Name: PXC-777 (Chiral)
Location: Outer Orion Arm; estimated 4600 ly from Earth
Body Type: Terrestrial
Chiral is a surprisingly Earth-like planet; it has slightly higher gravity and a wide range of archipelagos scattered across shallow seas. Three moderate-sized moons orbit the planet, giving it a complex tidal progression that culminates every few seasons in a tidal surge that submerges the lower-lying islands.This alone would likely have given rise to unusual biology, even were it not for the peculiar biosphere the planet is host to.
Prior to Chiral, every life-bearing planet discovered exhibited protein chirality; all the living things on each planet exclusively relied on either right-handed or left-handed amino acids in their biology. Here, however, there are three distinct biospheres, coexisting through the oceans and across the islands; the smaller islands are often home only to a single chiral type, but the larger islands are odd assemblages of mixed types.
The chiral groups occupy distinct areas on the mixed islands, with narrow strips of seemingly dead ground defining the borders between the groups; it’s in these bands that the third grouping is evident, strange creatures that swap chiral types each generation, permitting organic material from each of the other two biosphere to cross back and forth. Few of these trans-chiral creatures are anything more complex than simple prokaryotic life, but they’re enough to keep the planet in a dynamic balance between the other two chiral groups.
The argonauts are deeply interested in this world’s unique biosphere, developing an entirely new system of taxonomy to describe them. While many of the species show examples of convergent evolution, there’s nothing to show any signs of outside tampering. As such, the research groups do their best to keep the environment pristine by only allowing sterilized synthmorphs access to the world; biocores are permitted in the sealed interior environment of the Gate facility only, and nothing else biological is permitted entry.
By itself, Chiral would be an unusual world that, at beast, would seem to only pose a threat if some of the lifeforms prove to have particularly dangerous biochemistry. However, asyncs who arrive with biocore morphs seem to experience unsettling sensory static; while nothing in it is coherent, it seems to be an ongoing effect. After the first reports of biocore researchers complaining about faulty sensory input from their morphs, Firewall and Ozma both inserted their own asyncs onto the planet.
The reports of the asyncs suggests that the planet is engulfed in an ambient field of psychic white noise that makes it harder for anyone with the Watts-Macleod infection to function; whether or not this would also be true for other strains of exsurgents that exhibit anomalous properties is unknown, but the possibility is tempting enough that both of the conspiracies are working to establish clandestine research outposts in hopes of discovering the source of the static and ways to transport it back through the Gate in a weaponized form.
Whether or not the static is an entirely natural effect or not is unknown; the world shows no signs of tampering by outside forces, save for the Gate itself, but the strange biosphere itself might be a hint that something was done to modify the world, long in the past. On the other hand, it may well be that everything on Chiral really is natural, and the Gate was placed for the same reason transhumanity is using it now – researching a truly strange world in a universe full of the strange, mysterious, and dangerous.