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May 18, 2021 4:50 AM
Riley explores the Outer Wilds
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Riley contemplates the intriguing file in front of her.

Unexplored World f1e68e9c94387000.

Local name: Timber Hearth

Population: 30

Warnings:

Base physics differ from norms. Initial tests suggest survivable conditions but assumptions should not be made.

Unidentified magical effects are present.

Priority objectives:

Analyze divergent physics.

Analyze local magic.

Assess risk level.

Secondary Objectives:

Standard precepts

Open diplomatic relations

She takes a deep breath and rechecks her equipment, four dodecs, her mage staff, a tent, two changes of clothes, an auxiliary generator, and an auxiliary processing core.

"A world with only thirty people and a realm with nonstandard base physics... well I did want a challenge."

She steels herself, ran one last internal diagnostic, uploaded one last incremental backup, and activated the transposer.

And then she was somewhere else.

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And finds herself on a planet with normal seeming gravity, on the edge of a crater of some sort. There's a tower with what looks like a spaceship on a large platform in front of her.

 

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"And a planet of thirty people has a space program." Riley laughs. "Should probably find a local." She thinks for a moment then picks walking down the ramp towards what looks like the main body of the settlement and of course the space ship.

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The first person she finds is what seems to be a fisher.

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"Hello there. Who might you be?"

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"An alien eh? You only have two eyes so I guess you're not a Nomai. How can you speak Hearthian?"

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"I have translation magic. Who are the Nomai?"

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"They're another type of person... left skeletons and other stuff all over the solar system. Not a living one to be found. If ya want to hear more about them you'd be best headin back the way you came and talking to Hornfels in the observatory. I guess I can take you."

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"I'd appreciate that."

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They nod reel in their fishing line and prop their rod against the nearby cliff face. "Well let's go then." They start walking back up the ramp Riley came down.

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"I'm Riley Clearsky by the by, what's your name?"

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"Spinel, nice to make your acquaintance... Clearsky. Don't reckon I can pronounce that first part. Your translation stuff didn't touch it."

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They walk past a fenced off area with strange crystals inside and an intriguing sign post pointing to a zero-g cave. The observatory comes into view. It's rather large for such a small population.

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"Was there some kind of disaster that reduced your population?"

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"No... Why'd you ask that?"

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"Typically making stuff like spaceships and telescopes requires more than thirty people."

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"Is that so? I guess us Hearthians are just real impressive like."

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The mostly spherical moon passes overhead. Blocking out the sun briefly.

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"On the other hand maybe physics here is even more different than I was expecting."

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"How do you reckon?"

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"There were trees growing on that moon. And a person in a rocking chair. If this were the physics I was used to then that would imply there was enough gravity to hold an atmosphere which is a fairly high bar. But I didn't see the light refraction I would expect at the edges of the moon while it was obscuring the sun if it had an atmosphere. In addition based on the volume of the moon which I can estimate based on assuming that your species is roughly comparable in size to each other the moon would have to be much more dense than can be explained by such a cratered body."

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"Ya figured all that just from looking at the Attlerock as it passed over? And you could see Esker from here? That's mighty impressive."

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"Thank you."

She triggers a scanning array trying to assess the mass and composition of everything within her range of one kilometer.

The planet she's on is about 250 meters in radius. It has several deep craters including the one she is currently on the edge of. It also has a small range of what can only be called mountains when speaking relatively and another mountain which approximates a volcanic crater. There is a shaft apparently of artificial construction leading to what seems to be a hollow core of the planet. Above the hollow core is a molten convective region and above that is a network of water filled caverns and tunnels that wraps around the planet and connects to a number of what appear to be geysers. The interior of the planet has a high amount of exotic matter of an unknown type. There are also several pockets of exotic matter on the surface including one quite closeby.  The Moon is just within her range orbiting about 650 meters above the surface of the planet. It's a highly irregular body due to a massive crater that somehow didn't destroy the moon but if not for the crater it would have a radius of 70 meters. The massive crater has several chunks of ice. It appears to be in a circular orbit with an estimated orbital period of 105 seconds. There is an atmosphere in the immediate vicinity of the trees but not on any other parts of the moon. Gas diffusion does not appear to be occurring as one might expect it to. The moon also has a high amount of the same types of exotic matter.

She accelerates her cognition again to peruse the results of the scan and does some calculations. Her internal accelerometer suggests an apparent downward acceleration of 9.8 m/s^2 on her body while the scan suggests a centripetal acceleration of approximately 3.2 m/s^2. That's suggestive of an inverse radius dropoff in gravitational acceleration rather than the inverse square dropoff she's used to but with only two data points it's too early to draw any conclusions.

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In short order, they're back at the place where Riley arrived. One of the pockets of exotic matter is in a fenced off area just a few steps away. Spinel is walking in a different direction.

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"What's the fence there for?"

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"Oh that, there's ghost matter behind that fence. Nasty stuff you don't want to get into it. You can only see it if you throw something in it or through a camera."

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