Shamash (Xi Boötis)
Xi Bootis
Image from Steve Bowers
The twin suns of the system, Shamash and Ishtar.

Shamash - Data Panel

SystemNames: Shamash
Components: 2
1) Shamash (Xi Boötis A)
2) Ishtar (Xi Boötis B)
- Distance from Fons Luminis: 21.86 ly (J2000)
- Distance from Sol: 22.03 ly (J2000)
- Constellation: Boötes
ShamashNames: Shamash, Xi Boötis A, 37 Boötis A, Gliese 566 A (GJ 566 A), HD 131156 A, HIP 72659 A, HR 5544 A
Physical characteristics:
- Mass: 0.90 x Sol
- Radius: 0.83 x Sol
- Luminosity: 0.589 x Sol (bolometric)
- Temperature: 5,551 Kelvin
- Spectral type: G8 V
- Rotation period: 6.2 days
- Age: 200 million years
IshtarNames: Ishtar, Xi Boötis B, 37 Boötis B, Gliese 566 B (GJ 566 B), HD 131156 B, HIP 72659 B, HR 5544 B
Physical characteristics:
- Mass: 0.66 x Sol
- Radius: 0.61 x Sol
- Luminosity: 0.120 x Sol (bolometric)
- Temperature: 4,350 Kelvin
- Spectral type: K4 V
- Rotation period: 11.5 days
- Age: 200 million years
Ishtar binary orbitOrbital characteristics:
- Average separation: 33.33 AU
- Orbital period: 153.0 years
- Eccentricity: 0.514

The multidimensional object hung in a virtual world, growing and shrinking along several axes. The object was a representation of likely outcomes for a Solarist ambassadorial team. The target destination was a recently settled system in the Outer Volumes. I selected or removed team members from a pool of sophonts (fellow members of the Zenith Development Circle) who had volunteered to be transmitted to the new polity. The models adjusted to represent the strengths and weakness of each team dynamic.

Of course, the expeditions sent out by the Circle were merely a tiny part of the Dominion's interactions with any system. Yet I enjoyed speaking to each team as they prepared for transmit outwards, and enjoyed their reports years later on what the young societies of the Periphery might teach us.

An alert rose in front of me, indicating that someone has approached me in the ril. Helpfully, a copy of their statement was gathered by the roving synsects linked to my exoself.

"Balazem! May I intrude?" It was a close friend of mine, Felomea. I instructed the synsects to flash a "wait" signal to her, before putting a few final touches on the proposal and passing it over to the rest of the Zenith trustees.

I returned my attention to my physical body, sitting cross-legged on the ground in the habitat's public park. My swarm of prismatic synsects had been dispersed, restocking their energy and material supplies from detritus in the park while monitoring the environment. The synsects returned to me and locked jaws and legs, forming a loose cloak around my shoulders as I got to my feet. A warm rain fell. Through rents in the clouds overhead, I could see the luminaire that lit our ring habitat, bringing us light and warmth collected originally from Xi Bootis.

"Brilliance and Love!" The crustacean form that Felomea preferred during her periodic immersion in sports might have been hard to read for a stranger. As it was, I could tell she was in a good mood.

"Brilliance and Love to you, Felomea!" We embraced briefly, and I stepped back and surveyed the rents in her exoskeleton. They were even now being sealed over by medicytes, ichor solidifying into a protective mesh. "The other team was aggressive?"

"Only because they knew that we had better technique," she said, waving a manipulator claw dismissively. I let out a laugh, then transmitted to her exoself several images of a new mystery-court constructed by recent arrivals from the Makrania Orwoods

"If you're not too tired, why don't we try it together?" I ask. I'd never experienced a mystery-court myself. I had a feeling, however, that Felomea would like puzzling out the true rules of interaction amidst layers of misdirections, temptations, and conversational snares.

She thought for only a second or two before assenting, and we moved towards the slidewalk that would take us out of the park.
-Excerpt of the memoirs of Balazem Thrice-blooming, resident and later transapient overseer of Wandermist habitat, Xil Swarm, 7442 AT

First reached by the minor megacorp Hearp Rangers (later part of the Taurus Nexus) in 1349. They discovered a terraformable planet in orbit around the A star and hired the cyborg clade Etaoin Roltz to oversee the project. The slow process was expected to take 500 years, which suited the cryonics-obsessed cyborgs well. Meanwhile the system became a major trading point between the local systems of TakiCorb, the Taurus Nexus, the corporations to become the Conver Ambi and several other colony megacorps. An extensive orbital habitat swarm became located at the binary's Lagrange points. This swarm, called Xil, came to be known as the real capital of the Arcturus expansion direction.

The terraforming project progressed slowly, but the Etaoin Roltz came under Solarist influence. When a formal request for status report came in 1239 they declared that they owned the rights to the world (which they named Shamash) as Hearp Rangers had ceased to exist. Taurus Nexus immediately took legal action, but the cyborgs refused to budge and appeared not to care that a massive trade blockade was instituted against Shamash. Taurus instead sent down leased vec security forces, and a planetary war ensued. Quite soon it was clear that the cyborgs despite their technological disadvantage had a tactical advantage of understanding the planet's quirky geography and environment perfectly, and were able to bog down the war into guerrilla action for centuries. As the Greater Solar Dominion also began to break the blockade, the Taurus Nexus gradually was forced to concede the planet to the cyborgs in exchange for a permanent lease on the continent Locos. In 2348 Shamash formally joined the Solar Dominion.

Over the next centuries Shamash grew into a populous and wealthy Dominion World, while Xil continued as a prosperous finance capital. As the Dominion influence grew Xil became the financial capital of the Dominion (a position it held until well in the sixth millennium). When the Taurus Nexus break-up occurred in 3263 Locos was annexed by the Dominion.

Shamash is one of the heart systems of the Solar Dominion, and the devastation brought by the Metasoft raiders during the Version War hurt the Dominion severely. In 4478 Xil was destroyed and much of the information infrastructure of Shamash dereferenced (which likely saved it from a Cyberian attack similar to the Mithras subversion). Over the next 30 years the system struggled to keep the Metasoft autoguerrillas at bay and maintain civil order. The return of the Solarian fleet in 4507 is still celebrated as the Arrival of the Saving Host, although several major battles threatened the system over the following decades.

After the war Shamash and Xil were rebuilt to even greater splendour, and have since then remained one of the gems in the Solar Dominion. It is closely linked to Fons Luminis, and often acts as the second capital. It is known as "The Second Sun" (a slightly blasphemous pun based on its two suns and secondary position in the empire).

Beside Shamash and Xil, all major bodies are inhabited. In 4222 a Nimbus colony was set up on Xi Bootis B I, but it persisted only for 400 years before dissipating. The inhabitants are mainly mixed baseline, tweak and cyborgs, ruled by the famous Xil AI. The Etaoin Roltz remain, having become a holy order guarding the sacred sites and ecology of the planet.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 13 August 2000.

Vignette by Madine added May 2022
Additional Information
- Binary orbit:
- Some properties (radius, spectral type, rotation period):