Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Rigel III/Volumn/Chelar

 

      Atmosphere: Oxygen-rich atmosphere, higher than average pressure and typically humid, with a powerful greenhouse effect. Oxygen levels aren't high enough to require protective gear, but are sufficient to noticeably affect human emotions and fatigue levels.

Hydrosphere: 91.8% surface water, very diffuse. One oceanic band, with the rest being spread among Chelar's many wetlands, rivers, lakes, and small inland seas.

Climate: Warm to hot, extremely humid. Minimal variation in climate zones, minor but noticeable seasonal variation.

Length of Day: 26 standard hours

Mineral Content:

Intelligent Life: Chelarians (6.3 billion), with numerous others representing less than 5% of the total (highest non-Chelarian concentrations are Orion and Kaylar).

Tech Level: Tech level five overall, but with many pockets of more primitive levels. The star ports are closer to tech level six.

Government: Several nations, mostly heavily-bureaucratic republics with a few oligarchies.

Culture: Spiritual, agrarian culture with considerable value placed on intelligence and tenacity.

Affiliation: Independent, with ties to stronger powers in the Rigel system and in open negotiations with the United Federation of Planets.

Resources: Rich botanical resources of every kind.

Places of Note: Löablanëe, the major star port. Rotoächko, a "wild Kaylar" kingdom.

Ship Facilities: Relatively primitive service available in the minor star ports. No shipyards.


Notes

"Chelar," the native term for Rigel III, means "deep place" or "the pit." Chelar is 700 million square miles of wetlands, jungle, and smoking volcanoes. She's as ancient and storied as any rock warmed by Rigel, but her secrets are well hidden. To know Chelar is to be drawn down into the hot muck of the pit, to lose yourself in the deep place.

Rigel III is a heartbreakingly beautiful, carefully groomed paradise. While many Class M worlds have brown deserts, glaring white polar caps, and deep blue seas, Rigel III is a tidy mosaic of literally thousands of habitats, all nestling cozily together on two odd continents.

The surface of Chelar is 92% water, but a casual glance from space wouldn't make it apparent. The planet is blanketed by two enormous continents – Löoqua and Lüebra – separated by a thin strip of briny ocean that runs from pole to pole like a belt. These large continents, however, are themselves barely "land." Here on Chelar, the distinction between land and water is as hazy as the evening sky, and the green masses of foliage rest on a blend of marshy soil and open swamp, riddled with rivers, lakes, and tiny seas. To find genuine "dry land" on Chelar, you need to climb a volcano – and many of those are active.

The planet is also partially privately owned. All its land, seas, airspace, and parking orbits are in the hands of families, corporations, individuals, and governments of other planets, including the local Chelarian Regime. When they became members of the Federation, the Chelarians merely renegotiated the terms of these dealings with the various constituencies. An involved kind of concordat governs who can own what, how it may be purchased or inherited, and what may or may not be done with the property. Enforcement is by mutual consent; discreet but effective.

Aside from its natural beauty, Rigel III has no visible assets for a starfareing culture; no industry, no mining, no large-scale farming, and no habitation of more than 2 billion people offworlders. There are three land-based, semi-public spaceports used by owners and their guests exclusively aside from the modest Cherlarian spaceports. As most owners have private landing and berthing facilities, these ports are more like yacht clubs, places for formal and informal gatherings. Local space control ensures that no unauthorized vessel approaches the planet.

Not every landowner on Rigel III is Orion, Rigellian, or Chelarian, and not all are reclusive. Some have allowed scientific teams from the Federation to excavate for signs of the planets past and its previous masters. Some time in the remote past, the entire planet was re-engineered into a perfect humanoid living environment-right down to the placement of seas and atmospheric circulation patterns. At pole to pole, the seasons are gentle, and there is no harsh weather aside from the normal ecosystem patterns. No obvious signs of terraforming are present-quite a change from Botchok (Rigel VIII), but whoever designed this ecosystem sadly didn’t make it to last. Although the Orions claim credit, evidence suggests that Rigel III was shaped many tens of thousands of years ago, before the Orions ever reached space. If more of the planet was open to scrutiny, scientists might discover why Rigel IV’s moons were planned flat and Rigel III carefully cultivated.

Civilized Chelar is a modern network of plastic cities, polyrail trans-tubes, and glass steel structures gleaming in the foggy sunlight. But all this is imposed on a wilderness that still dominates much of the surface – a world heady with the hot reek of the primordial soup, where dinosaurs chew grass on the shores of sulphurous lakes, giant plants can devour an unwary man, and the evolution from beast to free-willed sentient isn't ancient biology, but a childhood memory.

 

Due to Chelar's thick, cloudy atmosphere (Rigel is often described as soggy-looking by astonished offworlders), a powerful greenhouse effect warms every part of the planet's surface, and blurs the climactic zones into very broad and indistinct bands. Chelar ranges from steam-burn tropical at the equator to a warm-temperate at the poles. The coldest spot on the coldest day on Chelar is barely "cool" to a human, and the humid, oxygen-rich air can render newcomers drunk, giddy, and exhausted all at once. Along with the sultry beauty of the greenery and smoking mountains, this creates a profoundly romantic impression on many visitors.

Owners of the Trade Halls on Rigel IV have estates here, as do a few other well-known groups and individuals. However, most of the residents and owners prefer to keep their holdings secret.

The surface of Chelar is 92% water, but a casual glance from space wouldn't make it apparent. The planet is blanketed by two enormous continents – Löoqua and Lüebra – separated by a thin strip of briny ocean that runs from pole to pole like a belt. These large continents, however, are themselves barely "land." Here on Chelar, the distinction between land and water is as hazy as the evening sky, and the green masses of foliage rest on a blend of marshy soil and open swamp, riddled with rivers, lakes, and tiny seas. To find genuine "dry land" on Chelar, you need to climb a volcano – and many of those are active.

 

Rigel III is a literal "hotbed" of life; every part of the planet is in a constant cycle of birth, growth, and fragrant decay. The rich, the rotting vegetation perpetually feeds Chelar's spongy soil, and provides the planet with an unmistakably fecund perfume.

Locations

 

Löablanëe:

 

Chelar has many hundreds of small cities and thousands of villages, many very isolated. There are only a few large metropolis of any account. Löablanëe, the greatest of these, sits in the exact center of Löoqua, just south of the equator. Its distinctive domes of amber plastic – like all permanent Chelarian structures – are built to resist the corrosion and rot that come quickly, here, to anything made of wood or even brick. Everything in Löablanëe is made of either the amber plastic, or some combination of black volcanic metal and smoky volcanic glass. In the summer, the citizens gather in the walk-tubes and plazas to witness the billions of glittering insects, sparkling in the moonlight, as they try vainly to chew their way in. In the winter, they watch the same insects die, driven by the deadly Öameq clouds erupting from the marshes, dropping into a thick layer of sparkling corpses to enrich the bubbling muck . . . the "Chelarian snowfall," humans call it.

 

Deep within the city, the contrasts are less grotesque, and more political. Löablanëe is a star port, friendly to all kinds of off world traffic. Klingons are as common as humans, here, and both groups are alien minorities to the Orion and Chelarian presence. Even the Kaylars are here in greater numbers, though they aren't nearly as visible in star ports.

 

The natives insist on peace in areas of business, and never hesitate to enforce their will accordingly. Spies meet their contacts at Löablanëe without fear of arrest; murderers and despots can rent a room for the price of a cheap meal. Petty hatreds and desperate needs are observed, exploited, and enjoyed by the Chelarian proprietors. Anything from love to vengeance is legal for sale, here, provided the fun parts of either are kept out of the plazas.

 

Rotoächko:

 

A kingdom of "wild" Kaylar centered near the southern pole of Lüebra, Rotoächko is a tiny pocket of life – but it's the largest non-Chelarian society on Rigel III. The Rotoächko tradition of kidnapping young Rigellian girls to be raised as members of their "celestial court" came to the attention of Starfleet in 2258, when a Lt. V'konn, a Vulcan security officer visiting Chelar with a research team, was mistaken for a Rigellian and taken to the depths of the Toäch harems. She was presumed dead, and it was nearly two years before contrary evidence led to a rescue effort. Far from killed, she had been "promoted" to the status of goddess of a nearby mountain.

 

Lenïa Pools:

 

There are many thousands of these on Chelar – the sacred ponds and springs consecrated for the care of infant Chelarians (though "care" is an overstatement; Chelarian young are left to fend for themselves prior to their Awakening).

 

For years, it had been assumed that nearly any small body of water was suitable for the laying of Chelarian egg-clutches, until a diplomatic snafu in 2254, when the well-meaning crew of the U.S.S. Mercury rushed a pregnant Chelarian diplomat to the wrong kind of pond. Doctor Sawyer's notes (see p.00) presumably included this detail amid the many lost sections of his documentaries.

 

The Tubes:

 

Due to the unpredictably stormy nature of Chelarian weather, ground transport via plastic "polyrail tube" is the preferred mode of everyday planetary transport. Threaded like a corkscrew with a series of shifting rails that both power and guide high-speed gyro cars, the tubes also open into a network of long-range ballistic tunnels for rapid cross-continent travel. In the rail less ballistic tubes, the gyro cars can safely achieve subterranean orbital speeds while sealed away from the encroaching muck.

 

Doctor Sawyer's Chelar:

 

The Federation's introduction to Chelar's secrets was the (fragmented) work of Dr. Lucas Sawyer, who lived in and studied the jungles of Lüebra for 12 years, observing the dinosaurian life-forms there, poking into sunken ruins, and taking part in the cultures of the Abläe Delta region.

 

Inspired by reports from Andorians who'd met Chelarian traders in the early days of the And/or/Rigel corridor, Sawyer moved to Chelar with his wife and colleague, Cynthia, in 2233. Their first year was a trial that nearly killed them, with swarms of insects, the deadly gas-clouds, and the corrosive "hot quicksand" of equatorial Chelar each threatening them in turn. After Cynthia mastered the local Chelarian dialect, matters improved considerably, and the pair set to work cataloguing life forms, legends, traditions, and records of physical anomalies. They were welcomed by the friendly natives into many Chelarian communities, and recorded hundreds of hours of documentary footage. In 2236, while compiling the first batch of research in their home in the small city of Legäo, they had a son, Richard.

 

Quests and Tragedies:

 

Emboldened by his successes, Sawyer took his family back into the deep jungle in 2238. Except for brief visits for mail and supplies, the Sawyers would never again live within the safe confines of civilization.

 

Carving his own path up into the higher plateaus of the rain forest, Sawyer pursued a legend. Tales of hidden ruins, concealed by vines and mud – and of an ancient temple where the Chelarians once received messages from their gods – drove him onward, and along the way he and Cynthia catalogued hundreds more varieties of insects, dinosauroids, and native flora.

 

Working meticulously over a period of seven years, the sawyer expedition covered over 4,000 square kilometers of the upper Abläe river valley and adjacent territories, much of it dangerously hostile jungle. The rest was nearly-impassable wetlands, traversed slowly by Padru – a native form of surface-skimming boat that can collapse into a package carry able by a single man. Federation science teams have recently recreated parts of Sawyer's travels with modern transport gear and the latest in tricorder technology, and they've covered the territory no faster than the Sawyers did with the tools of thirty years ago and a child in tow.

 

They key parts of Sawyer's discoveries remain lost, possibly forever. In early 2245, Sawyer was plucked by a band of Chelarian pilgrims from a plastic raft drifting down the Abläe. Nearly dead from exposure and mad from grief, he was clutching the body of his wife, who had drowned. Sawyer was unable to speak for weeks, until he was handed over to an Earth-colony trading vessel bound for the Alpha Quadrant. Onboard, he babbled about ancient evil surging blackly in the mud, and of a glistening paradise of Chelarian Ebony where the "beautiful ancients" lived. He died in his sleep on Stardate 931.8.

 

Young Richard, and the greater portion of the Sawyers' recorded findings, were never found. The few record tapes recovered along with the Sawyers themselves were a seemingly-random mix of cultural notes, interviews, nature footage and "home movies" of Richard demonstrating his extraordinary skills at swimming and acrobatics. When published in 2246, Sawyer's findings fascinated Federation biologists and anthropologists, encouraging new interest in the already-topical Rigel system. It created as many questions as answers, though, and gave a dangerously fragmented view of the Chelarians that only several years of contact has begun to complete.

 

Sawyer's final words before drifting to sleep, as recorded by Quartermaster David Macintyre of the I.T.V. Laughlin, were "Tomorrow, you must take me back to Richard. He is safe where they cannot steal his soul. Take me there tomorrow; promise me."

 

Recent rumors of a human "god-chief" leading a group of empathic Chelarians on raids of ongoing archaeological efforts have awakened fresh speculation on the final fate of Richard Sawyer, but the truth may never be known.

 

History:

 

The history of Rigel III is the story of the Chelarian nations – a peaceful collection of industrious bureaucracies. While the Chelarians have certainly known war on occasion, the pacifistic nature of the species, reinforced and aided by a globally-unified set of religions, has served to keep wars scarce. For a long time, the Chelarians simply went about their slow and deliberate business, and the rest of the galaxy was beyond their interest.

 

With the multiple expansions of the old Orion empires, matters changed, and the Chelarians sharpened their instincts for self-defense. An army of quietly determined Chelarian warriors proved to be terrifyingly competent in battle, employing a variety of weapons, efficient hand-to-hand (claw-to-beak) styles, and squads of tactically-trained telepaths. Orion rule was a constant on Chelar for centuries at a time, but so was frequent and effective Chelarian rebellion.

 

In the post-imperial years, the Chelarians have turned their fertile muck into a bounty as rich as any dilithium mine, providing foodstuffs, natural bases for pharmaceuticals, and recreational plant compounds for much of the densely-populated Rigel sector.

 

Since Chelar's treasures - the rich, alkaloid soil and an array of enigmatic scientific/historical curiosities – are diffuse and require dedicated work to exploit, Chelar is an untempting target for a pirate or despot. Rather than rob them, the pirates tend to pay them rent! Well aware of the advantages of their position, the Chelarians welcome outlaws with open arms and beckoning trails into the rain forests, where anyone can be hidden for a price.

 

Flora and Fauna:

 

Chelar is a rich, gray-green stew of life and decay, bulging and squirming and wriggling with vigor. Puncture an Aëva-tree's sac, and you'll unleash a thousand white worms. Ekëula lizards and ormo birds will devour the worms. The ormo birds become trapped in the sticky maw/fronds of one of Chelar's hundred species of carnivorous flowers, and so on . . .

 

From the depths of the rivers to the thick layers of clouds brushing damply against the treetops, every corner of Chelar is in motion (with no shortage of noise and smells, either).

 

Öagu (Chelarosaur):

 

 

Form: Large, swift, semi-bipedal dinosaurian predator with black teeth and a heavy tail for balance.

 

The Öagu, native to the equatorial rain forests of Lüebra, is nicknamed the "Chelarosaur" by Federation exobiologists – it's the most well-known of the many dozens of surviving dinosauroids on Chelar.

 

The Öagu's powerful, orange-and-grey body is reminiscent of the extinct Terran Allosaurus, and the visual analogy holds true: the Öagu is 4 metric tons of danger, a fierce predator that devours large animals to sate its appetite. The animal-rich Lüebran jungles offer no shortage of food, but Öagu seem to enjoy variety, anyway, since at least nine Federation citizens have been maimed or devoured by the beasts in the past five years. Six of these have been Tellarite, an alarming proportion that's generated a chill and disquiet in the entire species, forced to consider that there are deadly animals in the galaxy who fancy their flavor. One popular holoplay, a lurid horror story, has already appeared to capitalize on the morbid statistic.

 

Both Rotoächko Kaylar and some secretive "primitive" bands of jungle Chelarians use the Öuni, a smaller, more quadruped ally-inclined cousin of the Öagu, as trained ceremonial mounts. This recalls the days of the Orion empires, when trained Ouni were used as war-mounts and living weapons against the Orion overlords.

 

Megu ("Chelarian Venus"):

 

 

Sometimes, when a vine appears to twitch or slither, it's a trick of the light. Sometimes, it's a deadly serpent. Sometimes, though, worst of all, it's really a vine.

 

The Megu – Chelar's largest and hungriest carnivorous plant – is common on both continents, anywhere that's wet in the broad tropical band that straddles Rigel III like an oily green cummerbund. The largest known Megu (the "Öemu Family," a tourist trap – seldom literally – just outside of Löablanëe) weigh in at over three metric tons per feeding-cluster. A cluster is an acres-wide mass of pulpy root-bulbs, tentacular vines, and sickly-sweet flowers concealing gigantic "Venus flytrap" style maws. Such a plant requires a man-sized victim every two or three days to thrive and expand. Most, of course, feed on several smaller creatures, instead.

 

Fighting a "Chelarian Venus" can be like fighting the jungle itself, with vines appearing from all directions. The sensitive blooms that activate the feeding response are often many meters within the boundaries of the plant's feeding zone, leaving few escape routes for travelers who haven't learned the distinctive sight and scent of the flowers, or how to distinguish either from the visual and olfactory "noise" of the jungle.

 

Many Megu grow near pools of Luglamo (Chelarian "hot quicksand") magnifying the threat. If a Megu doesn't feed on animal flesh, it can survive for several years (shrinking its feeding area slowly) on rich soil and weak photosynthesis.