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Old 11-09-2023, 12:39 AM   #11
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The so-called 'Slath Tribes' are actually a highly heterogeneous group. An alliance, association, or confederation of highly various tribes of low-tech Vertaran natives, linked together by...well, actually, nobody outside their ranks is precisely sure what links them all together.

The word 'Slath' is an Anglicization of their term for themselves, and nobody else, even on Veranis, is totally certain what it means. The tribes do speak a common language, but it is a sort of 'creole', most of the Slath Tribes have their own native tongue that they use among themselves. There does not appear to be any sort of single 'chief of chiefs' or council or other central authority, but the Slath Tribes do manage to minimize their intra-tribal disputes with an apparent minimum of violence, somehow.

The Slath do communicate with each other fairly efficiently, considering their overall limited technology and the vast territory they inhabit. An outsider who offends against or is engaged in violence with one Slath Tribe is likely to find that the others, even hundreds of kilometers away, know about it and will recognize that particular outsider.

Something else the Slath have in common, in spite of the wide variety of cultures and societies they otherwise display, is that they are xenophobic. Exactly how xenophobic varies from merely insular and hostile to murderously hostile. Some Slath Tribes engage in cannibalism of outsiders, some make no secret of torturing intruders to death. Others will merely deal out a swift and efficient death, often by poison dart or a swift arrow.

The Slath Tribes control a strip of territory running from just south of the ruins of Talianickarisat south to the central mountain range that splits the continent, and running hundreds of kilometers east to west. It is a vast strip of (mostly) highland forest territory, cut by several major mostly-north-flowing rivers.

Native-wise Veranisians will warn a traveler that he or she or they are in danger on the Shan River starting about twenty kilometers upriver from the ruins of Talianickarisat. The Slath Tribes rarely come north of that, they hold the Lakegrandian ruins in deep dread, not just Talianickarisat but the other Lakegrandian ruins in their territory as well.

Which does mean that such ruins can provide at least a temporary place of safety if one is being pursued by hostile Slath, and most Slath are hostile most of the time.

The danger is not necessarily immediate, however. Though the Slath will likely attack an outsider north of that line, they will not necessarily be immediately aware of such a presence. The Slath control a vast territory, and one might enter it and get out again undetected, especially near the edges.

Still, they do watch the rivers fairly closely, especially the large ones like the Shan River. While one might not be attacked immediately upon crossing the outer edge, the further upriver one goes the greater the risk. The local Slath are past masters at stealth and concealment, when the attack does come it will likely come suddenly and without warning.

To be fair, the Slath consider the territorial markers they place at the edges of their domain to be a warning. As one passes about twenty kilometers south of the ruins of Talianickarisat, one passes stone pillars on either side of the river. These pillars are about ten meters tall, and are intricately carved with stone skulls, bones, twisted humanoid faces, and other pleasant imagery. To emphasize the point, in niches in the columns are actual Homosapient skulls, often those of children.

Similar pillars mark the edge of Slath territory along the other major rivers and flow down from the distant mountain range. Smaller versions of these pillars are placed here and there throughout Slath territory. If one encounters such a pillar in the forests, one is already in Slath territory and the wisest move is probably to retrace your route...quickly and quietly.

The Slath do have some limited contact with the outside world. A very, very few merchants are permitted by the Slath Tribes to enter their territory under a safe conduct. They trade metals, manufactured goods, rare foods and drinks, and anything else the Slath might like to have, for rare medicinal herbs, or a few other profitable native products (one Slath Tribe is known for weaving incredibly beautiful rugs out of native fibers, for ex).

These merchants are the main way information gets in and out of Slath territories, but even they do not have permission to travel at will, they enter by specific routes (usually a river route), meet with specific people, at specific places, and leave again. A Slath safe conduct is usually trustworthy, as long as one does exactly what they tell you do to, following every rule and restriction to a 't'. The merchants who manage to profit in this trade tend to be very good at following the rules, and know when to keep their mouth shut.

At one time, the Slath were known for raiding north of their territory, attacking other Vertaran natives for slaves, loot, or occasionally food, in the case of the cannibalistic tribes.

The Thakarian rulers more or less stopped this with some vicious reprisals. The current Terrestrian regime has mostly attempted to use more civilized methods, but with the Slath, nothing else seems to work. When the Terrestrians first took control, the Slath tested their patience several times, lethally, until a Governor-General resorted to targeting several tribal gathering places from orbit. After that, the Slath resumed their restive insularity. The Slath are insular, viciously antagonistic, and ruthless, but not stupid, and they are aware that the Terrestrians, like the Thakarians before them, can make the sky rain fire if antagonized sufficiently.

Exactly how much the Slath do know about the outside world is not entirely clear to anyone else, either. The merchants ask few questions, and even fewer of those questions are answered. It is known that some Slath seem to have more knowledge of the outside world than their insularity would seem to permit, but very little is known for sure.

A traveler on the Shan River who comes through the Talianickarisat ruins and meets the archaeological team will be warned about the Slath, if they do not already know, and told some horrifying stories about them that happen to all be true. The archaeologists never go further than five kilometers south of the ruins without a security escort, and they and their security team stop entirely at the ten kilometer line, by daylight. At night they remain within the ruins and usually within their encampment.

They will advise any traveler to do likewise, though they will not try to stop someone determined to keep going upriver.

MORE LATER.
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Old 11-12-2023, 01:07 AM   #12
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The Slath territories are remarkably large for such a loose assemblage of low-technology peoples. They run about one hundred kilometers from north to south, and about six hundred kilometers from east to west.

Assuming one could pass through this zone safely as one sailed up the Shar River, one would observe that the river was branching off in multiple tributaries coming in from east and west, but mostly from the northern trend of that. In fact, the enormous east-west mountain range to the south is the source of the Shar River itself, as well as the many tributaries that feed into the Shar as it crosses the Slath territory.

By the time the Shan River emerges from Slath territory on the south side, as one goes upriver, the huge river has diminished to a relatively modest stream, about twenty meters wide. By this point, the land is rising into the true foothills of the mountain range, and the Shan and its tributaries flow through canyons and small wooded valleys. Though this is the tropic zone of a world that averages hotter than Earth, by this point altitude is high enough that the air is chilly through some parts of the year.

Unlike the northern edge, the southern edge of the Slath land is vague. The Slath tribes rarely enter the mountains, there is little to interest them there and the terrain is rugged and forbidding. They do sometimes hunt and forage in the foothills, but this is occasional. The mountainous south side is probably the safest area of Slath territory for an outsider, simply because the Slath rarely go there.

Though the Slath only enter the foothills sporadically, these lands are thick with dangerous predators, many of which have long since lost their fear of Man in the centuries since local civilization collapsed. The Shan River also becomes dangerous to traverse in this region, with ever more numerous and challenging rapids, whirlpools, and waterfalls to pass.

Eventually, as one travels upriver, one reaches the source of the Shan.

This source is a sheltered lake, surrounded by wooded hills, fed by dozens of small streams, many of them entering the lake as waterfalls over cliffs on the south side of the lake. The lake covers about two square kilometers, and is very deep and very cold, being fed by snowmelt from the high peaks to the south. The Shan River emerges through a gap in the hills on the southeast side, and is about ten meters wide at the source. Unlike the muddy torent of the lower course, here at the source the Shan is fast-running and clear.

The entire sight is beautiful, the snowcapped southern peaks, the forested hills, and the deep blue of the lake water, which is fairly clear, all contribute to the scene. Though the lake runs up against modestly high cliffs on the south side, fairly flat ground exists around most of the north side, much of it densely wooded.

Beautiful though the lake might be, the Slath never come here, they believe that the lake is cursed, and that a monster dwells in the depths.

The Slath are entirely correct in this belief.

There is in fact a large and potentially very dangerous life form dwelling in the lake, though it rarely comes to the surface. Most of the time, a visitor to this site is entirely safe (at least from the creature), which tends to stay in the depth unless something stirs it up. If something does bring it to the surface, though, it is highly aggressive and very powerful.

The Slath stories about it are fearful, and contradictory. They speak of tentacles, claws, mouths, they are not sure exactly what is there, but they know something is down there.

In actuality, the creature is an ancient biotechnology experiment by a Vertaran nation on Veranis, in the years before their interplanetary war reduced them to a primitive state. The creature spends most of its time in a state of semi-suspended animation, and that plus its highly special metabolism enables it to survive almost indefinitely. The creature currently dwelling in the lake is the same one created by the genegineers over three thousand Terran years earlier.

THE LAKE MONSTER:

IQ: 6
DX: 15
ST: 50
HT: 20/75


The individual tentacles have ST 30, and normally lie contracted against the main mass. Extended, they have a fifteen meter reach. The hide of the Creature is laced with dense flakes of keratin and plate of bone-like material, and has an average DR of 10 over the body and 5 along the tentacles.

The Creature has no eyes. It tracks prey, or enemies, by sound, by chemical cues, and by a touch of ESP. It can sense the presence of living things within fifty meters fairly clearly, though a psychonull would be immune to its instinctive ESP, leaving it only sound and scent (and thus the Creature would strike at -10).

A favorite tactic of the Creature is to remain near the shore in deep water (the lake has many such places), and suddenly reach out of the water with a tentacle to strike at a target on the shore. The Creature can reach beings standing as much as twelve meters from shore, and will either kill by constriction or drag the prey/target into the water to drown.

The Creature is about the size of an African elephant, and considerably stronger than most such. It looks like a great, roughly oval-shaped, mass of tissue, with a tough hide and four long tentacles emerging from the sides, two on each side. There is no clearly defined head, but there is a mouth on one narrow end, lined with sharp teeth.

If heavily damaged, the creature can go into a dormant state and gradually regenerate itself. This regenerative ability is also much of why the Creature has been able to live for millennia in its lake lair. The Creature is vulnerable to drying, though it can live entirely out of the water, and even drag itself around with its tentacles, after ten hours out of the water it will begin losing one point of HT per hour until it immerses itself again. In direct sunlight, halve those times, at night, double them.

The Creature is normally vulnerable to fire, but it would be difficult to set it aflame in its native environment.

Being out of the water long enough would kill the Creature. Salt water would also kill the Creature after a few hours immersion, the Creature is a fresh-water animal.

As noted, the Creature will rarely attack a visitor to the site, or even encounter such, unless something has stirred it up. What can stir the Creature? Nobody is entirely sure.

MORE LATER.
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Old 11-13-2023, 12:55 AM   #13
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Some Characters:

PAUL DENTON (Age 36, 6'0", dark hair, brown eyes)

IQ 13
DX 14
ST 13
HT 10/12 (bonus for biotechnic enhancements)

Speed: 6.0 (in 1 G environment)



ADVANTAGES:
Alertness 2
Acute Vision 2
Charisma 1
Common Sense (some of his friends would dispute this)
Handsome Appearance
Language Talent 2
Strong Will 2
Ally [Tarlak, modestly powerful, almost all the time]
Contacts [Veranisian Commission staff, U.S. Federal Patrol]

DISADVANTAGES:
Alcoholism [Recovered, 'on the wagon']
Greed at -5 level
Lecherous at -5 level
Phobia [spiders, intense]
Dependent [son, minor, appears often]
Enemies [Multiple, modestly powerful, appear sometimes]
Secret [Knows of orichalcum deposit, -10]

QUIRKS:
1. Refuses to discuss his past on Earth with most people
2. Distrusts most Thakarians
3. Hums Gospel hymns to himself while concentrating, mostly unaware
4. Dislikes chocolate intensely
5. Prefers to be paid in gold or silver

SKILLS:
Air Pilot 16
Area Knowledge [Cataka] 14
Area Knowledge [New Orleans] 13
Area Knowledge [SharThak] 13
Area Knowledge [USA] 12
Area Knowledge [Veranis] 11
Brawling 15
Cooking 13
Dancing 13
Detect Lies 12
Fast Talk 15
First Aid 16
Gambling 15
Guitar 12
Guns (TL10) 15
Holdout 11
Interrogation 11
Knife 14
Languages:
English [American dialect, native]
Spanish [Argentinian dialect, literate] 13
Catakan Veranisian [literate] 13
Other Veranisian languages [not literate, highly varied] 5-11

Law [USA] 11
Lockpicking TL10 11
Lockpicking TL5-9 12
Mechanic 14
Merchant 15
Riding 13
Seamanship 13
Sex Appeal 13
Streetwise 14
Swimming 13
Tactics 11
Unarmed Combat [general] 13
Writing 15

Paul Denton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the USA on Earth, and lived a relatively uneventful life for a youth in late Twenty-first Century America. He was fortunate enough to be born gifted in both mind and body, easily able to maintain good grades and perform successfully athletically, and his looks and natural charm made him successful with women in his teens and later as well. His family had a tradition of police work, and as an adult he joined the United States Federal Patrol, and began what promised to be a successful career in law enforcement.

Yeah, Paul Denton was gifted...perhaps too gifted for his own good. It might have been that things came a little too easily. It would be safe to say that during his teenage years, and early adulthood, he suffered from the Overconfidence Disadvantage, as well as a streak of recklessness that perhaps rose from having things come to easily too soon.

Whatever the reason, Denton discovered an opponent that he had difficulty in dealing with: alcohol. Before he was 25, Denton was a full-on alcoholic, and sliding from 'high functioning' down toward impaired. His Patrol career came crashing down as an indirect result of his alcoholism. His judgement and attention impaired by the drink, he ended up taking the fall in a corruption scandal in which he himself was only peripherally involved. The actual corrupt officers dodged consequences (at that time), and Denton was out of the Patrol with a 'negative separation evaluation'.

While a NSE from the Patrol was not quite as bad as a dishonorable military discharge, it certainly impaired his career options. Between that and his ongoing issues with the alcoholism, he ended up taking a job obtained for him by a relative: crewing aboard a spaceship bound for Veranis.

Some of his Patrol skills proved useful in his new job, and Denton always learned fast. For three years he crewed on the ship, several runs and eventually being promoted to chief pilot. Then it all came apart again, and this time it was not the alcohol, it was the smuggling. Not smuggling by Denton, who had no idea about the whole thing, but another member of the crew.

MORE LATER.
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Old 11-14-2023, 12:43 AM   #14
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The smuggling operation had been going on quietly since before Denton had joined the crew. It was possible to make substantial sums of money by quietly moving contraband between Earth and Veranis. Some of the Terrestrians on Veranis wanted access to things from Earth that were not allowed to be shipped, and Veranis was the source for a couple of profitable illegal drugs that had become popular back on Earth.

One such drug is one that was newly a problem on Earth, commonly called 'Nostalgia'. Denton would have recognized it if he had seen the packages, because it was just becoming an issue when he was ending his career in the Federal Patrol. Denton (and most of the rest of the crew) had no idea that the chief engineer and the cargomaster were smuggling Nostalgia to Earth, and illegal weapon components back to Veranis.

This secret operation went on smoothly until a rival smuggler decided to take out the competition.

The ship had disengaged from the star carrier that brought it to Veranis, and had begun the process of entering the atmosphere, when a bomb planted amid the smuggled packages detonated.

It was not a large bomb, but even a very small explosion is a deadly serious matter on an aircraft and even more so on a spacecraft. The ship lost two of its six main thrusters, and much of the automatic control system failed as well. Denton had to take direct control, and do his best to steer the ship down through the atmosphere to a safe touchdown...somewhere.

Denton had only four working thrusters, some of them well below full capacity, and the ship was leaking precious SESPR propellant as well. They were far off course, on a planet with limited infrastructure for assisting a landing, and half the sensor systems were dead.

As Denton fought his dying craft down through the lower atmosphere, he found himself forced to fly through a line of powerful storms. The downdrafts almost smashed the ship into a mountain range, and Denton expended most of what propellant he had left preventing that, and killing the last of their deadly velocity as they sought out a safe landing site.

It was a testimony to the piloting skills Denton had mastered over the previous two years that he managed to bring the ship down without killing everyone aboard. As it was, he ended up managing to bring the ship skidding to a stop on a long, sandy beach beside a lake on one of the equatorial continents of Veranis. Of the twenty people aboard, six were still alive by the time the wreckage of the ship finally came to rest.

The cargomaster who had been one of the smugglers was one of the survivors, though at that point Denton had no idea of his involvement or what had been secretly happening. Of the six survivors, three were seriously injured, with broken bones or worse.

Fortunately, Denton had been well trained in first aid by the Patrol, and one of the other survivors, as a great blessing, was the medic. Between them, they were able to treat the three injured and prevent any of them from dying immediately. Unfortunately, this proved to be a mixed blessing.

Denton had no idea exactly where they were. He had been on Veranis several times over the previous two years, but always at the city of Cataka, which passed for the planetary capitol. Now all he knew was that they were on one of the equatorial continents, the one due south of the northlands, and that they were on the north side of the central mountain range. That left a zone of uncertainly hundreds of kilometers wide from east-to-west, and almost that much north-south.

Denton did know that their botched atmospheric entry would have been observed, and he was reasonably sure some sort of search would be mounted. The logical thing to do, as far as he knew, was to stay with their downed spacecraft. The transmitters were beyond use, but the ship itself was recognizable from the air, and it was sitting on an open stretch of beach, making it very obvious to any sort of air search.

At that time Denton knew almost nothing about the inhabitants of that land mass, and so he had no idea that they had come to rest beside a lake in the middle of the territory controlled by the Slath Tribes.

MORE LATER.
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Old 11-15-2023, 12:17 AM   #15
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The disrupted atmospheric entry had indeed been observed, and normally a search would have found the survivors relatively quickly, since their entry path had been tracked by radar and lidar as they came down. Their approximate location could be calculated from that data easily enough.

Unfortunately, both the group that had planted the bomb, and the people who had been using the cargomaster and the engineer to move their contraband, both had a vested interest in the ship not being found, and both groups had a 'hold' on various people in the Commission staff. Though the ship was accurately tracked, the wrong entry track and potential landing area was givne to the search and rescue teams. Though Denton had no way to know this, no help was on the way, they were searching an area hundreds of kilometers distant.

Denton had intended to stay with the wreckage, since it would be the easiest thing for the search and rescue teams to find, but circumstances forced a change in plan. The nearer Slath Tribes had also seen the ship come flaming in, it had made quite a spectacular show during its descent, after all. The local Slath were a low-tech people, but they were not totally ignorant of the outside world, and they had some idea of what they were seeing, at least in a general way.

The attack came about twenty-four hours after they landed. More than a hundred men, drawn from several local tribes, attacked the crash site, and though they were armed primarily with bows and blades, a few carried guns.

(As noted elsewhere, the Slath were a low-tech people, but it is not that hard to learn to use a .45 automatic or 9 millimeter or a revolver if they are available.) The survivors were in no condition to put up a fight even if they had been properly armed, which they were not.

Only Denton and the cargomaster survived the attack, and they were taken prisoner. The only reason they were held alive was that one of the local tribes had a pleasant habit of executing outsiders by torture.

Denton had no idea who he was being held by or why, and he certainly did not know the language of their captors, but he had a fair idea of what was in store. From where he and the cargomaster, Terry Kening, were being held in a cage, they could see the hot knives being prepared. The bleached skulls decorating much of the local village made the overall thrust of the situation that much clearer.

That would have been the end of Denton, except that their captors made a mistake. When their captors came to take their prisoners to their fate, one of the guards stumbled and dropped his gun. Denton was always fast, and that day he was faster than he had ever been before. He had the pistol in his hand almost before their captors knew anything was awry, and Denton had scored fifth in his graduating class at the Federal Patrol Academy in marksmanship. Four shots, four dead guards, and Denton and Kening were on the run in the forest, pursued by dozens of angry locals.

MORE LATER.
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Old 11-20-2023, 12:20 AM   #16
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

What followed was a week-long nightmare. Denton and Kening had to evade a numerous foe, one familiar with the territory, totally ruthless, and in better physical condition. Denton was not out of shape, as such, but he was tired, hungry, and had been under heavy stress since the crash. Kening was overweight and he was out of shape, used to life in space and not as conscientious about maintaining his free fall exercise as he should have been.

Denton would later conclude that the largest single factor in their escape was simple luck, and he was right about that. Still, Denton was very smart and very fast and he learned quickly. By the time they reached the northern bounds of Slath territory, both men were wounded, exhausted, suffering from hunger and thirst...and they managed to reach the ruined Lakegrandian city of Talianickarisat after a daring and risky river ride on a makeshift raft at night.

The archaeological expedition that would later camp there was not yet present at the time, but even so, the ruins saved their lives, because all the Slath tribes held the ancient Lakegrandian ruins in utter dread, and simply would not usually pursue an escapee into the ruins.

It took over a week before some of the bravest warriors of the pursuing tribesmen entered the ruins, and they were few enough that two men could probably have hidden from them forever in the vast wreckage, assuming they had food and drink. In fact, though, Denton and Kening had no idea that the ruins represented such temporary safety, and by the time their pursuers entered the ruins at all, Denton and Kening were long gone.

Amid the wreckage, which had been carved half to pieces by Thakarians looked for orichalcum, Denton found discarded Thakarian tools, including axes and blades, and used them to cut young trees and make a proper raft, and the two men had sailed down the Shan River several days before their pursuers finally dared enter the ruins, and were over a hundred kilometers to the north.

Denton knew very little about the central equatorial continent of Veranis, but he had landed at Cataka on the North Continent many times, and he knew that there was a substantial city at the mouth of the large river that they were now sailing down. Denton estimated that if they could just reach that river mouth city (SharThak), they could get transporation to the capitol city of Cataka.

It was hundreds of kilometers to SharThak, and in their condition the two men would almost surely have died long before they reached it, except that now, as they sailed north, they were entered more civilized regions. Many small Vertaran villages existed along the river in that region, and while not all were friendly, many were open to outsiders, and they had some contact with outsiders. Thus it was that Denton met locals who spoke English for the first time since the crash, and was able to negotiate for food and other help.

Payment was difficult, since neither man was carrying anything that would pass for money locally. On the other hand, in some cases Denton could trade skills for help. One village had a small gas-powered electrical generator, which was down for repair. Repair meant sending it hundreds of kilometers downriver, but Denton, who already had some mechanical skills, was able to repair it on the spot. This bought Denton and Kening a great deal of help.

In another village, Denton was able to use his first aid skills to save the life of a local boy, the son of an important person in the village, after he fell from a tree and broke a leg, and was bleeding out through a serious puncture wound. Again, this bought him and his crash survivor fellow considerable good will. He was actually paid with some of the local money, wh which was tremendously useful.

Eventually, they made their way northward down to the fall line, and past that they were in jungle rather than forest, but the communities along the river were both larger and more civilized than upriver. By now, Denton was beginning to pick up bits and pieces of the local language, enough to communicate in it, a little, but now they were also meeting more and more people who spoke English or Spanish.

MORE LATER.
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Old 12-05-2023, 10:47 PM   #17
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Eventually, Denton and Kening finally did make their way to the city of SharThak, where the Shar River emptied in the ocean. After months in the forest and jungle, SharThak seemed like a huge metropolis to the two men, but within two days of arrival, Kening had disappeared, along with most of what money they had managed to obtain during their trip down the river.

At that time, Denton still had no idea that the bomb that destroyed their ship, and cast them both into their wild, dangerous trip across a primitive Central Continent, had been present because of the smuggling operation Kening was running. To his horror, upon arriving in SharThak, Denton discovered that he was theoretically a wanted man by the Three Power Commission, because he, along with everyone else aboard their ship, was suspected of being part of the smuggling operation.

Theoretically, because it was widely assumed that Denton was dead.

While Denton and Kening had been making their way down the Shar over the previous months, searchers had at last found the wreckage of their ship, and also, in spite of the efforts to prevent this, the packages of contraband within the wrecked vehicle. The death of the most of the crew members had been confirmed, the bodies were still on-site, after all, after the Slath slaughter. Only Denton and Kening from the crew register were unaccounted for, but they were both presumed to be dead, though again, in theory, if they turned up alive there were arrest warrants out for both of them.

Denton had no idea how to go about proving his innocence, and so he dared not reveal that he was alive to the local Terrestrial authorities even so. He knew that even if he was innocent, the circumstances of his separation from the Federal Patrol would count against his personal credibility.

In the meantime, Denton was alone in a foreign city on a foreign planet with no money, little in the way of identification, and no immediate way to contact anyone for help.

Denton fairly promptly 'fell off the wagon'. He had been a 'recovered alcoholic' for over three years, but under the circumstances, he tripped up. For a year or so, he was regularly drunk, though he remained a fairly high functioning one. His high natural intelligence, good looks, and gift for languages served him well during this time. He found work in SharThak, there was employment for people who spoke both the local language and English and Spanish, and he did not scruple at doing some shady things as well, though he drew the line at serious criminal behavior.

Denton made contacts in SharThak, both above board and shady. He worked as a laborer, and as an aide to a doctor, where his already good first aid skills were improved. He crewed on sailing ships out of SharThak, and learned basic seamanship. He used various fake names, which was not that hard to get away with in the broil of multi-species, multi-culture, multi-tech SharThak. During this period, Denton made friends in SharThak, Vertaran and Human, and his usual knack for attracting female attention still operated.

He would probably have managed to accumulate some money, except that too much of his income vanished down his throat in the form of potent local booze and the occasional bottle of imported Terrestrian Irish whiskey (this last was especially expensive, of course).

One of sexual partners Denton sometimes shared a drink and a night with was a local Vertaran woman, of mixed racial/cultural background (within the Vertaran species) who operated one of the bars Denton favored.

When she fell pregnant, after an evening of mutually drunken sex, it was a shock to them both. Vertarans and Humans are cross-fertile...but not very much. Pregnancy rarely happens with Vertaran-Human matings, but when it does, it produces a 'mule', a non-fertile interspecies hybrid.

Thus it was that Denton became a father, much to his shock and dismay. Neither of the parents was in any sense ready to be a parent, but like many others throughout the history of the Homosapients, there they were.

They did not marry or form a permanent bond, but they did love their son, when he arrived, and they both tried hard to give him some kind of parental love and care. At first the boy lived with his mother, but Denton was a regular visitor and his son knew who his father was. Becoming a father also gave Denton the impetus to put down the bottle and start trying to climb painfully back on to that wagon.

MORE LATER.
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Old 12-05-2023, 11:53 PM   #18
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Over the course of the next two years, Denton, now using the alias of 'Paul McRane', buckled down and worked, hard. He managed to put together enough money to finally make the trip to Cataka, by sea, as a crewman on a freighter. It was an odd ship, with a wooden hull, sail propelled, but with a relatively modern propane generator providing light and heat aboard. The trip was a long one, but Denton arrived in Cataka, which was changing rapidly at that time under the new Terrestrian regime.

It was during this visit that Denton saw an opportunity.

As mentioned already, there was a huge variety of technologies and cultural levels co-existing on Veranis at that time. Wooden sailing ships shared the sea with modern hydrofoils. Some primitive tribes made their own slings and bows and arrows and used them along with stolen or purchased modern firearms. The same house might be heated by a wood fire and have a holographic entertainment system.

Air travel on Veranis was peculiarly divided. The Three Power Commission had access to totally modern aircraft, of course. The Thakarians, likewise, had had such, but had taken most of those with them during their retreat a few years before. The natives had relatively little in the way of air vehicles, even those Vertarans who were familiar with modern technology.

It took Denton a little bit of time to realize quite why: the tech of the most advanced Veranisians, before the Thakarians came, had not been up to powered air travel quite yet, though they might had achieved in a few more decades on their own. Then the Thakarians had arrived, with their (by local standards) hyper-advanced air vehicles, and the Terrestrians likewise.

As a result, most of the locals, when they wanted to possess aircraft, automatically thought about the advanced vehicles used by the Thakarians and the Terrestrians, they had no frame of reference for anything that was an effective but less sophisticated aircraft. Sea vessels, yes, they had many 'intermediate' concepts for those in their history, but not aircraft.

For his own part, Denton had held a piloting license ever since his days at the Federal Patrol Academy. He had learned orbital and space piloting as a crewman on a spaceship for three years. He already had substantial mechanical skills, and he knew others in SharThak, both Vertaran and Human, who had more. He also had a hobbyist interest in older aircraft.

He also recognized that if he could construct an aircraft, something less sophisticated than the current state of the art, to be sure, but tough and effective, there were endless opportunities to use such a thing for profit both in the Northlands and the Central Continent.

To make a long story short, that is exactly what he managed to do.

It required Denton over a year to accumulate enough money (along with some debt) to build his airplane, and he recruited the help of several people to do it. In the end, though, he had what amounted to a seaplane, capable of landing on the ocean or a lake or even a wide river, and using technology that was over a century and a half old on Earth (along with modern devices for some systems). It was a peculiar hybrid, prop-driven, gasoline powered (petroleum was a relatively common resource on the North Continent), with plenty of cargo space. It was slow, by the standards of modern airplanes, but it was sturdy and could be field-repaired relatively easily.

The plane was, very loosely, designed along the lines of an old Grumman HU-16 Albatross, a plane used by the American military a century and a half earlier. It used a more modern and efficient, but still easily field-serviceable, gasoline engine on each prop, and it was sufficiently fuel efficient to make the run from Cataka to SharThak 'straight' with a little fuel to spare. It had a decent cargo capacity, and it was designed and built to be tough rather than extremely fast. The frame and skin were made of modern light alloys and synthetics, which saved enough weight to permit the plane to actually be lightly armored.

The first test flight was a disaster, several flaws forced the plane down within minutes. The flaws were minor, though, and correctable, and within a month, Denton, in his 'Paul McRane' persona, was making regular cargo and passenger runs with his plane.

MORE LATER.
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Old 01-08-2024, 12:33 AM   #19
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

As Paul McRane, Denton became a successful businessman in Cataka, using his plane to transport people and cargoes north into the inland regions of the North Continent, south across the ocean to Central Continent, and to other parts of Veranis as well. He quickly developed a reputation for being reliable, discreet, and he was smart enough not to press the market for all it would carry. He developed contacts among both the Human and the Vertaran population, and about a year after he first started flying his plane, he had paid off his debts.

Among the contacts he had made were some members of the Three Power Commission staff, who found 'Paul McRane' useful for certain errands that were best not done openly by Commission staff or using Commission resources. These 'unofficial official' errands paid very well, and Denton was smart enough to keep quiet about them when that was necessary.

As time passed, as McRane, Denton became something of an unofficial, quiet operative of the intelligence and security staff of the Commission in Cataka, he was uniquely positioned to carry out this role, given his talent for language, his contacts both above and below board, and the fact that he was trusted by both Human and Vertaran factions. His plane, and his cargo and passenger business, was a perfect (and real) cover for such errands, as well.

Denton often found himself in somewhat violent situations, both as part of his regular business, which took him into contact with various shady groups on a semi-regular basis, and his quiet unofficial work for the Commission. The irony of working for the very Commission that had arrest warrants out for him in his real identity was not lost on Denton, and became a source of considerable amusement to him in some moods.

Denton made a major, and dangerous, discovery during a misadventure on West Continent. He was there to deliver a load of valuable supplies to an archaeological team, including spare parts for their power sources and other equipment. Thieves stole part of his cargo, and the subsequent misadventure involved in retrieving it took Denton deep into the local jungles. He retrieved the cargo, but he also made a discovery that excited him and scared him at the same time.

Denton discovered a cache of orichalcum, nearly 10 grams of the substance, in a jungle-covered ruin in the depths of a jungle. Ten grams of orichalcum had a value in the neighborhood of nine hundred million American dollars, it was a trove so valuable that it was almost worthless from one point of view. If he revealed that he had such a thing, his 'secret identity' would never last, and he would become a target for criminals, spies, and other dangerous players, he might well not live long enough to sell any of it. The orichalcum became a Secret Denton held, while he tried to work out how to profit from it without ending up imprisoned or dead.

Denton also made an enemy of the smuggling ring that had led to the destruction of the spacecraft, years before. Kening became an Enemy, Denton wanted to capture him alive to use him to clear his name under his real identity, and Kening wanted Denton dead to secure his own safety. Kening was forced to move carefully, though, because of Denton's contacts in the government and the underworld.

In 2123, Denton, as 'McRane', is a mostly-respected businessman in Cataka and SharThak. The income from his work makes him comfortable, most of the time.

Denton is not entirely unhappy with his life on Veranis, but he badly wants to clear his name, both as a matter of pride and principle, and because he has family on Earth that believe him dead, and he would like to let them know the truth. Also, Denton is aware of another consideration: his son Nykor.

Denton knows that as his biological son, Nykor could legally claim American citizenship, which would make him eligible for the heath-boosting and life-extending treatments standard to the citizens of the advanced nations of Earth.

Nykor, as a half-Human/half-Vertaran, still fits in relatively well, at least in the major cities, of Veranis. After a century of occupation by the Human Thakarians, and now the presence of a substantial number of Terrestrians, there are more than a few 'halflings' living on Veranis. In some places and among some groups they are hated or second-class citizens, but in major cities such as Cataka and SharThak they are mostly accepted.

On Earth, Nykor would be much more of an outsider...but the biotechnic treatments would nearly double his life expectancy, and make him far healthier as well. Denton is very much aware of that.

Denton remains on good terms with the mother of Nykor. His womanizing has been greatly curtailed of late, though. In part this is a function of the fact that he is not quite as young as he once was, but mostly it is a result of a burgeoning relationship with a woman named Amanda Kerrey.

MORE LATER.
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Old 01-08-2024, 03:35 PM   #20
warellis
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
Also, Denton is aware of another consideration: his son Nykor.

Denton knows that as his biological son, Nykor could legally claim American citizenship, which would make him eligible for the heath-boosting and life-extending treatments standard to the citizens of the advanced nations of Earth.

Nykor, as a half-Human/half-Vertaran, still fits in relatively well, at least in the major cities, of Veranis. After a century of occupation by the Human Thakarians, and now the presence of a substantial number of Terrestrians, there are more than a few 'halflings' living on Veranis. In some places and among some groups they are hated or second-class citizens, but in major cities such as Cataka and SharThak they are mostly accepted.

On Earth, Nykor would be much more of an outsider...but the biotechnic treatments would nearly double his life expectancy, and make him far healthier as well. Denton is very much aware of that.
How long can half-Terrestrian/half-Vertarans live? Like what is the average lifespan assuming they live somewhere safe and nicely developed (assuming without the life extension treatments) and being healthy (i.e. keeping themselves healthy like not having a terrible diet, smoking, etc)?

And in places with this life-extension treatment, how long do people generally live? Like what is the average lifespan with the treatment?
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