Cormorant is the third of 13 planets orbiting an orange G-type star in the Orion Quadrant. From space, it presents a mottled gray and white surface with but a few streaks of pale green along the inlets and fjords of its small, cold seas.
Most of the planet is covered with mountains and glaciers. There are seas that cover about 30% of the surface area.
The planet’s climate ranges from mild and cool at the equator, running to cold and damp in the middle latitudes. Permafrost surrounds both poles through the 30th parallel of latitude.
One hemisphere of the planet is nearly completely covered by mountain ranges with scarcely a patch of flat land. Arable plains and flatlands are found only in the valleys and along some coasts of the seas.
Between fourteen and fifteen million people live on Cormorant. The people of Cormorant tend toward fair skin and ginger hair. Flat, arable land is rare, so the inhabitants carve homes out of the rocky cliffs.
To maximize the arable land, the inhabitants have constructed dikes and terraces to reclaim land from the sea and to extend the size of the flat spaces that exist. Geothermal vents deep within the mountains have been connected by pipelines to the homesteads and into the croplands to extend the growing season. Centuries of careful genetic modifications have produced food and grain crops that thrive in the cold environment and pack a rather amazing concentration of vitamins, proteins and energy if not taste or flavor.
The only trees on the planet were some pine and birch varieties nurtured from seeds brought to the colony by its human inhabitants. The rarity and preciousness of trees means that many of the basics of civilization… wood shelters and tools, paper … have to be done without. The Cormorantians collect and burn masses of dried seaweed for fire, and also burn carbonaceous rock for heat.
The colonists set aside time every two years for ‘The Games,’ which are a series of athletic and music competitions among competing settlements. One competition involves throwing large stones across long distances and into targets marked with circles of other stones. Another event involves using a large pitchfork to heave tight bales of dried flax straw over crossbars placed above and behind the competitors heads. Another involves throwing a hammer-like implement over a similar crossbar. They will also race each other up rocky cliffs. They also engage in tug-of-war competition with male, female, and mixed teams.
The only mammalian animals on the planets are cats, dogs, and rats. And people, of course. The planet bears no native mammalian life, but birds and aquatic life forms are abundant.
By custom, no boy and girl raised in the same village are allowed to marry. At the age of 15 planetary years, boys are sent to other villages and may return only once they have taken a wife. It is speculated that the custom of exchanging young men and women from different villages originated in order to ensure genetic diversity among the colonists.
Cormorant was settled very late in the Commonwealth period by five waves of colonial arrivals spread over approximately 200 local years. Cessair was apparently the name of the first ship to arrive on Cormorant, bearing three men and fifty women, who may have come from Pearl colony. Many of these first colonists were killed when an ice-dam collapsed and unleashed a deluge on their settlement; including two of the three men.
A thousand more colonists from Pearl arrived in the second wave and settled elsewhere on the planet, quickly increasing in number before many died of a plague that swept through their settlement. A subsequent arrival of colonists met a similar fate. Some years after that, more colonists arrived and tried to conquer the colony, but were defeated; much more by climate and logistics than by active resistance by the existing colonists. However, after this fourth group arrive, fighting became much more common between the settlements.
A fifth arrival brought the final refugees from Pearl colony who were quite disturbed at the fighting they found. These survivors informed the existing colonists of the desperate condition of the human race and convinced them to settle their differences as best they could. And because these survivors outnumbered the colonists on the planet *and* brought superior weapons, their enlightened ways prevailed.
Rediscovery by Pathfinder Ship PegasusEdit
The Pathfinder Ship Pegasus visited the colony around the Solar Year 7300. They studied the planet’s culture and attempted to assist them in their development by opening a pathway to a fertile rift valley in the southern hemisphere. They also provided the colonists with a number of vegetable and fruit plants they did not have. The Technical Core also put several satellites in orbit to aid with the development of a global telecommunications network
34 Gethsemanians chose to remain behind when Pegasus left.