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by Pete Grey

Benoncra is a hazy world of few resources and few attractions. It atmosphere and local water sources are contaminated with the oily excema of local microorganisms, making the air unbreathable and the water uningestible. The world also has an unusually long rotational period of about four standard days, making it uncomfortably hot and cold.

Yet Benoncra was settled very early in the Imperial period, and has steadily grown throughout its existence. What she lacks in resources, she makes up in location. For Benoncra is the spinward end of the great Spinward Main. Among J-1 traders the world is simply referred to as the "Trail Head" or "Road's End." The world's economy revolves around this trick in astrography: it is a "break-bulk" point for incoming J-1 cargoes. Much of the populace is employed in emptying J-1 traders completely of their cargoes, and swap them for cargoes brought from other points of Urnian and Reidain by higher jump freighters.

As most J-1 ships are owned these days by either subsidised contractors or vagabond independents, these people don't have the fancy corporate accounts, or deep logistical pockets that the bigger company freighters have access to on worlds like Urnian, Mainap and Danalisa. Coupled with the longer loading times for J-1 freighters, there has always been a strong demand for entertainment and hospitality services for crews waiting for their ships' holds to be filled for the long return trip back down the Main. And Benoncra's hostels, bars and clubs live up to their world's moniker.

The world's entire population lives in or near what would be the extrality zone of an old Imperial starport. Everything is tied to the Main and its vital traffic. The startown is huge and glittery even by pre-Collapse standards. And most of the local establishments only cater to independents. The only corp types that are tolerated are those crews that frequently make the trip to Benoncra from neighboring worlds, and even they are treated in a mock grudging manner by the locals.

The local government generates additional income through memberships, administered and maintained by the local TAS office, in the End of the Road Fellowship. Any free trader of good reputation and commitment to service who can be vouchsafed by a current Fellow can join the Fellowship. Each Fellow pays a yearly dues equal to half of one percent of their ships' revenue, though members have the choice of paying even more if they feel it is in their and their fellows' best interests. In return for this fee, each Fellow recieves reduced charges and discounts for lodging, entertainment and ship maintenance every time they visit Benoncra.

Additional benefits include the funding and maintainment of a voluntary rescue patrol sent to aid missing or stranded crews. Medical services are discounted as well, and emergency care is free. The Fellowship also has a pension fund, a savings bank and maintains a several retirement homes for wayward former free traders.

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