LAST EDITED ON 02-09-03 AT 01:45 PM (EST)
HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
ENTRY: FENRIS (planet/system)
Class: N - III (geologically inactive rocky planet, marginally inhabitable)
Surface gravity: .92 G
Primary star: PI764 (G4)
Proper designation: PI764 II (of seven planets in system)
Orbital period: 8014 hours (334 days)
Rotation period on axis: 2005 hours (83.5 days)
Moons: three, (largest to smallest) Gleipnir, Geri, Freki, all type L (rocky, no athmosphere)
Capital: Port Sandor (pop. approx. 21,400)
Spaceport facilities: Standard, cost Low, quality Low
For the hitchhiker who can't show his or her face on Tatooine for whatever reason, Fenris offers most of the same opportunities to transfer between ships, get drunk, and get very very dead. It also adds an outside environment much more hostile than Tatooine, with temperatures ranging from 85 degrees Centigrade to negative seventy degrees Centigrade along the equator.
Fenris was passed over for colonization by the Salusians in their early explorations, but an early Earth robot probe landed, found evidence of minable dilithium deposits, and returned its information to Earth. It didn't stay long enough for a thorough scan of the environment or to properly calculate the local day, and thus brought back to its owners a report of a desert world with warm, but not unbearable, temperatures.
When the great dilithium boom hit in the middle twenty-first century, a colonization company was chartered, using the data from the probe, whose owners had been killed off in the most recent global war. A large expedition was launched with some thirty thousand colonists in several specially-designed one-way colony ships, carrying with them all the equipment needed to mine vast amounts of dilithium.
When they arrived and saw the true nature of their prize world, the colonists didn't back out. Many of them couldn't, having sunk all they owned into the colony company. Instead, faced with a surface only habitable at sunrise or sunset, they decided to live in their mines, and with great dispatch the ships were landed and their cargo put to use.
The single largest project wasn't the early dilithium mine, though; a large coastal valley was rapidly carved out, roofed over, and converted into a massive arcology. The carniculture vats from the colony ships were salvaged, expanded, and installed in the base of the new city, named after the chief stockholder, Karl Sandor. Port Sandor's spaceport facilities drew business as soon as they opened, as miners rushed in to dig for dilithium.
Unfortunately, calamity after calamity struck the colony. The lode mapped by the probe played out within a year; a large lode under Port Sandor itself lasted not much longer than that. Even as new subterrenean towns were being carved, they were being abandoned as the promise of dilithium faded to dust. The final blow came with the discovery of synthetic dilithium, which turned natural dilithium from a remarkable mineral into a very rare, but not terribly valuable, gemstone.
In five years the Fenris Company was bankrupt, and the United Galactica stepped in to evacuate colonists from the worthless planet. A handful, however- about a thousand people- refused to depart, and they seized the remaining operable mining equipment and adapted to a substinence life feeding off of the small percentage of Fenris' native wildlife which weren't horrendously toxic.
Although the carniculture vats continued working (and still work), the product of the vats isn't any joy to eat. What's more, it's only marketable to spacers who need to restock their galleys -very- cheaply and who are willing to ignore the strange texture of vat-grown meat. Thus, seeking a 'cash crop,' the remaining settlers of Fenris turned to the oceans.
In the experimentation to find critters edible or marketable, the settlers inevitably came upon Fenris' largest, most violent carnivore. The official name is 'Jarvis' Sea Monster,' but the poetic among Fenris natives call it 'Jormundgand's Brood.' It's more commonly called a monster, a name entirely justified considering its vile temper and huge size. Adult monsters grow as large as small spaceships, with large barrel bodies and long, slender necks ending in a head that's mostly teeth.
Monsters aren't edible, but their insulating layer of blubber- a substance called tallow-wax by the natives- proved incredibly valuable. Tallow-wax forms in chemical chains yards long; it's not economically viable to synthesize, and it doesn't grow in vats. However, it does absorb radiation and provide excellent insulation from heat and cold, in addition to other industrial applications.
It took a while for sales of the harvested tallow-wax to take off, and it never grew into anything like a boom. However, it did provide a consistent trade between Fenris and the rest of the galaxy, reopening commerce and drawing in the other major industry to Fenris: smuggling. Fenris is a well-known haven for hiring smugglers and privateers, who use the world both for its low profile and its extra-cheap restocking facilities.
Between the monster hunters and the starship tramps, Port Sandor is a lively place indeed, great to have fun in if you care for danger and excitement. Notable among the many bars, taverns, and cantinas operated on Fenris are Harry Wong's, named for its founder, an establishment which averages four brawls per week, Martian Joe's Tavern, the watering hole of choice for the more respectable smugglers and privateers, and the otherwise unnamed Port Sandor Pilot's Lounge, the place you go for something done with no questions asked. Prices at all these fine locations are low, but so is the quality of the booze; hunters get drunk cheaply, and if you go to Fenris, so will you.
Fenris has no government per se; the Federation doesn't even have a tax office on the planet, and postal service runs entirely from the two weekly ships that stop at Fenris on their routes. The highest elected official is the mayor of Port Sandor, who presides over the city council and effectively makes law for the planet. Also influential in Fenris law and politics are the Fenris Hunter's Guild (not associated with any other Hunter's Guilds) and the Port Sandor Times, the sole newspaper, broadcast station and entertainment service on the planet.
Obviously it is easy to get a job on a ship on Fenris, although the pay is less than reliable and severance terms something to be negotiated in advance. More reliable, but hardly safe, work may be had on a monster-hunting ship. Expertise in submersibles, repulsorlift drives, and older weapons systems is a plus; monster ships fly above the surface and dive below seeking monsters and escaping from Fenris' turbulent environment, and the cobbled-together guns of those ships use castings-off from the galaxy's military. Torpedoes, artillery and slug-throwing weapons are preferred over energy weapons for their use in multile environments and because lasers and disruptors can ignite the tallow-wax inside the monster.
Tallow-wax fires are rare, but when they happen they are terrible. Tallow-wax melts far below its ignition point, which itself can lead to napalm-like burns but it ignites at 700 degrees C and cannot be extinguished. Tallow-wax has large amounts of oxygen in its molecule chains, and can burn a hundred fathoms underwater. Don't try to burn tallow-wax, and if a fire breaks out, stay away. Far away. Do not even -think- of joining the Port Sandor Fire Department.
If you visit Fenris, be sure to catch a Fenris sunset. It takes about a week for sunset to complete itself, during which time the skies light up with wonderful streamers of color and light. However, we do not recommend the Fenris sunrise, especially if you drink the cheap Fenris booze. Nobody deserves a straight week of the Morning After.