Gatecrasher’s Almanac #32

Before I begin with today’s post, a reminder that I have a Patreon that helps encourage me to keep making content here. If you can spare even a buck a month it’s appreciated.

Name: PXC-1010 (Graviton)

Location: 2500 ly antispinward/coreward of Sol

Gravity: 0.07G

Atmosphere: Nil

Body Type: Airless

Graviton is the name of both the planet/moon and the system as a whole, such as it is; the Gate sits on an airless rock that swings in a lazy orbit around a quiet black hole, buried beneath the surface in a cavern that seems just a little too regular in dimensions to be natural. A gently curved tunnel leads to another, more natural chamber, where the team of researchers who’ve decided to call the place home have set up their base camp, and from there a rougher passage leads to the surface.

At first glance, it seems that Graviton is a rogue planet, orphaned in the starry darkness; this is dispelled fairly quickly for those looking up, as the planet’s orbit regularly brings distant stars into alignment with the black hole to produce gravitational lensing phenomena. This is half the reason for the research team in the system, using the back hole’s lens to study distant objects and analyze their gravity-warped spectra for interesting data.

The other half is the study of the black hole itself; while it’s quiet, with nor natural infall of matter to fuel an accretion disc or otherwise reveal the collapsed star’s presence, there are several probes on various inward trajectories. Each of them is outfitted to map the structure of spacetime as they drift in, and each has a tightbeam back to the communication systems at the planet. So far they’ve been able to determine that the black hole weighs in at around fifteen times the mass of Sol and has a fairly impressive spin, dragging space into a gentle whirlpool around it.

This would all be fine, and likely boring to anyone that isn’t a Firewall crow, were it not for the other phenomena. Biomorphs on the planet that are above the surface will intermittently hear a chorus of whispering voices, too soft to make out what they’re saying. Synthmorphs will pick up inexplicable radio bursts, static that seems to have a thin hint of order to it, even though their actual sensor logs show nothing. Likewise, XP from the biomorphs never reveals the whispers. The researchers who’ve been on Graviton the longest have collectively built a secluded shrine, well-isolated from the Gate cavern, in tribute to something they call the Shadow in the Static.

It’d all be alarming enough to any Firewall agent who learns about it as it is, but one detail that no one knows yet might be enough to get even the mavericks of the conspiracy in favor of a Gate-nuking approach: asyncs never experience any of the phenomena.

What that means is a good question, indeed.

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Gatecrasher’s Almanac #32

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