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Penelope

C460642-8

by Pete Grey

A pleasant desert world located in the middle of the subsector. It had the unlikely role, in the last years before the Civil War of being the downfall for the Imperial Ministry of Colonisation.

At the same time that the MoCol was initiating the Jonkereen project, it was researching desert world terraforming methods in a parallel project. Penelope became one of several worlds, scattered around the Imperium, that were settled as "testbeds" for these menthods. Previously unsettled, a colony of researchers and pioneers was established after the Third Frontier War to test the MoCol's terraformation protocols.

As MoCol began to develop excessive zeal and hubris in the 1000s, the project began to take on grandiose dimensions. The research had produced limited but promising results, and project managers began to expand their efforts from simple research projects into application of it towards real terraformation. A number of testbed worlds were converted into full terraformation projects, and of these Penelope was the most hyped and fully funded.

MoCol is estimated to have poured trillions of credits of the taxpayers money into these megaengineering projects, despite objections from their own scientific staffs, the IISS and the Ministry of Science over their scale, cost, dubious methods and feasibility. Many projects bogged down in bureaucratic stonewalling and interagency disputes.

But Penelope had the benefit of its remote location and the support of the local nobility to keep it going. Under MoCol supervision from its offices on Iderati, the world was bombarded with redirected cometary debris. Vaporaters extracted subterranean water and expelled it into the atmosphere. Massive "groomers" altered the world's albedo to reflect more sunlight. A sulfide haze was created to further cool the world surface. Plant life was introduced around reservoirs to provide shading. And an extensive underground network of cisterns and canals were constructed, criss-crossing the world. There was even talk of using Meson Guns to heat the world's interior to induce volcanism, thereby bringing more moisture to the surface.

In the end, after nearly a century of work, the Penelope had yet to create a single natural body of water, and the planet was scarred by worthless construction projects and their debris. Disgusted with MoCol, the First Regent terminated the program in 1134. And citing Penelope as clear evidence of the Ministry's ineptitude and superfluousness, Norris sacked it, merging its personnel with the Ministry of Conservation in 1136 to form the Ministry of Interior.

With the termination of the project, Penelope's population was suddenly unemployed, but were buoyed up by development money released from the appropriation funds for the project. Ironically enough, the world's emergence into an integrated member of the Regency was overseen by chastened former project managers now working for MoI. The local economy is now self-reliant thanks to dry agriculture methods and mining of its underdevloped mineral resources. To aid in the world's development, Jonkereen were permitted to settle the world in the 1140s and now make up 12 percent of the population.


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