Bill and Bull
Double planets orbiting Delta Eridani (Rana). Location of Vulcan's Forge and the baroque Vore Abergist culture.
bill and bull
Image from Steve Bowers
The double gas giants Bill and Bull, in the Rana system

Just as double stars are common in space, double planets are in fact fairly common. In the solar system there are just two such pairs, the Earth and the Moon and Pluto and Charon, but as planetary systems were mapped in the mid 1st century AT several were discovered. One of the earliest double planets discovered was Bill and Bull, named by the research team from Uppsala Astronomical Observatory that discovered them around Delta Eridani (Rana). Bill and Bull are Jupiter-sized planets orbiting each other in a tight pair just 400,000 km from each other, making one revolution in 38 hours.

When the Eridanus League was on its height, a number of NoCoZo-aligned Eridanius-native corps settled the nearby Rana system in 1699. They built Hebberi Orbital in the L4 point of Bill and Bull. Their reason was both to attempt to build an industrial base using the abundant energy in the system and to get away from the conflicts of the League at home. They succeeded beyond their wildest expectations as Rana became a major hub of antimatter production; in the late 1700's Rana Amat dominated the Eridanius frontier as a supplier of antimatter, capital was flowing into the system and it looked like it would become the dominant Eridanius system.

In 1823 something unexpected happened. A number of opposing Eridanus interests allied with the Dionysian Erotocracy brought in a memetic weapon, a specially tuned advertising campaign designed by hyperturing marketing AIs from Nova Terra aided by Dionysos psychodesigners. The campaign created a tremendous local stock market bubble that the interstellar corporations could not handle; their long range plans were thrown into disarray and their actions did not fit reality. Rana Amat collapsed, and was bought up by Dionysian interests. Ironically the Erotocracy had collapsed while the plan was being implemented, and the remnants of the corporation were split up among other powers. Rana lost its economic importance, retreating into obscurity.

Vulcan's Forge

In 1995 the first Deep well industrial zone in the Terragen Sphere, known as Vulcan's Forge, was established in orbit around Uppsala, a cryojovian gas giant in the outer reaches of the system. Vulcan's Forge consists of an artificially manufactured black hole and a carefully controlled accretion disc which is hot and dense enough for nucleosynthesis. The manufacture of the black hole itself was the culmination of more than a hundred years of effort, and this new venture brought prosperity to the system once more.

Vore Abergism

In 6484 a new culture calling itself Vore Abergism emerged in the Rana system. The Abergists were to a large extent incomprehensible to the rest of the Inner Sphere due to their deliberate inclusion of encrypted thought processes and baroqification into their anatomy. It appears that the system had come to experience an influx of former backgrounder cultures and Bitenic Squid that mixed with the rising and falling cultures around Bill and Bull. Now the Abergists were ascendant and expansive, seeking to trade stabilised metallic hydrogen for various information tools. Over the next thousand years the Abergists grew into a sizeable trade empire, before dissolving peacefully in the Completion Event 7303 where they apparently disbanded their entire culture and vanished. The Rana system remains inhabited by various small cultures in the ruins of the grandiose Abergist megastructures around Bill and Bull.

Vore Abergist Megastructures
Image from Anders Sandberg
The Abergist culture and especially its disbandment remains one of the enigmas of the Inner Sphere. The megastructures surrounding Bill and Bull appear to be largely for energy production, but many of the baroque structures in more remote orbits appear to be neither habitats, computing nodes, storage units or industrial systems. Few have been penetrated, as various microdefenses and cognitive traps hide in the baroque architecture.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 04 January 2001.