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Mahir

B41099B-D

by Pete Grey

The Mahir system is the crown jewel of the Torinsk cluster. Both of its gas giants are adjacent to sizeable and rich asteroid belts, and a number of their moons are littered with nickel-iron debris from past collisions. The innermost belt is one of the largest (around 2.0 AUs in extent) in all of Foreven.

Mahir itself is a glittering jet-black rock in orbit around Mojave, the systems outermost gas giant. The world is bitterly cold, and what atmosphere it does have is a result of sublimative venting of CO2 and water vapor on the sunlighted side. The ground is a cement-hard mixture of water ice, CO2 and meteoric debris, that is difficult to break up with normal mechanical means. Gravitational flexing by Mojave causes faulting and rifting, that result in icequakes and occasional, explosive fumaroles of heated water and gas. The surface is heavily cratered, and in some areas seepage and subsidence has created deep ice caverns. Most of the mainworld's settlements are built on the surface as a result.

Mahir's mineral wealth attracted itinerant Zhodani belters as early as -500, but its distance was a deterrence to settlement. Nesturgian traders established a trading camp in the wake of their starflight revival, but abandoned the facility in -116 as a result of disenchantment with interstellar contact. It wasn't until the late 270s that a permanent presence was established, in the form of naval units from an expansionistic Xenough. Xenough limited access to the system to its own belters and Syndicrate enterprises, and in 302 annexed the system outright. Tensions with the Zhodani led to increasing fortification of it and neighboring Torinsk, and this culminated in the establishment of a permanent settlement in 345.

Mahir was a major objective in skirmishes and battles between Xenough and both the Zhodani and the Avalars. The latter particulary coveted the system, both for its mineral wealth, and as a means of knocking Xenough off of its legs, economically. A major Avalar offensive in the last Xenough War damaged if not destroyed nearly every artificial structure in the system, but the Syndari garrison held out until relief forces repulsed the attackers. As a result of the wars, the entire Torinsk cluster became heavily fortified, and those fortifications remain in place to this day, even though their focus and intended purpose is still primarily to deter military aggression by fellow Avalar member-worlds.

Fortification, however, is a relative thing. Because of the extent of Mahir's resource regions, most colonies and settlements were scattered across both belts and nearly every moon. As such linear or strongpoint defenses proved worthless against determined Avalar siege forces, who would simply concentrate their forces against vulnerable settlements, and take the system incrementally. To retaliate against such attacks, the system became one vast armory. Each community has a large portion of its population (usually Poilu laborers) trained and equipped as militia. Equippage depends upon the size of the settlement, with rude vacuum mining camps simply armed with small-arms and maybe grenades and light anti-tank weapons, and large cities defended by armed small craft, PADs, converted SDBs and even dual-purpose fighter/shuttles. Each militia lager is under heavy supervision by the local security services, and to limit temptation, civilian movement in the system is controlled and monitored.

As a condition of the armistice that brought Xenough and the rest of the Torinsk cluster into the Avalar Consulate, each of Xenough's colonies recieved nominal independence from their motherworld. In practice, though, the local governments defer on policy matters to the central Syndicrate. Mahir's government is dominated by the local Securicrate police and their paramilitary cadres, and are dominated by the Rakhmani and Syndari caste. The Securicrate run the system in a paranoid and secretive manner, and the other castes are under heavy surveillance nearly all of the time. Spies and bugging are present everywhere, and "sedition" (an all-encompassing category on Mahir) will usually get an offender a long vacation at labor camps scattered around the system.

Offworlders should be cautious about travel insystem. Vessels without the necessary transponders and permits are permitted to travel to the main highport only, and are not permitted to engage in frontier refueling. Vessels without clearance caught travelling in other parts of the system are immediately seized by local SDBs, their crews imprisoned in labor camps, and the offending vessel confiscated. However, to be caught by the local naval patrols is preferrable to local militia units: most militias take a "no questions asked, no hard feelings afterwards" philosophy about interloping vessels, and they will fire without hesitation.


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