Being the closest planet to Earth, Alpha Centauri II was the first extrasolar planet to be colonized. Originally surveyed from orbit in 2311 by the colony ship Odyssey, Alpha Centauri II was shown to be within the habitable range from its twin stars. Composed of a mostly Nitrogen-Oxygen atmosphere, much like Earth, It was assumed that common life-baring materials were available throughout this area of space. Humans landed less than three weeks after survey to establish the first colony known as Jamestown.
The surface of the planet is temperate, covered by mostly coniferous trees, with the exception of the equatorial band. Most heavy settlements are located in this area and specialize in fishing and mining.
Flora and Fauna
For the most part, trees on Alpha Centauri II somewhat resemble those found on Earth, sliding towards pine trees. The main difference with the trees is that their exteriors are much harder, entire limbs seasonally break off, and the dead limbs decompose into humus.
Fauna include some of the following
-Centauri Whale: A gigantic creature that seems to vaguely resemble a Blue Whale, yet has only one fin on the back and has gills, making it a fish and not a mammal. They span up to two hundred feet in length, making it one of the largest creatures on ACII. Their mouth is lined with four wide teeth that crushes prey. Their diet is mostly carnivorous and they prey on small krill-like creatures, which is abundant in the seas.
-Pioki Bird: A four-winged creature that flaps its wings in a regular motion. It survives on plant nectar similar to the Earth animal, the hummingbird.
-Faun: Unlike its Earth counterpart, the Faun has six legs and resembles an aardvark. Two pairs are used for movement while a third pair is used for basic environmental manipulation, such as grabbing leaves or small prey.
-Centauri Dragon: Actually a winged lizard, the Centauri Dragon is a cold-blooded, blind animal that sees through sonar vision like a bat. They are exceptional fliers and catch prey using a barbed tongue to impale prey and draw them towards their mouth. Their mating call sounds like a roar as popularized through the mythological creatures.
-Ball Bug: An anthropoid that moves by rolling itself into a ball is one of the larger bugs on ACII. They are only the length of a pinky. Should a person be stung by the Ball Bug, they would feel as if the stung part of their body has "fallen asleep", as a weak anesthetic works its way into the system used to paralyze small prey.
After the initial settling of the planet in 2311, small cities started to develop along the equatorial line as the climate here was most Earth-like. As one progresses higher towards the magnetic poles, the atmosphere becomes much more frigid. There are rich area of metals in the higher hemispheres that contain Titanium, Copper, and Iron. Small, but concentrated Gold deposits are also thought to exist as well. If they were to be discovered, a massive Gold Rush akin to those in the West would occur.
To get to these areas, massive settlements would need to be devised, but the inhabitants would need to deal with the cold. The first settlements, such as the famed Tsarstvo mriy̆ ("Land of Dreams" in Ukrainian) were self-sealed settlements of only a thousand or less. The temperatures in the upper regions dip as low as -45 degreed Celsius, making exterior work difficult, and surface heating devices often froze when not turned off, making maintenance a full-time job, that and the fact Vitamin D levels dropped low for most inhabitants as they were constantly confined to the settlement and EVAs in the area were not encouraged. To deal with this, a plan was devised to project a "heat shield". The first city to accomplish this was Huron in 2472. The French settlement of 20,000 eventually grew to three and a half million. Huron's shield which functioned through generating a field which produced heat. Temperatures under the field reached up to 27 degrees Celsius, quite habitable for Human beings. Here, inhabitants could walk the streets with limited protection against the elements. As the city grew larger, the fields were moved, so the field emitters were made mobile for this very reason.
Certainly the largest settlement was Glenhaust, a Scottish-founded city of over thirteen million people. The ethnic diversity of this place is the largest on the planet. The city is divided into constantly shifting ethnic districts. Certainly the largest is the Scottish community which covers forty-five percent if the city and outlying suburbs. The second largest is Chinese, which has 18%.
Glenhaust is also the location of the sole Orbital Elevator in the Alpha Centauri system. Constructed in 2414, The God's Staircase travels twenty five kilometers above the surface and is anchored to a comet called "The Anchor". There are two stations on the tether: the lower one named "Caspian's Balcony", a cargo port, and the one above, named "Glasgow Heights", a rather large leisure port, spanning a square kilometer reserved for those with a large enough wallet. Three five-star restaurants are located on the outside with rotating dining halls, two top-of-the-line hotels, many boutiques, and an observation deck.
The major religion of Alpha Centauri is Christianity, with a large portion Catholic. There are many churches and the influence of the faith can be seen in the landmarks and constructs.
Alpha Centauri II has surprisingly little tectonic activity. There are only four plates, which occasionally clash with one another, but when they do, they create fantastic earthquakes and this formed the amazing mountain ranges. Many of the ranges are named by Chinese explorers because the resemble mountains around China, such as the famous Shii-Cho mountain range, which spans an impressive five hundred seventy miles, or the Yangtze Delta, a break in the mountains where a large amount of freshwater flows into the ocean.
Canyons approximately fifty-seven million years old dot the surface, indicating massive rivers that once ran across this planet. Canyons are usually catalogued under the Dobermann-Reisch Natural Land Formation Index (DR- prefix), yet they also have colloquial names to the natives. The largest is DR-182 "Hybrem Canyon" which is semi-subterranean stretching 85 miles.