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by Pete Grey

Mainap is the fourth moon of its systems innermost gas giant, Saipal. A small blue and gold world with shallow salty seas, and extensive prairies of golden-purple vegetation, the world failed to attract any major settlement through most of the Imperial period. While the world was highly amenable to human habitation, it lacked any special features that would have interested serious outside development, and for the most part it was bypassed by Imperial and Avalaran interests.

Eventually its fall by the wayside attracted a less savory kind of investment: pirates looking for a secure base for operations against the meager trade that passed between Avalar and Imperial space. Mainap was not only forgiving to human habitation, its proximity to a gas giant created a secure and accessible refueling source, and in conjunction with its nine moons and several rings, a very secure hiding place for pirate ships, their bases and loot.

Pirate shantytowns sprang up on the world's surface, along with small farms and power plants to support their populations. Most of these people were merely pirate dependents, with most actual operations occuring at well concealed bases in orbit and neighboring moons, in Saipal proper, or in the systems planetoid belt and trojans. While nominally allied with each other, the pirates worked in isolated self-interest. Fueds were common and ritualised. Eventually duelling was prohibited on Mainap itself in favor of proxy battles on other nearby moons.

Unlike the romantic picture often painted about space pirates, Mainaps pirate families were more akin to hillbillys than svelte, cackling, parrot dung stained spacedogs. Few if any of them were that well organised or determined at succeeding at piracy. Few had topline ships, or very many resources at all. Most pirate families scraped a meager living. Retaliatory sweeps from nearby Imperial naval bases removed the more successful from contention, and the remaining pirates were just as happy to farm as they were to ravage the surrounding

But from time to time a particularly determined group, usually fugitives from another part of Imperial Space, would alight into the system, and by dint of their ruthlessness dominate and subordinate the other pirates to their control. In the years following the Fifth Frontier War, Mainap was controlled by one of the worst bands to soil Foreven in its long history. A band of former Imperial privateers that called themselves the Lost Souls stole a pair of Mosquito class Escorts from a repair yard in Vilis subsector, and fled to Mainap in 1112. After spending about two years overawing the locals, the Lost Souls proceeded to bathe a good portion of Urnian and Five Sisters in blood.

They weren't particularly daring or even very smart. The 'Souls simply didn't care about what they did, or how they managed to accomplish it. And sometimes their victims and passerby were left to wonder if they even cared to accomplish anything, other than acts of freakish violence. (In Hard Times parlance, the Lost Souls were a Viking lager with Ripper pathologies, a rather lethal combination) That a military unit could carry out such violence, and still retain its unity led to whispers along the frontier that the Souls were an Imperial marine or naval unit that went rogue when its tactics and methodologies were no longer needed in the peace with the Zhodani.

For about a decade, the Lost Souls wreaked havoc with local shipping and communities. Fortunately, their only penchance was for violence, not organisation of a syndicate, or anything more positive. And their strength was diluted by a war with another Fifth War group of retreads with the improbable name Forked Tong. The fued between these two groups diverted their attention from the warming trend between the Zhodani and the Domain of Deneb, which permitted the latter to increase its patrols in Urnian, and increase the level of firepower as well. By 1124, both groups had battered themselves silly, and the DoD patrols quickly terminated the survivors.

The Domain also brought Mainap under its control. The populace had tired of the Lost Souls tyrannical grip, and were weary of their lifestyle. A scout base was constructed, and the pirate shantytowns were cleared out and replaced with permanent housing. Under the careful supervision of IISS, and later RISS, the locals were placed in compulsory vocational training, and many took up legitimate space trade. Their numbers were supplemented, and then overtaken by a stream of new colonists attracted to the system and its untapped potential.

Mainap is now a major commercial hub. It possesses one of Urnian's two A-class starports. It also contains the district HQs of many Regency corps and financial institutions. The influx of money, at the crossroads with commercial necessity, makes the world a luxurious stopover for commercial and military crews travelling through the subsector. But a faint echo of its past still remains within the less travelled portions of the system, and within the casual expressions and motions of a major portion of the population. It is undefinable, yet it definitely adds a static spark to the world's atmosphere, a sense of pregnant urgency, a spark of danger almost.......

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