About Pictoria:

The binary system looks like the following plan, but when they go to Pictoria Six, Diva, Ledin and Grace are no longer in the binary system.

 

plan of binary system

 

 

Pictoria is a rocky, red planet in the Pictoris system. This is a plan of its position (not to scale):

Position of Pictoria, Dessia and the binary system

 

Pictoria is in orbit around an orange dwarf star, together with a purple gas giant. It has a breathable atmosphere. It suffers from hurricane winds each night, and these only run from pole to pole. There is no warning when they arrive; they simply hit with great force when the sun is setting. Centuries of these winds have sculpted the terrain, until it is now made of a series of ridges running from north to south, with occasional moles of rock, known as buttes, which rise out of the surface. Around the buttes, the surface of the planet is honeycombed with potholes, which lead down into subterranean caverns.

These caverns are home to the ortholiquid, a quantum substance which needs sunlight. It can travel instantaneously to any place it becomes aware of, and in order to maintain its status quo in a changing landscape, has developed a symbiosis with the avians which live on the planet. When the avians die, they are absorbed by the ortholiquid, and become amorphs: small creatures which retain the memory of the avians, but can travel by quantum decoherence. This enables the ortholiquid to find the sunlight, and so regenerate. The amorphs can live for thousands, indeed, millions of years. It is not known how old the ortholiquid is.

The avians, or avifauna, are the principal lifeforms on the planet. They are dinosaurs, with some characteristics of birds. They have four wings, two large ones at the front, and two smaller ones from the back legs, which act as ailerons and stabilizers. Even so, they have not yet learnt, or are unable, to fly properly. They use their wings to glide for large distances, but need a small rise to be able to take off.

At night the avifauna shelter at the top of the buttes, which have developed domed roofs with many columned windows due to wind sculpting and help from the avifauna themselves. They are safe here, and there is water too, which condenses from the domed roofs.

The avifauna eat small mammals and insects, and hunt down in the caverns and the potholes surrounding the buttes. The potholes are home to many species of huge spiders, scorpions, and particularly savage bats which can grow to a substantial size.

Pictoria is a retrograde planet: it spins counterclockwise. This means that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Because of the ridges which run from north to south it looks strange from the sky; long lines which represent the ridges, interspersed with clumps around the buttes where the surface of the planet is pockmarked with the entrances to the caverns. From above, it looks like a print of temaris trees. Between the ridges are small valleys, just big enough to land a shuttle.