Monday, April 25, 2011

Xembor: Ahnah's Ardin Adventure (A Prologue)

Spring, 7689 (67th Dynasty)
3,200 ft. above the Immakku Latitudinal-Axis Aqueduct, Western Quadrant Motelands (Xembor)

The slender, coltish young woman who was no longer a little girl gestured for an update from the HangPod's internal systems.

The query hung in the air like a golden-green bee.

"Tell me the latest about the Ardin situation, Jeeves."

She almost held her breath as the feed came online and she scrolled through the accumulated infodebris until she came to the post-filter synopsis she was looking for. All her theories evaporated as she read the synopsis. It was all becoming real now. Six years of research, planning and rumorparsing and it was all about to take off like a herd of wild horses or a salvo of rockets. 

Ahnah steadied herself. Then she forced herself to read the AIfiltered synopsis all the way through. Three times. For luck.
Ardin is one of thousands of derelict, abandoned, ruined and otherwise defunct skylands slowly orbiting the world-spanning aqueducts of Xembor. Of course, hundreds of other skylands are inhabited, but they tend to hover over more favorable, hospitable or strategic regions or their particular orbital paths will soon bring them into such territories. Ardin, like myriad other skylands similar to it, occupies an orbital path that currently carries it through the heart of the dreaded Motelands, across rugged, inhospitable and dangerous expanses of mostly unoccupied wastelands. That alone would have made Ardin highly unlikely to be a target of settlement but Ardin is also moving towards Pan Quan, the vermin-infested and saurian-dominated south polar region of Xembor notoriously hostile to mammals. For most non-Pan Quanese that additional fact would have killed any hopes or plans of settling on Ardin. Most, but not all. 
Since 7674 a small band of Zumkazzi aerostat pirates have been squatting on Ardin (and other similarly derelict skylands) in an unregistered enclave, preying upon caravans making use of the Immakku Latitudinal-Axis Aqueduct. Three groups of larkers, mercenaries and thrill-seekers have all failed to uproot or drive off the pirates. In fact at least one of the groups was hired away from their previous employers and now provide their services to the pirates for an unknown share in their ill-gotten profits. Practically every caravan, whether it be a clandestine operation or a legitimate venture, if it is headed south along the Immakku Latitudinal-Axis Aqueduct, has run afoul of the pirates. This unfortunate state of events is driving up overall security costs, causing expensive detours or delays, and sometimes resulting in the total loss of the caravan and all goods involved. Many established merchants are diverting their cargo onto the paraline railways running along the sides of the aqueduct, which is usually out of reach of the pirates. Many others will not or cannot make use of the paraline system so they are hiring-on mercenaries, protection services, and the like. Settlements all along the Immakku Latitudinal-Axis Aqueduct are suffering terribly as merchants can no longer afford the cost of trying to supply them while others have been mercilessly raided by the various pirate bands operating from the derelict skylands. 
The Ardin Mercantile Freestate Pact was established in the Winter of 7688 by a group of investors, merchants, larkers and other opportunists in order to reclaim the Ardin skyland and establish a safe-haven for caravans making use of the Immakku Latitudinal-Axis Aqueduct within the as yet to be determined sphere of influence of the prospective freestate. 
Since the formation of the AMF Pact, the principals have been making plans, consulting experts and recruiting employees, potential partners and interested re-settlers. The group’s formal claim on the Ardin skyland was registered, approved and formalized with no counter-claims, disputes or liens despite an established prior-presence upon Ardin by the Tarshane Imperium, Darnok Phaoronic Empire, six failed re-settlement efforts and one centuries-expired tribal territorial claim.
The Phaoroh-Empress of Darnok, The Reborn Thujissa, formally renounced all claims upon Ardin, recognized the AMF Pact’s right to re-settle the skyland and has offered to send an envoy to establish diplomatic relations with the new settlement out of a stated spirit of 'friendship and cooperation.' 
The Tarshane Imperium having fragmented into six competing factions no longer has a legitimate or recognized claim on Ardin and none of the groups asserting Tarshane descent or inheritance bothered to attach any sort of lien, restriction or claim upon the AMF Pact, most citing much more important matters to attend to elsewhere.  
Thus all previous re-settlement efforts have been found to be defunct and forfeit, subject to the traditional rules of salvage. The lapsed tribal territorial claim is now legally invalid and unenforceable. 
The Arbiters of the Geomancer’s Court in Paleg have registered the AMF Pact’s claim and entered it into the Public Archives, establishing it as a point of law and record.
Ahnah smiled. The update faded. Now it’s just a matter of driving off the aero-pirates, some mercenaries and a few inbred squatters -- and holding the place against all comers until it grows strong enough to become a power unto itself within its orbital path -- or die horribly attempting it.

At least it shouldn't be boring.

To Be Continued over at the Hereticwerks blog...

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