A Garden of Stars - Dkarpo
Of the 12 Capricorn International Interstellar Exploration Program probe groups, that which journeyed to Lacaille 9352 were among the most distant. A series of microprobes with large solar sails, they would each be propelled at a rate of 10,000 gs for ten minutes, accelerating them to just under a quarter of the speed of light. Though launched in 2088 those aimed at Lacaille would not arrive in the system until the tail end of 2140, and even sending its information at the speed of light it would take another decade for their collated research to reach the listening posts at the edge of the Solar System.
What they found was a robust star system despite Lacaille’s relatively weak luminosity, particularly compared to that of Humanity’s native Sol. The Probe Group detected no less than three gas giants, with a frozen rock of a world in-between two of them, and an asteroid belt with a high percentage of metal-rich asteroids. But what was of especial interest for researchers was the inner planets, of which two were found. One was well within the habitable zone but given the star’s meek radius and low effective temperature this was very close to the star itself and the planet was tidally locked, and its atmosphere absent. Further afield was a planet with a 100-day orbit and an atmosphere approaching that of Mars prior to terraformation, but with even weaker sunlight, and yet this excited analysts as a candidate for long-term terraformation and habitation.
By the time this was transmitted to Sol there were already plans to launch a further round of probes, vastly more efficient with the inclusion of fusion-powered thrusters, by an international consortium operating from the densely inhabited Moon, though interest in Solar colonisation would receive the bulk of attention of wider Humanity over the following centuries. The second round of probes were more traditional than the Capricorn Program, and brought to their various assignations planetary drones to perform in-atmosphere surveyance.
This was not universally successful, with several drones burning up in different atmospheres due to miscalculations or pure chance. But those on Lacaille C were successfully landed and would begin a trend of drones being rotated in as prior ones slowly dilapidated, some of which are still lost beneath the modern sands of Dkarpo.
Despite this occurring over a period of centuries interstellar exploration and research largely fell out of vogue in the face of Humanity’s predilections with Sol itself, expanding into the Asteroid Belt, terraforming and colonizing over centuries the planets of Venus and Mars and, with time, the moons of the gas giants. But this negligence towards the reaches beyond the Oort Cloud would prove fortuitous, as the population grew so did research, economics and industry. By 2600 the entire Solar System had become host to a laser-guided astronomical interferometric array, vastly increasing the capabilities of astronomers by a factor of hundreds. Systems tens of lightyears away could be observed with extreme clarity, opening up a world of new studies and informing the wider Solar community as to the possibilities that lay beyond Kuiper.
Perhaps more importantly, a palpable antimatter industry had sprung up around both Jupiter, Saturn and the Sun. This would prove indispensable to the renewed interest in interstellar travel, as the huge energy expended by antimatter engines could easily reach a speed of 1G, ideal for transporting manned missions. Although much focus was paid to nearer and dearer locales as Barnard’s Star and Alpha Centauri, both of which were known to host habitable and biologically active ecosystems, a collection of consortiums from Jupiter, Mars and Lunar had a longer tact, and prioritised further afield stars as Epsilon Indi and, indeed, Lacaille 9352. The journey took 12 and a half years from Sol’s perspective, though it was less than half of that for the eight man crew that actually travelled to the system, due to time dilation. Their job was to assess on the planet itself the plausibility of terraformation, available resources, and what would need to be towed in rather than found in-system. Aside being water poor and dimly lit, the planet was ideal for terraformation, and this is where the history of Dkarpo’s people begins.
Terraforming equipment was launched before the manned mission returned, updated from the designs that had characterised Europa and Titan, among others. Complete terraformation would take 200 years, rather faster than previous attempts (Mars had taken over 350 years), but people began living on it sooner than that, using a combination of habitats and genetic modification to ease into the small, flowering world. Many were Martians, Earthlings, Europans and Belters, often from regions wracked with civil war or discrimination, and for it what would become Dkarpo became known as a refuge far away from the scandal and violence of the rest of Humanity.
In modern times, Dkarpo is named in its various languages for the vibrant cleanliness of its surface: white as a marble. It was never to be a hydrous world, and so is marked with broad, white sands and muddled steppes and yellowing plains. Though this is less the case in the planet’s south, where the attenuated Bulaman and Ochi Seas irrigate plains, forests, wetlands and swamps. The landscape is varied, demarcated with spiralling mountain chains, precipitous veldts and deep gorges, valleys and savannah and tidal coasts.
The days are long, literally. Sunlight from Lacaille itself is meek and largely infrared, and so two enormous industrial mirrors were built and towed to Dkarpo’s Lagrange points 4 and 5, redirecting diffuse sunlight to the planet itself. Due to their angled positions relative to Dkarpo two thirds of the planet are illuminated at any time, a yellowish haze dominated by two bright dots in the sky. This has had consequences for agriculture and culture; a midday siesta is common planetwide and crops are characteristically drought resistant.
Due to its relative aridity there aren’t many large animals, as there is no diverse, leafy ecosystem to support them in great numbers. However, where the climate is mild toward the poles and open prairie dominate giant elk, two meters tall, graze and gallop. These are oft’ considered the symbol of Dkarpo, a lofty, dominant stag upon an endless plain.
The vast majority of the planet’s 120 million residents reside on the northern coast of the Bulaman Sea, in a principal region between the Ginto Forests and the many valleys of the Dkarpon Alps. This is mostly realised through cantons numbering a few hundreds or thousands each, and the largest city on the planet, Zafran on the mouth of the Dedalo River, is but 400,000 strong. Indeed the myriad inhabitants of the planet were oft drawn from backgrounds that can be traced far back in time to isolated regions of Sol and Earth, and so Dkarpo’s people have never been characterised by dense conurbations as on The Eye of Humanity - Nazar or Yofeng.
Dkarpo’s culture tends to be pastoral and Arcadian. Extended families live together, either in large estates or communal compounds with other families. This is usually adjacent to some kind of work, animal husbandry, agriculture, aquaculture, energy production, and so on. Dotted across the planet are small community centres, which contain essential services such as hospitals, internet centres, churches and schools, niche market goods and professionals such as accountants or technicians. These centres tend to be linked to more rural locales and one another with maglev trains, although personal vehicles (including aircraft) aren’t uncommon and usually travel along service routes astride said trains. Equestrianism is ubiquitous. Dkarpo’s few urban centres tend to be more traditionally planned, with maglev and trams forming the primary mode of transport around. All this bleed into one another, as the rural districts are by far the main source of sustenance for the urban areas.
Politics is immaterial on a national level, with population density being too low for ‘nations’ to form in a traditional sense, and while there is a planetary council of sorts it is rather ineffectual and certainly doesn’t have any ability to militarily compel communities. Thus, Dkarpo tends to exist in a state of droll anarchy. A mix of mayoral hierarchies, direct democracies and local councils predominate, sometimes with de facto hereditary leadership but rarely de jure. This will likely become formalised over the coming centuries as the population grows and societies become entrenched. What laws do exist tend to be enforced by local sheriffs or constabularies, with varying degrees of effectiveness; especially sparse regions such as Nadbupedma Steppe are essentially unpatrolled and many small ‘felon towns’ exist there as a result.
There aren’t many major industries planetside, though the Gshong Depression does host archaeological digs for long extinct fossils, highly prized throughout the rest of The Garden of Stars. This low density of economic activity means that food is largely organic and as it happens sugar is almost entirely absent from the planet, with most sweetness in food being derived from honey or fruit (watermelon chips are a peculiar affection of this). As such Dkarpons are rarely obese, which has aided their interstellar reputation as the ideal agrarian society.
This is not to say that Dkarpo does not have its problems: Dkarpons are a suspicious and superstitious people, and outsiders are rarely treated with kindness outside of tourist traps. Vendettas are common, often resulting in murders and multigenerational disputes across communities, and given the provincial and decentralised nature of power corruption and nepotism is the norm. Unfortunately for some this has a charm all its own, and there have been recent attempts by organised crime syndicates from out of system to establish themselves there.
It is worth noting that this is not the case for the two ‘mirror stations’ that provide Dkarpo with light. By the nature of their often precarious and industrial existence the station-cities, each numbering a few tens of thousands, are very stringently structured and institutionally democratic, and often look down upon the planetside Dkarpons as provincial hicks. They don’t get on.
There are six ‘primary’ ethnic groups that take up the vast majority of the planet’s population. These are the Alpina, found predominantly in the Dkarpon Alps; the Kavkasira, also found in the Alps as well as the Ginto Forest, Byas Plain, the Padangie Lowlands and the southern shores of the Bulaman Sea; the Maliden, which can be found across nearly the whole extent of the planet except the Ginto Forest-Dkarpon Alps bioregion; the Bodi most commonly found in the planet’s northern hemisphere and especially in the Gshong Depression, with an isolated subgroup in the Sudjolo Mountains; the Taga between the Dkarpon Alps, the Kalo Coast and Coloznie Valley, the East Byas Plain, the Dugutila Savannah and the western edge of the Ochi Sea; and the Yohura who dominate the Bulaman and Ochi Seas and especially the Labirin Wetlands.
Dkarpo is a cradle, a white marble at the edge of the Garden of Stars, of waxing days and a pious people; of sudden breaks atop horseback across the planet’s valleys and plains; of family and, in large part, peace.
~ Excerpt from Bastion Savoth’s ‘The Garden of Stars’.
 – It’s much easier to transform a planet with an existing atmosphere than one that’s completely barren. Hence in this universe Mercury has not been terraformed while Venus and Mars both have.
 – This might seem like a lot, but Humans live very long lives by 2500, though they aren’t immortal. Whereas ten years there and back is an eighth or seventh of our lives on average, here it is more like a twentieth or, in some societies, a twenty fifth.
 – ‘The Eye of Humanity – Nazar’ (and yes that is its full name) is a tidally locked planet orbiting Barnard’s Star (basically a rip off of Illion), while Yofeng orbits Alpha Centauri. They’re both very densely populated and form a central civilisational core with Sol. There is constant interchange, trade and migration between the three so they tend to be well integrated.
 – I should note that the term ‘accountant’ is rather different then at current; herein they tend to handle a much wider array of responsibilities to ensure a high quality of life for their clients, taking a holistic approach to the whole breadth of their finances and daily needs. Technicians are more or less the same.
 – I will elaborate on these groups later, I assure you.