The Twilight World. That is the affectionate, yet descriptive name given to the mining planet of Volana by its populace.
The planet orbits close (22 million kilometers ) to its brown dwarf star , Cyrpress Prime, and the gravitational forces interacting between the two bodies has synchronized Volana’s rotation so that one side always faces the sun.
In other words, the planet is “tidal locked” with its sun.
This phenomenon has had a dramatic impact on the planet’s environment. The side facing the sun receives vast amounts of light and radiation, which has left it barren with temperatures that reach 400 degrees Celsius (C). Meanwhile, the sunless side, perpetually in night, is an icy wasteland where temperatures drop as low as -167 C.
The only habitable region is between the two extremes, a narrow band of twilight, no more than 400 miles in width, where light levels are similar to the final moments of dusk on other worlds.
This region is barely habitable. Temperature variations are extreme, with areas closer to the sunlit side creeping up to 40 degrees C and those close to the dark side barely above freezing.
Storms also are common in the habitable zone. Super-hot air from the sunlit side mixes in the upper atmosphere with the below-freezing air from the dark side, creating violent atmospheric conditions. Hurricane-force winds and tornadoes are a constant hazard and strike with little warning.
Volana was first surveyed by Explorator Fleet XV-183.N in the latter years of the Great Crusade. As it appeared of little value, the planet was ignored until a 38th-Millennial mineral survey by the Adeptus Mechanicus discovered large deposits of Adamantium and Rare Earth metals.
An ambitious mining operation was originally planned for the planet. But when equally sizable deposits of these critical minerals were discovered on Slimek VI, a planet much closer to the Forge World of Anvillius, the development of Volana was put on hold. Existing mining operations on the planet continued, but as its importance was overshadowed, Volana became a backwater and largely forgotten world.
There was no record of civil unrest, heresy, or military conflict on the planet until 6 183 740.M41, when a warband of the Blood Wolves—traitorous Astates—conducted a raid that resulted in hundreds of deaths, hundreds more dragged off into slavery, and thousands of tons of valuable industrial equipment and supplies stolen.
Approximately 22 million Imperial citizens live on Volana. Approximately 5 million reside in the planet’s two largest industrial areas: the capital city of Fierro and the mining complex of Nightvale.
Due to a slightly higher gravity (1.1 Terran) and the physical demands of mining work, the population tends to be shorter, more brawny, and shorter-lived than the average Imperial citizen. These physical characteristics have been attributed to environmental factors, as medical analysis has found no genetic corruption or deficiencies in the populace.
Stoic by nature, the typical Volanan is aloof but not hostile to off-world visitors. Family affiliations are an important part of Volana culture, and most smaller communities—and some housing blocks in larger urban areas—are dominated by a complex set of alliances and informal treaties among extended families.
Although the original settlers were menials of the Adeptus Mechanicus, distance and lack of interest by the leaders of Anvillius left the Tech Priests supervising the planet with few resources to maintain control over the populace.
A worldwide strike by miners in mid-M.39 could not be suppressed by force as the Skitarii available to the Magos of Volana was greatly outnumbered by miners who’d converted mining equipment into makeshift weapons. In the Codicil of Greater Efficiency (signed 629.M39), the Magos agreed to improved working conditions for the population, as well as the creation of worker committees to assume responsibility for minor governmental functions that had little to do with productivity or security.
This reluctant concession by the Tech Priests has evolved into a comfortable balance of power, particularly after studies by Logis over the centuries has shown that productivity is statistically higher and civil unrest lower on Volana than on other Mechanicus-administered worlds.
Volana has been tidal locked for an estimated 750 million years, leaving the habitable zone little time for advanced life to evolve. As a result, indigenous life consists of bacteria, fungi, moss, microorganisms, and a handful of larger creatures similar to Terran worms, sponges, and jellyfish.
None of these life forms present a hazard to human life.
Indeed, Volana would not be habitable to humans if not for these simple life forms. Plant life and some common forms of microorganisms are unusually efficient in photosynthesis, a phenomenon that explains how an oxygen-rich atmosphere can exist when the surface area where photosynthesis can occur is such a small proportion of the planet’s surface.
Agricultural operations are sufficient to support the planet’s population, but common crops across the segmentum grow poorly in the cool temperatures and weak sunlight of the habitable zone. As a result, most farms focus on the cultivation and harvest of indigenous plant life and fungi that are rich in nutrients.
Slightly larger than the gas giant Jupiter in the Terran System, Cypress Prime is a typical brown dwarf. Its surface temperature is only 2,100 degrees C, and its outer layers reveal a sizable concentration of lithium and methane, suggesting it is approximately halfway through its estimated 1-billion-year life cycle.
One unusual feature of the star is the presence of iron rain, part of atmospheric convection processes. With a strong magnetic field, Cyrpress Prime also is a source of radio and X-rays, which make travel in the sunlit side of the planet deadly, notwithstanding the intense heat that makes travel impossible except in well-shielded vehicles.
In addition to Volana, the system boasts two other planets. One is a rocky world with unusually high concentrations of carbon but no water. It orbits Cypress Prime at a distance of 200 kilometers. A gas giant, roughly equivalent of Neptune in the Terran System, orbits at nearly 3 billion kilometers from its sun.
An unusually dense cloud of asteroids orbit Cypress Prime at a distance of 300 million to 400 million kilometers.
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