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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 four fifths.

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 civiliation, 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 three 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
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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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Old 09-11-2023, 11:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

South of Cataka is a vast stretch of ocean, about twelve hundred and ninety kilometers wide, ending in the northern coast of the largest of the three equatorial continents. This stretch of sea is broken by several scattered islands near the continents, and a single chain of hot spot islands near the mid-point of the sea. Six major islands are part of this roughly north-south running chain, and a number of tiny islets and volcanic remnants as well.

The central islands are occupied by an insular people, who arrived there from the southern lands centuries before the arrival of the Thakarians, and who remain more than somewhat xenophobic. At one time, they had a habit of killing any outsiders who set foot on the islands, the Thakarians broke them of this habit by brutal reprisals, but the islands remain an unsafe place.

The single exception is the southernmost island, about the size of Oahu, which was conquered by the peoples of the Northern Continent about two centuries before the arrival of the Thakarians (circa ~1700 AD Gregorian). They forcibly and bloodily resettled the locals (adding to the hostility), and used the island as a mid-ocean base for their vessels travelling to the equatorial continents, or into the southern hemisphere.

In 2123, this island has a modest population (about 30,000) of mostly vertarans, and continues to serve as a stopover point, only now air traffic also lands here on a regular basis. The island remains volcanically active (it rests almost exactly atop the hot spot) and the volcanoes periodically cause disruptions.

Another seven hundred kilometers brings one to the northern coast of Sharliak, one of the three equatorial continents. The two thousand kilometer long coast is a mix of cliffs, jungles, beaches, and deserts, but jungle predominates. Several modest cities are to be found on the northern coast, mostly near natural harbors.

The largest such city, SharThak, is located almost due south of Cataka, but slightly (about one hundred kilometers) to the west. It has a population of twelve thousand, of which about seventy percent are vertarans and thirty percent are humans. Most of the humans of SharThak are of Thakarian origin, but the majority of the Terrestrians to be found on the continent of Sharliak are to be found in this city. The Commission maintains a local office and liaison personnel here, and most of the scientific and archaeological expeditions mounted by Terrestrians into the vast interior start here.

SharThak has a nice deep-water harbor, but it is surrounded by dense jungle on all sides other than the coast. A narrow band of clear land, much it farmed, separates the jungle from the city proper, this band averages about twenty kilometers wide.

Like the Old City of Cataka, SharThak is walled. Unlike Cataka, the wall is not just a remnant of the past, it is a carefully maintained barrier of thick stone and is manned by armed guards. Though the wall is certainly a defense against the local hostile primitive tribes, it is primarily a defense against hostile wildlife. The jungles of Sharliak are home to a variety of large predators and dangerous creatures, including a number of species of tyrannosaurs and more than a few other dangerous theropods.

The dangerous creatures are by no means limited to Dinosauria, though, and along with large predators, there are any number of potentially lethally dangerous smaller creatures, including a huge number of venomous insects and a wide variety of dangerous snakes.

More dangerous than all these creatures together, though, are the hostile tribes which abound in the jungles of Sharliak. Not all the tribals are hostile, to be sure. Some are friendly, many are neutral or simply insular. None are safe to disregard, just because they are technologically primitive does not mean they are either stupid or ignorant. They have the skills to survive and often thrive in a hostile jungle environment, and they have no illusions that the high-tech outsiders visiting their lands are anything but mortal.

MORE LATER.
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Old 11-01-2023, 11:23 PM   #9
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

SharThak is where it is because of two things: the already-mentioned deep-water harbor, and a large river that enters the ocean to the east of the city proper. Docks and other shipping facilities line the western bank of the river near the city, and this district is simultaneously the economic heart of the city, and the most dangerous and violent area of that self-same city.

The river Shar (which is an Anglicization of the native word) is wide, deep, and brown with mud and sediment where it enters the ocean. The river runs upstream almost due south for nearly one hundred kilometers, heading into the interior of the continent. The first twenty kilometers are somewhat settled on either bank, and the jungles have been pushed back a few kilometers from the river edge, replaced by farms and small villages and towns along the length of the rivercourse. This region is by no means safe, but it is somewhat civilized, and far less dangerous than what follows farther south.

About one hundred kilometers south of SharThak, the great river approaches a chain of ascending rapids and falls, as it moves into hill country. Travellers by river usually must leave the river and portage up dangerous and often physically difficult pathways up the face of what is actually a long hill-line running hundreds of miles east-west.

The fall line represents the southernmost edge of what passes locally for 'civilized territory'. Coming up the river to this point, there is at least a modicum of law and order and the authorities in SharThak sometimes send punitive expeditions up the river when trouble breaks out. South of the fall line, in the highlands, a traveler is more or less on his or her own.

Which is not to say that the river is little traveled! There are many reasons why people come further south, and a substantial number of people do just that. It is simply that there is little in the way or law or support for them once they go into the interior highlands.

The jungles thicken in the highlands, and the weather turns wetter and hotter. There are certainly towns and other settlements along the river and in the jungles in this region, but each such community is self-contained and independent. The sort of welcome a traveler can expect varies widely, but for the most part, the towns along the river are at least somewhat open, profiting from travelers passing north and south. Some profit by providing servics and supplies and local protection, others by charging (or in some cases more like extorting) fees for guidance and passage from travelers.

No matter how outrageous the local demands, however, the traveler is usually wise to acquiesce. The locals outnumber the traveler, and it is a long way back to more civilized territories.

The land above the fall line gradually rises as one goes south, and the River Shar begins to enter patches of rapids, interspersed with calmer lengths. IN places, shallow ravines and canyons appear along the river as one goes south, and they get deeper as one goes upstream. Some of these narrow gaps churn the river into a nearly impassable state. Others make excellent places for a local to ambush a river traveler.

About two hundred kilometers above the fall line, the peaks of distant mountains will come into view to the south. At about this point, several other large tributary rivers begin to flow into the River Shar, leading off to the southeast and southwest. Following these tributaries will take one into distant parts of the continent, while following the main stem of the River Shar upstream will continue to take one almost due south into steadily higher and rougher terrain, while the jungle begins to give way to forest.

From here on, there are few towns or large settlements, but many tribal villages and nomadic groups, many of them intensely hostile. The jungles already traversed were thick with predators, including various dangerous theropod dinosaurs, but now the predators get more ferocious and larger, as one enters the forest land north of the mountain range. The humanoid population is thinner, which means that the predators have less fear of Man than is the case further downriver.

If one follows the Shar about another fifty kilometers upstream, the river traveler arrives in Talianickarisat. Translated from the language of the local tribes, this would mean something like 'the place of the fallen gods'.

In actuality, Talianickarisat is the extensive remains of what was once a city of the ancient Lakegrandians of Veranis. Remarkably well-preserved after the passage of tens of thousands of Terrran years, it is a city of towering metal and stone buildings, glass and plastic towers, and the remains of what were once vast machines and huge industrial complexes. The remains run along either side of the river for over twenty kilometers.

MORE LATER.
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Old 11-08-2023, 12:09 AM   #10
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...

LATER.

In 2123, upon arrival at Talianickarisat, the traveler will encounter an encampment of Terrestrians. Archaeologists have constructed a base and a research site amid the ancient ruins, and a tiny Terrestrian community exists on the west side of the Shar River. Altogether, there are about one hundred people in the camp, along with twenty armed guards for protection against the local fauna and local hostile natives.

The archaeologists did not come up the river, they were deposited on-site by a landing shuttle from a star carrier that has since departed. They are by no means heavily equipped, but they do have transmitters able to reach the few communications satellites in orbit around Veranis, and thus able, at least much of the time, to contact the main Terrestrian colonial government in Cataka.

The reason the communications are not steady is that the Thak-Tarak Thakarians, when they were forced to retreat from Veranis, left behind various unpleasant gifts and surprises for the incoming Terrestrians. One such is a number of small, well-concealed, automated ASAT installations, spread out here and there across the face of Veranis. A few are even located under shallow sea, to make them that much more difficult to find.

These mostly consist of clusters of missiles with sufficient thrust and range to reach orbital altitude and destroy satellites and other orbital facilities. Each installation contains between five and twenty missiles, which are fairly simple in design. Mostly, they explode and spread a cloud of shrapnel in the path of the target satellite, or strike it directly, depending on the missile. In a few cases, there are high-power, single-use laser weapons, usually fueled by a chemical reaction, which can disable or destroy a satellite or unprotected ship.

The missiles and lasers do not fire the moment they detect a satellite. Instead, they track the satellites, using mostly passive sensing, and fire on them at a semi-random time. A given satellite might be fired on after 21 Terran hours (one local day) or after a few local days. The ASAT installations can communicate with each other, and which particular site opens fire will vary as well. The automatic control systems have enough 'judgement' to take factors such as secrecy into the calculation of when to fire.

The Three Powers usually have a small spatial warship in orbit, to enforce the authority of the Commission. The defenses of such ships are sufficient to ward off the small, crude ASAT systems the retreating Thakarians hastily installed. Small comsats and observation satellites are a different story. The ASATs will rarely fire while the warship is in the sky, but once it is below the horizon, matters change. If the missile is fired at the right time, or the laser fires at the right time, the installation may remain undetected, since the Terrestrians have not had the time or resources to thoroughly 'wire' the planet for observation and sensing. Some of the ASAT sites have been found and destroyed, but many more remain.

Thus, relay satellites tend to have a short lifespan in the skies of Veranis, as do observation satellites.

Which in turn means that the Terrestrian archaeological expedition in Talianickarisat can usually only contact Cataka when the warship is above their horizon, or during the short periods when someone has a comsat in the sky before it is shot down.

That said, the archaeologists and their support staff will generally be welcoming to a Terrestrian traveling the river. Their camp is fairly secure, they are well supplied with food and medicine, and if nothing else they can be a brief rest for such a traveler.

The archaeologists will also happily and angrily talk about the state of the ruins in Talianickarisat, and many similar sites across Veranis. The ancient Lakegrandians had very advanced technology, and used orichalcum in much of it. The Thak-Tarak, upon arrival on Veranis, had been little interested in archaeology, but had been very interested in the orichalcum in the ancient ruins.

The Thak-Tarak more or less mined the precious orichalcum from the ruins, with little regard for collateral damage. Ancient machines that had endured miraculously well-preserved for millennia had been carved apart and stripped of their component orichalcum without regard for any other consideration. Ancient, almost perfectly preserved buildings had been cut apart to get to the machines and orichalcum repositories.

Which in turn left Terrestrian archaeologists in a state of something close to apoplexy when they arrived on site and saw the disruption.

Which means that reactions on the part of the researchers will vary depending on who the travelers on the river might happen to be. They will usually react well to Terrestrians, unless some specific reason not to do so is in play. Their reaction to the local Vertaran natives will vary depending on the tribe or nationality, and their previous interactions with that group.

On the other hand, the researchers will often react with some negativity to Thakarians, even 'friendly' natives of Thakarian ancestry. Which might be an issue for a mixed party of travelers. Certainly a Thakarian traveling with Terrestrians or Vertarans will probably get a better reaction than an all-Thakarian party, at least from the science staff.

(Often a -1 to reaction rolls in GURPS terms.)

Perhaps oddly, the security personnel will probably react to Thakarians better than the science staff, because they have less emotional investment in the ancient knowledge that was trampled upon a century before. Or at least, they will likely be less hostile to a 'native' Thakarian. A Thak-Tarak Thakarian from the Clan military forces might be a different matter.

Regardless of their personal feelings, though, the research team and their security team are determined to avoid major hostility with the locals. The ship that brought them to Veranis is long gone and will not be back for months, and they are hundreds of kilometers from civilization, and they are a small isolated group. The security team is well armed, but there are only twenty of them.

While they might offer shelter from weather and provide food and drink and medicine to a traveler, they can not protect one from local hostile natives to any significant degree (other than the general threat of retaliation later from the Commission back in Cataka, if they ever find out what happened, and if the situation permits such a thing).

So a traveler should keep these realities in mind.

South of Talianickarisat, the Shar River turns slightly to the west of south as one continues upstream, and once one is about twenty kilometers south of the Terrestrian encampment, one enters the territory of the Slath Tribes.

MORE LATER.
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