Planetary type: Rogue gas giant.
Region: Near Arm's End (see human space maps).
: 3 billion years (estimated).
Parent star
: Free-floating object.
Natural satellites: 6 icy moons system.
Surface gravity: 2.8 Earth masses.
Average temperature
: Variable. Cloud tops near absolute zero, lightning channels and internal activity create pockets of life-tolerable temperatures in lower zones.
Ecosystem classification
: Lightning-sustained, organic, possibly Forgotten Traveller seeded.
Settlement Type
: Orbital bases and floating needle-stations.
Settlement age
: 19 years.
Population: 70,000 people.
: None, but extensive ties with Eloran qiths.
Distance to Earth: 10,500 lightyears.

Starports: Xango Disco Point, Arm's End Hub. 

1 - Rogue World

Rogue planets are relatively common in the galaxy -- at least 10,000 of them have been identified by Starmoth Initiative surveys, albeit many of them have been missed, given how little energy they radiate. Xango, formerly known as CFBMOTH-2456-067, was discovered three decades ago by survey vessel Axial Tilt Zero through direct imaging -- one of the most random discoveries made by the Initiative, but also a very lucky one. While rogue planets are almost universally devoid of life, CFBMOTH-2456-067 showed telltale signs of active organic life in its lower atmosphere. Two years after its discovery, Axial Tilt Zero came back with a full expedition that unveiled the numerous oddities of a world that would come to be known as Xango, the Yoruba deity of thunder and a revered figure in the Moon Communes.

Xango is characterized by thunder -- though lightning strikes are common in gas giants, the temperature difference between the planet's frozen top clouds and its warmer depths, combined with magnetic activity and dust storms, mean that Xango is constantly covered in lightning storms. From orbit, the equatorial belts and jet-stream lines are permanently highlighted by whitish-blue sprites and pillars, giving the planet an eerie, almost sinister appearance. More importantly, permanent lightning enables the rogue world to support life, under the shape of vast strains of pseudo-lichen drifting in the wind, feeding on the energy emitted by lightning storms. Various species of bacteria and pseudo-viruses also populate the atmosphere, floating between storms and jet-stream channels. Life on Xango has evolved to develop very specific solutions to its energy conundrum, including a capacity for extremely fast (millisecond-scale) photosynthesis and biological batteries feeding on residual static electricity in dust-rich regions. Some pseudo-lichen species follow a plasma-based life cycle, exposing themselves to lightning at the end of their existence, which vaporizes them and spreads their spores all over the atmosphere. Such vaporizations are called "spore flares" by the locals -- they can lit up entire storms with bright plasma lines for hours on end.

2 - Forgotten World

Deep in the atmosphere, the Starmoth Initiative found ancient ruins, aero-statically suspended in-between the calmest layers of the world. Low-density cubes made of bone and carbon compounds, bearing telltale signs of transbiological enhancements. They were remnants left behind by the Forgotten Travellers -- surprising, that far from the galactic core, but ultimately possible, considering that they once possessed AFAL (As Fast As Light) propulsion. More specifically, this variety of Forgotten Travellers seems to have been part of some kind of isolated settlement, perhaps made of outcasts or deep space dwellers. Though there is no solid evidence to confirm this hypothesis, it is highly possible that this planet's life has been partially selected, maybe even engineered, by the cube-like transbiological aliens. A recent Algorab report even suggested that the Forgotten Travellers were using lightning to test or engineer the high-efficiency batteries that are one of their technological hallmarks. A few kilometer-long structures, perhaps laboratories, remain buried within the atmosphere but they are not accessible to human vehicles and as such shall keep their secrets for the time being.

3 - Electric Bass

There is not enough photosynthetic life on Xango to produce a breathable atmosphere, and this dark, lightning-haunted gas giant isn't friendly to human life, though it did not discourage a commune from settling the planet. Based on free love, darkness and a touch of unhinged science, the Xango Communal Interest owns several space stations around the planet, as well as floating settlements installed in close proximity to the largest concentrations of pseudo-lichen lifeforms. The commune harvests energy from the lightning storms, through the use of "needle stations" deploying vast strings of superconductive material through Xango's atmosphere. Most of these stations are used for research -- lightning strikes on Xango are unparalleled in their intensity, and as such are ideal power sources for stress-testing battery and accumulator technology. It is speculated that the Xango Communal Interest is actively experimenting with Forgotten Traveller technology, or human copies thereof -- several unexplained detonations observed on Xango in the past few years could be thus linked to accidental explosions of Forgotten Traveller batteries. In any case, Xango-made accumulators and electricity-based weaponry are renowned in the Traverse and beyond -- extremely expensive and almost artisanal, they are only bought by high-end military communes such as qith Sahaak.

Another key aspect of Xango is that it vibes. In order to maintain a semblance of psychological balance in this dim, cold gas giant, the local communes have turned towards music -- and preferably the kind that makes noise. Electronic music is not just a practice on Xango, it's an art and a planetary industry that exports singles way beyond the rogue planet. The finest variety of Xango music uses the pace and intensity of lightning strikes as planet-wide bass -- it is called Xango Beat, and is sometimes considered as the likely precursor of interstellar rave culture.

Credits: NASA/Caltech. 

All content in the Starmoth Blog is © Isilanka
Written content on Starmoth is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 license