Valleya

Surface gravity 13.5 – 3.7 m/s², 1.38 – 0.38 g
Day length 11.8 ks, 3.28 hours, 0.13 Earth days
Year length 32.0 Ms, 1.02 Earth years
Seasonal change Moderate
Atmosphere 140 kPa, 31 kPa partial pressure O2
Fires burn normally
Climate Moderate
Notable features Dumbbell-shaped planet, very short days, rapidly growing glowing vegetation
Population 2.3 million, primarily Humans and Gummis with significant minority populations of Tweechis, Pirangs, and Pannovas.
Capital city Tarsus
Wormhole terminus Watha
Current Governor Judith Morrison
Prominent businesses Phosphate mining, forestry

A gravity map of Valleya, with local gravity measured in m/s² at selected points (indicated with + signs). Valleya's spin axis is perpendicular to the page.

Natural Features

It is, perhaps, an entirely academic question whether Valleya is one planet which is rotating so fast that centrifugal force draws it out into two lobes, or two syncrhonously rotating planets in a contact binary system which are orbiting so close together that they not only share an atmosphere but a hydrosphere and lithosphere as well. Regardless of the interpretation, Valleya ends up looking something like a bowling pin. The odd distribution of mass combined with the centrifugal force makes gravity vary widely across its surface.

Despite the widely varying gravity, and despite the fact that in places it looks like Valleya's lobes may be looming high above you in the sky, when you get beyond local topography like hills and mountains and ocean basins and other similar small-scale features going from one place to another on Valleya does not involve going uphill or downhill. If it did, rock and dirt (and, under the crust, fluid magma) would fall down from the high places and accumulate in the low places. Consequently, wherever you are gravity tends to be perpendicular to the local plane of the horizon.

Although the gravity can vary widely across Valleya's surface, the atmospheric pressure remains the same wherever you are (aside from the transient weather effects you get on any planet). You can think of this as being because in low gravity places the atmosphere piles up so it is thicker, and so there is more of it for the weaker gravity to pull down so it generates the same pressure. Or you can think of it as happening because if the pressure was higher someplace than another, the air would flow from high pressure to low pressure because there is not any gravity going along the surface pushing the air back.

Despite the previous two paragraphs, Valleya does have quite a bit of "local topography" and "transient weather effects". Towering mountain ranges, treacherous to climb, where the air becomes thin and cold. Riven crevasses where the planetary crust is tearing itself apart in vast rift valleys, where the thick air becomes baking hot and volcanic pools of boiling polychrome acid erupt into geysers. Deep ocean basins where no light penetrates, and strange gelatinous animals drift by in the eternal midnight. Rushing whitewater rivers, cascading to the seas in a series of rapids and waterfalls, cutting through deep canyons. Cliffs, and scarps, and badlands, and broken terrain where the earth heaved and buckled. The neck between Valleya's two lobes is particularly active, riddled with faults and thrusts, constantly erupting from a myriad of active volcanoes, and worryingly prone to massive earthquakes.

The high rate of spin necessary to maintain Valleya's shape means that its days are very short - only about 11 kiloseconds or a bit over three hours long. This also creates a significant Coriolis force, so that cyclonic storms tend to be both common and weak, and tornadoes are common and strong. It also breaks the atmospheric circulation into a large number of Hadley cells, creating many bands of differing climate going across both lobes (and perpendicular to the spin axis).

Climate is influenced by the angle of incidence to incoming solar radiation, much as on Earth. This means that the land near the plane through the planet perpendicular to the angle of rotation has sweltering rain forests and baking deserts, while the land far from that plane consists of tundra, icecaps, and seasonal pack ice. The former is correctly described as "tropical", while the latter is still called "polar" despite the fact that it is not necessarily anywhere near the planet's poles (in terms of where the axis of rotation intersects the surface). Between those extremes you have a series of gradations in temperature leading to temperate latitudes.

Valleya is covered in vigorous life, with towering forests, windswept plains, rocky scrublands, steamy jungles, and vibrant reefs. The vegetation uses the same green chlorophyll as Earth plants, and is notable for growing extremely rapidly (comparable to bamboo and kudzu). Much of the flora uses bio-luminescense to attract polinators, giving them flowers that glow in a variety of colors. Animal life features impressive megafauna along with the usual creepy-crawlies. The megafauna were primitively hexapedal, but most have evolved a bipedal or quadrupedal gait with extra limbs used for grasping or flight. As on all worlds settled by foreign sapient species, there are invaders. Some Earth and Gummiland life forms have adapted to Valleya's environment. Valleya's full and vibrant ecosystems, however, have taken up and included the newcomers without too many extensive disasters. In large part this is because Valleya's vegetation is better adapted to high phosphorous growing conditions, allowing it to out-compete invasive autotrophes from other worlds. The flip side of this is that Valleyan life fares poorly on other worlds without copious amounts of phosphate rich fertilizer. This makes it attractive for ornamental plants which are guaranteed to not become invasive.

Valleyan animals often have large brains and complex behavior. Explorers have found evidence suggestive – although not conclusive – of sapient life at a primitive state of technological development. This evidence consists of rock flakes, simple constructed shelters, and possible works of artistic expression. Several expeditions have been sent into the bush to find the makers of these artifacts, those which returned had not succeeded in finding what they were after.

History

Valleya was initially colonized between the period of the Homestead-Zox war and first contact with the Gummis. Migration to Valleya began in earnest shortly after meeting the Gummis, leading to significant numbers of both Humans and Gummis seeking their fortunes on this new virgin world. They found a land rich in life and in phosphate minerals. Phosphates are necessary for life, and often sufficiently scarce that they are the limiting nutrient in the environment. Since phosphorous cannot be artificially synthesized, Valleya became the source of most of the necessary fertilizer in the Verge. The rapidly growing "trees" also factored in to the nascent economy, forming the basis of a forestry industry which could sustainably harvest large quantities of lumber.

Coming late to the colonization game, Valleya was never occupied by the Chinese government. The Valleya wormhole connection to San Agustín was nearly lost during the Bump in the Night, but although badly damaged heroic efforts by its engineering team managed to save it. Shocked by the event, the Valleyans vowed to encourage and support the growth of technological industry in the Verge and founded the Valleya Institute of Technology, or Val-Tech as it is called. Despite its isolated location, Val-Tech has become one of the premier universities in the Verge for education and research on advanced science and technology. Strong ties to the Gummis have made it a leading institution for the merging of Human and Antecessor technologies.

Timekeeping

The day-night cycles of Valleya are too short for convenient Human or Gummi sleep-wake cycles. Consequently, the base Valleyan diurnal is 8 local days. Hours and minutes are usually used to keep track of time intervals of less than a local diurnal.

Government

Although technically a Human-based government descended from the system of the United States of America, Valleya has been influenced by Gummi thought nearly as much as that of Humans. Every citizen gets an equal say in governmental affairs, and every citizen has a right to have their voice heard in the Thing (the legislative assembly). In practice, most people don't want to follow the minutiae of the necessary legislation to make a society work, so they assign their vote to a delegate. This vote can be transferred from the delegate or revoked at any time, and can even be withdrawn for specific votes while allowing the delegate to make others on their behalf.

Technically, the Governor of Valleya is a citizen who has been delegated the ability to make collective executive decisions on the behalf of the people. If he or she or it starts making unpopular decisions, enough people can transfer their votes and voices that another governor has the plurality of the populace behind him or her or it.

The laws of Valleya are generally lax. Actions that harm another person or a person's property are crimes, but the government is not in the business of legislating morality. For example, recreational drugs, gambling, and consensual prostitution are legal on Valleya. There is a strong social safety net, providing free health care, education, and unemployment benefits, at both the world and local level.

Criminal trials are overseen by a tribunal of three elected judges, whose role is to rule on issues of law. Judges are typically chosen from upstanding members of the community who are respected for their wisdom and knowledge of the law. In smaller communities, judges are sometimes only elected as needed for individual trials. Guilt or innocence is decided by a two-thirds vote of jury of at least a dozen people, but often many more. The jury is made up of whomever volunteers to try the case, although the judges can remove people from the jury by majority vote if they feel those people are too personally involved or would prohibit a fair trial. For particularly interesting or sensational cases, sometimes most of the community turns up for the jury. The accused may have advocates or lawyers, but the judges and members of the jury are free to research the facts as they see fit, and issue summons for witnesses to testify. The accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and have the right to face their accusers in court.

Civil disputes usually undergo initial mediation by a judge. If the disputants cannot come to a resolution, the case can go to trial, in which case it is handled much like a criminal case. The losing party is generally responsible for court costs.

People

Much of the immigration to Valleya has been from elsewhere in the Verge. Consequently, the ethnic groupings of old Earth are largely mixed up and intermingled on Valleya. A slight majority of the population is Human, but Gummis make up well over 13rd of the people. Pannovas, Pirangs, and Tweechis round out most of the remainder.

Name

They're Valleyans, without cute names like most other Republican worlds have. That suits the Valleyans just fine.

Attitudes

Valleya is a tough and rugged world, and the Valleyans have to be tough and rugged people. They stick together, and help each other out. Valleyans value perseverance, industriousness, humility, hospitality, generosity, agreeableness, competence at their profession and versatility in their skills; figuring that everyone should be able to maintain their ride, survive in the wild, use a computer, cook a meal, build and repair stuff, keep their pad clean, and know the basics of how to shoot. To a Valleyan, a gun is just a tool to be used to get dinner or defend oneself, although like any piece of equipment it must be treated with respect and used safely – a practice that sometimes unnerves urbanites from Žemyna, Jiàngluò, New Carolina, San Agustín, or Garcia's World when the Valleyan walks in open carrying his laser or shotgun.

Architecture

Houses and buildings are built using either local materials or prefabricated pieces, or from the layered nacre of Gummi construction snails. Prefabricated buildings often feature extensive customization and modification from the original design. There is considerable intermixture of building methods, with Gummis using wood frames and concrete foundations to Humans making walls, ceilings, patches, and modifications out of nacre. The architectural style is idiosyncratic and personal, with decorations added according to the tastes and proclivities of the residents.

Cuisine

Although sometimes derided as "MexIndian" food, the Valleyans have developed a distinctive style of cooking. It is well known enough that it is often imitated elsewhere in the Verge, although these off-world restaurants are often dismissed as inauthentic.

Valleyan cooking tends to sauces and curries with chopped meat and vegetables over rice, barley, hominy, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, or flatbread. It makes use of local spices, as well as traditional spices from Gummiland and Earth – among them chillies, black pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, onions, garlic, mustard, ginger, tamarind, cloves, cardamom, fennel, oregano, cinnamon, and cacao. Common vegetable ingredients are tomatoes, avocados, squash, potatoes, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, coconut, and okra, in addition to native and Gummiland vegetables. Many sauces are based around coconut milk, yoghurt, or vegetable purée. Burrito-like wraps, where the flatbread is wrapped around the grain and sauce and meat and vegetables, are popular meals, particularly for those on the go or who do not want to dirty utensils. Spicy soups are also common, and trays of sliced meat and vegetables are popular for mid-day snacks. Popular fruits include banana, guava, mango, pineapple, which can be eaten whole or chopped. Food is usually eaten with forks, spoons, and knives.

Languages

Nearly everyone on Valleya speaks English and Sequential and can understand Hooning, although of course only the Gummis can actually speak Hooning.

Religion

No one religion holds majority status on Valleya. Among Humans and Pannovas, Islam has the most adherents, followed by Protestant Christianity and Buddhism. Although Gummis are interested in, and even fascinated by, human religions, they are not drawn by nature to worship moralizing divinities as sapient entities. At most, Gummis may try to petition Human gods as a form of magic, seeking supernatural benefits without submission or spiritual satisfaction. Rather, Gummis seek spiritual fulfillment by becoming part of a greater whole and seeking cosmic unity and understanding. Traditionally, they achieve this through Uumuuluu, and this practice is still dominant among the Gummis of Valleya. However, the influence of non-diety oriented Human faiths such as Buddhism and Taoism is increasing, and many Gummis either practice these religions or incorporate elements of them into their own beliefs.

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