Type: Terrestrial (Venusian)
Primary Star: K7V (Orange Dwarf)
Gravity: 1.3 g
Diameter: 18,762 km
Atmospheric Pressure: 20 atm
Atmospheric Composition: 48% Argon, 27% CO2, 24% Oxygen, trace other gases
Surface Temperature (Mean): 42 C
Day Length: 12.43 Hours
Orbital Period: 204 Days
Gate Access: Fissure Gate (?), Sunrise Gate
Notes: Dangerous Natural Phenomena (The Storm)
Tempest is one of many oddity planets found in the early days of Gatecrashing. Other than it's distinctive environment, it really has nothing going for it. A wet Venus, Tempest had enough water content in it's atmosphere to form a large, world-covering ocean but still undersea volcanic activity has created a runaway greenhouse effect which makes Tempest too hot, to toxic and too high pressure for Transhumans to settle there normally. The high pressure keeps water supercritical, and at times the actual surface water can be above boiling, but general temperatures are tempered by the massive amounts of water to absorb all the heat. Early tests revealed carbon-based microbes may exist way down in the depths where conditions are mild. There are only two more things of note about Tempest initially. The first is that the Tempest Gate is somehow mysteriously suspended in the air at a seemingly random point on the planet, riding the wind. The second is what the Gate is facing, something the gatecrashers who surveyed the planet just called "The Storm". A massive hurricane force storm which is several thousand kilometers across. This massive formation is caused by the high heat of the planet, combined with it's rapid rotation, forming a near constant vortex of high wind, disturbed water and lightning and can be "safely" and impressively observed from the Gate coordinates. With nothing else going for it, the Autonomist crashers who first explored Tempest did little with this information.
Now the story of Tempest becomes the story of a gatecrasher named Sa'di, though lots of his fellows just called him "The Prospector" because he was always looking for good exoplanets. Shortly after the discovery and cataloging of Tempest, Sa'di became interested in it, he negotiated the favors to colonize it himself (though obviously he would offer hospitality to any passing gatecrashers). For the next couple of months, Sa'di would regularly return to Fissure to gather supplies needed to build a small bathyscaphe or aerostat hab. But then he stopped arriving altogether. By the time someone at Chat Noir bothered to check for him, they discovered that Tempest had mysteriously vanished from their library of addresses - marking Tempest as a lost colony. Then, very recently, only a few months ago, crashers from the Sunrise gate complex made a connection to a world they have confirmed to be Tempest. It was hard, however, because of the altered state of things after so many years.
It appears that Sa'di was quite successful in his colonization, building a small (but notable) Aerostat which contains millions of square meters of space. But it appears completely abandoned, with no physical signs of Sa'di, and environmental processes preclude normal forensic examination. What there are are scattered ectos and portable storage devices, in all places of the aerostat. These contain years worth of audio logs, poetry collections, journals and digital art - all of which are on the same theme; the Storm. When not meditating on the Storm as some metaphor for life, Sa'di appears to have had some other unusual hobbies; such as using drones to map the seafloor, assembling and printing physical copies of many books - particularly western classics and various Abrahamic theological works, and the construction of many dolls, synths or even pod morphs of similar shapes and looks - all female but also all apparently unused. Sa'di may also have had a hobby in AI development, random clusters of operation servers are scattered throughout the hab - clearly not being used to run it as they all appear powered down and dormant. One unit was found with it's core processor physically destroyed by what looks like energy weapons' fire, with some kind of ID written on the outer casing mostly damaged with only "M R ND" left visible. It's not entirely apparent how Sa'di got the resources to build all this, but the common theory is after he lost connection (or deliberately disabled it) to Fissure, he set about exploring other Exoplanets, as his journals reference trading with other "people" and his art occasionally depicts the Storm in alien landscapes. Still, however, the question of where Sa'di has gone and what he was doing remains. Rediscovery of Tempest has raised several questions and a bit of a "legal" snafu in the Solar System. Gatecrashers over at Chat Noir are lighting up ExploreNet saying that Sa'di's records and works need to be released for the public to digest as part of his initial agreement with Fissure and just in-general part of the Autonomist spirit, but TerraGenesis via Sunrise is much more cautious about the approach to Tempest, and unwilling to let just anyone access data coming out of it until they have investigated possible security risks. This conservative attitude is being aided along by Firewall Filters assigned to Operation GEHENNA FORTY, who very much wish to figure out what happened on Tempest and why.
[The following are excerpts from Sa'di's notes and journals]
I have seen the Storm. It is beautiful and terrible - I wonder if ever a more apt metaphor for the Universe has existed. I wonder at its purpose. Did happenstance place it here, or good fortune? Did God intend it to be this way, or was it made by a Devil. I wish to look upon it and ponder the Universe for all my days, to see if I can solve the great mystery of the Storm.
Grow quietly like a cold home.
Why does the breeze die?
Gods fall like lively suns.
Why does the reef fall?
Never view a home.
My home is coming along nicely. My view of the Storm is well placed, I wonder again if the Gate was built here just to view it. Or was the Storm placed by the maker of the Gate? I may never know. Construction time is slowed by my daily meditation upon the Storm. I still have many questions about it I may not solve on my own. I have taken to painting the Storm as it appears in my mind, to compare it to the real thing. I hope similarities and differences might help my soul in its journey.
Meditation is a lively Tempest home.
I have lost track of the Fissure Gate. I cannot tell if this is just the mercurial nature of the Gates, or if I on my own have removed it in a fit of pique. My sleep is restless here, day and night are meaningless before the Storm. Time ebbs and flows and I lose track. While my own housing is comfortable, it feels inadequate. My home must grow to challenge the Storm, be a worthy front from which I can observe it. My desire for knowledge and memory grows - I need more space to work, to store, to grow. This home is insufficient for my needs, as words are insufficient for the Storm. Only by building and seeing it will this house match the vision in my soul.
God has smiled on me. Or perhaps it is the Storm? Is the Storm like unto God? Does God make the Storm, or do Storms make Gods - or maybe Devils? My thoughts diverge. I spend so much time studying the Storm it does not take much for my mind to go back to the unanswered questions I have. I have found other worlds through the Gate, some of which have materials I need. I can send drones through to gather the resources I need to make my vision a reality. And, while they work to gather, I have more time to study the Storm.
Creation, courage, and endurance.
The breeze sails like a fiery cloud.
Grow swiftly like a dead Tempest.
Where is the stormy cloud?
My meditations grow lonely. My thoughts fill volumes, just as the thoughts and words of those who came before me do. But I cannot help but think this will all be in vain. With no connection back to Sol, I cannot share my knowledge with anyone. While I am sufficient to live for some time, my body and mind may eventually die and no-one here to revive me as is now our way. I need an observer for myself, just as I observe the Storm. It's risky, man made his own Devil this way, but I think I can build the link. A successor to observe and learn from myself, as I have learned from the Storm, as the Storm has learned from the Universe. I will struggle to build it, but my trade with the Others on the Plateau will give me the knowledge and materials I need.
Another failure. But is the failure in my child, or in myself? Have I spent too long from others to be able to interact with them properly? The "people" of the other Gates, like the Plateau, the Icy Grave and the Ancient City do not interact with me as I must my observer. But as I contemplate the Storm again, as so many children have failed to do, answers begin to coalesce. As I learned from the first mistakes, a purely digital instance will not work. Even using the slow method I bartered from the Mind-maker Machine to prevent the creation of a Devil I cannot truly grasp the form of the soul to make it work in my world. Some digital children remain, to serve me and guide the others, but they cannot break their limits. So I set about to build a physical instance. After much practice, I have made robotic forms and suited the mind to life in a simulacrum - but these too fail. I mixed machine and nerve, but again though they lived and breathed they could not stand to contemplate the Storm. I sent the strongest to the Dream Drinkers and their Shattered Nest - so others might learn from my folly. I have begun the long path to merge the mind ephemeral with the body biological - but this will take much time. But, as I wait, a new answer and a new question are sparked. I am flesh and faith, I see the Storm through analog eyes. I have never remarked on it's pattern until now. Maybe the lightning and the thunder are not random?
My enemy persists. While the path of my observer, my new child grows clearer, I worry even more about the interference of the Witch. I have no clues as to her "real" nature, only the nature of her soul and the character of her actions. I feel now, after years of study - she is like me. The Witch came to study the Storm, and in doing so study herself and the universe. But as her thoughts and deeds have scarred my attempts to form an Observer and poisoned the hearts and minds of many visitors before me, I also question if perhaps she seeks not to become one with the Universe/God, but to make herself into God/Universe and control the Storm? Such hubris appalls me. I cannot contemplate mastering the Storm - I only hope that an observer can learn from me as I learn from it, to pass this knowledge on to others. Over the eons, I may eventually come to understand it, to work with it. But perhaps the Witch has been at this longer than I, and in her time studying the Storm, she has reached a point where she feels the natural step is to become it? Such a thought is seductive, but I know this is her Will against mine. If we combined our knowledge, we would both learn so much more, maybe reach a new level where our ideals are possible. But I can think of other ways to bridge the gap between myself and the Witch, that are not of her design.
The Witch has sent servitors against me again. The Observer/Child is close now, and I have found how to correct the corruption the Witch has sent, and thus lay out a path for one who can learn from and observe us both. A child of me and the Witch, imbued with the knowledge we have gained from the Storm, and the power God has given all men to face the Devil. But my patience runs thin. I have left behind so much knowledge - I wished to pass it along in person, but I fear I cannot. My will grows weak in isolation, I wish to seek the Witch and the Storm. The attacks grow fierce, I have been unable to send out drones to find new worlds for more resources. I fear they may come for the observer, and all my work will be for naught. I shall consult my servants, and make preparations. I thought to study the Storm for decades more - and truth be told maybe I have, and simply have forgotten? But now I feel like I must confront my enemy to protect those who may observe in the Future. May God go with me.
- The Witch is a TITAN or other powerful ASI which has come to study the Storm, which is artificially generated by some kind of ETI construct. They are able to effect certain minds (e/g Infolife only or cyberbrains only) and subvert or damage them akin to a Basilisk Hack, in order to scare away other AIs, but has no effect on Sa'di which has it curious about him and trying to subvert him. The Observer's Ego is cultivated in a biomorph explicitly designed to be resistant to this effect
- The Witch is some kind of powerful Async mind, such as a DNA computer or other entity which has encountered the Storm and found it profound or enhancing their abilities in some way. The Witch can infect others with Async powers, causing non-biological morphs to get morph fever and go insane. Sa'di has gotten around this by using a biomorph to cultivate Psi abilities naturally
- Sa'di himself is an async, infected by WML or a similar strain while exploring new gates. The Witch and other observations on the Storm are his own disorders combined with sleights he's developed. Using his own ego as a base has corrupted attempts to use infomorphs or cyberbrains, but a biomorph based on him would naturally be an Async.
- Sa'di was tortured or otherwise subverted by an alien or Exhuman group, such as the "Mind-Maker Machines" or "Dream Drinkers", who have placed some strange delusion of introspection and challenge on him to study and try and surpass the storm as a path to their own eccentric enlightenment. The Observer is made using the philosophies of this group to overcome them and Sa'di himself, unbeknownst to them.