By rights, Aralkum Prime shouldn’t have been habitable: it was far too far from its star, and its star was far too old and dim. Any atmosphere should have been blasted away by its solar wind, much less a habitable one.

But the planet’s composition and atmosphere were absolutely unique in that it had somehow attracted a thick atmosphere that warmed it to habitable levels through a combination of a greenhouse effect trapping what little radiation its star put out and an abundance of radioactive ores whose decay helped make up the deficit.

The overall effect was a world in the middle of the inhospitable and hostile Algol Cluster that was habitable with nothing more than a pressure suit and a supply of oxygen, and full of deposits that could be used to refuel fusion-powered starships.

Soon after its discovery, Aralkum Prime became the location of a refueling station and supporting colony. It was an extremely profitable venture, as the world was the only remotely habitable one in its cluster, and the ores and trace elements in its crust and atmosphere.

The downside of this approach should be clear: Aralkum Prime was a small world, and even though the miners were savvy enough to replace the mined-out ores with the equivalent mass, the loss of their properties led to a degredation in the atmosphere. Coupled with the atmospheric damage due to jettisoned fusion drive cores and trace element extraction, the world entered an extended period of atmosphere thinning and cooling.

By the time that the extent of the damage was realized, it was too late. The atmosphere of Aralkum Prime was progressively stripped away despite all attempts to reverse the process, and within a hundred years the world had virtually no atmosphere at all, causing the extinction of all native life and abandonment of the station.

The world is only visited by the occasional tourist now, to view the abandoned hulks of starships left on the surface and in orbit.

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