The system was discovered in 2333 by a Seti-Tallos mining corporation survey ship. Seti-Tallos still has a very
active presence on the planet and the system in general, especially the Kressler Asteroid Belt. The system immediately
drew the interest on some on Terra-Sol who could see the writing on the wall. Terra would soon be swarming with
people. One of these groups was the New Mormon Church, which had started an Odyssey from earth over 100 years previously.
Others like the Sunni Muslim sect came from much closer, but for essentially the same reason. They sought to set
up their own Orion State and be free from what they felt was the religious intolerance, of more mainstream society.
Various religious orders associated with Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy set up shop on Dorlass as well. Many
orders mandating vows of silence or isolation found Dorlass perfect for their purposes. But all of Dorlass' settlers
were not ecclesiastical in nature. Temporal groups like the Sons of the West, who sought an agrarian, less technological
lifestyle, were also attracted to Dorlass.
Terra-forming of Dorlass began in approximately 2351. The major sponsor of the various projects was the Seti-Tallos mining corporation. Mainly done as public relations gesture, it's success also held the prospect of profit for the corporation. If even parts of Dorlass could be brought up to class 1 world standards, Seti-Tallos land holdings would greatly increase in value. The terra-forming efforts however had some unforeseen consequences. There was a backlash from some of the planet's more extreme settlers, who didn't want Dorlass to become too attractive for fear of runaway development ruining their isolation. From the other end of the spectrum, off planet environmentalist groups, mainly based in the Union of Sol, objected on the grounds that the terra-forming would endanger native lifeforms. This was one of the first times that any of the voracious Union of Sol environmental groups had attempted to exert their influence in the Orion League. Faced with opposition from both ends of the political spectrum and with GWII kicking into full swing, terra-forming proceeded at a snails pace for the next 130 years. Only in the last 25 years have any major projects been attempted, and most of these are in litigation. The environmentalists use their usual tactics of legal obstruction and obfuscation to delay and make these projects unprofitable. Occasional opposition is still voiced by the settlers as well, meaning any real improvements on Dorlass are at the least decades away.
The Dorlass system is composed of ten planets and one asteroid belt; the primary Dorlass is the second planet. The first planet, Hope is a super gas giant. The other planets in the system in order going outward from Dorlass, are Serendipity, a gas giant, Vormoot, a cold super terran planet, Behemoth, a gas giant, The Kressler Asteroid Belt, Oleander, a gas giant, Champaign, a cold terran planet, Rockfall, a cold sub-terran planet, Hastings, a cold sub-terran planet, and Driscoll, a tiny cold sub-terran planet.
Dorlass is an extremely arid and hot planet, with most areas receiving less than 5 inches of rainfall per Dorlass
year (289 days). Average heat in the mid-latitudes is 98° at midday, dropping to 46° during the night.
The temperature extremes and arid conditions however are not the prime deterrent to human habitation, as the planet
has an extensive underground water table and technology can deal with the extreme heat. The main problem the planet
suffers, from a human perspective, is that the native animal and plant life is biologically incompatible with human
chemistry. In short humans can't digest the local food without extensive and expensive processing. This has meant
that humans have had to import Terran plants and animals. Cattle ranching, which would be the most logical agricultural
pursuit on Dorlass, is hampered because the Terran cattle can't digest the local fauna. So ranchers must plant
plots of Terran grasses, for their cattle to eat. All of this is of course expensive and time consuming. It also
takes quite a bit of land area away from native life forms, which provides even more ammunition for the environmentalists.
Most life on Dorlass, both native and imported is centered around the gorges, which slice the surface of the planet. These gorges were created in an earlier geologic age, when water ran freely on the surface of the planet. They are now the center of life on the planet, sheltering it's only freestanding water. They also are roadmaps to the greatest concentrations of underground water. Small intermittent streams and rivers run at the bottom of many of these gorges. These have carved out extensive cave complexes where they cut into the planet's surface to deliver their precious water to the underground water reservoirs.
Most human settlement has occurred in the upper temperate zones and close to the poles. Only within 10° or so of the poles does the temperature cool off enough to be called cold. No icecaps exist, having long ago melted off in the heat of the polar summers to be eventually precipitated out of the atmosphere and become part of the underground water table.
Dorlass is on the patrol route of the fortress ship OSS Hyperon. The great ship and her attendant task force pays at least one call each earth standard year, and often times two. For system defense the locals field 10 large but aging, system defense boats. Each of these vessels is more than the equal of a fleet destroyer. Since these ships do not have Stardrives, they can devote more of their tonnage to weapons systems. The planet itself is also defended by an orbital defense platform. One of Behemoth's moons, sports a fighter base which is home to a wing (24) of fighters, which patrols the outer system in the hopes of limiting illegal activity in this sparsely traveled area. Finally the system receives frequent visits from the Seti-Tallos light cruiser, Tessa, looking after the security needs of that corps interests in system.
(The following is a short story intended to provide some of the flavor of life on Dorlass.)
Marissa spurred her pony on, urging him to pick up his already frantic pace. He was already lathering up and she hoped the cold blanket's battery wasn't running out. Oh why hadn't daddy let her use the skimmer! She turned 10 last week and he'd been letting her drive with him since she was five. If only he had, she'd be home by now.
Her panic stemmed from what she'd seen back at Widow's Gorge. Pax soldiers (At least that's what she called
them. They always dressed in body armor and carried military style guns) had been shooting the Uberdeen, (huge
buffalo like animals that were native to Dorlass) down on the gorge floor. The Uberdeen where the focus of "all
those damn off-worlders" as her father put it. Recently numbers of the beasts had been turning up dead and
the In-vees (off-world environmentalists) had blamed the ranchers like her father.
Marissa had been trying to siphon a drink for her pony Blaze, from a Cynafea plant along the edge of the gorge, when she'd heard the unmistakable high pitched whine of laser fire, and crept to the edge. She saw Pax men running on the far rim of the gorge, laughing and firing down onto the gorge floor. She'd heard the terrified bleating of the Uberdeen, as they ran helter skelter seeking any protection they could from the deadly fire raining down on them. As she watched the scene, she felt something warm and wet brush the back of her neck. Oh no! She'd forgot about Blaze! Turning quickly to try and shoo him back from the edge and the line of sight of the Pax men on the other side, she hoped they'd been to busy with their butchery to notice the pony. Glancing over her shoulder she'd seen it was to late. One of the Pax men had been yelling and pointing her way.
Marissa had quickly grabbed Blaze and ran into the clumps of Cynafea, which clustered close to the edge of the gorge, which was one of the few sources of water for miles. She frantically looked around for the largest Cynafea she could find. Finding a suitable plant, she had coaxed Blaze to lie down close to the trunk and grabbing one of the huge leaves she draped herself across the pony bringing the leaf over them both. Her only hope had been that she could hide from the Pax soldiers, although she held out little hope. After only a moment she had felt the downdraft from the Pax trucks anti-grav units. She had been debating whether to continue her ruse or bolt when she had heard the rumble of the grav-truck receding towards the west. Peeking out from under her leaf, she could hardly believe her luck, before she'd realized that off to the west was her families ranch!
She had no choice but to spur Blaze and push him as hard as she dared. Her mind was in a panic fearing what she would find at home. Just beyond the next hill her heart sank. She saw smoke rising in the distance in the direction of home. She felt her darkest fears where confirmed.
She pulled up short of the smoldering ruin that was the crashed Pax air-truck. She sat on blaze staring at the wreckage Her father came up beside her and helped her down from Blaze.
"Best get that pony in the barn and get him a cool shower" her father said.
"Daddy what happened? I saw them at the gorge" she said pointing at the remains of the vehicle.
"Then maybe you can explain the why. What happened was the damnedest thing I ever saw. They came in low over the cattle, raised hell with the herd. That's what made us look to the east. We never saw them Pax bastards till the last minute. They came in over the compound lasers blazing. They had a missile rack under the truck and they were coming right at me. I saw the missile drop and said to myself, 'God save us'. The missile started right for me, but didn't get five meters from the truck and KA-BLEWY. Went off, and that was all she wrote for them Pax boys.
Marissa stood in the air-conditioned barn, hosing off Blaze. Maybe it was right what Ma said. "What goes around comes around." Anyway, she was glad God was on their side!
Cold Suits - Somewhat of a misnomer, these form-fitting garments can provide both heating and cooling.
The suits can also be outfitted with hoods, to provide full body protection. However social custom has evolved
so that women will wear the hoods, and men for the most part will not. They often need add a hat with environmental
controls in lieu of the hood.
Cyna Worms - Small (ranging from ¼" to 5" in length), worm like creatures. These creatures fill the insect analog role in Dorlass' ecosystem. They look like worms but are quick moving. They create communal nests and have developed castes. The breeding caste does nothing but procreate, while the worker caste sees to the needs of the colony. Some species have developed warrior castes as well. The creatures acquired their names because they are commonly symbiont with the Cynafea plant.
Cynafea Plant - This large plant (2' to 4' tall when leaves are fully extended) has roots that reach as far as 30 meters into the sandy soil. The leaves of these plants are the only things visible above ground. During the cold nights the leaves actually fold up and retract underground. They will also do this when threatened, for example by a heard of Uberdeen. With a long straw (at least 10') like instrument, water can be extracted from the central trunk of these plants.
Gorges - One of the main natural features of Dorlass. These long (often 80 kilometers or more) thin (seldom over a mile wide) natural features are attributed to the underground water table of the planet. In effect they are long, thin sinkholes formed by underground rivers. Streams usually run through the bottom of these features at least intermittently. They appear at one end of a gorge and eventually return underground at the terminus. Gorges are one of few sources of fresh water on the surface of Dorlass, and so most native life is found around them.
Slag Drifts - Often found in gorges, these are rock avalanches that occur when the underground water table erodes the overlying rock strata. The planets extreme night and day temperature differential contributes to this phenomenon.
Uberdeen - Huge buffalo analog quadrupeds. They share many of the same physical characteristics as the buffalo. Adult males can weigh as much as 500 kilograms (1200 pounds). These animals are mainly browsers, but will eat meat as scavengers when the opportunity presents itself.
GM: Michael Cross (e-mail)