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Hekufast

Hekufast
Image from Steve Bowers
Hekufast, a pulsar planet in Sagittarius
Pulsar: PSR B1749-28
RA: 268.24°
Dec: -28.11°
Discovery Year: 1 BT
Colonisation Date: 3709 AT
Period: 0.5626 seconds
Distance from Sol: 652 lightyears
Radiation Nation
Image from Steve Bowers
Two Deines discuss the stellar weather on the local pulsar PSR B1749-28

Hekufast is the home of the Deines, a subclade of Radiation Nation with high socioeconomic status.

Hekufast is a pulsar planet, created from debris left after the explosion of its local star approximately 200,000 years ago. It is Selenian in composition, largely consisting of silicates such as peridotite, with a small iron core. The Deines arrived in 3709 AT, wealthy from their trade in the Xeno-B anti-radiation treatment. They constructed large caverns beneath the surface of this planet for extra protection against the hard x-rays from the pulsar, but on the surface they relied upon their genetically-engineered radiation resistant bodies and their own Xeno-B treatment.

Deines have a modified genetic code, mostly consisting of purine bases which are slightly more resistant to radiation damage. Their Xeno-B treatments create extra copies of each chromosome in the nucleus, and if any damage occurs the DNA is repaired using homologous segments from these extra copies. A thick, active protein shell (inspired by DNA-protecting proteins found in tardigrades) surrounds each chromosome to reduce damage and effect repair. This system of automatic repair and error-checking can also be extended to other species, and by the ComEmp period the Deines were experimenting with radiation-resistant plants and animals that could survive on the surface of Hekufast. A nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere was added to the surface of the world (oxygen was abundant in the silicon rocks, but nitrogen was imported at great expense by wormhole from the MPA).

The neogen ecology on Hekufast is an imaginative extrapolation of the microbial xenobiota of Mykropht III, replicating the state of that world if evolution had proceeded for several billion years. Such a state could not exist in nature, since the pulsar around which Mykroft III orbits would cool down long before such a biosphere could evolve. Most plant-like autotrophs have deep, hollow taproots, into which they can retract all their above-ground foilage whenever the neutron star emits higher-than-normal levels of radiation (due to surface tremors). Similarly the animal-like heterotrophs are capable of burrowing underground quickly (or of burrowing into the trunks and foliage of the autotrophs as they retract, using them both as shielding and as transport into the topsoil).

Glitches

The pulsar itself has been the object of study for a number of transapient entities, the first of which arrived in the Second Federation Era, soon after the Deines. This entity, an S:2 that called erself Bell/Burnell, appeared to have no interest in the Deine colony, and dedicated erself entirely to observing the star. In 4591 the transapient issued an urgent warning to the Deines that they should remain underground for an indefinite period, while at the same time hurriedly transferring data and infrastructure into a fast escape craft. Several standard days elapsed after the departure of this craft, and the Deines were beginning to think that nothing was going to happen, when the neutron star emitted a very large pulse of energy and began to rotate at a significantly higher speed.

This phenomenon, well known in other pulsars, is known as a glitch; the superfluid core of the pulsar rotates freely inside the cooler, solid crust of the star, and the two regions do not interact via friction; but occasionally the fantastically strong magnetic field of the star will establish a connection between the core and the crust and transfer a busrt of angular momentum between them, speeding the crust up. This vast transfer of energy disrups the crust and results in a burst of radiative energy, which could kill even the radiation resistant Deines and damage their infrastructure. In the event a few Deines had already returned to the surface, thinking it a false alarm; most of these were casualties, a few of which did not have suitable backup arrangements. In addition much of the biosphere was destroyed, especially organisms in shallow burrows.

Since that time fifteen similar glitches have occured on PSR B1749-28; these events are rare, but not absent, on almost all pulsars studied, and occur frequently on a few examples. The transapient Bell/Burnell has not returned, but several other transap researchers have since set up home in the space around the star, and at least one of them (Morpheus4) was apparently unable to escape destruction when the star glitched unexpectedly in 7188 AT.

Traditionalists and Progressives

The Deines continue to obtain a certain amount of credit from their Xeno-B anti-radiation treatment, despite the fact that it is mostly outclassed by may kinds of ultratech and transapientech treatment in the Current Era. Xeno-B is particularly popular among independent clades and polities who prefer not to rely on technology devised by transapients, since they believe that such treatments may include behaviour-altering or behavior-monitoring side-effects. However, a significant number of such independent groups are content to reproduce the treatments without paying for the licenses, and such groups are often beyond the reach of easy legal or economic sanction. For these reasons and many others the income which the Deines receive from Xeno-B is slowly, but surely, reducing over time. Hekufast is becoming an ordinary post-scarcity society like many others, no longer tied into galactic trade.

For this reason many Deines in the Current Era have rejected their clade's reliance on soft-radnad technology. These progressives have adopted various forms of hard radnad repair using hylotech intracellular devices, and some are even adopting radiation-hardened cyborg shells capable of surviving a glitch at Hekufast's distance from the pulsar.

The traditionalists on Hekufast, many of whom are still deeply involved in the marketing of Xeno-B franchises, find this sort of behaviour an affront to their clade's long association with the treatment. This has led to several controversies and even conflicts, some of which have been serious enough to require the intervention of the pulsar research transapient.

 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Updated by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 07 November 2001.

Updated by Steve Bowers 20/3/17
 
 
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