Thursday, 4 April 2013

D is for Dim


There are stars of all sizes and colours, white, yellow, orange, red and brown. There are quite a lot of brown dwarfs dotted around, dimly illuminating star systems consisting of interstellar dreck and slurry, particles of dirty ice too small for a beetle to colonise. Most don't appear on any but the most detailed star maps, space is big, it is very rare one even rates as a navigational hazard, space is big and they rarely impinge on the direct routes between more interesting inhabited systems. The exception is...

Brandy


Aquila 473 B 100542 C Non Agricultural, Non Industrial, Vacuum


Brandy lies in the middle of a dark nebula made of a mix of organic molecules most notably ethanol (well methanol actually exists out there so why not?).

Four different colonies compete, run by British Petroleum, New Standard Oil from the US, Lukoil from Russia and a gang of mainly Scandinavian freelance belters called the Berusadine Brotherhood.

Each of these has a base (BP have bagged the only orbiting body big enough to be a planet and built a starport called New Milford Haven) and a number of refineries and mining vessels trundling round the system, grabbing the oil/ice asteroids and sucking in the denser strands of gas. 

From the main world Brandy gives about as much light as a 40 watt bulb, a dull purplish brown star about 20% covered in black sunspots edged in dull red. Every few hours a cloud of ethanol gets close enough to be caught up in one of the sluggish solar flares, making it burn with a dim blue flame. Residents say its looks a bit like a Christmas pudding, if you squint and are three sheets to the wind.

The main product of the system is a variety of interstellar light mineral oil, but inevitably various bored engineers have found a way of distilling off the booze to make 'Starshine' - various kinds of 90+% proof liquor dosed with food colouring and flavourings cooked up by organic chemists from the heavier fractions. Most people find it vile, but it is popular among the growing number of semi-feral spacebums who work asteroid belts and Oort clouds throughout Known Space, especially with a couple of ice cubes freshly chipped off a comet and shot of Ultra-Bee venom.

Adventure Hooks

  • New Standard Oil are trying a new venture, the 'booze cruise', taking college students out into deep space in a gas scooper on a fun filled holiday of liver damage and high jinks. If a given batch of dipsomaniacs drink an entire asteroid they get their money back.
  • British Petroleum Health and Safety have had it with the 'Starshiners' running illegal cracking plants in unoccupied craters, they want undercover agents to infiltrate their organisation.
  • Clive Lam of the infamous Clive's Bar wants a hundred gallons of top quality interstellar liquid brain damage, and he has heard the Berusadine boys are the ones to get it from. Don't screw it up, if they don't chuck you out of an airlock, Clive will.
  • One of the Lukoil mining vessels, the St Valdimir, has not been heard from in some time. Find it and find out what the hell they have been drinking, last known location has massive cyrillic swearwords, crafted from frozen poop from the vacuum toilets, doing a three body orbit round each other.
  • The New Canaan temperance society are in town with a US Navy surplus frigate and a hold full of tracts. Tread carefully around the Standard Oil stations.
  • Astro-chemists have wondrered where the millions of tons of ethanol has been coming from, things of that molecular weight shouldn't be possible to build out of drifiting carbon dust,hydrogen gas and radiation. Professor Stella Artois has made a shocking announcement – it is made by a bacterium-like thingy that evolved in deep space! Wonder if it any are still floating in that Starshine gunk that has got so popular? And what effect will they have if ingested?