Fire and Ice

Life isn’t easy on Bastion - d, aka Frost. While it’s not too bad and you can walk around without exosuits or risk being crushed by countless atmospheres of pressure, -75° C isn’t exactly warm. We can eke out our existence here and some people even have set up hydroponics to make use of the water, but it’s still on the cold side.

Did I say water there? My mistake. Frost - way out on the edge of the system with only that gas giant further out is an ice world. No lakes of methane or ammonia or anything else - just a giant ball of water ice. Oh, but what ice it is. I’ve seen pictures of the great marble and granite mines of old Earth. Great gashes in the landscape with shear walls of gray stone. On Frost, there’s a dusting of impure ice on the surface, but those great open pits are of the most magical blue in the dusk band where the sun hits them just right.

Most of the ice mining is done on the far side though, where the sun never shines and the rain never falls (something from an old song that the miners on Bastion - a sing). By some chance of orbital mechanics, Frost is locked with the sun - that dim red ball of fusion power. The planets closer in are in different resonances with their orbits so that they don’t have the one to one spin orbit lock that we’ve got out here. And people, ever the industrious type to make use of any edge they’re given have set up incinerators on the sunny side. With a perfectly overhead star all the time (days have no meaning here), pumping out its baleful red glare of energy we were able to get some of the most efficient incinerators in the ‘verse.

Everyone is hungry for carbon, but it makes no sense to waste land on those green and verdant worlds to burn it there and char their atmosphere. So everything that people don’t eat, they ship it out here along with some food too and we feed it into the incinerators and convert the lifeblood of the living into the lifeblood of industry. And they then return to those growing worlds with a cargo hold full of ice to feed the hungry farms and orchards that feed the hungry appetite of humanity as we reach for the stars.

You see, Frost isn’t named for the ice - but rather a poem by an ancient author named Robert Frost… and that too was inspired by an astronomer who answered how the world will end - either the Sun will explode or it will dwindle to nothing and freeze the planets. While the astronomer didn’t quite get it right about how Mother Terra would end, the poet did place his bet on the ultimate fate.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

But here on Frost, it’s not the end of the world but rather where it starts - with fire and ice - with carbon and water.