Thursday, 9 March 2017

Beau Geste's Planet?

Another world from the Aquila Sector, and another place liable to blow up in visiting PCs faces…


034 Aquila B 984648 9 Agricultural, Garden, Rich

Alzarha is a large, hot world, baking under a class F3 star. The equatorial region is stupidly hot and an uninhabitable desert, but the northern and southern sub arctic zones have liquid water seas and pleasant climates comparable to the tropics towards the equator, up to a mediterranean climate nearer the poles. The atmosphere is rich in oxygen and in some areas near these ocean basins saturated with water, while most of the planet is drier than the Atacama Desert. The only problem is the high gravity, 1.25Gs, which reduces the lifespan of colonists due to strain on the cardiovascular system.

They're huge!

The ecosystem is well developed with major phyla of large exoskeletoned and segmented worms, long homeothermic furred peripatus-like creatures with efficient lungs and a plethora of diurnal fliers from the size of hummingbirds up to an albatross, and a minor phylum of quasi molluscs with complex internal calcareous shells with joints and sometimes limbs and an outer covering of leathery skin studded with scutes. The fundamental biochemistry is however incompatible with Earths and there have been extensive introductions from earth from camels, cattle and sheeps to basic crops and supporting soil microbiota through to fish. This has been very successful in the northern half of the northern maritime region, while the southern basin remains almost entirely indigenous.

The population is 7.2 million split between four colonies - The largest is the Neo-Tuareg Popular Republic, with 4 million, the Free Confederation of Archaeo-Tuareg with 1.6 million, an Indian colony, New Jaipur with 1.2 million and a European corporate colony, Krona Agritech, with 0.4 million.

The Tuareg originally arrived as part of a joint West African Union colonising effort along with Nigerians, Malinese, Ghanains, Ivorians etc. which fell apart as the WAU fell apart in the 22nd century due to dissatisfaction of the smaller states with Nigerian dominance. The colony looked doomed to fail and most of the population were evacuated, but the small Tuareg element had little to look forward to back home but continuing to be a scattered and declining minority with no nation state to call their own, so they stubbornly stayed on, attempting to establish a viable form of their traditional nomadic lifestyle. They were helped by a Malinese millionaire who had got rich by building solar power farms in the deep Sahara who managed to convince UN environmental agencies to transplant endangered species from the Sahel to Alzarha to preserve them.

The Tuareg adopted him as a constitutional monarch over a parliamentary democracy, and mostly settled down to arable farming, but unfortunately this state didn’t last. It was undermined by populist and militarist demagogues stoking up fears about the New Jaipur colony. India is a rich country with a vast population and the prospect of them setting up down the coast and ‘pouring out of the skies’ was easy to paint them as a potential threat. This resulted in a civil war and the defeated royalists/democrats joined the ‘Archaeo-Tuareg’, the group of ultra-romantic nomadic nutters who had stayed out in desert fringes.

While the Neo-Tuareg Popular Republic goes through the usual trials of a one party police state, the Archaeo-Tuareg have for the last fifty years tried to make desert nomadism viable, with water condenser stations out in the desert creating swathes of semi-permanent grassland for sheep herding, camels and huge native peritapods used alongside solar powered mobile homes, desert fortresses as bunkers and internet server farms buried under the sands. Their once huge fields of solar panels have long since been bombed to smithereens, but they found an alternative power source - uranium. This is a damned useful export since the modern world has little use for milk and sheep’s wool, their only other major commodities. Getting hold of it does involve expeditions into the most hellish tracts of desert though, which is not for the faint hearted and under equipped.

The Archaeo-Tuareg internet is a bustle of political argument paradoxically mostly conducted in Welsh to confuse the Neo’s military who are still trying to wipe out their opposition. For their part the Archaeo’s take whatever secret military aid New Jaipur can give them and raid the edges of the Neo colony for food and manufactured goods.

Meanwhile New Jaipur expands its fish farms as far across the Nagara Sea as it dares, while dealing with dissent of it’s own. The colony is dominated by a few large corporations who have brought in a lot of indentured labour from back home and tensions between the corporate elite and their workers is mounting. The Archaeos live a tough life to be sure, but the sight of their freewheeling convoys coming to the starport to trade reminds them what freedom can look like.

For their part the most radical factions of the Archaeos are all for biting the hand that feeds them and are supporting the nascent New Jaipur trade unions hoping that a future socialist or social democrat state will definitively oust the military buffoons in control of the NTPR rather than just use them as proxies in a low level campaign of containment as has happened so far. 

But the most traditionalist are all for buying indentured labour contracts and reviving the ancient Tuareg tradition of slave ownership. Archaeo-Tuaregs of this stripe are drifting into Indian corporate employment as police and ‘security forces’, and, it is rumoured, are using Neo captives and New Jaipur convicts in uranium mining operations.

Krona Agritech have chosen a spot in the southern hemisphere and are glad to be well away from all this potential chaos. The southern basin has not had the same kind of extensive seeding with Earthly species though and the native beasties are just that bit bigger and more vicious down here, and the jungles more impenetrable. They have had tensions with the NTPR - Krona has put up an extensive network of geosats that could theoretically enable the NTPR army to monitor the Archaeos and bomb them to bits but Krona refuse to get involved. The NTPR are now accusing Krona of allowing the network to be used by the Archaeos to supplement their ground-station based internet, while Krona insists that if it happened it must be hackers - and are investigating what their new IT hires from the anarcho-syndicalist colony of Neuland on Epsilon have actually been up to.

An EU star navy base is being set up and their currently class D starport extended; the NTPR does have some old but still potent Nigerian frigates, and of course the NTPR has a small uranium mine of its own and possibly a secret processing plant. The Indian Navy are already here showing off one of their new ‘Force Projection Carriers’, a combined air superiority and dropship assault vessel, which has in turn made the Chinese base at Shingdu a couple of parsecs away start practising rapid deployment drills and send a military advisor to the NTPR, which supplies a good part of their food.

Radioactives at New Jaipur have a Purchase DM of +2, while weapons of any kind have a Sale DM of +2 anywhere on the planet except the Krona Agritech base.

Any, all or none of the following may be true...

  • The current titular Queen of the Tuareg lives in exile on Aquila. Her parents fled Alzarha after the Neo revolution with just a few thousand credits and she and her half-English family live relatively modestly in a suburb of New Dorchester. Even so President-General Amestida Takoba wants them definitively removed from the picture and may finance an assassination. On the other hand Prince Francis ag-Norman, currently an engineering student at the University of Fargen, might be persuaded to come and take up the crown, though many of his supposed subjects are a bit lukewarm about a restoration and know next to nothing about him other than his love of football. A faction of Archaeos are dispatching a delegation and looking for a PR and social media team to build him up into a revolutionary figurehead, or at least get him holographed riding a camel and wearing a blue headscarf.
  • What this place needs is more guns! Ok, there’s embargos and regulations galore to be circumvented and/or ignored, but if there wasn’t a risk there wouldn’t be a profit would there? There’s plenty of reconditioned TL9-10 gear to be picked up on Orpheus after their nasty little war against the Asgardian Nazis (just file off the swastikas), or maybe some latest model US Gauss Rifles might fall off the back of a shuttle at Fort Clinton in the United Aquilan States. Whatever, the NTPR frigates are allegedly slow as space-sloths with mega-corns and the INSS Sindhurashtra is supposedly all about ground and atmospheric attack not orbital interdiction; as long as you stay ahead of their nuclear torpedoes and depleted uranium mass drivers you’ll be alright…
  • The Tuareg love their music and despite the difficulties the Archaeos still hold rock festivals in the midst of their hard-pan uranium tainted desert whenever they can get away with it. And AlphaGeekOmicron 1234, biggest rock star in the sector, is going to play! As it turns out he sends a computerised ‘Beta Geek’ - he’s into the revolutionary chic and all that but he ain’t daft - much to the disappointment of the heavily armed fans and the detachment of NTPR air cavalry sent out to break it up with maximum prejudice and blow the decadent Scottish cyborg to kingdom come as an example to whoever gives a shit about that sort of thing.
  • The French are coming! Some historical ignoramus back in Brussels on Earth has decided to send the French Légion Étrangère as part of the EU military build up to protect the Krona colony from any upcoming hostilities, forgetting a few of the hoary units notable campaigns in the Sahara in the late 19th century… the 24th century descendants of those they clobbered and colonised most certainly haven’t and Neo- and Archaeo-Tuareg alike are wondering if the Euro-dweebs at the south pole haven’t got something more ambitious in mind than mere self-defence.
  • The NTPR have finally got themselves a Welsh propagandist. Translating the pseudo Celtic gibberish spouted by the Archaeo rebel radio stations wasn’t that hard with modern linguistic computers, but they have had a hard time finding a sufficiently fluent speaker to spread disinformation back into their system. Edward Williams (Jones the Fib to his associates) lately of Swansea and MI5 on Earth, is of sufficient moral flexibility to work with a military junta, and he needs code-monkeys to hack into some Archaeo base stations and maybe the Krona satellite network. Might need some physical ground and space work, the Archaeos certainly have had help from the tech-mad anarchist Neulanders and digital security is as tight as it gets.
  • The cunning bastards at Mahaji Biomass have had their labs in New Jaipur working on something big - they have been messing with the local wildlife for years trying to GM Alzahra/Earth hybrid beasties for the farms, but have abandoned that in favour of making really, really big local millipede-oids fifty plus meters long to tunnel into the NTPR and cause mayhem ahead of a land invasion by joint Indian and Archaeo forces. For their part the NTPR have had agents seeding the New Jaipur fish farms with Chinese made viruses that implant special hormone-triggered genes that will turn all those shrimp and mullet into rabid killers with the addition of a little cat pee. Not to mention the nuclear cyber sharks (shh, DON’T mention that!).
  • The Krona Agritech colony has a hell of a lot of New Man residents and has a pretty impressive population for a place that was only set up thirty years ago. The answer is simple - they have been secretly cloning them, the New Men being designed for that kind of rough treatment. The Krona team have even been modifying their ‘News’, darkening their complexions and trying to adapt them from a low-g to a high-g subspecies, contravening just about every convention on human genetic modification going. The Krona geosat system is actually there to monitor the progress of some experimental New-New-Man test colonies they have set up out in the desert, people truly adapted to Alzarha’s harsh environment and eating it’s indigestible beasties, better than these silly Archaeo-Tuareg wannabes poncing about on imported camels then retiring to air conditioned camper vans when it gets a bit warm. Of course when the EU military team gets up to strength there is every chance they will find out what has been going on and the Krona management are bricking it. They might even stage a fake military confrontation with the NTPR or Archaeos to encourage the Légion Étrangère fuckwits out into the northern deserts well away from anything sensitive. Well they are coming 30+ light years from home, be a shame not have an actual war for them when they get here.