Nemesis' Rage

 

When the planet Nemesis, an antibaric and betaneutral planet, entered the solar system in the midlate-18th century from interstellar space - thrown against the current by some unknown force - all eyes set upon the splendid cosmic play (as was thought at the time) it took part in. Slowing down, it swabed closer to the Sun with improbable accuracy, and broke up as its gravital forces and those of the Sun came head-to-head. Most of the beta-neutral matter present on the planet was freed, and flew with utmost haste away from Sol, while the rest - antibarides and mixtures of antibarides and betaneutrids - settled in a short, though elliptical orbit around the Sun.

This orbit intersects that of our own, twice a year; and twice a year, four months apart in the summer and winter, there is the possibility of experiencing the result of the sundering of a god, the tears of pain she shed in the embrace of Apollo. The meteor-bombardments of the Rage have caused untold disaster and death, and yet it has given us our greatest opportunities and most precious resources.

The first years of the Rage were filled with the burning smell of cities and the sound of pox-marks forming on the face of the Moon and Earth. The age was cursed - like the city of St. Petersburg, that broken pearl of the Baltic, crushed in 1777, 1823 and of late in 1855 - and the wail of humanity could be heard beneath the rumblings of the tidal waves and volcanic eruptions, and the choking silence of the earthen clouds bringing the Dust Winter.

But this passed, and, as we are here to demonstrate, Man survived the ordeal. The orbit of the debris of the Tail slowly spread around and became sparser, with long empty expanses, which meant that the semiannual rain of fire lessened in its intensity. When the amount of matter reaching Earth lessened, and the size of the objects that did crash down became smaller, the human being learned to predict and be ready for this phenomenon.

The Phenomenon

There is also another reason why the first bombardments were so serious. As Nemesis had only recently entered the Solar System, not all of the beta-neutral matter found in it had yet broken loose. Because the Earth actually attracts beta-neutrides (like it does alpha-neutrides), it was obvious that it would also attract beta-neutral meteors. Unlike their antibaric brethren, the beta-neutrals did not gently thump to the ground, and their masses were also considerable at the time. 

This is yet another reason why today the Rage is much less serious than in the past, and people around the world, who have forgotten the horrors experienced a hundred years previously, await the spectacular performance of the dance of the Spheres. In the summer days or winter nights of the northern hemisphere children can be seen gathering on hilltops with their parents to view the slowly descending, and sometimes reascending, antibaric hearts of iron. Telescopes and small mechanical arithmators  are used by flodgers to calculate the falling point of the "flodge" (from 'phlogiston'), and to capture what may well amount to tens of pounds of wealth in the form of floating metals - hundreds, if what is found is a Hard Thumper, a semi-legendary piece of beta-neutrals. In this they mirror their counterparts in space, the hardy gistoneers , who hunt the Tail for its precious "giston".