JAL 667

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JAL 667 is the name assigned to a planet in the JAL 600 system by the Gudersnipe Foundation. No part of JAL 600 has ever been colonized and only a few dozen manned missions have ever visited the region.

Contents

History

The JAL 600 system was first charted sometime during the early Golden Age and listed as "unlikely" according to the GS Stellar Survey Program standards as established at the time. A rating of "unlikely" means the star system was not considered likely to be of value to the Foundation, according to the criteria of the day.

Such systems were not targeted for survey-missions, but as it happened, JAL 600 lay directly between what would later become the Denehi System and Agram Starbase, a major staging-area for interstellar survey missions. Since Denehi (then classified HAL 900) was the first system to be targeted by an unmanned probe, it was decided the probe could visit JAL 600 along the way.

Initial Surveys

JAL 667 was one of 94 objects identified by the survey probe that passed through the system in A.Y. 1177. It raised various flags in the probe's automated sensors because the planet was inside the star's habitable zone and had liquid water on the surface (this made it a good candidate for potential colonization and a very good candidate for terraforming). JAL 667 was immediately targeted for a manned exploration mission, but was superseded in importance by the HAL 900 system, discovered shortly thereafter.

The first survey ship bound for the future Denehi system, G.S.S. Denehi, had to take an FTL-pause around the JAL 600 system. Initial scans of 667 revealed high-levels of nitric acid in the atmosphere, but confirmed the presence of liquid water. The levels were found "inconsistent with fully-natural phenomena yet unexplained by purely technological means", which is Foundation-speak for "We don't know". It was also noted that the planet surface contained numerous features which appeared to be canals and roads; but the system would not be visited again for over fifteen hundred years.

The Mystery Unravels

After successful settlement of the Denehi System, a Foundation-sponsored civilian research team launched an expedition to explore JAL 667 more thoroughly (the initial fly-by had not even entered orbit and scanned only a portion of the planet's surface at close-range). In A.Y. 2591, the team was placed aboard a Crimson Blade cutter and flown to the system, where they entered orbit for the first time and began extensive scans.

A series of massive impact craters, unnoticed on the initial flyby, were quickly discovered. These proved cometary in origin, and would have added significant gasses to the atmosphere, creating one thicker-than-expected. Further, the survey team confirmed the presence of roads and canals of clearly-artificial origins, as well as features that appeared to be ruined cities. The roads, however, were buried by deep sediments, and visible only from high up. The canals were the same. Since the atmosphere was still far from breathable and highly corrosive, it was determined that attempts at excavation would be far too difficult.

However, the mission also concluded that levels of nitric acid in the atmosphere were dropping very quickly, and in perhaps another thousand years or so, might be habitable.

JAL 667 would continue to receive periodic visits from research vessels over the next 100 years, until a permanent monitoring satellite was placed in orbit. Later, a relay-station was added to the system, which could also monitor atmospheric conditions.

The Discovery

In A.Y. 3675, on the 3500th aniversary of JAL 667's discovery, a second survey mission was launched, as scans from the automated relay-station indicated the atmosphere was now breathable.

Since the satellite had stopped transmitting in A.Y. 3308, the survey team had had no images of the planetary surface (the relay station monitoring atmospheric levels could only pick up the planet intermittently on long-range scanners). Their initial look at the planet showed no signs of artificial structures.

Although the planet now had a breathable atmosphere, it was far from habitable. Now mostly desert, it was a world of high heat and deep cold. Using maps created by the initial survey team, the new group picked a likely spot and began to excavate.

After digging through hundreds of feet of soil and rock, they finally unearthed the remains of an ancient city. Proving, at long last, that JAL 667 had once been inhabited. But by whom? and what had happened to them?

Excavations on the planet proved too difficult (archeologists had to dig through over a thousand feet just to reach street-level, and what was left was not well-preserved), and researchers began working on a large scale to answer at least the most basic questions about this planet's turbulent past.

The comet impacts could not be accurately dated due to the severe weather patterns; but based on acid levels (tracked for more than 1500 years), scientists were able to estimate the planet had become uninhabitable sometime around 250-700 B.G.A., meaning it was likely involved in and had been destroyed by the Mage Wars.

The high levels of nitric acid were concluded the result of chemical and biological weapons, and the comet was theorized to have been deliberately diverted at the planet. Its mysterious inhabitants, it was reasoned, were all killed.

This prevailing view was held for another 3600 years.

The Truth About JAL 667

In A.Y. 6175, excavations on JAL 667 finally unearthed well-preserved ruins. Specifically, a perfectly-intact bank vault, shielded heavily enough to survive through the eons.

The vault contained numerous safety-deposit boxes, but these were, quite curiously, empty. What was found, however, were numerous plaques.

Throughout the long and storied history of digging on JAL 667, archeologists had very consistently failed to find two things: writing, and bodies. Due to the extremely poor preservation of the excavated cities, it was not hard to explain the lack of writing. Signs, plaques, and anything paper had long ago rotted away. Only stonework, and some evidence of wood (often compressed into coal) survived. Even metal was usually just oxidized clumps of nothing.

But the vault was immaculate. It was perfect, and it was empty.

Yet plaques, high on the walls, held the first writing ever discovered on JAL 667, the first hint at who had once called this place "home". It was only a few small sentences, not enough for a linguist to work with; but writing, all the same.

Had this find been discovered just a century earlier, it might have gone untranslated into the twilight of the epoch. But during the early Sixth Age, the circumstances were right for someone to recognize this writing.

What was written on the walls of that ancient vault was unimportant; but it was written in Kamian.

JAL 667, then, is believed to be the original Kamian Homeworld.

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