Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dawn Sector: The World of Flicker

By Brian Pichelman

This series of articles by Brian Pichelman will present the Dawn Sector, home to the Flickerians and Kendeleorians as well as several Human colonies, a complete sector in the Stars Without Number universe. This article details the world of Flicker.

Flicker is a planet so radioactive that is can be seen to glow at night. From this glowing land, three alien species rose to become some of the strangest and most powerful creatures the galaxy has ever seen.
Flicker is at a outer arm of the Milky Way galaxy, and the Scream never technically hit them. Because they emerged technologically later than humans, this does not make much of a difference.
Flicker has a mass that is 150% Earth's; gravity is 1.5 times stronger there than as compared to Earth-like planets. Flicker’s core and lower mantle has incredibly high concentrations of radioactive materials such as Uranium; trying to detoxify the planet is practically impossible. Scientists do not believe that the unusual core of Flicker is natural, but they have not been able to come up with an explanation for how it could have been created. Otherwise, Flicker's atmosphere and temperature are pretty much Earth-like.

In spite of the radiation, the planet flourishes with life, albeit evolution occurred much faster here than anywhere else (mutations, while impossible for the intelligent species to suffer from, occurs almost daily in animals). Because of the radiation, the biology cannot be consumed by humans unless it is given a through anti-radiation wash first. Surface radiation levels vary, roll 2d6*100 Rads per hour when necessary.
There are approximately 9 billion inhabitants on Flicker: about 5 billion Bladish, about 3 billion Hippaflicks, and around 1 billion Irons.

The main spaceport is Chek-Ni (which means “First Contact” in Bladish). It is located off the edge of the biggest continent. Chek-Ni is at the midpoint between the land cities and the underwater civilization.
With the exception of the Bladish's many land-based cities near the oceans, most of the land is devoid of civilization. There have even been rumors of illegal human colonies existing in the heart of the wilderness. The only known intelligent life in the wilderness areas is the Irons. Most Irons, though, live in the large mountains just north of Chek-Ni. All of Hippaflick civilization exist underwater, some of it even going down to the trenches. About 45% of Bladish call the ocean cities their home as well.

The underwater cities of the Hippaflicks rarely go above two stories in height, but they can cover thousands of square kilometers. Their houses accommodate their bulky bodies. Many psionic centers exist in their cities as well. Many a psychic have traveled to the Hippaflick's centers of psionic learning.
The Bladish underwater cities are typically carved out

of canyon walls, and their homes are air-filled. Defenses on Bladish cities are vast and unusual (some reports indicate continual use of antimatter as a weapon).

Bladish land cities are composed of small skyscrapers, smaller than Earth's mostly because of the higher gravity. They are structured much like a human city would.

Irons live in mines used for extracting iron ore, their primary food. As they do not need creature comforts, most Irons only posses a sleeping jar.

There are many dangerous animals on Flicker. All Flicker predators have compounded iron ore in their bodies that give off a magnetic trace, allowing them to be located with a compass. This is why the Bladish and Hippaflicks have magnetic sensing abilities.

The animals come in all shapes and sizes, so pretty much anything can be encountered.

History of Flicker
All the intelligent creatures on Flicker super-evolved until they finally became sentient and grew a resistance to the radiation (even pretech scientists were scratching their heads about why that was). Three species grew from that planet: The Bladish, The Hippaflicks, and The Irons. The Irons emerged about 1 million Earth years ago; the Bladish emerged about 50,000 years ago; and the Hippaflicks about 5,000 years ago.

The Bladish invented modern society on Flicker, but it was the Hippaflicks that perfected the technologies needed for travel beyond their world. The Irons were discovered in their equivalent of our 14th century. The Irons were a boon to mining and medicine. Skilled Iron operators could worm their way through a patient’s body and knock out diseases, while not harming the patient. With the increase of public health and mining, the whole world quickly industrialized and prospered.

The Bladish built antimatter drives that took them to the stars. Antimatter was not suitable for galactic exploration, because of power requirements. Their system used a combination of throwing space dust at antimatter and aiming the explosion out the back end. This method was slower-than-light, so trying to go anywhere on a Bladish's 200 year lifespan was generally useless. so they built rudimentary wormholes. Wormholes were made by blowing a large hole in the universe, usually with antimatter. The wormholes only needed power at one end to maintain the opening, and could reach across galaxies.

These wormholes were large, but also inefficient; they took up a lot of space, and consumed a lot of power. A wormhole with a diameter of 1 kilometer would only allow one ship about 31 meters wide to pass safely; a frigate sized ship. None of the Flickerians invented spike drive technology and because the Bladish suppressed large-scale Psychic endeavors, they never made Jump Gates (In a few instances, Bladish military forces blew up space ships containing Psychics). Many historians conclude that sufficient technology existed, and even prototypes, but the Bladish suppressed all of it.

The Bladish did not have the energy to build multiple wormholes though, because they could not build a second supercollider. The Hippaflicks were freaked out about one supercollider, and so they simply refused to provide the technological support required to build a second supercollider. The Bladish made use of their one supercollider and connected to Earth (they read radio signals that suggested intelligent life) and made contact with humans.

The humans quickly made a Jump Gate to Flicker, and they traded. They had a issue at first because on Flicker humans could not handle the high amounts of radiation that occurred naturally. Nevertheless, humans managed to continue trading with the Flickerians. Most historians have concluded that the best radiation-proof suits were made to be used on Flicker. A unprotected human would die in a matter of minutes without protection.

Humans supplied them with enough power to build other wormholes, including one to Kendleoria (detailed later). When the Scream occurred, the Flickerians lost the human-supported power to run their wormholes.
The Flickerians had to close all other wormholes to keep just one working. They picked the Kendleorian wormhole, because the Kendleorian had Jump Gates near Flicker, but there was only one wormhole to Kendleoria. They closed the Earth wormhole after they learned of the collapse of mankind but before any human ships could cross over.

Flicker never suffered the devastating effects of the Scream, but their empire was severely cut down without mankind to supply power.

All antimatter spaceships were grounded after humans introduced the spike drive (because if even a single bit got loose, it would be a very large explosion), but many antimatter ships existed in museums. The sole reason for producing antimatter after the Scream was to power the Kendleorian wormhole.

Each race on Flicker has their own government, but there is one unifying entity: The Council of Flicker. It is composed of 13 beings of each race, the exception being that the Irons only have 12. This council generally does not do much except extra-flicker-estrial (alien) relations, and to stop wars between the races.

The Flickerians control the immediate solar systems surrounding them, but they were never really concerned with expansion as much as exploration (i.e. just looking around, but going home for dinner).

The next articles in these series will discuss the three races of Flicker, and, later on, the neighboring world of Kendleoria and its inhabitants; finally, the xenomorphs native to Flicker and Kendleoria will be discussed.

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