Love & Supernova 22 - Agony And Joy

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Two rabbits are captive in the same box. The first rabbit waits to be released in the wild. The second rabbit waits to become lunch (from a fable).

What went wrong with Betelgeuse VII? Not a long time ago, that planet had a booming economy and it was a paradise. But, when people found out that the sun will explode, panic arose and the economy collapsed. In 3066, the new dictator, Caligula XVI, was elected. Caligula XVI is, like many on the planet, a transgender person, born as a woman, but who decided to become a hermaphrodite.

The sun is expected to survive until 3077, so there is not much time left. The whole population hopes that the new planet, Betelgeuse S, will be terraformed in time, so that the whole population will be evacuated. But until then, the population must survive. The dictator promised, before the elections, that it will do anything to help the poor. Until that, nobody did this. People were encouraged to work. The very low taxes stimulated people to start working and sustain themselves this way.

The dictator increases taxes, from 0.4% to 1%, then to 3%, then to 10%. Everyone on the planet that has no job, will receive a quota of this money. However, things go to the opposite. Since it becomes more easy to wait money then to work, people turn to this aid. Less money gather to the state budget. So, the dictator starts printing money. This causes inflation to rise very fast. Nobody uses paper money any more. The currency, BC (Betelgeuse Credit), is hosted on identity cards or bank accounts. But things get out of control.

In past, a pack of cigarettes was sold for up to 10 BC. Then, in 30 days, it is sold for 25 BC. Merchants have to sell everything as expensive as they can, so that they can earn enough money to buy new goods. At the beginning of 3068, the price of a pack of cigarettes rise to 1.1 billion BC. In 3069, it is 3.7 trillion BC.

As this goes on, public demonstrations are common. People want more money, putting more pressure on the dictator, which in return brings in more money, that are useless. In 3070, nothing can sustain itself. Automated trains, which allowed cargo to travel all over the planet, are stopped, because a lack of funds. Dams cease to produce energy. Hyperinflation keeps adding zeros to the value of everything... up to the point where people no longer understand the value of anything.

From the paradise that it once were, Betelgeuse VII is now in chaos. In every town, people protest against the dictator, against the constitution, against anything. Many people go crazy, feeling like in a cage. There is no way out. The sun will soon go supernova and the clock is ticking.

Then, in 3070, a group of people try to take control over the ISA base on the planet. Many more come. The base and the orbital station are owned by the ISA, the Interstellar Agency, which operates almost all bases in the galaxy. Facing a public riot, the ISA decides to evacuate all its employees from Betelgeuse sector. The surface base is locked down and abandoned. The orbital station is dismantled. From now on, Betelgeuse VII is locked away from the outer world.

In 3071, new elections are scheduled. A new dictator is waiting to take the iron throne. The elections take place with many difficulties, but in the end, one person is chosen. The dictator Caligula XVII takes the iron crown. However, this does not last long. Everyone accuses the ruling dictator for major acts of corruption, while others want the elections to be repeated. The next year, 3072, the dictator takes its own life, unable to handle all ever-growing problems.

Betelgeuse VII is now an anarchy. This is the worst possible position for any planet. Only the infamous UV Ceti is an anarchy.

Caligula XIII sacrificed its life to start terraforming of Betelgeuse S. This person should be considered a national hero. However, the poor people of Betelgeuse VII remember it as the beginning of chaos, because, since it took power, the economy started to fall apart. They remember Caligula XVI as the blessing hero, since it tried to help the poor, destroying everything.

**********

At 10 light years, the planet Betelgeuse S, orbits its red dwarf star. The planet is nearly completely terraformed. The atmosphere is almost breathable. People are starting to walk outside without air masks and oxygen tanks. An exposure of an hour is not deadly, but can let you feel dizzy. The planet is not opened yet for settlers, but soon it will be.

On the surface, there is a large dome city, which is, for now, the only inhabited area. The colony makes a lot of money from body transformation. This is what transgender people love, to change their appearance to the opposite sex. Now, with only one injection, you can change your DNA. Then, other body parts are grown in vitro and replaced to existing organs. Things that were impossible in past, now are completely possible. Also, a significant part of the population prefer to be hermaphrodites, with both gender organs functional. It is amazing, the birth of a new human race.

However, most of those who come here have different requests and are willing to pay big.

Some people want to go to the extreme. Here, money can do everything. People with severe diseases come to cure themselves. Many come for a heart grown in vitro, for kidneys, for livers, lungs and not only. In fact, they account for 40% of the clients. Some have paralyzed feet and hands and want to grow new ones, functional. Some say it is a medical miracle what is going on here.

About 30% of those who come to Betelgeuse S, want a different body, but without changing gender. In some cases, transformations are beyond recognition. It is plastic surgery token to an unseen level, without the use of silicon implants. What these people get, is a set of new body parts, artificially grown, that look as they wish and that the body will consider to be its own organs. Cloned organs are all made from embryonic cells from the same body, having the same DNA.

Here are a few incredible body transformations that shocked the medical community:

Alexandra, a well known actress, wanted a new body. She wanted to be smaller, with longer fingers, with huge eyes and a very long tongue. She also wanted larger breasts and a skin with reptilian appearance. To do this, almost all her body had to be replaced.

Annabelle is a porn star, which requested something never tried. She wanted to have four vaginas, one in front, one in back and two on each side. Also, she requested to have four breasts: two in front and two on back. All this was done in an incredibly short time of 14 Earth days.

Trieste is a man, who wanted to have wings. This was a huge challenge, because nobody ever made such a thing. The wings were grown in vitro, but failed to carry the whole body weight. New wings were designed, larger and stronger. In order to make them work properly, the whole body had to be transformed. Stronger bones were needed. Also, he needed a more powerful heart and larger lungs, which could not fit into his chest. So, he needed a major reconstruction of his whole body. It took almost an Earth year... When Trieste returned to his home planet, he shocked everyone, as being the first human able to fly without an engine or any other device. The huge wings were not covered with feathers, like those of a bird, but they were made of skin, like those of a bat.

Tommy is another example, as the first human to live in a new body. He was a dwarf, a bit over on meter high. Only the brain was kept as it were. All the rest of his body was cloned. Tommy opted to be two meters high and to have a body full of muscles. Nobody could recognize him when he returned home.

Some people want to look like anime characters, some want to look like actors and some want to be furries, something between a human and an animal. Everything like this is possible for a certain sum of money.

About 20% of clients are those who want to change gender. Now, it is possible for them to have the body they dreamed about, completely replacing some body parts. Well, some only go for a limited change, while others go for the extreme.

Finally, there are about 10% of the population who go to reverse transformations. They want their initial bodies back, or at least partially back. They are those who are not satisfied with their new appearance and behavior.

The head of Betelgeuse S colony is Delta, the brother of Caligula XIII, a former dictator of Betelgeuse VII. Delta is born as a man, but opted to be a hermaphrodite. Now, it is getting over 60 Earth years old. Over its live, Delta has seen many things. In its childhood, Betelgeuse VII was a paradise. Then, it realized that the star will soon go supernova. Its sister, the dictator, sacrificed its life to start terraforming this new planet, as the only alternative to save the population... but at what cost. Delta has seen the death of its sister, the death of the previous dictator Caligula XII and the death of its best friend, Etna. Its only child, Angela Northern, was sold as a slave. All this, by the hands of the people from Betelgeuse VII, the people that are supposed to be saved. Etna also had a child, Julia, but nobody knows where it is... or if it still is alive. Too many deaths. Now, Delta is aged and alone, with a huge responsibility on its head.

Delta doesn't want to bring in the people from Betelgeuse VII here, but this is its purpose in life. This is what its sister sacrificed its life for. Now, Betelgeuse S earns more and more money because of incredible body transformations. All the people here want to hurry-up the terraforming process and to save people from Betelgeuse VII. After all, everyone who lives here, came from Betelgeuse VII or at least its parents were from there.

So, Delta decides to make a compromise. Since Betelgeuse will explode in 3077, there still is some time to improve the planet, to make it as habitable as possible. The main concern about red dwarf stars, is that a planet in the habitable zone is very close to the star, about 10 to 20 times closer then mercury is to Earth's sun. At such a small distance, the planet is tidal locked. On one side, there is an eternal day, while on the other side, it is an endless night. Ice tends to accumulate on the dark side, where temperatures fall way below zero. Is it possible to make the planet spin slowly? Yes, it is. In the Solar System, Venus rotates very slow, because of the effect of the winds. If the winds or the ocean currents circulate the planet in one way, the planet itself will slowly rotate in the opposite way. To do this, Delta needs to make a few changes. Some high but narrow mountain ranges have to be built. A few rivers have to change course. Also, in the oceans, a few submerged mountain ranges have to exist, to force air and water in a circular movement along the equator. All this seems possible to be made in 5 Earth years. Theoretical measurements show that this will make a day-night cycle of 247 Earth years.

The main problem with Betelgeuse S is that the planet lacks water. All oceans are made shallow, to save water. The initial project was for the whole dark side to be a very shallow ocean. This way, glaciers will not form. The ocean will be covered with ice, but will return to the illuminated side, to gain heat. But what if, somehow, this will fail? What if, in some place, currents will not allow cold water to move and the ocean will freeze? The entire circuit will close and ice will accumulate.

With the money gain from body transformations, Delta can re-configure the planet and fast. There is enough money for that. Delta starts to transform the planet in 3066 and by 3072 it is all finished. The oceans and the atmosphere start to circulate in one direction, slowly pushing the planet to rotate in the opposite direction.

Then, comes the shocking news. First, Delta finds out that the ISA closed the base on Betelgeuse VII and removed the orbital station. And then, the most surprising of all, is that Caligula XVII went suicide. Betelgeuse VII is now an anarchy. Everyone asks Delta to hurry-up terraforming processes. Thinking what to do, Delta accepts. In 3075, day 1, the planet will be opened for settlers. From that day on, Betelgeuse S will pay transport companies to take refugees from Betelgeuse VII and bring them to their new settlements on Betelgeuse S. Everything is ready.

**********

In 2065, the star, Betelgeuse, started neon fusion. the neon flame ignited in the core and extended towards the outer borders of the core. Soon, neon was exhausted in the core and fusion continued in a shell. For a while, the neon flame could heat the core, preventing its contraction, as it moved outwards. But then, the flame went too far and started to fade away. Without any source of heat, the core starts to cool, losing its energy as neutrino radiation. While it is cooling, it starts to contract. The contraction produces extra heat, until oxygen fusion starts.

In the year 2072, oxygen fusion starts in the core. One gram of oxygen produces about twice the amount of energy produced by one gram of carbon. The core of Betelgeuse contained 40% carbon which powered-up the star for 600 Earth years, plus an additional 100 years when carbon was fused in a shell surrounding the core. Because neon fusion produced enough oxygen, now the core contains 70% oxygen. Looking at the numbers, one would expect that oxygen fusion will keep the star going for 2100 years... but it's wrong. Betelgeuse will only fuse oxygen in its core for two years, then the fusion will continue in a shell, surrounding the core, further heating the core for an additional year. All this, because nearly all energy produced is lost as neutrino radiation.

Inside the star, oxygen atoms collide with incredible force. They merge, forming something much heavier: silicon, sulfur or phosphorus, also releasing energy. The collisions are not perfect, sometimes a proton, an electron or an alpha particle (helium nucleus) is released. They merge with other atoms that they find, preferring lighter ones. The core contains sodium and magnesium, produced by carbon and neon fusion. Usually, these fragments merge with sodium and magnesium, forming silicon, but sometimes, they merge with other, heavier atoms, created by oxygen fusion.

After oxygen will be exhausted, the star will try to fuse what little sodium and magnesium it has, but this will produce too little energy.

On the planet Betelgeuse VII, the neutrino telescopes are watching. Amid all the chaos, nobody destroyed them. The neutrino signature of oxygen fusion is detected immediately. The news spread the planet. Last time, when neon fusion started, people went to the streets to celebrate. This time, all is quiet. People hear the news and look at the sun, which is emitting far more neutrino radiation then light. All that radiation go through objects without doing anything. It is all lost. It is like people want to get inside and fix the sun. They would like to help it survive. It is impossible to do that, everyone knows it, but this is what people feel like. They would want to reverse the process somehow, to turn back the clock to the time when the star was fusing carbon and everything looked like a paradise.

The oxygen flame heats the core and expands until it reaches the dormant neon fusion shell. Then, the flame shrinks back. As the core contracts, a second oxygen flame rises, smaller, using all fuel left. Then, oxygen fusion continues in a shell, surrounding the inert core. Further away, there is a neon fusion shell, followed by a carbon fusion shell, followed by a helium fusion shell and a hydrogen fusion shell. Betelgeuse is starting to have the onion-shape structure, found in every supergiant star when its end is near.

Oxygen fusion ends in the core in 3075, the year when Betelgeuse S should open its doors for settlers.

**********

On the first day of 3075, Delta, very old, takes a trip to the planet. It personally breathes the air and drinks water from a spring. Everything looks perfect. Then, it returns to its throne, to celebrate the event. But, once it returns, everyone asks:

"When should we start bringing people from Betelgeuse VII?"

"There is one major problem", says Delta. "The orbital station is no longer there. So, large ships cannot dock. We have to purchase large interstellar ships to carry passengers and small landing ships to ferry them between surface and large ships. First of all, we need to purchase all them, then we can start the evacuation".

Then, Delta asks one more thing:

"Before the evacuation begins, I order that, a special team will go to Betelgeuse VII and take the crown worn by all dictators. I declare myself Caligula XVIII, the last dictator of the iron dynasty. Everyone that will come after me, will chose another name. I want to be the last of the Caligula dynasty".



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