Art by, CosmicClaxon
Orcheston is a planet plagued by its industrial history. When a mining incident released suffocating gases into the atmosphere, domes, officially called schools, were built to protect every city. While the schools all share a common planetary condition, the insides have developed microclimates. Some schools have a higher chance of rainfall while others are more likely to build up heat. However, any functioning school has yet to develop a condition that would be uninhabitable.
Common practice at night is to let the domes “breath.” After monitoring the atmospheric condition surrounding a school, pores will open to expel smoke and rejuvenate air. This process lasts only an hour. If a fire breaks out, displacing the air citizens need, an evacuation will be called immediately. The original school has a high chance of recovery if a team of gas-fighters are able to quell the fire and rejuvenate the air supply/pressure soon after. If left unmaintained, schools may become a sponge for dead zones, clouds of suffocating gas, spilling in through unregulated pores. While still possible to fix, dead zones are significantly more expensive to deal with and require longer construction periods dedicated to funneling the gas far away.
Tall towers make up each school. They are usually made of gold or silver sheets and are built with strong bases and cables that may be tightened off the side. Entrance is easily accessible to the native people. However, it is massively inconvenient to visitors of this planet. Elevator trips are long, but should never exceed 45 minutes with stops included. Landing platforms are too uniform and densely packed for small ships to make entrance, so some citizens offer themselves as a taxi service for the flightless. Roughly 1-2 lightweight passengers can be carried in baskets at a time.
School roads are sparse and long, serving more as guidelines than authentic means of travel. Likewise, pavement is a rarity. Cobblestone roads exist as decoration. Patterns like crop circles are made to be viewed from the higher levels of city towers.
Outside the schools, the planet is very flat. Other than a goliath-sized lake, almost all land is covered in thick, long grass and thin rivers. Forests are made of tall, mushroom-like trees and kelpy bushes. Mountains on Orcheston are less so “mountains” and moreso lanky plateaus. The ruins of civilization before the dead zone catastrophe are overrun by plants. Occasionally, forest’s will be speckled with lifeless patches; these are areas where a dead zone has lingered too long.
Once the piscipleus evolved beyond water, clans began to develop. The largest clan was under the rule of the regal pleu, Ranger Finnley. She believed that after establishing presence in the air, it was only right for pleus to progress by fraternizing with the ground. Ranger developed a system of mining that extracted rare ores for her followers to use, causing her popularity to boom.
Eventually, her numbers had grown too large to maintain on her own. Ranger assigned related representatives hundreds of pleus to colonize the land for her. This project led to the planet becoming speckled with factions of Ranger Finnley’s kingdom. The monarchy continued well for years, with orders coming directly from Ranger herself, but over time, she became moreso a figurehead. Laws were established differently among each colony, and in some extreme cases, they would use a different type of currency. Soon orders were coming from Ranger’s representatives instead.
This distance from the monarchy only strengthened once the dead zone disaster struck. Ranger had ordered excess drilling deep into the planet and punctured a cavity that released heaps of dense, suffocating gas. Pleus were forced to leave their settlements on a regular basis to escape these dead zones. While Ranger Finnley and her team of engineers were able to design domes for the colonies, most refused to follow her leadership afterwards.
Ranger didn’t care much about these lessening responsibilities, especially in her old age. However, her eldest daughter, Portia Finnley, did. Once Ranger passed the kingdom on to Portia, she raised an army in an attempt to get her colonies back. Most of the colonies, significantly smaller and unable to amass armadas, gave in immediately. Yet one particular school did not. This school, numbered 03, was run by Volumnia Finnley. Volumnia managed to put her colony on lockdown, trapping her citizens inside and keeping the rest of the kingdom out. Citizens inside the school rioted in protest, but Vulumnia refused to set any pleus free if it meant handing over the control she had gained.
Over six grueling months, the confrontation turned into a battle of attrition. Portia similarly refused to let any of her followers lend medicinal or material aid. As the riots continued within School 03, citizens were left too injured to work. Despite the state of the settlement, Volumnia kept her dome closed.
Portia, growing desperate, at last issued a total war attack. Missiles were sent upon the school with intent to break the dome open. Portia planned the strike while considering the approaching dead zone, hoping that the gases would bleed in through the fissure and exterminate Volumnia’s colony. By way of some miracle, the plan was a success. The school was quickly sealed to trap the gases inside. Everyone of Volumnia’s colony had been slain. Per Portia’s later reflection, School 03 was left sealed as a prison for the dead zone.
Time from then on was overall a quiet period. Once Victoria Finnley was moved to the throne, schools were given the rights to name themselves and run semi-independently as long as they never promoted a mutiny. With the coming space age, pleus then learned to advance the technology of their schools. Extra focus was placed on guided, long-range weaponry for airborne battles, and ship industries were funded. Unfortunately, growth halted when travellers had managed to bring Orcheston its first shipment of harpies. Abandoned towers served as ample grounds for infestation. While not as serious as the planet’s dead zones, it remains an epidemic to this day.
Frayto: The capital, Frayto, is the largest school on the planet and the main hub for government activity. Being closest to the tourist destination, Welcdome, Frayto houses more hotels than any other school, and a bonus for the biggest planetary hospital. The ground levels run rampant with fountains and pearly pathways. The tallest tower stands out from the rest, covered in marble. This tower was one of the first buildings made by the planet’s civilization and is heavily protected. Tourists may look upon it, but entrance is only given to officials and high class citizens. A military base sits along the southern outskirts. After complaints from military leaders of having citizens and visitors too close to their intelligence, a compromise was made and a separate dome of tinted glass built over it.
Welcdome: There is only one city without a dome, and that city is Welcdome, named brilliantly by the deceased queen, Victoria Finnley. No one lives here and hotels are restricted, but it is a common tourist destination for free fliers and refueling crews. Rather than a city, many citizens resort to calling it the ‘planet’s largest outdoor mall’. Buildings are built shorter than the rest and consulting stations exist every few blocks. Flute music is traditional to play each morning while freshly baked fish flakes are passed around. Every week, an air show is hosted just outside the city borders. Sometimes private laser shows happen by nightfall. The geographical position of Welcdome, and by extension, the capital, was calculated by meteorologists to be the safest sector of the planet. Yearly, an estimated 14 minor dead zones pass through the land.
School 03: School 03 is an abandoned planetary colony, see history for more information. School 03 holds historical value, but researchers are unlikely to visit. Within the dome floats a dark and viscous dead zone. The condition of the glass is checked monthly to assure the lowest chance of the gas seeping out. Any leftover bodies or materials inside this school are more than likely decayed beyond use.
Dead Zones: In many ways similar to a sandstorm, the Orcheston dead zone is a mass of lethal, migrating gas. Most specimens caught inside will be rendered lifeless if unable to escape, this is because the atmospheric condition displaces whatever substance they breath. Through their lack of air, the specimen will suffocate. Often they will become too fatigued, or worse, brain dead.
Harpy’s Roost: Harpy nests blend in easily among the planet’s towers and high plateaus.
• Tower owners pride themselves in radioing live elevator music from the uppermost level.
• Graveyards are also made into towers. This holds simultaneous practical and spiritual use for citizens who wish to put their loved ones as far from the ground as possible.
• Once dead zones were introduced, fauna had to adapt to be less territorial and harness a nomadic life style.