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Isobel

B336523-A

by Pete Grey

Isobel is an ice cored world with a highly eccentric orbit. The world has an orbital period of about eight years around its giant M2II primary. When the world approaches perhelion, gravitational and magnetic friction created by the star and its smaller close companion flexes the planetary crust, causing a pressure release that allows the solid ice to become liquid, and erupt as enormous geysers.

These geysers range from small "fountains" up to massive "ice volcanos" that shoot at very high velocities into the thin atmosphere, where the water and rock ejecta freezes and returns to the surface as massive ice boulders. These "killer snowballs" can range between sand grains and small spacecraft in size, and the bombardment gives the world its Amber rating. Isobel's dirtside settlements are built in protected subterranean grottos, and ship traffic is usually confined to the highport during the "flocking" season.

Naturally this phenomenon attracts tourists, who observe eruptions from the safety of orbital observation stations or gravitic tour buses. The eruptions constantly resurface the surface with new ice and snow, creating massive glaciers at the poles and dramatic landscapes. The more adventurous will venture on to the surface for exploration in vehicles or on skis, though this isn't recommended, and the locals are not very forthcoming in rescuing waylaid groups.

Since this tourism is seasonal, most of Isobels population is supported by commerce through the port, or in small mining operations on the surface. The world is on the main trade route into Titan subsector, and a fair amount of shipping uses the port for servicing and refueling purposes.

Isobelian society is surprisingly militant, and the world is home to several of the Consulates more reputable mercenary organisations. Most local government and organisation is laid along military lines, though as a one gun, one vote system reminiscent of militia dominated societies.


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