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by Pete Grey

Bestala is a typical mediocre world, with one saving grace. Aside from a few useful organics the system had few resources to attract major colonisation. But the system had location, sitting aside the shortest route through Piah subsector from Urnian. The draconian trade policies of the Avalar Consulate further enhanced the worlds antebellum value, and it became a base for Imperial traders and smugglers.

It is not a popular world to visit. The local atmosphere is tainted with peculiar microorganisms, that, while posing no direct danger to humans, have an unusual effect upon human metabolism. When these bugs enter the bloodstream, they alter the bodies chemistry slightly, causing uric acid to precipitate out as needle shaped crystals. These crystals are deposited within the joints, particularly the legs and feet, creating gout within ninety five percent of all humans who visit and live on the world.

No cure exists for this disease, also called Bestalan Gout. Only severe diet modification and constant exercise can stave off its development. Visitors are subjected to a primarily vegetarian diet, are required to exercise at least a hour a day, and must eschew alcoholic beverages. Despite this regimen, a significant number of visitors, and the such as the elderly, depressed and infirm portions of the population, allow themselves to succumb to the disease. As the disease progresses, the pain will become so great as to compell suicidal tendencies in the sufferer. It is no suprise then that Bestala has one of the highest suicide rates in the sector, which gives rise to the morbid local joke "when in gout, shoot."

Although the expansion of Avalaran borders has corraled the formerly wildcat flow of trade from Bestala, the world remains independent of Consulate interference. Under the watchful eyes of RN and RQS patrols, outside trading companies have been able to construct their regional headquarters, logistic centers and M&R stations for their operations, even though most crews would prefer not to visit the world for any reason. Barracai Technum/Leviathan, Aster Nova, and McClellan/Sovereign are the dominant shipping companies on the world, and also manage large cargo brokerages that coordinate with independent traders.

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