Badonicus

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Badonicus would probably have been passed over as a colonial prospect if it had been located somewhere else. A technically Terrestrial world, it's nonetheless fairly unappealing for humans.

Badonicus is the fifth of a twelve-planet system. The two inner planets have surface temperatures high enough to melt lead, the third is a Venus-like hell of scorching carbon dioxide fog, the fourth is a barren lump of rock, and the outer six are gas giants. Badonicus falls within its system's temperate zone, but only just; it's further out from its sun than Earth, and only its narrow equatorial zone is broadly habitable, with conditions comparable to Siberia or Norway. The rest of the planet is covered with ice sheets that get several miles thick at the poles. With minimal vegetation to provide photosynthesis, the atmosphere is fairly thin, despite supplemental terraforming by the human colonists. The planet gets relatively little sunlight, leaving is shrouded in perpetual twilight.

The Badonicus system is, however, strategically located on the border between the Earth and Draconian Empires, and while the rest of the worlds in its system are inhospitable, they're also rich in mineral reserves. Earth's space fleet invested massively in Badonicus, sucking the atmospheres of the gas giants into colossal orbital fuel refineries, setting up robot mining operations on the metal-rich molten inner planets, and establishing a vast support infrastructure on Badonicus itself to run it all. As the colony matured, it invested heavily in scientific and technical training to satisfy the needs of this immense technological hub. Gradually, the immense University of Badonicus, one of the wealthiest and best equipped in its sector of the galaxy, expanded from a pure school of engineering to a noted center for the arts and humanities as well.

When Earth's Empire collapsed in the 30th century, Badonicus was relatively untouched by the resultant chaos. With its huge material and intellectual resources, it formed one of the focal points of the “human Renaissance” of the 31st and 32nd centuries that saw Earth and its colonies become key players in the emergent Federation.

Badonicus' architectural style tends towards buildings that are broader than they are tall, with vast panes of insulated glass to admit the little natural light that the planet receives. Pyramids and ziggurats are common choices, although there are occasional skyscrapers that look like jagged shards of ice. The planet's inhabitants commonly refer to the capitol city, officially known as “Mons Badonicus”, simply as “The Mountain”. It essentially consists of the sprawling University campus, its support infrastructure, and a relatively small government complex. The University campus stretches across more than fifty square kilometres of interconnected islands, surrounded by ocean and ringed by glacial mountains. A separate island about ten kilometers from the capitol proper houses an extensive spaceport.

The original colony authorities instituted a genetic engineering programme to adapt the settlers to conditions on Badonicus. The native Badons are human, but they have broad, deep chests to accommodate enhanced heart and lung capacity to make the most of the thin atmosphere. Their skins are pale and their hair white, to cope with the low levels of ultraviolet radiation that Badonicus receives from its sun, and they have abundant body hair and a thicker layer of subcutaneous fat to help them cope with the cold.