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Ringun

A868896-C

by Pete Grey

Ringun is a "pivot" world. All low jump traffic from the coreward and rimward halves of the Avalar Consulate has to pass through Ringun and nearby Isobel. The importance of this focus makes the world the focus of strong naval security, even though its distance from the borders makes an attack by an enemy highly unlikely.

The parallels between Ringun and Robalin are the result of their shared colonial history. Combined with their shared dependence upon ship traffic, and their complimentary economies (Ringun's land agroproducts in exchange for Robalin's oceanic resources) has created enough goodwill for a power-sharing arrangement between the two governments, and they are considered to be one unitary government. Robalin generally takes the lead in inter-Consulate affairs, while Ringun handles domestic economic and social affairs.

Ringun is a lot more downheeled than its neighbor, and attracts a rather seedy population of castaways and "slummers." Much of this is due to to the production of a highly addictive brandy known rather unpleasantly as "Bilge." Bilge is a secondary product from another fermentation process of the fruit of the local Trelzil Tree, which produces a luxury wine of above-average quality known as Quislind. For every liter of Quislind, four liters of Bilge is produced, and to spare the expense of disposing of it, the local vinters sell it on the open market. Bilge is a green-tinted liquor that is 140 proof, and contains other addictive alkaloids, which makes its the port wine of the 57th century. Bilge is illegal on most other worlds in the Consulate, except for Ringun and Robalin, and the latter strongly regulates its sale and marketing.

Ringun's cities are notorious for their communities of bilge addicts, and several are little more than massive "skid rows" where homelessness and deprivation consume a major portion of the population. The Consulate government tolerates the deviance that occurs within these communities, seeing it as a means of eliminating a problematic portion of the general population. For its part, Ringun does provide basic care and health services for addicts, and even addiction treatment, but it has done little to abate the Bilge trade, though it does transfer rehabilitated addicts to other worlds to prevent recidivism. And it does not help that Quislind, too, is addictive, and often causes a downward spiral that eventually lands members of the upper class in the "Bilge-pool."

Quislind and Bilge is estimated to account for about twenty percent of the worlds economy, and taxes on the product makes up much of the Combined Governments revenue. Critics decry this "robbing to abet" practice, but their protests have little moved the Consulate government to do anything. Most of this criticism occurs offworld, as the Combined Government often harasses and supresses dissidents and critics with its own police.


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