Brian Rapp

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QUAST exists, according to its charter, to further "Truth, Justice, and the Quastic Way".  The truth, of course, is considerably more complex.  The planet is essentially an iceball, orbiting a lonely brown dwarf star.  What led the Quast Corporation to establish operations here?  Every year they bring a few new employees here across light years of empty space, and those employees regularly send home deposits to financial institutions on their original home planets.  But what do those employees do there?  The answer to that question is shrouded in darkness.  No one ever leaves Quast itself, except for the Corporation employees devoted to transportation, and they are not permitted to see any details of local operations.  Unsubstantiated rumors suggest that justice on Quast consists of only one punishment for any crime -- banishment to the freezing outer darkness.  Similarly unacknowledged is the supposition that "the Quastic Way" is something like "Don't talk about the Quastic Way".


HORELLI is a populous and highly urbanized planet that is ruled by an extensive religious hierarchy.  All Horellians are expected to serve Lapua faithfully by tithing up the chain and also performing public service one day in ten.  This system has worked adequately for centuries, and the stable government of Horelli has thus continued uninterrupted.  There does exist, however, an "Underground" which according to the official media consists of "saboteurs, spies, and thieves".  Alleged members of this Underground are frequently spotted in dark alleys between Horelli's many tall buildings.  Their crimes of sabotage seem to be limited to symbolic grafitti, though:  a star-shaped logo painted in inconspicuous locations.  Nor is anything of great value ever seen to be stolen by such thieves.  That leaves spying, which does fit the evidence very well.  The obvious comfort in which these Underground members live is perhaps intended to entice malcontents to join them, but they are widely assumed to be an entrapment operation by the upper echelons of the Lapua sect.


WÜRTTEMBERG consists of 63 independent realms, each centered on one of the large oases dotting this otherwise arid planet.  Seven seasons of the year are recognized:  Blume, Wiese, Heiß, Obst, Nebel, Regen, and Sturm.  At the beginning of each season, nine families from each realm must pack their belongings and migrate to one of the neighboring realms.  This choreographed movement follows a Grand Tour pattern that eventually leads back to any given origin, but because different families are chosen each season it would take many lifetimes to return to an ancestral home.  In contrast to this deliberate mixing of the population, Württembergers have very strict laws against most genetic mutations.  Those found to possess proscribed genes must submit to either sterilization or imprisonment.


LINZER historically developed within sealed domes of the type common to marginally-habitable planets.  The hereditary oligarchy that owns all of the domes brought with them a population of indentured servants who were promised newly-constructed domes of their own in return for a lengthy period of labor.  So new domes are constantly being constructed, and no one ever declines the opportunity to move into a new one.  The older domes, in addition to being overpopulated, are also intentionally polluted by the oligarchs, who pump in waste products and genetically-engineered vermin on a regular basis.  They do this as part of "experiments" to find out how people deal with such inconveniences, and perhaps to eventually develop a society that is immune to them.  Such is the depth of their commitment to future generations that they are willing to supervise such experiments for as long as is necessary.


BOLE is so radioactive that every object native to the planet visibly glows.  The beautiful glow of Bole was seen as a sign of divine providence to its first settlers, a theocratic society known as the Hakuraku, who see themselves as wise judges of merit.  Native to the planet are the Tianma, a species of winged equines that greatly esteemed by the Hakuraku as heavenly emissaries.  Lest they be overwhelmed by the "holy radiation" of their home, each Bolean must wear an expensive piece of jewelry called a "wudi".  The wudi's circuitry, itself powered by radioactivity, manages to repel Bole's natural radiation in such a way that the wearer is instead surrounded by darkness.  It is only removed for special ceremonies when the pure light of Bole is fully embraced.

Well I guess the Geiger counter’s right
Should have seen what was there
And not some holy light

LEVIATHAN was the first mid-galaxy world to be colonized, although its storm-wracked surface seems extremely uninviting when viewed from orbit.  From its very beginnings, though, it has been characterized by stormy social interaction as well.  On Leviathan everyone is an author, and everyone is also an editor, a publisher, and a critic.  Automated equipment supplies every primary need, while the citizens in their protective domes work on writing their next treatises.  The society is an actual direct democracy, with frequent votes on matters both weighty and mundane.  Naturally much of the published material has to do with arguments over these proposed laws, which can be surprisingly specific.  If someone has a grievance against a neighbor, it is not uncommon for a vote to be called which will censure or otherwise punish that person.


URAKAZE was founded by Filéans who couldn't accept the royal decrees against heretical mathematics.  It all might have gone swimmingly if not for the fact that each of them supports a different incompatible axiom.  They have also undertaken an emphasis on mass communication unprecedented in Filéan history.  Tremendous mechanical oscillators broadcast each of the thousands of one-true-algebras, all day and every day.  This auditory pollution is accompanied by physical pollution of the surrounding waters.  Lubricant leaks and industrial waste swirl together in the currents, forming chaotic patterns to inspire the next generation.


FOXTON is sometimes called a world where only the strong survive.  To be more precise, it is a world where the weakest inevitably perish.  Its primary export is a foul-smelling fungus used on worlds like Ban-Tun to repel and punish those engaged in civil unrest.  The Foxtonians believe that the fungus is created by the ghost of the person on whom it grows.  Hence, they regularly sacrifice one of their own to provide a host for the valuable product.  To choose the victim, the ruling council select an adult citizen who must fight to the death against the council member of that citizen's choosing.  For their own safety, the council usually selects a particularly weak challenger.  A victorious challenger takes the loser's place on the council, so ironically the body is usually composed of the very weakest that Foxton has to offer.  Longevity in office depends upon selecting an even weaker opponent and/or convincing said opponent that a different council colleague is easier pickings.


BAN-TUN is a formerly successful colony world that has suffered badly from overproduction and callous mistreatment of its environment.  As gainful employment has fallen, the number of violent gangs has risen.  The immensely wealthy barons who rule Ban-Tun could easily emigrate elsewhere, but no other nearby planet has such a desperate population willing to do almost anything for money.  So they stay and import off-world luxuries, while hiring the gangs to fight each other for their amusement.  Gambling is common on Ban-Tun, but the odds on its long-term survival are very long indeed.

The ruling barons refer to young scions’ daydreams of starting over on a planet with everything but available servants as “pulling an Elon.”

CHILD ROCKS is the collective name for the numerous small islands on a watery planet in the Deinste system.  They were founded by Deinster misfits and outcasts who wanted a solitary environment very different from that of their desert forebears.  Each island suffices to house a single individual, who gathers local aquatic life for food.  Their traditional craft involves carving miniature artwork onto the tiny bones of those marine creatures.  The children who are actually born on the Child Rocks are the result of occasional visits between neighboring islands.  Raised by only one parent, each child is then sent off to their own uninhabited Rock when they are old enough to fend for themselves.  Limited genetic diversity and the attendant dangers of recessive diseases threaten the precarious balance of the population.