Gateway

Surface gravity 10.7 m/s², 1.09 g
Day length 102 ks, 28.2 hours
Year length 26.1 Ms, 0.83 Earth years
Month length 1.56 Ms, 15 local days
Seasonal change Moderate
Atmosphere 90 kPa, 18 kPa partial pressure O2
Fires burn normally
Climate Warm
Notable features Rings around planet
Population 1.3 million Laers, 0.7 million Humans, 0.6 million Mants, 0.3 million Pannovas
Capital city Redwater
Wormhole terminus Hot Bend
Current Governor Solvung Tyree Grau
Interplanetary organizations Grunau Base (Republican Army)
Prominent businesses Mining, agriculture, trade

Natural Features

Gateway orbits a star very much like Earth's sun, but at a somewhat closer distance giving in a warmer climate. Also like Earth, it has a single large moon that occupies the same size in the sky. Unlike Earth, Gateway has an extensive ring system in the plane of its equator. The rings are visible from the surface as a great arch in the sky. The rings have the disadvantage of severely restricting satellite orbits, such that weather monitoring, terrain survey, long distance communication, and geolocation is all significantly restricted on Gateway. They reflect so much light at night that Gateway never experiences total darkness, except at the very poles (where the rings are not visible) or equator (where the rings are seen edge-on, as a thin stripe through the sky going directly overhead, which is not wide enough to give much light).

The nebula from which Gateway's solar system condensed was unusually rich in heavy elements. This is not so evidenced on Gateway itself, where most of these have dissolved in its iron core, locked away under half a world of rock, but the metallic asteroids and minor worlds of its solar system are thick with gold, silver, and platinum group elements. Even so, lithophile heavy elements such as tungsten, uranium, thorium, and the rare earth elements have extensive deposits on Gateway.

Gateway is home to one medium-sized continent and a few small island-continents. The continents have seen relatively little tectonic upheaval in the last few tens of millions of years. Consequently, what mountains exist are mostly worn down and rounded, much of the land is flat and trending near sea level, and the soil is poor from the lack of weathered-out nutrients. Mid-ocean shield volcanoes over hot spots, and a mountain-building subduction zone at the edge of one of the island continents, are an exception to this general rule, giving regions of vigorous growth.

The vegetation of Gateway is purple. Most species have adaptations for hoarding and recycling scarce nutrients, allowing them to thrive in the impoverished conditions on Gateway. Some ecosystems are adapted for periodic burning, developing traits that encourage fires to start and sustain themselves, as a method for renewal and re-distribution of nutrients. These adaptations allow Gateway vegetation to generally out-compete Earth plants in their home environment, and plant life invasives are less of an issue on Gateway compared to many other worlds of the Verge (although introduced gum trees and Banksias tend to do well).

The large life forms of Gateway are lobopods which have evolved internal skeletons, high metabolisms, and a six-limbed body layout. These critters have adapted to many of the same niches as Earth's vertebrates. Chordates and arthropods have also adapted to land, but mostly as small, squirming or scuttling things – although one branch of Gateway chordates have evolved flight while maintaining a small body size, allowing them to occupy niches similar to Earth insects. A large number of Gateway's native fauna are venomous; some of them extremely so.

A number of Earth animals have become established on Gateway, including rats, rabbits, cats, dogs, horses, camels, goats, deer, pigs, ducks, geese, house finches, crows, starlings, doves, trout, channel catfish, carp, bass, walleye, pike, perch, bluegill, houseflies, cockroaches, spiders, and ants. The loss of the first colony during the Zox invasion breached an alligator farm, releasing alligators and a large collection of other reptiles into the swamps of Jackson Karst, which now have substantial breeding populations. A number of animals from the Laer homeworld have also been established, galloping and flapping and crawling their way across the land, or wriggling and swimming through the seas.

Jackson Karst

The largest continent on Gateway is named Ascot Land. Once, a mighty ring of mountains made the continent's borders to the west, north, and east. Over time, the mountains have been worn to rounded hills, but they still stand higher than the remaining land. The interior and the southern reaches have been repeatedly flooded and exposed with fluctuating sea levels and geological subsidence, leaving vast deposits of marine sedimentary rocks, most of it limestone. A shallow interior seaway currently floods much of the central and south of the continent, creating vast expanses of wetlands in the flat and low lying plains. Rivers and groundwater, made slightly acidic from the action of decaying vegetation, have over the eons dissolved away convoluted channels through the rock, forming extensive caverns, cave systems, sink hole-prone landscapes, tsingy (rugged limestone pinnacles), and cenotes (sink holes filled with ground water). This landscape of swamps, pillars, and caves is called the Jackson Karst.

Howling River

The Howling River basin drains most of Ascot Land. It is the longest and largest river on Gateway, winding its way through deep canyons in the northwest, passing over a series of waterfalls, before winding its way across the central floodplains to empty into the interior seaway. Its mouth forms a broad delta, full of meandering channels and quaking swamps.

Artifical Features

A long-term comet in orbit around Gateway's sun is strongly suspected to be an artifact of Antecessor origin. No expedition has yet been launched to investigate it.

History

Gateway was initially settled by refugees fleeing an increasingly flooded Florida and Bangladesh. This first colony grew around the wormhole terminus at Hot Bend in the sand flats and swamps of the Jackson Karst geological formation. When the Zox invaded the Verge, the first colony was almost entirely wiped out by the invading army. Only a few refugees managed to escape into the swamps and go into hiding.

After the Steaders opened the Homestead-Žemyna wormhole and allowed the United States Army through, the Zox were defeated on Homestead and pushed out of Gateway in a series of definitive battles. The U.S. Army used Gateway as a base to retake Austen and Kartanum. With Kartanum established as a choke point between Zox and American space, the military presence on Gateway was reduced to a small outpost at Hot Bend. Once again, Gateway was opened up to colonists.

The swamps and deltas of Gateway were attractive areas to settle for Laer. Soon, the Laer population outstripped that of the Humans. The wetlands were turned into homes and farms, and in many cases new wetlands were created with dams and levies to develop choice real estate.

After the Bump in the Night, the protections against the Zox had weakened. The Zox saw the opportunity and launched their attack, intending to eradicate the Humans and their entrained allies. Fortunately for the Gators, a Mant hive with high ranking members defected before the attack was launched. They warned the Humans and Laers of the Hierate's plans. The Gators put out a call for aid to the rest of the Human Verge, and hastily set up their own Home Guard. Volunteers streamed in to Gateway from across the Verge, armed with an eclectic set of weapons ranging from hunting rifles and shotguns to military relics scrounged up from abandoned U.S. Army bases. The Homestead Roughrider Militia, the Solace Colonial Rangers, the Jiàngluò Defense Force, and other quasi-military citizen organizations showed up in numbers to protect gateway from the invaders. When the Zox Imperial Army (or what remained of it) came through the Rhuzzit-Kartanum wormhole, the Humans, Laers, and Pannovas feigned a retreat to Austen and then Gateway in an attempt to lure the Imperial Army out in the open and cut them off from Mant space. The trick worked, and the militias, although outnumbered and outgunned, sprung their ambush. The losses of the militias were severe, but their heroism saved the day. The Imperial Army was nearly wiped out.

The battle of Gateway and the second Zox war was a major impetus for the formation of the Verge Republic. The need for mutual defense was seen as paramount, not only from an emboldened Zox Hierate, but from the likely threat of invasion by the Verge swarm.

Economy

The availability of heavy elements on gateway has long attracted the interests of large mining companies and independent prospectors alike. Major corporations like Yurlop can afford to send wormhole mouths as prospecting probes to asteroids, zone-refining major strikes to concentrate the valuable elements and shipping them back to Gateway via the wormhole link, using rocky rubble from Gateway for mass exchange. This allows Gateway to supply the majority of the siderphile elements of the Verge. Mining has been a major driver of Gateway's economy and one of the main employers of the world.

Agriculture is a second major source of income on Gateway, primarily among the Laers. Rice and quinoa are major staples, as are several varieties of native Laer autotrophes producing edible stalks or starchy root nodules. Farming overcomes the problem of poor soils through the use artificial fertilizers. Aquaculture ranching, insect ranching, and tissue cultures are used to provide most of Gateway's meat; and synthetic food is produced in quantity to feed the ever-hungry mining employees.

Trade with the Zox is perfectly legal – in the Republic. The fact that foreign goods and technology not in the Sacred Library are banned in the Zox Hierate itself does not stop the demand for Human and Gummi goods, nor the activities of corrupt Zox officials of Rhuzzit who are all to eager to smuggle black market goods into the Hierate for the enrichment of their hives. A brisk trade with these officials has sprung up, centered on Gateway.

Government

Gateway has the usual governmental structure of former American colony worlds, with a bicameral legislature, an executive branch of government headed by a governor, and a judicial branch. All judges, legislative representatives, and the governor are elected by popular vote. The mining industry has considerable influence on Gateway, and many consider the legislators to be mere paid representatives for big mining, willing to rubber-stamp their preferred bills.

People

Laers are the majority species on Gateway, having primarily immigrated from their now lost homeworld after the Homestead-Zox war. Humans are the next largest group, of primarily American descent, followed by Mants whose ancestors arrived as refugees fleeing the Squirm assault on Triangulum or defectors from the oppressive Hierate. Pannovas make up most of the remaining peoples of Gateway.

A variety of enhanced animals are present in numbers on Gateway, either as working animals, companions, or feral escapees. Wunderhunds are as common as ever wherever there are Humans, newcoons are used working on farms and mining machinery, and lontras are popular in the swamps and deltas for their aquatic prowess.

Name

The people of Gateway are called Gators, both by themselves and the rest of the Verge. They have taken the alligator as their official animal and symbol of their world.

Attitudes

A typical Gator will see him, her, or itself as simple hard working folk, doing what it takes to make a living. Gators respect hard work, straight talk, and basic home country living. The large mining corporations tend to have high levels of support from the people as providers of jobs and wealth to the world.

Architecture

Much of the housing of Gateway is made of simple pre-fab units shipped on site and assembled in place, or is made from 3D printed concrete. Wealthy mining executives or owners of large farms or ranches may have larger, fancier houses commonly built in the ranch house style. The Mants of Gateway still make their hive homes using traditional styles of tiled hexagonal cells.

Cuisine

Gateway is noted for its bland and simple meals, notable mainly for its high levels of grease and sugar. The high Laer population means that food is more often boiled than baked, fried, or grilled. Coffee and beer are the beverages of choice.

Languages

English is universally used on Gateway. The Laers usually also speak Wroeng, while Humans may speak a variety of other languages depending on their cultural background – usually Spanish or Mandarin. Even Humans without much Hispanic or Chinese ancestry often learn Spanish or Mandarin to speak to their friends and neighbors. Most Mants learn English so they can understand what other people are saying to them, even if it is difficult for them to be understood in English due to the structure of their vocal apparatus. Among themselves they use Mantspeak, and many members of other species learn to understand if not speak Mantspeak so that they can carry on conversations with their Mant neighbors, customers, and business associates using a combination of English and Mantspeak.

Religion

Religion on Gateway is typically a low-key affair. A community will have several churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues to serve the needs of the people. Most people think that religion is important, but the brand of religion one adheres to is generally considered personal preference. Avowed atheists are viewed with some suspicion.

Places

Hot Bend

A dirty, industrial city, full of clanking railyards, bleak warehouses, and sprawling refineries, Hot Bend is the interim destination of all of the fruits of the mining in Gateway's system on its route to the rest of the Verge. It is built on sand flats, generally above the swamps of the region, and where it is not paved over the sandy soil quickly wicks away any precipitation that falls. The Howling River used to flow through through Hot Bend, but the channels of large rivers in their lower floodplains on sand soil are rarely stable. Several gigaseconds ago the river broke through an oxbow bend and bypassed the city – much to the relief of the locals who were tired of getting flooded. The river is now diked and levied to ensure it doesn't come back; the port city of Lazy Quay handles river traffic, shipping goods back and forth to Hot Bend via a short railway.

Redwater

The city of Redwater is built in the swamps of the Jackson Karst. Surface transportation is mainly along canals, by boat or hovercraft. Most buildings are on raised foundations or stilts to protect against tides and the fluctuating water levels between the wet and dry season. As would be expected of a primarily Laer population, towering totemic mud sculptures sprout from most yards. The capital building and surrounding campus are built on a low limestone plateau above the rest of the city. The new Supreme Courthouse is adjacent to a wide cenonte, the results of a sinkhole that swallowed the previous courthouse. In the courthouse cenote lives Old Toby, an immense bull alligator that is the unofficial mascot of the city.

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