|This article, Minorca, was written by Specops306 and Sgt.johnson. Please do not edit this fiction without the writers' permission.|
Orbit and Geology
Minorca orbited Procyon 2 AU more than Arcadia, and was located on the inner edge of the Taurus asteroid field, forcing traffic to arrive from deeper in the solar system. Further hindering traffic is a field of debris that forms an almost impassable labyrinth of electrostatically charged dust and space debris capable of inflicting severe damage upon any ships that are foolhardy enough to try and find a new route. The only safe method of entering the planetary system was via the Juno Corridor, named after the primary moon, which, while possessing some dangerous parts, was mostly safe. This corridor restricted the type of commerce that colonies are used to, but the use of few but larger freighters, often converted Phoenix- or Herald-class Colony Ships has offset this somewhat.
Minorca possessed three satellites. Juno was the largest, possessing almost a quarter of the mass of Minorca itself, and is also the location of a small and short-lived lunar mining colony that excavated tungsten deposits. Juno orbited the planet almost directly on the equator with little eccentricity, and was tidally locked, with the same hemisphere of the moon facing Minorca at all times. Janus and Minerva were smaller satellites, orbiting further north and south respectively, and were approximately the equivalents to Mars' Deimos and Phobos in terms of size. The sheer number of moons meant that tidal forces on Minorca generated turbulent seas, which were harnessed to provide plentiful electricity.
The arrangement of the Juno Debris Field meant that, while the planet was tidally locked to the system's primary star, Procyon A, the passage of the various moons gave it a day/night cycle. The gravity field of the Juno debris exerted itself on Juno, blocking sunlight to the majority of the planet for a ten hour period daily, before it managed to escape, orbit the planet again at greater speed, and repeat the cycle to produce a twenty seven hour day/night cycle. The northern and southern poles were eternally exposed to sunlight, and were largely barren wastelands, taken advantage of by massive solar panels to supplement the tidal electricity produced. Minorca never established a fusion power station - with such abundant sources of easily accessible natural power, they never needed to.
The dark side of the planet was an eternal ice field, never exposed to sunlight except when its orbit brought it to face Procyon B, the second star in the binary system, but even its light never penetrated the layers of snow and ice. Much of the planets water was permanently locked on the dark side, and terraforming stations ensured that a steady amount was evaporated to keep the rainfall cycles from stopping. Rainwater would end up in the Schön and Schrecklich oceans, where it would form currents bringing it into the dark side and refreeze. The evaporators ensured a steady supply of rainwater.
While Arcadia proved sufficiently habitable for colonisation, with intact biospheres and a stunning variety of native fauna and flora, Minorca was a standard colonisation target - with only a limited atmosphere, no native life forms, and largely hostile to human life. But while Arcadia made the more promising colonisation prospect, Minorca's vast iron, titanium, vanadium and uranium deposits made it an invaluable commodity, and the first mining colony was erected in 2477, the settlement called Blenheim.
Further colonists were drawn to the System, following promises of finding work with the large mining corporations that had begun strip-mining much of the planet. As more and more colonists settled the planet, actual full-scale terraforming began, with the establishment of groves of genetically engineered trees to convert the atmosphere. By 2520, these groves had swept across the planet in a thick band across the equator, forming the Crecimiento Rainforests. After four generations, the trees reverted to their native genetic code, but the established forests were already beginning to encroach on mining colonies, so a timber industry was established, producing wood and wood pulp products for export.
By 2511, the colony's population had swelled to 200,000, a significant proportion of them immigrants from Europe and Latin America. The colony was granted semi-autonomous status, with a self-elected parliament and prime minister, but with permanent representatives of the Colonial Authority holding significant power. Although relatively well off when compared to other Insurrection hotbeds, such as Epsilon Eridani and 111 Tauri, the first independance movement, "Frente de la liberación de Minorca" or "FLM", was founded in 2512. At first peaceful in intentions and methods, radical extremist organisations splintered off, with the most notable being the "República popular de Minorca" or "RPM", a socialist organisation intent on repelling all external "interference" from the planet, and instituting its leader, self-styled "General" Isandro Gilberto Anacleto as "President For Life". Never popular among the general populace, it nevertheless managed to recruit a significant following, carrying out terrorist attacks against the Minorcan Parliament, assassinating Prime Minister Ovidio Casimiro, and declaring the People's Republic of Minorca despite failing to sway the public in its favour.
The UNSC Army garrison immediately responded to the group’s activities, with Office of Naval Intelligence support, gathering intelligence, conducting covert operations, and generally responding in kind. As the Army retook the capital, New London, from RPM forces, ONI operatives tracked down and captured key leaders of the PRG movement, although General Anacleto managed to go underground, declaring war upon the UNSC from a hidden location, and directing his followers to fight to the death for their home world.
While the RPM had taken extreme measures, the FLM had rapidly become appalled at the willingness of its "brothers" to shed blood, and actually provided assistance to the UNSC in exchange for the promise of some Colonial Authority concessions - the removal of permanent overseers from the Minorcan Parliament, a free trade agreement between Earth and Minorca, and a smaller UNSC Army garrison. Supplemented by guerrilla forces provided by the FLM, the UNSC managed to defeat the RPM by 2525. Although the trade agreement was immediately put into effect, and the Colonial Authority representatives were withdrawn, the UNSC still retained a strong presence on the planet, putting down remnants of the RPM that refused to give up the fight, eventually capturing General Anacleto in 2526 after a bloody coup by his second-in-command, and the surrender of all RPM members.
The announcement by the UNSC that they had made First Contact with an aggressive alien hegemony called the Covenant, and that these aliens were intent on humanity's extinction, caused much consternation among the Outer Colonies. Worlds that were perceived to be in the enemy's path were rapidly abandoned, their inhabitants fleeing to the safety of the Inner Colonies before the Covenant moved against them. Minorca's citizens managed to retain some measure of sanity for another six years, before the Covenant invaded Arcadia, another Procyon colony. Utter chaos ensued, with any colonists possessing slipspace-capable ships immediately fleeing the colony. Desperate struggles were fought by crowds of panicked colonists as they clawed their way aboard any means of escape, and eventually the UNSC Navy was forced to send two colony ships, the UNSC Tanngrisner and the UNSC Sleipnir, to assist the evacuation efforts. By 2534, the planet had been abandoned by the majority of its colonists. A small number, yet another splinter cell of the RPM, managed to futilely declare the Peoples Republic of Minorca again, but were swiftly put down by the Army. By 2535, even the UNSC Army garrison had pulled out, not waiting for the Covenant to move against them. It was eventually assumed by the UNSC that the planet had been glassed by the Covenant before the enemy had moved on.
Despite the UNSC's assumptions, the Covenant had apparently completely ignored Minorca, seeming not to realise that it even existed until 2551, when a relic uncovered at Delta Pavonis directed them to an artefact buried under the Minorcan surface. Operation: HOT GATES was implemented with this knowledge, drawing the Covenant into a trap where the UNSC possessed every advantage, and has since been regarded as one of the most lopsided battles favouring humanity in the Human-Covenant War. At the operations end in June 2552, the planet was destroyed by a NOVA bomb, managing to catch a small Covenant fleet in the blast.
Minorca has always been of interest to UNSC astrophysicists and astronomers. It is tidally locked, for example, yet retains enough gravity and atmosphere to support life. Further, its location within a field of debris seems extremely improbable, with natural formation seemingly impossible. Theories hold that either the debris field was formed afterward, by the collision of two or more former planets, or that the planet was "towed" into place by an unknown alien civilisation. The scientific community has found abundant evidence for the former theory, and while it is true that Minorca possessed an alien artefact and seems to have once been important to an alien civilisation known as the Forerunners, there is no evidence that the planet was moved from an original location. So far, only conspiracy theorists continue to believe this theory, citing anonymous "sources", covered-up evidence by the UNSC, and so on.
The planet also possesses a rich and diverse fossil record, although when it was discovered there existed no extant life forms. The similarity of the Minorcan life forms to known alien organisms from Arcadia and Ares IV hints that they were all terraformed by another alien species and the life forms transplanted there. The Forerunners, despite their technological genius, have been ruled out as too recent and only speculative references to the mysterious "Precursors" in Forerunner artefacts may hint at their true architects. The exact reason for the extinction event is unclear, but seems to have occurred approximately 100,000 years ago.