The Shattered Ring
The Babylon system has two planets of interest. The first is the gas giant Gilgamesh, orbited by two dozen moons with a wealth of metals and chemicals. The mines on the moons of Gilgamesh are dangerous and unpleasant in the extreme, and as a result are mostly staffed by purchased clones and prisoners. The reason for the moons’ richness is unknown, but it is well known the deeper one goes the richer and more volatile the crust becomes. Years ago, one company bravely attempted to mine all the way to the core of a moon- the resultant debris field is now known as Foden’s Folly. The second is the world of Babylon itself, a verdant jewel of a planet littered with the haunted cities and structures of The First.
Technology Rating: -4
Environment Rating: 1
Resources Rating: 3
- The Seed of Eden
- Mines of Gilgamesh
- The Shadow War
The planet of Babylon, which the system is named after, is a beautiful paradise world. Lush, verdant growth covers the entirety of its three major continents in green and blue-green growth, forming vast forests and sweeping plains. The oceans of Babylon are a deep azure and teem with uncountable forms sea-life, from vast leviathans to tiny plankton. A panoply of creatures call Babylon’s landmasses home, including immense flocks of avians, herds of grazing mammalian creatures and microfauna of impossible number. Prospectors have found the planet to be practically devoid of mineral wealth, so little attention has been given to it by the big developing interests of the Cluster. Destined to remain largely untouched, it is a true garden world – a blissful paradise world on the fringes of habitable space. It would be all these things, were it not for The First.
Scattered amongst the forests and jungles, across the plains and hills, atop mountains and even beneath the seas of Babylon are the vast cities and structures of The First. Fashioned like brilliant shards of diamond and obsidian, to call them ruins is to suggest some level of decay; these structures are pristine. No bodies lie in the streets, no debris is scattered through the halls, no rubble mounded amongst the buildings. The only evidence of decay is found in the depredations of the plant life, which has not devoured and destroyed the structures so much as it has enveloped them. In the abandoned city that has been nicknamed The Hanging Gardens by explorers, vast trailing arial vines and root structures depend from thousand-foot tall monolithic skyscrapers. Trees sprout from doorways and apertures and creepers lace their way across balconies and squares. The floral incursion appears to have colonised these abandoned paces almost eagerly.
What few explorers have spent any time examining these structures – those that return, at least – have established two things of importance: firstly, there is no hint of any grand technological wonder hidden amongst the majority above-ground structures, or even some of the most mundane accessories to modern life on other worlds – no elevators or escalators, light fittings or power outlets have been discovered or are in evidence, leaving the structures with a bizarre monolithic feel to them. Small artefacts have been recovered, but these are limited in number and are not part of the structures themselves, merely items left within them.
Secondly, and far more pertinently for the explorers, the structures are haunted. Most off-worlders would scoff at the idea of creeping shadows and mysterious disappearances, and of the strange luminescence of these structures by night. The off-worlers are wrong – these things are reality, as the few folk who live on Babylon and have explored the remnants of The First can attest. Expeditions of adventurers have vanished entirely within the glittering walls of some of the cities, and many others have lost members and equipment without trace. Those that do return speak of shadows flittering silently through the walls at the corner of sight, but no definitive accounts of these has been recorded. The hauntings seem very real to those who have spent the night amongst the structures, when some of them – different ones every night – glow with a eerie, pearlescent inner light. Whether the stories of hauntings are to be believed or not, one hard fact is certain: None of the fauna of Babylon dwells within these places. No land fauna has ever been encountered within the walls of the cities of The First, and the Avians limit themselves to the outermost layers, sticking to the branches of trees and never so much as landing for a moment on the glittering surface of a structure.
This is all true for the structures on and above the surface of the planet. The cities (for want of a better term) of The First continue beneath the ground to an unknown depth. The winding corridors and immense vaults that characterize the architecture of The First are difficult to navigate above ground, but beneath they are positively labyrinthine. The layout of these structures is complex beyond belief, and some claim that it defies normal physics. The glow that permeates the structures above ground by night continues beneath, but is substantially less reliable and stable. More than one party of explorers has become hopelessly lost in the corridors after their batteries failed and the glow in the walls faded, leaving them stranded in dark halls clogged with greenery. Few parties have made anything more than the most cursory explorations of the passageways beneath, and the majority remain undisturbed.
The abandoned cities of Babylon have been found to contain small numbers of unfathomable Artifacts of the First, which fetch an impressive price on the intersystem markets. These also offer glimpses of the technological secrets of the First and are consequently highly sought-after by parties of adventurers, explorers and scavengers. It is these that bring the majority of visitors to Babylon. Unsubstantiated rumours suggest that the underground portions of the structures (and the underwater buildings) contain vast caches of artifacts, but if anyone has returned from exploring these zones, they’re keeping quiet about it.
The artifacts found on Babylon are typically bizarre assemblies of geometric shapes, composed of some curious blue-grey metallic substance. Only a limited number have any discernible function, and these often seem absurdly mundane or curiously redundant – for example, heating liquid or projecting incredibly detailed charts of the galaxy in which Babylon is situated. It is likely that the exploring parties of the Zvitter Consortium have unearthed many other relics, but they decline to comment on the nature and function of these.