Type I Shellworld badly damaged in Version War

Image from Steve Bowers
Galrecon, before the construction of the surface domes

Star: HD 33503
Type: F8III
Luminosity: 4 x Sol
Distance from Sol: 238 ly

Planet: Galrecon
Type: Selenian converted to Type 1 Shellworld.
Diameter: 4108 km
Semimajor Axis: 2.1 AU
Orbital Period: 2.5 standard years

Colonised by the Conver Ambi in 2598 AT, this world was dry and inhospitable, with most of the population living in surface domehabs or in underground cities.Far from the main Conver worlds, this minor colony was overwhelmed by NoCoZo mercenary foces during the world. The nearby system of YTS 45-900190-2, only 2.1 light years away was annexed by the Solar Dominion a decade later.

Galrecon was found to be suitable for the construction of a Class I Shellworld, as it was geologically quiet and had no significant moons. The process of construction was coordinated by a single S:1 transapient executive-being by the name of Herzog-Alpha. Deep, wide, internally supported caverns were built in the upper crust, lined and supported by diamondoid skypanels and support structures.
Galrecon surface
Image from Steve Bowers
Galrecon surface habitats
The material excavated was then used to construct vast dome-habs on the outside of this small world; over time, this process would eventually result in complete coverage of the surface, combined with a layer of connected enviroment-filled chambers beneath. All these constructions were given names in the vanished Conver language.

The Version War Reaches Galrecon

In 4445 the first, relatively minor skirmishes in the Version War began. Galrecon was now on the opposite side of the conflict to its neighbor system, where the terraformed world of Huitzilopochtli was ruled by a Dominion Prefect known as Amelior. Neither system was yet connected to their respective empires by wormhole, so the war seemed relatively distant and largely irrelevant to the citizens of these two systems. However the two transapients began to patrol the neutral space between their stars in well-armed god-tech warships inherited from the Conver Wars, periodically debating with each other on the moral and ethical issues of the conflict.

For reasons that may never be known, at the height of the Version War in 4489, Herzog-Alpha and Amelior attacked each other simultaneously. Nearby Hider spycraft, surreptitiously watching the great vessels as they shadowed each other, reported later that the two ships were separated by just over a light-second, and each fired without knowing that the other had already discharged its weapons. In any case both were destroyed utterly.

The Dominion colony at Huitzilopochtli immediately blamed the NonCoersive Zone for an unprovoked attack, and gathered together all the weapons left behind by the destroyed Prefect to attack the shellworld of Galrecon. With no transapient guidance the modosophont citizens of this system fell prey to war-fever and the ubiquitous memetic persuasion that had convinced so many empires to go to war at this time.

The RKKS attack by Huitzilopochtli

Galrecon Impact sites
Image from Steve Bowers
The subterranean habitats on Galrecon before the Version War; impact sites are blue stars; upper level habitats shown in red.
At that time Galrecon had fourteen completed subterranean habitats, with more than a million square kilometres of habitable surface. Three more caverns were still under construction, awaiting deliveries of water from the outer system. A constant stream of self-guiding icy projectiles converged on the planet, to be caught and gently lowered to the surface by an orbital deceleration system. On the surface, five large domes had been completed, with several more unfinished and several more planned. Beneath Lennifer, the deepest cavern, was a half-finished maze of tunnels that could in due course be expanded into a third layer of habitation.

The Huitzilopochtli modosophonts decided to invade Galrecon in three Conversion drive tradeships that remained in their system. Before the conflict these ships had been used for travel to other systems, since there were no wormhole connections. By chance there were no such ships available in the HD 33503 system, as all the tradeships were currently elsewhere.

These makeshift warships accelerated to 0.7 on route to their target, and observers in the Galrecon system were able to detect their bright exhaust as they did so. This new development puzzled the Galreconians, since the ships did not transmit any flight plan or attempt to contact them in any way. When they were less than three light-months away from Galrecon the three ships started to decelerate, and now their intent became clear; although the ships decelerated, they dropped ten large, unpowered projectiles which continued to travel at seven-tenths of the speed of light towards the target system. These projectiles had been manufactured enroute from empty fuel tanks and other unwanted material, The Huitzilopochtli ships had deployed basic Relativistic Kinetic Kill systems, with an average mass of around ten tonnes.

By the time the Galreconians observed them, these missiles were much closer, and would impact in thirsty-six standard days. In haste they arranged for the evacuation of the citizens of their world into the crowded tunnels beneath Lennifer, and redirected several iceships towards the trajectory of the RKKS missiles. However the small, fast-moving missiles were difficult to hit, and only two of the ten missiles were intercepted.

The Huitzilopochtli RKKS missiles had been released at different times so that they would impact the planet at particular locations as it rotated. Using information supplied by the Galrecon tourist board in happier times, the impactors were aimed at the habitats and caverns of this world. With an average impact energy of around eighty-five thousand megatons of TNT, seven of the eight missiles breached the upper domes, filling the habitat with hyperheated vapour and penetrating radiation. The eighth appears to have missed its target, or may have been aimed at a target which did not exist.

Craters twelve kilometers across and four deep were formed by these impacts, deep enough in many cases to breach the lower caverns as well. Impacts in Poliminie and Stol-Grunya domes also destroyed the underground habitats of Doloron, Caseltone and Sirura; Baurdril was rendered uninhabitable by an attack on the unfinished dome directly above it, and the linked habitats Reyib, Aytarmeky and Larrso were flooded by a projectile that penetrated the floor of the ocean habitat Shastarr. The ocean in Shastarr dome, suddenly open to vacuum, simultaneously boiled and froze until equilibrium was reached, at which point the breach into the lower chambers was filled by a slowly decanting iceplug known as the Icefall.

Galrecon after the attack
Image from Steve Bowers
After the attack: Galrecon impact sites showing penetration to lower level habitats.

Apart from a few eccentric individualists who refused to leave their homesteads and were killed, most of the population of Galrecon survived in their deep redoubt and went on to face the follow-up invasion by a strike-force of Huitzilopochtli remote-controlled drones. Most of the fabrication infrastructure on Galrecon had been at work on the unfinished domes, and much of this was rendered inactive by the impacts. The first objective of the drone army was to subvert as much of the remaining Galrecon infrastructure as possible, with varying degrees of success; often the easiest devices to subvert were those with some degree of autonomy, which could be persuaded to switch sides using memetic scare-tactics.

In the conflict for control of this half-completed shellworld both sides were fairly evenly matched in technology. The Galreconians were fighting on home territory and had control of most of the infrastructure, but were corraled inside a very limited volume of the subsurface network. The Huitzilopotchli were far from resupply but were able to rapidly acquire resources and manufacture supplies using fabricators. Thanks to the iceships the RKKS attack had caused somewhat less damage than anticipated, allowing the local forces some advantage; and the Galreconians could use their network of tunnels to mount surprise attacks on the invaders.

After just over than a local year of conflict in the ruins, the habitats and the surface of this world the Huitzilopochtli conceded defeat.

The CompEmp and After

The Icefall on Galrecon
Image from Steve Bowers
The rate of flow of this icefall is closely regulated in the Current Era, delaying the inevitable moment when the ice will flow no more.

After the Version War the NoCoZo and the Dominion found themselves allies once more as part of the Commonwealth of Empires. During the resultant peace the shellworld of Galrecon was repaired, but never completed; the icy, flooded chambers of Reyib, Aytarmeky and Larrso have become tourist attractions and wilderness areas used for extreme sports.

The spectacular Icefall, a two kilometre high ice stalactite reaching from the puncture to the icy sea, is a monument to the folly of the use of destructive kinetic weapons.

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 22 June 2014.