Planetary type: Earth-like word.
Age: 7.5 billion years.
Parent star: single M-class star.
Natural satellites: two quasi-satellites (current).
Surface gravity: 0.6 Earth gravities.
Atmosphere: 0.8 atmospheres, mostly breathable.
Average temperature: 265 k.
Climate range: Warm wet to cold dry, with stark contrasts between sides.
Ecosystem classification: Carbon-based, fully formed, with pockets of exotic life.
Solar revolution length: One Earth month.
Day length: Tidally locked.
Settlement Type: Planetary civilisation.
Settlement age: 46 years.
Population: 8 million.
Distance to Earth: 575 lightyears.
Starports: Athena Citadel, Simanda Trade Hub.
1 - Fatal exports.
There are very few planets with names chosen out of spite. Ishtar, baptized after one of the only deities to blend love and warfare, is among them. Tidally locked, it has an entire side plunged in permanent night. Unending rains are pouring over deep oceans and sand-tinted dawns lit up basalt cliffs surging from dark waters. Icy deserts cover the dark side, with tidal forces carving unfathomable canyons that harbour ecosystems that have existed in isolation for billions of years. Powerful flares regularly set the magnetosphere ablaze, frying electronics and unlucky plants alike. At the centre of the light side lies an eternal hurricane through which pours the star like the eye of an angry but silent goddess.
None of this is unique to Ishtar. Tidally locked planets tend to be hostile and alien in this way, but there is something more to the planet and it is to be found under its surface.
They look like dark diamonds. Organic compounds that seem to absorb light, they come from Ishtar's past life, a relic of an entire era populated by land creatures building incredibly strong shells to protect themselves from solar flares. Foreigners call them Tears of Ishtar: the more pragmatic locals call it meta-coal. It would be another planetary oddity if it did not have a very peculiar characteristic: meta-coal can be consumed by pseudonigella stellaris plants, enabling them to produce a very specific variety of dark red hyperdimensional crystals that are very well-suited for simple, disposable FTL vessels.
Some planets export plants that create lucid dreams. Ishtar exports faster-than-light missiles.
2 - Artisans of war.
While it is part of the Traverse, Ishtar is an independent world instead of being under the control of the Eloran Ekumen. It is ruled by the Ishtar Convent, a semi-religious organisation that has ties with interstellar pagan cults and is formally organized as a cooperative of workshops that double as temples. In the forty-odd years since the settlement of Ishtar, its inhabitants have fully embraced their role as the only human world fully dedicated to the creation of weapons and ammunition. "If it wasn't for us, it would have been someone else" seems to be the moral motto of the Convent. Ishtar-made FTL missiles are works of art. Every single one of them come with state-of-the-art weapon systems and are covered in unique, hand-made carvings that tell the tale of the planet and its patron goddess at a nanometric scale. The inhabitants of Ishtar have no political allegiances and no loyalties: they have weapon procurement agreements to the USRE, the Eloran Ekumen and Laniakea at once. To many, they are cynical at best, criminal at worst.
There is more to it than that, however.
A few years ago the Starmoth Initiative produced an in-depth analysis of the meta-coal geometry drives mounted on Ishtar-made weapons. They found that the drives all bore a series of subtle modifications that had escaped all analysts beforehand. Intricate locks that would cause self-destruct upon translating into an upper atmosphere. Modified ping parameters that made translation next to a civilian target uncertain. Details that meant the drives had been fine-tuned to prevent wanton use against non-military targets in a way that most navies would overlook until using the weapons in a real war situation.
The Starmoth Initiative report concluded that this was part of a global plan. That the Ishtar Convent was using its dominant position on the communal market of weapons of mass destruction to flood the world with missiles that could not be used against civilians.
And then they trashed the report and never talked about it again.
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