Gatecrasher’s Almanac #19

Name: PXC-907 (Tidelock)

Location: 1800 ly antispinward/rimward of Sol

Atmosphere: Nitrogen-oxygen mix

Gravity: 0.87G/0.92G

Body Type: Tidally locked terrestrial planets

Tidelock Alpha and Beta would, individually, merit interest from the Pathfinder Expeditionary Corps simply because both of them are terrestrial enough to be worth the trouble of exploring for resource exploitation and colonization purposes. Together, as a pair of worlds that are tidally locked to each other as they swing around the orange star that hosts them, they’re that much more valuable as an oddity among Gate locations. Both planets have fairly robust biospheres, with a high degree of convergent evolution and genetic similarity.

While this would normally be evidence in favor of asteroid impacts flinging simple life between the two, the second-in team made a much more interesting discovery – both planets are seeded with dozens of small Pandora Gates, each one permanently open and locked to a matching Gate on the other planet. None of the wildlife shows any fear of the Gates, and several transits by various creatures have been observed. One of the discoverers suggested simply considering the two planets a single world, with the connection between the two, but so far the proposal hasn’t been acknowledged by Pathfinder’s management.

The sheer profusion of apparently permanently functional Gates on the two worlds has merited mobilization by heavy-hitters in the groups associated with Pathfinder’s science division. With the usual Pandora Gates are off-limits for heavy-duty experimentation due to how rare and precious they are, exotic materials researchers and theoretical physicists looking to crack the secret of the wormholes in the know are begging to at least get to send forks to Tidelock, as are geophysicists looking to study the binary planets and their interaction.

As yet unknown to anyone is the fact that the Tidelock surface Gates are a TITAN experiment in researching how the Gates themselves worked. One particular branch of the HYPATIA line of TITAN settled in the system for several years after the Fall, experimenting with ever more exotic materials and processes in an attempt to mimic the structure of the Gates. It succeeded well enough to create the single-link Gates, and in a fit of mad self-amusement seeded both planets with its creations before going back to studying the Gate. Six terrestrial months later it left, still not having solved the final pieces of the Gate puzzle; the remains of its research facility sit undiscovered deep under the oceans of Tidelock Alpha.

Cracking the TITAN facility and extracting the data without getting infected would yield a massive wealth of useful data on Gate operation and construction, enough to catapult transhumanity far ahead in their understanding of the system and ability to read gate addresses. On the other hand, the presence of the seeded Gates means Ozma and Firewall both already have agents slipped into place, and both factions are in agreement for once: the first evidence of TITAN activity is a good excuse to use antimatter to try to scar the system’s Gate out of existence.

So it’s an open question what might happen, when the abandoned facility is eventually discovered…

Gatecrasher’s Almanac #19

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