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by Pete Grey

Epepazap gets its name from a curious form of onomatopeia. The world is home to an excessive amount of electrical phenomenon, and the sound suggests the most common expression of this activity. For Epepazap is also known as the "plasma capitol of Charted Space."

Naturally generated plasmas first entered the Solomani conciousness around -2525, back on old Terra. About a century before the invention of jump drive, observers were shocked by the manifestation of previously unknown (or at least poorly documented) plasmas with unusual effects upon ground and aerial objects. The most common manifestation of this was the unusual "ball lightning", but also included so called "ghost lights", "night chasers", "foo fighters" and the mysterious crop circle phenomenon.

All of these phenomenon are in evidence on Epepazap to a much greater degree. For the world has highly turbulent weather, large expanses of rolling hills covered in grassland and forest, and most of the dry land is fractured volcanic rock that lends itself to formation of these plasmas. These plasmas are in of themselves no mystery. They are formed within regions of turbulent air flow, either within a storm cell or columns of rising air, in conjunction with ordinary lightning or static differentials created by humidity.

Ghost Lights, also known as vortrons, are created by ground lightning strikes in fractured rock. Gas trapped within these faults and fractures become highly charged, and are often released due to geological activity. Ball Lightning is created within the highly turbulent trailing section of large storm cells; these can be particularly discomfiting as the plasmas are capable of passing through otherwise solid matter (plasmas lack electrons, and conduct the electrons of other matter rather well, which allows them to "squeeze" through metals, wooden walls..etc.).

Night Chasers are cold temperature plasmas created by downdrafts in otherwise dry conditions. These were among the first plasmas created in a laboratory (on Terra by Nikolai Tesla way in the early 1900s) and were instrumental in understanding the phenomenon. Chasers are easily disturbed by air turbulence, and will "chase" after a moving object, such as an automobile or small aircraft. Foo fighters, so infamous during Terra's Second World War, are a variant of Chasers, and are the result of massive air turbulence created by mass concentrations of propellor driven aircraft.

But Epepazap is most famous for its namesake, the Sparkler, which is responsible for crop circles. Sparklers are created by turbulence: rapidly shifting wind columns over rolling hills and marginal forests will create tornadic columns that create highly energetic plasmas. Sparklers are unstable, as they embody the chaos of their formation, and will eventually discharge their energy into the ground. Row crops are most amenable to this kind of energy discharge, due to their point charge density. A sparkler will drop over a field, and discharge, in a rotational pattern, its energy as microwave energy. This softens plant tissues, permitting the crop to be laid down without splintering. Because of its internal turbulence, a sparkler will create intricate patterns commensurate with its formation, even Mandlebrot sets.

Epepazap was originally settled to take advantage of its massive plasma generation ability. Natural plasmas are highly useful for manufacturing, medicine and data storage. The world is dotted with arrays of windmills, charge-wheels and "groves" of metal rods designed to collect this energy for various industrail processes. Over time, communities of artists, developers, religious mystics and some outright nuts were attracted to the world to exploit it for their own purposes and gain.

Most of these communities have very little in common other than the plasma, and Epepazap has gyrated between weak technocratic rule and outright balkanisation. The last technocracy collapsed in 1150 and the world is once again balkanised. Fortunately enough goodwill exists between the various social strata that conflict is rare, and quickly passes. The main factions on the world are a mixture of traditional Consulate and new-age Regency industrial and development groups, clustered near the world's two main downports. The remainder of the planet is controlled by broad agro collectives, artist communities and vagabond wanderers, most with plasma generating and collecting gear of one kind or another.

Epepazap is also famous for its Infirmirary Plant. This is a tall grass-like plant with remarkable sanitary properties. The plants livings tissues contain a living pulp that can be applied to wounds and sores, and keep them absolutely free of infection or sepsis, while accelerating the healing process by nearly seventy percent. The actual agents responsible for this ability has not been synthesised, nor reproduced through genetic transfer, and the world is the only source for this plant. Some biologists speculate that the heightened presence of plasma created ions are primarily responsible.

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