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Old 08-07-2023, 11:28 PM   #1
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

Diameter: 12,762 kilometers
Mass: 6 * 10^21 metric tons
Axial Tilt: 25 degrees
Satellites: 2 (one large satellite (3000 kilometer diameter), one tiny (asteroid sized))
Rotation: 22 hours, 35 minutes, 25 seconds
Length of year: 362 days, 23 hours, 10 minutes, 4 seconds
Surface gravity: 9.79 meters/sec/sec
Atmospheric Composition: Nitrogen 77%, Oxygen 21.75%, other 1.75%
Atmospheric Pressure: 1.03 bar at sea level
Hydrosphere: 73%
Surface Temperatures at 30 degrees latitude: 70/90/110
Continents: 5

The planet Veranis (an Anglicization of a native term) is the fifth planet of a spectral class F star called Dyaxor A. It was terraformed into an Earth-comparable environment by the Familiar Eldren during the Carboniferous Period, and has been periodically stocked with new species since then. Veranis is one of the more Earth-like of these terraformed planets, its mass, diameter, rotation, axial tilt, and other physical parameters were naturally very close to that of Earth before the Eldren even began their work.

In the relatively recent geological past (about 40,000 Terran years ago), Veranis was in the grip of a planetary glacial period. Though the planet has open ocean at both poles, ice floated at the poles and glaciers spread through the land areas in the higher latitudes. In 2123, though, that period is long past, and now the planet has transitioned into a hothouse period. The axial tilt is sufficient to produce significant seasons, but most of the land areas of the planet never experience extreme cold, except at the highest mountain elevations. By Terrestrial standards, the seasons range from 'mildly warm' to 'unbearably hot'. The slightly higher rotation rate (compared to Earth) and the steady flood of energy from the class F star combine to give Veranis lively weather and regular powerful cyclonic storms in the tropics.

The Familiar Eldren established a population of the H. lakegrandis species there around 73000 B.C., and that race in turn brought in a population of H. vertara from the neighboring world, and this race dominated the planet after the lakegrandians vanished. In the late Twentieth Century an extrastellar race of humans, the Thakarians, conquered both the terraformed worlds of the star system, and they were ousted in turn in 2105 by humans from Earth.

The ancient lakegrandian population of Veranis became quite technologically advanced by 31,000 B.C. They had achieved interplanetary flight, and archaeologists in 2123 debate whether they had achieved translight interstellar travel at the time of their Disappearance. Their technology appears to have been sufficient for the purpose, and they definitely had access to orichalcum, but whether they had actually done it at the time of their Disappearance remains unclear to Terrestrial archaeologists in 2123.

Certainly they had achieved many other things. Their ancient cities covered hundreds of square kilometers in their day, and they sculpted entire mountains to their purposes. Major rivers were rerouted, and they drilled deep-mantle taps as well. They brought in a breeding population of the Homo vertara who lived on their neighboring planet. Why they did this remains unknown, they apparently made no effort to raise the technological or cultural level of the vertarans that they settled on their world, and they appear to have gained no known benefit by this transplantation.

What is known is that some time around the year 31,000 B.C., Gregorian, the entire billion+ population of lakegrandians living on Veranis vanished. Their fate remains totally unknown in 2123. The archaeological record shows little indication of what might have befallen them. The archaeological record seems to indicate that they were still thriving, still advancing, at the time of the Disappearance. There is no indication of warfare, no skeletons scattered among the ancient ruined cities. The cities and other ruins suffered damage from the elements and time after the Disappearance, but show no sign of damage at that particular time.

Exactly how fast it all happened is also unclear, though archaeologists have narrowed it down to a period of about a Terran century. It might have happened faster, it was fairly certainly no longer than that when what Happened, happened.

With the ancient lakegrandians gone, Veranis was inherited by the vertarans that the lakegrandians had brought to their world from the neighboring world.

MORE LATER.
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Old 08-08-2023, 10:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Over the course of several thousand years, the vertaran population on Veranis themselves achieved a technological civilization, or rather several successive such, growing in complexity with time. Achieving interplanetary travel, they made contact with their cousins on the fourth world, who were still much less technically advanced than they were, and the usual combination of profitable interactions and exploitations followed.

As is also the usual way of such things, the 'primitives' of the fourth planet began to study and work to catch up to their kin, and within a few centuries both worlds were comparably advanced, though the fifth world was in an advantageous position because of their head start.

This period culminated in several wars, the last and worst of which was sufficient to blast both worlds back to the equivalent of a late iron age technology, and to reduce the populations of both worlds by an enormous amount. As it happens, Homo vertara is particularly vulnerable to both the acute and chronic somatic effects, and the hereditary effects, of ionizing radiation. They had just suffered through several successive nuclear wars, in which all sides used 'salted' weapons and other such weapons liberally.

On both planets, the population was reduced by nearly 99%.

There were survivors, and eventually they began to recover and spread across their worlds again. They remembered their ancestral achievements as a mixture of accurate oral history and complicated and distorted mythology. The fourth world was still occupying a societal level roughly equal to that of Europe in the Fourth Century, while on Veranis some societies had achieved a roughly Nineteenth Century level, when hostile Homo sapiens arrived from the stars to conquer and settle both worlds.

These humans, who derived from a space-faring culture that called themselves the Thakarians, were seeking orichalcum. As it happens, Veranis had accessible deposits of the mineral, though the locals had no idea that the substance even existed. The ancient lakegrandians had already mined most of those deposits, and the refined mineral was there to be taken in the ruins of their ancient civilization, if one knew where to look and how to find it. The Thakarians did know, and over the course of decades they looted most of the mineral, and reduced the local populations to various levels of subordination, ranging from second-class citizens in a few favored cases to little more than chattel slaves elsewhere, and they did this on both worlds.

A bit over a century after the Thakarian conquest, another group of Homo sapiens, this time hailing from Earth, arrived. They did not come for the sake of the people of the two worlds, per se. They were involved in an armed conflict with the Thakarians and events had led the conflict to this star system and this planet. As it happened, though, they did oust the Thakarians, and in the process, almost by accident, inherited control over the two inhabited worlds of the star system.

The new humans were from the so-called 'Alpha Coalition' on Earth, the alliance of the USA, Argentina, and the Crowned Republic of Australia. After they defeated the Thakarians in 2105, they found themselves in the position of governing alien worlds, and considerable confusion and conflict about what they should do next followed, and continues as of 2123.

GEOGRAPHY:

Veranis is a hot world, overall. It has five major land masses, three of them arranged in a band around the equator, one each on the north and southern hemispheres. Both poles are oceanic, which contributes to the even flow of heat around the planet and helps regulate the temperature. The planet does have noticeable seasons, but its winters are rarely very cold.

The northern and southern continents are merely warm, and have a temperate climate and biomes comparable to the temperate zones on Earth.

The three large continents scattered around the tropic zone are hot, and tend toward jungles, forests, huge mountain ranges, and harsh deserts in places. It is in the tropical continents that most of the really ancient ruins, those of the old civilization of the lakegrandians, are to be found. Though the lakegrandians are a cold-adapted humanoid race, at the time of their thriving the planet was in a glacial period, and the tropics were more clement for them than would have been the case later.

The ruins of the spacefaring vertaran society are much younger, and scattered all over the planet, but though they are vastly younger than the elder ruins, they are most far less well preserved, both because of how they were initially constructed, and because many if not most of them suffered successive mass destruction attacks during the great wars.

Though the planets have been mapped from space with considerable precision, the vast jungles and forests mean that many areas are effectively unexplored, especially in the tropical continents. Further, many of the older ruins are underground, or otherwise concealed. Though of tremendous interests to archaeologists and historians, the precious orichalcum is mostly gone, having been removed by the Thakarians during their century of rule.

POLITICS and GOVERNMENT and SOCIOLOGY:

The planet Veranis, in 2123, is technically governed by a Governor-General and a Supervisory Board, consisting of three Americans, three Argentines, and three Australians. The governor-generalship rotates among the three polities, and he or she acts as the executive to the legistature of the Board. The government sits in a city on the northern continent called Cataka.

In practice, over much of the planet, the authority of the Board is nominal. They simply don't have the resources to police the planet in detail, or govern it to any but the loosest degree. The writ of the Board is honored throughout Cataka and most of the surrounding territories, and they are not ignored on the rest of the planet, but governing Veranis is more like negotiating than dictating.

The ultimate argument of the Board is the fact that there is usually a spatial warship of one of the Alpha powers in orbit. It is usually a smaller one, with limited firepower, but mass destruction weapons are theoretically an option. In practice, this is rarely useful, because it is too much like performing surgery with a sledgehammer. It is sufficient to make sure the Board is taken seriously, but few governors-general are foolish enough to think that they can control the planet purely by such means.

To complicate matters further, the patrol ship in orbit is under military command, and so not under the direct authority of the governor-general. The G-G must request action, he or she cannot order it. This becomes even more so when the warship in question is from a different Alpha power than the current G-G.

One asset of the Board and the G-G is that many of the locals definitely do consider the new boss a significant improvement on the old boss. The Thakarians were often brutal, usually ruthless, often rapacious. While by no means saintly, the Terran contingent is a distinct improvement, from the point of view of much of the local population.

MORE LATER.
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Old 08-09-2023, 01:46 PM   #3
warellis
 
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

Hopefully this attempted governing of the local Vertarans doesn't turn into something as corrupt as say Afghanistan turned out to be, where vast sums were spent and wasted working with local allies who helped corruption grow because a ton of money was pouring in with little oversight.

What kind of political leadership do the Vertarans and Thakarians have?

What does either generally look like?
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Old 08-22-2023, 09:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

Veranis has a relatively small population compared to Earth. The total humanoid population of the planet is in the neighborhood of seventy million.

In former times, the population was much larger. At their height, the population H. vertara on the planet was over a billion. The series of interplanetary wars that devasted both Veranis and its sister world closer to the star reduced the population catastrophically. So savage were those wars that only a tiny fraction of the population on each world survived. Matters were made the worse by the unusually high vulnerability of H. vertara to the effects of ionizing radiation.

(Imagine many of the popular Hollywood ideas about the aftermath of nuclear war, then consider that for vertarans, they are not that far off target.)

In the last few centuries before the coming of the Thakarians, the population was beginning to grow fairly steadily again. For all their faults, the Thakarians did reintroduce various forms of advanced medicine and agriculture that actually accelerated this process.

The modern population of Veranis is polyspecific. The ancient lakegrandians who were the original inhabitants (or at least the population the Familiar Eldren established there) are long gone. [1]

The modern-day population is made up mostly of vertarans, who are now effectively native to the planet, having been settled there thousands of years before, and who make up about eighty percent of the total population. About fifteen percent is human, mostly Thakarians left behind when the Thakarian space forces retreated. Most of these Thakarian humans are also more-or-less native, having been born on Veranis to first- or second-generation Thakarian colonists. A small fraction of the human population is Terrestrial.

Most of the Terrestrial humans on Veranis live in or around the city of Cataka, and are associated, one way or another, with the three-state administrative apparat (and thus are mostly Americans, Argentinians, and Australians). Altogether, about thirty thousand Terrestrials live in Cataka, and over two thirds of them are either employed by the government or make a living somehow supporting the same. Another four thousand military personnel, drawn from the military of the Alpha States, provide the core of the governing council military support.

Of course, four thousand military personnel is not a fraction of what would be required to fully police and govern a world inhabited by seventy million and as large as Earth. In practice, the four thousand Terrestrial soldiers and sailors and airmen are the core of a larger enforcement arm made up of locals. This military numbers about one hundred thousand, as of 2123.

One problem for the colonial administration is that this enforcement arm existed under the Thakarian regime as well, and they more-or-less inherited it. As might be expected, it is mostly vertarans in its ranks, with Thakarian human officers, and this military, called the Thranne (anglization of a local word, pronounced roughly 'tha-rannn-e' with a long e at the end) locally, is not entirely popular with the native population.

The colonial board has replaced some of the highest Thakarian officers with either Terrestrials or other locals, but they can not replace all the Thakarians without shattering the command structure. The Thranne has a reputation for brutality in its enforcement actions, the new administration has been attempting to ameliorate that, with some success, but they have to move carefully because the Thranne is also their own primary enforcement arm, and they can not afford to have it be seen as weak or ineffectual.

Cataka is the largest single city on the planet, with a total population of one hundred and six thousand. Since most of the Terrestrials are concentrated in or near this city, they made up a significant percentage of the local population.

Cataka was the capitol of the most technologically and economically advanced native state, prior to the arrival of the Thakarians, a society with an early-industrial technology. [2]

As the center of what was then the most powerful and advanced polity on Veranis, Cataka also became the center of Thakarian administration, and the site of the largest Thakarian settlements on the planet, though many other settlements existed as well. As a result, the population of the region around Cataka is nearly thirty percent human (mostly Thakarians).

Attitudes among the vertarans toward humans vary enormously from place to place, from society to society, and from individual to individual. Since both Thakarians and Terrestrians are human, some of the original natives tend to lump them into the same category, even if they know intellectually that they are from different worlds and societies. Others are quite comfortable making the distinction. Likewise, the natives sometimes make distinctions between different subgroups of Thakarians, and some of the natives care about the distinction between an American, an Argentinian, or an Australian, and some do not.

The local vertaran population has not been politically unified for thousands of years, since the interplanetary war millennia earlier. They speak hundreds of different and non-interfluent languages (though Terrestrial philologists analyzing their speech have begun to trace commonalities that they suspect lead back to a single global language in the pre-interplanetary war days). They are possessed of literally hundreds of religions, philosophies, cultures, and societies. On the equatorial continents, many of the vertaran natives live in sufficient isolation that they are barely aware of the events outside their native territories.

MORE LATER.


[1] Gone from Veranis, and the Dyaxor System, that is. The species still exists elsewhere in the galaxy.

[2] They were at about GURPS TL 4, on the verge of TL5. Other societies on Veranis at that time ranged from that same level down to TL0, and from substantial polities down to primitive tribes.
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Old 08-22-2023, 09:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

Quote:
Originally Posted by warellis View Post
Hopefully this attempted governing of the local Vertarans doesn't turn into something as corrupt as say Afghanistan turned out to be, where vast sums were spent and wasted working with local allies who helped corruption grow because a ton of money was pouring in with little oversight.

What kind of political leadership do the Vertarans and Thakarians have?
As I noted in the main thread, the locals have a lot of different structures.

Quote:

What does either generally look like?
A vertaran, generally, looks like a very thin humanoid, not skinny, but lean, their height lies within normal human ranges, but there are more very tall verterans than very tall humans, so they average taller. A typical vertaran female is almost as tall as a typical (Terrestrial) human male. But they have outliers, there are a few very short onesand some fat ones, etc. Almost all vertarans are redheads, including all body hair. See here.

(Yes, they have pointed ears, no, they don't look much like Vulcans otherwise, and they very definitely don't usually act like Vulcans!)

Thakarians are straight-up H. sapiens. Their most recent common ancestors with Terrestrians were 72,000 years ago, though, so although they are quite human (and fully interfertile with Terrestrians), they are not exactly the same racial/ethnic mixes found on Earth. They would definitely draw second glances on Earth because of this last, but they are quite definitely humans.
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Old 08-27-2023, 11:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

In 2123, Veranis is a complicated place. The northern continent is the most 'civilized', with a temperate climate and a relatively few political states. Most of the governments here are either vertarans or Thakarian humans, and acknowledge (more or less) the authority of the Three Power Commission. Even before the Thakarians arrived, the vertarans of the northern continent had risen to an early-industrial-age level of technology, including crude steam technology and a well-developed sailing technology that could send ships all over their planet. One hundred years of Thakarian rule brought these states up to a much more advanced (at least technologically speaking) level, and many of the vertarans of the North Continent are quite at home with interstellar technology, having learned from their conquerors.

The Southern Continent also has a temperate climate, though of course its seasons mirror those of the North Continent. It has a smaller population, and was somewhat less advanced prior to the Thakarian regime. They too learned from their conquerors, and one powerful warlord unified the South Continent under his rule, subject to the Thakarian overlordship.

The collapse of Thakarian control left the grandson of this ruler struggling to retain control of his continental empire, with several smaller states breaking away. The South Continent politics are a complicated headache for the Commission, which is not sure whether they should back the ruling family in service of keeping order in the South, or work for good relations with the breakaway states. Either plan might be viable, but they are to some extent also mutually exclusive. If the Commission backs the Warlord too hard and he fails anyway, they would then face a continent full of resentful newly independent states. If they back the breakaway states, the warlord might lose even more control and chaos and internecine warfare could break out in the South. So matters stand in the South Continent in 2123.

The three equatorial continents are individually smaller than the North and South Continents, but together they make up over sixty percent of the total land surface of Veranis. All three straddle the equator, all three have hot tropical climates, and all three are mostly covered by forest and jungle. These land masses have their own names in the local languages, of course. In fact, they have many local names in different tongues and to different groups. Terrestrians, when speaking in their own languages, tend to refer to them as East Continent, Central Continent, and West Continent, and to the two larger land masses simply as the Northlands and the Southlands.

The total population of the three equatorial continents is smaller than the population of either the North or South Continents, and for the most part they are far less technologically advanced. The most common social organization is the tribe, and there are literally thousands of such tribes spread across the three jungle-covered continents. Other forms of social organization do exist there as well, and many of these tribes and groups are implacably hostile to each other. The relationship of these tribes to the rest of Veranis, and to the governing Commission, varies widely, from placid acceptance to tense suspicion to mercenary opportunism. Some of the tribes are so isolated or xenophobic that they hardly ever came into contact with the former Thakarian rulers or the current Terrestrian regime, and indeed are barely aware of them.

Cultural practices in the equatorial lands range from peaceful hunter-gatherers to warlike pastoralists to cannibalistic raiders to slavers to isolationist farmers zealously guarding isolated valleys. Almost anything on might imagine might be found somewhere in these jungle-covered continents.

Ironically, in ancient history, the equatorial continents were the primary site of the original lakgrandian civilization, and when they vanished, they left behind vast empty cities, many of which remain concealed within the jungle canopy or buried underground in these equatorial continents. Some of these ruins have been ransacked by the former Thak-Tarak Clan rulers, seeking orichalcum, but they were little interested in archaelogy, and the ruins left behind after they ransacked the orichalcum is still a scientific treasure trove. Other lakgrandian ruins remain concealed within the jungle, untouched in ages.

Subsequently, the advanced vertaran civilization of a few millennia earlier were also primarily in the equatorial continents. Ironically, the same lands that in 2123 are inhabited by primitive tribes were the center of a powerful and subtly sophisticated interplanetary society, a few thousand years earlier, and these ruins too, remain within the jungles. The vertaran ruins are thousands of years younger, but the lakgrandian ruins are often better preserved. Both are sources of growing fascination to Terrestrial archeologists, especialy given the mystery of the sudden disappearance of the ancient lakgrandian culture.

When the Terrestrian ships unexpectedly broke the Thakarian fleet assigned to the Dyaxor System, either forcing numerically superior Thakarian ships into retreat or destroying them outright, a substantial population of Thak-Tarak Thakarians remained on the planet. Most of them were born there, third and fourth generation descendants of the first Thakarian arrivals. Concentrated mostly on the North and South Continents, many of them still resent the defeat, and hope for a return to Thak-Tarak control. Others are more loyal to their fellows on Veranis than to their putative Clan. Some even see the Terrestrians as an improvement.

Naturally, many complicated intrigues and counter-intrigues are in play. The cease-fire with the Thakarians still permits Thakarian ships of traders and others to visit Veranis regularly. It is no secret that the Thak-Tarak Clan has spies and informers, both among the Thakarians on the surface and some vertarans as well, especially those who were influential under the previous regime.

Adding to the brew is the presence of Terrestrian spies from hostile Terrestrial states as well, especially Imperial spies.

An ongoing (and deadly serious) game of 'spy vs. spy vs. spy' plays out on Veranis, especially in and around the city of Cataka. Criminals and opportunists of all species, nationalities, and types take advantage of the situation to suit themselves. Cataka, especially, has a thriving underworld within which almost anything, or sometimes anyone, is for sale for the right price.

MORE LATER.

(Veranis is well-suited to a certain sort of adventuring, being that its star system is strategically located, with two separate sets of ancient civilizational ruins drowned in jungle, forest, and occasionally desert, scientifically interesting and with the presence of genuine ancient high-tech artifacts that are both valuable and dangerous, a myriad of tribes and local states, some hostile and some friendly and some swinging both ways, more than one species of humanoid competing and interacting, a colonial government that barely controls the planet, cutthroat politics, spies of various sorts abounding, another habitable world in the same star system, technology ranging from interstellar-level down to canoes and bows and arrows all in use at once, valuable resources both known and not yet discovered...GURPS Cliffhangers, anyone?)
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Old 09-10-2023, 10:21 PM   #7
Johnny1A.2
 
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

The city of Cataka is located on the southern coast of the Northern Continent, near the confluence of three major rivers. The rivers come together just north of the coast, and flow into the ocean as a single watercourse that is about fifteen kilometers long. The great combined river empties into a large bay, naturally sheltered by surrounding hills, making it a superb site for a seaship haven.

Between access to different parts of the Northern Continent interior provided by the rivers, and the presence of a good harbor, the site was a natural location for a city, and the natives had maintained a city there for millennia, since not long after the nuclear wars, in fact. Cataka in 2123 is a complicated place. The oldest part of the city is on the western side of the bay and contains a mix of native-built structures ranging in age from a few decades to over a thousand Terran years or in a few cases more.

Eastward around the curve of the bay is the Thakarian-built area of the city, about a Terran century old. This area is much more technologically modern, having been constructed by an interstellar-level society, and much of it is built atop the leveled remains of the eastern part of the original city. It is also the most populous region, in terms of both human and vertarans.

Further east yet lie the dockyards, with multiple quays for oceangoing ships, and a functioning shipyard. The seacraft passing through here include modern powered vessels and various forms of sailing ships, hundreds of cultures ply the seas of Veranis and they exist at almost all levels of technological development. It should be kept in mind that many of the vertarans have learned modern technologies from the Thakarians and the Terrestrians, and they sail the seas in all manner of vessels.

An ancient stone wall surrounds much of the Old City, with still-functioning gates. Within the wall, the Old City is a genuine maze of narrow winding streets, ancient structures, old squares and marketplaces, and a channeled local river as well used to make canals. The population of the Old City is most vertarans, but about ten percent are humans (mostly of Thakarian origin, but there are a few Terrestrians). For the most part, the residents of the Old City are poorer and of lower social status than the modern area...but exceptions always exist.

The modern part of the city also includes new, Terrestrial-built structures that house the Governing Commission and the offices of the Governor-General, as well as some of their support staff and military personnel, and associated Terrestrian merchants and others. The actual Commission complex is walled off from the rest of the modern area, and guarded by armed Terrestrian military personnel (mostly U.S. Marines, but with a presence of Australian and Argentine personnel as well).

To the north of the modern city lies a highly-developed spaceport complex, originally built by the Thakarians and now controlled by the Three Powers.

Further to the north, beyond the aerospaceport, lies farmland, running up to the base of the hills. The floor of the valley is a rich soil, and the farmlands to the north provide a substantial percentage of the food consumed by the inhabitants of Cataka. (Fish from the nearby ocean and food barged down the river provides the rest.) Most of the crops grown are of course local species, but some Thakarian imports are present. The only major Terrestrian plant grown is tomato. Tomatoes were unknown to both the Thakarians and the vertarans before contact with Terrestrians, and have proven both to grow well in the local soil and to be extremely popular with the local population.

The ruling Thakarian Thak-Tarak Clan never fortified the Cataka site, except at a purely individual level, trusting to their orbiting ships for protection. The Terrestrians have chosen to install anti-air and anti-spacecraft missile and laser batteries, mostly in the hills surrounding the city, but with some present on the spaceport and near the city proper. Access to these facilities is highly restricted, it is extremely rare for either a vertaran or a Thakarian human to be permitted near them.

(Though spies of every sort in Cataka are always trying to gain access to them, and learn more about them.)

Likewise, though to a lesser extent, shore batteries have been installed against the possibility (however improbable it might seem) of attack from the sea.

The hills around Cataka are mostly limestone, with a core of granite, and the area receives substantial rainfall. Thus it is not a surprise that the hills are riddled with extensive cave systems. Some of them have been artificially extended, or deliberately connected to other caves. It is not likely that anyone in Cataka knows all the caves. Some of them are used by locals for various purposes, some of them are used by criminals or spies, some have been used in the past by such and now hold forgotten surprises and dangers.

To the west of the bay and the city of Cataka, the hills run for miles, but in places they do not come all the way down to the sea. Extensive beaches exist, and are used by the locals and the Terrestrians for recreation. Few people swim in the ocean, though, because the waters near Cataka are infested with a substantial population of several local shark species, some of which are quite prepared to attack and feed on humanoids. Some of these sharks come upriver as well, making swimming the river doubtful as well.

The hills are not particularly rich in useful minerals, mining is not a major local industry. The closest source of local metals and minerals are inland mines some two hundred kilometers inland. These deposits include iron and copper, and further up one of the rivers, aluminum can be mined.

Among the things to be found in the caves around Cataka are a large and growing cache of modern weaponry, being stockpiled by Thak-Tarak partisans against the day their Clan can again resume control. Another cave is used to store local addictive drugs for resale in the markets of Cataka. One cavern was used, up until fifty years before, by a local cult that engaged in humanoid sacrifices, and still houses hundreds of mummified victims.

MORE LATER.
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