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Epsilon Indi

An armoured police car speeds towards a suspected Ghandian terrorist explosion in Chenqgo City on Shiantiag Xing during the disputes of the 2210s

11.8 light years from Sol lies the K type main sequence star Epsilon Indi. In the 2020s possible evidence for a terran like world was discovered showing that yet another nearby sun like star could be the home for some kind of life.

Further spectroscopic investigation later on in the 21st century showed that the viable planet in the Indi system might be something of an oddity. It was a astro-physics intern in the New Delhi Webversity who postulated that the planet might in fact be a double. Double planets had been discovered before but those were big gas giants not terrestrial worlds with primordial atmospheres and the strong possibility of some form of life.

Epsilon Indi was one of the first targets for interstellar probes in the second half of the 21st century, the chance to investigate the double planet was too tempting for accountants and civil servants to quash and a joint effort between the Indian and Chinese space agencies arrived in the system in 2076 AD.

The mission was more than a scientific one though as during the conflicts in Central Asia throughout much of the century both nations had developed into major players on the global (and later interplanetary) scene. A state of cold war had risen between the two which had spread to both nations off-world interests.

Both India and China had shown less than respectable behaviour in space. China’s involvement in the 5398 Chloe incident when an accident that resulted in the destruction of a Brazil’s first manned mining craft proved to be either an act of criminal negligence on China’s part or a direct attack (but with the nature of deep space colonisation at the time evidence was very difficult to come by.) India was proving to be little better. It started building settlements on mars without the local governments consent and in diplomatic negotiations treated the off-world polities as irrelevant irritants, like they were some half baked micro-nation on the Net.

So to show the interplanetary community that they were capable of decent behaviour that befitted a space-faring nation and were able to put cold-war suspicion aside and work together the Indi mission was launched (parallels with the Apollo/Soyuz mission in the 1970s were mentioned.)

The promise of the double planet was fulfilled when the probe arrived in the Epsilon Indi system. Investigation showed an unusual binary system of two worlds of 0.67 and 0.61 Earth masses in a close embrace as they circled each other around Indi. Both worlds had very similar biospheres. Life had yet to progress out of the oceans or evolve into anything more complex than life forms comparable to Earth’s pre-Cambrian period. Though there was little free oxygen in the atmospheres of the two worlds for all intents and purposes the land area was a blank slate waiting for something to fill it. A simple tweaking of the bio-engineered organisms that were converting CO² into oxygen on Mars would create a breathable atmosphere for humans and large animals in as little as 20 years ( the organisms were more biologically constructed nano-machines than what an earlier age would consider life-forms.)

As to the origin of the double planet a number of theories were offered from the plausible to those relying on "greys" dabbling in a bit of planet building. A more natural explanation for the planets was decided on though as the amount of metal-rich asteroids in eccentric orbits around the two worlds and the similarity of the geology of the twin planets showed that a cataclysmic event early in ht systems history had shattered a larger proto-planet and the debris had reformed into the binary, an experience that on a smaller scale had created the Earth’s moon or the Blee double planet system.

With such tempting worlds within technology’s reach the issue of colonisation was eventually brought up. Both nations though economic superpowers had their fair share of problems. The environmental stresses that were afflicting the Earth in the later half of the 21st century added to an already dangerous refugee crisis. Not only where millions fleeing the depressed countryside for the presumed opportunity in China’s Special Economic Zones on the coast or India’s flourishing so-called Cyber-Cities but now the environment was flinging desertification, destructive floods and relentless cyclones.

The richer classes in both nations saw outer space as their only escape from the assumed chaos that was descending on their Earth-bound cities Some moved to orbitals such as Bollywood or New Shanghai and as some even went further to Luna , Mars or the outer solar system (notably Ganymede and Titan.)But with Epsilon Indi, China and India saw great potential. When the Centauri mission was successfully launched both nations started plans for a similar venture to Indi with long terms plans for colonisation.

Two manned missions left for E Indi in the early 22nd century, the media saw it as a race between the two superpowers. Von Neuman units went ahead to prepare the system for the arrival of Humanity and when the two ships arrived in the system some 14 years later ( and only hours apart ) two small installations had been created on asteroids in orbit around the binary. Terraforming had begun on both worlds as the unleashed the engineered bio-nano organisms on the twin worlds.

The early history of Epsilon Indi was a time of co-operation and collective study. Both crews were for the most part scientists and for them the tension between the two superpowers was irrelevant compared to the chance to study a new star system. Both teams though stuck to their respective worlds, the Chinese on Shiantiag Xing (meaning "Heaven Planet") and the Indians on Ghandi. Physically isolated from each the two groups grew apart and moved from simply exploring the worlds to preparing the way for more colonists to arrive. Communication between the two worlds at that time was never less than cordial and vital equipment, raw materials and know-how were freely exchanged.

This period of friendliness changed however with the arrival of the first large colony transports some 20 years later. The atmosphere back home had become decidedly frosty. The dispossessed had become more militant in their cries for equal opportunities and a chance to compete on a fair level with the rest of the modern world (most could most afford the education or implant technology to make them anything less than unskilled labour, when there were jobs available.) Also the environmental refugees on both sides of the border were angry they were only getting the very basic health-care. Radical life extension technologies were too expensive for those felt it wouldn’t harm their body in some spiritual way. Children were still being born with hereditary diseases and had to struggle through life in a wheelchair or having to rely on injections of cheap medicine to keep them alive, images which to most on Earth harked back to an earlier, less advanced age.

With the inequality some were bound to turn to more militant action to voice their anger. Incidents such as the Shanghai Crash of 2134 AD and the bombing of the Hyderabad Municipal Meat-Vat Facility in 2136 AD were blamed on each nation’s attempt to destabilise the economy of their neighbour.

The new arrivals to Epsilon Indi brought with them the fear and paranoia of the other. Weapons started to be manufactured for the first time in the system "just as a precaution." Security forces were established to protect the growing cities and off-world installations from terrorist attacks (though any evidence for devious motives outside Sol was very tenuous at least.)

In the second half of the 22nd century the authorities in India and China in conjunction with a few mega-corps with interests in the region decided to rid themselves of the unproductive underclass of environmental refugees and technophobes for good. Using any trumped up charge or persuasive argument they managed to send millions of people up the newly constructed Indonesian Space Elevator and on to cut price colony ships bound for Epsilon Indi in a programme similar to that of the North American policy of

shipping out their undesirables to Asterion.

By the turn of the 23rd century both Ghandi and Shiantiag Xing had quite substantial populations and a blossoming economy. But Epsilon Indi had its fair share of problems too. Though the governments on both worlds had done an admirable job of assimilating the new arrivals (they didn’t really have a choice in the matter) there were still areas where disgruntled people angry at being kicked off their homeplanet and forced to live on an alien world light years from home.

Petty acts of civil disobedience started to crop up such as the riots of Huanxin Cheng in 2197 AD , where the security forces felt the need to use sonic crowd control (the infamous "Brown Noise Canon") to dispel the mob. The governments of Epsilon Indi though less that subtle in their attempts to diffuse any incidents were enlightened enough to see that these acts were not attempts by the other planet to disrupt society and cause an economic downturn but the cries of anger of a disheartened group of refugees.

Epsilon Indi would have been free of the bushfire wars that were fought in proxy back at Sol between India and China were it not for the actions of Qian Xian Hang, am asteroid development corporation whose aggressive methods led to conflict between the two worlds.

The first decade of the 23rd century had already been one of growing tension as event back in Sol continued to inflame colonists who still felt a strong connection to the old country. A number of corporate espionage cases on both worlds did nothing to help matters either and when Qian Xian Hang bought out a small family owned Ghandian asteroid development concern on the Kapur Rock using methods that wouldn’t have been out of place with the Triads public opinion was geared for open conflict.

As Kapur rock came towards its close approach with the double planet both worlds were gearing up for interplanetary conflict. Ghandi started building a network of powerful mass drivers (or space canons) to hurl projectiles at Shiantiag Xing’s major cities while the Shiantiags constructed squadrons of combat drones (the infamous Dragon Wing) to wipe out their enemies.

National service was called on both worlds and hundreds of thousands of angry young people (mostly from the more run down areas of the worlds) were tooled up with the latest in weapons technology; gauss rifles, plasma canons, smart missiles, armoursuits and e-warfare devices.

Cries for some kind of sanity from outside the system went unheard. Epsilon Indi believed that with interstellar attention on the situation in Beta Comae and on what the newly formed supra-net organisation of the Community would do they could quietly nuke each other without outsiders sticking their nose in.

On the 23/4/2209 at 04:34 SST (system standard time) a biosphere cavern on Kang’s Rock had to be evacuated as a small atomic device was discovered. It detonated some 35 minutes later as the authorities tried to move it towards the surface of the rock killing 546 people and exposing the cavern to the deadly vacuum of space.

Two hours later in retaliation the 21st Dragon Wing crippled the waystation of Singhport in Ghandian orbit killing 678 of its staff and destroying two freighters with a further loss of 34 lives.

At 11:56 SST the Space Canon outside Ishti City fired a round of projectiles towards the Shiantiag city of Chun Li on the northern continent. Only two projectiles landed on target, destroying the city’s industrial district and killing 1234 people as well as starting fires all over the city.

With the death toll rising it looked like Ghandi and Shiantiag were in for a bit of good old fashioned Mutually Assured Destruction as mighty space fleets moved into position, space marines readied themselves for combat on the surface of asteroid colonies and AIs on both worlds started calculating the best way to annihilate each other with the smallest amount of collateral damage on their side.

But at 14:27 SST the supra-nets of both nations froze, to be replaced by the clam face of a man with both Chinese and Indian features. He announced himself as Dejinda Luk Soo and went on to explain that with the help of some "clever friends" had frozen the supra-net to stop both nations killing each other.

Such a display if info-might terrified the leaders on both worlds. If Dejinder and his "clever friends" could paralyse the networks of two advanced nations what else could he do? Military forces on both sides stood down as a result and the saner inhabitants of Epsilon Indi breathed a sigh of relief. Bloodthirsty webwatchers in other systems grumbled as what was looking as a very entertaining bit of war was diffused!

Dejinda Luk Soo was one of the key figures in bringing peace to Epsilon Indi. Here he is meditating in a zero gee cell on the shores of Lake Chandrasakar on Ghandi

The following months were times of rapid change for Indi. The public for allowing such a state of affairs to arise ousted the governments of both worlds. Compensation was paid out to the victims and relatives of the "Day of MADness" in a bid to quickly sew up painful wounds.

Dejinda explained a bit more about himself, his methods and a little bit about his "clever friends. Born on a Rock that was part owned by both Shiantiag and Ghandi (Tibet) he was of mixed race as were most of the children of that tiny world. During his education he became fascinated by the spiritual beliefs of both cultures, spooling other great thinker’s attempts to combine the two traditions in hope of uncovering some universal truth about the universe or Humanity.

Luk Soo grew to love the heritage of both cultures and saw great potential in Epsilon Indi preaching that with co-operation Indi could become one of the spiritual supergiants of known space, shining brightly as an example to others (though with that metaphor Dejinda avoided mentioning that supergiant stars burn out quickly and collaspe into neutron stars!)

He had gathered quite a following on the Net of Epsilon Indi by the time things turned sour. He wandered both worlds spreading his vision of unity and acceptance like some kind of holy man (avoiding such Indian traditions of holy men wandering around naked or performing bizarre rituals.) His fame spread to outsystem reaching minds across explored space and this is probably where his "clever friends" came in.

It was widely known that supporters of the Community where some of the best cyberians in colonised space (some individuals being entirely artificial and so adept at bending the laws of cyberspace.) As an example of the power of those who backed the Community and its vision Luk Soo’s "clever friends" might have been able to take over the supra-net of an entire star system. On the other hand rumours abound of more powerful intellects being involved…

With notions of war and destruction for the most part behind them (incidents still occurred for over a century afterwards) Indi set about becoming on of the most powerful systems in the Core. Cultures merged and evolved into new forms in the system, for most a Chinese/Indian Creole developed taking memes from both traditions and in some cases creating something new in the process.

The Dragons are a group of people who created real life dragons from Chinese mythology (flocks of which sail between the clouds on both worlds.) In some cases individuals took on characteristics of the beasts in their own appearance using gene-mod technology in a move to get closer to the spirituality of these beasts (or as some have rumoured to scare the crap out of people on behalf of the Triads!)

Epsilon Indi developed a competitive spacecraft industry with the advent of the Warp Era. Indi designs are similar to those of the ground based trucks of the late 20th /early 21st century back on Earth with colourful (some would say garish) paint jobs and covered in glistening nano-fabricated jewels.

Indi also has quite a respectable wormhole nexus, with links to most major systems in the Core. Tourism is now very big as millions flock to see the mighty cities of the system and submerge themselves in the rich variety of cultures present. The traditional New year celebrations on Shiantiag and any number of religious festivals on Ghandi are the most popular times to visit as the skies light up with holograms and the streets full of colourful party goers dancing around real dragons or giant nano-replicas of Hindu gods (though some die-hard traditionalists consider such things as disrespectful and shallow.)

A number of middle sphere and frontier colonies can trace their lineage back to Indi, during the 24th and 25th centuries many colonisation programmes were initiated to stars now within reach. Such far flung colonies are not through choice mind as only a smattering of nearby red dwarfs and the binary system of J. Hershel 5173 AB were left un-colonised in a densely populated region of space.

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