Po Ni Lo
|Local Year:||52 Standard days, 26.6 Local Days|
|Max Temp Dayside:||152.8°C (17.1°C/lat row)|
|Min Temp Nightside:||-154.3°C (-10.8°C/lat row)|
|Atmospheric Taint:||Sulfur Compounds|
At first glance, it might seem that Noscius would be a useless world. A
tidelocked world with a very thin atmosphere chock full of sulfur isn't high on
anyone's list of habitable worlds. Even during the Vargr Pacification Campaigns
the system was no more than a refueling point for both sides. Neither side
stayed long enough to leave any sort of mark on the mainworld. The gas giant
Colubridae received more attention than Noscius.
The planet gets its name from its most notorious inhabitant, Heterodon Noscius, a snake-like creature living in the warmth of the dayside. It feeds on moderately sized beetles and sulfur worms. Although its venom isn't typically fatal to humans, or vargr, it is exceptionally painful due to the presence of sulfuric acid.
Eventually the results of the First Survey were released and the planet's extensive sulfur deposits became known. Being a common enough element, the megacorps didn't rush right out to claim the world. Finally in 502, the mining rights were acquired by Zuber Industries, a small mining and ore processing company. The company declined to purchase the entire planet, insisting that there was plenty of room for others. The real factor was the cost. With such high, but not ridiculous, temperatures already present on the world, the cost of sulfur liquefaction was going to be low (sulfur melts at 115°C). Zuber wanted to take advantage of these cost savings, as the margins on sulfur were low. There was no sense getting bogged down with the cost of administering a planetary bureaucracy. Noscius was granted Imperial client state status and left at that.
Zuber Industries built the dormitories and offices for their facility a relatively substantial ways into the dayside of Noscius, at the 24.5° mark away from the twilight meridian. The temperature at this point is a comfortable 15.9°C (60.6°F). The actual sulfur liquefaction occurred much further sunward at a remote facility that relied heavily upon automation and telepresence for its workers to operate the equipment. An abundance of sunlight enabled solar power to be utilized. The technology used was more sophisticated than the UWP would let on. The Zuber plant relied upon the importation of TL 10-11 equipment, though local goods and the installation itself were TL 7.
For decades, the Zuber Industries facility was the sole evidence of civilization anywhere on the world. It was an efficient enterprise and its stability prompted adventurous souls to start their own small businesses here. Most of these were focused on dining, entertainment, and recreation for the workers at the plant. And, in time, as traffic increased between Antra and Allazkhor subsectors increased, the needs of merchants passing through the Noscius system were met as well. The downport was upgraded to C-class and it seemed that Noscius' fate was looking up.
A shantytown emerged, though it was never named anything other than "town", and a small population began to thrive, in a way. No official census was ever taken. Population numbers listed in the UWP referenced the number of workers at the Zuber Industries plant only. At its peak, the actual population was probably three to four times what was listed.
Noscius failed to develop any sort of centralized authority. Zuber Industries didn't care what happened outside of its gates so long as it didn't interfere with its operation. Its own security force was small, though equipped well enough to keep would be ne'er-do-wells at a respectable distance. The downport relied upon Imperial Starport Security forces to keep things under control on their property. Businesses, legitimate or otherwise, operating in the shantytown hired two bit down-on-their-luck mercenaries when they didn't feel comfortable handling the job themselves. In general, the populace was openly armed and the threat of lethal retaliation from everyone kept the peace most of the time. It wasn't a trigger-happy place. If one minded their own business and didn't ask questions, one could be assured to remain unmolested.
The world's proximity to Vargr space made it ripe for the obligatory corsair raid. Though there were probably about one or two merchant ships raided each year, the corsairs did little to Noscius itself. They enjoyed the "open" atmosphere of Noscius' shantytown and relished it as a safe place to relax. Word soon spread throughout Vargr space that Noscius should be regarded as neutral territory, or else.
The one action that showed any sort of community was the "Noscius Dome Project." Contributions came in from all over to build a dome over the shantytown, which had relied on pressure tubes and air locks to get from one building to the next. As Noscius' traffic picked up, congestion in these tunnels followed suit. The dome was equally financed by Zuber Industries, the shantytown businesses, and anonymous donors. An electric taxi service also ran between the Zuber facility and the town, a wonderful convenience for the worker who left off a bit too much steam. The shantytown became "a shantytown inside a dome." And it still didn't have a name. It was just referred to as "the dome."
The Imperium took advantage of the "no questions" unwritten rule to send undercover agents to Noscius to gather information on corsair smuggling activities and hostile activities conducted by anti-imperial vargr states. And it seemed to work well for many years as evidenced by the Imperium's stable border between it and vargr space. But when the Imperium went to war with itself, its eyes and ears were turned away from its neighbors. If it hadn't, it certainly would have been alerted to its coreward neighbor pacing and growling behind the fence.
The Assemblage of 1116 had been sending out agents to ascertain the attitudes and strengths of its immediate neighboring worlds to rimward. Recruits were easy to have among the corsairs passing through Noscius and the smugglers were already running a successful business. Word got back to Assemblage command that Noscius could be taken without firing a shot, so long as they didn't fire a shot. And in a rare moment of wisdom, the Assemblage listened to this advice. When the invading fleet arrived on 331-1116 a message was broadcast that Noscius was now Assemblage property. It then moved on to its next target, Dzoungdzi. On the planet below, everyone went about their business just as before.
The Assemblage never established any kind of presence on Noscius. As such, information from its neighbors and worlds beyond them continued to come in. News of the crumbling Assemblage was met with indifference, though the corsairs that took shore leave here were becoming less frequent. In 1131 word made it to Noscius that the Regency was establishing a Quarantine zone to shield itself from a computer virus, which had been released in the old Imperium and had been wreaking havoc there. This generated some concern but people still went about their business, though this too began to suffer from a major decline in interstellar commerce. In 1133 it was learned that the Regency was abandoning Corridor and some trailing subsectors in Deneb and relocating its populations behind its Quarantine. This got everyone's attention. The Zuber Industries plant was shutdown and its workers were transported safeside. With its clients gone, the shantydome's businesses soon followed. With their favorite hangout now a ghost town, the remaining few corsairs and smugglers relocated to other worlds.