This post did not go anything like I thought it would. It was one of those weird concepts that zigged when I zagged and somehow filled in a part of the A&A setting history that I wasn’t prepared to fill. Well, here it is!
Stella Ordo and the Saga of Proxima Centauri
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”King James Bible, Genesis 1
“Once, much of humankind believed in a geocentric universe where the Sun revolved around the Earth. But we came to understand our universe to be truly heliocentric, revolving around the sun’s heavenly light. The Stella Ordo believes that when God turned on the lights, they turned on all the lights in the universe simultaneously, which explains everything from the BIg Bang to the present day.”High Minister Ballard Chase, Stella Ordo Founder (2152, Proxima-B)
During the so-called “Dark Age of Pax B” (2140-2165), Stella Ordo rose to prominence as a group dedicated to the people of Pax Dominia and an organizing force during the civil unrest. Though Ballard Chase and his Council of Ministers wanted nothing to do with governing the colony, they had a vested interest in providing spiritual guidance and a proverbial “ray of starlight” to cut through the darkness.
The colony, isolated, cut off from the guidance of the Dominion, and fighting to survive on an alien world, became fragmented and afraid. The original crew split up following the officers of the expedition and doing their own thing. Some focused on the bounty of the sea, others retreated to the woods, and a third group found a high mountain valley.
There was peace for a few years while the resources they brought with them held out, but a lack of communication with home and bad feelings between leaders drove them farther and farther apart. Real panic set in as their stores ran low and they struggled to find ways to replace them with what was available natively. Creativity and hard work only led to starvation and death. The wild behavior of flares from their red dwarf star neighbor left them struggling to keep anything alive on the planet despite their best efforts.
Desperate, the microcolonies sought to collaborate at first, but the differences between colony philosophies and leadership styles proved impossible to overcome. They quickly resorted to guerilla tactics, leading raids against one another for any resources they could find.
The story goes that Ballard, an ordained minister among the crew of the Pax Dominia launched in 2115, sought a reprieve from that incessant fighting over power and resources. In 2141 he stole a small ship and launched himself towards the harsh red light of Proxima Centauri to find a momentary peace, thinking he would end his own life in the hopes that his God would return his spirit home.
“And lo, the burning lights and green glassy sky did tint my worldview such that I sought to escape my mortal coil and enter the sweet embrace of the Lord, sure to guide my spirit home.”High Minister Ballard Chase
Even as Chase crashed back to Proxima b not far from a group of colonists, he stumbled out claiming they must head to the poles to find their salvation. He had had a vision! A few colonists, tired of the constant infighting, joined his pilgrimage and they headed north, out of the safe habitation zone to which they’d been clinging.
“Even as my sight grew dim, I heard our Sun cry out. We were focused on the wrong things! Life depends on those photonic pulses bathing the poles in fiery lights. Seek the things that grow in the fire so we may rise from the ashes like a glorious Phoenix!”High Minister Ballard Chase
Hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest microcolony, they found fields where huge swaths of red moss grew under the fiery skies of the near constant aurora. The moss turned out to be edible and transformed their desperation into salvation. Somehow it could survive the near constant flare activity of the red dwarf and even thrive in it. Mats would bloom and expand almost overnight after particular bursts of aurora activity.
In 2145, a decade after landfall on Proxima b, the first pilgrims founded what became known as Palus, the fourth microcolony. And managing the moss (Ruber Muscus Proximia) was a new way of life on Proxima b. There were some initial attacks by the other microcolonies at first, but they eventually came to their senses and joined efforts. Palus became Pax B Beta and grew by leaps and bounds.
They discovered that in addition to being a source of food, it also indicated vast shallow aquifers beneath the surface. The moss worked to collect water vapor on the surface and filter it into into the ground below those red mossy mats. They learned ways to keep the ecosystem intact, harvesting the moss carefully to keep the mats healthy while supporting their growing population.
Almost overnight the moss gave them the edge they needed to survive as they learned to adapt Earth’s vegetation to grow under an alien sky.
Chase’s vision became the foundation of the Stella Ordo (Order of Stars) and Palus became an island of calm in the midst of a chaotic social landscape. And as the order grew, it became a stabilizing effort as the other microcolonies realized that the moss was the way forward.
While the order worked to establish a way to not only live, but thrive on Proxima b, they also set up stations to learn more about the sun that took Chase’s sight and gave him a vision. Stellar Astronomy became a focus of the Stella Ordo and they not only took copious notes of regular cycles of sun activity, but learned how such harsh flare activity could support life.
Though Chase passed away in 2165, his vision led to a stable colony on Proxima b that survived the initial tumultuous years that nearly ended it.
By the time BANCE-4 was built in 2193, the population of Pax B Beta had grown to more than 1000 and was continuing to grow with new arrivals and efforts to expand. And members of the Stella Ordo rapidly expanded into the other Dominion systems continuing what Chase and his original pilgrims began. The lessons learned on Proxima b spread quickly and Stellar Astronomy grew by leaps and bounds.
New Background: Stella Ordo
You are or were a member of the Stella Ordo, dedicated to the study of the stars. You may or may not have adopted the religious aspects of the order, but the astronomy stuck!
Available Traits: Astronomy, Astrophysics, Atmospherics, Back to School, Religion
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