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Helios

UPP: E648243-4

by Lewis Roberts, John Macpherson, Paul Walker

PHYSICAL APPEARENCE
FLORA & FAUNA
MINERAL CONTENT
EXTENDED SYSTEM
HISTORY
CULTURE
POLITICS
SYSTEM & WORLD EXTENDED DATA
WORLD MAP

PHYSICAL APPEARENCE

Helios consists of one major continent and four smaller ones. In addition, there are a number of major islands and a few archipelagoes. The Main community of Helios is located on a small island in the southern hemisphere in the temperate zone.


Weather:

Because of its location close to its sun, Helios has a wide range of climates. Remarkably, though, Helios is nearly void of any types of violent weather. Helios weather is relatively calm with a few exceptions, most notably in the temperate zones during the end of the summer month. The rapid change in temperatures throughout the polar and temperate regions usually brings about a couple of small storms a year. Occasionally one of these storms will brew into a major storm, but rarely does the storm last more than four or five days.

The band around the equator represents Helios' only semi-constant temperature zone. Most of the land area in this range (2 bands) is either desert or arid plains. Any activity in these areas during the daylight hours is hazardous as the temperature rarely drops below 40deg C (104deg F). This central range band is termed the "equatorial zone."

During the summer month, this daylight danger band extends through most of the temperate zone and includes 5 more range bands for a total of 7 bands from the equator. This zone (these 5 range bands) is termed the temperate zone. During the winter, this zone is considered the main temperate zone because the temperature ranges from 29deg (85deg F)closest to the equator to -10deg C (13deg F)nearest the polar zone.

The area on either pole is covered by a seasonal ice cap. Due to the extreme axial tilt, the ice cap extends out from the poles nearly 4 range bands. The fringes of these polar caps are very thin, and usually only occur at night. The shortness of Helios' rotational period prevents the formation of any thick ice caps, but during the short winter month, the polar area can be quite treacherous to navigation. The temperature in this band ranges from 31deg C (88deg F)during the summer on the fringe to -31deg C (-24deg F) at the polar cap during the middle of winter. This zone is known as the polar zone.


FLORA & FAUNA

Most of the native wildlife and plant life of Helios is typical of most habitable worlds with a few exceptions.


Saltad:
Much of the land in the temperate zone is forest land covered by a tree native to Helios. The rumors as to the origin of Helios' original name, Willow, trace back to early Solomani settlers finding these trees and mistaking them for Terran Willow tree. The difference between the two trees was no doubt soon discovered as the Helios "willow's" wood is as hard as some metals. Early in Helios history (see, History), the wood of this tree was coveted by the nobles of the Sarid Subsectors, as well as those of other nearby Subsectors. Many artisans made a fortune on Willow wood carvings. The tree, officially known as the Saltad, is still in plenteous supply on Helios, and the citizens of Helios are still involved in selling hand carved trinkets. More recently, a few of the more extravagantly wealthy citizens of the Coalition have commissioned hand carved furniture from the artisans of Helios. These items are quickly becoming a status symbol of wealth in the Coalition.


Whiskey Bug:
Perhaps the only known predator to the Saltad is the Gyrnius Celaecun, or the Whiskey Bug. The Whiskey Bug is a small flying insect that grows to approximately 5 centimeters long. The Whiskey Bug resembles the Terran Beetle in shape and size, however its color is a reddish brown, not the characteristic black of the Terran Beetle. The Whisky Bug uses pollen from the flowers native to Helios to create a fermented nectar that it then uses to break down the wood of the Saltad tree. During the early spring, when sprouts emerge from the strong Saltad tree’s trunk, adult Whiskey Bugs will burrow through the soft sprout spots to the very heart of the tree. There they will extract the soft heartwood that is the very life of the Saltad tree. In the harder, outer wood, Whiskey Bugs carve small chambers called vats in which the masticated and moistened heartwood is deposited. Finally, a dose of bacteria, from a special pouch inside the Whiskey Bug’s mouth is added to the mix, and the chamber is sealed up. Inside, the bacteria soften and partially metabolize the heartwood, using enzymes and an organic acid. This mixture is known as the sour mash, which indicates part of the origin for the beetle's name. After a few days, the beetles re-open the vat chamber and consume the now-edible sour mash. The youngest beetles feed the pupae by carrying them from vat to vat, as the vats are opened. The bacteria metabolize the mash anaerobically and produce alchol by-products which remain in the mash. Anyone attempting to drink the alchol run-off of mash produced in the wild would likely go blind or die because it is mostly methyl alchohol. Some Heliosans are keepers of these bugs. Under carefully controlled conditions, the sour mash will produce almost all ethanol, with the remaining methanol being removed before bottling. Heliosan Whisky Bug Juice is known for its sour-sweet taste and powerful kick. Before the Collapse it was made by many moonshiners on the main continent, and carefully inspected brands were popular throughout the subsector. In the New Era, not many of Helios' inhabitants are inclined to produce hard alchohol, but visitors to the weekly Auction may have the opportunity to sample it. Some visitors have been impressed with the drink and they occasionally export it small quantities, either for personal consumption or resale.

Herbivore, Grazer (F13-A*-S9/18/36) (A* - If Provoked)
Weight: 0.1 kg Weapon: Poison/Stinger(As Armed Melee)
Hits: 1 To Hit: 5
Initiative: 1 Damage/Pen: 1p1*/Nil (* - 1 point, not 1D6)
Armor: 1/2 Range: Short



Felden:

The natural enemy of the Whisky Bug is the Felden. The Felden is a small animal that lives in the rotted shells of Saltad trees that Whisky bugs leave behind. Similar to the Terran anteater, the Felden has a long snout that it uses to reach into the hollow center of the Saltad tree and eat the Whisky Bugs. Felden are slow stupid creatures that do little more for Helios than keep the Whisky Bug population in check. The Felden is nearly blind and can actually hear the high pitched resonance sounds the Whisky bugs use to converse with one another. While the meat of the Felden can be eaten, there is very little that is easily gotten and it is very tough and bland.

Omnivore, Gatherer (F8-A3-S2/4/8)
Weight: 3 kg Weapon: Claws(As Armed Melee)
Hits: 1 To Hit: 5
Initiative: 1 Damage/Pen: 1D6/Nil
Armor: 1 Range: Short



Grupami:

The Grupami is a fish native to the coastal waters in the temperate zone during the winter month. During the summer month, the Grupami migrate to more temperate waters in the polar zone, but each winter they return to the temperate zone. There is little about the Grupami that is spectacular. It serves as one of the major sources of food for the inhabitants of Helios. The only distinguishing feature of the Grupami occurs at the beginning and ending of both the winter and summer month, when Helios experiences its equinox. At this time, the Grupami begin their migration to and from the polar zone, and when they begin to migrate, they swim faster by jumping out of the water (similar to Terran flying fish). What makes this event so spectacular is that the scales of the Grupami are made of a reflective base with a crystalline covering. As the Grupami jump out of the water, the sunlight is reflected of the base of the scale and refracted through the crystalline covering creating a "rainbow trail" that arcs with the jumping pattern of the fish. This phenomenon is best viewed in the last few hours before sunset, or the first few hours after sunrise.

Herbivore, Grazer (F20-A*-S10/20/40) (A* - Never Attacks)
Weight: 1 kg Weapon: None
Hits: 1 To Hit: N/A
Initiative: 1 Damage/Pen: N/A
Armor: 0 Range: N/A



Parinklo:

Another animal native to the waters of Helios is the Parinklo. Similar to the Terran Tiger shark, the Parinklo is a saltwater mammal that grows to nearly 3 meters in length. The Parinklo is an extremely agile sea creature and is considered the most dangerous predator on Helios. Parinklo, like the Terran sharks they resemble, travel in groups of four or more called regalia. A single Parinklo has been known to sever the leg of an unwary swimmer with is vice-like jaws and triple rows of teeth. In addition to the danger presented by the Parinklo’s teeth, the creature has two tentacles located just behind the pectoral fins that stabilize the creature. Each of these tentacles is tipped with poisonous barbs. When hunting, the Parinklo will bring itself close to its prey and wrap its poisonous barbs around it. The poison is a quick acting muscle relaxant that serves to render the prey motionless while the regalia divide the meal between themselves.

Carnivore, Killer (F2-A18-S20/40/80)
Weight: 50 kg Weapon: Poison/Tentacle(As Grapple)
Hits: 16 To Hit: 18
Initiative: 6 Damage/Pen: 1p*/Nil (* - See Note)
Armor: 1/2 Range: Long
Weapon: Teeth(As Armed Melee)
To Hit: 5 Note: Poison renders victim motionless in 1D6
Damage/Pen: 3D6/1/2 turns. If grapple holds till then, Parinklo
Range: Short will attack with teeth.



MINERAL CONTENT

While there have never been radioactive deposits found on Helios, the world was once a world rich in fossil fuels. Before the collapse, many of the mineral resources of the planet were mined and taken away by the prospector in for a quick buck. Helios now has a good supply of fossil fuels as well as some decent mineral deposits. While iron ore is readily available, much of Helios’ imports consist of other minerals necessary for their society.


EXTENDED SYSTEM

Helios occupies the first orbit, orbit zero, around Zenith, the systems K6 V star. Because of the size of the star, and Helios’ proximity to it, travel to and from Helios is somewhat difficult. Ships arriving in the system find that the 100-diameter limit imposed on them by their jump drive leaves them somewhere around the number two orbit, days from Helios. Fortunately, this second orbit is a planetoid belt filled with icy bodies, and many unprepared starfarers find themselves filling their fuel tanks with the ice of these ice planetoids. Orbit one is occupied by a single small planetoid. The outer orbits are also filled with other planets, but Helios has yet to begin to explore the potential resources of these planets.



HISTORY

The earliest known references to Helios are in the Imperial archives discovered on Sarid (Oriflamme 1532) in the subsector capital records building. According to the reference, in 532 a group of Solomani Settlers landed on Willow (as Helios was then known) to attempt repairs to their Jump drive. Finding Willow a pleasant planet, they decided to stay. The Saltad trees that covered the land masses of the planet reminded the settlers of willow trees on their Terran home, and they named the planet after the willow tree.

Willow is not mentioned in the archives again until 736. By this time, Willow had become a hiding spot for all sorts of Imperial criminals and riff raff. Willow's position within the 100-diameter limit of Zenith, her star, made travel between the planet and the jump point long. This fact along with the lack of gas giants in the system made travel to Willow difficult. Only those with a reason to get lost settled on Willow. Many criminals had retired on Willow when they felt the law brushing close to their heels. Tracking a criminal was not only expensive because of the in-system travel requirements, but it was also hampered by the lack of settlers. As a result, only the most sought after criminalswere tracked to Willow.

Criminals were not the only settlers who found their way to Willow. Many others found their way to the backwater planet including malcontents, debtors, jilted lovers, and anti-Imperial extremists. No solid government was formed, and very few of the settlers even lived in the small villages that were formed.

Many of the settlers had taken up carving the wood of the Saltad tree native to Willow. The wood of the Saltad tree resembles ivory. The wood is very hard even when the tree is alive, but when the wood is dead and cured properly, it becomes nearly hard as plate steel. Saltad wood carvings became status symbol among the nobility of the Sarid subsector. Willow was occasionally visited by traders who would stop at the planet and trade their goods for the Saltad wood carvings.

By the mid 700s the Saltad wood carvings done by the people of Willow were claiming prices of 5000 to 10000 Cr in the markets of Sarid. Willow had become a regular stop for a few of the Free Traders roaming the Sarid Subsector, but the real history of Willow begins almost a sector away on a small world in the Promise sector named Amoy.

In 740, a boy was born, on Amoy, to a construction worker and his wife. The child, Garaath, it would be discovered, was a powerful psion. When he was 40, in 780, Garaath had visions of angry mobs and violence. During the course of the next five years, he had more visions, and by 785, Garaath understood what he had seen coming, the Psionic Supressions of 800.

Garaath had a staunch belief that, if he showed kindness to others, they would be obligated by their nature to return this kindness. He referred to this as the Eternal Circle. During the 15 years between Garaath's premonition and the Psionic Supressions, Garaath began recording his beliefs and sharing them with others. Slowly Garaath gained a religious following, but when the Psionic Supressions erupted, this small group was not enough to protect Garaath from the attack of anti-psionic mobs. The story here is somewhat fuzzy. Some records state that Garaath was killed by the attacks, while others state that he placed himself in a state of suspended animation. All accounts agree, however, that Garaath was never seen again.


The Church of Brotherly Kindness

The religion, the Church of Brotherly Kindness, nearly died out, and without its a core group of believers, it would have. The small group of believers slowly recovered from their defeat and quickly developed an active mission program. The writings of Garaath were collected and published as the Words of Kindness. Many others joined the faith, and by 1100, the church had more than 1,000,000 members. A small branch of the church developed in the Sarid subsector, but the group floundered under heavy persecution. In early 1103, citing religious persecution, this small group petitioned the Duke of Sarid for some land where the group could settle. The duke granted the petition and gave the church a small island in the southern hemisphere of Willow. The church was able to set up a small self sufficient community, and, excluding a few minor incidents, the rest of the world tended to leave them alone.


The Final War & Collapse

When Virus swept through the subsector, it did not ignore Willow. An infected passenger liner came to the world seeking refuge from the chaos that was sweeping the subsector, but it brought that chaos with it. Most of the malcontents, and the settlement on the main continent started to fight over the remaining food and high tech devices. The CBK had very few high tech devices and was left alone. It is believed that the rest of the inhabitants died once the automated farm equipment stopped working, but no one has made a complete survey of the world. So it is possible a few families have survived till the present.

The Final War and resulting Collapse devastated the universal CBK, and the only known surviving group is the group that settled on Willow. Virus also hit the island of the CBK; however, the people there were a community, and when they realized that their high tech devices were no longer functioning properly, they simply resolved to go without high tech help. They turned off and destroyed all their high tech equipment, and started to relearn the old ways. It was not easy and was not without casualties, but by pulling together, and helping each other the CBK was able to survive with minimal loss of life.

The New Era

After a decade of struggle, the CBK had stabilized at technological level of four. Most people were involved in farming, but some parts of the community manufactured the tools necessary to survive. The population was too small to set up massive assembly line factories. Instead most manufacturing is done in small workshops, with most of the work done by hand. These workshops still survive today, and one of the exports Helios has, is hand-crafted steam powered automobiles. These are especially popular with Luhtalans.

In 1196, an Oriflammi survey ship came to Willow to assess the planet's capacity for colonization. At first the survey went very well, the planet had plenty of untapped potential, and several high tech devices were discovered on the main continent. Then the ship found the CBK community. This distressed the Technarchs, because any native population would have control over the planet's destiny. The Technarch's debated whether they could destroy the settlement, and claim the planet was uninhabited. Before a decision could be made, the news was leaked to the rest of the Dawn League. The League quickly launched a recontact mission to establish relations with the new community. The CBK was delighted to learn that others had survived the Collapse, and upon learning of Dawn League and its mission to rebuild civilization, they petitioned for admission.

After a few months of discussion, on XI-11-1196, Willow was admitted to the League. The Oriflammi strongly protested this, Willow only had 700 residents, if they were given full voting rights, each resident of Willow would have the same voting rights as 14,300 citizens of Oriflamme. But the Federalist block sensed an ally in Helios, and also wanted to penalize the Technarchs for even contemplating destroying a new found community. Following the tradition of several other worlds, the CBK renamed their planet Helios, after an ancient sun god.

Since being admitted, Helios has decided to help outfit expeditions into the Wilds to uplift the devastated worlds out there. They have also been a burr in the Oriflammen sides. There are several reasons for this. Mainly, they are a bit annoyed that the Technarchs thought about destroying them. They also disagree with the basic philosophy of the government of Oriflamme. Finally, it amuses the fun-loving Heliosians when the Oriflammen get so flustered when their plans are upset.



CULTURE

Even though Helios has one of the lowest tech levels in the Coalition, the Helosians do not have a great desire to acquire better technology. Sure a TL-12 toaster oven would be nice and would improve the quality of life, but the effort required to produce TL-12 toasters could better be spent helping the people in the Wilds. The residents can see the benefits of technology; it's just that it's not a high priority. The improvement of people's lives is a worthy goal, not the improvement of material things.

Religion has a deep and broad background on Helios, but the way the Heliosians live it is very practical. They follow a principle known as "Life Style Evangelicalism." The idea is to live your life in such a way that others see how different you are, and want to know more about what makes you different. This gives you the opportunity to tell them about your religion. About 80% of the population attend church services regularly, but they feel no ill will towards the other 20%. All of them have been raised in the same town, and they all went to the same school. They all have pretty much the same values; some just do not feel a need to attend church services.

There are only 700 citizens of Helios. During the first year of their membership in the RC, they realized that they needed an immigration policy. If they allowed unlimited immigration, the Oriflamme Technarchs would simply ship in 10,000 colonists, and Helios would become a de facto Oriflamme colony. On the other hand, Helios is a nice planet, and it would be a sin to allow it to go uninhabited. So the residents decided to allow immigration, but a potential immigrant would need to get permission to immigrate from a two-thirds majority of the native population. Once she has this permission, she is a full citizen of Helios. A potential immigrant is supposed to make appointments with various families and arrange to meet. Usually these meetings take place over dinner. The potential immigrant and the family converse about life on Helios, and what the immigrant would bring to the community. After the immigrant has talked to most of the people on the planet, a meeting is held, and the citizens vote on whether or not the immigrant should be allowed to become a citizen. These meetings are usually held at Festival. (See Below)

Helios holds an Auction each week, on the first day of the week. The government does not take a host cut. This is mainly to siphon off trade from nearby Oriflamme. It's just another way the Heliosians can annoy their rival neighbor, the Oriflammen. Most of the goods sold at Helios' Auction are big ticket items; smaller items go on to Oriflamme. The savings on smaller items is not usually enough to warrant taking the cargo to Helios. Helios benefits from this because the big ticket items tend to bring more people visiting for the Auction, and these visitors spend credits visiting the Festival.

The Heliosians hold their Festival at the same time as the Auction. Here they gather to discuss matters affecting the community and to celebrate. Each family sends one member to the weekly meeting, where any issues affecting the community are decided. These include electing the representative to the Assembly of Worlds, deciding on trade issues, voting on immigrants, and where to send the next Wild relief mission. Festival is also a time for fun; there are many carnival style rides and amusements. Farmers from the outer reaches of the island come and sell their goods, and children show off their art projects from school. The visiting auction goers are encouraged to take part and have fun. They often wind up buying hand-crafted trinkets and furniture. Heliosian furniture is carved from the Saltad wood and is quite stylish and rather popular.



POLITICS

Helios is a representative democracy. Each adult is granted one vote, but often, voting is done by one member of the family for the entire family. A youth is considered an adult on his 17th birthday, but may attend voting sessions at Festival when he is 15.

Helios has three elected officials. The Assembly representative, which currently is Currun Nealgu, an elderly gentleman with a wicked sense of humor. There is also Wes Guguan, the planet sheriff. He does not have much to do. The most crime he has to fight is the occasional off worlder who has had too much to drink. If there was ever any emergency, he has the power to deputize available citizens. Finally, Lizi Neaftu is the starport administrator. The starport is not much to look at. It's a concrete pad, with a nearby stream, to supply unrefined fuel for the starships. There is a radar beacon, and a warning system to let Lizi know when someone is in orbit. The pad only has room for four ships, if a fifth showed up, Lizi would have to put the extra ship in the field behind the starport. She would first have to move out the cows that typically graze there.

All of the residents on Helios favor the Federalist wing of the assembly, and while they believe in the wing, politics is not a way of life. Assemblyman Nealgu summed up the Heliosian attitude best when he said, "There are much more important things in life than arguing about the finer points of law. People should get out and do stuff; we Helosians try to lead by example."



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