Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Outworlds: Shaadrim

Shaadrim (Shah-Drim) was a dry, desolate world past the Thirty-Sixth Spiral outwards from Riskail. Few people ever came this far along the pararail, especially since even the Aquaduct causeways terminated after the Thirtieth Spiral. So far. There were too many worlds in-between Riskail and a dusty, dangerous and vile wasteland like Shaadrim to attract very many explorers, settlers or ecosculptors. Caravans never came here, tramp-zeppelins rarely bothered to stick around any longer than necessary, and what few ships passed through the Sea Gates stationed at the equatorial zones tended to leave just as soon as they got their bearings sorted out--and as far as anyone they might have left behind knew--they never looked back.
Who would?

Shaadrim is a wasteland. Even the local Garteil-descended Tribes send groups of their young out past the Perimeter to find new lands, new worlds to explore and to claim for themselves.

Shaadrim cannot support very many people. Its ecology is fragile. Erratic. Vituperative.

Shaadrim is a world that kills those whom presume too much upon its innocence or good nature. Some say it is a cursed world. Others that it is merely misunderstood.

The Garteil worked for centuries converting Shaadrim from a hellworld into what it is today. In the Deep Outback they still work at revising the ecology, but they have no pretensions of ever taming this world.

The air is breathable, most of the time, most of the places one might go. The water won't harm you too much, especially if the exposure is limited and you pack suitable nanonics, filtration subsystems or the right mods. The sunlight will blind you, either temporarily or physically, unless you take precautions. The weather is what kills most visitors and would-be trespassers or explorers. The weather and the background environment working in unholy tandem account for more fatalities than even the other occupants or inhabitants. But then, personal lapses of judgement, errors of inexperience and mechanical failure tend to all get lumped into the same statistical category when you investigate the records of Shaadrim. Mistakes are never forgiven in the harsh environment, getting things wrong will get you killed.

Dying on Shaadrim is highly unrecommended. This is an Outworld, well beyond the safe zone and the comforting reach of the nanoplasm and municipal recovery systems. The only nanoplasm in this place is what you bring with you. The only recovery that'll take place is what you arrange for yourself, ahead of time...and no insurance agency is particularly interested in assuming the risk involved with an expedition to Shaadrim without some impressive collateral or some sort of estimated pay-off that is truly big. Perhaps a Dezhu terrain-racing team might get insured for a sizable cut of the action surrounding the vidcoverage of their efforts. Possibly. But very few others would be able to produce such a lucrative inducement for the insurers to even consider such a proposition.

In effect; if you go to Shaadrim, you are on your own.

No one who had any choice in the matter ever gave Shaadrim a second glance and only newcomers looked any too closely at the place and then only to make sure they were in the right place.

On clear days you can sometimes spot Avery’s Wall but that’s only two or three days out of a five hundred twenty day year so locals don’t make much of a fuss about it most of the time. If people want to make a fuss on Shaadrim they tend to stick to the well-lit and heavily-patrolled precincts around the one and only city the founders allowed anyone to build. It’s not much of a city, more of a shanty-town or favela, really. It wasn’t intended to ever be any sort of real urban center, just a depot for supplies really, a place to catch the pararail offworld, and to serve as a fixed point of reference for anyone spending time out in the bush.

Every now and then some of the very few old-timers have to drag themselves back into town and put down a well-intentioned do-gooder. They don’t allow politics that extend farther than your personal reach and they only let the shanty-favela surrounding the pararail platform to remain standing in order to keep the flow of traffic going mostly past this world. Those few who take the time and make the effort to stop here either get bored or driven off before they can get too cozy, usually. Every now and then the locals have to get ornery. Sometimes even that doesn’t work and so they reluctantly sign on a new citizen. Though there is no census so no one knows just how many of them there are out in the hinterlands. Even the navigation satellites that have been allowed to take up geosynchronous orbits over the Sea Gates aren’t allowed to count anyone and besides, everyone strictly maintains multiple false-accounts with the background servers. They can’t even begin to track folks unless it’s an emergency on our end of things and we give the go-ahead.

They like their privacy.

In some ways Shaadrim is a lot like a planet of hermits, well-armed and polite hermits who’ll accord you the right to return to wherever the hell you’re from before blowing you to hell the first time you cross paths with them. Usually. Like I said; no one speaks for everyone here. Ever. So don’t thank me; you’re not welcome and when did you say you were leaving?

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