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by Pete Grey

Another obscure agricultural world on the edge of the Avalar Consulate. Totashev is unusually dense for its size, is somewhat warmer than Terra. It has a single supercontinent, Smoots Land, located mostly within the equatorial zone, and all local evidence points to its creation being a recent tectonic event. Ninety percent of the world's continental crust is concentrated here, and this has created a fairly uniform set of flora and fauna thanks to a recent mass extinction.

This uniformity attracted Zhodani settlers early in the 200s. With only a few ecological climes to settle, exploitation would be simpler. The world's agricultural output would be more consistent than normal. And the warm, tropical climate would permit year-round cultivation. Fruit farming, Noql "ranches" and grazing ranges were quickly established, and the small colony soon developed an export economy that sent fresh produce and meat back to the Consulate's growing Foreven holdings year round.

Unfortunately, the settlers discovered that same uniformity made the local ecology more sensitive to heavy intrusion. With less diversity in species and soils, the world was more vulnerable to reckless development, poisoning by toxins, and the introduction of offworld parasites. The first settlers nearly wrecked the world in their carelessness. An ecological "crash" and extinction episode caused soil fertility to collapse in the 440s, and famine killed about forty percent of the population. Its export economy was disrupted, and the survivors abandoned interstellar contact and migrated into the outback.

When the colonists were recontacted in 451, most refused evacuation or massive outside assistance. Most were now reliant upon a milder subsistence existence, and pretty much turned their backs upon the Consulate and the rest of the universe. This rejection was tied into a fear of having to readjust to a new world if they were evacuated, and just plain stubborness and anger over their previous failure. The Zhodani government was dismayed by this atypical attitude, and thereafter listed the world as "unabsorbed" and left the locals pretty much alone.

The Avalar Consulate recieved the world as part of the Titan Transfer in the late 600s, but did not attempt contact of the locals until 713. They found the Zhodani population as recalcitrant as before, and made little headway in opening the world to further outside contact. Nevertheless the world was renamed to Totashev, and was opened to outside colonisation in 724. Most new colonists were of Imperial culture, and found the insular indigenous population intractable. A number of range wars broke out between the "Injun Joes" and the mostly Solomani new arrivals, and these eventually took on genocidal tones.

Unfortunately for the "Settlers", the wisdom of the Zhodani's adaptation was forced home after a massive crop failure in 886 threatened them with famine. Food relief efforts by the Avalar government staved off famine, but subsequent crop failures weakened and bankrupted the colony, and eventually the Zhodani decisively defeated the Settler government forces in 911, and effectively took control of the planet.

The two populations have merged over the last two hundred and ninety years, and a mixed culture has emerged. The local economy is a mixture of ecological farming combined with light industry. A few high-value products are raised for export, but for the most part the world and its population are self-sufficient. A number of offices and empowered individuals normally encountered with Solomani primitives, such as healers and shamans, enjoy an unusual level of status, and in many cases enjoy psionic talents (to the dismay of skeptics and progressives everywhere).

The local government is a Solomani-style parliamentary system with a few twists of Zhodani origin. Psionics are wholly embraced locally, though the Solomani distrust of police coercion, and the local Zhodani's distrust of complex political arrangements have prevented any equivalent of the Tavrchedl from developing. Local bloodlines have become so thoroughly mixed, and cultural distinctions so blurred, that few if any resentments linger along ethnic lines.

The Avalar Consulate still finds the locals to be recalcitrant and intractable, and the world is pretty much left alone by higher authority. Its culture has attracted a fair number of Zhodani refugees, who also find their "cousins" to be difficult to deal with.

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