Hider world in deep space

Niaanyo surface
Image from Alex Mulvey
The surface habitats on this word are mostly inhabited by clades who use vision as their primary sense, and are often brightly lit
Type Stephensonian deep space world
Radius 5019km
Date Colonised 7879 AT
LocationThis world is far from any star, and is heated only by radioactive decay and artificial fusion.
RA 20,1,23
Dec 21,20,16
Distance 2212 ly
Constellation Sagitta
Following the disbandment of the Cygexpa empire and the collapse of the Hosoko Hegemony that followed it, a number of groups decided to withdraw from mainstream civilisation and to live in deep space, far from any solar system. One such group was the Tulu clade of vecs, many of which had been engaged in habitat maintenance and construction for thousands of years in the Cygexpa sector. They detected a small Stevensonian world in Sagitta, ten light years from the nearest star and thirty light years from the nearest wormhole, and moved there in 7879 AT.

The world they had found, which they called Niaanyo, was a cold Stevensonian planet with a rocky core and an icy surface, shrouded in a thin layer of hydrogen and helium barely above the temperature of the cosmic microwave background. The Tulu vecs burrowed into the ice of this world and constructed a honeycomb of tunnels, using hotpoint fusion generators to provide energy for themselves.

Niaanyo from space
Image from Steve Bowers
Niaanyo as seen from space
Although the Tulu clade were secretive and disinterested in maintaining contact with their neighbours in the Spinward outer volumes, the changes they had made to this cold deep-space world were detectable by nearby observers. In particular the waste heat from their infrastructure resulted in outgassing, changing the local atmosphere from mostly hydrogen and helium to one containing nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane. In due course several factions in the vicinity sent exploration probes to this remote object, and gradually the vecs began to make contact with the local stellar-based colonies.


When the Tulu vecs first arrived at this dark world, they largely abandoned the use of optical sensors, instead relying on touch, vibration and (once the colony was well-established) on shared locational data about every aspect of their environment. Since almost all of the components of their environment were connected to the local data-net, the vecs could use this shared information to determine the status of practically every object in the environment. Although every vec had the capacity to scan their surroundings with light and sound where necessary, they rarely did so, preferring to rely on their shared apprehension of their data-linked environment. This shared sense, colloquially labeled blind-sight by the infrequent visitors to this world, allowed them to become very aware of every aspect of their society from a myriad of viewpoints, despite the fact that their habitat was in complete darkness.

The Raffin incursion

By 8910 a small fraction of the Tulu honeycomb had been adapted for use by sighted outsiders, including several clades of Backgrounders and other Hiders. These apartments were well-lit, and placed on the planetary surface, but were connected to the dark underground network by service tunnels and other infrastructure. Shortly after the arrival of a cultural exchange mission in that year, the Tulu vecs started to notice anomalous data in the most inaccessible tunnels, including false readings about the status of the atmosphere and temperature in those locations. Investigations showed that certain rarely used parts of the network had been colonised by biont entities, leaving behind biological traces that suggested an infestation by the intelligent rat species known as Raffins.

Efforts to locate the Raffins were unsuccessful at first, even though the Tulu vecs were forced to use unfamiliar active detection systems such as optical and sonic sensors. Curiously, many of the changes made to the local infrastructure were ingenious and effective - many of the vecs were impressed with the ingenuity of the Raffin's alterations, and were keen to make some meaninful contact with the intruders.

To help them the vecs employed the services of a number of visiting clades who were more accusioned to using sight and hearing; Talking Dogs, brightcats and near-baseline humans joined in the search with various degrees of success. In due course the majority of the Raffin bolt-holes were found, and the Tulu collective entered into negotiations with the rat-leaders to establish a more suitable relationship with their unexpected guests.

The Surface City

In the Current Era the Tulu vecs are largely welcoming to those visitors who make the effort to travel out to their isolated world; they have long abandoned the idea of concealment, and rely on their distance from other colonies to preserve their idiosyncratic culture. The surface of Niaanyo holds a respectable number of different habitats suitable for sighted clades of all kinds, and these habitats can be seen from orbit (or from more distant locations using telescopes). Deeper in the planet's icy crust can be found insulated habitats occupoied by Raffins and other similar clades, including a small contingent of Packrat Spore dividuals. The deepest tunnels are the dark realms occupied by the Tulu vecs, and a feral population of baseline rats who were brought to this world by the Raffins as pets and escaped into the wild.
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 07 February 2020.