By Robert Lynch
Callistor 5 had birthed as planets do, gathering the dust from the local area and growing into a 1000km diameter ball. It was large enough to hold a spherical shape when it crossed paths with Callistor 6, a huge gas giant. A battle of gravity waged, the gas giant trying to eat the small dwarf planet, the smaller planet trying to escape the maw of the planetary predator. As luck would have it another dwarf planet, that would have never be named, turned the tide of the battle; narrowly missing a collision with Callistor 5. As a result, Callistor 5 gained energy and speed, but the unnamed planet lost energy and plummeted into the clouds. The speed of the final death throes of the unnamed planet burst it to become a beautiful ring around Callistor 6 that lasted for 600,000 years before the greedy gas giant gobbled up every rock and icicle.
Flung out of the gravity of the gas giant, Callistor 5 was dominated by the gravity of the star. Small collisions and interactions moved the dwarf planet out of the path of the gas giant so that they would never again battle each other directly, but instead hurl small rocks over the vast distances at each other. Callistor 5 settled into a stable orbit, outside the point where water was ever liquid. Life, it seemed, would never survive on Callistor 5.
Billions of years passed and the planetary battles raged on. Comets, asteroids, and even a wandering black hole remnant all came and did battle. Scarred and cracked, but otherwise still strong, Callistor 5 remained the dominant body in its little area of the star system, even picking up a couple moons.
Two doors over, Callistor 3 had sprouted life. The larger planet, closer to the star, had done very well for itself. It had a moon that was bigger than Callistor 5! But success breeds its own challenges. Life changed Callistor 3, first changing the atmosphere, then systematically depleting the planet’s resources. Soon enough the life for Callistor 3 had spread to its moon, then to Callistor 4, and finally the big ships that carried the life forms found their way to Callistor 5. Life walked its surface and mined its resources.
When the life forms developed antimatter weapons, they needed to test them somewhere. They chose Callistor 5. The weapons annihilated tonnes of rock and ice. Turning the matter into pure energy and firing it off into the galaxy. Bigger and bigger weapons were made and tested. Callistor 5 had lost thousands of tonnes of mass. Weak, and damaged more than 4 billion years of gravity battles had inflicted, Callistor 5 could not hold out against the star’s pull. Slowly at first, it moved toward the behemoth at the centre of the system.
The life forms didn’t only attack Callistor 5 with their deadly weapons but warred with themselves. The civilisation that had developed the weapons fell into disarray and entered a dark age. Colonies of life on the moon and Callistor 4 were no longer supported and either retreated or died off. The life forms could no longer make the weapons that had torn and disfigured Callistor 5, but it was too late. Callistor 5 was already on a collision course with retribution. It would take another 600 years, but Callistor 5 died in a direct collision with Callistor 3. Both planets died in the collision. The extreme energy bursting the larger planet into fragments. Gravity was the final executioner of the planets, but it had been the life forms who had signed the death warrants.
A ring of jagged rock and debris would form, creating an asteroid belt that would never reform into a planet — standing as a graveyard for two planets and 12 billion lives.