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by Pete Grey

Hepring is one of the four worlds that makes up the Torinsk cluster. A cool world, it is in orbit around the innermost of the systems three gas giants, and has two sibling moons that are marginally habitable. The world is shrouded in thick clouds of CO2, sulfur dioxide and methane, the result of extensive volcanism in its oceans and on land.

Hepring was originally settled during the Chodlot period by Zhodani from Ziafrplians sector. Despite its oftentimes deadly taint, the world's soils were well developed enough for agriculture, and a colony that peaked at around 500,000 prospered on the main continent of Chdliarians. An extensive belt of grain farms were developed, as well as grazing ranges for Noqls genetically modified to handle the taint. By the time of the founding of the Avalar Consulate, it had become a moderate breadbasket world.

The colony was transferred, along with all other Zhodani holdings in Titan Subsector, to the Avalar Consulate, who showed little interest in developing the world. A small trickle of colonists from other Avalar worlds moved in, but relations with the local Zho population were rather chilly, and they were never significant contributors. The Zhodani had little liking for the Avalar government, feeling that they were better off under the old Zhodani administration, and being generally uncomfortable with the inconsistencies inherent to Avalar culture. This chill became an irritant for the Consulate government when its interest in Titan and Xenough subsectors intensified in the latter 700s.

At this time an independent Xenough was beginning to expand its reach to Mahir and Torinsk, and the seeds for a later military confrontation with the Avalar government were being laid. But at the time the Consulate government was more concerned with the increasingly rebellious Zhodani on Hepring than with the upstart Syndicrate. A series of confrontations in 797-802 led to a hostilities between the Zhodani and Avalar filibusters. Xenough Syndari mercenaries were imported by both sides to fight, and their officers got and eyeful of the world's fecundity and extensive farm infrastructure. With Xenough and her daughters suffering from chronic food shortages in those days, the possibility of seizing the world for their own needs became increasingly attractive. And to do it from under the noses of the snooty Avalars would make it a delightfully retributive act.

The Syndari units began defenestrating their weaker employers and taking over their holdings. Oftentimes Syndari would working for the Avalars would coordinate their raids to eliminate the Zhodani landholders and their staff, leaving their brethren working for the Zhodani in a better position to secure the now vacant land for themselves. By 810, Syndari units held the bulk of the world for themselves, and with help from the homeworlds they evicted or eliminated the troublesome Avalars. Their shrewd employment of Highburian mercs helped secure their position against terrorist attacks from Avalar, and by 820 the world was completely under their control. This occupation was the beginning of the long century and a half conflict between Avalar and its allies, and the Torinsk cluster.

Today Hepring has grown into a major industrial power in its own right. Most of the population lives in large oceanic or orbital arcologies that permit the continents to continue food production for the remainder of the cluster. Unlike the other Torinsk cluster worlds, Hepring is dominated by the Syndari caste, aside from the nominal Rakhmani leadership. Hepring is on the frontline against the "Zeidar" (abominable offworlders) and a heavy military presence has been needed ever since the Xenough Wars of the 800s. Its offworld contact makes it less xenophobic than the other Kopol worlds, but its populace is militant and disdainful of the rest of the Consulate. Military industries are in heavy evidence, though these are mostly for show as a deterrence against the Zidar.

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