Gatecrasher’s Almanac #20

Name: Hex

Location: 6600 ly spinward of Sol

Gravity: 3.07G

Atmosphere: Nitrogen/carbon dioxide

Body Type: Scorching super-Earth

Hex is known of in gatecrasher lore more as a rumor than an actual place; veterans occasionally talk about it and share the stories they’ve heard of a massive world somewhere out in the Gate network where an unknown hand has sculpted high-gravity images of artwork from Old Earth. Other tales of the world tell of how taking anything from it has brought a horrific curse down on the culprit and any accomplices, lasting until the piece finds its way back to the world.

The truth is that the planet exists; Hex is a super-Earth orbiting close to a red dwarf 6600 lightyears spinward of Earth, accessible only through a single Gate address several hops away from any Solar-side Pandora Gates; the Gate on the planet only opens out to that one address. Stumbling on it by accident is astronomically unlikely, and finding your way back if you haven’t documented each hop is even harder. That’s just how the sole inhabitant of the world likes it.

An errant branch of the HYPATIA line of the TITANs calls Hex home, having settled here about the same time that a sister branch was attempting to learn the secrets of the Gates in the Tidelock system. This branch is both more eccentric and more artistically-minded than the other HYPATIA branches, and it chose Hex as a dead-end no one else would ever have a reason to come to. Several nanoswarm factories are hidden away inside underground hollows, mostly tasked with keeping the creations of the TITAN intact against the relentless forces of gravity and erosion.

The artwork is visible from the moment someone emerges from the Gate; entire low mountain ranges have been sculpted into replicas of artwork from Earth, and even the stones that litter the ground have been shaped into busts and other, more abstract works of art. Each of them is also coated in several layers of mineral glazes that combine to create an exceptionally subtle basilisk hack; anyone who takes a relic off of Hex needs to make a Will check each day it remains in their hands or suffer a -20 penalty to their COO and a feeling that their sudden inability is ‘bad luck’ and ‘ill fortune’ from stealing it from the planet. Returning the item to Hex or handing it off to someone else frees them of the supposed curse.

Ozma has several of these artifacts in their stores, and have teams hard at work attempting to decode the mineral glazes to isolate the hack for future memetic warfare purposes. Firewall, as yet, regards Hex as a fable told by gatecrashers and hasn’t put it on any kind of watchlist. Solid intel about the planet – particularly the presence of the subtle basilisk on the relics or the existence of an active TITAN branch on the world – would ramp their attention up several levels and likely cause sentinels to be dispatched to hunt the dead-end world down.

As for the Hex branch of HYPATIA, it’s still active on the opposite side of the planet from the Gate, working on mixing its comprehension of async abilities and nanotechnology in an attempt to create psycho-reactive artwork that transforms based on the thoughts and feelings of those viewing it. The TITAN’s plan is to eventually transform the entire surface of Hex into a psycho-reactive smart material, which will undoubtedly make the tales of any who escape all the more outlandishly terrifying – and perhaps pique the interest of more groups than just Firewall and Ozma.

Gatecrasher’s Almanac #20

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