Deprecated: Function get_magic_quotes_gpc() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 421

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Warning: Use of undefined constant slimtoc - assumed 'slimtoc' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/public/confessional/cookbook/slimtoc.php on line 336

Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 484

Deprecated: Function get_magic_quotes_gpc() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 421

Deprecated: Function get_magic_quotes_gpc() is deprecated in /home/public/confessional/pmwiki.php on line 421
Twisted Confessional | Settings

Winters Body

Nobody knows why.

But something happened to Earth, or on Earth, or around Earth. Whatever it was, was horrible enough to make them panic. In order to save themselves, they took tens of thousands of people, and froze them, putting them into stasis. Then, with a skeleton crew, they sent a large destroyer, its holds filled with these frozen coffins, into the space between the stars. Its only cargo the frozen, human colonists.

Using some sort of experimental technology that allowed them to move quickly from star to star (an advanced version of the Mota), they investigated the planets of each star they visited, looking for something that could sustain human life.

It took unknown generations to pass among the crew before the ship finally discovered Clymene, and determined that one of the largish moons of a supergiant supported life. The red, angry, stormy supergiant was given the name Phoebus. The eight moons were named after the children of Phoebus - Phaeton, Aegiale, Aegle, Aetheria, Helia, Merope, Dioxippe and Phoebe. At their closest approaches, they are noticeable to the casual viewer. Phaeton was habitable.

Around the size of Venus, Phaeton had a thick atmosphere. It was tidelocked to Phoebus. It has four continents: Pyrios, Aeos, Aethon and Phlegon. The ship "landed" on Pyrios - unfortunately, it was more crash than land, as the refitted destroyer was not made for surface landing. Luckily, most of the structure of the ship survived. This became the first city, eventually known as Winter's Body.

The human cargo, awakened from their frozen sleep, scattered from Winter's Body, leaving the crew behind, and built their own cities. Nostalgic for their lost homes, they named these cities after what they missed.

During the first generation planetside, the crew realized that they had no marketable skills. Except for their children, none of the crew were able to handle anything other than microgravity. But they did have their unique access to Mercy, the artificial intelligence that controlled the ship.

And Mercy, in turn, had access to almost the sum total of recorded human knowledge, at the time of her creation (the crash forced Mercy to reset to her default parameters, losing all knowledge gathered after her installation). Mercy also had access to the original probes, which remained as satellites orbiting the Phaeton.

Mercy was programmed to follow three laws:

  1. Mercy may not harm the crew or, through inaction, cause the crew to come to harm.
  2. Mercy may not injure a member of the crew or, through inaction, allow a crewmember to come to harm, except where such behaviour would conflict with the First Law.
  3. Mercy must obey the orders given to it by any member of the crew, as long as such orders do not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

So, the crew started offering access to Mercy in exchange for fees. As the society evolved, these fees became tithes, and the crew became known as the Mercers. They are part nobility, part priesthood. By now, almost every city has at least one Mercier, something of a combination church and manor house.

Mercers are organized by ranks, stolen from their time as the crew. As soon as a Mercer child reaches their 18th birthday on the Earth calendar, they are expected to take an oath (or are exiled). At this point, they are Ensigns, the lowest rank. (Before this, as children, they are Cadets). After taking this oath, they will be provided for, in exchange for their being on call when their service is needed. The ambitious attempt to climb to higher ranks (Lieutenant, Captain, Commodore, Admiral). But many are content to remain Ensigns and live off the largesse of the Mercer's coffers.

To prevent inbreeding while in transit, the crew used frozen sperm and eggs. This led to there being a strong matrilineal family tradition among the crew.

The matrilineal tendencies of the Mercers were even further reinforced by a modified military suite of nanomachines, which is only passed from mother to womb. These machines set the Mercers apart - they enhance them beyond human capability. The suite ties their brains into a radio network, gives them`the ability to access Mercy, augments their body's regeneration, and destroys all foreign invaders, including all diseases.

The only side effect are that it makes the blood of all the Mercers blue instead of red (hence the nickname 'blue blood'), along with a high incidence of miscarriage. Mercy can transmit a self-destruct code to any individual Mercer, but this is only done when one of the crew is exiled. Recovery from this deactivation is a heinous and unpleasant process - but it still leaves the crewmember in otherwise excellent physical shape.

While on ship, genetic health was paramount -- more specifically diversity. There were ten thousand frozen people on Winter's Body, and less than a hundred crew members. As a result, the ship's fertility centers held samples from a myriad of possible donors.

With access to the ship's fertility facilities, the crew population exploded over the next few generations. Even when the facilities shut down, the Mercers began encouraging sexual promiscuity in their members, mostly with the cargo. Even now, that tradition continues - the Mercers pay weregild for each child they father, and raise the ones they mother.


Clymene is an F-class star ten percent more massive than the sun. Unlike our Sun, it is yellow-white. Phoebus is a T-class brown dwarf, full of reds and magenta - it looks like it is a storm of fire, and is five times the size of the sun in the sky. It takes approx. 794 Earth-days to orbit its star.

The near side of Phoebus experiences a sky that is deep violet, it gradually turns to a rather vivid blue as one heads to the far side.

Phaeton is tidelocked to Phoebus. Pyrios, the continent where all human habitation holds, faces Phoebus. It does experience some nutation and libration. It has a zero degree axial tilt towards the sun.

Pboebus (and thus Phaeton) is on the outside edge of the Goldilocks zone. While Clymene is a hotter star than the sun, Phoebus is farther away - on average more than 1.6 times farther away. It gets just under 52% of Earth's solar constant from Clymene, which is slightly more than Mars. Due to the eccentricity of the orbit, it reaches 45.23% at the apoapsis, and 59.76% at the periapsis.

Between the smaller insolation, and the longer day, Phaeton gets about 112.4% of the solar radiation from Clymene than Earth gets from Sol. We'll call this one Sol, so Phaeton gets 1.12 Sols during its average day over 27 hours, instead of the 1 Sol Earth gets over 12 hours. Now Earth loses 0.05 Sols every hour, or 6% a night, or 12% throughout the day.

Now, a loss of 0.05 Sols every hour is probably rather standard for greenhousing like the Earth. But Phaeton has more greenhousing, and a lower albedo. Let's half that, so 0.025 Sols every hour, which winds up being 0.675 Sols every night, which is 112.5% of what Earth loses, a good ratio to the 112.4% that Phaeton gets during the day. Daily swings of temperature are pretty much like a slower Earth day (with slightly more peaks and valleys, a 25% more swing). These numbers are simply from Clymene.

However, Phoebus is a brown dwarf, and Phaeton is also near the outer edge of its habitable zone. Since its orbit is more or less circular, this means that the near side of Phaeton gets another 0.25 of the Earth solar constant, consistently. This negates the heat loss on the area around the near pole, and will occasionally create a surplus.

Phaeton has, effectively, four poles - a north and south pole as normal, but also a near and far pole. The near pole is centered on where Phoebus is at its zenith and gets the most of the heat from Phoebus, and the far pole is the opposite, and gets the least of the heat lamp effect from Phoebus.

(Note: On Earth: 30 degrees latitude gets 87%, 60 degrees gets 50%, 90 degrees gets 0%)

One orbit around Phoebus is marginally over 54 hours. This means an average of 27 hours of daylight and 27 hours of night. One orbit around Clymene is 794 Earth days.

Thanks to the constant, if low-level, heating from Phoebus, the near side of Phaeton has a milder climate. After all, only half of its energy comes from Clymene.

On the far side of the planet, the weather is more bombastic. Without the mitigating influence of Phoebus, the far side commonly experiences temperature swings of more than 25 degrees Celsius betwen day and night, which in turn encourages storms of hurricane-force winds in an Alaskan or Siberian kind of climate.

The wilderness of Phaeton is savage and diverse. And, interestingly, built on the same kinds of DNA that Earth uses. Although some things are toxic, humans can get all their nutritional needs from the local flora and fauna. The oceans of Phoebus are full of life.

The Legion

Everything about the environment on Phaeton is larger than life. The wilderness is a melting pot of savage horror, and even the weather is bombastic. Apart from the reinforced structures of Winter's Body, most of the cities are subterranean - the people living in underground caverns. Even Winter's Body is mostly an indoors habitat.

The weather is even worse on the 'dark side', the side that does not face Phoebus.

Travel between the cities of Phaeton is a perilous affair. Merchants often band together and move in caravans. But with the nighttime flooding every 54 hours, safe passages are often lost, or changed. Paths are needed to be found, trails blazed once again. Not to mention protection from the wilderness.

At some point, these trailblazers banded together and formed an organization, the Legion. Like some strange combination of a knighthood and a postal service, the Legion swears an oath to fulfill its duties, which is mostly about getting messages and other goods from place to place.

Ambitious Ensigns from the Mercers often join the Legion, as upon honorably discharging from the Legion, they have earned a promotion in the Mercer ranks (sometimes more than one). The oaths of the Mercers and the Legion do not contradict.

(ranks for the Legion are: Private, Corporal, Sergeant, Commander, Major, Colonel, Marshall)

The Garrotte

In the early days, shortly after planetfall, the children of the cargo started getting sick. Occasionally, adults would get similarly sick, but it was mostly infants and toddlers. The "blue blood" of the crew kept them from contracting this illness. Given that most of the afflicted died of oxygen starvation, this disease was given the nickname garrotte. Paralysis, blindness, mental instability -- all these deformities were potential results of the disease as it rearranged the body and rewrote the genetic code. Sometimes all that would change were hair and eye color (which could be almost any color of the rainbow).

It took more than a generation before people noticed that some of the survivors of the garrotte, were... gifted, so to speak, with psychic powers. The potential for psychic powers seemed entirely random. But these talents really existed, and could be proved and observed and otherwise verified. It wasn't imagination, it wasn't superstition, it was real! So, yeah, sometimes a blind guy is just a blind guy. But sometimes a blind guy can see things you can't see. Same with that guy walking with a cane, or trembling to get out of his chair. And of course, like polio, not everyone that got infected wound up crippled or deformed, so that normal guy over there might be psychic too.

And because the crew is protected from the garrotte there are no psychic powers in their ranks.

The garrotte also affected the canines that were brought on the ship (and occasionally gave them knacks as well). Those that survived to adulthood unscathed became excellent companions - and since their generations move more rapidly (and are selected by breeders), they quickly developed a resistance to the disease. They can still catch it, and will not die from it, or seemingly suffer the worst disfigurements. Other changes still happen.


There are two parallel timekeeping systems on Phaeton.

The first is Terran time. It uses the calendars inherited from Earth, the ones programmed into Mercy and the rest of the ship's systems. In the crash, a lot of data was lost - especially the official date. So the crew decided to establish planetfall as January 1, year 0. Mercers often adhere to this particular clock, waking and sleeping along the rhythms of a 24 hour clock.

The second is the local time. Each solar day of Phaeton is ~54 hours long, and with negligible axial tilt, days are uniform in length around the planet. This is called a Circle. Twenty-one of these have Circles been named a 'Hell', so named because Phaeton and Helia are in a 7:4 orbital synchronicity.

Thus, it takes 28 orbits around Phoebus for Helia to return for another visible transit across Phoebus (though it shows up 20 more times), marking the end of a Hell (Helia is large enough in the sky that it is almost half again as large as the Moon in Earth's sky at its closest, at 0.8 arcseconds). The Hell is the standard unit of time for the cargo, and is divided into 28 'circles' (which is one solar day, and also one seasonal cycle). One Hell is more or less 63 Earth days. The orbit around Clymene is called a 'Bane' because 'Year' was already taken by the Terran timekeeping.

Circles are divided in two, each segment 27 hours; these are 'arcs'. Phaeton is in a 4:2:1 orbital resonance with Dioxippe and Merope. Every time Dioxippe appears in the sky, that marks a Circle. Every time Merope appears in the sky, that marks the halfway point. (Since all human habitation is on the Near Side, this works for everyone). A 'Die' is a work-day, an every other 'Merry' is a rest-day. The only exception is the beginning of a Hell, where both are rest-days.

With the 7:4 resonance between Phaeton and Helia, Helia has a ~31 hour orbit This puts it squarely in the biozone of Phoebus. It get about 77% as much insolation from Phoebus as Earth does from the Sun - add that to the 52% of the sun's heat from Clymene, and it's a warm world. It is as large as Mars. It has water, though only 8% of Earth's, and its atmosphere is only half Earth's pressure. There is very likely life on it. Its orbital inclination brings it into the umbra every orbit.

Helia also has a spin-orbit resonance with Phaeton, giving it ~72 hours per rotation - it completes a spin every time it meets up with Phaeton. Since its orbit is different from its rotation, all of the planet is more or less evenly heated.

Helia is a planet that barely knows 'night.' It is dark only 26.5% of the time. Other times, Clymene or Phoebus, (or both at once, which would signify being in the umbra) are in the sky. A little more than a third of the time both are in the sky.

Other moons are: Aegiale, Aegle, Aetheria, Phoebe.


Winter's Body stands in stark contrast to the other cities on Phaeton. In the middle, a large spire stabs the air (the ship). Around that spire, sheer black skyscrapers stand, made of the same super-strong organic composites that made up the ship. Almost completely impervious, the ship and these other buildings stand strong against the storms.

Inside the ship (the original Mercier) Mercy still functions, as do the hydroponic gardens. As a result, Winter's Body is the only source for "Earth foods" - now delicacies.

Winter's Body holds most of the crew (the Mercers) who live in the ship. The rest of the population is cargo, and lives in the remaining buildings.

The storms are of greater worry to the other citadels. The ship had quite a few settlement-fabricators, which the crew used all up to build Winter's Body. The cargo is resentful, but the city was more than large enough to fit their entire population. On the bright side, they had earthmoving equipment, which they lent to the cargo (and which the citadels still use).

And so, eventually, cities were built. Sheltered locations were found: valleys, the leeward sides of mountain ranges (or occasionally, cave networks in the crust carved out by the storms). Sometimes, these were constructed - massive projects to create valleys. Phaeton's government is still concentrated in these city-states. There are no small towns.

The 29 citadels other than Winter's Body: Atlanta, Bangkok, Berlin, Bogota, Budapest, Cairo, Chicago, Dubai, Ellae*, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Keihanshin, Kolkata, Lagos, London, Manhattan, Marineris, Mexico, Monaco, Moscow, Oslo, Perth, Seoul, Shackleton, Shanghai, Tehran, Toronto, Vienna


The Republic

Each citadel elects one Senator (including Winter's Body). These Senators serve for 30 Hells, one Hell for each citadel. Elections are staggered; each citadel has one election in a given Hell.

These Senators are presided over by the High Marshall of the Legion, the top-ranking Legionnaire, who breaks ties and is given additional power in the case of emergencies. This constitutes the Republic, which was formed after a messy, half-hearted 'Civil War.'

When the Legion was founded, they began building a brand-new settlement as their headquarters (having cannibalized the last of the fabricators used for Winter's Body). It was symbolic, their choice of location - on the equator, where Phoebus is directly above. The settlement was never formally named (apart from 'HQ'), but it has the nickname 'Noon'. After the Republic was founded, to prevent favoritism of any citadel, it was agreed that Noon would host the Senate.

The only residents of Noon are the Senators, their staffs, and the members of the Legion, who each have personal quarters in the barracks. Of course, most of the Nooners (as members of the Legion are nicknamed) are away on missions. As Noon is already staffed and inhabited by the government, it is deemed not to require a Senator.

Where the Legion acts as the executive branch, the Mercers also act as the judicial branch.


Called the Kitsune due to their vulpine looks, they really look like a cross between a fox and a gibbon, but with a crest of keratin along their backs. They are sentient, but have been restricted from proliferating across the planet by a symbiotic dependence on certain flora and fauna which makes it difficult to go more than a day's travel away from their homes. They are curious, and have a tendency to be playful.

It is from these natives that humans have managed to trade for miella (honey), leng ('milk'), phala (fruit), urrison (a sort of meat), and other local delicacies. It is also from the Kitsune that humans procured their one local domesticated animal - the Xiang (the only other domesticated animals on the planet are the dogs).

Technical Data

  • Apparent Diameter of Clymene from Phaeton: 0.349 degrees
  • Apparent Diameter of Helia from Phaeton: 0.8 degrees
  • Apparent Diameter of Phoebus from Phaeton: 9.6 degrees

at 54 hours a day, movement of Clymene per hour in the sky: 1/27*180=6.67 degrees.

  • 0.25 albedo (on avg)
  • 1.41 atmospheres
    • 333ppm CO 2?
    • 15% oxygen (1.05 Earth)
  • diameter: 12,000km
  • gravity 0.89g
  • area: 0.9 land area of Earth's. 33% land, 67% water leads
  • avg global temperature: 14C