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Old 03-24-2024, 09:29 PM   #51
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Caliak was a thriving pirate port and trade center (the one shading into the other) right up until the Thakarian invasion. That brought the golden age of teh sea pirates of Veranis to a sharp halt. With strong air power and the ability to observe the entire surface of Veranis from orbit, including the seas, there was no place for pirates to hide and no way to openly raid shipping undetected. Piracy was still possible, but the activity requires an entirely different approach once the Thak-Tarak controlled Veranis.

Caliak itself was conquered by a small force of Thakarian air craft, who quickly demonstrated that the cannon and other weaponry defending the old pirate city were utterly useless against interstellar technology. A Thak-Tarak administrator replaced the unofficial board of pirate captains, and the loose, mutable rules of the pirate regime were replaced by a much stricter rule.

Caliak, though, survived the century of Thakarian rule more or less intact and functional. Though it was no longer an open pirate haven, it now became a 'free city' of sorts, a place where the various states of the Northlands could trade or do business with somewhat less Thakarian supervision. The Thak-Tarak permitted this as a sort of 'safety valve' (and as a result of rivalries within the Thak-Tarak power structure as well).

Inevitably, this in turn made Caliak a center for smuggling and other clandestine trade, and indeed, by the time the Thak-Tarak were forced to retreat from Veranis by the Terrestrian victory, Caliak was prospering far more from smuggling and other such activities than it ever had from piracy.

The looser rule of the Three Powers has permitted Caliak to prosper even more, and what was a thriving smuggling economy is now, in 2124, a veritable boom town of smuggling, information trading, espionage of all sorts, and less savory activities. Along with this, there is also a fishing fleet that actually makes money from fishing as well as smuggling, and some mining has begun in the hills on the southern end of the island.

Physically, Caliak Island is hilly, with a few inner reaches reaching altitudes of as much as six hundred and seventy meters. The hills become somewhat less lofty near the coasts, especially on the eastern side, but for the most part the island meets the sea in steep cliffs all around its coast. The exception is the gap in the midst of the eastern side.

This gap is about half a kilometer wide, and the passage is deep, easily two hundred meters deep. (The gap is the site of an ancient fault line.) The gap opens onto a wide bay, about two kilometers across and running six kilometers north-south. Beyond that bay is a fairly level valley floor, about ten kilometers long and three kilometers wide. The entire valley is surrounded by rising hills that merge into the uplands of the island. The city of Caliak proper fills about half the valley floor.

Caliak is 2124 has a population of about sixty thousand Vertarans and another ten thousand Humans, mostly of Thakarian ancestry. Of all the cities and places on Veranis, Caliak is probably the most 'accepting' city. Vertaran or Human, Thakarian Human or Terrestrian Human, or any of the tiny handful of other Humanoids on Veranis, Caliak does not care. The only thing that the city as a whole cares about is your money, how much you have and how much you are prepared to spend. Most cities on Veranis, even in the cosmopolitan Northlands, have all-Human or all-Vertaran neighborhoods and sections, in Caliak the species move among each other with little distinction.

As a side effect of this, Caliak has an unusually high percentage of 'halflings', both born in the city and who travelled there because it is easier for a halfing to find a place there.

(None of which is to say that there are not individuals in Caliak who are less tolerant.)

In theory, Caliak is governed by an appointee of the Three Power Commission, in a continuation of the system used by the Thak-Tarak. In practice, the Administrator is not totally powerless, but his control is limited, more so than the Thak-Tarak predecessors, both because the Terrestrians are less ruthless and because they have fewer resources available to govern the planet.

The Administrator commands a small police force of locals recruited in Caliak, and officers from other parts of the Northlands, and they have access to heavy weapons and body armor. This police force will intervene in major disorder or trouble, and will seek to apprehend or kill the worst offenders. They only have the resources to deal with the most serious offenses and trouble, though.

In practice, the Administrator shares power over the city with a number of other major figures. These include some of the wealthier merchants, the heads of various 'protective organizations', which range from organized criminals to mostly-legitimate, the master of the Harborguild, which is the organization that unites the dock workers, many of the seamen, and the construction workers at the yards. This last figure is very powerful in Caliak. Other 'power players' include the leaders of the maintenance guild that maintains the city infrastructure, the owners of the local farms that provide much of the food, and several criminals who run large organizations. This last group regularly communicates with the Administrator, albeit unofficially.

The protection organizations include neighborhood patrols, groups organized to protect businesses or large properties, personal guards, etc.

Caliak is home to a variety of people who originated in other states or parts of Veranis, for a variety of reasons.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-24-2024, 11:15 PM   #52
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Along with the various items of trade, legal, illegal, and every shading in between, the feed the economy of Caliak City, a new source of revenue has arrived in the years since 2112.

As mentioned upthread, the fact that Veranis has seen two previous world-wide (and indeed system-wide) high-technology civilizations (Lakegrandian and Vertaran) means that many of its accessible deposits of useful metals have already been mined out. Much of the refined metal used by the rising society of modern Veranis actually is 'mined' from the ruins of the older civilizations. There are still iron deposits to be had, here and there, and still some petroleum and coal, but most of the other major metals are hard to come by on modern Veranis.

Still, once in a while a useful deposit is discovered that was either missed or for some reason never exploited by the older societies. One such was discovered in 2112 in the hills on the south end of Caliak Island. Whether because it was somehow overlooked in the past, or deliberately left unmined, a large and relatively rich mass of copper ore remains to be mined in the south of Caliak Island. Some of the ore is actually as rich as 2% copper, and geologists have determined that the ore mass is substantial.

The mining operations in the south of the island have brought new residents to Caliak City, mining engineers, miners, roboticists, geologists, and others. The money is supercharging an already hot economy in Caliak, and the newcomers are sometimes clashing with the established residents. Given the nature of Caliak City, smugglers have already begun attempting to 'divert' some of the mined metal to other purchasers, sometimes successfully.

Among the smugglers who use Caliak City as a base is one very special one.

DYAKHA KOLIRA

Species: Homo vertara
Age in 2124: 46 Terran years
Height: 5'11"
Hair: Red
Eyes: Blue

IQ: 13
DX: 12
ST: 11
HT: 10

Spd: 6.0

ADVANTAGES:

Alertness 3
Ally Group (Crew, almost all the time)
Ally (her son Dvartion, almost all the time)
Appearance (Beautiful)
Charisma 2
Contacts and Favors (25 points worth)
Intuition
Luck (1)
Strong Will 2
Unusual Background (smuggler family)
Wealth (comfortable)

DISADVANTAGES:

Bad Temper at -5 level
Code of Honor (Smuggler's)
Enemies (20 points worth, various)
Greed
Impulsive
Lecherous at -10 level
Overconfident
Secret
Sense of Duty (Crew, Son)

QUIRKS:

1. Jealous of other attractive women
2. Possessive of former romantic partners
3. Fear of flying (rarely arises)
4. Loves fresh tomatoes
5. Always carries a small concealed knife

SKILLS:

Area Knowledge
Caliak 14
Catakatia 12
Cataka City 12
Others (20 points worth)

Bard 14
Beam Weapons (TL10) 12
Boating 14
Carousing 13
Cooking 15
Dancing 12
Diplomacy 10
Fast-talk 15
First Aid 13
Forgery 10
Gambling 12
Guns (TL10) 15
History (Veranis) 10
Knife 15
Languages
Catakatian (native, fully literate)
Thakarian (effectively native, fully literate)*
English (understands a smattering, not enough to be worth points)

Leadership 14
Lockpicking (and related) 11
Merchant 14
Navigation 15
Pickpocket 10
Savoir-Faire (Catakatian court) 10
Sex Appeal 12
Tactics 12
Seamanship 18
Streetwise 16
Swimming 14

*Almost all educated Veranisian Northlanders speak, read, and understand Thakarian as well as their own native language, to the point that it is effectively a second native language.

Dyakha Kolira is a remarkable woman, in some ways she is the very embodiment of a 'pirate princess'...or she would have been had she lived a century or more earlier, before the Thakarian Invasion of Veranis. She looks the part, still spectacularly beautiful in the late forties, with long flowing red hair and piercing blue eyes, possessed of a spectacular figure and knowing how to use these gifts to her advantage (and fully willing to do so).

In some ways, the Northlander culture of Veranis is very male-oriented. Most of the royal families and noble famlies of Catakatia and her sister states, for example, count inheritance only through the male line and only for male offspring. On the other hand, for whatever reasons, female sea captains have been very common in Northlander history.

Dyakha is well known in Caliak, as the owner of her own ship, prepared to carry cargoes both legal and illegal. She has also engaged in quiet piracy on more than one occasion. She was born into his life, her father was a successful smuggler and criminal during the decades of Thakarian rule, and she inherited his vessel on his death and became even more successful in both her legal and illegal activities than her father had been. Her father was Catakatian in origin, and that is why she grew up speaking Catakatian.

Her career as a cargo carrying, courier, smuggler, thief, occasional pirate, and other activities have given her a familiarity with cities and ports all across Veranis. She is an acquaintance of Paul Denton, the American pilot who bases out of Cataka City, and she has on occasion worked with him, or against him, depending on who was paying who to do what. The two were occasional lovers as well, and remain on 'friendly' terms when they are not being paid to work against each other. (Her relationship with Denton's current love interest, Amanda Kerrey, is less friendly, both women have a jealous streak.)

She has also made more than a few dangerous enemies in her life, their motives for hostility of various levels of justification.

Dyakha has a crew that has worked for her for years, and she is very protective of them, and they are very loyal to her. Their fortunes have risen and fallen together, and their collective wealth has varied between 'not quite wealthy' and 'broke', at different times.

Dyakha has a son, Dvartion, who is 19 Terran years old in 2124. He grew up on her ship, and today he serves aboard her vessel as a navigator and assistant mechanic. (The vessel is a hybrid of sailing ship and power vessel.) Dyakha has told him that his father was a fellow smuggler who died while she was still pregnant. This story is half true.

It is true that the father of Dvartion died while she was still only about half way through her pregnancy. He was not, however, a smuggler. What Dyakha has kept a deep secret from everyone, especially her son, is that his actual father was a member of the royal family of Catakatia.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-25-2024, 10:28 PM   #53
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Dyakha was always impulsive, and amorous, and still is, by nature. When she was younger, she was more so with regard to both. From the time she was in her early teens, Dyakha had been a risk-taker and lived, to some degree, 'on the edge', loving the adrenaline rush of such situations. This was especially true when she was in her twenties.

She was also spectacularly beautiful, and during a time when her ship was in port in Cataka City, roughly in what would have been 2102 or 2103 on Earth (give or take, simultaneity being shifty) she caught the eye of Tethrin, a nephew of the then-ruling monarch of Catakatia. The then-monarch was elderly, and his two younger brothers were both already deceased at that time. Tethrin was the older son of the then-Jarak's youngest deceased brother, the younger brother of Tethrin was a prince named Tarhandis. The middle brother of that original royal trio had a son named Sahandar.

Tethrin, as a fairly high-ranking member of the royal house, had no particular business 'slumming' in the bars and less reputable establishments of Cataka City. Of course, such things have gone on since the dawn of humanoid existence, so it was hardly unprecedented. Likewise, letting himself get drawn into an affair with a beautiful, exotic, mysterious redheaded ship captain/smuggler/pirate was also not unprecedented, if certainly in no wise wise.

Dyakha, likewise, knew better. She was from the wrong side of the tracks, even if no tracks then existed on Veranis (or had not for millennia). The last thing she and her crew needed was attention from the power players of Catakatia, or trouble with the Thak-Tarak, which could easily follow from such attention. The smart play would have been to vanish into thin air as soon as she realized who Tethrin really was.

Yes, that would have been wise...but twenty-something Dyakha was not particularly wise. Smart, yes, clever, yes, experienced, yes, talented, yes, wise, not so much. She knew better, but she was unable to resist the temptation of the handsome, wealthy, and powerful prince.

Both Tethrin and Dyakha intended this to me no more than a dalliance, just a passing pleasure. Both had had many such before, but this time both found themselves caught up in a serious affair, in over their heads before they knew it. Logic and common sense went by the boards, and they ended up actually secretly marrying. Dyakha was pregnant within a month of the small, secret wedding.

The wedding compounded the folly of the affair, because it made their offspring a Prince of Catakatia. Unwedded the child would be just another illegitimate by-blow of the royal family, with no claim on status or power, and thus also little threat to anyone. The wedding, which was definitely legal if kept very secret, changed all that radically.

Dyakha had no particular ambitions to join the royal family, the wedding and the pregnancy were the product of two young people head over heels for each other, and used to 'getting away with it' for most of their lives. They simply were not thinking much about the future or the implications of what they were doing.

All sorts of problems would eventually have come of all this, but those problems were cut suddenly short and replaced by others, in roughly what would have been the year 2105 on Earth. The sudden victory of the American, Argentinian, and Australian space forces over the Thak-Tarak out in space upended everything the Northlanders had known for a century.

Suddenly, with no warning, the ruling Thak-Tarak officers and elite were abandoning their offices, estates, and positions, rushing to board shuttles taking them up to waiting Thakarian starships. There were too few shuttles and starships for all the Thak-Tarak who wanted to depart, only the very elite of the Thak-Tarak and their connected were sure of berths. Others were offering anything and everything they could lay hands on or give for a place on the shuttles. Fear was in the air.

(Not all the Thakarian Humans wanted to leave. For many of them, Veranis was the only home they or often their parents and grandparents had ever known. Enough people wanted to flee, though, that berths on the shuttles were the most priceless thing for sale in the Northlands at that time.)

The Jarak of Catakatia was one of the few Vertarans to flee with the retreating Thak-Tarak, along with his sons, and some of the highest officials and people of the other Northlands states as well. The Jarak abdicated the throne, and both his sons likewise, to flee with the Thak-Tarak. They had patrons among the Thak-Tarak elite to get them onto the starships.

Dyakha was in Cataka City when the chaos descended, and for the first time in her life, she found herself completely overwhelmed. She only half-grasped what was happening, she knew in a general, abstract sort of way about other planets and space travel, but now events out in deep space had disrupted everything she knew. Law and order had broken down almost entirely, but while normally she might have seen this as an opportunity, now it was just terrifying for a scared, pregnant woman who had no idea what was happening.

Rumors swirled throughout Cataka City about what was happening, and when it sank in that someone had actually defeated the Thakarians who had ruled Veranis with an iron grip for over a century, the rumors multiplied. What sort of beings could do such a thing? Were they coming to Veranis? What would they do if and when they did? The stories that circulated in that tumultuous period grew ever wilder and more terrifying, and for the first time in her young life, Dyakha had been all but paralyzed with anxiety and fear.

Her husband was not much better off. News came that another nephew of the former Jarak, and Tethrin's cousin, Sahandar, had claimed the throne and was now the Jarak. He was only sixteen Terran years old, though, and he had his hands full simply trying to restore some kind of order in the streets of Cataka City and the other cities and towns of his realm. Tethrin was the next in line for the throne, but that turned out not to matter.

Violence in the streets was a commonplace at that time, and even princes could fall foul of it. Tethrin was killed in a riot along with some hundreds of others, commoner, noble, and royal. When Dyakha learned that her husband of a few months was dead, she ran for it. She gathered her crew (who had been getting restless even before the chaos descended) and they set sail, fleeing Cataka City a few hours before dawn. This escape was close, others had tried to steal her ship to flee the city themselves, and blood was shed to regain control of her vessel and make their escape.

Her son Dvartion was born a few months later, a healthy baby boy, born at sea off the coast of West Continent. He would grow up amid her crew aboard her ship, and she kept him entirely in the dark about his ancestry. Of her entire crew, only Malakis, her first officer and most trusted friend, knew the truth.

In 2124, Dvartion is 19 Terran years old, and his mother is older and wiser. One thing she knows that terrifies her is that, by legal and bloodline descent, her son is the rightful Heir Presumptive of Sahandar III, the Jarak of Catakatia. He will be the Heir Presumptive by right unless, and until, Sahandar sires legitimate children of his own.

Her marriage to Tethrin was completely legal and official, registered in an out-of-the-way office, but definitely public record. The legal princely status of her son is beyond dispute. For that matter, her marriage makes Dyakha herself, technically, a member of the royal family.

What worries her (among many things) is that Tarhandis, the prince who is publicly seen to be the Heir Presumptive, is the uncle of her son, but as the younger son of their mutual grandfather, his claim to the Throne would be disrupted if Dvartion was to come forward with evidence of his own status. Which makes Dvartion dangerous to many powerful people in Catakatia.

Dyakha is wise enough to know that her son has not been raised to royal status, regardless of his ancestry, he has grown up as a sailor aboard a free-lance ship with doubtful legality. Yet simply by existing he is a potential threat to the existing line of succession in Catakatia.

Dyakha does have proof of her marriage and the status of her son, carefully hidden in a secret compartment aboard her vessel. These proofs include the papers officiating the marriage, a document signed by her husband acknowledging paternity, and most definitely/damningly, a piece of the royal regalia of Catakatia.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-25-2024, 10:56 PM   #54
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Crowns, as such, were never part of the cultural heritage of the Northland states, even before the Thakarians came. They did have a form of royal regalia, though. In Catakatia (and several other Northland states), there were four main forms of such.

Sahandar the Third has three of the four traditional items of regalia in 2124. The most formal/important/heavy is the royal 'torc'. It is several centuries old, and made of beaten meteoric iron inland with a considerable amount of gold, and set with large blue sapphires. A hinge in the back enables it to be relatively easy to take on and off, but as one would expect of something made of iron and gold, it is very heavy to wear.

The royal torc is rarely worn, it is mostly used only during 'formal formal' ceremonies and events, coronations, royal weddings, noble investitures, the top crust of diplomatic events, and the like.

A second item is a belt, made of links of iron and gold, set with sapphires, which is lighter and more comfortable than the torc, but not by much. Sahandar uses this during 'ordinary formal' events, such as formal sessions of the assembly, public appearances during holidays, ordinary diplomatic events, that sort of thing.

On a day-to-day basis, Sahandar wears a royal ring, made of gold alloy and set with a large ruby carved with the crest of the royal family. This ring is worn most of the time when the Jarak is engaging in any sort of ordinary official activity. Since Sahandar prefers 'street clothes' to formal raiment anyway, this suits the Jarak.

The fourth item of the traditional regalia has been missing since the Thak-Tarak fled, now two decades in the past. The most common theory is that either the former Jarak fled with it when he abdicated, or someone stole it and either it left with the Thak-Tarak or it remains in hiding. A few people think it might simply have been misplaced in all the confusion of the transition.

In fact, all of these theories are wrong, though the 'somone stole it' theory comes close to the truth. In fact, the person who took it had a customary right to take it. The item is a 'bracelet' of sorts, a long one that covers about half of the arm from wrist to elbow. It is made of iron and inlaid with intricate designs of gold, and set with yet more sapphires.

All four items are officially the property of the Jarak, but by tradition, the Heir Apparent/Presumptive wears the Bracelet. When Sahandar the Third claimed the throne after his uncle and cousins fled into space with the Thak-Tarak, that made his cousin Tethrin the Heir Presumptive. Tethrin had gone to the Palace and taken the Bracelet as a sign of his own status, planning to stake out his own role quickly (and thus enable him to 'normalize' his smuggler queen wife) as soon as he learned that Sahandar had been confirmed as Jarak. When Tethrin was killed, his widow took the Bracelet with her as she fled into the night with her crew and son.

Why did Dyakha take the Bracelet when she fled? Many reasons, partly impulse, partly greed, partly pride (her unborn son was the Heir Presumptive now, after all), partly panic, partly reflex. In the years since, she has often wished she had left it behind when she fled, and more than once she has considered tossing the Bracelet overboard and letting it sink into the deeps.

On the other hand, the Bracelet is worth ten fortunes, and Dyakha is a greedy woman. In practice, of course, the Bracelet is so valuable as to be worthless, it would be widely recognizable and very 'hot'. On the other hand, in extremis, it could be melted down and the gold and gems sold separately.

Also, though she has no desire to ever reveal the status of her son, at the same time, she knows circumstances can change choices, someday, she might need to establish the royal status of her son, or he might need to do so. So she has retained the proofs, but never breathed a word about them or even hinted about them to her son.

In 2124, Dyakha sometimes looks back at her panic and fear twenty years before with amusement and embarrassment. The strange beings who defeated the Thak-Tarak did come to Veranis, and they turned out to be just more Humans, not Thakarians but of the same breed. By 2124, she has fought Terrestrians, worked with them, occasionally slept with them, killed a few of them, traded with them, and she holds them in no awe. She does not speak any Terrestrian languages, but she has learned to understand a thin smattering of English, though she can not speak it in any useful way.

To the degree that Dyakha has a home other than her ship, it is the city of Caliak. She knows it well, including some secret lore, and if need be she could hide out there, vanishing effortlessly into the crowds and twisting streets. She first met Paul Denton/'McRane' in Caliak, where he regularly arrives on various businesses. His almost unique float plane can easily put down in the bay of the city, and he is well known there.

She also knows Amanda Kerrey, but her relationship with the blonde Australian is somewhat tense. This has not kept her from sometimes working with her (Kerrey can pay well when she wants to hire someone, and Dyakha is a useful contact), but they are not friends.

A savvy businesswoman, Dyakha has also invested heavily (if secretly) in the copper mining operations in the southern hills. If the returns on this keep mounting up, it will soon become her largest single source of income.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-30-2024, 11:43 PM   #55
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The ship Dyakha inherited from her father is a classic example of the schizoid mixture of technologies in common use on Veranis in 2124. In form, it resembles a 19C Terrestrian 'clipper' ship, with the same long, lean hull form and a very similar triple-mast structure enabling huge arrays of sails to be deployed. At the same time, it is a powered vessel, using two alcohol-fueled engines to drive twin props. Though the ship has relatively modern engines, it often uses wind power to save fuel.

Alcohol is the fuel of choice because of its relative ease of access. Veranis does still have some available petroleum, even after two previous periods of high-technology civilization, but the remaining oil is expensive and only accessible in certain parts of the world. Alcohol can be manufactured relatively easily with modest tools and equipment, using common feedstocks. This ease of access makes alcohol the most common fuel used by civilian powered sea vessels on Veranis.

The hull itself is a TL9 composite, the engines are TL8 alcohol-fueled 'diesels', the sails are a TL7 fabric. Electric motors make rigging the sails and striking them fast and easy, with a minimum of climbing in the rigging. The ship carries radar and sonar systems, but also a manned 'crow's nest', which sometimes is useful in the mixed-tech environment of Veranis. Access to the crow's nest atop the mainsail is by ladder, but it has a telephone connection to the 'helmroom' where the ship is run.

The ship carries a powerful radio, with the antenna rigged to the mainmast, but the lack of satellites and other orbital relays (see upthread for why) and the fact that many areas of Veranis lack radio stations of any sort, means that the ship is often out of touch with the world when out at sea, especially when far from the Northlands. This lack of satellites, shore stations (nothing akin to LORAN exists except when very near the Northlands) and other aids means that navigation is still done by star sightings and chronometers (admittedly the chronometers are electronic).

This lack of orbital presence (other than the usual presence of a Terrestrian warship, which scarcely matters for this purpose) also means that accurate weather information is often unavailable when far at sea. Dyakha and her crew carry basic meteorological instruments, and some of the crew are skilled in their use.

Many aspects of the ship, though, are more at the level of TL5-6. The small boats (the ship carries 4) are powered by oars. The galley would be familiar to any sailor in the seas of Veranis a century earlier before the Thakarians came (other than the presence of refrigeration). Loading and unloading the cargo holds is done by manual labor, as are several other basic requirements of ship operations.

Some of the instruments and equipment the ship carries are secret, such as the long-range sound surveillance system, which can pick out conversations on the docks, or other interesting nearby sounds. The ship mounts four automatic mounted rifles in concealed slots, positioned to give coverage on all sides of the ship. These guns are meant primarily for protection when the ship is at dock or near another ship, and are primarily anti-personnel weapons.

Dyakha also carries a still more secret weapon, a fairly modern self-guided torpedo with a high explosive warhead. It could, under the right conditions, be used to destroy another ship as far as fifteen-twenty kilometers away, and it is 'fire and forget'. Though few laws or rules govern what weaponry sea vessels can carry on Veranis, this torpedo would definitely bring down the wrath of the Commission if they knew about it.

(She keeps it a deep, dark secret, it is meant as a 'last resort' option.)

Along with the two main holds, there is a hidden 'special' hold used for smuggling, and the ship has many small hidden chambers and compartments.



Dyakha’s cargo/smuggler ship (Veranisian culture does not include a custom of 'naming' sea craft)

Crew: 35 total.

P&P: 50,000 gal alcohol fuel (fire 10), ten 360,000-kWs rechargeable power cells, ten 360,000-kWs rechargeable power cells, two 11,000-kW marine diesels (alcohol fuel, short term access), two 10,000-kW ducted propellers (short term access).

Fuel: 50,000 gal alcohol fuel (fire 10), two 50,000 gal self-sealing standard fuel tanks

Occupancy: normal helm station (bridge access), normal navigator station (bridge access), normal engineering station (bridge access), normal crew station, two normal crew stations (bridge access), cabin, luxury captain cabin, galley, galley, five officer cabins, 15 dual occupancy cabins, two 50,000-cf cargo holds, 1,000-cf 'special' cargo hold.

Armor F RL B T U
Body 4/140 4/140 4/140 4/20 4/140

Weaponry
6.5mm rifled autoloader Ver. Cr 6d 12 13 650 3,700 1/1 6
torpedo Crit Exp 4dx95 - - 58 17,000 - 8

Equipment
Body: 1 gallon alcohol still; 2,000 gallon alcohol fuel processor; radar (scan 17, 10-mile range); four LLTVs (magnification x125); two active sonar systems (2-mile range; active/passive, depth finding, non-targeting); surveillance sound detector (sound level 18); meteorology instrument; meteorology instrument; meteorology instrument; inertial navigation system; set of precision navigation instruments; complete workshop; complete workshop; complete workshop; 7.06 gpm electric bilge pump (included by default); two cargo ramps; four 4,400-lbs. boat cradles; 450-sf common room; two emergency support units; 30 ft electro-magnet crane(10,000lbs. capacity); complete workshop; four 6.5mm rifled autoloaders (long barrel; fine (accurate), recoilless, caseless ammo); 100mm torpedo (normal HE warhead).

Statistics
Size: [LxWxH] 196 x 40


Water Performance: Top Speed 20 knots powered, 18 knots full sail

Design Notes:
TL8 medium frame expensive materials [Vehicle].
T TL7 DR 20 expensive wood, U TL9 DR 140 expensive composite, L TL9 DR 140 expensive composite, R TL9 DR 140 expensive composite, F TL9 DR 140 expensive composite, B TL9 DR 140 expensive composite [Body].
Operating Duration: 7 D 2 H 52 M 2 S.
Vehicle Features: electronic controls, self-sealed, waterproofed, no streamlining, finely made.
Water Features: flotation.
Body: heavy compartmentalization.


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Old 03-31-2024, 10:24 PM   #56
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The Northlands of Veranis are roughly rectangular, running longer east-west. Cataka City is near the midpoint of the southern coast, and Catakatia occupies a large swath of the south-central coast and reaches northward into the middle of the continent. Cataka City, the theoretical capitol city of Catakatia, rests roughly at the midpoint of the south coast of Catakatia.

One can find an example of almost any terrain or biome somewhere in the Northlands. The continent is currently drifting northward, slowly even by the standards of tectonic motion, and as a result a new mountain range is rising on the northern coast in an ongoing orogeny. The mountains run almost the entire length of the northern coast, and while they are not yet extremely high, they are rather steep, especially on the northern side.

In the more ancient past, the Northlands experienced a continental collision, a small plate collided with what was then the coast, and a mountain range marked the suture zone. At that time the range ran more east west, but the land mass has long since pivoted, turning the mountain range nearly directly north-south. This range is much, much older than the rising mountains on the north, and has eroded substantially. Still, the range retains a number of peaks over two kilometers in height, and with relatively few passes. This old range runs from the south coast northward to intersect the rising mountains on the north side of the Northlands. Where the two chains come together, the peaks reach extreme heights. This is one of the few places on Veranis to be snowcapped throughout the year.

The upshot of all this ancient geology is that the westernmost part of the modern Veranisian Northlands, about a fifth of the land area of the continent, is cut off from the rest of the continent by a mountain range.

Because of the latitude of the Northlands, much of the moisture-bearing winds coming in on the prevailing westerlies cross this region, and strike the mountain range. This means that what rain has not already fallen ends up dropping on the western side of the ancient range.

As a result, the lands to the immediate east of the range are mostly dry, semi-arid or in places full on sandy or rocky desert.

(A somewhat parallel situation exists in the western regions of North America, for similar reasons.)

The upshot of all this is that the western region has been somewhat isolated from the rest of the continent throughout the millennia since the interplanetary wars ended. This in turn meant that the society to the west of the range developed in different directions than the rest of the post-War Northlands. Even the language is different, Terrestrian philologists believe the local language to be related to the other tongues of the Northlands, but more distantly than the others are related to each other.

The terrain to the west of the mountains is itself hilly and steep, a wide mass of broken foothills with many small, isolated fertile valleys. Then, farther west, the land smooths out into rolling hills and plains, well-watered, criss-crossed by rivers and streams, almost all the way to the coast. Near the coast, the land becomes drops off into steeps cliffs where it meets the sea, except for a few sheltered harbors. The great western plain rests, more or less, atop a descending plateau.

In short, the region west of the mountains is arable, clement, well-watered, and readily defensible from land and sea. The Veranisians call this region 'Nysora', and the mountain range on its east as the Nysoran Mountains.

Unfortunately, this was a rich, well-settled land before the great interplanetary wars as well. This in turn led to it being heavily bombed, blasted, and dusted during those terrible conflicts. Much as with the south coast of the Southlands, what was the most densely populated part of the ancient Northlands was reduced to a windswept radioactive desolation.

What few survivors there were mostly lived in the tiny valleys near the west side of the Nysoran Mountains. Over time, these survivors developed a tribal culture, each fertile valley home to its own tribe, with their own customs and dialects. As their populations began to recover, these tribal states alternated between trade and raid in their relations.

As time passed, the radioactivity subsided and the poisons degraded or washed out to sea, and eventually the tribal cultures of the highland valleys settled the fertile western lowland plateau again. The lands revived, and the populations grew. Harvests became bigger, and a new society emerged in the west, but even after they spread across the fertile plateau lands, the society retained the 'mark' of its gestation in the high valleys.

By the standards of the eastern societies that were emerging on the other side of the mountains, it was a rough-and-tumble society, with a high value on personal honor, especially among the males, a well-developed dueling custom, and a preference for settling disputes via violence. The codes and customs governing dueling became quite elaborate to regulate this violent impulse. As the society grew in size and sophistication, full-on internal warfare became rarer, but various sorts of family and tribal feuding often turned violent. The later-day Nysorans retained their ancestral tribal identities as a badge of honor, and were permitted, and even expected, to defend that honor from any infringement in word or deed.

One thing that did unify all these hundreds of Nysoran tribes was an almost fanatical determination to retain their independence from the states to the east of the mountains.

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Old 04-09-2024, 12:26 AM   #57
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

This determination was necessary, because there were strong motivations for the eastern states of the Northlands to invade. For one thing, the plains and low hills of western Nysora are some of the best, more clement, most arable territory in the Northlands. For another, in a world where metal ores are all too rare after two previous ages of technological civilization, the hills to the immediate west of the Nysoran Range have several of the remaining natural deposits of metals such as copper, iron, and tin.

Additionally, the Nysorans themselves sometimes made the idea of invading them the more tempting. They did have several sheltered harbors on the west coast, and as civilization rose again after the great Wars, the Nysorans became a serious naval power fairly early. The forests of their rich lands provided wood for hulls and masts, and their sailing ships were among the best on the seas in those centuries.

Given their warrior culture, it was probably inevitable that Nysoran ships would turn pirate, raiding both the commerce of the other emerging Northlands states, and sometimes raiding their shore cities as well. These raids encouraged ill will in the other states.

The Nysorans were protected by the Nysoran Mountains on the east, and by the rugged cliffs of most of their coasts on the sea. Furthermore, the lands to the immediate east of the mountains were arid and inhospitable, adding to the difficulty of an invasion.

Still, there are some passes in the Nysoran Mountains. Most are high and narrow, and some are in fact artificial, the remains of ancient pre-War roads and road cuts from thousands of years before. Still, being high and narrow, these were not well-suited as invasion routes (though smugglers loved them).

There was an exception, though. Near the midpoint of the north-south run of the Nysoran Range, there is a gap. A wide open area cuts through the mountains and the hills on the west, a broad, flat region nearly seventy kilometers wide, with a level floor that is mostly grassland. This gap lets warm moist weather systems past the Nysoran Range, and because of this, the lands to the immediate east are much less arid than the rest of the rain-shadow region.

In short, this gap was a nearly perfect hole in the natural defenses of the Nysorans, a wide-open highway for an invading army.

The Nysorans knew this, and fortified it as best they could. Enormous stone 'castles' rose in the hills and mountains to either side of the gap, and later castles rose in the middle of the open region as well. Still, this was the only really practical invasion route, and it was invaded several times over the course of several centuries.

The invasions were never fully successful. Sometimes they managed to capture some land to the west of the mountains, but they could never hold it for more than a few decades at most, and usually much less than that. In every case, the cost in blood and treasure, on both sides, was enormous.

Then the Thakarians came, and conquered both the Nysorans and their rivals to the east in short order. For over a Terran century, the Thak-Tarak suppressed the warfare with brutal efficiency. The Thak-Tarak never found it fully worth the trouble to suppress all the internal violence in Nysora, though. As long as the tribes and clans of the Nysorans kept their violence to themselves, and below a certain level, and did not interfere with Thak-Tarak profits and activities, they were more or less left alone....at first.

As time passed, though, the Thak-Tarak began to create plantations in the rich lands of Nysora, and the locals were drafted to work them. Some of the farms were simply food for the Thak-Tarak occupiers elsewhere on Veranis, some were of plants that had commercial applications. The metal deposits in the western hills were mined, and though much of this work was robotic, some Nysorans were made to work there as well.

By the time the Terrestrians arrived, the Nysorans had been changed by their long occupation, as had the rest of Veranis. The Nysorans had learned many of the technologies of their occupiers, and they were much more of a city-dwelling people than had been the case when the Thak-Tarak arrived. They were also less quick to violence than their great-grandparents had been.

They were still Nysorans, though. Their family and tribe loyalties were still strong, and they were still touchy about personal and family honor. In 2124, most Nysorans still routinely go armed, and there are still many ways one can transgress against their honor, familial or individual. It is still accepted, and expected, that such transgressions will be responded to, as well.

Violence is comparatively uncommon, and rarely goes beyond brawling when it does, mostly because the Nysorans know all the touchy spots and avoid them. The same honor-culture that makes Nysoran society touchy also makes them polite, at least among themselves. Most Nysorans are so aware of the boundaries that the only time they transgress them is when they mean it.

Outsiders, though, can transgress by accident in any number of ways. The Nysorans will accept a limited amount of such accidental insult, ascribing it to ignorance, but that only goes so far. As a result, the other Northlanders peoples tend to see the Nysorans as touchy, irascible, irrational, volatile, and sometimes just crazy.

Every Nysoran is primarily considered to be a member of his or her paternal tribe. One is also a secondary member of the maternal tribe, if that is different, and then of the grandmaternal tribe on the paternal side, then of the grandmaternal tribe on the maternal side, if those tribes are diferent. Such intertribal marriages are very common.

It is considered deeply shameful to a tribe for a female of the tribe to marry outside the Nysoran peoples, and doubly so to carry a child fathered by an outsider without marriage. Modern-day Nysorans distinguish between a child of rape and a voluntary pregnancy for this purpose (though their great-grandparents, before the Thakarian Occupation, often did not), but otherwise marriage or pregnancy outside the Nysorans is usually enough to get the woman exiled. The offspring of such matings are not considered to be Nysorans, and violence toward them by more extreme individuals is not unheard of, though not legal and no longer socially acceptable as such.

It is considered acceptable for a male Nysoran to marry out outsider, or at least not actively shameful, but it is not encouraged. His offspring, though, will be considered a Nysoran of his tribe. Exactly how accepted such a marriage will be will mostly depend on how hard the wife tries to adopt Nysoran ways.

The Thak-Tarak occupation left a deep mark on the Nysorans, and no Human of Thakarian descent is welcome in most places in Nysora. When the Terrestrians defeated the Thak-Tarak, the Thakarians in Nysora were especially eager to flee. Those who could not get aboard the departing starships mostly fled across the mountains to the other Northlands states. Those who did not or could not flee were usually killed in the riots that followed. The Nysorans killed men, women, and children, the hatred was intense (and not without some reason, to be fair).

In 2124, the Nysorans have a touchy relationship with the Three Power Commission. From the Nysoran point of view, the Terrestrian regime is a huge improvement over the Thak-Tarak, in almost every regard. In part this is a matter of Terrestrian policies, in part a result of the thinner, less extensive resources to govern the planet that the Commission controls.

Still, the Terrestrian occupation is still an occupation, and Terrestrians and Thakarians are both Humans. Many Nysorans have the attitude, even in 2124, that the best Human is a dead Human. Others are more willing to make the distinction between Thakarian and Human, but still tend to feel the deep cultural resentment toward any Human. There are some Nysorans who are more tolerant, but it is still unwise for any Human to spontaneously visit a Nysoran town or village alone and unarmed, especially at night.

As one might expect, of all the Northlands polities, Nysora has the lowest percentage of resident Humans, whether Terrestrian or of Thakarian descent. Less than one percent of the Nysoran population is 'local' Human, most of them living in one or two all-Human towns.

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Old 04-15-2024, 12:02 AM   #58
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The Nysorans remain almost fanatically determined to maintain as much of their societal independence as possible. In 2124, large-scale invasion from the other Northlands states is highly unlikely. The Commission would intervene to suppress such a thing. Still, the Nysorans know that the Terrestrians may not always be there, and they retain their military organization. It is currently small, but it could provide an officer corps for a mobilization very quickly, in theory. Most of that force is currently stationed relatively near the Great Gap.

The Great Gap is the 'hole' in the Nysoran Mountains mentioned upthread. Today, that Gap remains the easiest path for a hypothetical invasion, in either direction, into or out of Nysora. At one time, before the Thakarian invasion, the Nysorans constructed heavy stone fortifications and castles on either side of the Gap, and a few on the vast flat land within it.

In 2124, many of those castles are now picturesque tourist attractions. Modern weapons make many of them useful as defensive emplacements. Some of them, the ones with connections to deep underground tunnels and chambers, are still in use, with horses and cavalry replaced by helicopters and motorized transports.

The Gap is also, naturally, a major trade route. The Thakarians constructed a large modern highway running from the capitol city of Nysora, through the Gap, and on to the major states of the eastern Northlands. That highway remains in use, and is maintained for use, and considerable traffic runs along it both ways. The nature of that traffic, in keeping with the dichotomous technology in use on Veranis, includes modern automobiles and trucks, ridden animals, and various sorts of muscle and animal powered vehicles as well. There are even a very few 'land sail' vehicles that use wind power to propel themselves on the road.

The Great Gap permits rain-bearing clouds to pass through the mountains, and the lay of the land results in a year-around river flowing back westward through the Gap. The road crosses this twisting river in several places, on large, solidly constructed bridges.

What very few people know is that the Nysorans have rigged all of these bridges so that they can be destroyed by concealed explosive charges at the press of a button. Again, just in case of an invasion. There are four main bridges, and the Nysorans could destroy them all at once or individually, as the situation might seem to demand.

The existence of these hidden charges is a Nysoran state secret. They are very well concealed, and maintained by Nysoran intelligence agents who are under cover as road maintenance personnel. The charges are connected to concealed radio receivers, and can be detonation by reception of a specific coded transmission.

The Nysorans have, so far, managed to keep this a secret from the other states, and from the Three Power Commission. Only about fifty people even in Nysora know about these devices.

The road in question starts at the capitol city in Nysora, passes east through the Great Gap, crosses the buffer region to the east of the mountains, and then splits off into separate roads heading for major cities in the other Northlands states, such as Catakatia and Cataka City.

As the relevant road branch turns south and heads for Cataka City, it passes one of the more unusual institutions of Catakatia: the Royal Technical Institute. That is an English translation of a Catakatian term, of course, but it captures the flavor of the meaning.

The current ruler of Catakatia, Sahandar III, knows that his nation needs more highly trained, skilled people to deal with the rapid transition in technology that is occurring. Sahandar is taking a long view, for a day when Veranis is not ruled by either Terrestrian or Thakarian, when the peoples of Veranis can stand as equals with the interstellar races, and he knows that much must be learned, and done, in order for that day to come. The Royal Technical Institute is one of the steps Sahandar has taken to bring that day closer.

As noted upthread, Cataka City sits at the mouth of a major river, which flows south in the sea. If one passes upriver, travelling north, after about fifteen kilometers, one comes to a lake. Three great continental interior rivers flow into this lake, and the short, but wide and deep, river that drains the lake into the sea comes out of the southern side of the lake. The lake itself is a remant of the glaciers that covered much of the Northlands 45,000 Terran years earlier. The ice gouged out a deep basin, and the melting ice filled it with water. This lake is roughly the size of Lake Eerie on Earth, though substantially deeper, and it is actually somewhat similar in shape to Eerie.

The lake is roughly oblong, and runs about 280 kilometers east-west, and roughly 50 kilometers north-south. The three great tributary rivers the drain into this lake all come in from the north, the short river that drains to the sea emerges from near the mid-point of the southern side of the lake. The lake averages about two hundred meters deep. There are many islands in the lake, some of them densely inhabited. Most of these islands cluster toward the eastern end of the lake.

There are a few islands on the western end, and one of them is home to the primary campus of the Royal Technical Institute.

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Old 04-15-2024, 12:47 AM   #59
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The island in question is roughly rectangular, and is about twenty kilometers long and eight kilometers wide, with the long axis oriented north-south. The entire island is held by the Jarak as part of his personal demesne, and the Royal Technical Institute has been granted a royal charter to use the entire island, in tandem with the chief military academy of Catakatia.

The main campus is on the southern end, and in the ten years since the RTI was established, it has already grown to a substantial size with many buildings and facilities. The RTI has about one thousand students, picked from the Vertaran population of Catakatia by various programs of testing and recommendation. The RTI takes no allowance for social rank, the sons of nobles and the sons of poor men both attend, if they pass the various tests.

There is no tuition as such. All the students are wards of the government of Catakatia, which pays for room, board, and other such necessities. The students live in simple dormitories, which are comfortable but by no means luxurious, and the Jarak made specific provisions that the dormitories are all similar, the scions of noble families live no better than anyone else.

The students wear uniforms of a sort, dine in common cafeterias, and live a relatively regimented life. There is little in the way of student mischief, because such is specifically not tolerated. It takes very little misbehavior to lose a place in the Institute, and there are always others eager for the chance to take that place. While some students come from wealthy backgrounds, there is little to spend such money upon on the island.

The curriculum heavily emphasizes what a Terrestrian would call STEM subjects. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, medicine, engineering, basic and applied mathematics, meteorology, etc. are among the subjects taught.

The 'humanities' are much less emphasized, though history, of Catakatia, of Veranis, of Earth, and of Thakaria most definitely are taught. Languages are also a common subject of study. The Institute is a state entity, and no apologies are made for teaching history and languages from a Catakatian perspective, though this is not done blindly. A student at the RTI studying the history of his world will receive it primarily from the Catakatian point of view, but other perspectives are included.

The RTI divides the Veranisian year into three equal periods, and uses a trimester system. Students can return home during the brief breaks between the trimesters. Exactly how long a student studies at the RTI depends in part on the subject, but instruction is intensive, many complete their studies in two to three years.

There are 'post-graduate' programs for some subjects, and the most promising students are permitted to attend them. Though it would be difficult for the RTI to do most original scientific research, at least as of 2124, a few members of its post-graduate students and faculty have produced theoretical work in mathematics, physics and astronomy that is recognized as valuable by Terrestrian academics. Most of the applied sciences training at the RTI has been accredited by most of the Terrestrian academic and professional groups as well.

(Which is a source of considerable satisfaction to Jarak Sahandar, because it means his plan is beginning to produce tangible results.)

After graduation, a newly-trained professional is expected to work for the royal government for several years, though there is enough demand for such trained personnel that it is usually possible to negotiate a desirable posting. The RTI was founded in roughly 2112, and by 2124 its graduates are proving that the plan was a success.

Sahandar would like to expand the RTI to permit more students to be trained at a time, but he is somewhat hamstrung by the supply of faculty. When the RTI was first founded, most of the teachers came from the relatively small cadre of Vertarans and Humans already technically trained by the Thakarians, or by Terrestrians hired by Sahandar. As time has passed, the RTI now has a growing number of faculty trained by the RTI itself, but finding qualified and trustworthy faculty remains an ongoing challenge for the royal government.

(Also, qualified in this case means both technically qualified in the subject matter and at the same time an effective teacher, which are two different things.)

As noted upthread, many of the technically trained Humans and Vertarans of Catakatia are suspected of being Thakarian sympathizers to varying degrees and for varying reasons. The legal status of Humans of Thakarian ancestry is still in flux in Catakatia, as well. Thus, Sahandar and his ministers must select the faculty with care, because they want loyalty to Catakatia (and indirectly to Veranis as a whole) to be fairly reliable. Hiring Terrestrian faculty can be effective, and is necessary for certain subjects, but is also very expensive. Training faculty from scratch at the RTI is effective, but also necessarily time-consuming.

Sahandar knows that he could raise the student body to five thousand, easily. The one thousand or so currently matriculating at the RTI are the highest scorers on the necessary tests, but simply relaxing the minimum acceptable scores by no more than a percentage point or two would qualify at least hundreds more students. That could be raised to thousands while keeping standards quite high. The Jarak would like to do it, but he has to obtain the necessary faculty and other personnel first.

Sahandar has also received diplomatic approaches from the other Northlands states, which have become aware of the success of the RTI. It would be very useful, on several levels, for Sahandar to permit some students from the other realms to study at the RTI, but again, he needs more competent and reliable faculty before he can do such a thing.

There is also the issue of facilities. Sahandar knows that the RTI needs more laboratories, more libraries both physical and virtual, more tools and equipment. The RTI is necessarily expensive, and while Sahandar considers it one of the most important long-term investments of his reign, money is never infinite, and other priorities have to be addressed as well.

In fact, that is one reason Sahandar would like to be able to admit foreign students. That would permit him to let other governments and rulers defray part of the cost of the RTI, while also reducing the incentive for the other states to produce rival institutions.

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Old 04-17-2024, 09:10 PM   #60
chaotic-nipple
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
a beautiful, exotic, mysterious redheaded ship captain/smuggler/pirate
Is that part worth mentioning? Isn't that the standard hair color for Vertarans?
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