Planet Wooh – the Dilemma

Planet Wooh was colonised as part of Project Whanau-Hou’s (www.whanau-hou.com) bold initiative to rebirth humanity across the stars. It was, according to the Project Directors, a way to minimise the risk of human devolution, or even extinction, in the face of dramatic climate change and resource scarcity at the end of the 22nd century. At the time Wooh (officially Planet 3650211-NA-098-W-00-H) was colonised, Project Whanau-Hou had already seen success on Keplar 442 in the Lyra System and was, perhaps ambitiously according to some, attempting to populate several planets at once.

While a promising planet, it was of a similar size to earth with comparable gravity, atmosphere, water and (supposedly) vegetation, the initial colonists were shocked at the reality – the diaries of several colonists were quite explicit about their misgiving on initial sight of their new, and final, home. Planet Wooh seemed to be permanently covered in a purple haze. The source of the haze was not apparent in the early days and many colonists suffered severe claustrophobic-like symptoms. This ‘acquired achromatopsia’ on a large scale led to large parts of the society preferring night to day. Interestingly the colonists found the haze much more transparent at night allowing them to glimpse the sky. This seemingly harmless haze now appears to have been quite influential in the rapid growth of several religious groups. The groups drew historic inspiration and relevance from old legendary beasts, such as Hafugu (Iceland), Naga (India) and Nian (Chinese), to the supernatural, and always enduring it seems, vampires.

The development of semi-religious groups is a normal part of social growth and, as such, was expected. What wasn’t expected was the impact these groups had on the world. Of immediate concern were the Pishar (rough Hindi translation of vampire) who felt that they were called upon to find the origin of the purple haze. It was through blind luck that the Pishar discovered what they did. The diary of the sole survivor of the now famous expedition describes how the Pishar scouting party lost half their members though misadventure at night. People fell off cliffs, wandered away from the party and were presumably eaten by the six-legged night-wolves, and there was even one case of murder. What was clear is that after this particular scouting party had been out a month, they stumbled upon the Artifact.

Initially the members of the party did not recognise the Artifact for what it was. They were approaching the Silver Teeth (a metallic range of serrated mountains that girdled the world) from the South, when they camped for the day. It was as dusk was falling that several members of the party simultaneously saw … the glowing edge. If you haven’t seen it, it can be hard to describe. As dusk falls and light fades, the Eastern edge of the Artifact emits a warm purple glow. It is not warm to touch but it ‘feels’ warm, like the feeling you get after a sensual kiss from your lover or, for the less sentimental, a sip of good single-malt scotch. In this case, the warmth envelopes you and holds you close. It was this feeling that attracted the attention of the Pishar rather than the sight of a glowing hill. Again, the Artifact is hard to describe. This is generally because it is constantly shrouded in a purple haze and it appears to twist to the eye. To make it more difficult for mere humans, it was surrounded by water. The combination of smoke on water and an eye-twisting shape causes a gradual migraine in most viewers.

Naturally, the presence of the purple haze around the Artifact, as opposed to its normal low-cloud existence, and the all-embracing warmth caused the Pishar present to celebrate. You could say that they celebrated a little too hard but it is unlikely you were there. These Pishar were of the firm belief that the purple haze was supernatural and were equally convinced that their sole purpose in life was to find the source of the haze. On realisation of this cultural goal they were, understandably, very excited. Regardless, the net result is an incomplete recording of what transpired next.

It seems that sometime during the celebration one, or several, of the Pishar approached the Artifact. No-one is sure what they did, though it appears they were singing, but, for moment, the Artifact stopped twisting, there was a clear note that rang through the Pishar like cold water, and the closest Pishar disappeared. Unfortunately most of this is contested as only one member of the scouting party ever returned. It appears she, along with three others, drew the literal short straws and were appointed to return to the Pishar community with the news of the Artifact. Of those four, one died in a rock-slide and two were eaten. The result is that we only have the account of one member of the party, and this information was censured by the Pishar before being made available to the remainder of the colony.

What we do know is that, about the same time as this reported expedition, the purple haze lifted and it started raining. Twice a day, on dusk and dawn, the heavens open and the colony is inundated with purple rain. Interesting, this appears to be a local effect centered on the colony and its inhabitants. The Artifact remained in shadow and elusive to all. While the Pishar have disclosed the location of the Artifact, they have established local control of the surrounding area and believe themselves to be the Artifact’s rightful protectors. What is also certain is that the Artifact is somehow connected to the weather and anything that powerful must be of strategic importance to the colony.

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