OK, I don't get enough chances to enter the competitions, so I want to make this count. This will be before & after, a prison, using the limited palette and outline from last month, and though I did enter the cloud-based map, I think I'll use clouds somehow. All I can actually enter is this one, but hey, four times the challenge is four times the fun, no?
For an interstellar Botany Bay to be plausible, it has to be pretty affordable to transport prisoners and/or there has to be a need for the prisoners to be at the destination and/or those doing the imprisoning need to be a whole lot more merciful than human beings :-). Otherwise, simple execution would be the sentence of the day.
I have several methods of fictional faster-than-light propulsion up my sleeve - a picture of some ring nebula or other a few days ago later made one of them seem applicable. The ring nebula was an incomplete donut - or since nova/supernova remnants are 3-D, must've been an asymmetrical globular gas shell. There was a gap, anyway. Now that I have this convoluted idea, I can't recall where I saw the photo. Oh, well .... maybe I can blow up my own star to get the right effect. Simulated, of course.
So for starters, here's a nice interrupted ring of a cloud, freshly snatched from the sky above my place of work but a day or two ago. I'll be working at maybe 3000x2300 since that's the original, but no sense in wasting space on showing you that full size - it's going to look a LOT different when done.
Then blurred a bit, to keep thresholding from generating too many one-pixel dots, and posterized, with the limited-palette shape overlaid, suitably sized and rotated for a rough shape match on one end of the ring, I get so:
### Latest WIP ###
Again - smallified for now. I promise, it'll get more interesting. I'll say that the levels of posterization represent isoferrous apparent density from one stellar insertion direction. That's gobbledygook to you, but it WILL makes sense. Of a sort. Mwa-ha-haaaaaah...
How in the WORLD does a planetary nebula equate to a prison? Therein lies a tale. You see, once upon a time, the various peoples of Sector 883, Tansarius Arm, Thisgalaxy had to either ship their not-quite-capital-crime felons off six sectors up-arm, or mindwipe them. Sector 819 had a nice spatial rift that such undesirables could be thrown through, to live out their somewhat-reduced lifespans farming sneeb lilies under a few kilometers of ethane on the conveniently placed other-dimensional planet there. Humane (or "pzortane", as the majority sector inhabitants were pzortish), but a bit costly. And mindwiping is so... so... gauche. Just shouldn't be resorted to by nice civilized types.
But the rift got zipped shut. <Shrug> ... it happens. And still gauche, mindwiping had (perhaps more to the point) gotten expensive. So when the Rentsz!'an Combine offered the use of a planetary nebula in their stellar back yard, why, right-thinking and economical Pzorts of all shades jumped right up and said "Jeepers! Let's do it!" Now as every schoolchild knows, a type-three planetary nebula rather inhibits spineship transport. Stops any self-respecting spineship COLD, as a matter of fact. Has to do with the small concentrations or iron ions in the third shell layer. So once anybody transported into the Rentsz!-a-Prison Nebula, they would be permanent inhabitants. Nobody could get in to effect a breakout, since THEIR spineship would get stuck just as thoroughly. Inmates could certainly drive out using base-astro propulsion, but it would be their great-grandpzorts who got free, so who cared?
There turned out to be just this ONE little problem. Teeny, weeny, inconsequential problem. Hardly worth mentioning, until page 955 of the lease. The shell was incomplete. Broken, not enveloping, cracked, wide-open kind of incomplete. From sector HQ the thing looked perfect - rather a pretty bauble in subdued mauve. From several of the directions prisoners would be shot into exile from, though, the asymmetry was enough that some transport drones missed entirely (how Sector 902 came to have an ugly spate of Nestrobbers), or impacted the central neutron star (considerably more gauche than mindwiping), or riccocheted. All that created fuss, expense, and gauche-ness of an appalling degree, so something had to be done. The Lessor was not liable (Combine lawyers are good). So Johnny Anasandapurtnathran's Stellar Renovation Force was hired, and in short order (mere decades) the hole in the sky, as it were, was patched.
And the map at hand depicts the situation before and after the job, being an attachment to the SRF bill showing the improvement in catch zone and retention percentage.