The Aondoar Stellar Republic is the second largest state in the Reach, though it is a very distant second to the Empire. It consists of 22 star systems, located on the Earthward side of the Reach. Because of this location, it was always among the first to encounter waves of immigration.
Early in the Old Settler period, the central world of Aondoar was colonized from New America on Hellene. It remained an independent planet until the arrival of the New Terraformers. Then, eight other planetary republics joined, first in military alliance and then politically, to resist the New Terraformer admirals when they became rapacious. By the time the Raiders came, the Republic had grown to the 22 systems it has held ever since.
Like its parent, Aondoar is closely patterned on its grandparent, the United States of America, of Earth. It has a state ideology centering on freedom and democracy, a constitution guaranteeing a list of rights, and a government of three branches in a balance of powers — executive, legislative, and judicial.
Details of the constitution differ, of course, but major similarities include freedom of speech and religion, equality of all adult citizens, and universal adult sufferage. Slavery has never been practiced in Aondoar, in contrast to the Empire, and is unconstitutional there.
It is also against the constitution to require competency tests for candidates for public office. This, of course, deliberately rules out the meritocracies so common elsewhere in the Reach, patterned after Philippian monarchy. However, this does not stop candidates from campaigning on the basis of degrees and qualifications they may have earned in Philippian-style education.
One major difference between Aondoar and ancestral America is that the legislature is a unicameral Parliament, headed by a prime minister elected by the representatives.
A second major difference is the large number of political parties. The four major parties are Liberal (maximizing individual liberties), Conservative (minimizing social change), Populist (protecting democratic process), and Capitalist (seeking general prosperity). There are a large number of smaller, more ephemeral parties, being wooed by the larger ones in the course of politics.
The government of Aondoar, including the official residences of the president, prime minister, and chief justice, is officially housed in the capital city of Linken, but in fact works by comm net.
The Aondoart symbols include a flag patterned on the American and New American ones, with nine stripes (five red, four white) and a field of 22 stars (three rows of four alternating two rows of five). They use RPQA, in the Reach-wide fashion, as a text logo, but also the ancient E Pluribus Unum, sometimes shortened to EPU or EP1, and, of course ASR.
Other symbols include a white star on a blue disc, flanked by short red-and-white bars (the ancient symbol of American ships), and a white-headed eagle grasping stylized comets in its talons.
The commonest religion is worship of the Awundi pantheon. Infiltration from Ideolatry waxes and wanes over time, St. Yarth is widely popular, and Aondoar has the highest proportion of Christians (20%) of any sovreignty in the Reach. Timonianism and Pantomorpheanism are also well-represented.
Aondoar takes pride in its greatly mixed ethnic composition. The two largest groups are the New Terraformer hybrids found everywhere in the Reach and Amblack Old Settlers, a mixture of west African and west European stocks. There are also a number of neo-human populations and the largest population in the Reach of citizen AIs.
Ingmard, one of the original nine members of the Republic, formerly had an aristocracy based on land ownership, with a monarchy at the top. The Ingmardish aristocracy has no legal existence at the Republic's federal level, and ceased to have a legal existence within Ingmard and its territories after a few centuries. But it continues to have a vigorous social existence, retains titles as a matter of etiquette, and has a college of heraldry to adjudicate their allotment (and, much more frequently, the allotment of heraldic symbols to Ingmardish corporations and private citizens).
The monarch of Ingmard and the royal family are permanent objects of interest throughout the Republic and, to a degree, beyond. Aristocrats still own much of the land, often get elected to planetary office and as parliamentary representatives, and often receive appointed office.
Most Aondoarts speak Universum as their birth-tongue now, but the national language is still officially Awundi, a derivative of Terranic, and most Aondoarts also know it, at least enough to read it, sing folk-songs and recite poems in it, and have large amounts of it in their slang.
The Aondoar constitution states it is both humane and expedient to the state that the number of people in desparate circumstances should be minimized. Accordingly, the state ensures minimum food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Following ancient wisdom, though, it does not make these particularly attractive and also presents the alternatives of assigned labor or job-training to all capable clients.
Beyond that, the Aondoar economy is capitalistic and industrialized. It both exports and imports items of high technology to the rest of the Reach. Food production is by bio-tech food factories, using technology adapted from the New Terraformers.
The Aondoar technical level is perhaps the highest in the Reach, and its standard of living is definitely higher than the Imperial average.
Aondoarts have the typical Reach attitude toward psi — they confuse it with magic and are seldom interested enough in it to work at it much. But they tolerate it well; if they fear it, they use psilencers. The tolerance means that, with a little perseverance, any interested party can find publicly available psi training and services.
Early in the Old Settler period, the central world of Aondoar was colonized from New America on Hellene, where the New Americans felt their culture was being dissipated and its democratic principles being imperiled by Philippianism. The expedition was well-equipped and had leisure to find a choice planet and resources to settle it carefully.
Aondoar remained an independent planet until the arrival of the New Terraformers. When they arrived, it was a major power in its part of the Reach, largely through its merchant marine. Originally, relations with the New Terraformers were peaceful but distant, since Aondoar had no need of terraforming.
Then the New Terraformer admirals grew more hungry for status and territory. Aondoar had to fight off three different admirals, over five wars, to maintain independence. By the end of this series of wars, eight other planetary republics had joined, first in military alliance and then politically.
By the time the Koliot Raiders came, the Republic had grown to the 22 systems it has held ever since. Aondoar made common cause with the Old Admiralty and fought the Raiders with them. Conflict was essentially continuous, but Aondoart historians list four wars, marked by official declarations of war, three of them involving immediate defense of Aondoart systems. These wars helped cement the political unity of Aondoar.
Aondoar has never approved of the Empire, with its Philippian ideology and hunger for territory. Current relations are peaceful but cool. In the past, Aondoar has openly supported military foes of the Empire, and the Empire has sent privateers and press gangs against Aondoart ships. Neither power has quite dared declare war on the other. Aondoar is too small to attack the Empire, and the Empire's resources are strained just holding together; besides, Aondoar is far from the Imperial borders.
A rich plum of a system, wide-spaced binaries with a total of three habitable worlds among them — a G-class star with a fire-giant, one Mars-like lifebearing moon, and an Earthlike world in the forward trojan position; and an M-class star with a Mars-like one-face world.
When humans came to the Reach, there was life on all three worlds [which need names] but only the trojan was habitable. The New Terraformers fought over this system, but the winner eventually dug for Terraforming in a big way, restoring the two martians, and they've kept it up ever since. The Old Settlers yearned to Terraform and tried it in timid ways beforehand, so that added impetus, and they are far enough away that they were never bothered by the Koliot Raiders or the Imperial wars.
Belu is a chill planet. Its natural condition was lifeless ice-age, frozen oceans, arid deserts. The Old Terraformers stimulated volcanic and tectonic action, and added more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere from cometary ices. The result thawed the oceans and pushed back the great ice caps.
When the Old Settlers came to the Reach, millions of years later, much of the vital carbon dioxide had been locked into coal beds and the planet had begun to revert, being semi-arctic even at the equator. The settlers, the original Old Beluvans, set themselves the task of adapting themselves to it.
They did this with religious enthusiasm. They were Physian Pantheists. Physians worship nature as a supreme goddess and speak — poetically or seriously or both at once — of biospheres as Her avatars or daughters. Thus nature is often "the Mother," or "Mother Physis," but also sometimes "Grandmother Physis," and Earth is revered as "Mother Erd," while Belu is "Aunt Belu" or "our Aunt."
Like many pantheists, the Physians believe in reincarnation; unlike most, they do not believe in or seek "escape" from the wheel of rebirth, but teach that one should be content to simply enjoy the ride. However, the better to enjoy it, they do seek spiritual advancement, which they believe to carry over from one lifetime to the next. They seek this advancement by mystical experience through xeno-telepathy — "zeening" in Reach slang, strenjin in Beluvan — sensory-level telepathy with a non-human.
The primary task of a Physian cleric is to transmit the xeno-telepathic experience to the initiate. As a result, Physian clerics are required to be telepathic to the sensory level, and to know the mnemonic patharchy skills of total recall and voluntary amnesia. These clerics are often called "shamans," "priests," or "witch-doctors" by New Terraformers, but the Beluvan name for them, geidr, means "inducer."
Clerics and laity alike work their way through a series of initiations, characterized by the animals used in the xeno-telepathy. There are nine grades of initiation, starting with the Dog level and ending with the Bat. Clerics keep animals of all the grades they have attained, for use in the xeno-telepathic strenjin sacrament. The ideal cleric is also a counselor and a sermonist, but if a cleric is less than ideal, these duties may be performed by lay members of the community.
The Beluvans used genetic engineering to adapt themselves and their animals to their chosen planet. Most noticeably, Beluvans have fur, velvety on the women, coarser on the men, but definite and useful insulating fur. They are also very tall and stocky, the better to retain heat.
The next most noticeable feature is the eyes, which have the wide irises of an animal, with very little sclera showing. Beluvans also have vibrassae — cat-whiskers — at their eyebrows and the corners of their mouths. Finally, they have thick, calloused, dog-like pads on the soles of their feet. All these mutations are cosmetic, serving only to reduce the apparent difference between a Beluvan and one of their animals.
One of the most significant mutations is not apparent: Beluvans are not interfertile with other humans; they have deliberately speciated.
Beluvans are not exactly anti-technological, but there is a lack of interest in technology, certainly, and a desire to get along without it when possible. They rely heavily on psi to reduce and distribute their technological base. In game terms, over 90% of the population has Vibes, 75% has some psychic skill, and 33% are Sensitives. Most of the psychic skill in the population is ESP rather than TK; only 10% have some form of TK. The telekinetics are very important to the technological system, since they often use Alchemy, Lifekey, Tempering, Firekey, and Coiling in lieu of material technology, or to maintain material technology.
Old Beluvans practiced a blend of cultivation and hunter-gathering, living off fish, fruits, nuts, and occasional game, entirely based on off-planet species. The Old Beluvans introduced a great many new species to Belu, including several species of evergreen, notably the transgenic nut pine.
As may be imagined, the Old Beluvans were very rural, building no cities, living in extended farmsteads or small trading towns. They were aloof from interstellar commerce and maintained no spaceport, though they did maintain weather and communications satellites and a world transit system of small aircraft.
Each small township constituted a pure and sovreign democracy, with its own judicial system and no military. Consequently, the Old Beluvans were helpless when Admiral Jocorra of the New Terraformers simply annexed their planet and started terraforming and building a spaceport and shipyards. Formal protests and efforts at sabotage and terrorism came to nothing.
The terraforming consisted of adding carbon dioxide to increase the greenhouse effect. The carbon dioxide came principally from comets, but also from volcanic eruptions stimulated by tectonic bombs. The resulting rise in temperature broadened the habitable band around Belu's equator and raised sea levels.
Belu is now dominated by an urban population of New Beluvans, concentrated in eight cities and their environs. Old Beluvans still live in the wilderness, widely scattered, tending to concentrate in two belts, north and south of the equator, where the climate resembles that of pre-terraformed Belu. Few Old Beluvans live in the cities, and fewer still have de-speciated and interbred with the urban population, which is dominated by New Terraformer stock. More New Beluvans have moved out to farms or homesteads in the country, and some have taken the genetic therapy necessary to become Old Beluvans. More commonly, New Beluvans just convert to Physianity (without necessarily giving up their traditional Ideolatry).
Belu orbits a G-class star and is fourth out. It has a year of 504.8 standard days and a day of 20 hours, 9 minutes. Surface gravity is 1.2g. The sky features two small moons and two remote M-class companion stars called Seold and Parl. The capital is Belu Yards. Planetary population is 17 million.
Edakossans are racially normal but culturally exotic. They cultivate a wide variety of androids, one of the few places in the Reach to do so, since everyone else is either willing to practice outright slavery on other humans or is so anti-slavery that they are unwilling to go so far as androids.
The androids include the usual clones and zygotes, plus giant, dwarf, miniature, and toy types and assorted exotics (e.g. sireniforms).
Also, virtually all adult Edakossans are "on-line" at all times, via telepatch terminals. So are most androids.
There is an undercaste of tacs, halfbreeds (half-androids, "demidroids"), and freedroids. They typically work as android-managers for people with large staffs of androids. There is ranking within the underclass, though it can be overridden by wealth or position. The planetary hierarchy runs:
Below the hierarchy of citizens are androids, who are chattel and non-persons. Ranking them according to the prestige and price attached to them, their classes are:
Non-citizen AIs vary in a continuous spectrum of prestige, price, and competence, but the Edakossan economy favors androids.
Psionic talent is relegated to a special class of android, who make the nebs and run the psi-based machines that create the clone androids.
The Edakossans are generally a dark-skinned Asiatic or Eurasian people. The androids, invented centuries ago in Amsterdam, are usually European in appearance, unless they are so exotic that such racial categories are meaningless.
This place is an obvious source of hi-tech exports, but probably not much of a tourist trap, being repellent to most others. It has suffered military and political pressure at times, to become less "homunculocentric."
Edakoss is a desert world, otherwise pretty Earthlike, with a number of terraformed seas, slowly drying out as the local rock absorbs water from the air. Many of these seas were refilled with cometary ice-melt by the New Terraformers, allowing several new cities to be founded. Naturally, these were largely settled by New Terraformers, and there is still some ethnic division between New Terraformer cities and Old Edakoss cities, though the two groups have essentially the same culture and are slowly merging.
Modern Edakossans are largely Ideolators, but the ancestral Edakossan religion was a pantheistic system centering on Divine Wisdom, conceived Taoistically but tending to personification as Trickster figures, notably the Fox Wizard. Worship was by network, and some very old VR temples survive in Edakossan cyberspace. Popular religion included and still includes the cult of St. Yarth and a rich mythology of softies. Since the coming of the New Terraformers and the consequent increase in commerce, Rete, Barr, and Draffo from the Awondi pantheon have also become popular.
Edakoss is near the Imperial borders. It has been invaded by the Empire a few times, but their heavy industrial base and android-based military (highly flexible in numbers, with zero discipline or morale problems, if a tad low on initiative in the lower ranks) has always let them fight the Imperials off, and no attempt has been made to conquer them for more than a century.
Edakoss orbits a K-class star and is second out. It has a year of 400.3 standard days and a day of 47 hours, 9 minutes. Surface gravity is 1.1g. The sky features a thin ring, the geosynchronous orbital cities of Dakkol, Vil Station, and Tistik, and a remote G-class companion star called Foss. The capital is Hesni. Planetary population is 76 million, not counting androids.
Named for Admiral Farsha, who re-terraformed it as her magnum opus at the height of the New Terraformer period. The planet is a martian, sculpted by the Old Terraformers but once more quite dried out when Farsha took it over. It is third planet of a G-class star, without moons.
Farshamard bears a number of large, shallow craters, all former seabeds. Farsha re-filled the ones near the equator with cometary ice, then seeded the renewed seas and surrounding land with New-Terraformer life — first bacteria and blue-green algae, working up to largely Terran metazoa and metaphyta.
Although Farshamard never lost all the air given it by the Old Terraformers, it has not got back all it lost, either. The cities are protected by a system of psi-tech diffusion buffers. Many of the oldest buildings are under ground or were once airtight. The natives are all given scores against low oxygen at birth, and visitors often use oxy pills. Imperators who want to look progressive usually land a few more comets on Farshamard and send the air pressure up a few more millibars.
Farshamard is located deep in Empire stellatory and has been a loyal member since the Empire's founding. It is, however, specifically loyal to the Empire, as the heir of the New Terraformers' dream, and always advocates more terraforming, both at home and off-world. Exactly because the Farshamardic leaders and populace put the Empire first, they must often put a given Imperator or dynasty second. As a result, Farshamardics often rise high in Imperial politics, but seldom rise to the top.
The only chink in their loyalty to the Imperium is their fondness for the Old Admiralty, seen, quite reasonably, as Adm. Farsha's kind of people.
Farshamard is populated almost wholly by pure New Terraformer stock, in so far as that term has a meaning — descendants of the original New Terraformers, often able to trace their lineage back to specific crews of named ships, looking generally Eurasian of feature, fair-skinned, light brown or hazel eyes, straight hair of dark brown or black. They speak exactly the kind of Universum heard on Imperial newscasts and are, in the main, staunch Ideolators.
There is a statist, almost totalitarian vein in Farshamard that makes it a ready tool for the Empire. The cities, all sea-side, are neatly laid out in grids. The comm systems, public transit, water, recycling, power fields, medical and tutorial services, and banking are all controlled by the state. There are sumptuary laws, and most people wear uniforms when they are working, even if they do not work for the state. There is also a ministry of religion, controlling minority religions as well as sponsoring the state religion of Ideolatry. State control of jobs and businesses is tight. Changes of residence require government approval, as do marriages. Movement from one city to another, and stays in hotels, are automatically reported to the police. Farshamardics often join the military because it is so very similar to their civilian life...
Outsiders — other religions, independent entrepreneurs — are not exactly persecuted, but are solidly neglected. People of other races are assumed to be foreigners.
The capital and main spaceport is Farsha Sit, the "Sit" being a worn-down version of either "City" or "Seat." The planet is also known for Nilikae Military Academy at Shilduel and for the Farshamard Terraforming Museum at Shasemak, with a synchronous orbital annex.
Farshamard is third planet of a G-class star, without moons. It has a year of 390.9 standard days and a day of 19 hours, 06 minutes. Surface gravity is 0.88g. Planetary population is 25 million.
Impri, formerly Aksul, is a one-face world orbitting a K dwarf. It is the current capital planet of the Empire. (Burran and Tho have been the capital in other dynasties.)
There are three big stations in a single polar orbit — Acropolis (containing Ft. Norren), Ft. Clari, and Ft. Sast. Acropolis is a major trading port; the Empire's highest-status military academy is Yardo Academy with campuses on all three stations.
The Imperial seat is a city at the sub-solar point: Coronapol, on the Grand Canal. It is mostly a residential area for the Imperator, supporting senators, their families and staffs. It is something of a tourist trap, but mostly for wealthy tourists. It is not a capital city, however; there is no capital city.
The biggest city is Edalac, at the mouth of the Grand Canal. It is the major spaceport. (As a rule, nothing lands directly from space to Coronapol, for security; rather, it is served by shuttles from the stations.)
The Grand Canal is an Old Terraformer artifact, thousands of kilometers long, over 30 km wide, made to irrigate the center of the sub-solar continent. The New Terraformers found it closed by geological activity but re-opened it.
The biosphere is a mixture of Old Terraformer, Old Settler, and New Terraformer.
The Imprines (sometimes still called Aksulines, the Impri Old Settlers) are of Mediterranean stock, mixed with Sove and Krato. They were always active traders, speaking their own language (Edalan, derived from Italian and Hellene Patois) and a very old, "pure" form of Terranic, a trade-tongue in the Reach (derived from Earthron in Terran Space and brought to the Reach by the Old Settlers). Imprines are known for their cultural sophistication and political cynicism.
Impri has a year of 93.1 standard days and no day-night cycle. Surface gravity is 1.07g. The sky features the three big stations and a pair of remote M-class companion stars visible in the twilight and night areas, called Ket and Kedden. Planetary population is 43 million.
Jesaret is an independent world the Empire has never tried to claim. The local culture has a strong tradition of cultivating patharchy, especially mnemonic patharchy. They use these long memories for learning languages. By the time they reach adulthood, Jesaretans know seven or more languages:
An adult will add more languages, for professions, major social organizations, and the clans of spouses. Many learn Terranic, Earthron, English, Latin, or Greek, too. Gestural languages come and go in popularity.
The many languages of Jesaret largely share a common phonology, and their grammars are seldom radically different. The variation is mostly in vocabulary.
The clan, gender, and cohort languages are derived from the Jesaretan common tongue, Jesaretoc, with vocabularies heavy in slang. The professional languages are derived from Jesaretoc or Universum, with vocabularies heavy in jargon.
Lovers often develop a private language, or at least an extensive private vocabulary. Language development and learning are popular hobbies, as is cryptography.
It is very offensive to simulate membership in a group by using its language.
Off-worlders naturally wonder why the Jesaretans are so secretive as to divide their society into mutually unintelligible sections by language barriers. The answer is that the process was the reverse. The Jesaretans started with a strong tradition of cultivating patharchy, especially memory skills. This laid the foundation for a new tradition or fad of learning many languages. The presence of all the different languages fostered the secrecy.
Jesaretans are of Amerind stock, with a substantial admixture of European. They retain from this heritage a strong interest in family ties. They also have their own system of adoptive family, which meshes well with the New Terraformer practice. They have deliberately retained the informality and love of tradition characteristic of many Amerind cultures.
The native Jesaretan religion is a monotheism overlaid with polytheism. It believes in a supreme creator-god, whose symbol is a circled cross like a Celtic cross. The creator was born and died as a human and so gave humans the divine strength needed to work out their destinies. Clearly, this derives from Christianity, but the concepts of resurrection and judgement have been lost or rejected.
Of equal importance in daily piety is a collection of figures often, but not always, called "saints." These include St. Ert, St. Jesaret, Grandmother Spider, St. Coyote, the dead, the Four Watchmen, and St. Endro.
St. Ert is yet another name for the popular St. Yarth, Earth personified. St. Jesaret is likewise the personification of the planet Jesaret. Grandmother Spider is Nature. St. Coyote is the disreputable buffoon and trickster figure of immemorial myth.
The dead are propitiated collectively as angry (or at least grouchy) ghosts but approached lovingly individually as deceased loved ones.
The Four Watchmen are a quartet of protective spirits, sometimes matched to the four compass points, sometimes to the four dimensions of spacetime, sometimes with the ancient archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel.
St. Endro is a personification of fate, subsuming the concepts of destruction and knowledge, clearly related to the figure of Untervo in the Awondi pantheon, and derived from the concept of entropy.
Jesaretan religion has sycretized easily with Ideolatry, identifying the creator with the One, Grandmother Spider with Nature, and St. Endro with Wisdom.
Jesaret itself is a pleasantly Earth-like world, prime real estate, with little evidence of terraforming in its past. It is slightly drier than Earth, with sea covering a little less than 50% of the surface. While it has mountains and forests, plains and deserts are its commonest landforms. Local macrofauna are beaked and scaly, but otherwise built much like Terran mammals. Local flora is in varied tones of golden brown, and runs heavily to grasses.
Jesaret orbits a closely-spaced G-K binary and has two small moons and a thin ring. It has a year of 266.2 standard days and a day of 26 hours, 10 minutes. Surface gravity is 0.92g. The capital is Jessan. Planetary population is 176 million.
Old Loaldans are of European stock, from Centauri and Earth. They lived a quiet life of reasonable prosperity, with only cursory contact with other planets, until the arrival of the New Terraformers. They were caught up in the Admirals' Wars, their world prized as a base of operations and biological resouce. (It needed no terraforming.) Their largest cities, including Tybaud Yards and Tybaud Sky, were built at this time.
When the Koliot Raiders struck, Loald was never attacked but became part of the Alliance war machine. After that, it became part of the Empire with no more resistance than some demonstrations and angry editorials.
Loald is very Earth-like, but slightly drier, with only 50% water cover, divided into a major and a minor ocean. There are large deserts but also a complete Terran range of habitats. Axial tilt is only six degrees, so seasons are negligible.
Loaldan life is indigenous, with little addition from Old Terraformers or humans. Dominant land vertebrates are six-limbed, one-eyed dinosaurs. Dominant land invertebrates are insectiles with four limbs, unitary bodies, and up to six eyes, often stalked; those that fly use their forelimbs, which have feather-like bristles. The next commonest invertebrates are tiny but active radial "land stars." Vegetation is in various shades of brown and gold.
Loald orbits a close K-K binary and is second out. The two suns are Geled (yellower) and Kol (redder) and have a period of two hours. It has a year of 502.4 standard days and a day of 53 hours, 10 minutes. Surface gravity is 1.2g. There are no natural moons. The capital is Mollin. Planetary population is 35 million.
Meth was colonized by a mixed group of neo-humans from the Neonese on Hellene, one of several neo-human colonies, though the only mixed-race one in the Reach.
What makes it unusual is that, early in its history, relations between the different neo-human races soured over issues of eugenics and hybridization and ethnic identity (perennial topics of concern with them). The result was that several groups within each sub-species deliberately speciated, to make interbreeding with other human races impossible. (In no case was there any significant departure in design; the only change was at the molecular level, to the cell membranes of sperm and ova.)
The result split several neo-human groups into two or more races, a "div" ("divided," speciated) race and an "old" one. Methians include:
The place is rife with old ethnic frictions, mostly between the div and old groups, especially div and old of the same ancentral sub-species.
Meth is a terraformed Venusian. The Old Terraformers cooled it and seeded it with tailored microbes that pulled the carbon dioxide out of the air. This gas was split into carbon, now deposited in sea-bottom coal beds, and oxygen, some of which was combined with hydrogen from some source to produce vast amounts of water. Meth is a nearly oceanic world, liberally dotted with islands, several about the size of New Zealand or the British Isles.
Since the terraforming was based largely on biology, it has been self-maintaining, and Meth has not reverted much toward its native heat-trapping state. It has one of the largest selections of Old Terraformer biota in the Reach. Many Methian species are found nowhere else.
The fractious population is scattered over the many islands, in small towns that are usually homogeneous in race. If there are multiple races, they are almost always of a single moitey (div or old). There are mixed populations in the big cities, but even here, there are ghettos, quarters, suburbs, and exurbs of single races. Hets and eo-humans are commonest in the big cities, as are olds generally.
Because of its internal divisiveness, Meth has never been able to defend itself. It was taken twice by the Koliot Raiders, and is a long-time member of the Empire. The ruling New Terraformer aristocracy forms yet another distinct ethnic group.
Besides Universum, Methians speak several racial languages: Melioran, Kratoic, Sovian, Achellero, and Zennese. The other racial groups formerly spoke a dialect of Terranic, which served as the planetary common tongue until it was displaced by Universum.
The Empire has successfully imposed Ideolatry on Meth, but the native religion still survives vigorously — a double-leveled pantheism worshipping the All and, as its central manifestation, Life. These are commonly identified with the One and Nature of Ideolatry.
Meth orbits a close G-G binary and is fourth out. It has a year of 420.5 standard days and a day of 52 hours, 12 minutes. Surface gravity is 0.9g. The sky features two asteroidal moons and the geosynchronous orbital city of Ft. Tous. The capital is Nenavur. Planetary population is 152 million.
Moncair is a dry world with a thin atmosphere, circling a K-class star. There are four major seas, all very saline, scattered over the surface. Human population is concentrated on the coasts nearest the equator, where the climate is pleasantly warm.
Most terrain is desert and mountain, sprinkled or, occasionally, covered with dusty-blue vegetation, much of it cactus-like and succulent or brushy and dry. It supports an Old Terraformer fauna including small terrestrial echinoderms and ubiquitous hive crabs and prairie crabs.
The oxygen level is low. Moncairan cities are protected by diffusion barriers. Moncairans themselves carry oxygen pills when in the country and, if genuine natives, have psionic scores against hypoxia.
Despite the poor environment and low population, it is a busy, bustling world, thanks to its active role in interstellar trade.
It is an independent planet near the Earthward border of the Reach, equidistant from the borders of Aondoar and the Empire. Because of its location, it has seen a lot of Reach history pass through, and the planet sometimes calls itself the "Door of the Reach."
It was settled early, by a mixture of Hellenes of European stock. Their population remained small and obscure until the New Terraformers came. They introduced the hypoxia scores and diffusion barriers, and sponsored small-scale terraforming projects around the cities, founding the new cities of Ducail and Monleys.
Relations between the New Terraformers and the Moncair Old Settlers were cordial, and, within a century, there was a large and permanent population of New Terraformers, thoroughly integrated into Moncairan culture, which in turn was heavily influenced by the New Terraformers. The ruling families of Moncair have, ever since, been largely drawn from the Old Admiralty. Government is meritocratic but much more open than the Empire.
Moncair was one of the first worlds to be harassed by the Koliot Raiders, and indeed was twice controlled by Raider captains — first by Red Shukken, later by Delper. After Red Shukken's bloody regime, Moncair, previously a backwater, industrialized, learned ship-building, and built a strong military. Ducail, the main spaceport, became Ft. Ducail. Unfortunately, this made it all the more attractive a prize to Delper, who used Moncair as a base for his depredations.
Delper was scotched by a combination of forces from the Moncair resistance, Aondoar, and the New Terraformer Alliance — soon to become the Empire. The newborn Empire made a claim on Moncair, but the military presence of Aondoar and its allies, soon followed by Moncair's revived native military, discouraged them from pressing the claim.
The Empire and Aondoar both turned their attentions elsewhere, leaving only small military outposts. Moncair turned to the problems of recovery, including the integration of new minority groups — a fresh wave of New Terraformers and the Koliots. The new New Terraformers acculturated effortlessly. The Koliots were subjected to various forms of cultural subversion. They did some subverting back.
Over the centuries, one power or another would indicate an interest in acquiring Moncair, but be discouraged by other powers. At present, there are Imperial, Aondoart, and Tescion military bases adjoining the Ft. Ducail spaceport, a second Imperial base on an asteroidal moon rented from and claimed by Tescio (for which it paid Moncair handsomely), and permanent Tescion and Aondoart space stations in synchronous orbit. All three foreign presences are very small.
Ft. Ducail is the economic center of Moncair, and is widely known as a trade center, including a thriving black market in contraband and stolen goods. Official Moncair resolutely ignores its own import laws, which were only framed as diplomatic sops to its neighbors. Far too much of the planet's economy depends on Ft. Ducail's role of fence.
Moncair is known throughout the reach for legitimate trade, as well as smuggling. Koliot cunning combined with war-bred skill in spacefaring and ship-building to create a vigorous merchant class, including the government's own merchant marine. But many ships and crews that claim to be Moncairan have purchased registry, citizenship, and identity papers at easy prices.
The Moncair government is happy to help people start new paper trails. The Moncair government is also known for its foreign policy. Throughout the Reach, it supports the Old Admiralty. Most significantly, this puts it at odds with the Imperial Senate and the Imperator, and makes it an ally of the Old Admiralty within the Empire, which forms a "shadow aristocracy" there. Moncair is also one of the main sponsors, both political and financial, of the ancient, Reach-wide College of Admirals. Moncair is somewhat selective in its support, and polices the Old Admiralty from within, but its relations to non-meritocrat cultures and governments, such as Aondoar, occasionally trip over this ideological difference.
Moncairans speak Universum with only minor differences of accent and vocabulary from Imperial Universum. Before the New Terraformers came, they spoke a form of Terranic based on Hellene Patois. Many members of the large trade-based industry speak a cant heavily laced with borrows from Koliot.
There is no state religion on Moncair, but Ideolatry is the dominant one. There are Christian and Timonian minorities of about 10% each and a sprinkling of Pantomorpheans. The old Koliot religion has sunk into a coloring of the local folklore. The old Moncairan religion was a late-surviving brand of the Temple of Common Worship and was wholly absorbed by Ideolatry, leaving only a minor coloring in the local liturgy. But, in general, religion is not a major feature of Moncairan life.
Moncair orbits a K-class star and is third out. It has a year of 239.9 standard days and a day of 18 hours, 20 minutes. Surface gravity is 0.87g. The sky features five asteroidal moons (the moon Fressil having been sold to Tescio), four synchronous space stations (two Moncairan, one Tescion, one Aondoart) and a remote K-class companion star called Dupley. The capital is Cellain. Planetary population is 9 million.
Mossim is an Imperial planet near the southern border, a Martian with canals dug by the Old Terraformers and re-irrigated with cometary ices by the New. It is famous for the trade ports at Ft. Issambid, High Issambid (in orbit), and Arrahboth Yards.
These and the other cities on Mossim are dominated by New Terraformers, assimilated Mossimi, and, mostly, their hybrids. Unassimilated Mossimi Old Settlers live in outlying villages and the countryside.
Mossim entered the New Terraformer sphere of influence when the New Terraformers were breaking up into fleets under competing admirals, looking to acquire bases and terraforming rights on as many planets as possible, in any way possible. Mossim entered the fold when two families, the Jormal and Shirri clans, were contending for control of the planetary government. Adm. Hintiss backed the Jormals and assisted them into power in return for being allowed to add Mossim to his collection of terraformed planets without resistence.
There was no resistance from the new government, but there was plenty from the partisans of the Shirri clan. Most of their ire was directed at military and political targets rather than ecological and geotechnic targets, however, since Hintiss's terraformers did, in fact, know what they were doing and soon made the climate much more generally habitable.
Centuries later, Mossim entered the Empire after two brief wars that served to unite the old rivals somewhat against the common foe. The Imperial foe then became less odious when trade blossomed and general prosperity increased. Today, the Imperial Powers, the Old Mossimi (mostly Shirrite, in theory), and the city-folk (even more theoretically Jormalite) rub along without great friction, if also without any great warmth.
Originally, the Mossimi were of Mediterranean European stock, speaking Shemmic, a rationalized Semitic language. They have always had a parlimentary republic geared to the rights of the extended familes that are the central institutions of their culture. They had an early psionic technical level and a small but self-sustaining industrial base. They did not enter into joint ventures with other colonies, though they had formal diplomatic relations with their neighbors. Trade was originally much scantier than it has become under the Empire.
Their families are patrilineal but are run internally by the elder women, who decide marriages and regulate births, along with all other matters of internal economy. The elder men run the family's external affairs and regulate the careers of their charges. Families typically have a single large residence and a few smaller ones at some distance, to which people repair for vacations, cooling off from fights, special entertainments and projects, etc. This system applies both to the city folk and to the ranchers and farmers of the countryside, though the system is more vigorous in the countryside, where unassimilated Mossimi predominate.
The original Mossimi religion is a variant of Timonianism, pre-dating the arrival of the New Terraformers' version. It knows Sts. Timon, Ariet, and Reth as "Siddok Thamen," "Siddok Herroth," and "Siddok Roth." St. Yarth is "Siddok Erid." Thamenians believe St. Timon is a literal person and walked Mossim before the days of the New Terraformers. Their version of the Analects include a letter to them from him. They also have a different set of liturgies, holding Assemblies every seven days instead of every ten, and adding their own liturgies of Dedication and Affirmation. Assimilated Old Mossimi and later ethnic stocks are usually Ideolators, at least nominally.
Following Imperial cultural norms, city-folk use very little psi. The unassimilated Old Mossimi, out in the countryside or in small neighborhoods of the cities, now use it more than ever. It was always traditional for Thamenian clerics to be telepathically skilled counsellors, and this continues. Rural Mossimi make frequent use of biologically-based thematic psi in medicine and agriculture, and reduce their dependence on the cities with mechanically-based thematic psi. In the cities, Old Mossimi in the busy trade industry use telepathy, dowsing, and foresight.
The rural Mossimi have adapted the food-factory techniques of the New Terraformers (based on shipboard recycling) to processing the biomass they can raise most readily in the semi-arid lands along the canals. They also cultivate olives, dates, bananas, vines, apples, citrus fruits; and dairy, wool, and meat-casting goats. They use riding goats and draft goats as low-tech (and therefore independent) transport.
Mossim itself is comfortable only near the canals of the equatorial and middle latitudes. Near the poles and away from the canals, the temperature drops and the air thins. Only Old Terraformer lifeforms survive, except for the personnel of occasional pressurized mining stations and climate-control centers.
Mossim orbits a K-class star and is second out. It has a year of 266.2 standard days and a day of 29 hours, 56 minutes. Surface gravity is 0.79g. The sky features three astroidal moons, the geosynchronous orbital city of High Issambid, and a remote M-class companion star called Zeriv. The capital is Mossimbid. Planetary population is 66 million.
Ouler is a warm martian world on the in-eastern edge of the Reach, in the vicinity of Aondoar and the traditional entry-point from the Ecumene, but far enough from these and other major traffic-zones to have been obscure through much of its history. It has never been part of the Empire, was never invaded by the Koliot Raiders, and has never belonged to any interplanetary organizations.
It is slightly unusual in its terraforming. Most martians are irrigated by systems of canals connecting to ice caps or crater-seas. Ouler is irrigated from its ice caps, but the water is delivered through massive aquafers.
Ouler is dotted with wide, deep craters that once held seas. Many still hold seas, smaller and very briny, and all still offer slightly higher air pressure. Modern human settlements are all in equatorial crater-cities, the air pressure further enhanced by diffusion buffers. Beyond the craters lie vast deserts, unbroken save for the ice caps, a few ancient mountain ranges, and wide bands of steppes that mark the network of aquafers.
The cities of Ouler are small, inhabited by New Terraformers, Old Oulerans, and their hybrids. And by dogs. Ouler is best known for its dogs.
Early in its history, the livestock of Ouler was largely wiped out by an allergy plague. An obscure Old Terraformer fungus suddenly flourished in the altered environments produced by the settlers' agriculture, and its by-products were intolerable to many Terran animals. By the time the plague was over, Ouler had lost its cows, horses, pigs, goats, and sheep. Since it was poor and obscure and very often quarantined because of the plague, it had great difficulty in importing substitute stock from other planets.
It still had its dogs. It made do. It gene-tooled new dog breeds to substitute for all the missing stocks, and, later, created new pet breeds or re-created ones from elsewhere. People sometimes express surprise that the Oulerans did not re-create the neo-dogs, but the Oulerans chose another way of blending dog and person.
Ouleran culture exists in two parts, city and steppes. The city culture is larger and more obvious. It is now blended with New Terraformer culture. The New Terraformers fought no wars for Ouler, but as peaceful settlement took place, with the infusion of new ideologies and technologies, the city culture became estranged from its sibling, the steppe culture. During the first century of the New Terraformers' advent, many Old Oulerans left the cities for the steppes, swelling its ranks and its resources. Before that, city and steppe were simply different residential choices, no more significant than the choice between life in a downtown apartment and life in the suburbs.
The steppes support a rich Old-Terraformer biota, including antelope and cheetah variations on furry struthioids (a relatively rare O.T. form), as well as big crab-forms and octopi-forms (up to about dog-sized).
Steppe Oulerans live in small family bands, in dog-drawn wagons and bayagas — bayagas being bio-tech huts on legs. These bands move slowly but steadily around a migration circuit.
Steppe Oulerans live by both hunting and pastoralism, following the wild octopoid herds. Their dog breeds include riding dogs, draft dogs, meat-casters, dairy breeds, "wool" breeds, trackers, coursers, harriers, herders, and near-sapient "partners"
Each steppe band includes at least one telepathic "storyteller," who keeps the band abreast of everything happening on planet, thanks to a network of contacts, including folk in the cities.
Each band also has at least one "flesher," expert in bio-tech and the psychic skill of fleshkey, who knows dogs and men backwards and forwards. In fact, biotechnical and psionic skills are common in the steppe bands. The flesher is typically very literate in matters scientific, especially medical and genetic issues, and generally keeps cultures of fungi, protists, bacteria, and viruses for use as biotechnical agents.
Favorite dogs, including most partner dogs, get rejuvenated like humans and can be very old. They are often psychic; common abilities include telepathy, clairolfactance ("second smell"), and telekinetically enhanced running.
The most famous steppe Oulerans are the "houndsmen" — men living apart from both cities and bands, on walkabout, individually or in small groups, accompanied by packs of dogs. Traditionally, they replace hair and beard with dog pelt, grow dog pelt down their back, have dog-like eyes (sometimes including the reflective tapetum), fangs, and both smell like dogs and have a dog-like augmented sense of smell. None of this is genetic; all of it is done by fleshkey, but it is widely thought genetic, or even the result of hybridization.
Ouleran religion descends from Temple of Common Worship, but uses Yot (=Yarth), Iosta, and Dran, two goddesses and a god, in place of the abstract Nature, Justice, and Tradition. This stems from high theology rather than degeneration — a school of Aristoteleanism rebelling against Templar Platonism, substituting concrete gods on the rationale that mystical experience shows there must be something out there. Yot and Dran are the two favorites. Close behind the gods ranks The Pack (human and dog ghosts). The Old Terraformers are also powerful folk figures.
Ouler orbits a G-class star and is fourth out. It has a year of 579.4 standard days and a day of 35 hours, 8 minutes. Surface gravity is 0.82 g. The sky features a closely-spaced pair of K-class companions called Nuba's Eyes. Planetary population is 8.2 million.