younger life at archaeological field sites such as 12A-9, which were relatively sparesely populated, even by Veranisian standards. To someone like Tryynac, the sights and sounds of a such a population in one place were so overwhelming that he experienced occasional panic attacks in his first few weeks in Atlanta.

Tryynac mastered his unease, however, and by 2124 he is becoming somewhat used to the city. He does still sometimes have to force down unease, but it no longer overwhelms him.

Along with the unease came the sheer fascination of such a place. Tryynac was not totally unfamiliar with modern technology, Veranis was a mix of that and older technologies, after all. He had seen, and used, up to the minute devices of interstellar technology while working with Doctor Howardson on dig sites. He had flown on planes belonging to the royal government when Doctor Howardson returned north during the wet seasons.

Now, though, Tryynac finds himself in a modern city in a fully TL10 United States, and even after two years, the amazement and mixed wonder and unease over it has not fully faded.

Tryynac has also discovered something about himself that he would probably have never realized, had he remained on his home world: he is irrationally terrified of snakes. For whatever reason, the Familiar Eldren never introduced any snakes or close relatives thereof to Veranis, and when the Thakarians came, they did not introduce snakes either. Tryynac had literally never in his life seen or encountered a snake until he came to Earth, and the first time he did see one, his own panic caught him totally by surprise.

Another fascination for Tryynac is winter.

Veranis does have seasons, but in 2124, for the most part Veranis is hotter than Earth. (Though not necessarily hotter than Earth was throughout most of its geological history.) Even the winters of most of Veranis are no more than a somewhat cooler season. Genuine 'winter weather' with snow or ice is vanishingly rare on Veranis, save in some of the higher mountain peaks.

Though Atlanta is a southern city, it does get some cold weather in winter, and occasional snowfall. During his first winter in Atlanta, an unusual winter system blanketed the entire region in six inches of snow. This was quite literally the first time Tryynac had ever seen snow, much less touched it or experienced snowfall. At one point he nearly experienced hypothermia while standing outside for hours during the storm, watching the snow falling slowly and steadily from the gray-clad sky as the winter light faded.

This fascination led him, later, to use some of his very limited personal time and money, to make a trip northward to observe actual glaciers in Alaska and Nunavut. He was able, at one point, to stand on a nearby hilltop and watch as an iceberg 'calved' off from a glacier into a fjord. The sound of the falling ice, the waves rising in the cold waters, and the deep, incredible blue of the ice left Tryynac in awe, he had never imagined anything like what he was observing.

For all his fascination with ice and snow, though, Tryynac grew up in a hothouse environment, and he is far more physically comfortable in the summer. To Tryynac, the heat and humidity of the Atlanta summer is no different than a pleasant springtime day in his homeland. Tryynac eventually managed to arrange for single-person rooms, because he was comfortable in the heat that most of his fellow students longed to banish with air conditioning. Tryynac is an unusual site on campus, often wearing sweaters and light coats on days with temperatures in the seventies Fahrenheit.

(This is not a species difference as such, it is simply that Tryynac grew up in a hot environment. As time passes, his body is adjusting to Atlanta temperatures.)

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Old 05-07-2024, 12:18 AM   #69
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


As far as his studies go, Tryynac is dedicated. This is out of both necessity (he is receiving a somewhat uniquely tailored and rather intense course of training) and a sense of obligation. Tryynac knows perfectly well that his patron Howardson, and his family, and various Human and Vertaran associates, went to considerable trouble to arrange his voyage to Earth and his education there. Tryynac also knows that other people are also invested in him, and his training, though he has no idea his monarch is one of them.

Tryynac has a sense of obligation, he does not want to let those people down. He also badly wants to master these skills for his own sake, he longs to return to Veranis and take part in figuring out what happened to his ancestors.

As a result, Tryynac spends the huge majority of his time either in class, or studying, or doing 'homework' of one sort or another. He is most likely to be found either in a lecture hall, a study carrel, the campus master library, or in his dorm room studying. He does socialize somewhat, and he has made some friends since arriving in Atlanta, but he is a very driven student.

Tryynac has no time to work for pay, and it would be impractical for him to do most work on Earth anyway, given his background. Howardson and her fellows arranged for Tryynac to have a small income for spending purposes. It is by no means lavish, but his room and board are covered either by the scholarship Howardson arranged, or the secret subsidy from his monarch, so the money he receives is sufficient for most routine expenses and the occasional luxury.

Tryynac has developed an interest in one Terrestrian leisure activity: baseball.

Baseball is by far the most popular sport in the United States in 2124, though is it operates somewhat differently than it does in 2024. Whenever he can spare the time, Tryynac likes to attend New Atlanta Braves home games at the Atlanta-Sperling Baseball Complex, colloquially known as 'Rhett Butler Field'. This mostly happens during the gaps between the spring and summer and fall semesters, but he occasionally manages a weekend game during the intense summer semester.

Tryynac is fascinated by baseball, and roots for the New Braves as his adoptive team. This is partly because he currently, albeit temporarily, lives in Atlanta, and partly because the New Braves actually have a Vertaran player on the team, a permanent Atlanta resident and naturalized American citizen who immigrated to the USA from Catakatia-Veranis under unusual circumstances over a decade earlier.

Tryynac has also developed a taste for a few Terrestrian foods. In particular, he has discovered the phenomenon known to the southern States of the USA as 'barbecue'. By 2124, after almost two years in Atlanta, he has already become versed in the abstruse theology of the subject, with definite preferences in terms of fuel-wood, sauces and seasonings.

One thing Tryynac has not sampled is Terrestrian alcohol. As a matter of personal policy, he has resolved to abstain from alcoholic beverages (and other mind-altering substances) while on Earth. He has no moral or other objection to alcohol, but he is acutely aware both that his scholarship and residency status are provisional, and that he has obligations. He is determined to avoid taking foolish risks, which drunkenness can certainly exacerbate.

Tryynac has found that he mostly gets along well with his Human fellow students and the faculty and others. It has also been an experience to meet members of other species of humanoid than Humans and Vertarans. While the huge majority of the people of Atlanta are of course Human, the campus especially, and the city outside, are host to members of other humanoid species from other planets.

At the same time, Tryynac has developed a resentment toward the Terrestrians around him, based on a fundamental envy. The average Human on Earth in 2124 is substantially healthier than most of his own people, more disease resistant, and above all else, longer lived. A typical Human from an advanced state on Earth has a life expectancy nearly double that of a Vertaran from Veranis, as a result of advanced biotechnology.

Tryynac knew this before he came to Earth, of course. It was common knowledge on Veranis for a century that Thakarians lived about twice as long as the natives. The Terrestrians had the same gift. Living on Earth, though, has really brought home the reality of it to Tryynac. In spite of his best efforts, there is a part of him that resents it.

This resentment is compounded by, and is included in, another realization. Having lived on Earth for almost two years, he is acutely aware of the vast technological power the Terrestrians hold, and the advantages that flow from it. Their extended lifespans are just one of many benefits from this power. The Terrestrians have it, the Thakarians have it, and meeting members of other interstellar-capable peoples have reminded him that they, too, have it.

What eats at Tryynac is the knowledge that his own people, or his biological ancestors, anyway, also had that technological power, and that they actually had it thousands of years before. Tryynac is sufficiently aware of Terrestrian history to know that his own ancestors were travelling in space while Terrestrians were using bronze tools to cut stone by hand. His ancestors had that power...and self-destructed using it.

Tryynac longs to know why. He longs to know how such a thing could happen, and he wants to see his own people regain that power. He also wants to know why it happened because he wants to help make sure nothing like it ever happens again.

Tryynac has at least another year of studying on Earth to complete his degrees in archaeology and anthropology. He already has most of the necessary field work completed, before he ever came to Earth. Part of him longs to return home to begin work, another part would like to stay in Atlanta longer.

His sister Denara is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta to begin her own studies (similar to the course he himself has followed) in the fall of 2124. He will still be on Earth for a year with his sister, meaning he will be able to help her with the adjustments.

Dr. Shelton Ross is a semi-retired archaeologist who acted as Dr. Howardson's thesis advisor, who did field work on Veranis for several years, and who currently is part of the faculty in Atlanta. He acts as an advisor and patron for Tryynac, and the two consult together to work out what changes might be useful in the training course for his sister when she comes.

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Old 06-19-2024, 10:38 PM   #70
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


Archeological work on Veranis is not always completely safe.

There are many of the traditional risks that can potentially come any sort of archeological work, there are the risks associated with the nature of the ancient sites in question. Sites such as 12A-9 were once major cities, built with TL10 technology. Even after the passage of over six thousand Terrestrial years, there are dangers associated with such places.

Working machinery is rare to the point of absence, of course. Almost. Only a self-contained device with its own independent power supply can even potentially be operational after the passage of such time, and even then special circumstances are required, such as being specifically designed for open-ended operation and/or self-repair. Every once in a while, though, such devices are encountered. To make it the worse, those very few instances of working machinery were usually military in nature.

Also, even after the passage of six thousand years, there are places amid the shallowly-buried rubble where dangerous gases, inflammable substances, and various poisonous materials linger, or have accumulated.

Also, most such cities were heavily battered during the terrible wars that destroyed the ancient Vertaran civilizations. Almost every major city, including the vast city that once occupied Site 12A-9 (and 12A-8 and 12A-7 and 12B-1 and many other map grid coordinates in the region) was repeatedly stuck by nuclear weapons. The ancient defenses prevented the cities from being totally destroyed, but enough got through to leave many areas in rubble. The deadly ancient radioactive dusts were also liberally deployed. At once time, the ruins of the vast city was uninhabitably 'hot'.

That was six thousand years earlier, though. By 2124, the radioactivity has declined to so close to background levels that only sensitive instrumentation can detect it at all. The signs of the dust are present, though, in the form of decay products with distinctive isotopic signatures. These tell a grim tale to those with necessary knowledge of chemistry and physics to read it.

The radioactivity is long gone, but another danger remains: chemical weaponry, and (to a much lesser extent) bioweaponry.

The chemical weapons that were once deployed here have been degraded by six thousand years of sunlight and wind and rain, but where they were sheltered by rubble or otherwise protected, they can be as dangerous in 2124 as they were in the time of their first use. These include contact poisons, corrosives, slow-acting nerve agents, fast-acting paralytics, and many other hellish brews.

The biological threat is much less, but not zero. Most living weaponry has long since either died out, or mutated into something quite other. The very traits that made such organisms so dangerous also made them (usually) less reproductively competitive, and six thousand years is a long time, especially for microorganisms. A reservoir of risk remains, though, mostly because of the remains of the original inhabitants of the ancient metropolis.

At its height, Dr. Howardson estimates the city in question to have had a population in excess of twenty million. The wars had reduced that by the end, many had already fled or died when the final death spasm struck the city, but even so, it happened fast enough that at least some hundreds of thousands died in their city, unable to escape. They remained in place, as the passage of decades, centuries, and millennia, and the action of wind and water and eventually life turned the ancient metropolis into a modern jungle.

Though, to the eye, the region looks like wild, untouched wilderness, in fact the remains and ruins of the ancient metropolis are shallowly buried. Beneath a relatively thin layer of jungle soil lie broken concrete and rusting steel, masses of glass and more complex substances, and humanoid remains. Many of what look like small hills and ridges are actually the remains of immense, ancient structures.

The bodies lying in the empty city were preserved, for a long time, by the very radiation that had (with other agents) laid the city low. So intense was the radioactivity, in the immediate aftermath of the war, that the entire region was more or less sterile. This greatly slowed the process of breakdown and decay, leaving only wind and water to do the work of dismantling the ancient metropolis. The near-absence of microorganisms (at first) greatly slowed the decay of the corpses as well.

Time passes, radioactives decayed and eventually reached stable states, and life returned. Jungle spread through the concrete, steel, and synthetic masses, and reduced them. Soil covered the ruins and grass and trees and fungi returned. Bodies decayed, leaving skeletons, which in turn broke down more slowly. Eventually, animals returned, and fed on the remains.

By 2124, it is not unusual for archaeologists to come across the remains of ancient Vertarans in the city, and caution must be exercised, because while most such remains are harmless, needing only respectful treatment, some still harbor potentially dangerous bioweapon agents.

As one might expect, all this makes the work of archaeology, which by its very nature is slow when done properly, even more time consuming.

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